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Archive for the ‘Biography’ Category

Maggie, Michael & ChristinaIf you meet me in the next few months and notice that my left arm is darker than my right, that’s what comes of driving due north in Arizona for six hours in June.  Actually, I did two long drives through the desert last week; on Tuesday I traveled from San Diego to Tucson, then on Thursday from Tucson to Las Vegas.  My traveling companion won’t rejoin me until tomorrow, so I was in a rented car which, alas, had no usb port for my thumb drive full of music; I was therefore stuck listening to the radio.  And in long stretches of rural Arizona and Southeast California that essentially means a choice between preaching, Mexican stations or static.  Still, I made it through and had a lovely time at the home of Cris Sardina, the head of the Desiree Alliance; the night I arrived six of us got together to have dinner, eat cake and swap war stories.  The next day I worked on my blog, washed clothes and did some more visiting, and then on Thursday arrived at the home of Christina Parreira and her husband Michael Whiteacre, who had invited me to stay at their place for a few days.  I was really very fortunate to have these invitations; not only did it enable me to save money on hotels for almost a week, it also afforded me the opportunity to eat home cooking and be out of the impersonal hotel environment for a while.  I’m definitely hoping to get a few more invitations like these in the next few months, for the sake of both my budget and my sanity!

On Friday morning, I was interviewed on Sex Nerd Radio, then later Christina had to go in to the brothel where she works; we arrived after dark and since it was quiet, she and two of the other ladies gave me a tour of the place.  If they had not told me it was converted from a group of trailers, I would never have known (though the sprawling arrangement might’ve given me a clue).  The workers decorate their own rooms, and the ones I saw were quite lovely; besides the public areas one would expect (parlor, bar, pool room, etc) there were also private areas customers don’t go, such as the kitchen and laundry room.  We then sat out on the patio chatting for a while before Michael and I returned to the city; one aspect of this tour I’m really enjoying is that I’m getting plenty of opportunities to talk to other sex workers in these informal settings, and I certainly hope those I’m talking to enjoy it just as much!

Today I’ll be giving a talk at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, then it’s off to Denver tomorrow; we decided to bypass Albuquerque because there was nothing going on there, but I may be doing several things in eastern Colorado so keep watching the tour schedule!

Here’s my tour schedule, which is still in flux; check back when I’m getting close to you for details of local appearances.  If your city isn’t on the list, but it’s within about four hours’ drive of another city which is on the list, just send an email asking me to visit.  Your request will have even more impact if you can suggest a specific place I could do a book reading or give a talk, and it’s virtually assured if you can actually make the arrangements yourself (in other words if it’s your store, club or whatever).

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Feminine virtue is nothing but a convenient masculine invention.
–  Ninon de l’Enclos

The neofeminists would like people to imagine whores and intellectuals as opposites, and they pretend that making one’s living by pleasing men is philosophically incompatible with equality.  Indeed, most modern prohibitionist propaganda is based upon depicting the prostitute as a mentally inferior creature whose statements about her own thoughts and feelings cannot be trusted, and the horrible Swedish model is sold as a means of promoting female equality.  But as regular readers know, these dogmas are the exact opposite of the truth; throughout history many harlots chose the life specifically as a means of ensuring economic and social independence, and up until the 19th century courtesans were nearly the only women who were educated.  In fact, the spiritual ancestresses of modern neofeminists based much of their condemnation of whores on the very qualities the neofeminists pretend we lack, namely our independence, unconventionality and willingness to engage in free commerce with men; rather than whoredom being the opposite of feminism, whores were in fact its originators, both practically and philosophically.

Ninon de l'EnclosOne of the first to write extensively on the subject was Anne de l’Enclos, who is best known by her childhood nickname “Ninon”.  She was born in Paris on November 10th, 1620 (some sources claim slightly earlier or later years)  to a devout Catholic mother and an Epicurean father; not much is known about her parents (not even their names) except that they were comfortably middle-class and that their personalities and philosophies were strikingly different.  Ninon was a tomboy, and it amused her father, a professional musician, to indulge her by educating her like a boy and even allowing her to dress as one while riding (to her mother’s consternation).  By the time her father was exiled from France in 1632 (due to a duel fought over another man’s wife), Ninon had decided that religion was an invention; perhaps due to the disastrous example provided by her parents, she had also resolved never to marry.  In her late teens she allowed herself to be “ruined” by the Comte de Coligny so as to ensure her mother could not marry her off, and though she was consigned to a convent because of it she left as soon as her mother died, less than a year later.

