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Archive for the ‘Q & A’ Category

I have naturally good looks and skin, but I strongly think I need to refine them for my husband.  In my country we don’t have as much variety of expensive beauty products as you do in the United States, so I was wondering if you could drop some tips on how to take care of oneself finely, like a courtesan did.  It would help a lot.

Like you, most of my beauty is natural; my good skin, healthy color, and other features are all mine without having to do anything other than stay healthy and clean.  I get plenty of sleep, avoid chaotic schedules whenever possible, eat a varied diet in small enough portions that I don’t put on weight, and wash my face and body with gentle products that don’t dry out my skin.  I have never smoked, used drugs or drank more than a minimal amount of alcohol (and that only on rare occasions), and I’ve never subjected my hair to harsh chemicals in order to change its color or texture.  And in fact, now that I’m aging I find myself at a bit of a loss, because I never really learned many beauty tips; for the first time I’m seeing grey hairs and dark circles, and though I don’t have any crows’ feet or smile lines yet I suppose it’s inevitable that they will eventually appear.  So, I’m only now beginning to think about some aspects of self-care that others have been dealing with since their teens, and that means I’m not really a very good source of beauty advice.  However, two months ago I asked my readers for new makeup suggestions and the response was excellent; I’m therefore going to “crowdsource” this question as well.  Readers, what beauty secrets are you willing to share?  Try to keep brand names out if you can, so the tips will apply in every part of the world.

(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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Since the very beginning of this blog, I’ve endeavored to be brutally honest on the subject of sex work; I have neither exaggerated the good aspects of the work nor hidden the bad ones.  This is not only because of my sincere belief that honesty is the best policy, but also because ugly truths that are hidden become weapons for enemies when discovered; sex worker activists must hide nothing, so the public will understand that we’re being just as honest about the things we deny as those we confess.  This month’s guest column is about one of those unpleasant aspects of sex work; sex workers’ ad copy often presents us as insatiable sex goddesses getting paid for having a ball, but in truth we really aren’t all that different from other women and work sex is generally much more about work than sex to us.  The essay is also quite unusual in that it asks for advice, much like a Q & A column; however, since the question came from a celebrity I thought it needed a different treatment.  Furthermore, though I was able to give the lady some advice from my own experience, in my opinion she needs very specialized input pertaining to an area of sex work I have no personal experience with:  commercial porn.  Because the nature of the question would tend to undermine her public persona, she asked to be published anonymously and of course I have agreed;masked woman I used the name “Anonyma” both in reference to Catherine Walters, and because the title “Guest Columnist:  Anonymous” has already been used.  Please respect her wish for anonymity by not speculating on her identity in the comments.  I hope that readers with porn industry experience (I have at least two of you in mind) will weigh in, and if you feel your advice is better given privately please email me with “Anonyma” in the subject line and I’ll forward it to her.   

I am an award winning porn performer. My image is that of a hypersexual young woman who is insatiable—a sex symbol for my fans. But off camera, that image could be farther from reality.  At first, my porn life didn’t interfere too much with my  real life; I was still able to have sexual relationships on camera, and my libido was as high as ever.  But after I was in the industry for a while, my sex drive dropped to non-existent and the thought of a man’s penis penetrating me now makes me cringe.  Why?  A lot of reasons.

On set, I’m expected to have sex for hours.  After a while, the sex isn’t pleasurable; it’s actually quite painful.  Long days on set paired with exhaustion cause tears and cuts in my vagina- oftentimes it happens on set and I am told to power through to complete the scene.  Having sex with a tear is excruciatingly painful.  My many sexual partners and exploits have also led to another painful problem:  pelvic inflammatory disease, an infection that causes inflammation of the uterus and ovaries. In other words, every time a penis gets deep inside me the pain is unreal.  Normally, pelvic inflammatory disease is treated with antibiotics and abstinence from sex, but being that my job is to have sex, it comes and goes for me.

