pause to consider

I’m going to catch flack for this post.  I don’t care.  Maybe it will be deleted as divisive?  This totally sucks.  The sudden rise in the last few months in this movement of activist pissing contests is so screwed up.  This movement needs everyone.  It is far too small and too new a movement to afford to expend bandwidth on judgment about who is doing correct activism, who is doing enough activism, and what the correct activist picture looks like.  Everyone one is equally important.  And that means respect for diversity, respect that each person in the movement is in a different place and has to offer what they have.  This has to be a movement that respects diversity of opinion, of time to give to the movement, of resources to give.  It has to be a movement that is built around the people in it.  It can not become a movement where the people fit into the bigger picture. There are far too many obstacles to sex worker rights and the sex worker rights movement for us to use bandwidth on trying to define performance and people into set goals of the movement.  The movement needs to work with the people.  We are way too new and small a movement to lose people which is what is happening and what will continue to happen over this sudden surge in passing judgment and trying to push conformity to singular goals.

People are giving what they have.  That needs to be good enough to please the status quo of the movement or we really need to rethink where this movement has gone in the last few months.

Everyone is important.  What they have to offer is important and the movement has to be built on respecting those.  The anti rad fems base their movement on compliance and have epic battles over who is doing the most, who is saying the holiest slogans, who interprets the vision of the movement best.   Too much negative energy wasted on pissing contests.

peace

reposted from my site..

I’m sorry, but what a crock. As the owner of the top website on the topic of Nevada’s Legal Brothels, and as a long time customer, a consultant, and personal friend to many of Nevada’s working ladies and brothel owners, I’d just like to set the record straight here.

You contacted me last week attempting to get me to engage you to write articles and take pictures for our magazine project which we did decline. Then all of a sudden here is this long diatribe regarding the “evils” of Bella’s Ranch. Well, I know a lot of ladies that have worked at Bella’s over the years, including my ex-wife. In fact I have a friend that was working there when you were there. And my partner and I were at Bella’s only a day or two after you left. There was no sign all the discontent and intrigue you’ve eluded too. But what does seem apparent is an attempt by a couple of independent working ladies to try to place a black mark on the Nevada Brothel Industry with a predetermined agenda. Admit it, your little stunt was designed to be sure that you could report a terrible time. I’m rather amused by your pictures too. Typical Nevada Brothel line-up? How would you know? As one that has been to virtually every brothel in Nevada, that parlor sure doesn’t look familar to me. Maybe it’s because you were violating house policies about taking pictures of ladies without there permission. Think?

This isn’t really very surprising to me. People like you float through every so often thinking your going to get your 15 minutes of fame at the expense of everyone else. Well, go cry to your independent customers because those that really know what the brothels in Nevada are like, don’t buy your manufactured story nor do we sympathize with your mythical plight.

Are there issues at the ranches? Sure. Just like there’s issues in hospitals, office buildings and every other business. Especially were people are in competition for the same dollars in a private contractor type forum. Nice try, but frankly it was obvious from your private message to me that you were simply manipulating the situation for the very purpose you’ve demonstrated. Trying to get some mileage and attention at someone elses expense. Well for the record, I have known many of the ladies at that particular establishment, I have met and was impressed by the management and staff, and I see nothing in your credentials to suggest that you have any credibility what so ever. My advice to you is to continue on in the independent market, wher scam artists and game players can shuck their clients without any real recourse or conscious. I’m sure you’ll fit right in.

Cordially,
G Edwin Judd
Owner/Publisher

http://www.nevadabrotheltimes.com

Ranch Run Magazine Project

solidarity for some?

I can’t even imagine what would happen in this movement if the tables were turned: a sex worker from a much different background with much different experiences coming into our community and telling us what is wrong with the way we work, and then blogging about it?  What would that look like?  PLEASE THINK ABOUT THIS.  Cuz I know that we DO know how this feels, we just have yet to make the correlation.

None of us are “THE” definitive experience of sex work.  We are all unique, just like everyone else.

So when we start drawing lines about who is a pimp, who works for peanuts, and the awful question of “why we do what we do”, (whether that be in an illegal system or within the legal and quasi-legal establishments), we are just dishing the same grief and disgust we all receive ourselves.  We are going further then the anti’s even, distinguishing who qualifies for solidarity within this movement.  This business of brothels has everyone’s panties in a bunch and ready to pull the trigger and throw around some weight from this movement, that frankly, we don’t have.

What will happen to this movement when we start drawing lines about what is acceptable business practices for sex workers?  There are far worse things than fines and padlocks.  Why stop there?  Let’s go after women with douchebag boyfriends who live off their money, or maybe even crack a whip on women who don’t identify as sex workers cuz they don’t take off their panties.  They don’t belong in this movement either, right?  Forget about our common core values of addressing violence and incarceration, right?  The very two things the brothel system is doing a better job of than us.

I am posting this up here, even though I feel like this stuff has gone way too far, cuz I want the world wide web to know that not every sex worker is co-signing this brothel hating.  There is a difference of personal blogging, and posting on BNG, which has quickly become the mouthpiece for this movement and is accepted as a united front by the world wide web and media.  Having said that, I am both glad and frustrated by the lack of editoralizing on this blog.  There is unequal representation of sex workers everywhere in media, and this back and forth has perpetuated that. I really think it should be addressed when sex worker-on-sex worker hating takes center stage in our public and private forums.

I also want the women at Bella’s to know that they have allies among this movement… and yeah, even among workers who are independent and/or illegal.  I know you have your reasons.  We all do.  And I will be damned if we have to justify ourselves and the way we work to anyone.  Even other sex workers.  Make your money, ladies.

This might be a good time to review our commitment to showing solidarity to autonomous communities within sex work, and look at the principles we have been exploring for years.  When we do ally work in unfamiliar systems of sex work, it is important to respect that we are guests within that community.  To take ownership of a community in order to justify condemnation would never be tolerated in any other context or overlapping community of sex workers.  Period.

The question we should be asking the brothels is “How can I be of service?”

If our help isn’t needed, we accept and respect that equally.  We wouldn’t have it any other way ourselves.

The Yes On K Campaign Kicks Off The Political Season at the El Rio

Posted on behalf of Maxine Doogan.  Please direct all inquiries to the listed contact or to Maxine.