Though it is doubtful her father had planned for her to become a courtesan, his example and the education he had afforded her (including mastery of the lute and clavichord) made her perfect for the profession, especially considering that she had also been well-known in Parisian society since childhood.  She frequented all the fashionable salons, and soon established one herself (generally holding them in rented hotel suites rather than her own drawing room); at first only men attended due to her reputation, but she eventually became so popular that even “respectable” women could be found there.  It is difficult to know which of the notable attendees were clients and which just friends, because she kept most of the transactions strictly business.  Though many courtesans of the time preferred long-term semi-romantic arrangements to one-off dates, so great was Ninon’s aversion to matrimony that she avoided anything which even resembled it; though she did take lovers, they never lasted for more than three months and she still accepted paid dates during the term because she refused to be financially dependent on anyone.  Once she grew tired of a lover she would tell him so honestly, and the majority of her exes remained friends or even clients.  She only ever made one exception to the three-month rule:  She lived with the Marquis de Villarceaux at his country estate for three years, pursuing her studies while he hunted and chased other women; she even bore him a son, whom she loved dearly for the rest of her life.  But eventually Paris beckoned and she answered, and when the Marquis followed her and confronted her in a rage, she cut off her hair and handed it to him as a keepsake:  the bob started a fad, and the Marquis cooled down and went back to being just a friend.

In that sexually-saner time, courtesans were in no danger from the law; but while gossip and jealousy were the worst harms Ninon’s libertinism could bring, her outspoken views on organized religion were another matter.  It was not illegal to hold such views (which were not at all uncommon among the intelligentsia of the time), and even most clergy were inclined to be tolerant of them; Cardinal Richelieu had once even tried to hire her, though she had spurned him.  But certainly some of those in power took a dim view of them: one of these was the Queen Mother, Anne of Austria, who as regent for her young son Louis XIV had Ninon imprisoned in the Madelonnettes Convent in 1656.  She passed the time writing a pamphlet entitled “The Coquette Avenged” (in which she argued that it is not necessary to be religious to be moral), but she was not there long; she was visited by Queen Christina of Sweden, an intellectual who had abdicated the Swedish throne to travel about Europe as a patron of arts and letters.  Though without a throne, Christina was still very influential; she wrote to Cardinal Mazarin asking him to release Ninon, and he immediately granted the request.

The above-mentioned pamphlet, released in 1659, is one of the few specimens of the courtesan’s philosophical writing to be published in her lifetime; most of what we know of her thought comes from accounts by friends such as Moliere, and from her extensive correspondence with the Marquis de Sévigné (published half a century after her death).  Like her father, Ninon was an Epicurean; she was a materialist who denied the existence of the soul, and held that ascribing spiritual origins or dimensions to impulses which derived from physical causes was the source of much of the world’s sorrow.  Nowhere was this more true, in her estimation, than in the case of love, which she held to be the greatest of pleasures; by pretending that an amoral, physical passion actually derives from lofty spiritual impulses, people do love a disservice and create conflict where it does not naturally exist.  She also argued that men and women are naturally equal, and more alike than different; she felt that more egalitarian relations between the sexes would result in greater appreciation of each for the other.

Ninon de LenclosAfter she turned forty, she began to invest more time and energy in intellectual and literary activities and less in sex work; she stopped taking new clients entirely about 1667, though she never stopped being sexually active.  By this point in her career, “good” women were no longer as afraid of her as they once were; she even became the close friend of Françoise d’Aubigné, a lady-in-waiting who later become the second (morganatic) wife of Louis XIV (who was himself said to have great respect for the veteran courtesan’s advice).  Her heightened respectability was not due to any softening of her attitude about marriage, however; while it was customary for established, property-owning sex workers to affect the title “Madam” even if they had not entered into marriages of convenience, Ninon defiantly styled herself “Mademoiselle de l’Enclos” in her later years.  After her retirement, she opened a school in which she taught the arts of love, covering such topics as how to woo a woman, how to take care of a wife or mistress and how to properly end an affair.  She also took female students, though she taught them privately rather than in groups; while she charged men tuition, she gave women the benefit of her experience for free.  She was by this time quite wealthy, and often assisted struggling writers; when she died on October 17th, 1705 she bequeathed 2000 livres as a scholarship for the ten-year-old son of her accountant Francois Arouet, a boy who grew up to write under the name Voltaire.

While it’s completely true that Ninon de l’Enclos was an exceptional whore, the difference was mostly one of degree rather than of kind.  For millennia before her and for centuries since her time, intelligent, pragmatic women have chosen to sell sex as a way of supporting ourselves without selling ourselves as so many of our conventional sisters do.  Like Ninon, many of us are freethinkers who are skeptical of society’s sacred cows; like her, many of us are generous with both money and advice in causes we consider important.  And like her, those of us who dare to express our ideas are targeted by prohibitionists who want to lock us away someplace where our voices cannot be heard by the young and open-minded.

