CraigsList: Future Thinking

Assuming that CraigsList Adult Services stay down, where will everyone go? Granted, the majority of those in the business in the US aren’t advertising on CL anymore. But now civilians are enjoying the thrill of discovering what’s been online for the past 10-15 years and are publicly speculating what sites advertisers will flock to.

On the one hand, other advertising sites have been obvious all this time if you know how to use Google. The current public attention might help some girls get a little extra business in what I know is a sagging economy and a seasonally slow time of year (beginning of school). On the other hand, I’m very worried by the attention thrown at other sites. The motivation for this current state of affairs goes far beyond the usual cat-and-mouse game played by local cops. The anti-trafficking Nazis have one possible victory with CraigsList and probably feel ready to go stomping on any other site adult sex workers use.

Because it’s about ending prostitution. It’s not about helping victims.

Continue reading

4th Desiree Alliance Conference Working Sex: Power, Practice, and Politics

July 25-30, 2010
Las Vegas, NV

Conference to Unify and Educate in the areas of: Academics & Policy; Activism;
Arts, Entertainment & Media; Business Development; and Harm Reduction &
Outreach!

REGISTER NOW!
Space is limited and WE WANT YOU!
No on-site registration will be permitted so ACT NOW!
Don’t forget to book your hotel…conference participants pay $25!!

Who is Desiree Alliance?
The Desiree Alliance is a diverse, volunteer-based, sex worker-led network of
organizations, communities and individuals across the US working in harm
reduction, direct services, political advocacy and health services for sex
workers.

How do I fit in?
Desiree Alliance is a forum for people who have experience of sex work (this
could mean working as an escort, sex worker, prostitute, street worker, massage
worker, exotic dancer, hustler, living with the support of a sugar-daddy or a
sugar-mama, having sex for housing / food / clothing, drugs, or having sex to
get the money needed to survive) and allies of sex workers. Desiree Alliance is
committed to support for representation and inclusiveness of people from varied
backgrounds including different cultural, racial, economic, age, size/figure,
sexual orientation and gender identities.

How do I sign up?
You are required to send an introductory email to
desiree2010@desireealliance.org with “Introduction for Registration” as the
subject. Please include the following:
• Name, email address and contact phone number (including best time to call);

o You may use any name or pronoun that you identify with when applying for
the conference and while attending.
• How you found out about the conference;
• Why you would like to come;
• If you are a student (you will be required to provide 2009-2010 student ID)

What are the conference fees?
NOW – July 15, 2010
Registration Fee: $250
Student Fee**: $200
Group Fee*: -$10

*Group fee: When 10 or more registrations are made and paid for from the same
source
**Student fee: Must provide proof of enrollment for school (student ID)

Registration fees for the conference include: Attendance at any or all of the
workshops, presentations and sessions; name badge and registration packet;
Welcome Reception with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres (July 25, 6pm); Continental
breakfast (July 26-29); Lunch (July 27 & 29); Farewell Brunch with keynote
speaker (July 30); and a significant discount on lodging (please note that this
location will not be disclosed until registration is complete);

Registration fees do NOT include (though we wish it could): Transportation;
lodging; lunch on July 26 and 28, dinner; Fundraiser After Party (you will have
the option of purchasing a ticket during registration); dinners, souvenirs,
extra-curricular activities or personal expenses

Who can I contact for…?
Program Advertising / Tabling / Vending (click link for details):
http://www.desireealliance.org/conference/tabling.htm#Program_Advertising

Media: Please direct all inquiries to serpentlibertine@gmail.com

General Inquiries: info@desireealliance.org or 866-525-7967 (Toll Free)

Desiree Conference 2010!!

Desiree Alliance

In conjunction with BAYSWAN, Best Practices Policy Project (BPPP), Center for Sex and Culture (CSC), International Sex Worker Foundation for Art, Culture and Education (ISWFACE), St. James Infirmary, SWOP USA, SWOP Tucson, SWOP LV, SWOP Chicago, SWOP NorCal, SWOP Santa Cruz, Harm Reduction Coalition, Sex Work Awareness, and $pread Magazine

Presents

Working Sex: Power, Practice, and Politics

July 25 thru 30, 2010 in Sunny Las Vegas, NV!!

Join us for the Academic and Policy track. Network with established and developing scholars who are engaged with research, theory, and methods that impact the formation of policy and applied practices concerning sex work and sex workers. Academics have the opportunity to give back to the communities they study and create careers upon by participating in this dynamic space of diverse sex work scholar colleagues and diverse sex workers. Sex workers will have opportunities to interact with scholars who concern themselves with our issues while also sharing your own—and needed—perspective regarding where sex work scholarship has been and where it should be going.

