Radical Vixen Interviews Amanda Brooks

Sex Worker Solidarity: Amanda Brooks

What do you think is the best way to promote solidarity with fellow sex workers?
Since every sex worker has their own pet issues, it’s important for all of us to step back and view the big picture. The truth is, every sex worker faces the same basic social issues – only the degree and intensity changes. Those who work in criminalized fields face additional legal and social issues which are essentially the same regardless of what “class” the sex
worker belongs to.

Promoting solidarity isn’t hard with blogs, discussion forums and real-live groups. When you start to feel a sense of belonging with others who understand your obstacles, it’s easy to present a united front in public even if you have disagreements in private.

Sometimes the distance of the Internet backfires and we splinter into arguments over things that matter only to us. Then it’s important to remember what I said above: we all face the same basic issues.

Promoting solidarity comes from every sex worker reaching out to another on an individual level. We’re all people-persons; otherwise we wouldn’t be sex workers. But feeling involved requires that we learn the individual. Sex workers aren’t going to feel loyalty to someone whom they only know from a mass e-mail (like current mainstream-marketing wisdom suggests). Meeting the individual sex worker isn’t hard to do and it isn’t difficult. But since there are so many sex workers it’s going to take a long time to reach everyone!

I have to add, this series is a great starting point for introducing an audience to sex workers we haven’t met before. I’ve contacted a couple of your interview subjects because of their interview here.

Memory Lane

I have a book shelf that has old notebooks from school, day planners and such. I recently decided that it’s time for a major purge so I’m sorting through all of it and throwing out what I don’t need.

Going through the pages of one of the day planners I came across one of my first web-based sex work experiences. Scribbled on the back of a printed email is the name of a store and cross streets in San Francisco. That was where I met him at- across the street from his apartment. And his phone number, just seven digits, because everybody in SF has a 415 area code.

He had posted an ad on craigslist.org seeking a student who’d be interested in mutual masturbation. I was about 20 or 21 years old. At the time I lived outside of San Francisco. I had been a dancer, but there weren’t many dancing opportunities in the town I’d moved to. So I sought out sex work opportunities in the Bay Area because it was the nearest city where the sex industry was easily accessible, but it certainly is not the only city where the sex industry is easily accessible.

So I replied to his ad. Sincerely able to say “I’ve never done this sort of thing before.”

The idea of going to a man’s house and letting him watch me masturbate really turned me on. Getting paid for it was even better. But obviously, I had safety concerns. Was he really going to respect my boundaries and not touch me? What if he was psycho? I didn’t really know what to expect, but how would I know if I didn’t just drive into the city and find out?

He asked me what sort of porn I like to watch. I told him girl-girl porn because I was mostly into girls around that time. I took all of the safety measures that I could think of. I gave the address and his phone number to a friend and promised to call her when I left his house and when I got back to my place. I did call her when I left, but I forgot to call her when I got home. I was so tired I just fell asleep. A mistake that I will never make again. It’s not fair to leave people who care about you to worry. Especially when they’re being supportive of your choices and helping you be safe.

So after many emails and phone calls I finally felt safe about going to SF for the meeting. I was excited all the way there. It was one of the most outrageous decisions I’d ever made. But I felt prepared and equipped to make that decision. I felt very safe after some investigation and planning with friends. If I had been driving into the city with nobody looking out for me I may not have been so confident. Having a friend who knows what you’re doing is so valuable.

I didn’t even have a cell phone at the time. When I arrived at the store he was there to show me where to park. He was in his mid-30’s, balding a little bit, about 5’10”. A little over-weight, but not obese. I could tell he was nervous, which somehow made me feel relieved because I wasn’t nervous at all. I think in that moment I understood that I was the one with the power, even if I couldn’t articulate that feeling at the time.

So we went up to his apartment. It was a typical one-bedroom in San Francisco: wood floors, tiny kitchen with tiny bathroom that hadn’t been updated in at least ten years, a decent sized bedroom and a living room. He was a bachelor working for some tech company that was probably later bought out by Microsoft or Oracle.

When we got into his apartment $200 was sitting on the counter. He just sort of waved toward it then offered me a drink. I asked for water and slipped the cash into my purse. Then I used his phone quickly to check in with my friend.

I was happy and enthusiastic. It was obvious that nothing was going to happen if I didn’t initiate it. So I jumped right in.

“Let me check out the movies you got!”