Sexual trauma from my past has also given me a mental block that arises whenever I have a sexual encounter.  I, like many other survivors, suffer from PTSD because of the assaults I have experienced.  Also, the thought of having sex and not being paid for it now bothers me; it’s as though I only view men as dollar signs, as games to be won.  Before, I always loved men AND women!  But now I’m encumbered by this aversion to men, and the thought of having sex with a man does not appeal to me in the slightest.  I still find men attractive, but I don’t have the urge to jump on him and fuck him like I used to.

Obviously, this is causing issues in my relationship with my boyfriend.  He is amazing and understanding, but I feel guilty for not being able to please him; we have only had sex 2 times this summer (I know, it’s horrible).  I have seen a therapist and he advised me to quit sex work, and maybe he’s right; maybe it is causing permanent damage to my psyche.  But it’s my livelihood and I still love it in most ways.  Does anyone have any advice?  What do I do to get over this mental blockage?  How do I begin to have a normal sex life again?  Help! 

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Neither Here Nor There

I’m in a serious relationship with an escort; when we met a year ago I was her client, and since I’m not the jealous type her job was not an impediment to our becoming lovers.  I’m in my 40’s and she’s about the same age; she only started escorting after her divorce to provide for her kids.  However, we don’t have a lot of sex anymore, and when we do it’s nowhere near as good as it was the first few months we were together.  I would never ask her to quit her job, but she seems to have nothing left for me; she hasn’t even worn anything attractive at home since Christmas.  I was married for 17 years before divorcing a few years ago because our physical relationship deteriorated, and I don’t want to be trapped in that same situation again, but when I bring sex up with my girlfriend it just leads to fights.  I’m close to calling it quits and am desperate to find a solution.

Elvgren waitressOne of the most important missions of my blog, if not the most important mission, is getting people to understand that sex workers are not intrinsically different from other people.  The prevailing myth is that we’re “different” in some way, that we’re bad, flawed, broken, victimized, slutty or whatever; that is completely untrue.  Sex workers are as different from one another as are people in the general population, and there is no one harlot personality profile; though some might like you to believe otherwise, our willingness to have sex for pay has nothing to do with relative sex drive levels, and we don’t have predictably-greater libidos than anybody else.  I know it’s difficult for a man (except for one who has done sex work himself) to understand this; when you have sex it’s because you want to, and when you don’t want to you don’t have it.  But though neofeminists are unhappy about it, the fact is that women have sex for lots of reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with desire, and that’s even more true for sex workers.  A whore’s job performance has no more to do with sex drive than a waitress’s, teacher’s or nurse’s does.

What this means to you is that your lady’s job is neither here nor there in relation to the problem you’re having.  While in general sex workers are probably much more likely to understand a man’s needs than other women are, people tend to have a blind spot regarding their own situations; one who can understand a problem in relation to others may be completely unable to see it in herself.  Also, you said that she came to escorting later in life, long after her ideas about sex and love had formed; that makes it much less likely that she was unable to internalize the “whore’s-eye view”, and still looks at relationship sex as any amateur would.  Her quitting would make absolutely no difference in her sexual response to you; she’s not uninterested because she’s having “too much sex” or she’s “satisfied” due to her work activities, and it’s a virtual certainty that things would be the same no matter what job she did.

incompatibleYou mention that you’re only recently divorced, and I suspect she hasn’t been single again for long, either; what this looks like to me is a “rebound” relationship.  You both wanted to be with someone, and the other was convenient, but you may not be as compatible as your hormones have led you to believe.  I think this calls for introspection on your part; it’s not a good sign that she’s lost sexual interest in you even before you’re married, and it’s not going to get better by itself.  Though breakups are never pleasant, I think y’all both need to consider if you’re really right for each other, or if you’re just lonely and afraid to be alone.

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I am seriously considering taking up prostitution as a second job; I honestly think I can handle it as I like sex of any kind.  I plan on strictly condoms only, and for 2 or 3 nights a week.  I have sent some messages to agencies, but I don’t have an ID so they won’t hire me, and I have no idea how to get to know the girls on the street.

