“Sex Crimes In New Orleans, Separate and Unequal”

NEW ORLEANS — In their neighborhoods, they are sometimes taunted with dirty looks and jeers. Their pictures hang on the walls of local community centers where their children and grandchildren play. And their names and addresses are listed in newspapers and mailed out on postcards to everyone in the neighborhood.

Landing a job or even finding a landlord willing to give them a place to stay is a challenge.

These women wear a scarlet letter — rather, 11 letters — spelled out on their driver’s licenses in bright orange text: SEX OFFENDER.

They aren’t child molesters or pedophiles. Most are poor, hard-luck black women in New Orleans who agreed to exchange oral or anal sex for money. In doing so they violated the latest version of Louisiana’s 206-year-old Crime Against Nature law, which carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and registration as a sex offender.

Opponents of the law say it is discriminatory and targets poor women and the gay and transgendered community who engage in what they call “survival sex.” In March, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit on behalf of nine anonymous plaintiffs against the state, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) and a host of state agencies, calling the law unconstitutional.

READ Trymaine Lee’s article AT HUFFINGTON POST HERE

‘No Humans Involved:’ Violence Against Queer and Transgender Sex Workers

Updated: Today the Gay City News, which is the most widely circulated gay weekly in the United States, published this editorial entitled “No Humans Involved’: End Violence Against Queer and Transgender Sex Workers.” I’m linking it here, because I didn’t just write it for the ‘gaystream.’ I also wrote it for the sex worker movement, which produced some very nontrans ‘woman’-centric statements for the Day to End Violence. The fact is that queer and transgender sex workers, especially people of color, low-income folks, and homeless persons, have long been targets of cops and serial killers. In response to some of the comments this post has already generated; acknowledging this fact does not in any way ‘fragment’ the movement and it doesn’t ‘blame’ or ‘scare off’ some ‘invisible majority’ of sex workers that would somehow tip the scales of public opinion in our favor.

In any case, if acknowledging that racism and homophobia and transphobia are all tied up in the policing of sex work is frightening your ‘majority’ off, that’s because of racism, homophobia, transphobia and internalized whorephobia itself. It’s absolutely criminal that you are accusing people organizing around their identities, and this editorial itself, of being ‘fragmenting’ for the movement. Read it yourself. Tell me again why I should shut up and let the ‘majority’ keep flapping their gums about this supposedly universal ‘good girl’ whore. Tell me again why you need this rotten ‘respectability’ in order to lure the straights and the Republican strippers and the property owning madames who would sooner take her 50 percent than give a damn.

What’s more, acknowledging our differences can strengthen our alliances with other movements. The fact that this editorial was published in a major ‘gay’ publication speaks to this possibility. This is a small step in the direction of remembering and reclaiming the names of those who have died but who have been ignored by us: like the young hustlers who faced death alone in the cold arms of heartless killers such as Jeffrey Dahmer and John Wayne Gacy, Jr., but also those of us who have been raped by the police, kicked out of our homes, incarcerated, and abandoned by our families.

‘No Humans Involved’: Ending Violence Against Queer and Transgender Sex Workers

To mourn the victims of murder, incarceration, and intimate partner violence in their midst, this past December 17, sex workers, clients, and allies filled New York City’s Metropolitan Community Church and marked the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. The Day was honored by more than 27 cities this year, from Nairobi to Hong Kong. Here in New York, the high-ceiling room of the church reverberated with the names of the dead.

Continue reading

Sex Work Issues — SE Asia and China

Here are two videos I found today via Facebook. Compare and contrast:

http://www.lauraagustin.com/migrant-sex-workers-in-china-massage-parlours-hair-salons-hotel-rooms (though this one is from 2007, the scene is still the same)

An Outlaw’s Insurance Policy

2 months ago, I was robbed in my home/incall by a man who demanded his money back BEFORE the sexual activity, and also got away with $250 more of mine AFTER I pepper sprayed him in the face three times.  This was the SECOND time that I had been robbed as an escort, alone, naked and defenseless (except for the pepper spray this time).  The first time, the attacker said he had a gun and he did have sex with me first, making that THEFT OF SERVICES attack a RAPE in my eyes.  (theft of services = theft of consent based on payment= RAPE)

The recent time, according to the police report that I did manage to do this time, was classified as “petty theft.”  Going to the police for petty theft is just as empowering as filling out a police report after someone breaks your car window and steals your stereo.  You know that you have lost and that no one, not the police or you will be able to do anything about your loss.  All you can do is clean up the broken glass and tape up your window.   This is the feeling that sex workers too often have once they have been robbed and/or sexually assaulted.