We understand that within the Activism and Advocacy of Sex Work, there is such a huge range, from organizing national marches, decriminalization propositions, to organizing you and one other Sex Worker to come together and talk about your rights and safety. All are forms of activism. Coming out to a friend, meeting a fellow Sex Worker and being able to talk about your work can be a HUGE form of activism for some that have been hiding in the closet so long! Join other activists in a safe space to discuss and learn about activism and activist leadership in the sex work community!

Arts, Entertainment, and Media: From beautiful burlesque, to majestic music, to powerful poetry, various art forms have been important parts of sex worker justice advocacy, and art is also a great way to highlight the diversity of talents so many sex workers have. Sex worker artists have in fact had a vibrant face on this movement and have been a unifying element in resistance campaigns across the globe. Join us at the Desiree Alliance 2010 Conference to explore, learn about, experience, and create sex worker art, media, and entertainment!

Business Development: Increase your confidence and your bottom line by attending workshops taught by people who excel in their fields! Learn new techniques for increasing your earnings, using the tools of your trade, and improving your business model. You will find valuable tips to improve your business regardless of the area you work! From workshops on web design, advertising, and networking to health and safety, and tax-saving tips especially relevant to cash-based earners just like you, this conference will be an opportunity for you to improve your business and your cash flow!

Harm Reduction and Outreach: Whether your expertise is the street corner, the classroom, or the clinic we are looking for you to show us what’s wrong, what’s right, and what can come to be the future of Harm Reduction and Outreach Services for Sex Workers. Come share your innovative ideas or learn how to provide outreach services. Be a part of an event that will inspire and pioneer a fresh perspective on how harm reduction and outreach services can be fine tuned to the ones that need it the most. Enjoy workshops and presentations from the best and brightest giving their unique take on harm reduction and outreach services to sex workers.

Registration is open!
We are accepting Proposals for Presentations! Hurry- deadline for submissions is March 1st.

To get involved, go to http://www.DesireeAlliance.org/conference.htm or email: Desiree2010@desireealliance.org

We’ll See You in Sin City!!

Profiles of male escorts

Men for men

Men for women

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…

We Must Interrupt This Scandal To Announce…

Registration for Pulling Back the Sheets: Sex, Work and Social Justice is officially open!

Wondering if you should attend the conference? Check out Red Light Radio Podcast #2

In this podcast SerpentLibertine interviews kittenINFINITE about her introduction into the sex industry and sex work activism, we discuss the meaning of the term “sex worker”, the difference between whores and sluts, the formation of SWOP Chicago, how to get involved in sex work politics, the 2008 Desiree Alliance sex work convergence, and the importance of properly screening clients.

If you would like to submit a proposal to present a workshop or an academic presentation or any other suggestions for activities and programming for the conference in Chicago, the deadline is this Friday! March 21st!

We want to see you in Chicago and we want to hear what you have to say and what you care about hearing at this conference!

Prostitution 2.0

A very interesting article on a techie website describes for laymen how to find an escort online:

A Girlfriend Experience Is Just A Click Away

The controversy surrounding New York Governor Eliot Spitzer has shed light (a red light) on a number of underground activities. Besides government corruption and the sex trade in general, Spitzer’s use of the Internet to connect with prostitutes is exposing a huge industry with which people may not be familiar.

Or even know exists.

The online escort/call girl/”model”/prostitute scene isn’t so hard to find, though. Just use Google. If the organic results don’t fit what you’re looking for, AdWords can help, too.

The truth is, investigating this scene is much like investigating the adult entertainment scene. The breadth, depth, and scope of prostitution available via online booking is staggering, indicating that just like the online porn industry, sex trade is not just a huge industry, but one that employs cutting edge marketing techniques, and one that apparently is thriving.

……………….

An Open Sex Market

It would be impossible to explore every website offering some kind of escort service, and many of them seem to have shut down since the revelation about Governor Eliot, including the Emperor’s Club website he used. But perusing some of them reveals details that would be mundane if talking about any other business.

When people think of prostitution, they generally think of street-walkers with cash-only policies. The 21st Century, though, brings change to the world’s oldest profession, too. Visitations can be booked with cash or credit. There is often a registration process for potential clients, or a requirement that the client participate in a screening process.