I can’t really give you any advice about street work, because I’ve never done it; frankly, I’m not sure I could handle it.  Some girls prefer street work for its simplicity and lack of need for advertising, but it’s also much more dangerous and the chance of being arrested is much higher because if clients can find you, so can cops.  I must point out, however, that there are other alternatives besides working for agencies and working on the street; the majority of sex workers nowadays simply place independent ads (for example on Backpage) and/or advertise themselves by participating on message boards.  If you have a smartphone you can take pictures pretty easily, and since most clients pay extra attention to new girls in an area you can get started very quickly.  This approach also has the advantage of letting you see how other girls advertise and taking lessons from them (both in what to do and what not to do).  Even if you don’t have a credit card to pay for ads, message-board advertising is generally free and it gives you the added bonus of being able to chat with other ladies.  If you don’t want to deal with ads at all, you could try to find work in a massage parlor, which has the advantage of being very regular job-ish (in the sense that you work at a specific place for set hours), but one of the same disadvantages as street work:  it’s really easy for the cops to find you.

Before you decide which way to proceed, I suggest you look at the “mentoring” section of my “Previously Asked Questions” page, especially “What advice do you have if I want to start working immediately?”  And one more thing:  you say “I plan on condoms only”, as though you had an option to do otherwise; please let me assure you that you don’t.  You must absolutely use a condom, every time, no matter how “clean” a client looks nor how much he offers you to go without.  There is no way of knowing for sure who might have an STI, and HIV is still not curable; it’s simply not worth the risk to you and your clients.  When it comes to sex a large fraction of men are completely irrational, and will take risks despite knowing better; it is therefore incumbent on you to insist that unprotected sex is simply not an option no matter what a client says.

(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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Would you care to comment on this?  “…this video…[shows] a boy [being] sexually assaulted and molested by an adult woman, to the huge entertainment of a bullying, out of control crowd.  The boy is obviously trying to go along with good humor, fear-grin plastered across his face, but as things progress it’s obvious he’s being humiliated, shamed, and disturbed over sexual behavior he doesn’t fully understand, and being mocked the whole time for it…

inappropriate lap dance(Readers can watch the video at the link if they like, but it isn’t necessary to follow my response).  As you probably know, I vehemently oppose characterizing adolescents of either sex as “children”; it’s hard to tell the boy’s age from that video, but I’d guess he’s in puberty rather than pre-pubescent, and therefore not a “child”.  And if he’s not a “child”, that can’t be “child molestation”, Q.E.D.  Furthermore, I consider the criminalization of every possible transgression to be a smoothly-paved road to totalitarianism; there are at least five distinct levels of offense, of which criminality is the most serious.  When one uses a legalistic term like “child molestation”, one is at least strongly implying (if not outright stating) that one believes state violence would be an appropriate response to the situation; I do not agree that sending a goon squad to beat, chain, humiliate, cage and ostracize that woman for life would be an appropriate response to her offense.

Next, we have to consider the principle of harm reduction.  No matter how much prudes and child cultists wish to pretend otherwise, the evidence is that adult-adolescent sexual contact usually has few if any long-term effects; as I wrote three years ago, “most of the trauma associated with sexuality involving minors derives not from some mystical property of sex itself, but from the considerable fuss adults make over it when it is discovered (including endless invasive and uncomfortable interviews with creepy strangers asking highly personal questions), not to mention guilt over getting someone else in trouble”.  When I was gang-raped by three cops (which I’m sure you will admit was a far more egregious violation of my person than what we see in this video) I did not report it because “from my viewpoint the rape could last an hour and be over except for nightmares and flashbacks, or I could let lawyers and judges and cops subject me to a waking nightmare, a slow-motion rape that might go on for months or years.”  Some people who have been raped or sexually assaulted want to go through the legal process in order to gain closure, exact vengeance or attempt to protect others from violation, while others do not; it is nobody’s business which the victim chooses but his or her own.  Even full-out aggravated rape is not the end of the world, and non-violent sexual humiliation far less so; in the case of the boy in the video, the emotional and psychological damage from a protracted criminal prosecution would be vastly greater than any he experienced during this episode, and to what end?  To please adults whose sensibilities were offended, or who just have an axe to grind?  I think not.

