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Posts Tagged ‘acting’

Preteens selling goodies, the police…lectured [her]…was unfair to establishments…like Starbucks.  –  Robert Fernandes

Juxtaposition

Popehat suggests we compare and contrast this:

Just days after Iran’s president denounced Internet censorship as “cowardly,” six young Iranians were arrested and forced to repent on state television…for the grievous offense of proclaiming themselves to be “Happy in Tehran,” in a homemade music video  they posted on YouTube…The arrest of the young dancers, and their televised public humiliation, angered Iranians at home and abroad…

And this:

U.S. Park Police arrested five people…at the Jefferson Memorial.  Their offense?  Dancing.  The dancers were protesting an appeals court ruling…that the national monuments are places for reflection and contemplation — and that dancing distracted…

Real People Maria Isabel

Photographer Bénédicte Desrus spent six years…documenting Casa Xochiquetzal, a home in Mexico City for…retired sex workers…She only took photographs of the women who gave her permission and provided them with prints, which often inspired other women to participate…Desrus then teamed up with journalist Celia Gómez Ramos, who began interviewing and transcribing the residents’ stories.  They eventually decided to publish…as…Las Amorosas Más Bravas (The Toughest Lovers)…

Check Your Premises

34-year-old…Vanessa Gumataotao of Sacramento…was arrested on suspicion of prostitution…as well as child abuse and endangerment for allegedly using [a] 17-year-old [boy] as her pimp.  The…boy was arrested on suspicion of pimping…

If It Were Legal

Too bad he lost the suit; this kind of ethical breach is unforgiveable:

A top London solicitor who had sex with a Chinese law student [and sex worker]…has lost his claim for damages after she told his daughter and colleagues about previous affairs.  The solicitor…identified only as AVB, sued the young sex worker, known as TDD, for breach of confidentiality…after she found information about past liaisons on his laptop.  Senior…Justice Tugendhat…said TDD broke a duty she entered when she accepted money for sex.  But…AVB…would not receive damages because although he experienced “some embarrassment” he “has suffered no real distress”…

Something Rotten in Sweden (July Updates, Part One)

Cops busting kids’ lemonade stands isn’t news any more, but this is a new low:

[San Francisco cops busted] two…lemonade stands…the 11-year-old proprietor of one…was informed that simply giving away the fudge brownies and lemonade the police forbade her…to sell would result in a $1,500 fine…Not long after police cleansed the…area of unlawful lemonade dispensaries…they returned due to complaints about “a live band.”  This stemmed…from a neighborhood tradition of setting up a drum kit during [a public event] and allowing local kids to keep the beat.  At the time the police showed up, the unlicensed live bandmember was…a toddler…

The Punitive Mindset

Because obviously, female guards’ delicate ladyfeelings are more important than men’s lives:

…Bradley Ballard, a…schizophrenic [inmate at New York’s Rikers Island] died…after he was confined to his cell…for seven days for making a lewd gesture at a female guard…Denied…his medication, the agitated inmate tied a rubber band tightly around his genitals…Ballard was found naked and unresponsive on the floor, covered in feces, his genitals swollen and badly infected.  He died at a hospital of…[massive systemic] infection…

Above the Law

Two [Atlantic City cops] have been arrested on charges they sexually assaulted a 16-year-old in separate incidents…Andre Corbin and…Ralph Pereira…were…[each] charged with…sexual assault…endangering the welfare of a child and official misconduct…

That Old Black Magic

A man was killed by a mob…in…Burkina Faso, after being accused of making another man’s penis “disappear”…a local mechanic…claimed that his penis had been “stolen” by the second man, who was not from the district.  The first man called the police.  But by then…the residents decided to lynch the man in the middle of the street…

I’ve mentioned West African “penis stealing” hysteria before in Links #141.

Traffic Jam (TW3 #51)

The acquittal of the 13 people “sex trafficking” fanatic Susan Trimarco implicated in her witch hunt provoked such an outcry among her disciples that two of the three judges were pushed into retirement, the third has been threatened with impeachment and the Argentine president swore to “reform” the judiciary because it is too objective and not sufficiently influenced by public opinion.  A higher court then convicted ten of the 13 defendants on charges of running an “evil network of sexual exploitation…with…international connections, and satanic rituals.”  Still think this hysteria is different from the Satanic Panic?