…………………

A Virtual Smorgasbord

Call Girls SmorgasbordGovernor Spitzer obviously had a certain taste: prostitutes he could take to Washington on important visits that didn’t look like a prostitute and could provide him confidence that she would exercise her right to remain silent. There are more expensive women than $4,300 for two hours, but he is a government employee at the end of the day.

If money is no object, a fat-walleted client can choose from a menu of women on sites similar to the Emperor’s Club, some with the same diamond-rating system. A seven-diamond lady, if paying by credit card, will run about $3,600 per hour. If paying by cash, a client can get a $600 per hour discount. If he wants to weed out the less expensive, less exclusive women, he can run a more specific search for [high class call girls] or [high class escorts] and Google will bring him back what he is looking for, thanks to some good SEO and SEM.

Interestingly, he notes that many sites have shut down since the scandal broke. I have been hearing through the grapevine that many women have taken their sites down until the dust settles. I tend to think they are wise in doing so, as there has been a veritable media feeding frenzy on working ladies.

I wonder what the projected implications are for the online advertisers?

Even more interesting than the article itself are the comments that follow.

Some choice bits:

From a guest

We use the internet as an alternative to walking the streets or turning over a huge percentage of our earnings to agencies and pimps. For the most part, it is safe. Every once in a while you hear of a girl getting hurt by a john, but not very often. A threat that is much more real is that of a pimp posing as a customer, making an appointment, then coming to rob and rape you. So most of us working girls (the smart ones anyway) refuse to see black guys….. seeing that this is the most reliable way of avoiding pimps. And yes, it works. Maybe we are losing out on the “good” black guys out there, but with such a disproportionate ratio of good vs bad, it’s an acceptable loss.

……………..

No girl grows up thinking she wants to be a prostitute. We end up here because we have no other (viable) way to earn a living. We have no education and no skills…. so what else are we going to do? We use our bodies instead of our minds. We all have secondary reasons as well. Some girls have kids to support, some have drug addictions, some are co-dependant on an abusive boyfriend. But NO girl does this because she likes it.

……………..

There is much much more to say about internet prostitution, but I could go on and on. In closing, I may be a prostitute…. but judge not lest ye be judged. Just as you are more than your job, I too am more than mine.

From the author of the article, Jason Lee Miller:

I saw on Discovery Channel a few years back researchers studying the brain via imaging and via the chemicals that were released. They concluded something kind of astonishing: creativity, sexuality, and spirituality all seemed to come from the same area of the brain…or that while one of these three things were active, the same area of the brain lit up.

……………………

All that, and my conspiratorial side doesn’t buy it that the feds targeted Spitzer by accident. Of all the dirty politicians and all the call-girls around Washington, why Spitzer? Probably b/c he was gumming up the works with all that justice…

But you didn’t hear that from me. 🙂 And I can’t prove a word of it. Just riffing, like I said.

Update 10:17 PM Funny I said that there at the end…read this before something mysterious and tragic happens to this guy:

http://www.gregpalast.com/elliot-spitzer-gets-nailed/  

Maybe there’s more to this than the press is letting us know.

[SWOP-LV’s comment: very interesting article by Greg Palast]

From another guest:

Keep it stigmatized.  Keep it illegal.  The whole mess is degrading to women as well as society as a whole.

$1 Million to Kristen to Pose in Hustler (If she accepts)

I think she should ask for more personally. $1 million seems so 1990’s. Come on Larry, airline tickets are getting pricey with the cost of oil these days. Apparently Penthouse wants her as well. I hope she’s got a reputable and reliable talent agent handling this for her. She deserves way more than they are offering. Kristen- CALL US FIRST! We got your back girl.

She’s not thrilled that her topless photos are being used without her permission. I hope she’s got good lawyers. In general, I just hope that she’s got positive, supportive people around her who are encouraging her to think clearly and make smart decisions right now. There are many people clamoring to use her to their advantage and it’s socially acceptable because she’s just a whore.

Kristen,

I say let your Whore Flag Fly, honey! You have been the most interesting thing that most people in this country have looked at since Justin Timberlake exposed Janet Jackson’s nipple at the Super Bowl. YOU ARE WORTH WAY MORE THAN $1 MILLION

How much did Jennifer Lopez get for pics of her babies in People? $4-6 million? For BABIES. Has Jennifer Lopez ever been the hottest single topic of discussion in political, social and entertainment circles the way that you have this week? No!