THE YES ON K CAMPAIGN KICKS OFF THE POLITICAL SEASON AT THE EL RIO
WHO:                  Adult entertainer Madison Young, music by Digital
Intelligence Extreme, and hosted the Queen of Charm; Lady Monster and Fudgie Frottage
WHEN:                Friday September 5th, 2008, doors open at 9 pm
WHERE:             El Rio 3158 Mission St at Cesar Chavez, San Francisco, CA
94110   Call (415) 282-3325 for directions
ADMISSION:       $20 and up  DOOR PRIZES     Contact:   yesonk@earthlink.net

Check out the video from the last visit to the DCCC

And then the endorsement vote.
http://ie.youtube.com/watch?v=AruVP9ZSTZo

Speaking of Endorsements, we picked up a special one list night at San
Francisco Coalition For Labor Union Women.   One of their goals is to
organize the unorganized!  This group is worth joining.

Kudos for everyone¹s feed back, on the logo and the paid ballot arguments.
XXXOOO

Next meeting for YES ON K is Wed. Sept. 3rd 7-8:30 at 1260 mission/ 9th Everyone invited. ONLY 71 DAYS left!

Stay in touch and join the http://localpolitics.meetup.com/241/

Thanks for everyone¹s hard work
Maxine Doogan

Another Guilty Plea for Emporer’s Club V.I.P.

In Case of Escort Ring Tied to Spitzer, a Fourth Guilty Plea From a Booker

A holistic health counselor who worked as a part-time booker for the escort service that the authorities say was patronized by former Gov. Eliot Spitzer pleaded guilty on Monday to a federal prostitution conspiracy charge.

The counselor, Tanya Hollander, 36, told a federal judge in Manhattan that at first, she believed she was working for “a legitimate business” that made appointments for models and clients.

But she said that she had continued to work for the service, known as Emperor’s Club V.I.P., even after learning that it was involved in prostitution.

Ms. Hollander, who lives in Rhinebeck, N.Y., is the fourth defendant charged in the ring to enter a guilty plea.

The judge, Deborah A. Batts of Federal District Court, told Ms. Hollander that she could face up to five years in prison when she is sentenced on Nov. 25.

Freedom and Independence never felt so sweeeett..

as I drove along the open road the next day away from the brothel, away from all the bullshit I had endured, every tree, every mountain, every cloud seemed to reach out and give me a hug or a high five.  I got out of my car and took a photo of myself: free, independent and in control of my body and sex work once again.

Old West Sex Workers

This is kinda fun. It’s always heartening to see respect being paid to our old-timey sisters. This is from the current “Heart of Tucson Historic Walking Tour” program:

The women of the red-light districts were as much a part of the Wild West as were the miners, cowboys, and missionaries. Learn about these hard-working women who brightened the dusty landscape and whose specialized services were always in high demand.

In Tucson, there was a well-established red light district called “Gay Alley,” although I’m pretty sure gay doesn’t quite mean what it does today. There were also “disease-free health certificates issued by the local health officer.” (Wonder what the hell happened to that great idea?)

Some of the girls had kick ass names, too: Flora West alias The Stage Hand’s Girl alias Flo; Goiter Emma; Dean Darby alias The Quiet Blonde. We’re thinking about doing a commemorative thing around all the southwest hooker history for December 17th.

Cautionary Words from a Nevada brothel survivor::but still a sex worker activist

Sitting in a motel head spinning from what just happened. I had just been kicked out of B’s brothel. While I was in my room with a customer, someone had opened my laptop and poured tabasco sauce all over the keyboard and trackball pad. Mostly the latter, which was good because only the spacebar is the most damaged. I ask the people in the kitchen if they had seen anything. They all acted dumbfounded. I go to the living room. Lisa gets up and starts to get angry for me. “who the fuck spilled tabasco on Passion’s computer?? That’s some SHADY ASS shit right there, you BITCHES.” She is moving through the house asking everyone for me.

The computer was open to the post page I was writing, entitled “DAY 7: military and 6th grade classroom detention.

I was cleaning my laptop and girls took turns getting things like paper towels and q tips and I asked ALL of them if they did this as they interacted with me. All were empathetic and helpful. I sat in my room shaking. I did not know what to feel. I was angry but just in shock. I called Scarlot Harlot, my whore mother in crisis moments and beyond. “So, you’re going to leave, right?” she said. I sighed and accepted this as the last straw. “Yes. I said. “I’m leaving tomorrow.” Start to make plans to exit. Call Sharon in Vegas and arrange for a place to stop on route back home to LA. While I am talking on the phone in my room, bar manager comes in seeming concerned. “what time do you think this happened. When was your computer in the kitchen?” she said. I put the person on hold. “between when I was in my date and 10pm. “I said emotional but not in any tears. I am making frantic arrangements to kick my [trouble making] subletters out early so I could return home.

15 minutes later the bar manager opens the door. “S was just here. She wound back the tape [of the camera in the kitchen] and you were the only one near your computer. No one was in kitchen but you during those times. So I get to ask you to leave. I get to watch you pack and make sure you return the remotes. I get to check you out and give you your money WITHOUT taking the 25% for being asked to leave.”

“Wait a second.” I am even more in shock. “You think I did this to my own computer?” I said.

“I’m not saying what I believe or don’t believe. I am just doing my job.” A TRUE HENCHMEN SPEAKS.

“wow. This whole house is fucking crazy. That’s fine. I was going to leave tomorrow anyway.” I say and start to head to the closet to slowly process what is happening and start to pack. My heart is pounding out of my chest in the way that it does when I am about to get into a fist fight, when I got robbed, when I got arrested by 3 male cops busting through a door…The adrenalyn was making my head spin and my body tremble.

I am now in a motel, unwinding by writing all of you “conscious sex workers” out there who were seduced by the charm of the seductive sales pitch of a manager disguised in feminist clothing, to SLAP YOURSELVES ACROSS THE FACE, because you don’t even have to be similar to Amanda or me to see that labor violations and militant management are not a good addition to intentions to adventure and prosper in sex work settings.

S asked me if I had ever had a pimp in her office, and I was thinking in my head,”Yeah, lots of mostly stripclub managers, but never someone like you who truly believes that they are the total opposite, but are exactly the same evil in a different outfit.” She then showed me photos of the other woman’s face all beat up to scare me out of being an “independent.”