The End of the Beginning

The California Sex Offender Management Board…[recommends] that lawmakers…overhaul registration laws so that some offenders can be removed from the list after 10 or 20 years.  The list — which currently includes almost 100,000 registered offenders — is too large to be useful to law enforcement or the general public.  Under current laws, all sex offenders must register for life regardless of the offense they committed…[the list] includes…almost 900 [people] who have not committed a sex-crime in more than half a century…Ninety-five percent of sex-crimes are committed by individuals who are not on the registry, and the existence of the registry has not worked as a deterrent…

Comfort Zone (TW3 #320) Louie Gohmert

The endgame of “sex trafficking” hysteria:

…U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) said the debate over…immigration reform is prompting undocumented minors to enter the United States… “And…you know that some get sucked into sex slavery,” Gohmert said…adding…“This administration, and this Congress also, is complicit in helping lure people into sex trafficking”…

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #349)

The [French] National Consultative Commission on Human Rights  (CNCDH)…has [rejected] the law…which seeks to punish “the purchase of sexual acts”…[The Commission] consulted many experts…and…[outlines] the three-point position of the committee:

  • “Chosen prostitution” is legal, so clients are not criminals.
  • Legal prostitutes should be easier for clients to access.
  • Victims of trafficking and exploitation need better support…

Hard Numbers (TW3 #351)

Mobs with torches are back in fashion, it seems:

An international association of Catholic nuns has launched a public awareness campaign to combat human trafficking and prostitution during the World Cup in Brazil.  The nuns will use social media, billboards and rallies…to draw attention to the heightened risk of exploitation…Sister Gabriella Bottani said…that for previous World Cups in Germany and South Africa, the level of “exploitation” had gone up by 30 per cent and 40 per cent respectively…Among past and upcoming initiatives will be…a torchlit procession in Brasilia…and handing out pamphlets at…beach resorts…

Naturally, the usual predators are taking advantage of the anti-whore hysteria:

…police…invaded…a building where…prostitutes operated…in [the suburbs of]… Rio…Without a warrant, police…[arrested] more than 100 women…and seized their goods.  Women were attacked and raped – police forced them to perform oral sex and put their hands on the women’s genitals…One woman…had…[her] whole week…[of] money…robbed, including any money to take the bus home…

Guest Columnist:  Sarah Woolley (TW3 #406) 

Amnesty International has urged Northern Ireland’s politicians to ditch plans to criminalise the purchasing of sex.  The human rights organisation wants a clause contained in a bill against human trafficking to be excised because…it would create a “hierarchy of criminal liability” among sex workers…Amnesty stressed it was not taking sides on the debate over sex work and prostitution, but said sex work and human trafficking were “two very complex social phenomena” that required different laws…

“Those who…sit on the fence do indeed side for a political party: The ruling party.” – Max Frisch

Sex Work is Work (TW3 #407)

Another blow against the absurdity of consensual crime:

…Italy’s national statistics office, will include estimated dealings from drugs, arms trafficking and prostitution in its GDP figures from now on…This move should increase Italy’s economy by at least 1.3 per cent in the first year, helping it to comply with EU rules on indebtedness, which limit member countries to spending no more than 3 per cent of their GDP…the calculation would also include revenues from contraband tobacco and alcohol…The Bank of Italy estimated the value of the criminal economy at 10.9 per cent of GDP in 2012…The move…is motivated by the EU’s desire to measure its member countries’ economies more closely…

Traffic Jam (TW3 #409)

community members carrying information and harm reduction supplies were threatened with arrest and were not allowed to communicate with sex workers…who had been…forcibly transported to Project ROSE…[which has] come under intense scrutiny because of a long list of rights violations…advocates from the Best Practices Policy Project and SWOP Phoenix traveled to the United Nations to raise concerns about these abuses to the Human Rights Committee…a group of social workers, Social Workers United for Justice, is petitioning the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) to “demand an end to Arizona State University School of Social Work’s involvement with Project Rose” because it violates socials work’s core professional principles…

Gorged With Meaning (TW3 #410) Alyssa Funke

Unfortunately, not every outed sex worker has Belle Knox’s incredible strength and resolve:

Nineteen-year-old Alyssa Funke…bought a shotgun, drove to her family’s boat, and killed herself there on April 14.  Students at her former high school had outed her as the star of a “casting couch” porn video, and her parents say the subsequent online harassment contributed to her suicide.  Funke…did her first and only porn video…earlier this year…Soon after the video went up, Funke  started getting nasty Twitter and Facebook messages from students at her former high school in Minnesota, calling her a slut and worse…Funke’s parents said she had long suffered from depression, but they believe the harassment…played a major role in her [suicide]…

Belle also wrote an open letter to Alyssa after hearing of her death.