When I was a stripper in a club, I was fortunate enough to not have experienced this type of violence.  I used to say on panels that I spoke at “I had never been sexually assaulted WHILE a sex worker (only before).” but now that I have lived and learned the life of an outlaw escort, things are different.  This is not to say that strippers and brothel workers are by any means safe because they operate in a house or a club.  Violence against sex workers happens everywhere.

There are many who operate under the premise that women are weaker than men and that a sex worker is someone that will be an easy target for violence or robbery because of her outlaw status.  This post mainly speaks to female sex workers, not to discount the violence that male sex workers might face (but it’s just different).

I had never taken a self defense course, and I had never gotten in a fight.  I was strong in my mind and my body was athletic.  I knew, however that I had not the power or experience to fight a grown man and win.  Fortunately, all of the times that I have been sexually assaulted in my life, none have included physical altercations.  The guy who said he had a gun never showed me a gun, but I decided to not challenge it and sit there while he took back the money I rightfully earned by being with him.

This recent attacker was clearly mad that I had sprayed him in the face, so he came back to my house and slashed my tire.  I bought a stun gun the very next day and went to the Krav Maga training center to inquire about self defense.  For 3 days I entered my apartment through the back door and I turned on lights in my house preparing for his return.  The training was expensive.  There was a membership fee and a first and last payment, and they wanted $160 a month!  I charged the whole thing on the one remaining credit card I had.  I felt like I could not afford to not defend myself.

Being in a fight is a cardiovascular workout!  Adrenalyn is pumping and your breath pattern is altered even though you’re muscles are charged.  For the $160/mo you can work out and take classes as many times as you want but the average person works out 3 times a week.  You can take mixed martial arts, yoga, ground fighting and the main curriculum of Krav Maga defense.   I can’t tell you how much this program has helped my mind, my body and my power expand exponentially!  I have NEVER felt so strong and powerful than when I get to practice kicking a guy in the balls repeatedly at full force or when I learn how to pluck his hands strangling my neck against a wall!  Krav Maga trains women side by side with men.  You partner up with someone in class that is supposed to be your size and weight, but sometimes that isn’t possible and you get to experience sparring with a man.  Taking hits even while holding a pad HURTS.  But, I feel like I am in THE FIGHT CLUB now because anyone who has done this knows the adrenalyn rush you get from taking the impact of hits is almost as great as hitting.  You form a bond with your partner that is unlike any other sport I have participated in.  All of us have come to this training for an unspoken reason and it is from that fulfillment of each of our individual goals that we are bonded.  It is NOTHING like the LACK of comraderie that you feel jogging alongside someone on a treadmill or taking a dance class at the gym.

I am writing here to encourage ANY SEX WORKER THAT MAKES AT LEAST $200/HR per date to INVEST at least that amount in your self defense.  If all you can afford is a short 3 day weekend course, great, but really my feeling is that you need to train constantly to stay prepared.  One 3 day course 3 years ago is not, like J Lo would say “Enough.”  I feel that the battle is constant and that another attack can happen as long as I continue to do this work.  You are not safer because you work indoors.  Craigslist is just the “internet streets”, where the same predators and hustlers are meeting you with the same intentions except they look like straight people who go to medical school and have Blackberrys.

I consider myself in the same risk and danger zones as a street worker.  I am an upper working class anonymous client worker.  Screening is minimal.  I am a graveyard shift agency girl.  I work independently too but my main scheduled work is agency work til 6am.  Agency work operates on a bait and switch and upsell hustle which automatically throws wrenches in a clients potential respect of you as a sex worker.  I deal with de-escalating angry customers as a regular part of my shift and have to also get tips out of those angry deceived customers to make a living.  Interestingly enough, the robberies did not occur on agency time, nor did the time I was arrested from Craigslist; so I am not convinced that the violence is due to being an agency girl although the set up of the hustle I do sets me up for antagonism and sexist violence in an already unequal playing field.  The second time I was robbed I failed to screen properly because i was feeling GOOD not bad.  I had just gotten my hair done, had just had a guitar lesson…this would be the 3rd person that was to come in and out of my house and I just did not expect that the outcome would be so bad AT ALL. Things can get sloppy when you are feeling bad, but ALSO when you are feeling good!