“You wanna take customers to your house and see them on your own??” she said,” You wanna know what happened when B did that a customer damn near TOOK HER LIFE??” waving the photos at me.

The women here are sleep deprived and working around the clock for about $2000-$10,0000 a week for 130 hours of work (emotional, body movement control for 13 hours a day x 10) in 10 days. Most make about $2-3000, which means about $2-300/day. Can you make that much or more as an independent or even agency escort? Many can. In fact, many street workers can make more than that, but there are that come with it the increased risk of arrest and [different kinds of] violence. The legal brothels waive their legal status as their carrot so that you feel like you NEED them to make that money.

Now I know how WAGE BONDAGE (keeping wages until the week’s end to make sure you follow rules), light deprivation mixed together with FEAR conditioning and bodily control by restricting freedom of movement and REQUIRING movement at the sound of a loud FIRE ALARM like BELL every 20-40 minutes does to you. I too was still thinking of staying a few more days,making just a few more hundred in exchange for my freedom. But the tabasco incident happened, which was all the better but still really really dirty and stupid. Amanda’s window to her room opened onto a padlocked and gated “patio.” I read this and still I went. (Maybe we are two very different people with different boundaries..I’ve never worked with Amanda…in fact I don’t even know her that well!) I cleansed my mind to open, even after reading her blog, but still the same, if not worse of the nightmare ensued for me. This and even worse is going on in legal brothels all over Nevada, Australia and more.

I’ve had my period for several days while working there. Today I bled a little puddle on a customer and he wanted a damn refund. The Instead cups sometimes get tilted to spill when a penis is thrusting it. Oh well, he sees blood. He had already fucked me though! I usually tell fools like that to eat my bloody pussy or “Hey,surprise, female prostitutes bleed sometimes. Sorry to break the fantasy for you.” There ARE NO REFUNDS in prostitution! But management gave him a damn refund. This is where the ambiguity of charging for the hour not the sex act comes in handy. In that hour, you can give head or a hand job if you are bleeding and they don’t get recourse because you never promised any certain kind of sex. Well, that’s how I roll anyway. I don’t love all my clients, especially when it means I would have to compromise control over my boundaries during periods or not. In most sex work establishments with fucked up management, expect the customer to always be right. However, in the stripclub that I worked the longest at, working girl was always right. Bouncers would usually take out issues on drunken customers who exceeded a girl’s boundaries, this might seem like a good thing, but, bouncers can easily take this one out of control as well. But this practice, in general, meant that clients were always TRICKS at the end of any argument, and your pussy power was kept intact, in control and in the highest regard. This is not the set up for this brothel,and I get the feeling that most are built on a reputation of customer is always right, which doesn’t always stand in line with sex workers rights.

Another part of S’s lecture was about how “you will give that customer an $80 party and give him the best party of his life,(meaning you get $40 for fucking) and not complain about it because he might come back when he has more money and give you a $2000 party.” speaking of the girls who complained about a customer only having $80 in his wallet.

Aunt D called us all in to the kitchen and swore up and down that Bellas would never take your money for that kind of thing..we all bleed. She said she gave HALF of his money back because he would spread word to all his trucker friends, so she took money out of her own pocket to keep his mouth shut. But we will never take money from you girls for that..” When I was checked out they charged me $150 for bleeding on a customer. That was my 50%. They issued a refund from my half!! I didn’t argue as I left the office with my measily $600 for 7 days of what I deemed as emotional hell. (this was not even my expenses for getting licensed to be a card carring ho, gas money to get here or gas money to get back. My rent is due again on September 1st and my lawyer needs to get paid by the 5th. BUT, I am free. A sex worker activist brothel survivor. Getting abused by pimps or systems of abusive pimping does cause trauma in the same way that any other domestic violence or workplace violence would, especially if you have previous stuff to deal with. Melissa Farley has bits of truth in her very one sided view, except that it isn’t the sex work itself that was traumatizing, but the way that it was mandated to be done. Bella obviously does NOT understand the concept of sex worker rights. They tried to destroy my laptop, but I it didn’t stop me from writing THIS BLOG to the rest of cyberspace. She doesn’t know that I have successfully filed LABOR CLAIMS and WON against EVERY strip club that I have worked in. So this brothel shit is LEGAL. Great. That means I can get my money back for the sex work I did, and charge you for damaging my laptop and hold you accountable for the rest of your BULLSHIT. Management is ex cop and ex military. She used to dress up like a ho to ARREST guys and now she is literally wielding her power trip on the other side of the tracks in a little family owned brothel in nowhere, Nevada.

I am on my way home. I am not worried about money. It will find its way back to me. I have my freedom. I would take working illegally and getting arrested ANYDAY to being enslaved by bonded wages, (they keep your money til the end of each week, so they can DEDUCT heavy fines out of it as a threat) lockdown house which is like JAIL anyway just more time. I know that this brothel is not unique in the system of legalization and now I know that I am not cut out to work at another one, which I’m sure owners and brothel hobbyists will be more than happy that I plan to not try again. Amanda said that she will try another one, which is great, like I knew before, we are different workers and you, reader are also another person who may feel and experience differently. However, I hope that you can take a stand against abusive, extorting stripclub managers, escort agencies, brothel owners and recognize the difference between abusive pimp and sex work manager. Stand against debt or wage bondage and psychologically abusive work environments. Sex work does NOT ever have to be like this.

Alright drivers, 10-4 good buddy, I’m headin home. Back to LA. OVER AND OUT….

Legal Brothels suck.

Don’t come here if you value your sanity, freedom, and self respect.  Rules have changed and it has become like a boot camp, 6th grade classroom and jail.  I don’t feel safe posting here while living and working here.  It’s hell and I am really unhappy.  Hoping to last until Friday.  I cry all the time.  Will post in detail later, after I leave as I will probably not return here or ANY legal brothel in Nevada again.  Amanda, you were right…email me privately for moral support.  we aren’t allowed to be in our rooms, but we ARE allowed to have our laptops in the kitchen, so email me if you want details, but I WILL post as soon as I leave..LOTS to report. :(

National Escort-Owned Website Launched

(Tucson, Arizona)  Isis Research, LLC is excited to announce the launch of the next evolution in escort review websites…  Escort Ratings (www.Escort-Ratings.com).   It is owned and operated by a former escort active in the sex worker rights movement, Miss Viv.