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While you were reading last week’s diary entry, we were driving down from San Francisco to Los Angeles.  The effects of the prolonged drought are strikingly horrific; what was green and lush the last time I drove that way is now a barren waste of parched brown grass, and farmers are planting only a fraction of their arable land because there wouldn’t be enough water to irrigate all the crops if they planted all they could.

Of course, Los Angeles looked like Los Angeles always looks; our hotel was near the airport, so getting downtown for my talk at Liberty On the Rocks was not difficult.  The turnout was good, and the audience very enthusiastic; it was a mix of LOTR members and readers, and the questions were all good ones.  Then on Friday morning I had my makeup done professionally (for the first time in my life!) in preparation for my interview on Reason TV.  My interviewer was Dr. Thaddeus Russell, whom regular readers may recognize as the author of A Renegade History of the United States; he first expressed an interest in interviewing me last November, but since I don’t exactly get to LA that often it took a while to set up.  It should be edited and posted sometime in the next few weeks, and when it is I’ll embed it in that week’s TW3 column.

My friend went off on a side trip Friday morning (we’re going to meet up again in Las Vegas this weekend), so on Saturday I rented a car and drove down to San Diego.  I didn’t have any public gigs there, but I was interviewed for the Edge of Chaos podcast and spent the afternoon and evening with my husband, who’s been working in the area for some time now.  Today I’m driving over to Tucson to meet with some sex worker activists there, then on Thursday I’m headed to Las Vegas, where…well, you’ll see next week!

One of the attendees at my LOTR appearance gave me a primer in how to accept payments and donations via bitcoin, so as soon as my application for the processing company is approved you should see a new way to donate appear below the subscription box.  And that’s important because, frankly, my expenses have been higher and revenues lower than I had originally hoped, and it looks as though I’ll be doing a lot more sex worker rights activities than book activities.  So, I’ve set up a GoFundMe page, which has already attracted almost 20% of my goal since I activated it Friday night; if you can contribute anything please do!  Some of you have already been extremely generous even before I set up this page, and I can’t possibly express how grateful I am for each and every one of you.

Here’s my tour schedule, which is still in flux; check back when I’m getting close to you for details of local appearances.  If your city isn’t on the list, but it’s within about four hours’ drive of another city which is on the list, just send an email asking me to visit.  Your request will have even more impact if you can suggest a specific place I could do a book reading or give a talk, and it’s virtually assured if you can actually make the arrangements yourself (in other words if it’s your store, club or whatever).

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A woman has the exclusive right to decide if she wants to work in prostitution and it is forbidden for anyone to interfere…we must put an end to the condescension and paternalism of politicians and others who purport to speak for…prostitutes and determine what is good for them.  –  “Shelly”

R.I.P. Maya Angelou Maya Angelou

Poet and author Maya Angelou passed away on May 28th at the age of 86, and predictably the obituaries have all either ignored or glossed over the fact that as a young woman she worked both as a whore and a brothel madam.  Though she wrote about this period of her life in her second book, Gather Together In My Name, feminists and others who wished to make Angelou into an icon have sanitized the inconvenient fact for decades, and aren’t letting a little thing like her death change that.  Peechington Marie discusses the whitewashing in a thoughtful article on Tits and Sass.

The Red Umbrella

Like so many of its type, this article about the brutal rape and robbery of a Michigan sex worker by sociopathic twins Michael and Peter Versluys spends more ink on the bizarre, ignorant and opportunistic statements of prohibitionists than on the victim:

Websites such as backpage.com allow sex trade customers to check out who’s for sale from the comfort of their living room…“It makes it a hundred times more dangerous,” sex worker advocate Anny Donewald said.  That’s because sex workers can no longer see who is approaching them like they could when customers would drive or walk by…“You…never know who’s coming or…where you’re being sent to,” she said…So why don’t prostitutes simply find a safer occupation?  Donewald says the sex industry has a separate culture with its own rules and that it’s hard for anyone to get out…“These girls were conditioned in the sex industry since they were 12 and 13 years old, and so they don’t know another way”…

Donewald claims to have been a whore, which makes this farrago of idiotic arse-backward nonsense all the more pathetic.  Compare this from a civilized country:

…sex [workers were] confronted at gunpoint in a series of robberies of interstate escorts who came to Adelaide for four or five-day stints.  The bandit used a series of mobile phones and worked out when the women were due to leave…so that he hit when they had the most cash…[the victims were] initially unsure how detectives would treat the case, given…[they] were sex workers…“But it wasn’t like that…All of the police…were nothing but professional” [one said]…John Steven…Costi’s violence escalated [in his last robbery before being arrested]…He…died in an apparent [jailhouse] suicide…before his trial…

Maggie in the Media

I’m quoted extensively in this student article about the problems of sex work criminalization in Louisiana, and also in Elizabeth N. Brown’s Reason article on International Whores’ Day.