You’re talking about having photos taken so that every guy who’s been jerking off to the teaser photos of you floating around the web this week will run out and buy the magazines.

You are worth big bucks woman! Nothing sells better than sex- nothing. But making them wait for it is definitely smart, and you can probably give some pretty valuable interviews without having to take your clothes off and maximize the total number of media outlets paying for your time.

OWN IT! Be proud. What is there left to lose? There are a great many of us who admire you and sympathize with what you’re going through. We’re concerned that you’re in a vulnerable situation because of the nature of this publicity. But we know that you can come through this ahead and we’re cheering for you!

We know lots of smart and successful women in the adult entertainment industry who can lend advice and support should you need it. BoundNotGagged.com is the way to find us

Warmly,
Karly and All of Us at BnG

The media, gender, and representation

Yegads!

I was recently reading the comments on a post here, and noticed one that Amanda made:

“Someone needs to dig up some of Spitzer’s childhood friends.”

And then it hit me: in this entire media circus, not once has anyone ever brought up Spitzer’s childhood.

But that seems to be all they can manage to talk about when it comes to Kristen. They all talk about how she came from a broken home, had substance issues, and so on. They tsk tsk about how she “fell into the wrong line of work,” how she must have been abused as a child, and that perhaps if she had been able to properly attend to the various psychological issues her childhood had wrought upon her, she may not have been a prostitute today. And that once she attends to them, she should be just fine- she’ll become enlightened and can finally get out of this line of work (because loads of us are eager to leave a job that pays $4300 an hour to have sex with powerful men). They wonder where it all went wrong. (Again- what’s wrong with a job that pays $4300 an hour to have sex with powerful men??)

But what about Spitzer? Why is his childhood and homelife not of interest to the media? Perhaps he had some “childhood abuse issues” which led him into the “wrong line of work.” Perhaps there was something in his childhood that created some disconnect whereby as an adult he came to see no wrong in busting escort agencies with one hand while taking advantage of their services with the other. I mean, this stuff has to come from childhood issues around self-righteousness, propriety, and entitlement.

I think the media’s obsession with Kristen’s childhood ties directly into the prohibitionists’ habit of using the term “girls” when referring to sex workers who are between 18 and 28. It seems to be a form of infantilizing women when they exercise their sexual and economic autonomy. It reminds me of the Swedish model, and it makes me want to wretch.

How about talking about her strength in overcoming a challenging youth to grow up and land a job that paid her for one hour more than most of her critics will see in a month? How about talking about her strength in the face of this onslaught of media attention and scrutiny? How she hasn’t cowered off into some corner- how she has kept her myspace page up, and how so many of the comments there are full of love and support in the face of this?

Kristen deserves to be seen for the amazing and strong woman she is. The obsession with her childhood is simply a cheap ploy to diminish the inherent fortitude of a person who faces challenges head on and rises above and beyond to become a creative entrepreneur beholden to nobody but herself. This is the hallmark of successful sex workers everywhere, and something that must be quashed by society lest more of us become such entrepreneurs.

I think it is important for the media and people like Farley to portray us as broken and weak people. It is ironic that some of them actually do this in the name of “feminism.” The truth is that the “abused girl” thing has to be played up to create a smokescreen to hide the reality: sex workers like Kristen don’t need you or anyone else to validate them. That is power. And that is dangerous.

Sex workers continue to be the strongest, wisest, and most resourceful humans I know. They have no bosses but themselves, and they are truer to their convictions than anyone in any other profession I have ever met.

Sex Workers Rule!

Tracy Quan on Spitzer

Tracy Quan discusses Spizter’s use of an escort service in the NY Times. Though she’s not at all fond of the Internet, agencies are much riskier than an indie — Internet or not.

Sextortions: Washington Terrorist Pimps

I’m posting this on behalf of Robin Head, with permission.

Robin Head, Former Texas Madam, Sent to Prison for 10 Years for Refusing to SEXTORT clients for FBI/CIA agents – PIMPS.

Sex Slavery, Forced Prostitution, Human Trafficking, extortion, blackmail―of the most egregious kind―of U.S. Citizens by the U.S. Government Brothel of Bureaucrats

My name is Robin Head, previous owner of Playboy Escorts in Houston, Texas. I was approached by various law enforcement agency’s, FBI, ATF, etc… who wanted me to abet them in entrapping “State and political officials” having sex so they could extort, control and blackmail them, not to charge them with misdemeanor prostitution. At the same time, women at my service were being tricked and trafficked overseas to Bangkok and called me collect from a jail in Vienna.