The concept behind Escort Ratings is unique in the professional internet escort industry.   The site features an Official VIP List with ratings and rankings of escorts based on actual escort reviews.

Each month, every escort in a particular city is researched on various escort review boards which have a numerical rating system.  Those with average review ratings of 7.0 or higher are qualified for placement on the Official VIP List.   Other minimum requirements include a certain number of reviews, and a valid website or internet escort ad.

Sensitive to the subjective nature of the review process, Escort Ratings has a unique method in place to thwart the revenge review or unusually low-rated review.  If an escort has at least five reviews under her belt, the lowest score is dropped and the remaining four review scores are calculated.   All gender identities are welcome.

The website also offers Official Award Seals to eligible escorts for placement on their personal sites, advertisements and emails.  The seals are given out monthly, and will help escorts reinforce customer confidence in their standards of quality service. The site also features a Host (Mr. Peanuts) and Hostess (Miss Ruby) who each blog about interesting, amusing and informative events and resources in the escort industry.  Initial launch cities include Tucson, Arizona, Houston, Texas and Denver, Colorado.  Twenty-one more city launches are planned over the next several months.

The site is still in the beta testing stage with its three launch cities, so all comments and suggestions are welcome.

Membership to Escort-Ratings is very reasonably priced, with monthly fees ranging from $15.00 to $7.50. Free lifetime memberships are available to all SWOP members.

We invite you to visit the new www.Escort-Ratings.com today.  Your support would be greatly appreciated.

I Meet the Business End of Citibank’s Anti-Adult Business Policy

[Cross-posted from Waking Vixen]

When I moved to New York in 1999, I was here to attend college at the New School. There was a Citibank branch right across the street at 5th Avenue and 13th Street, so that’s where I set up my checking and savings accounts. Over the past nine years, I’ve gotten a credit card there, opened CDs, all that banking stuff. When I created Waking Vixen Productions as a DBA (doing business as) in 2006, I opened my business account at Commerce Bank. A few weeks ago I decided to get all the accounts at one bank, so I went to Citibank and tried to open a checking and savings accounts for Waking Vixen Productions. And then I got this voicemail:

Click to be taken to a page with an embedded MP3

To paraphrase, the voicemail informs me that they cannot open the account for me because of “the line of business [I am] in.” Because I work in the adult industry, Citibank will not take my money.

When I did the account set up stuff with the guy at Citibank, he asked a lot of questions about my business, and I was straightforward about it. When asked what my business does at the beginning of our conversation, I told him that I do adult new media production and consulting (then of course I had to explain what new media is). I explained that I don’t have an office, work at home, its mostly web based, gave him my web address (this one, wakingvixen.com) and told him that Village Voice Media/New Times is my major client. All true stuff that didn’t seem to raise any red flags for him as we talked.

But later when the bank manager reviewed my application and they, as the voicemail says, had a look at my website they decided that “it’s obvious” that my work is adult and not a business they want to work with. As soon as I heard the message, I decided to close all my accounts with Citibank, and that’s what I did yesterday afternoon. When I marched in and told them my intentions, I explained, “Since you’ve told me in no uncertain terms that you don’t want money from the adult industry, I don’t want you to have any of my money. I would like to close my accounts.” They didn’t really argue much at first, though as we worked our way through the paperwork they explained that it wasn’t my personal accounts that were the problem, just the business. As you know, there isn’t a lot of separation in my mind between who I am as a business and who I am as a person, so this argument just isn’t going to fly with me. Also, my business is a DBA, which means it isn’t a separate legal entity (like a LLC or other corporation would be), it’s intimately tied to my personal finances in the legal sense. Who’s to say that at some point in the future, they wouldn’t get a hair across their asses and decide to close down all my accounts with them? That notion aside, no one who objects to how I make my money is going to get their hands on it. That is fundamental.

In a situation like this, I essentially have no legal recourse – the Citibank policy doesn’t go against any protected rights. Businesses are totally within their rights to discriminate against people who work in any sector of the adult industry, regardless of the legality of that work. But I can (and did) take my money elsewhere, and I told them exactly why.

This is something that people who work in all adult-related businesses should think about, and if you feel comfortable, ask companies that you do big business with if they have a policy on adult entertainment. Some will look at you like you’re crazy – money is money, who cares where it comes from? – and others will say that of course they don’t do business with people in adult. I’ve had this experience at post production houses too, when trying to get screening copies made of The Bi Apple.

I took my business to Washington Mutual immediately after receiving my official checks from Citibank, and before I even sat down, I asked if they have a policy against opening accounts for adult businesses. They didn’t think so, but reviewed their policies anyway and there was nothing against my work. Upon explaining what I do, I was also told that it didn’t seem all that adult, because I don’t own or operate a strip club and my primary business isn’t porn production. It’s so fascinating to see what different people’s takes on “adult” are.

So the moral of the story is: if you work in the adult industry or are an ally of people who do, don’t do business with Citibank, even if you can conceal where your money comes from. Money is power. Bestow that power on companies that don’t judge you (and this goes for hairdressers, CPAs, etc as well).

I’ve posted my Twitter stream and replies from my Tweeple below so you can see some reactions to what was happening as it was going on, with the most recent entries at the top.
daciatweetscitibank.jpg

responses1.jpg

responses2.jpg

WSWM ranch, Heidi’s stud ranch and male priviledge

I started my day by day blog of Bellas and will continue it on my personal blog: marikopassion.wordpress.com so i’m not going to talk about how my first day went here, but I just have to comment about male priviledge in not only the old boy network of brothel owners and in sex work in general.  What Heidi Fleiss is and has been doing is really really phenomenal even though I’ve not met her and she could be a rotten bitch but on the whole “The Stud Ranch” is a groundbreaking concept.  As it has so far been explained to me, the Nevada brothel system is NOT ever due to expand to other brothels in Nevada state legislature any time in the future and all but 2 of them (Bellas and one other) are owned by old boys.  If you were at Desiree 1 you got an idea of what kind of men owned these places and what their blatantly unfeminist views were.  According to conversations I’ve had with Rachel Whotton from Scarlet Alliance, the same is true for brothel owners in Australia.  In Oz, they have become a political lobby and are speaking out against any non brothel sex worker, trying to convince parliament that if a girl were to not work in a brothel there would be no way that she could keep herself safe or clean. This is the overall belief from many people in the general public, and it is the legacy of male priviledge in all its ugliness.