Cognitive Impairment

I wonder if VandeHoef plugged her Hitachi magic wand into the computer’s power strip while she was writing this lurid fantasy, or if she just used a battery-powered masturbation aid instead?

…There’s an enormous yuck factor to being groped by and copulating with strangers…But I wanted to know more about those who said they willingly did this…I expected a…diatribe about how it’s an adult’s right to choose to rent out her…intimate orifices…prostitution dehumanizes a person by reducing her (or him) to a quivering piece of flesh to be used, squeezed and thrust upon exclusively for the sexual gratification of whoever has the right amount…of cash…a Nordic-style model…[is] the best option for those who don’t want their tax dollars used to sanction an industry that reduces people to rentable sex parts…forced into a nightmare of numerous daily rapes, violence, venereal disease and substance abuse.

Tyranny By Consensus the future of porn in California

A bill that would require condoms to be used in all adult films produced in California narrowly cleared the Assembly…the measure’s [sponsor claimed] he sought to bring workplace safety standards, present in all other “legitimate businesses,” to the adult film industry…He noted that law enforcement officers, doctors, nurses and other professionals all are required to wear protective gear when risking exposure to blood-borne pathogens…

A Whore in Church

Because whores are subhuman monsters who can’t possibly have religious beliefs.

Staff at a US newspaper received a shock…when they discovered a witch profiled in the paper’s “Faith and Values” section was also allegedly a prostitute.  Intelligencer Journal…published a statement online…expressing…regret that the woman’s extracurricular activities were not picked up by editorial staff…The original story…has since been removed [from the paper's] website…

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #8)

The last poll said the same thing:

…a poll…found that the majority of the [Israeli] public is against criminalizing the solicitation of prostitutes.  Some 63 percent of respondents…agreed that criminal punishment should not be given to those who buy sexual services from prostitutes if both sides agree to the transaction…The Association for the Regularization of Prostitution in Israel [explained] that legislation criminalizing prostitution would mainly harm women…

Above the Law

Only when a cop’s rape victim is very young are reporters willing to call the crime what it is:  “A Tennessee police officer is accused of sexually abusing a girl over five years…Steven Feinberg began molesting the girl when she was 12…[and] raping [her] when she was 14…”  When the victim is an adult, the crime drops to mere “sexual assault”:  “Clearwater [Florida] Police…are investigating a report of sexual assault…by an officer…attending a training conference for the International Association of Human Trafficking Investigators…”  And when the victims are whores, it’s just “sex on duty”:  “A…San Bernardino [California] police officer has been convicted of forcing two prostitutes to perform sex acts on him while he was on duty…The jury found Jose Jesus Perez…guilty…of two felony counts of deprivation of rights under color of law and one misdemeanor civil rights offense…

An Example to the West 

Real People (TW3 #21)

A new Channel 4 documentary, My Granny the Escort, will reveal what it is really like being a mature sex worker.  Sheila Vogel-Coupe pulls in…£250-an-hour…and entertains up to 10 clients a week who are as young as 20…85-year-old Sheila has been working as an escort for four years, following two happy marriages.  Sadly, both husbands passed away from illness…

Imagination Pinned Down

Note how interchangeable these “sex trafficking survivor” narratives are, and remember what I explained about stereotypic conformation:

Sex trafficking is…happening right here in Southern Idaho…Rebecca Bender…was a victim…for six years…”I moved off to college, and I met a guy who was pretending to be my boyfriend”…She tried to escape numerous times, but her trafficker would find her.  She was beaten regularly, branded twice, her daughter was threatened, and she was sold to other traffickers.  “I was brainwashed and threatened to keep my mouth shut”…Stacey King…says…many of the victims in the Boise area are 11 to 13-year-old girls who are targeted at a mall…

The Public Eye

Sex workers are often the subjects (or objects) of stories, but are very rarely given the platform to tell their own story on their own terms.  There’s something profoundly refreshing about watching a sex work narrative unfold without feeling the usual…fear that sex work will be misrepresented, sensationalised, demonised, glamourised; that sex workers will be objectified; that the narrative will hinge around a worker having her…professional boundaries broken, or breaking them herself, for lurrrrve.  (Show me a mainstream narrative about sex work which is not about this and I will give you a cookie.)  [Watching]…the Sex Workers’ Opera, for the first time I felt that I could trust that whatever stories would be told, they…would be told respectfully. It was an exhilarating feeling…

Under Every Bed Pretty Woman scene

Another small town imagines bogeymen in the bushes and  claims lack of evidence as proof:

…District Attorney Farley Ward says he doesn’t know of any human trafficking cases yet in McAlester — but he has seen things that make him suspicious…Michael Snowden…of the [Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics'] Human Trafficking Unit, said…Seventy-eight percent of…women who are part of…sex trafficking are drug dependent…“But they say it’s a victimless crime…It’s the root of everything”…Snowden sounded particularly incensed at…Pretty Woman…“It’s not glamorous,” he said…“Richard Gere doesn’t exist”…

Yes, Snowden is so obsessed with his masturbatory fantasies that he denied the existence of a well-known celebrity.

