Fox News: Alex Jones on DC Madam Palfrey’s Murder

Um, if you want to use my story….

Yesterday I posted a very sincere post about a conversation that I had with my mother. Later, Jessica at Jezebel posted this:

Karly Kirchner of sex-worker site Bound, Not Gagged recounts a similarly accepting response from her mom, but adds that she wants her mother to start reading her posts on the blog.

She goes on to quote Morgan Winters, whose bio at Utne Reader says:

Morgan Winters graduated from the University of Minnesota. He enjoys writing about media, food, and uncomfortable social situations—but never a combination of the three. With confidence and authority, Morgan does his best to convince his two children to listen to him. He rarely succeeds.

Wow. This guy sounds like an expert on the sex industry. Jezebel continues:

Perhaps those posts will lead Ms. Kirchner’s mother to a deeper understanding of the oldest profession and her daughter’s reasons for choosing it. But, says Morgan Winter on the Utne Reader‘s website, “There seems to be two basic motivations for writing about one’s tenure as a hooker, neither educational. The prostitute either wants to glorify or vilify the industry and its consumers. Either of these seems simplistic and disingenuous. After all, not only are we talking about the oldest profession, we’re also trying to understand arguably the most complicated physiological aspect of nature—sex—through books about themes that, if authored by anybody other than former prostitutes, would fall under the ‘teen’ section in the local library.” Even with a more nuanced view of prostitution, I can’t imagine any mother would be particularly thrilled to discover that her daughter was a hooker. I got an awkwardly scolding phone call from my mother when I wrote about foreskins. I can’t even imagine what she’d say if I told her I touched them for a living!

I am sorry for (correction) Jessica that her family is so uncomfortable with the human body that she would be scolded, as an adult, for writing about a simple part of the male anatomy. It’s no wonder that Winters would simplify a sex worker’s desire to tell her own story as either glorifying or vilifying the industry. Of course. We are either rabid, angry victims who are shameful and resentful of our past, or we are deluded gold-diggers.

When Diane Sawyer and Brian Ross pull this kind of shit, I’m not surprised. But if gossip blogs want to be taken seriously, you may want to actually re-post material available in the wealth of writing available on the ‘net by actual sex workers, we are the ‘experts.’

And Mr. Winters, you may want to stick to writing about food and socially-awkward situations that you’ve actually experienced yourself. It’s sad that a writer from Utne, who gave $pread Magazine an award for best new publication in 2005 (or 2006?) a publication that we thought supported the voices of sex workers, would over-simplify and minimize the experience and writing of sex workers.

His quote really does summarize his own as well as Jessica’s posts:

Either of these seems simplistic and disingenuous.

Insanely Sane Conversation With Mom

So, I’ve been navigating through the world of helping my mother really come to terms with my work. A post over at Debauchette has led me to reconsider the importance of having a sincere heart to heart with my mother, on the phone, from 2,000 miles away.

My relationship with my mom is incredibly ordinary I suspect, based on stories shared with women my age about their mothers who are my mother’s age. The bottom-line is: our generation enjoys an extreme degree of sexual privilege over women of our mother’s generation. For that generation, dealing with a super-intelligent and highly accomplished daughter who peddles sex and debauchery for pay is very complicated and very personal.

It may come as a surprise to some, but many of my colleagues are out with their parents about their sex work. My friends have had varying degrees of success. One of my favorite stories from a friend who came out to her mother as a professional Domina goes like this: “Mom, I want you to know that I am working as a Dominatrix. You’re welcome to ask me questions about it, but I’m going to answer honestly, so don’t ask if you don’t really want to know.”

Smart. Sensible. Simple. Conscious of how this is going to have both an emotional and social impact on our family and that they need to be able to set their own boundaries. And TRUST. Honesty is a luxury that family relationships so often deprive us of.

We want to ‘protect’ our mothers/fathers/siblings/partners’ families/etc from the painful reality that they’re related to a <em>whore</em>. Not because we are ashamed of what we do, but because it is complex and difficult and we owe the people that we love some patience and support, even when that means we have to face some criticism and doubt. We’re also giving our families an opportunity to demonstrate how sincerely they love us, trust us and want us to be safe and happy.

So we’ve brushed up against this a few times. My parents have seen my television interviews (I’m not sure how many or which ones.) i have the slight advantage of a family that is not very tech-savvy. I’m not concerned that my folks are out googling every incarnation of my name that they can dream up. However, I suspect that my friends families and my partners’ friends and families do. (Dealing with family of a partner warrants its own entire post, coming soon!)

So my mom has called me early in the morning and said “Was that you on that program about prostitution?” I lied. Yes, I know this will actually be a surprise to those who know me. But the first time that I was put on the spot by my mother, I lied. I lied for no good reason. I was afraid. It was also a point in my life where I had been abused by the media in so many ways, I was having my own shame and guilt about it. It’s bad enough that you risk your personal safety and professional livelihood when trying to speak about the ‘other side’ of sex work that the MSM always ignores. On top of that, other sex workers will ridicule and criticize you, especially those who don’t have the huevos to speak out themselves.