axe to grindThen there’s the issue of projection.  As a side-effect of empathy, human beings have the unfortunate tendency to project their own emotions onto other people; we ask ourselves, “how would I feel in that situation?”  When it helps us to connect to others, to view their hurts as serious and their needs as worthy of consideration, it is a good and positive thing.  But when it causes a person to overrule the statements or wishes of the other, to say, “no, you’re wrong, you don’t feel that way because I would feel differently in your place”, or to demand state violence be inflicted on someone against the wishes of the actual victim, that is a horse of an entirely different color.  It’s fine for you to say, “I would be humiliated and upset if I were in that boy’s place”, or even “I believe that boy was absolutely mortified and traumatized”.  It is not fine, however, for his parents to demand retribution unless he wants it himself, and it is tyrannous for the state to demand such retribution on the grounds that the “victim” is state property.  Moreover, it is absolutely outrageous for uninvolved strangers to demand such retribution against the victim’s wishes on the grounds that it made them uncomfortable; that is the basis for virtually all prohibitionism, and thus a moral and social abomination.

I believe that what that woman did was probably wrong (in a moral sense) and certainly inappropriate; since I know nothing about the people involved I cannot say anything else for certain.  If I had been there I would have put a stop to it, but since no responsible person did we are left with nothing but a very limited amount of information…far too little to ruin two lives over.

(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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An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish.  Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head.  –  Eric Hoffer

shouting at a brick wallI often get questions from readers asking if I’d like to school some ignoramus who has written a prohibitionist screed packed with disinformation, either in the news media or on a blog.  When I first started activism four years ago, I nearly always said “yes”; it was a chance to be heard by people who didn’t yet know me, and to draw more attention to this blog.  But as I explained in “Something Has To Give”, I just don’t have time for that kind of unpaid work any longer; from my point of view I can spend my afternoon writing a blog post that will be read by many thousands, or a commissioned article that may be read by tens of thousands, or a futile attempt to convert a true believer that will be read by dozens (hundreds at best) of other true believers.  And I’m much too pragmatic a woman to choose the latter when the first two options are so much more sensible.  Lest you think this is a recent decision on my part, allow me to quote a two-year-old column:

For any given issue there are three positions:  Those who are strongly for it, those who are strongly against it, and those who don’t have a strong opinion either way.  And no matter what fanatics and demagogues may tell you, the third is nearly always the largest group on any issue.  When trying to sway public opinion, therefore, the wise writer or speaker targets that middle group, the “silent majority”.  It’s silly to waste energy in trying to convince those who are already convinced (“preaching to the choir”), and pointless to argue with those who are dogmatically committed to the opposite view (one can’t reason a person out of a position he didn’t reason himself into).  But the members of that third group, if they can be won, will decide the way the wheel turns.  They are the ones who took it for granted that black and white people couldn’t live together peacefully, but now abhor racism; they’re the ones who accepted the claim that homosexuals were perverts, yet now agree with equal conviction that they shouldn’t be mistreated.  And they’re the ones that in the United States believe that whores are pathetic losers, degraded victims or depraved criminals, but in most other Western nations disagree with that notion.  They’re the ones the “trafficking” fetishists have drawn into their moral panic, and the ones who will drop that panic like yesterday’s fad once the majority recognize it as a lie.

The problem with debating true believers is succinctly explained in today’s epigram; Jefferson covered the same ground with, “Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.”  Consider creationists, for example; they live in a society where the soundness of the scientific method is evident every single waking moment of the day, and where there is a mass of biological and geological information at their fingertips.  Debunkings of every single creationist talking point are a mouse-click away, and creationists are exposed in passing to evidence supporting the great age of the Earth at least a couple of times per week.  But does any of it have any effect?  Not on your life, because it’s impossible to force something into a space that’s already occupied by something else.  The mind of a true believer is not empty; it is so stuffed with the reality-denying rubbish of his belief system that there is no room for facts, at least in those areas occupied by his beliefs.