Sex Work is Work (TW3 #407)

Dr. Brooke Magnanti on inflated “estimates” of sex work’s contribution to UK GDP:

…Having had a close look at the methods employed to come up with their impressive total of £10 billion per year, I think they are likely to be out by as much as an order of magnitude too high…they got their estimate of the current number of sex workers from Eaves for Women…[which] has come under fire for its statistical methods…Also what about men who pay for sex with other men, which accounts for the majority of male sex workers?…The ONS then go on to guess at the average earnings based on Punternet…Why not ask escorts themselves?  It’s not as if we’re hard to find…Finally, for their calculation of how many clients sex workers see in a week, they relied on research conducted in the Netherlands. It doesn’t take a genius to spot that the difference between sex work in a country where it is legal and heavily regulated, and one where it is legal but many sex workers criminalised, is simply not going to be equal…

The accountant who writes Tax Relief 4 Escorts has an even more comprehensive analysis.

Whither Canada?

On Wednesday, the Canadian government re-introduced sex work criminalization disguised under a Swedish-flavored patina of “protecting women”; essentially the new Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act re-enacts all the laws that were struck down and also criminalizes paying for sex, advertising sexual services, porn and engaging in any commercial sex in any place that has ever contained or ever will contain children:

…This cynical, dystopic model does not resolve the problems found by the Court in Bedford to be unconstitutional, and adds new ones such as the prohibition on advertising.  The Charter rights…[of] life, liberty, security of the person, freedom of expression and equality…are [all] breached…It is an unconstitutional variation of our broken laws that impose more danger, more criminalization, and fewer safe options, contrary to the requirement of the Supreme Court of Canada…All that will be required for police to surveil and target sex workers is the suggestion that a person under the age of 18 can reasonably be expected to be present…purchase [of]…sex…[carries] mandatory fines…from $500 to $4,000, to five years in jail…Without the ability to advertise in newspapers, online, or other forms of media, sex workers will now have severely limited means for working safely indoors…

I cannot believe that the entire Canadian government is so deranged or stupid as to believe this law will stand; it is obviously an attempt to continue the legal wrangling until the hot potato can be passed to the next government.

Buttons, Bags & Banknotes (TW3 #412)

According to this article about the prohibitionist weirdos of “Stop Porn Culture”, Julie Bindel’s presentation on “the politics of the sex industry” consisted of “a succession of tabloid-style personal attacks on pro-sex industry activists, academics, escorts, and performers, complete with photos seemingly lifted without permission from their social-media profiles.”  Bindel listed certain names as being part of the “pimp lobby”, the prohibitionists’ version of the Illuminati or the Elders of Zion, a shadowy cabal which apparently want sex work decriminalized because it disobeys all economic principles and decriminalization would result in expansion of the black market.  Or something.  Anyhow, reporter Rachel Hills wrote down these names of people Bindel listed as key players in the “pimp lobby”:

Chris Knight
Brooke Magnanti
Sebastian Horsley
Thierry Schaffauser
Douglas Fox
John Dockerty
Amnesty International
Elizabeth Wood
The Sexual Freedom Coalition
Jerry Barnett
Belinda Brooks Gordon
Rachel Moran
Maggie McNeill
Stella Marr

Horsley has been dead since 2010, and as regular readers know Moran and Marr are well-known prohibitionist shills.  Some of the other names are almost as inexplicable, though I’m obviously pleased to see mine there; one wonders what Bindel was smoking when she compiled the list.

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Wicked Grounds 2I never sleep well when I know I have to get up early to do something important, and last Tuesday night was no exception; it took me until 2 AM to get to bed, and three hours later I was wide awake again.  So I got up and started doing the many things I needed to get done before leaving, and we were able to depart a little earlier than I expected and make it to Denver before midnight.  Since my friend had family business to attend to there, we stayed all day Thursday, then departed early Friday morning and drove for an incredibly long time until we reached San Francisco (my friend’s idea, not mine); I have rarely been as exhausted as I was when I collapsed into a hotel bed in Berkeley at 4 AM Saturday.

I don’t need as much sleep as I did in my younger days, however, and was up again four and a half hours later.  That night I read three of my stories at the Wicked Grounds Kink Cafe to a group which included regular readers Chris Hall and Sophia, NOT Loren, and the next day three different ones to a small group at the Center for Sex and Culture.  After that, we ate a a Tibetan restaurant; I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it before, but I love eating at ethnic places and Tibetan was one of the few I’ve never had the opportunity to try before.