“Oh, they’re in the bedroom,” he said in a mumble. Now I was starting to have sympathy for him. He was so nervous! I wondered how long it had been since he’d had a girl in his apartment.

I went into the bedroom and chose from three videos. I opted for a dvd with a three-girl scene. Why not? He put in the video and then said, “Uh, I got you some toys too.”

“Yay!” I was genuinely pleased about that.

He handed me a package that had a little mini-vibe plus additional attachments. Perfect.

I didn’t see any reason for making conversation. It would have just put more stress on this socially awkward guy. He wanted to hang out for a while with an adventurous woman who would show him a good time. So I did.

The girls in the movie were hot and it had some elements of kink with boots and riding crops. I liked having the movie there for both of us to look at in order to avoid awkward interactions with each other. But what I really got off on was being watched, and knowing that he was getting off on watching.

So we masturbated for each other while watching porn. Nothing too kinky or unusual. He was very respectful. He didn’t make any unwelcome advances. He seemed to understand that if I felt comfortable that I would take the experience to a fun place that was pleasing to both of us.

As we watched the movie and played with ourselves I got more and more excited. I took one of his hands and placed it on my right breast. I turned so that he was directly in front of me and placed one foot on each side of his body so that I was straddling him, spread eagle with a clear view of my pussy while I massaged my clit with the mini-vibe and fingered myself to climax. I felt him squeeze my tit harder as he moaned and came into his own hand.

“Wow! That was fun!” I wanted us both to feel good about the experience. I knew that his pleasure was reflected in my pleasure. And I genuinely enjoyed myself.

He was shy, but clearly happy. He offered me a clean towel if I’d like to have a shower. I accepted and quickly rinsed off, sure to take my purse and all of my clothes into the bathroom with me. He seemed nice, but I was still protective of myself and the money I’d just earned.

When I came out he had a bottle of water for me and smile. He thanked me for coming with a shy giggle. He was sweet and I was happy to have shared the experience with him. I used his phone quickly to say I was heading out the door. And I left.

On the way home I stopped for gas and realized that I was standing at the pump with a huge grin on my face the entire time. It was kinky and fun, and I’d just made in one evening what I was used to making in a week. Suddenly, so many options were available to me that I’d never had access to before…

NY Times Makes Attemp at Correction

Editors’ Note: March 30, 2008
An article on March 16 profiling three sex workers in the wake of Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s resignation after revelations that he patronized prostitutes misconstrued how two of the women, identified by the pseudonyms Faith O’Donnell and Sally Anderson, said they earned a living. The resulting misrepresentation of the two women’s work included a headline that referred to them as “high-priced call girls” and a paragraph that said they practiced “the 21st-century version of the oldest profession.”

The reporter who interviewed them, one of two who worked on the article, never explicitly asked the women whether they traded sex for money or were prostitutes, call girls or escorts; he used the term “sex workers,” a term they used themselves that describes strippers and lap dancers as well as prostitutes. Though Ms. Anderson advertises herself as a “dominatrix with a holistic approach,” he did not ask her whether that meant she also performed sex acts for money, nor did he ask Ms. O’Donnell what her work actually was before characterizing it. He and the editors should have explored whether he had determined these things precisely.

After the article was published, both women contacted The Times and said they do not perform sex for money; Ms. O’Donnell refused to be specific about what she does.

Because of an editing error, the article misstated the political work of the New York chapter of the Sex Workers Outreach Project, a group in which Ms. Anderson is active; it advocates the decriminalization of prostitution, not its legalization, arguing that sex work should be regulated through labor law like other jobs but not subject to additional restrictions. Another editing error changed the meaning of Ms. Anderson’s observation that “no one” had come to an event she had helped plan to highlight difficulties faced by prostitutes; Ms. Anderson meant that no journalists had attended.

Look’s like we’ve got a regular reader here….

Immediately after the BNG post calling for responses to the 20/20 story, came this post over at the blog “Feminist Reprise”:

From Melissa Farley:

Please pass this on asap to feminists who are web activists against sexual violence. Friday March 21, Diane Sawyer did an excellent job in a 2-hour 20/20 special on prostitution in the US. She laid bare the emotional damage that prostitution causes.

As of noon on Saturday, the pro-pimp lobby is flocking to the Comments section of the ABC News site online.

Anyone who can post will help ABC News staff and others in the mainstream get a better understanding of what prostitution is.

Post in comments section here and pass it on.

Comments about the “pro-pimp lobby” notwithstanding, it like somebody follows this blog pretty closely.