So when Mom asked about one particular piece that I did, I froze. I was scared. Not because she’s the sort to lash out and say mean things to me, she really wouldn’t. I’m not sure why i froze up, or even worse, why I lied to her. But i knew that she knew I was lying. Thus, we entered into a mutual state of denial together. That was two years ago. Since then I have tried to talk to her about this on a few occasions. Telling her about specific instances that I thought would make it simple for her. She knew that I had been an exotic dancer, so this really wasn’t such a big leap for her. But the denial was strong. Without actually spelling out ‘I fuck for money’ she just wasn’t hearing me. So I let her sit with it for a while.

A couple months ago my cousin called. My cousin is the first family member I came out to, In fact, she attended a media appearance with me a few years ago, behind the scenes. When the program manager was asking me questions in preparation for the segment and asked “Does your family know?” My cousin cut in and said “Her family is here supporting her.” Yeah, I’m a lucky girl, in many ways. So my cousin called and said, “I just talked to your mom. She said she thinks you’re a prostitute. I told her that whatever you’re doing is not nearly as bad as she perceives it to be. You need to talk to her.”

So I’ve been putting it off. Mostly because I haven’t had the time and resources to fly home and do it in person. And because I’m dealing with lots of other stuff. Which would explain the text I got from my former partner last night: “Ur mom is trying to get a hold of u. U didn’t tell her we broke up?”

Shit. I knew there was something I had forgotten to tell my mom. She’s going to be so disappointed, she was all excited that my partner was male, and white and you know, acceptable. Which wasn’t why I liked him, he’s fantastic in all kinds of ways, he just happened to also be born white and with a penis.

So anyway, I had to call my mom today, and I was newly motivated after reading Debauchette’s post. I think sex worker activism and the real change that it brings happens on a personal lever. The work that Debauchette did on 20/20, my work on other programs, the handful of other brave sw’s who have taken on the media while still in the biz, we are some brave people who deserve support from our community, even when we fuck up. But the positive changes that came from these appearances are not necessarily the ‘public image’ that we present, because frankly, we won’t be seen any different as interview subjects, we’re just fodder for sweeps week.

But the personal conversations that we as individuals end up having as a result of these shows, and maybe the boost in confidence and pride that seeing us on the screen gives to other sex workers that leads to them having meaningful personal conversations, I think that is where we make the most impact.

So I called my cousin first. “Okay, so we all agree that my mom is totally in denial right?” She said yes, and that I should just let it stay that way until my mom is ready to ask questions. And my cousin was sure that my mom knew about the break up, and the call to my ex was a sly mom way of getting more info from a different source. Right on mom, you’ve always been sly like that!

So next I call my mom. Yes, everything is fine, the new place is great, I’m stable and happy. So many great things happening in life that I just haven’t had time to call and check in. Yeah, I’m still a little sad about the break up and had the first pangs of missing him this week. But really, it was a peaceful split, it’s best for us both, we’ll have no problem staying friends. And then she asks: “Are you working?”

“Of course I am.”

“Well, what are you doing?”

“Same stuff.”

“And that is?”

“I’m an escort and Dominatrix.”

“Oh that weird stuff…”

“It’s not that weird, it’s actually pretty common.”

“Okay, well be careful.”

And then onto discussing how beautiful my cousin will look at her wedding, all the plans, bridal showers, etc that I will be missing. And a sincere “I love you” from both of us at the end.

It was easier than I’d imagined, but she had a couple years of priming and I’m fortunate to have my cousin on my team. I’m relieved, things are fine with Mom and therefor will be fine with everybody else in the family. I’m not dreading family weddings anymore. Not that it’s appropriate for me to announce during a wedding reception what I do, but at least my mom will be able to say what she wants to close family members and I can follow her lead, and to everybody else, I’m still just a student. 😉

So I’m going to encourage my mom to start reading BnG. When I visited her a few months ago I was at this site a lot. I guess when I’m not working (I never do in my home town) this is a site where I can come to be close to my people. She told my cousin, in the same phone call when she expressed her suspicions that I’m a ‘prostitute’- “She was on some website the whole weekend about gags and bondage, she’s into some strange stuff.” It will be funny to send her some specific posts and see what she thinks.

Thanks mom, I love you!!!

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…

The Music Biz and The Moral High Ground

Jay Smooth. Intelligent and cute!

Kristin’s Friends Support Her

Despite the comments about “everybody makes mistakes” this is a really great interview with friends who’ve done music gigs with Ashley Alexandra Dupre. See sex workers are people with real friends and personal relationships and we’re not all damaged and disfunctional.