Deafening Silence (TW3 #413)

discussion of whether the sex trade should be legalised [in China]…came to the fore…after Huang Haibo, a 39-year-old actor best known for his “nice everyman” roles, was arrested…for allegedly soliciting prostitutes…The news led to a surprising outpouring of sympathy on social media…after the crackdown in…Dongguan…[there were many] online comments like “Dongguan, hang in there” and “the public has your back”…

The Missing Word

Silly preacher, only politically-connected companies are allowed to do this:

A South Carolina pastor has been accused of turning his Bible College into a forced labor camp for foreign students.  Reginald Wayne Miller…made the teens toil for no or little pay for more than 50 hours a week while housing them in rooms without hot water, heating or air-conditioning.  He…threatened to revoke their student visas if they complained or failed to comply with his demands…Students reportedly told [federal] investigators that classes “were not real” and that the main focus of the school was to have them working full-time at its campus and Miller’s home…In 2006, [Miller] was…detained on charges of lewdness and prostitution for exposing himself to an undercover cop in a bathhouse…

Three Steps Back (TW3 #418)

A bill designed to help New Orleans police crack down on prostitution is headed to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s desk…The legislation…makes it illegal…to solicit money or rides with the intent to exchange it for sex acts.  Marjorie Esman [of the ACLU says the law]…does nothing that isn’t already covered by Louisiana law.  Esman also had problems with an earlier version…[that banned] solicitation for any purpose…which…would have effectively outlawed panhandling…the bill gives police a mechanism to [harass] suspected prostitutes…enough so they might move on…

The Mote and the Beam (TW3 #419)

The US House of Representatives passed all five of the “sex trafficking” bills before it; most of them are the usual political boondoggles, but one creates a “criminal advertising” crime to stack on people being railroaded for “sex trafficking”, and the most dangerous one allows the federal government to give even more money to local cops for sex work stings under the guise of “fighting sex trafficking”.  But the most shocking example of political hubris comes from Representative Randy Hultgren of Illinois, who seems to imagine that the U.S. Congress has the power to criminalize prostitution in foreign countries; he supports this with a lot of nonsense including the discredited Neumayer, Cho & Dreher report.

Blood on the Sand

[Vanessa] Stiviano…is now the subject of a criminal probe…[due to] accusations that Stiviano sought money from Sterling to stop her from releasing more recordings…Stiviano’s attorney has denied she leaked the recordings that set off the scandal, saying a friend did it without her permission.

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[Mary Anne] Franks couldn’t care less who is turned into a felony sex offender, as long as some variation of her pet law is enacted, the hated men go down along with the innocent, and she gets credit for it. – Scott Greenfield

The Red Umbrella

A [Filipino man]…fell to his death while trying to evade police arrest…for allegedly beating up a [sex worker]…the  man [hired] her…and…they had sex [but he] started to beat her after she refused to take [methamphetamine]…

The Mote and the Beam

Here’s a long, confused article on the latest attempt to destroy the internet in the name of “protecting children”.  Among its other lovely features:  it would criminalize advertising “illegal sex” on the internet.  The article is packed with the usual asinine claims (including the ludicrous assertion that 82% of all prostitution advertising is on Backpage) but does state that the proposed law is basically similar to the ones that judges keep striking down as unconstitutional.  You’d think they’d learn, but why bother?  The consequences don’t fall on them.  Politicians are like stupid kids egging somebody’s house:  it only takes them a short time and very little effort to “send a message”, but the mess they leave behind takes others a very long time to clean up.

Moloch

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is weighing whether it’s constitutional to force all juvenile sex offenders to sign up with the state sex offender registry…Pennsylvania law requires  anyone 14…or older who is convicted of [a sex crime]…to register for life…they can petition for removal…only after 25 years, and only if they’ve had no subsequent offenses, even of a non-sexual nature…

John Warhurst
Above the Law

Note that this particular rapist cop works for the same department that wanted to “live tweet” a prostitution sting:  “John Warhurst [was arrested] for sixteen…sex offenses…[including] rape…Warhurst is a Prince George’s County Police Officer…”  In a rather odd twist, his wife was also arrested on similar charges.

Broken Record

If you though a gem and mineral show as “sex trafficking” magnet was ridiculous

…twice a year High Point triples in size with crowds numbering more than 80,000 people…[for] the weeklong Furniture Market…[which] draws more people than any other event in North Carolina.  Unfortunately, with any large crowd there comes the opportunity for anonymity, and sex traffickers are all too eager to take advantage…

What kind of mind calls anonymity “unfortunate”?

The Widening Gyre

Lawheads are willing to shut down a city to stop consensual behavior, but can’t even conceive that maybe their stupid laws are the real problem:

[Cincinnati] police…[have installed] concrete road blocks all along McMicken Avenue…While most agree something must be done to stop human trafficking…some say stopping traffic all together [sic] isn’t the answer…officials plan to keep the closures in place for…three months…[and] are…considering other drastic measures…like publishing the names of people convicted of prostitution related crimes, notifying their spouses and increasing fines…

Thought Controldaily beating

Here’s an excellent article on how the amazing diversity of the Golden Age of comics was destroyed by the repressive Comics Code Authority, a sort of self-lobotomization performed to save the industry from Congressional censorship after Frederic Wertham’s witch hunt:

…Distributors agreed not to carry comic books that didn’t abide by the Code, making it functionally as effective as law…independent women, and people of color, and all sorts of stories that didn’t fit with the compulsory patriotism and cop-worship of the 1950s, essentially vanished from comics for decades…What was left didn’t interest adults nearly as much, and comics slowly began to become less ubiquitous and more associated with pasty adolescent boys…

Little Boxes (TW3 #40)

An American medical student is auctioning off her virginity…Using the alias “Elizabeth Raine” and operating a blog entitled, Musings of a Virgin Whore, the 28-year-old…said she is willing to submit to a medical examination or polygraph as proof to the winning bidder…[and will consummate]…in Australia [to]…circumvent…American prostitution laws…Raine says she does not care about being labeled a prostitute…and…while she does not advocate prostitution she supports [its] “decriminalization and destigmatization”…She has promised to donate 35 percent of the auction proceeds to a charity “that brings education to women in developing countries”…

Caring Professionals

When they’re not infantilizing sex workers and demonizing our clients, they’re doing the exact opposite:

A disabled British retiree has ended up in court after he punched a council official who stopped him from seeing a prostitute.  Alan Thipthorpe, 88, was furious after he was prevented from seeing…Terri-Lee Pearce…[who] had regularly visited his care home.  Swindon council…stopped the visits because [they accused Pearce] of fleecing him out of his life savings…An angry Thipthorpe said…he should be able to spend the money how he wanted…


Under Every Bed

A “sex trafficking” cluck lectures us about the importance of word order, but apparently isn’t too concerned with number agreement:  “There is no such thing as children prostitutes, they are prostituted children who can be found in…any neighborhood and any town.”  Whenever I read something like this, I hear the voices from Chickenman crying “It’s everywhere, it’s everywhere!”

The Pro-Rape Coalition (TW3 #316)

There cannot be a complete ban on Internet pornography in [India]…the government has told the Supreme Court…the…servers…are…quite often located in foreign countries, where such publication is permissible…even if a website is blocked, the same content can be hosted on a different server, may be in a different country, within a few seconds…

Birth of a Movement (TW3 #323)

a few hundred women [marched] down a busy commercial street in Mexico City during a May Day demonstration…to highlight the rights of sex workers… members of la Brigada Callejera (“the Streetwalkers Brigade”)…emphasized that…marchers were in the sex trade of their own free will…Mexico City’s government is currently attempting to redevelop La Merced and close down various hotels that it [pretends] are involved in trafficking…

Magic Formulae

A Minnesota law firm posted a page busting the common myths I’ve often written about, such as the notion that there are certain things cops can’t do or that one is safe if one has some kind of payment ritual.  I’d really like to see more whore-friendly entities posting information like this.

Acting and Activism (Extra Edition)

Another empty-headed actress attacks the less-privileged branches of our shared profession with stupid lies and moronic myths:

Jada Pinkett Smith…[is working on] a CNN documentary…about…sex trafficking.  Jada…had her eyes opened wide by two strippers who made clear to her that strip clubs in Atlanta, ground zero for the sex trafficking industry —are a gateway to…slavery…

Little Tin GodsLTG Ed Brown

Sheriff Ed Brown considers himself to be the owner of every human being…in North Carolina’s Onslow County – but he counsels his subjects not to worry, for his is a benevolent dictatorship administered by quasi-divine people endowed with transcendent wisdom…in [an ad] for his re-election campaign  [Brown wrote] “Those in the law enforcement profession have complete power over you, your life, your family, your loved ones, your rights, your freedom, your future and everything precious to life”…After the ad prompted criticism…Brown objected that his words were misunderstood…Brown apparently can [also] command the very elements themselves to surrender valuable secrets that remain inaccessible to lesser men.  While investigating the murder of…Maria Lauterbach, the Sheriff didn’t bother to collect shoeprints, choosing instead to conduct a forensic investigation using a divining rod made from a coat hanger

Sex Rays

…For months, Amazon has been deleting the wish lists of porn performers, models, and other…adult [entertainers]…Often, Amazon will cite “inappropriate” use of the wish list, such as it being used for “bartering” purposes…even when…there is no real evidence to that effect…Amazon has also deleted adult entertainers’ wish lists on the grounds that they include “inappropriate” items, such as adult toys or DVDs, despite the fact that Amazon offers these products…

Lack of Evidence (TW3 #344)

New York City has agreed to pay $450,000 to settle a lawsuit…by a man who said he was falsely arrested on a prostitution charge outside a Manhattan adult video store…Robert Pinter…says the settlement was a victory for 40 or so men…targeted [because cops] believed [them] to be gay…

A Tale That Grew in the Telling (TW3 #345)

So much for “Sin City”:

…the [Las Vegas] Police co-sponsored [a] “Choose Purity” event…to show young girls what can happen when they don’t wait until marriage to have sex…Typically four things:  sexual assault, gangs, drugs and prostitution.  Avoid sex and avoid those perils, [organizer Regina] Coward said…The room of about 125 parents and children watched recorded interviews with a pimp and prostitutes, learned modern-day slavery exists in the form of the sex trade, and saw grisly images of…a woman who’d lost limbs in a methamphetamine lab explosion and a man who’d had his face partially gnawed off by a meth user…The monologues concluded with each girl getting on a gurney and into a body bag…

Shame, Shame (TW3 #348)

When Mary Anne Franks began her Jihad against revenge porn, it was pointed out that…her law would also criminalize the revelation of Anthony Wiener’s dangerous selfie…Franks adamantly denied her law suffered from significant…deficiencies.  But quietly, while no one was looking, the law morphed to include a…“Sydney Leathers exception”…even though few people know or care who Sydney Leathers is…Then came the viral twit…of a woman whose model plane strayed off course…and some snarky lawyer pointed out that anyone who retwitted it may well have committed a crime under Franks’ law.  Deniers strained to contend that could never happen,  convincing no one.  But it didn’t take long before…Arizona [enacted]…its…revenge porn…law…The crime went from misdemeanor to felony…and it has no “Anthony Wiener Sydney Leathers exception”…The sound you hear is Mary Anne Franks applauding as Crazy Joe Arpaio rounds up as many people…as he can find…

Backwards into the Future (TW3 #352) letter from Njong

Stephanie Wilson was reaching for a receipt inside a paper shopping bag from Saks Fifth Avenue when she found a letter pleading, “HELP HELP HELP”…from a man who…made the bag while being unfairly held in a Chinese prison factory…The note…was signed Tohnain Emmanuel Njong and was accompanied by a small passport-photo sized color picture… DNAinfo New York…located…Njong…who…said he had been teaching English in…Shenzhen when he was arrested in May 2011 and [wrongly] charged with fraud…he was forced to work long days in a factory, starting at 6 a.m. and continuing as late as 10 p.m…in December 2013…he…was put on a plane back to Cameroon…relatives…had believed him to be dead…

Whither Canada? (TW3 #415) 

Can you imagine this in an American paper?

…the government is leaning heavily towards the…Nordic model…as featured in [Joy Smith’s] Tipping Point report…Smith starts with a pre-conceived notion that presumes something which is simply not true, but is rather a sop to her own sensibilities…Eliminate prostitution?  With a law?…Maybe if Smith jumps up and down, holds her breath until she turns blue, and wishes really, really hard that’ll happen.  But I doubt it…

Best part:  the author’s an ex-cop.

All About the Men

Heather Berg’s criticism of Katha Pollitt’s ninnyish “OMG, men might see WHORES!!!1!!” essay from early last month makes the same point I made in “Dilemmas”: workers are not responsible for the moral failings (real or imaginary) of those who employ them.

…By making sex work exceptional, analyses like [these] ask us to forget that the wage system functions precisely by compelling us to work…If only everyone who opposes forcing people to work under threat of poverty and homelessness would join the struggle for a guaranteed annual income…the nature of a product is irrelevant to how we should theorize, legislate, or organize the labor involved in producing it.  Workers are not socially accountable for whatever may come from their work.  To accept otherwise encourages the over-identification with work that management finds so efficient in getting us to do more for less.  It allows capital to extract not only time, but also ethical responsibility from workers…

Though Berg’s view proceeds from a Marxist background and mine from a classical liberal one, we agree on both this subject and on the advisability of a guaranteed income.

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HRH The Prince of Wales:  I’ve spent enough on you to build a battleship!
Lillie Langtry:  And you’ve spent enough in me to float one.

Lillie Langtry (1878)Once the “prostitute” was defined into existence as the lowest of the low in the late 19th century, it became necessary for those who were emotionally invested in the concept to police the dividing line between whores and all other women.  If it was possible for a “fallen woman” to not only raise herself by her own efforts, but to do so without repenting her whoredom, she obviously was not someone any woman could look down upon; since the whole purpose of the definition was to provide such an exemplar, famous harlots became an embarrassment to the prohibitionists.  Such women’s harlotry therefore had to be ignored, rationalized or even denied so as to maintain the fiction that we are all monsters, criminals, victims or whatever other role the individual fanatic’s belief-system requires.  In the past few decades especially, whores who achieve fame and/or accomplishment that transcends their whoredom are routinely co-opted by prohibitionists, and most popular biographies either leave out the fact that they made a living on their backs or else sanitize it with words like “mistress” or “lover” in order to pretend that the arrangement was established for romantic reasons rather than economic ones.  And if a professional achieves greater and more lasting fame in some other career after her hooking days, the general practice nowadays is to omit her earlier means of support entirely.