Anti-sex beliefs are not mere ignorance; they are religious beliefs like any other, accepted on faith and requiring the denial of all information to the contrary.  There is never any profit in attempting to engage such a person on her own ground; it’s merely a waste of time and energy that could be better employed elsewhere, such as in speaking to people whose minds are not already closed.  That’s what I do in my writing, both on-blog and off; it’s also what I did a few weeks ago in guest-teaching two sections of a human sexuality class at Oklahoma State University.  It’s possible that some people who come to my blog, many who encounter my articles on mainstream sites and a few of the students I spoke to in person remain unconvincedofficial residence of Charles Mader or even shut their minds to my information, but the majority don’t.  Even debating a prohibitionist in a public venue can be productive, as long as one is reasonably certain that a sizeable fraction of the audience are receptive to fact and reason.  But when one argues with a “true believer”, either alone or surrounded by other “true believers”, one might as well be arguing with a dumpster.

(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 have not been in many relationships and am still a technical virgin at 25.  In the past that was mostly due to a desire to wait until marriage (inspired by a Catholic upbringing and severe OCD), but more recently a busy grad school/work schedule and a plethora of painful “female problems” have made a healthy, happy sexual relationship an impossibility.  Despite the physical issues, the biggest impediment to physical intimacy is my mind; I allow myself to be on the receiving end, but find myself unable to reciprocate.  I want to be physical and uninhibited, but I find myself frozen and cannot get past it to take an active role in pleasing a man; though my OCD is better it isn’t gone, and I can’t let myself lose control.  I want to be a giving, honest lover, but something in my head just stops me and I feel indifference, if not aversion.  I have a therapist, but I need any advice you can give; chronic pain and no physical intimacy makes you feel dead.

cluttered deskWhen one is trying to deal with a problem, and I mean any problem, it helps to be able to clearly see what you’re working with.  If you were trying to repair something or get your tax papers in order, you’d be wise to clear off the table before putting your work there; extraneous clutter gets in the way of seeing whatever it is you’re trying to focus on, and might even result in some important part or paper being lost among things that have nothing to do with the problem at hand.  Personal problems aren’t any different; trying to focus on one while there are a number of others in the way can make it difficult or even impossible to deal with the main issue.  Unfortunately, clearing away mental and emotional clutter is vastly more difficult than transferring a bunch of junk from the table to the sideboard and wiping the surface down; furthermore, it’s not always possible to tell which bits and pieces are pertinent and which extraneous.  However, it’s vital that you at least make the attempt.  Any one of the issues you have listed could present a barrier to intimacy, and you have several; the first step in solving your main problem is therefore dealing with as many of the underlying ones as possible.

First, you speak of your OCD in the past tense; I’m guessing that most of that is due to therapy, but if you’re taking medication for it please be aware that psychoactive drugs often have sexual side effects.  I am not advising you to go off any meds; what I’m saying is that you need to be aware of the way in which they may help or hinder your quest for intimacy.  Since your issues are “better but not gone”, it goes without saying that you need to keep doing whatever you’ve been doing, so as to continue toward they day when they are largely behind you.

Next, there’s the issue of your schedule.  I understand better than most people that economic realities supersede considerations of what we “want” or what might be convenient, but at the same time you need to realize that work- and school-related stress can be huge barriers to emotional intimacy, even for people without your other problems.  I suggest examining your schedule and trying to find ways in which it can be made less busy so that you have more time for you.  Perhaps you need to take fewer hours; perhaps you need to pace your course work out more; perhaps you need to find an alternative source of income so as to lessen your need to work (obviously, in your case sex work would not be a good idea).  Failing everything else, perhaps you may need to take a sabbatical from relationships until you finish school:  I was largely celibate from early 1995 to late 1997, and avoided sexual relationships until the end of 2000, and it really helped me to discard a lot of the heavy emotional baggage I had been carrying around for the better part of two decades.  Only you can determine which of these approaches is right for you, but I’m sure your therapist and/or trusted friends can help you to think it through.