A madam from Alabama was found hanging in a federal jail cell in nearby Brazoria County. When I refused to abet in the extortion, I was thrown in jail, no bond, a ‘Life’ sentence filed on me, and then my son and family were harassed and attacked endlessly in some kind of gang like Mafia style.

I went to the FBI, but it was like reporting the devil to the witch, they said they would help me but only if I would help them, again, to set up officials. They had no interest in the corruption aspect. Some very high profile names were involved, people seen on TV news commentary.
Who are these agents with this monstrous agenda and what do they want? This is not a left/right wing thing it is a most vicious entity in this country.

This country has become as fearful as any other 3rd world country when it comes to reporting crime to officials just exactly like in Russia, Iraq, Africa, Mexico, etc… where it is the officials that are the perpetrators of the crimes, kidnapping, ransom, drugs, and it is dangerous to report to them.

More information and links available at: http://fbicorruption.250free.com

They all want to talk to us now…

My in-box and those of my friends have been inundated with media requests for comments on the Spitzer scandal. New York Times, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, FOX 9, NYC…and so on. They seem to have found us from various ads we have posted on the web.

What these media people don’t seem to understand, however, is that none of us wishes to be “Kristen.” None of us wants a spotlight shown on our lives, exposing for all of mal-intent our vulnerabilities in this legally ambiguous profession in which we have chosen to engage.

As was pointed out in Audacia’s post, they’re not really interested in our plight, or understanding who we are as people, or why we do what we do, or how they can help us. They are only interested in how we can help them– how a comment by a true whore will appeal to the prurient interest of the public and thus increase their ratings. They have no concept that their scoop could be used against us, to ruin our lives and take away our children, homes, and assets.

Sure, they say they are willing to disguise our voices, our faces, etc., but what story are they after? One who contacted me was simply interested in knowing (according to his email) if I had seen Spitzer, and what he was like. Another wanted to know if I’d worked in DC, and what that was like. But how willing would they be to portray us as real humans with all the same issues that other humans face, rather than one-dimensional whores? Seeing the nasty results of speaking to the press in the past, I, for one, don’t trust ’em.

So, media folk, show us your stuff. Spend more time on our needs and wishes in the media- portray us honestly and not just sensationally, take us seriously when we speak, and we’ll be much more willing to talk to you.

WHAT ABOUT KRISTEN? New York Sex Worker Organizations Respond to Spitzer Scandal

####

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts
Shakti Ziller, Sex Workers Action New York (SWANK), swank@riseup.net 877-776-2004 x 2
Audacia Ray, 718.554.1714
Sarah Bleviss, Sex Workers Outreach Project NYC (SWOP-NYC), swop.nyc@gmail.com
Prostitutes of New York (PONY), pony@panix.com
Desiree Alliance, http://www.desireealliance.org/

WHAT ABOUT KRISTEN? New York Sex Worker Organizations Respond to Spitzer Scandal

New York, NY – In the last few days, Governor Eliot Spitzer has publicly admitted to being associated with an escort agency and is considering resignation. As sex worker advocates, we are concerned about the representation and fate of “Kristen” and sex workers who are being thrust into the spotlight because of the investigation into the Governor. We also share the widespread concern for Governor Spitzer’s family.

Sex worker organizations urge the press and the public to focus on the violation of sex workers rights and the need to change these laws and policies, rather than simply on the story of one individual who has purchased sexual services.

“Nobody is talking about the impact of this story on ‘Kristen’ and other women, men and trans people who are currently working in the sex industry,” Shakti Ziller of SWANK in NYC added, “Prostitutes disproportionately face punitive action after arrest as compared to clients. Whether or not she will face prison time, “Kristen” has been dragged into the spotlight and will be subjected to public humiliation. Shouldn’t the police emphasis be on catching perpetrators of violent crime and protecting sex workers – not exposing adults who are consenting to a transaction? All she did was try to make a living.”

“Governor Spitzer ran on a platform of being a different kind of politician and then portrayed an inaccurate image of himself. Being involved with the services of sex workers is a very common thing, if all forms of consensual sex work were decriminalized for adults involved in a consensual transaction, sex workers could access the services they need,” says Dylan Wolfe of SWANK (Sex Workers Action New York).

Governor Spitzer took a lead role in developing the NY State Anti-Trafficking Law. Over the objections of advocates who worked directly with victims of human trafficking and with sex workers, Governor Spitzer pushed through penalty enhancements against clients of all sex workers. Sex worker advocates fought against such provisions because these policies drive people who need help further underground.