Everyday that I train, I am preparing for my next attack.  I refuse to just stand there and let them take from me again.  I go to class and practice boxing and fighting and then I shower and get ready for my agency shift.  I am more ready for an attack than ever before.  THIS IS THE ONLY INSURANCE POLICY I HAVE.  It is expensive but worth it.  I feel that I cannot afford to not train like this.

It’s very expensive for me and the training is totally inaccessible for most people.  The crazy thing is that Krav Maga is the SAME training that is taught to police officers and military forces, because it is the martial art of the Israeli army (FREE PALESTINE).  I have political views that I must put aside while I train, and aside from the origin of the martial art, there is nothing that indoctrinates the state of Israel anywhere in the training center.  ALSO, interestingly enough the Deputy District attorney of Los Angeles (head honcho cop/lawyer) OWNS and is the Lead Instructor for Krav maga in LA.  I am thinking of approaching him about giving victims of violence who have filled out a police report 2 months of training for free.  It seems like it would be something that a cop/lawyer could go for since it advocates going to the police in some way and doesn’t mention the word sex worker even though many many sex workers would qualify.   I wonder how many of those training beside me ARE cops? are sex workers? or are training to defend against a partner in a domestic violence situation?  I am simmering on trying to pitch the idea to the owner, or just stay silent and anonymous..please check out www.kravamaga.com to find a training center near you!

Whore Lover: Sex Workers Queering Love

Whore Lover sepia 2SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 18th, 2009 – 8PM. Stories of romance in spite of social stigma, as told from both sides of the bed. Turns out it’s not actually true that sex workers are incapable of feeling love; or too generous, greedy, humiliated or gold-hearted to pursue it. Likewise, the city hosts hordes of humans who love whores. In fact, many of those who have turned a trick or courted a courtesan are luminaries of queer arts and performance.

<p>Whore Lover is a multimedia showcase of the art of balancing between erotic work and play; and establishing long-term intimacy with those of us who charge by the hour. Tales of love, lust and lucre, straight (but not narrow!) from the talented mouths of porn stars, hookers, rent boys, strippers, Dominatrices, and the lovely folks who love them. Featuring art, films,  and performances by: Sadie Lune, Kirk Read, Mariko Passion, Ed Wolf, Lorelei Lee, Ginger Virago, Seeley Quest, and Madsen Minax. Curated by Sadie Lune, and presented by the National Queer Arts Festival with support from the Creating Queer Community program.

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Whore Lover: Sex Workers Queering Love
The Garage Theater
975 Howard St. @ 6th
June 18, 2009 @ 8:00
Tickets: $12-$20
Buy Tickets on-line:
https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/66151

415-885-4006

For more information please visit: http://www.queerculturalcenter.org/Pages/QFest09/WhrLvr.html

Pompeo, Stirring up the Kettle on Rent Boys and Methheads

After being given ample content on rights work, the relation to workers of other genders, and the ins-and-outs of racist and sexist discrimination and policing by a number of New York’s working boys, Joe Pompeo pulled a Jessica Pilot  in the New York Observer with “The Hipster Rent Boys of New York.” Not a word on racial discrimination, or the use of video peepshows, strolls, or the few last-standing hustler bars, and not a word on organizing.

It wouldn’t have been so bad if the comments section wasn’t crammed full of those nasty little “diseased,” “Narcissistic,” “drug-addicted,” “meth-head” accusations that complete the very definition of an Internet article about us whores and those whoring regardless of gender.

But that’s enough raving. In other news, the Freakonomics guy (and Columbia sociology professor) Sudhir Venkatesh keeps getting quoted in what I think are questionable articles. He’s the guy who wrote a piece for Slate Magazine citing the 40 percent figure, as in 40 percent of sessions don’t include touching or sex. Maybe I should invite him on a work date?

Transgender Day of Rememberance is Today:Duanna Johnson RIP

In LA, my desire to reach the transgender community has been met with some resistance by transfolk who are angered at being profiled wrongly of being prostitutes-but I say to anyone who is outraged at being profiled as a prostitute should resist state violence which occurs to those who are criminalized for prostitution.  Being transgender and crossdressing is no longer a crime, and in states like CA are protected (not that laws or being a lawmaker or law enforcer stop people from brutality and violence).  PLEASE light a candle, tip a 40, burn an incense, smoke a bowl or whatever for all of our TG sisters and brothers who we have lost in the struggle for justice or livelihood…