Twitter, iPhones Let Sex Workers Spread Their Gospel

By Regina Lynn at Wired

When the Eliot Spitzer sex scandal heated up headlines earlier this month, every media outlet in the country suddenly began scrambling to talk to a sex worker.

The downfall of Spitzer, the New York governor who resigned after his private sex life unexpectedly became public, generated an enormous amount of interest in the escort industry and in Ashley Alexandra Dupré, the woman he had been seeing.

But the whirlwind didn’t catch sex workers and activists lying down. They organized a media blitz through blogs, Tumblr, Twitter and shared Google Docs. They kept tabs on which reporters approached the topic with respect and which didn’t. And perhaps for the first time, they made their voices heard in mainstream venues like Fox News and CNN — organizations that cannot be dismissed as fringe or adults-only media.

More…

Live on Blog Talk Radio XBN: Sex Worker Rights Broadcast Network 5PM Eastern Saturday 3.29.08

XBN Sex Worker Voices, Sex Worker Viewpoints, Sex Worker Rights

Please join XBN at www.blogtalkradio.com/swopeast

Listener Call in number 646.200.3136

Join sex workers and sex worker rights activists in media created and driven by us!

Upcoming Guests

Guest Carol Leigh! Carol Leigh AKA Scarlot Harlot Unrepentant Whore published by Last Gasp Carol Leigh,

3/31/2008
6:00 PM
60 Minutes [171865]

XBN SWOP East Broadcast Network

Guest to be determined

4/1/2008
8:00 PM
60 Minutes [171963]

XBN SWOP East Broadcast Network
Guest to be determined

4/2/2008
6:00 PM
60 Minutes [171963]

XBN SWOP East Broadcast Network

Guest: Renegade Evolution Profile of a Henchwoman: Often over generalized as a bit of a clockwork apocalypse, heartless capitalist and generally ruthless scum, the terrifying truth is RenEv is a stripper, Internet porn performer, sex workers rights


Everyone 4/3/2008
9:30 PM
60 Minutes [171948]
XBN SWOP East Broadcast Network
Guest: Melissa Gira Bio: http://www.melissagira.com
ht Unpacking the Wired story on tech & sex work: http://www.wired.comht — and adding more on how sex workers internationally use technology in advocacy for human rights. internet, jill brenneman XBN, Melissa Gira, sex work, sex workers, sex workers outreach project, swop, swopeast Politics Progressive
Mature 4/4/2008
3:00 PM
60 Minutes

All previous shows are available for playback or download at www.blogtalkradio.com/swopeast

Previous Guests include:

Veronica Monet

Constance Sisk

Stacey from Desiree Alliance

Maxine Doogan

Amanda Brooks

And a live call in show after a Presentation by Jill Brenneman at William & Mary, this program hosted by Amanda Brooks, features many live calls from the presentation audience from the Brenneman presentation who stayed and joined XBN’s live broadcast which was being simulcast over the auditorium. This presentation was in response to the significant protest and backlash against the organizers and supporters of the Sex Worker’s Art Show Appearance at William & Mary and protests against the Sex Workers Art Show themselves. As the show demonstrates there is a lot of support for the Sex Workers Art Show at William and Mary.

Many outstanding guests are being scheduled, please watch for updates! If you would like to be a guest on this revolutionary project bringing sex workers voices to the media please contact www.swopeast.org

If you are a sex worker or sex worker rights musician and would like to make your music available to XBN, please contact us as we are in need of both theme music and would love to feature and credit sex worker and sex worker rights musicians.

XBN: Sex Worker Voices, Sex Worker Viewpoints, Sex Worker Rights

Many Thanks to The Naked Heroes for letting us use their awesome music on XBN! Please check them out and support them!!! http://www.myspace.com/thenakedheroes

Add XBN: The SWOP East Broadcast Network to your blog or website by inserting this code. <a href=”http://www.blogtalkradio.com/swopeast”><img id=”btn180×60″ border=”0″ alt=”Listen to swopeast on internet talk radio” src=”http://www.blogtalkradio.com/img/180×60_wht.gif”/></a>

Spitzer linked to most recent NYC bust

Woman arrested by NYC Vice still no legal consequences for Spitzer…

spitzer2.jpg

From Gawker:

We never thought we’d see the day when the Governor of New York’s illegal sex trysts would give us only a renewed sense of ennui, but: Okay, we get it. The guy liked hookers. If the Post keeps this up, lots of other valuable yellow journalism will fail to make the front page.