Today we’ll be driving down to Los Angeles, where I’ll be speaking at Liberty On the Rocks on Thursday night at 7 PM.  Then on Friday I’ll be recording an interview for Reason TV, and that weekend I hope to be able to spend some time with my husband in San Diego.  Watch this space next week for further developments!

Here’s my tour schedule, which is still in flux; check back when I’m getting close to you for details of local appearances.  If your city isn’t on the list, but it’s within about four hours’ drive of another city which is on the list, just send an email asking me to visit.  Your request will have even more impact if you can suggest a specific place I could do a book reading or give a talk, and it’s virtually assured if you can actually make the arrangements yourself (in other words if it’s your store, club or whatever).

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Since I left home for my book tour today, I thought this would be a good day to answer questions about the book and the tour.  Some of these are actual reader questions, while others are questions I anticipate I might get or information I think you could use in Q&A format.  If you have another I didn’t include, please ask it in the comments below and I’ll get to it tonight in the hotel.

Is this book wholly composed of stories which already appear on the blog?  If so, why should I buy it?

detail from Ladies of the Night coverAll of the stories except the last, “Nephil”, already appear on the blog (if you’re wondering what the title means, here’s a hint).  There are a number of reasons why you might want to buy it besides that story, though.  If you’re anything like me, you just like paper books and enjoy the experience of holding one in your hands, turning the pages, being able to lend it to a friend, etc.  You might give it as a gift to someone who would enjoy my stories, but isn’t much of a blog reader.  You might just like having all the stories in one place, bound together and topped off with fabulous Chester Brown cover art of yours truly.  Or you might just want to support my work, in which case you could think of the book itself as the gift you get for donating to a Kickstarter or public TV pledge drive.  Even the Kindle edition fulfills all of these but the first; I selected the setting that allows you to share your copy.

My favorite story isn’t in the book!  What’s up with that?

I wanted to keep this one as close to the whore theme as possible, though I did make a few exceptions, including the aforementioned “Nephil”.  Most of the stories that weren’t included, or that have been published since last November, will be in the next collection (currently scheduled for January 2016 and entitled The Forms of Things Unknown) along with a couple of older stories I haven’t shared with you and at least two or three new unpublished ones.

When will you release a book of your essays?

I’m going to start compiling Whore’s Eye View after I get back from my tour; it will include some of my favorite essays in their original forms, others in revised and/or expanded forms, still others in combined and rewritten forms and others which I originally published elsewhere, assuming I can get permission to reprint them.  I’m going to try to get it out by the end of January.

Will you be visiting my city on your tour?

Here’s my tour schedule; if your city isn’t on the list, but it’s within about four hours’ drive of another city which is on the list, just send an email asking me to visit.  Your request will have even more impact if you can suggest a specific place I could do a book reading or give a talk, and it’s virtually assured if you can actually make the arrangements yourself (in other words if it’s your store, club or whatever).  Notice that the calendar is still in flux; check back when I’m getting close to you for details of local appearances.

What if you aren’t coming anywhere near my city?

Seattle skylineUnfortunately, I had to plan this to be doable with the time and money allotted, which meant leaving out large sections of the country (especially the North and Northwest).  However, as I explained I’ll be doing another book quite soon, and since I’ll be better at this tour thing by then I will probably be able to do a better job next time.  Seattle will definitely be on next year’s tour, and if you’d like me to come by your city as well, read the question above for suggestions on how to make that happen.  If you represent an organization well-funded enough to pay for my travel and accommodations, you needn’t even wait for next year; just email me with the details.  But it’ll have to be by train or rental car; I fear and despise air travel.

Why aren’t you visiting anyplace outside of the US?

Beside the problem with air travel mentioned above, there are currently issues too complex, boring and ridiculous to explain (nutshell version: bureaucratic incompetence) that prohibit my getting a passport until I can afford the lawyer to clean it up.  Maybe one day, but not in the next few years.

Are you dedicated to self-publication, or do you plan to use a traditional publisher later?

I don’t take rejection well, and I’m not really good at asking people to do things for me, so I couldn’t handle finding either a publisher or an agent.  The whole “proposal” and “sample chapter” thing is also anathema to the way I think and write; I can’t do something halfway.  In other words, if I’m going to write a book I just write it, and once this one was written I had no desire to waste months or years shopping it around.  Now it’s out, and if a publisher sees it and wants to do a new edition or suggest a deal for my next book (or books), I’m certainly interested in hearing the offer.  But I’m much more comfortable with someone approaching me and asking, “Would you do x for me if I pay you?” than with having to approach someone and ask, “Will you pay me to do x?”  The former sits much better with my harlot’s soul.