However, in talking with Aunt Deb who helps run Bellas, the woman/family owned and run brothel and she talks about her frustration with working with so many girls whos minds are stuck at the age of 14 and who need so much repetetive direction around basic things.  Anyone who has ever tried to manage an escort or stripping agency probably knows what she is talking about.  I opted to convert my energies from a dying escort agency in LA in to SWOP-LA because I could never possibly profit babysitting the women that I was trying to have on my staff and keep my sanity.  They neeeded guidance and outreach and that was what a sex worker advocate does willingly, not a business person who wants or needs to profit.  These are the women that unfortunately find themselves in the “stables” of abusive pimps either on the streets or in brothels.  It is a continuation of a pattern of abuse many of these women have become accustomed to, perhaps since childhood and it would take serious mentorship and time to guide someone out of that, which is not only not a profit model, but often is draining to even non profits doing advocacy.

An MSM ranch? There is an MSM ranch of sorts in every major city of the world.  They are called bathhouses, public parks or gay.com.  MEN as a whole, do not need any help seeking sex–either for pay or for free.  But because of the legacy of male priviledge (for MSW escorts)  and the decriminalization of homosexuality, male escorts do not get to charge as much as females.  Male strippers doing bachelorette parties is totally socially acceptable, but only in the context of marriage. I have had sex with female clients, but only in the context of when a husband or boyfriend pays for my services.  I can find casual hot sex with women in a sex spaces, but only in a BDSM play party (which may not be the sexual experience I was seeking) or a swingers party where I would either have to fend off all the client types from trying to fuck me for free or put on a show for the husband or sometimes convince him to go away, although in swinger spaces like Hedonism and such bisexuality with women is fine, but NEVER between the men.  Men who want to have sex with men can open any newspaper and find a public outlet do a google search and find what they are looking for or at least go to a venue where they might be able to find it and women either hetero or queer do not.  You see what I’m getting at?

I made it! First night at Bellas…not bad.

Thanks for all of your comments, folks who read and commented.  It was great to read them as I was travelling up the highways of Nevada…In the morning I felt stronger and more empowered, I decided to go because this was indeed the plan before I left for Mexico and I just felt that I needed to give it a try.  Plus, other options seemed pretty bleak and going forward on a desolate road flanked with rocky mountains didn’t seem so bad after all.  It’s the long drives alone that gives me a sense of peace and focus.  Hours with nothing to do but think, sing, reflect and smoke pot…:)  Watching the Olympics always gives me hope to think big like they do.  41 year old silver medalist Dara Torres gave me a great quote: Be defined by your dreams, not your age.

I’m not sure about the reconstructive face surgery comment, Will, but everything else seemed like awesome support.  I think lots of us are in bad relationships some of the time.  If it isn’t battling partner stigma, its self stigma, family, community, etc.etc.etc.

The road to Wells Nevada is quite beautiful if you like mountains.  I passed through Ely, the last big town with a McDonalds and GAS STATION and did not for some reason think that there wouldn’t be another gas station for 143 MILES AND NO CELL PHONE RECEPTION.  I was praying for the whole 75 miles that the gas light in my car was illuminated.  Please, let me make it to Wells.  Cmon Scion, you can do it.  Si Se Puede.  You can get us there. What a nightmare that would have been to start my brothel experience sleeping in the desert in my car.  I wish someone would have warned me when I talked to them on the phone as I was arriving.

Driving up to the 2 brothels with their neon signs in the night was interesting.  We should challenge the rival brothel in a beanbag race and BBQ.  Good thing for me I like country music.  People greet me and are friendly but I am exhausted as all from praying that I wouldn’t run out of gas and get stranded on a lone Nevada highway with the coyotes.  The town is an old railroad town from the 1800s.  This means that my people (Chinese railroad workers) have been here before.  Probably even the ghosts of Chinese prostitutes can be found here too…I am intrigued.

It looks like any old truck stop, not bad.  I’ve worked at strip clubs that are dirtier.  Each girl gets her OWN ROOM w/ a bathroom (bathtub too).  The dungeon is pretty equipped, has a medical table and has lots of flogging and corporeal equipment which is pretty impressive.  I note that the rooms do not smell like some private rooms in strip clubs that I have worked at.

The manager is overly cheery.  She spanks me on the butt and calls me sweet cheeks.  There are lots of different girls here.  Only one other woman of color that I saw…

My room is cute, almost equal to the size of my own bedroom at home, and it isn’t loud here, except when the train rolls by.  You can hear the bell ring but it isn’t something that you couldn’t sleep through if you wanted to.  I was worried it was going to be like my college days in the dorm.  Bunk beds, shared bathroom, and bitches bitching.  quite the opposite.  I am able to have alone time, bath time where I will put my Mexican bath oil that I bought from the saint supply place to call prosperous clientele and relax after future days of hard work.

This is such an important element in creating a positive sex work incall environment.  Adequate alone time and decompression space.  I am ready to hit the sack, supposed to get up early to get my STD tests 40 minutes in town.  I have felt stronger since this afternoon.  I’ve suvived worse settings in sex work for sure.  I guess I was imagining I might become an Asian sex slave (!) or something.  Amanda mentioned that the windows open up to a courtyard with locks on them and I imagined the worse..but its not that bad here so far, people.  I am going to continue my reports on my own blog, but come on by if you are curious about how my brothel experience goes.  Please comment there too!  I only have 3 comments in total and would love some more!

Condoms Reach Chile

From Beatriz Mercado, who works with Pledging Action and SWOP East from Chile. After over a year some really wonderful news.