“Spitzer has stood up for workers’ rights in certain capacities, but has not followed through with meeting the real needs of sex workers,” Audacia Ray, author of Naked on the Internet, noted, “It would be great if the government could use money towards services, not punitive measures.”

The press has picked up on the relationship that inter-state trafficking laws (under the Mann Act) have to this case. This connection illustrates a point that sex worker advocates have been making for a long time: Laws against inter-state transportation for the purposes of commercial sex are too often used for punishing people working as sex workers and those who work with and patronize them.

The exposure of Randall Tobias last year as a customer of an escort agency, Senator Vitter’s rumored association with sex workers and now this recent news of Governor Spitzer, the corruption and hypocrisy inherently associated with prohibiting consensual prostitution are again being brought to light. Shaming these men will do nothing to improve the nature of the sex industry and the deeply-rooted corruption that is associated with the prohibition of prostitution.

“The criminalization of prostitution breeds this type of hypocrisy and makes our politicians (and other public figures) vulnerable,” says Carol Leigh of Sex Workers Outreach Project-USA. “This vulnerability exists until our society recognizes that consensual sexual behavior is private and these private acts should no longer be criminalized.”

“Many of our clients are politicians, judges, lawyers and even police,” Monica S., 26 of Brooklyn said. “It’s odd that they spend so much effort putting us into jail, but then turn around and give us their money in exchange for sex. Why do they think they won’t get caught breaking the laws that they make?”

The commentary on Dealbreaker.com, a Wall-Street news site, says about Wall-street’s anti-Spitzer reaction to the ‘Client 9’ story: “‘There is a God’ was the first thought on Wall Street. The next thought is, ‘Please don’t let it be revealed that I’m Lucky Number 7.'”

# # # #

From Melissa at Valleywag.com

Three things you can learn from Client 9

Let’s be clear: Today’s takedown has nothing to do with stopping prostitution. It’s about bringing down the governor of New York. There are three things you need to know before tonight’s cocktail-party chatter. Most people will get them wrong — and that’s the way the media wants it.

  • “Christin” won’t be found online. Don’t bother trolling the Internet Archive for her photo. The way high-end agencies work is the pics on the website aren’t the actual girls. Potential clients go in person to a madam after they make a deposit towards the first appointment. They then get to look at a photo book and decide who to hire from there.
  • There’s no such thing as a “$5,500/hour escort.” Agency-based prostitutes who command these rates don’t turn hourly tricks. These are evening, overnight, and weekend appointments. Spitzer wasn’t just “paying her to leave” after a blowjob, he was time-sharing a mistress.
  • Could it happen to YOU? No. You’ll never see a headline, “Prostitution Bust Nets 8 Alpha Geeks.” Federal prosecutors, who almost never make prostitution arrests, are using the Emperors Club to take down high-profile clients, just as Spitzer once did himself. Busting a bunch of techies gets nobody nothing. They’d sooner nab the newspaper editors and TV producers who’ll rush this story out today before going to their own appointments. If Jimmy Wales had hired, he’d have saved himself a lot of bad publicity.

We Can Do Better Than This

Ummmm…. so, I’m hearing that some of my trans friends are having trouble connecting into both formal and informal safety networks!?!?!?!

WTF???

I’ve been hearing (second-hand, of course) that people are saying: “We don’t have the same kind of clients that you see” or “If you were born a man you are not welcome here.”

So what, now we’re following suit with the feminists? “You are not us, so you have to fight for yourself.” Uh-uh, nope. I’m not down with that strategy.

In a conversation with a dear friend tonight we discussed how violence translates into individual’s lives in relation to their gender and we concluded that we, as in us, ALL of us, are on the same team here. Does anybody actually think that they can keep themselves safer by engaging in the very same gender discrimination that violates female born (whatever fucking difference that makes when it comes to SAFETY) sex workers??? I mean really, can somebody make a case to me as to why it’s alright to exclude our trans sisters in the name of our own safety? I’m really not buying it.

Maybe this conversation doesn’t need to happen in-depth here at this blog- but this does need to be discussed further- somewhere, I’m open to suggestions. I know that the vast majority of people actually engaged here at BnG are of many different genders and are already in solidarity with trans workers. So I wanted to post this here and invite some positive input. I really do think that this is an issue that can be addressed and resolved among us with education and awareness.