Then there are the female problems; as I’m sure you’re already aware, two of the three you listed are often (if not usually) of psychosomatic origin, and therefore may not truly be separate from the psychological and emotional issues, especially considering that those issues are related to your aversion to premarital sex.  Though Christian anti-sex propaganda teaches that sex is better for those who wait, this is rarely true and is often a blatant lie:  women who have been afraid of sex and avoided it for their entire adult lives don’t suddenly open up and lose their fear merely because Church and State give them a signed permission slip.  More often, they are unable to relax until days, weeks or even months after the wedding, and as an escort I saw many clients whose wives were still highly sex-averse after decades.  What this means to you is getting a competent gynecologist to determine whether your physical problems are somatic or psychosomatic, and to proceed with whatever therapeutic regimen is indicated for each one.

The Sheik (1921)Finally, there’s the passivity issue.  This is actually less unusual than you might think; every escort has heard things like “my wife gives me sex, but she won’t give head”.  Many women, especially those from Christian backgrounds, view sex as a thing to endure  rather than to participate in; since sex is “sinful” they’re “bad girls” if they initiate any sexual act, but “good girls” if they passively submit to a husband’s desires without actively doing anything themselves.  This is one of the reasons rape and bondage fantasies are so popular:  they allow women with this kind of programming to subconsciously say, “this isn’t my fault; he made me do it”.  It may be that you will need to explore that side of your sexuality; embracing submissive fantasies may let you short-circuit the guilt that comes from active participation, and that can (paradoxically) open the door to full acceptance of yourself as a sexual being.  Think of it as a mental judo move:  rather than trying to take on your inner nun directly, you’re using her own attack against her.  The very impulse to avoid responsibility for sex could be the back door into enjoyment of it.

I used the word “finally” above, but there’s nothing “final” about this discussion; as you begin to sort through the problems, you may find others waiting underneath to jump on your hands.  Don’t let that discourage you; it’s part of the process, like having to pay an overdue bill that you discover while clearing off the table.  It’s going to take you some time, so you must be patient; however, you’re still young so that is to your advantage.  I was 28 before I even began to deal with my issues, so you’ve got a three-year head start on me.  And as you make progress with separating the important issues from the incidental ones and the easily-cured ones from those that will take a lot of work, remember that any advice I can give you is yours for the asking.

(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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Is it just me, or are you less patient than you used to be?

Marilith by Kerembeyit (2009)It all depends on what you mean.  I’ve never been patient with fools, trolls, ninnies, sophists, fanatics and the other assorted riff-raff who attempt to lay claim to my time and energy.  In fact, my impatience with such people is almost legendary; Grace describes the results of my being obstructed by such a person in real life or on the telephone as “maggieing”, and when someone behaves in a way that she knows from experience will precipitate it, she is often heard to say, “Somebody’s about to get maggied.”  Offline, most of the recipients of this kind of vitriol are either bureaucrats or obfuscatory customer service people who have been trained not to give me what I want, but online they generally have some kind of axe to grind.  Most of them are prohibitionists deliberately trying to waste my time, or seeking to make me look bad by drawing me into some kind of no-win interaction; others are such narcissists they actually imagine they have the right to make demands of me:

…Apparently, every last anonymous prohibitionist on the internet believes that I just lie about all day, looking at myself in the mirror and eating bonbons while my staff writes my blog; I…surely have unlimited time to refute all of his tinned arguments, look up links for him and restate…my entire professional oeuvre in convenient 140-character sound bites.  As I told one such individual recently, I would take as much time with him as necessary if he were a legislator trying to push for decriminalization or a celebrity who planned to advocate it on national TV; I’m sure you won’t be surprised when I tell you that he was offended by the suggestion that he did not have the power to influence millions…

Even when confronted with trolling, I generally try to be as polite as possible:

…when it’s in the comments here I usually just employ my screening process so as to avoid subjecting my readers either to annoyance or to the unlovely sight of my eviscerating someone with my Medusan agony blade…On Twitter, however, it’s different; I was ingrained from a young age with the principle that it’s rude to ignore people, so when I’m in what I perceive as a public space (rather than my “home” here) I find it difficult to simply ignore drive-by comments directed at me.  Since I hate arguments I start out politely and often finish the same way; sometimes the commenter reveals himself to be a troll or buffoon and I can excuse myself in good conscience within a few “tweets”.  But other times I am confronted with someone who seems to imagine herself (and it’s nearly always a “her”) some sort of crusader going into battle against the great Sphinx, and to believe that I will surely flee from the light of Divine Wisdom as revealed to her by the Holy Polaris Project or the Prophet Melissa.  But since I refuse to take anything on faith or to accept arguments from authority, and they never have any actual facts, they enter these battles of wits only half-armed at best.  I still start out polite, but as they continue to reply with nothing other than the equivalents of “nuh uh,” “sez you,” “my mommy says so” or “you’re going to make Baby Jesus cry,” I tend to get a lot more ruthless…

busy womanIf, on the other hand, you mean I seem less patient with readers and questioners, I’d have to say that I certainly hope it’s just your perception; I feel as though I’m just as patient and considerate of readers as I ever was, and that I answer questions just as thoroughly as I always have.  The increasing constraints on my time have required me to spend proportionately less of it in direct responses to reader comments, but I’d like to think it hasn’t affected my manner any.  If there is an area where I’m less patient, I would have to say it’s in my responses to people on Twitter who, though they are by no means trolls, are also unfamiliar with the body of my work; even if they’re very polite, I find it difficult to justify spending a lot of time interacting with only one person in such an ephemeral medium.  In those cases I’m always a bit relieved when someone else takes over the discussion, freeing me to do other things and perhaps throw in my 2¢ later; I’d like it even better, though, if they’d come here and enter into the lively discussions in the comment threads.

(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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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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My Turn

Every day you’ve got to wake up
And disappear behind your makeup.
 –  Blondie, “Living In the Real World”

Maggie portrait OK, female readers (especially but not limited to sex workers), it’s my turn to ask you a question, and you can answer in the comments below (or email me if you prefer a private conversation for some reason.)  Except for occasional pre-hysterectomy episodes where my complexion went to hell for a few weeks or months, I’ve always been fortunate in that I don’t really need makeup.  My skin tends to be clear and I have excellent natural coloration; in fact, I literally never wore makeup when I was working unless the client was taking me out somewhere.  This was really convenient because I had no makeup for sex to ruin; a quick brush of the hair and I looked the same going out as I did going in.  The most I might have to do was wash my face if something got on it.  Nowadays, when I do wear makeup I just use this skin bronzer stuff which is like a powder that goes on without foundation, then do my eye makeup, blush and lipstick.  My skin isn’t oily, but neither is it dry, and I find that the oilier the foundation the more quickly it looks old and crappy on my face.  This powdery bronzer looks good for a lot longer than any foundation/powder combination I ever used, even the expensive stuff, and I can do my whole face in six minutes flat.  However, it still doesn’t last as long as I would like, and I’ve noticed it tends to make my face look tanned or flushed in photos (which is not a good look for me).  So now that I’m about to go on this tour, I’m really thinking about trying something new and I’d like suggestions.  What I’m looking for is makeup that doesn’t take 20 minutes to put on, yet looks good and lasts a long time.  It would also be nice if it doesn’t cost a fortune, and if it’s available from regular stores so I don’t have to locate a department store in a strange city that happens to carry that exclusive line.  The most important thing is the base, because I’m actually pretty happy with my other makeup; however, if you have a suggestion for a whole line I would still like to hear it.  Yes, I realize I’m asking a lot; that’s why I’m “crowdsourcing” this rather than just asking one or two friends.  I figure that somewhere out there is the perfect makeup for me, and I’d rather not try another 50 things before I find it.

(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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