Beatriz writes: ” I just called Eliana , from MARGEN, they got the condoms. She wants to write to say thanks, she’s already giving them out. So this is good news! “

Direct donations to Chile may be the best method to get them as there has been difficulty raising funds to get them to distribution points in the US then to organizations in Chile. Thus it may be easier to send them direct to Chile and notify Pledging Action of the total shipped and Beatriz can verify their arrival. Santiago is the capital city of Chile, with a very urban feel. Valparaiso is much like San Francisco with a Latin feel. Both orgs badly need the condoms. Thank you for past and future condoms and support! Please send condoms to:

Avenida Maipo 548
Recoleta
Santiago
CHILE

Cordillera de Los Andes 905
La Básica, Rodelillo
Valparaíso
CHILE

LA is dead! Off to Bellas?((scared!))

Ack!  Sitting up late in my hotel room in Vegas..kicking myself because I had signed up for the “adventure” of trying out brothel life by way of Madam Bella who presented to us at the Chicago Desiree conference.  I knew it wasn’t going to be the ideal situation, but hey, it was only 10 days right?

Vegas is 6 hours from LA.  and 6 hours from Wells, Nevada.

I am sort of homeless and playing travelling hooker just to ease my mind of ending fighting relationship with a boyfriend I had sugarmama’d (meaning somewhat non consensually) for the last year.  My emotions are already in turmoil.  And then I read Amanda Brooks’ blog on her experience at Bellas. Terrified.

Is it too late to turn back? to give up?  Yes.  Unfortunately.  It is.  Bellas was my one hope in dark shithole of LA escort market and I had planned this trip based on the fact that I have fallen short of my monthly expense minimum because of my credit card debt and it has caused me to be constantly frantic about money, fighting with the boyfriend over money, taking bigger risks in sex work, GETTING ARRESTED.  Yes, I also must somehow raise money for my legal fund, as I recently get charged with prostitution in the city of LA in May of this year.  Need to pay for the lawyer to fly down for the pre-trial conference (where we will plead NOT GUILTY) on September 5th.

I have subletted my apartment for the month, because of going to Mexico for 2 weeks made it impossible to pay rent, so in many ways, I cannot go back.

I just got into a wicked screaming fight with my ex/boyfriend…finally got him to move out and finally he returned his key to my house…He was blaming me again for irregular bumps on his penis.

I swear the amount of fights with partners where you have to scream to defend yourself against the title of reigning Ms.Disesase is tiring enough to make you give up sex work forever…It doesn’t matter how much you get tested, or how many barriers you use, you can still catch things, break condoms and/or flaw so in an unsupportive partner’s eyes (8 out of 10) you can still be blamed if ANYTHING happens.

I’ve decided to STOP PAYING ALL MY CREDIT CARD BILLS!  Another liberating but scary thing, and start work on something called Debt Settlement, which is something you might hear about on the radio.  If you have debt and it has become your PIMP like me, then you should consider it.  You pay 40% of your total debt with the help of a lawyer, but your credit rating tanks for a year and then you have to buy something called Credit Repair…

I am in the heart of where I’ve had the worst times in sex work–Las Vegas.  I tried casino cruising after Desiree 1 and had no luck.  I tried being a stripper here many many times, when I was in my supple 20s, and didn’t make $1000s a day like the girls next to me.  I HATE VEGAS.  If I don’t go to Wells, where will I go?

Part of me wants to chicken out of the ranch idea and just pay for an Eros visiting ad for a couple of weeks.  But then, I HATE VEGAS and it is 105 degrees out here.  My Comfort Inn is exactly that right now.  I am terrified of giving up my space, my peace, my sanity.

I burned out on stripped clubs because of the repetitive conversations and the repetitive music and stage fees and rules and endless bullshit.  Stripclubs in San Francisco are defacto brothels anyway, just like in Thailand, everyone knows that sex happens in the club and after the club but the local government is paid by club lawyers to turn a blind eye to labor and human rights violations.  But perhaps all that will be changing in San Francisco very shortly, and perhaps I will return there to be a whore.  I burned out on stripclubs because people who were endlessly profiting off of your sexual labor could give a flying shit about you.

I wanted to go to the brothel to experience being legal.  Having experienced jail and being an illegal for so many years, I thought it might be a refreshing experience.  But Amanda Brooks and I are very different people.  So there is a chance I could have a good experience.  But, from her blog, it doesn’t sound like she made a lot of money for the amount of work required.  All I remember reading was “how sore I was” and “the bell was ringing every 5 minutes.”

I have done a lot of hard sex work and have been hardened by the hustle in LA (where most of the money made is by upselling and bait and switch agency work).  You simply can’t make enough money to survive by being honest, using your real picture and posting your actual price.  My honest escort work is supplemental to my agency hustle.  This is why a lot of independent girls try to work in LA and hate it.  You have to be a hustler and willing to not care about most of the people you see in order to make it. In fact, many of the girls who do agency work are anti-prostitution sex worker perpetrators who, together with their drivers love to bully money out of all the “perverts who call them.”  I don’t feel that way about my clients, and actually make my money in de-escalating the suprise of the agency scam and the usually keep me even though they didn’t expect me and tip me another $100 even tho they didn’t expect to do that either…(upsell defined: I am the Jiffy Lube of escorting, go in thinking you’ll spend $39.99, leave with a bill of $300 :)

You have to be willing to drive long hours in traffic, sometimes at the crack of dawn, sometimes for no shows.  Maybe Bellas wouldn’t seem so bad to agency work in LA.   I have had crackheads and multiple other druggies in motels, alcoholics sloshing around in drool like Nicholas Cage, recently released felons with fake credit cards and more at the low end of my client list.  Because of the hustle I do as an agency girl, I have been told off, insulted, kicked out of mansions and had countless doors slammed in my face–and that has hardened me to not feel guilty about the way I make my money.  This is not to say that there isn’t a high end of the typical $3-400/hr escort, getting paid just to talk to business men, record execs in boutique hotels on sunset strip and more..but LA is dead right now and the money is just not there.  I used to have an “agent” who had a system of spamming craigslist for me.  But, craigslist seems to be on to that game and craigslist is also the favorite tool of sting operations nationwide, and exactly how I fell into the trap that got me busted.

I just got back from an amazing experience singing and doing art work in Mexico City.  I never finished blogging about it for this page, but i did do so on my personal blog.

Will I make it to Bellas or chicken out of the ranch??

check out my fate in a couple of days, because at this moment, I feel like turning back.