I don’t think this is a whole-heartedly evil discriminatory thing. NO disrespect is acceptable and ignorance is not an excuse. However, I do think that as trans allies we have to reach out to other workers to inform them that ‘yes, we do share the same clients with trans workers’ (and it’s often fun when we are literally sharing them 😉 and ‘one’s gender when born does NOT exclude them from the right to BE SAFE’ C’mon women, we do get that don’t we?

All the best,

Karly

Strippers: Contribute to a book for free!

I’m glad I caught this from CraigsList Curmudgeon. Someone wants to collect stripper stories for a book. Not only that, but this person has the gall to charge an “editing” fee once the story is approved to be in the book.

No profit-sharing.

Thanks CC for finding this. Oh what an ass this is!

Letters from Working Girls

Hi:

Susannah Breslin here; I’m a journalist, blogger. I’m wondering if any of your readers/members may be interested in contributing their anonymous stories to an online project I’ve created, Letters from Working Girls, featuring, well, letters from working girls about their experiences in the business. Feel free to spread the word, and thanks much.

http://lettersfromworkinggirls.blogspot.com

Best,

Susannah

Sex Work Debate Bingo!

Our fabulous Ren made this, and I just spotted it via Audacia Ray:

bingo

My favorite, of course, is “You’ve Privileged! You have a blog!”

Chilean Sex Workers Protest the imposition of criminalization and fines

Thank you to Beatriz Mercado of SWOP East-Chile for translating this document into English!

Although this is not a breaking news item, Angela Lina protested a heavy fine to be imposed on Chilean street sex workers. I don’t know if the bill passed or not. Courtesy of a RedTraSex newsletter.

In English: More intents to fine sex workers

Last July, Las Condes major, Francisco de la Maza, moved forward in his intent to criminalize sex workers imposing a city ordinance to fine sex workers who work on the streets.

People from Independent Labor Union of Sex Workers Angela Lina, focal point in Chile of TraSex Network, along with Amanda Jofré Organization, made a protest in front of the city hall on July 4th.

This wasn’t his first try. In may, sex workers were able to stop fines from being imposed, with the support of several organizations in a meeting held at Christian Churches Social Aid Foundation.

“City major wants to profit from street sex workers, asking them to pay over $ 150.000 chilean pesos ($ 300 US dollars), an amount equivalent to what a regular worker gets for a month’s salary, as a fine applied both to the sex worker and her client” explained the leaders of the organization.

Executive Secretary of TraSex network sent a letter addressing this subject:
TraSex network wants to express their support to our friends form Labor Union Angela Lina in their fight to stop persecution and harassing against sex workers in Chile.

Once again authorities try to mistreat our fellow sex workers by taking unilateral decisions instead of calling them to reach appropriate solutions that won’t put sex workers at risk.

We demand sex workers opinions to be considered and also that authorities call sex workers to discuss issues that affect them.

as a region network
we will not stop denouncing any decision
that may violate human rights
of latin american and caribbean sex workers

The original piece: Mas intentos de multar a las trabajadoras sexuales
En el mes de julio, el alcalde de la municipalidad de Las Condes, Francisco de La Maza, avanzo en su intento de criminalizar a las trabajadoras sexuales con una ordenanza municipal que multa a las trabajadoras sexuales que trabajan en las calles.

Ante esta situacion, las companieras del Sindicato Nacional Independiente de Trabajadoras Sexuales Angela Lina, punto focal en Chile de la RedTraSex, en conjunto con la organizacion Amanda Jofre, realizaron un acto de repudio el miercoles 4 de julio frente al municipio.

Esta no fue la primera arremetida del alcalde. Ya en mayo, las companieras lograron detener la imposición de multas con el apoyo de diversas organizaciones en un encuentro realizado en la Fundación de Ayuda Social de Iglesias Cristianas.

“El alcalde quiere lucrar con las mujeres trabajadoras sexuales de las calles, a quienes quiere hacer cancelar más de $150.000 pesos chilenos, suma similar a lo que gana una persona asalariado en un mes de trabajo, traducido en una multa aplicada a la compañera y al cliente”, explicaron las dirigentes de la organizacion.

La Secretaria Ejecutiva de la RedTraSex envio una carta el respecto:

La REDTRASEX quiere hacer expreso su apoyo a las companieras del Sindicato Ángela Lina, en la lucha que están llevando adelante por la persecución y hostigamiento que están sufriendo las trabajadoras sexuales de ese país.