Will you ever publish your memoirs?

Almost certainly, but not until at least five years down the road; I want to do the other books I’ve mentioned first, plus one tentatively entitled Dear Maggie and an analytical history of the “sex trafficking” hysteria once it starts to die off (that one will probably appear in 2018 if my predictions hold true).  I think it would be premature to do my memoirs before I know how well all the other stuff will sell, and how well-known I’ll be after publishing those.  Gossip fans take note:  I have absolutely no intention of naming any names in my memoirs.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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I always say, keep a diary and someday it’ll keep you.  –  Mae West

Sometime this week (we’re currently planning for Wednesday) I’ll be leaving on my tour.  The first stop is San Francisco, about three days by car; my husband and I have done it in two, but that requires longer driving days than I care to attempt without him at the wheel.  This is the longest single stretch of the whole tour; as you can see from the schedule none of the other cities are more than about six hours apart, and I can get home from New Orleans at the end in less than a day.  I’m both excited and (yes, I’ll admit it) a bit frightened; though in my younger days I would boldly go off to the far corners of the country alone in a car as long as I knew I had a place to stay at the far end, that was when I had no blog to maintain and enough cash not to care if I had unforeseen expenses.  Still, as I’ve said before, personal “growth and development…are driven by confronting adversity and overcoming obstacles”; coping with nervousness, self-doubt, uncertainty, homesickness and other, less definable negative emotions make one stronger and bolder, and I suppose I could stand a bit more of both.

As I explained in “Something Has To Give”, I’ve had to make some changes in the way I do things so as to decrease the amount of time I need to keep the show going while I’m on the road.  For the past two months, I’ve been writing as many columns ahead as humanly possible; normally I’m a full month ahead except for weekend columns and usually-Tuesday current event columns, and even then the “From the Archives” sections of my Links columns are done a month out.  But with prodigious effort I’ve done all of those through September, all the holidays and special occasions before Mabon, all the harlotographies and back issues through August and most everything else through July; I’m even four weeks ahead on my Cliterati columns and four scheduled reprints will help me to keep up with those.  But I’m also doing one more thing that I hope y’all will like: every Tuesday for the next 15 weeks (Monday in the week of July 22nd because of Mary Magdalene’s feast day) I will present “Tour Diary”, a feature in which I’ll tell y’all what I did, who I met and any other thing of interest from the previous week.  Since chatty, narrative-style columns are much quicker to write than those requiring extensive research of heavy linking, this will make it easier for me to continue to give you the daily reading you expect without exhausting myself; I also flatter myself that y’all will find my escapades worth reading, and hope that this makes up for possibly-less-polished-and-timely-than-usual TW3 offerings over the next three months.  Other nuts-and-bolts details: the columns won’t bear epigrams because those often take a lot of time to locate and select, and the pictures will be ones I take during the week described.

Please send me your prayers, good wishes, positive thoughts or whatever occupies that niche in your personal beliefs, and watch this space in eight days for the very first installment!

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Whiter Shade of Pale was a great song but you’ve gone too far in Nigeria.  –  Wise King Aido

This week, our videos are a couple of commercials.  The first (via Zenon Evans) is a Danish PSA intended to encourage young people to vote; it was pulled after only 24 hours, not for its mockery of nanny-state micromanagement but rather for “sexism”.  The second (via EconJeff, who also contributed “Tom Lehrer”) is a sweet ad for a new airport in a remote part of Turkey; you don’t need to speak the language to appreciate it.  Everything down to the first video was provided by Radley Balko, and those between the videos by Jesse Walker (“headline”),  Furry Girl (“Pygmalion”), Wikileaks (“Sweden”), Dave Barry (“crocodile”), Rick Horowitz (“electrocute” and “contempt”), Cop Block (“together”), Ally Fogg  (“conspiracy”), and Grace (“libertarianism”).

From the Archives

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It does seem overkill to shoot someone who is running away from you.  –  Cindi Keele

This week’s contributions were totally dominated by Popehat, who contributed both videos and everything above the first one, which the city of Indianapolis doesn’t want you to see (to the point of hinting it might issue a bumptious legal threat to the video’s creator).  The second video is a 1971 NASA documentary for kids, and the links between the two were provided by Clarissa (“RIP”), Radley Balko (“balloons” and “another day”), Mara Dyne (“wishlist”), Rick Horowitz (“mayhem”), Cop Block (“blinded”), and Amy Alkon (“together”).

From the Archives

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This is the second part of the story of Molli Desi, a young Indian woman abducted into a “rescue center” under the excuse that her sex worker friends might “traffick” her.  If you missed the first part yesterday, I urge you to go back and read it first before continuing.