Proposition K to Decriminalize Prostitution in San Francisco Endorsed by the Democratic Central Committee

When Scarlot Harlot put out the rallying call, we listened.

With only two days notice, a sizable group of sex workers, allies, and supporters showed up last night to the public testimony meeting of the DCC to solicit endorsement for the newly named Prop K. Each speaker had one minute to plea their case ranging from endorsing Eric Quezada for District 9 Supervisor (that advertising worked on my susceptible mind; I heard his name so many times I’m sold!) to a large group of mostly Asian high school students and their teachers testifying to the  importance and positive impact on students’ lives of the Junior ROTC. That was an amusing intersection for sure, as well as a depressing eye-opener; apparently the only way these children are learning life skills, self-confidence, structure, as well as getting male African American role-models (mentioned several times as 75% of the JROTC counselors or teachers or Sargents or whatever the term is are African American men) is through this military based model.

Anyhoo, the hos came out in force and had a consistent string of voices heard throughout the beginning of the clusterfuck that was the sign-up process (There was literally a yellow legal pad and a first-come, first served policy for signing up to speak, which meant that all of the speakers for all of the topics petitioned were all mixed together, and adults are not necessarily sensible nor fair about this sort of thing).  Our opposition; including Melissa Farley and her cronies, did not show up until about half way through the speakers and were still outnumbered by the impassioned assemblage of well-spoken supporters by quite a margin. Maxine Dougan videotaped the proceedings, and among the speakers were: Robyn Few, Patrasha, Lady Monster,  Maxine Dougan, Melissa Gira, Scarlot Harlot, Scarlot Harlot’s mom, Violet Palmer, Bacchus (representing the client’s perspective) as well as many other sex workers, the founder of the City Clinic, a number of lawyers and several other articulate, professional looking men to lend that special brand of validity to those who need  articulate, professional looking  men to believe the good word. I spoke and passed out several of the “Brief Lesson on San Francisco’s Historic Whores”cards,  which detail some of the contributions of sex workers throughout SF’s history.  These flyers were made for the Sex Worker Pride Float and available at the Desiree Alliance Conference in Chicago, and the panel seemed to enjoy reading them throughout the proceedings.

Despite two incidents of furor over our presence, the panel listened more or less intently and seemed to take us fairly seriously, in fact at one point one of the panel members asked for a copy of the legislation from us but no one hand one on hand.  The first incident was when a panel member spoke in the middle of the public testimony to the chair, informing him that as the chapter of the DCC for the city, they really had no jurisdiction over the prostitution decriminalization issue and were obliged to follow the lead of the decision of the California DCC, or something to that affect. Basically it seemed like this gentleman just did not want to hear any more about the measure and wanted to let us know we were barking up the wrong tree, though many of his colleagues made “what the hell is he talking about!?” and “oh, gimme a break” faces at his interruption. The second incident, which seemed somewhat juvenile, occurred after one supportive speaker brought up the point that statistically there were likely several former sex workers and former clients on the panel who couldn’t speak up about their position based on stigma. This broke the proceedings for a moment so that the majority of the panel could have a could chuckle over that ‘improbability’ and jokingly speculate, accuse and lay false claim to their involvement in the industry as sexual laborers or consumers.

At about 10pm I got the call from Scarlot that the DCC had decided to endorse Prop K, created by the Erotic Service Providers Union,  with a 18-12 vote in favor. Currently Prop K is also endorsed by the Harvey Milk Club and the Lawyer’s Guild.

I was so proud of us, thank you to all those who came and all those who spoke, we are working to set a crucial precedent.

Interviews From Desiree With Robyn Few and Carol Leigh

Here’s my interviews with Robyn Few and Carol Leigh from the Desiree Conference. I’ll be posting more conference interviews gradually on www.redlightdistrictchicago.com in the upcoming weeks as well.

I’ve got two words for you for this week’s Cult of Gracie show: Nina Hartley.

Posted on behalf of Gracie Passette.

http://www.xxbn.net http://www.xxbnradio.com Wednesday 10PM Eastern

Listener Participation 646 200 3136 or http://www.xxbn.net select click to talk and use your computer’s microphone.

I’ve got two words for you for this week’s Cult of Gracie show: Nina Hartley.

If you don’t know her from the 600+ videos and films she’s made, two decades of dance tours, and thousands of personal appearances (including Oprah), then you must have been living under a rock to have missed the woman who is arguably the most enduringly popular star in the history of the adult entertainment industry.

A dedicated student of human sexuality for over thirty years, Nina Hartley is more than an entertainer. She’s a sex educator, whose book, Nina Hartley’s Guide to Total Sex, was called “the best book written about sex, ever” by Margaret Cho (and several other reviewers). Hartley also co-produces Nina Hartley’s Guides, her own line of instructional videos for men and women. As Hartley says to women, “Sex isn’t something men do to you. It isn’t something men get out of you. Sex is something you dive into with gusto and like it every bit as much as he does.”

Hartley wins my admiration and affection for being such a valiant public advocate for sexual self-awareness, sanity and literacy. A leader in sex positivity, during the “porn wars” of the 80’s, Hartley became a founding member of the Feminist Anti-Censorship Task Force, and today, among other things, she is a member of the Board of Directors for the Woodhull Freedom Foundation, an organization that works to advance sexual freedom as a fundamental human right by protecting and advancing freedom of speech and sexual expression.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes from Nina Hartley, activist for sexual pleasure:

I definitely think that sex is natural and healthy, and that people have the absolute right to pursue their sexual preferences with other consenting adults without government or church intervention. I can do what I do to share my enjoyment of sex with all my viewers out there. If I can help any person or persons have a great sex session, then I’ve done a good job! I believe that society changes and that we can take what is good from the world’s religions and leave behind what isn’t so good, and forge a new day. I’m one of the forgers, I like to think!

I know she is ~ and I can’t wait to speak with her.

If you’d like to speak with Nina Hartley, live on-air calls will be taken, as always, at 1.646.200.3136.

You can listen to the show live here. (If you missed the show, the same link will let you listen to the archived show & download the podcast.)

XXBN is a collaborative network of independent broadcasters.