Emilie Charlotte Le Breton was born on October 13, 1853, the only daughter of Rev. William Corbet Le Breton (Dean of Jersey) and his wife Emilie; though she had six brothers, only two survived childhood.  Emilie was a high-spirited girl who inherited her mother’s looks and her father’s temperament; he had numerous affairs and eventually resigned his post in disgrace several years after his daughter had left the island.  Being the only girl also contributed to her personality: she learned to handle males from a very early age, and was educated by her brothers’ tutor because she was far too rambunctious for a governess.  At the wedding of her brother William in autumn of 1873 she met the Irish landowner Edward Langtry, the 30-year-old widower of the bride’s older sister; Emilie was taken with his charm and apparent affluence and he dazzled her with (chaperoned) cruises on his yacht.  They were married on March 6th, 1874, and he bought her a stately home in Jersey and a flat in London; unfortunately, Langtry was not as wealthy as he appeared to be, and her family’s dislike for him was so intense that when her beloved younger brother Reggie died in the spring of 1877, she hadn’t seen him in years.

After the funeral Emilie fell into a deep depression, and in an effort to cheer her Lord Ranelagh got her an invitation to a salon held by Lady Sebright and attended by a number of famous artists and literary figures.  Because she was still in mourning, she wore a simple black dress without jewelry and isolated herself in a quiet corner of the suite; but because she was both beautiful and charming this had the opposite effect of the one she was looking for.  She attracted the attention of a number of artists at the salon, among them Frank Miles (who had previously seen her at the theater and was very taken with her); Miles made several sketches that evening and raved about her beauty to everyone he knew.  By the end of the week the Langtrys were overwhelmed by invitations, Miles’ sketches had been sold and every photographer and painter in London wanted Emilie to model for him; the most famous of these portraits was A Jersey Lily by Millais, which not only spread her fame but gave her the nickname by which she would be known ever after:  Lillie.

Within weeks, she had come to the attention of the Prince of Wales, who asked to be seated next to her at a dinner party on May 24, 1877 and was soon spending legendary amounts of money on her; since this allowed a far more lavish lifestyle than he would otherwise have had, Langtry was content to go away on fishing trips while his wife entertained her royal patron.  Though His Highness was a noted womanizer, he became totally infatuated with Lillie and even built a house (now Langtry Manor Hotel) for them to tryst in; she became the closest thing to an official mistress as was possible in that time and place, and was even accepted by the Prince’s wife, Princess Alexandra (Queen Victoria, on the other hand, was said to have treated her rather coldly).  The relationship continued for two years, during which Lillie made many important friends; chief among them was Oscar Wilde, who later helped her launch the career for which she is known today.  And though it ended when Sarah Bernhardt captured the Prince’s eye in June of 1879, they parted on good terms and he later helped her on a number of occasions.

Lillie immediately became involved with the Earl of Shrewsbury, but that arrangement broke up the following January once rumors of divorce began to circulate and creditors started to hound her husband.  By April she had attracted another royal patron, Prince Louis of Battenberg, and when she found herself pregnant in June she told him that he was the father; however, she was also carrying on a romantic affair with Arthur Clarence Jones at the same time, so it’s possible that the child was his.  By this point the Langtrys were truly estranged; Edward went off on an extended fishing trip, leaving Lillie to deal with the bill collectors (which she did in October of 1880 by selling off many of the expensive gifts Prince Albert had given her).  She at first tried to hide the pregnancy by renting a cottage in Jersey, but soon realized a small community was the worst place to be; she then appealed to “Bertie” for help and he gave her some money and had her taken to Paris, where she and Jones lived until she gave birth to her daughter Jeanne Marie on March 8, 1881.

By autumn she had deposited the child in her own mother’s care and returned to London, where Wilde suggested she should take up acting.  He connected her to Henrietta Labouchere, a retired actress turned acting coach, and after one amateur production in November she was hired for a part in She Stoops to Conquer; though the critics were divided in their opinions, she had lost none of her charisma and the ever-supportive Prince of Wales made a point of attending several of her performances in order to draw attention to them.  Her popularity attracted enough investment to form her own company only a few months later, and she toured the UK for the rest of the year before landing a deal for an American tour in October – less than a year after she had started acting.  She was an even bigger hit in the US than she had been at home, and her box office receipts broke all previous records.  Nor had she entirely given up her previous career:  she found a new patron in the person of Freddie Gebhard, a multi-millionaire who bought her a townhouse in New York and a private railway carriage built to her specifications.  She eventually became a US citizen and divorced Edward Langtry in 1887, but though she and Gebhard remained together until 1891 they never married. He bought her a whole stable of thoroughbred horses, and she enjoyed modest success racing them; she also bought a vineyard and winery in California in 1888, and though she sold it in 1906 it still bears the name Langtry Farms.  She also sold endorsements for soap and cosmetics, becoming one of the first celebrities to do so.