At the “rescue” centre (which we only thought of as a “detention” centre) we were told that the NGO had custody papers for us from a court, and that we could not leave.  I think it is important to understand why we are held in custody rather than given our freedom after we are “rescued”.  Most anti-trafficking programmes must have what are called the “Three Ps”: Prevention, Protection, and Prosecution; without cases the NGOs cannot meet their prosecution quotas, and without women and girls in their centres they cannot meet their “protection” quotas.  Many of these NGOs are not rights-based at all, but rather prioritise prosecution of traffickers; they must therefore detain sex workers under “safe custody orders” so as to force them to testify in court.  This detention can last many years because the court process is so slow, so the trafficker can get bail and live free while the “victim” is held in centre or even prison.  If women or girls run away, the NGO claims they were kidnapped by traffickers.  In reality, though, it is the NGOs who are the real traffickers; sex workers and other women they capture are a commodity that they buy and sell.rescue center show  To get money from USAID they must promise to be anti-prostitution, and to get money from other donors they use women they have captured to put on shows.  The women are even given false ages to make it look like they are very young; they told the court and donors that I was 12 years old though I was actually 17, and one woman of 23 was said to be 16.

The detention house was not like the orphanage; the women and girls were scared and cried a lot.  Several of them were not even sex workers, but rather migrants without papers; the NGO said they were “at risk” for trafficking.  Most of the girls there with me were not sex workers; some had been raped while in domestic service.  Everyone wanted to leave but many had nowhere to go, because the NGO had told their family and home village that they had been trafficked and raped.  They do this to stop you from being able to go home, because they know your family will reject you for being a sex worker; it’s a way to discourage running away from the centre.  This is why it is so important to give a false name and say you are from a faraway place when they catch you (which we did); it also helps to prevent anyone from filing a First Instance Report (FIR).

After a couple of days, the NGO demanded we undergo gynecological examinations and take HIV tests, but I refused to undress or to let them take blood.  They would not respect my wishes, so I had to physically fight them; the NGO director hit me in the face with her hand, and I now have a scar on my forehead from her heavy ring.  Each day we had to do activities in the centre, and we were not allowed to go outside.  One day two white donor women came to visit the centre, and we were forced to sing and dance for them and let them take photos of us; when the staff realised I could speak English they took me upstairs and locked me in a room until the women had left.  After we had been in the centre for a week, we started planning our escape, but our hidden phone needed credit and charge; though we had the money I had hidden, we did not have any contact with outside.  We learned from other women who had been there a while that night security would exchange food and candy for sex, so we propositioned one night guard and in exchange for oral sex and money he eventually brought us a phone charger and phone credit.  We were then able to contact our sisters in the orphanage, who had been very worried about us; the orphanage had filed an FIR on us because they thought we had been kidnapped and trafficked.

Microsoft Word - Document1After another few more days of oral sex with the night guard and some of his friends (whom he was charging money for access to us), we arranged for two of our sisters to come to the centre in an auto-rickshaw, late at night (this was during a festival time).  We then used a metal bar we got from the guard to prise open the metal cage on our window, lowered ourselves onto the annex roof, and got down to the garden.  Unfortunately, the main gate was still locked and we could not get to the street, so we rang our sisters outside and they convinced the auto-rickshaw driver to break the lock and let us out, whereupon we all ran to the auto-rickshaw and fled away into the night.  We did not go straight home, but stopped for iftar food; it tasted so good, and we were all so happy to be free we laughed and cried all the way home.  When we got home everyone was so pleased to see us, and we immediately washed our clothes and had showers; I then slept for almost a whole day.  We told our director that we had been lured away by miscreants and eventually escaped from their hideout, so she wrote a report and the FIR was cancelled.  We eventually heard from a woman who escaped the detention centre later that the staff had claimed traffickers had kidnapped us from the centre, and that we had probably been sent to Mumbai.

My main accusation against the “rescuers” is that everyone presumes that they take proper care of those they “rescue”; in truth, however, the NGOs have complete power over their victims. There is no proper protection for women and girls they detain, so it is very common for centre staff to rape them.  Though the Government is supposed to supervise orphanages and centres, the reality is that it lacks the capacity to do so; all NGOs know there is inadequate supervision, and many of them resist external accountability and will pay the few inspectors who do come to give them clean reports.  This power and impunity from consequences invites abuses of all kinds, such as the way the night guard charged his friends for sex with us; personally, though, I did not find the sex trading for telephone credit and food nearly as bad as the way the women senior staff acted toward us.  They want sex workers to be forced into domestic work or garment factory work, or to be married to low caste men; they know they are trapped inside patriarchy and resent our determination to live free.  You can find many “rescue” stories on the internet, but most of them are usually mediated by the “rescuers”; if you read my account here and the various links I have included, you will hear another truth.

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