AIDS 2008: speech from an ally

I met Nickie at the conference and she said “I’m giving a speech about Sex Workers”, and I said I’d love to post it for sex workers to read and comment. She is an Intern at ADVOCATESFORYOUTH.ORG, a non-profit from Washington, DC. Click below for the full speech.

Continue reading

Thank you!!!

Please fill out the conference evaluation form!

Hello Desiree Alliance Conference Attendees and Organizers!

I’m writing to thank you for your participation this year. The conference in Chicago was the best one so far for me. I am extremely grateful for the many people who have joined our organizing efforts so that we can continue to inspire leadership from sex workers and our supporters from coast to coast. So many people contributed their time this year to making the conference in Chicago possible. I’ve had a thank you list brewing in my head for a few weeks now and I’m just finally finding the time and head space to write it all out. These conferences are a monumental group effort. Each and every participant is a critical contributor to making the conference effective, so first I’d like to thank everybody who attended this year and in past years. If you didn’t keep showing up, we wouldn’t have a reason to continue organizing it!

SWOP Chicago deserves enormous gratitude for hosting the conference this year. SWOP Chicago was born out of a meeting between KittenInfinite and Betty at the Desiree Alliance conference in 2006. Over the past two years they’ve worked to make SWOP Chicago into one of the most active and visible chapters in the country. Kitty was critical in recruiting more organizers for the conference in ’08 and helping coordinate the overwhelming logistical organizing needs. Betty recruited on-site volunteers and scored a contribution from Food not Bombs that cut down on our food expenses. They’re both doing amazing work and preparing to pursue new interests. They’ve created an infrastructure at SWOP Chicago that the very committed new leaders in Chicago will be able to build upon. We wish them all the best of luck!

All of our board members contribute time and effort to recruiting presenters and volunteers, circulating information, and managing conference tasks. Many of our board members this year were recruited through the Leadership Institute hosted by the Alliance for a Safe and Diverse DC which includes Different Avenues, HIPS and Best Practices Policy Project. They’ve all worked hard to mentor new leaders and have been successful examples of local projects for the rest of the country to learn from. Thank you!

Many of the presenters this year were new faces and names at our conferences. It’s so exciting to see new people stepping up! Thank you for your courage! And the presenters who we know and love- thank you for continuing to expand on your work and share the info with us! You’re the reason people are inspired to get active after they leave the conferences. Thank you!

The visibility of new leaders this year can be attributed to our Social Justice Taskforce, spearheaded by Carl Leigh of BaySWAN, Power Inside, members of SWOP-AZ and SWOP-LA. They worked tirelessly to make our limited resources stretch as far as possible to make the conference accessible to many different kinds of sex workers. This year more than 30 participants received some form of assistance, more than 1/4 of participants! This was made possible by a grant from the Astraea Foundation for Justice and some private donors. PJ Starr as always helped make this possible. Thanks for your amazing commitment to social justice!

The media team worked together to ensure that sex worker made media was a priority. Serpent Libertine coordinated the media team and all our amazing media whores and supporters worked to protect the privacy of participants while at the same time creating safe space for participants to speak their mind to the world. Crash came in to help manage our AV needs and totally saved us from a tech meltdown! Thank you!

A whole bunch of us reviewed the presentation proposals and went through the painful process of selecting and cutting presenters. It took hours on conference calls. It’s exciting that we are receiving more proposals than we can actually feature. There is an outpouring of skills and knowledge coming from sex workers and every bit of it is important. Please continue to submit and even re-submit your proposals in future years. Once we made selections, KittenInfinite stayed up all night writing confirmations to presenters and getting the information to them. Thank you!

Naomi and the staff at St James Infirmary were extremely helpful with the registration and on-site assistance. Y’all rock, looking forward to working more together!

Susan has been a committed organizer since the day she helped co-found the Desiree Alliance. She always makes sure that everything looks pretty when I would just settle for black and white photo copies in the participant packets! I’ve never seen anybody function so well after staying awake for more than 48 hours! She does more behind-the-scenes work, including the website, than I can mention here, thank you!

Margo St. James attended for the first time this year! It was an amazing honor to have her with us! She is the god mother of sex work activism in the US. We have so much to thank her for!

Tara, Jill and all the folks at SWOP-USA plus the regional chapters were around to help out over the past year. Y’all worked your butts off to bring SWOP members to the conference and all of the enthusiasm that SWOP members bring to the events is contagious. Thank you!

Robyn raised money for matching grants to the SWOP chapters AND showed up at the conference despite being in the middle of a 5 month chemo treatment. Alan has been supporting her and has made contributions to SWOP. Thank you!

Tons of people helped out on-site! In addition to volunteering for shifts, on a daily basis people approached me and said “what can I do to help?” I was overwhelmed and completely humbled by you all. Eric stepped in to help coordinate volunteers. Thanks so much for giving us your time and contributing to help make the daily tasks flow smoothly.

Many, many people contributed time, money or services to help out this year. Without a doubt, there are more who should be mentioned here. Please know that your contributions are recognized and appreciated. Some of this magic continued into the International AIDS Conference and I’m so excited to hear more from them as they return! US activists are making increasingly valuable contributions to the international fight for sex workers’ rights because of the efforts of many organizations to mentor and cultivate new sex worker leadership. The Desiree Alliance conference is a culmination of those efforts. I am ecstatic to be able to say after 3 years: “It’s working!”

We need to hear back from you about the conference so that future events will be even better. Please visit our online conference evaluation form to give us your feedback. We really do review this info each year to help in planning. If you enjoy these events and want to see them continue, we need you on the Board! Anybody who is willing to contribute time to conference or Leadership Institute organizing is encouraged to participate. We welcome your organizations as partners in these efforts. After you fill out the feedback form, please email Susan (at) DesireeAlliance.org with your contact info and we will follow-up with you.

I can’t say enough how totally grateful to all of you I am. Sex workers organizing for rights are a joke to most Americans. not only are we not taken seriously as workers, our contributions to the communities that we live in are always undervalued and rarely recognized. As we are becoming more visible, supporting each other and having community is more critical than ever. After the Vegas conference I felt more alone than ever. But over the years as we get to know each other better an improved sense of community has evolved. It’s amazing and inspiring. I’m in awe of you!

In solidarity,
Stacey Swimme

Conference Coverage:

Naked City

Red Light District Chicago

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