In 1899, she married Hugo Gerald de Bathe, who became Lord de Bathe in 1907.  Though he was 19 years her junior, the relationship does not appear to have been the typical love match between an aging courtesan and a young lover, but rather a marriage of convenience contracted to get money for him and a title for her; when they retired to Monaco in 1917 he lived half an hour away in Nice, and they only saw each other on social occasions.  She continued acting right up until her retirement, at which time she also sold all of her horses and racing interests.  During her last decade her closest companion was Mathilde Peate, the widow of her butler; she had been estranged from her daughter since 1899, after Jeanne Marie’s fiancé had explained the truth about her parentage (which had been kept from her for eighteen years).  In the winter of 1929 Lillie contracted bronchitis and later influenza, dying on February 12th at the age of 75; she left her entire fortune to her daughter, grandchildren and Mrs. Peate, and nothing at all to her husband.  She was buried in the churchyard of St. Savior’s Parish on Jersey, near the rectory in which she had grown up; though she had left early and wandered far in her eventful life, the Jersey Lily eventually returned to the soil of her beloved home, which her heart had never really left.

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Natalie wrote…that she was…madly in love with a woman…[who] outstripped all her other loves by a long way.  Rather vexed, I answered: “The best in your life was me! Me! Me!”  –  Liane de Pougy, My Blue Notebooks

Perceptive readers may have noticed that though I share a profession with the subjects of all of my harlotographies, I don’t think I would have gotten along with many of them.  This is especially true of the Grandes Horizontales of La Belle Epoque; while I admire their spunk and envy their income, most of them were possessed of character traits I find irritating or even repulsive:  among these are incredible irresponsibility, the tendency to use people and a pathological affection for falsehood.  Though the former two would probably have caused me greater distress had I known the ladies in person, it is the latter one which annoys me most as a chronicler of whoredom because it makes it almost impossible to declare anything about their lives with certainty, despite what biographers who have never personally known a whore (much less been one) seem to believe.  Case in point Liane de Pougy, whose statements about her exes (and herself) are usually reported as fact despite their conflicting with her earlier statements about the same people.

Liane de Pougy, 1887Anne-Marie Chassaigne was born in La Flèche, France on July 2nd, 1869, the daughter of Pierre and Aimée Chassaigne; like so many others of her time she was educated in a convent, but unlike most of her peers she somehow managed to evade the nuns often enough and well enough to get pregnant at 16.  She eloped with the father, a young naval officer named Armand Pourpe, but predictably the marriage was both short and unhappy; she treated her baby son Marc as though he were a doll, and professed to be disappointed that he was not a girl so she could dress him up and fuss over him more.  When Armand was transferred to Marseilles she remained behind and promptly took a lover, Marquis Charles de MacMahon; when her husband later caught them in flagrante delicto he shot at them but only succeeded in wounding her wrist.  In response she sold her piano, abandoned her son and lit out for Paris on the first train she could catch, changing her name to “Liane” upon arrival.  She later wrote in her memoirs that her husband had “taken her violently on their wedding night”, supposedly traumatizing her; consider, however, that she was already sexually involved with him before they were married, and that this supposed emotional shock didn’t stop her from having sex with someone else as soon as he was over the horizon.  Furthermore, her arch-rival La Belle Otero claimed to have been raped at ten; one must wonder if Liane didn’t invent her marriage-bed ravishment so that she, too, could have a sexual horror story for those who responded to that sort of thing.  She also claimed that her husband was a brute who beat her, and that she had a scar on her breast from one such beating; perhaps, but it also provided a convenient excuse for her infidelity.

In Paris, the 18-year-old Liane immediately set out to become a courtesan, and learned the trade from the highly-respected Countess Valtesse de la Bigne.  Much to her mentor’s annoyance, Liane was bored by intellectual pursuits, but she was simply more attuned to the zeitgeist than the older woman:  it was a time when appearance and style were prized over depth and substance, as evidenced by the fact that, though utterly devoid of any acting talent, she was hired to headline a show at the Folies-Bergere on the basis of the impression she had made while attending the Grand Prix with the Vicomte de Pougy (whose surname she promptly appropriated).  So hopeless was she that Sarah Bernhardt, who had been given the job of teaching her to act, eventually told her, “when on stage, just keep your pretty mouth shut.”  But as with so many others up to the present day, this did not stop her from becoming a wildly popular celebrity; it started on the night of her debut, when she picked up the visiting Prince of Wales as a client.

Liane de Pougy (November 3rd, 1902)The ‘90s were the heyday of Liane’s career and the period of her infamous rivalry with La Belle Otero, played out in the various theaters and the dining room of Maxim’s restaurant, a favorite of the demimonde.  Though Otero became more famous and sought-after than de Pougy by about 1895, Liane was the wiser investor and the more careful bookkeeper, and appears to have had a larger number of less-famous clients compared with Otero’s smaller number of kings and princes.  Both women derived a sizeable secondary income from licensing their images for postcards, as was typical for courtesans of the time; as I have noted before, this period saw the beginning of the modern cult of celebrity, and the Grandes Horizontales were at the center of it.