Porque una vez mas las autoridades se empeñan en maltratar a nuestras companieras con disposiciones unilaterales, en vez de convocarlas para llegar a soluciones adecuadas sin volver a ponernos en situación de desprotección.

Exigimos que la palabra de las trabajadoras sexuales sea tenida en cuenta, y establecer una convocatoria para discutir las distintas problemáticas que perjudican a nuestro sector.

En nuestro carácter de Red Regional Mas intentos de multar a las trabajadoras sexuales
En el mes de julio, el alcalde de la municipalidad de Las Condes, Francisco de La Maza, avanzo en su intento de criminalizar a las trabajadoras sexuales con una ordenanza municipal que multa a las trabajadoras sexuales que trabajan en las calles.

Ante esta situacion, las companieras del Sindicato Nacional Independiente de Trabajadoras Sexuales Angela Lina, punto focal en Chile de la RedTraSex, en conjunto con la organizacion Amanda Jofre, realizaron un acto de repudio el miercoles 4 de julio frente al municipio.

Esta no fue la primera arremetida del alcalde. Ya en mayo, las companieras lograron detener la imposición de multas con el apoyo de diversas organizaciones en un encuentro realizado en la Fundación de Ayuda Social de Iglesias Cristianas.

“El alcalde quiere lucrar con las mujeres trabajadoras sexuales de las calles, a quienes quiere hacer cancelar más de $150.000 pesos chilenos, suma similar a lo que gana una persona asalariado en un mes de trabajo, traducido en una multa aplicada a la compañera y al cliente”, explicaron las dirigentes de la organizacion.

La Secretaria Ejecutiva de la RedTraSex envio una carta el respecto:

La REDTRASEX quiere hacer expreso su apoyo a las companieras del Sindicato Ángela Lina, en la lucha que están llevando adelante por la persecución y hostigamiento que están sufriendo las trabajadoras sexuales de ese país.

Porque una vez mas las autoridades se empeñan en maltratar a nuestras companieras con disposiciones unilaterales, en vez de convocarlas para llegar a soluciones adecuadas sin volver a ponernos en situación de desprotección.

Exigimos que la palabra de las trabajadoras sexuales sea tenida en cuenta, y establecer una convocatoria para discutir las distintas problemáticas que perjudican a nuestro sector.

En nuestro carácter de Red Regional
NO CESAREMOS DE DENUNCIAR CUALQUIER DISPOSICION
QUE VIOLE LOS DERECHOS HUMANOS
DE LAS TRABAJADORAS SEXUALES DE LATINOAMERICA Y EL CARIBE

Sex Workers’ Art Show Tour 2008

This is the official call for submissions for the 2008 SWAS tour! Anyone who has worked in the sex industry is encouraged to apply: porn stars, strippers, escorts, dommes, webcam girls (and boys), hookers, etc. Spread this around, post it on your blog, tell everyone you know. And feel free to contact us with questions!

THE SHOW:

The Sex Workers’ Art Show is a cabaret-style evening of visual and performance art created by people who work in the sex industry to dispel the myth that we are anything short of artists, innovators, and geniuses! The artwork and performances offer a wide range of perspectives on sex work. The show hopes through its diversity of viewpoints to move beyond “positive” and “negative” into a fuller articulation of the complicated ways sex workers experience our jobs and our lives. You can read more about the show at www.sexworkersartshow.com.

WHAT WE’RE LOOKING FOR:

Sex trade workers are in a unique position to observe the freaky dynamics of capitalism, desire, ownership, gender, and race. We are looking for hilarious, disturbing, challenging, entertaining, accessible work that addresses these issues. Or, you know, whatever else. You don’t have to be an experienced performer to apply! We’re interested in a range of mediums- spoken word, burlesque, music, video and performance art of all kinds. It is important to us to include performers from all over the world: non-US residents are encouraged to apply!

THE DEAL:

The tour is happening late January through early March 2008. It hits approximately 30 cities nationwide, in a bit over a month. Venues will be varied, from small clubs and galleries to large theaters and college campuses. We’ll be traveling in two new vans, staying in hotels. There will be eight performers, a technical director and road crew along. Pay is $3500/performer, plus lodging, transportation (including flights), and some meals. Staff will be provided to sell performers’ merchandise.

SUBMITTING:

People who are working or have worked in the sex industry are invited to submit any kind of visual or performance art. Pieces should be no more than 12 minutes long. DEADLINE HAS BEEN EXTENDED! Please email info@sexworkersartshow.com for more information.

Thanks everyone! Please spread the word and forward this!