On Naked City TV: Sex Worker Activists Speak Up About the Movement

This episode of Naked City TV was shot while I was in Chicago for the Desiree Alliance. I interviewed sex worker rights activists from three generations about their experiences in the movement, what’s changed, and what the movements’ issues are for the future.

In this episode of the show, I interview sex worker rights activists from three generations about their experiences in the movement, what’s changed, and what the movements’ issues are for the future.

The women and organizations featured in this video are
Margo St. James – a sex worker who was one of the earliest activists of the modern sex worker rights’ movement in the United States.
St. James Infirmary – the first occupational safety and health clinic for sex workers run by and for sex workers. Operating in San Francisco since 1999.
Robyn Few – former sex worker and founder of the national Sex Workers Outreach Project
SerpentLibertine – sex worker, activist, blogger and producer of the Red Light District Chicago audio and video podcasts.

The Latest Bestest Idea on Sex Worker-Media Realtions from Desiree Alliance

A note about Desiree Coverage:

I’m just talking about things that tickled or interested me particularly, or workshops I personally attended, this is not meant to be comprehensive and anything I write about is only a minute glimpse of the many amazing things happening here right now. Also I am leaving out names of anyone that I don’t personally know or I know to be public figures in an attempt to respect privacy. I’m sorry if this means that only the same 3 or 4 people get mentioned by name, please feel free to comment and take credit for anything you said or did that I didn’t attribute to you.

A group of well spoken media whores from SWANK/SWOP NYC are in the middle of a panel presentation called “Sex Workers and Mainstream Media: What We Learned from “Spitzergate”-Tools and Inspiration for Progressive Messaging” moderated by Audacia Ray.

They have explained some of the trials, horrors and hard-won victories against the New York Times that came from the media frenzy surrounding Spitzergate. So the issue of media accountability and how to handle mainstream media is a major topic of conversation. A fucked up interview can really do a lot of harm, one of the presenters lost her job based on misrepresentation from a New York Times interviewer. However after 2 weeks of hard work and legal threats to the editor they succeeded in getting a retraction printed; a major win in terms of realistic representation and the ability of sex workers to create their own image. Audacia has a helpful guide for talking to the media on her blog Sexwork 101, but the fact is that most of the mainstream media does not care enough to veer from their pre-existing concepts of what sex workers do and think (like the assumption that ‘sex worker’ means prostitute), and of course sensationalism sells papers ad gets clicks.

Ok, this may be redundant, there are very eloquent accounts of sex worker response to Spitzer all over this blog and many others.

But KittenINFINITE came up with a brilliant new tool to watchdog the media and train them to treat us respectfully and portray us realistically: a white list and black list of media contacts, widely posted and updated. So anytime a reporter does a story with fair and accurate representation of sex workers their name and contact is added to our media ally list, and anytime a reporter fucks up or drops the ball, they get added to the Hall of Shame. A key point to help encourage compliance would be that if someone googled the reporters name there place in the Hall of Shame would pop right up. A perfect addition to BNG, I think.

Stacey then followed with her own brilliant idea: A National (or possibly International) Sex Workers Speakers Bureau to create a collected resource of media savvy and ready sex workers who are willing to speak publicly on a variety of subjects. An intensive media training conference could be arranged, and there would be a variety of speakers with different core interests and back-grounds to address whatever demographic or issue the mainstream media was covering.

The call was then put for people to “bottom line” these two projects (New York terminology cracks me up.) So who wants to compile the media info and let us know who is worth talking to and who to avoid?  And who wants to work on organizing a media focused coalition of sex workers….Veronica Monet? Are you out there?

Just a personal note: the sex worker activists from New York always impress the pants right off me. They present such an organized, smart and dedicated face to addressing sex worker issues and needs. They can pull off the air of professionalism often required to get the lay world to listen and take us seriously, while retaining and conveying a broad scope of information and the interests of diverse communities of workers. I love the variety of styles of activism our community encompasses, and the $pread and Swanks of this movement play a key role.

Working Hearts: Blog for Sex Workers and their Partners about Unpaid Realtionships

Hey all,

Consider this your official invitation to Working Hearts: www.workingheart.blogspot.com,

the blog I recently started to create conversation and support for sex workers and their personal partners around sex workers’ unpaid love/sex relationships.

I would absolutely love it if any of you wanted to write a blog post, please just send me an email and write “post starts here:” right before the part you want me to publish.

Currently the blog has a few posts from a couple of different people and some informal polls, the current poll is about trying to leave the industry and the factors behind the decision to leave.

Partners are also welcome to post, eventually I will probably create a separate site for partners, but for now I’d love this to be a place to discuss opinions and experiences around relationships, answer each other questions and help support each other around this important topic that to me seems crucial to our health and quality of life as a community.

Audacia Ray interviewed me about Working Hearts for her Village Voice blog  Naked City in the interview series Four on the Floor, if you’d like to read more about why I’m doing this and what my thoughts are on the subject, check it out.