Like most courtesans, Liane began to opt for longer-term arrangements as she aged; unlike most, not all of hers were with men.  In 1899 the American heiress and writer Natalie Clifford Barney became infatuated with her after seeing her at the Folies-Bergere, and though their lesbian relationship was very intense it was also very short because Barney kept insisting she wanted to “rescue” Liane from prostitution (a notion much more popular in America at that time than in France).  The two continued to have deep feelings for one another, though, and corresponded for the rest of their lives (see epigram).  Never one to miss a moneymaking opportunity, in 1901 Liane published a thinly-fictionalized account of their affair, Sapphic Idyll, which became a runaway bestseller and caused Barney considerable trouble with her straight-laced parents.  She also profited in another way:  when it became known that she was bisexual, she gained a small but profitable upper-class lesbian clientele.

Liane de Pougy in a detail of Une soirée au Pré-Catelan by Henri Gervex (1909)On June 8, 1910 the almost-41 Liane married the notably-younger Prince  Georges Ghika, after which she was called Princess Ghika.  Though neither as rocky nor as short-lived as her first marriage, this one was not without its major difficulties; the first of these came on December 2nd, 1914 when her son Marc, a French pilot in the First World War, was killed in action near Villers-Brettoneux.  Though she had never been close to him, his death precipitated a period of soul-searching in which she turned back to the Church, becoming a lay Dominican sister.  Though this phase did not last long, she remained devout for the rest of her life (though like many Catholics, she ignored sexual prohibitions she found inconvenient).  In 1926 Ghika ran off with a much younger woman, and while Liane’s diaries of the period brand him a pervert (whereas before he was described in glowing terms), the two did not divorce.  She consoled herself with lesbian lovers until he came back to her a few years later, and they remained together until his death in 1945; the latter period was not a happy one, however, and each had a series of extramarital girlfriends.

After his death she re-entered the Dominicans permanently as Sister Anne-Marie, and spent her last five years caring for physically and mentally handicapped children; she died at the Asylum of Saint Agnes in Lausanne,  Switzerland on December 26th, 1950, at the ripe old age of 81.  Her memoirs, My Blue Notebooks, were published posthumously.  Though many who wish to believe in such things have praised the “repentance” for her “sinful” past (most especially her prostitution and lesbianism) she proclaims in this work, the more cynical eye of this harlot sees instead the pièce de résistance of a long series of deceptions.  While her previous writings merely reinterpreted other people in her life, this one reinvented herself; and while the others were only intended to deceive mere mortals, this one was designed to pull the wool over the eyes of God himself.  And no matter what else I feel about her, I have to admire her for that one, grand, final act of chutzpah.

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on January 19th; I have modified it slightly for time references and to fit the format of this blog.

Idealized Portrait of a Courtesan as Flora by Bartolomeo Veneto (1520)For most of human history, nobody thought of taking money for sex as a defining activity.  This is not to say that there were no whores, because of course there were; it isn’t called “the world’s oldest profession” for nothing.  But it wasn’t the fact that a woman took money for sex which defined her as a whore, but rather the fact that she made a living from it.  As I wrote in my Cato Unbound essay, “Treating Sex Work as Work”,

…It was almost universally understood that many working-class women and a not-inconsiderable number of those in higher classes would accept money for sex, at least on occasion, and it was impossible to draw a bright, clear line between behaviors that constituted “prostitution” and those (such as concubinage, mistresshood, and political marriage) which did not despite their often-mercenary basis.  The manifold laws regulating sex work were not intended to preclude pragmatic motivations for sexual behavior, but rather to keep up appearances, guard the purity of bloodlines, and maintain public order.  But as the Victorian Era dawned, a new idea began to take hold of European minds: if science could perfect Man’s tools and techniques, why couldn’t the same process be applied to Mankind itself?  The immediate result of turning (pseudo-)scientific inquiry upon sex was that taking money for it was no longer considered merely something that “unladylike” or “sinful” women did for a living or extra income; instead, the “prostitute” was defined into existence as a specific type of woman, separate and distinct from other women.

Prior to the 19th century, any sexual behavior outside of marriage was considered “sinful”, regardless of its motive, but there were also class considerations; sexual “immorality” was both expected and assumed of working-class women, and whether a girl occasionally asked for money or not could make little difference in the way she was perceived by her so-called “betters”.  This is why it was not unusual in pre-industrial cultures for a disgraced upper-class woman to turn to sex work; once she had fallen from her elevated station, taking money for sex did no more harm.  But once the idea of “prostitution” as some uniquely disgraceful activity was invented, and the “prostitute” was defined as the lowest of the low, it was inevitable that women who would previously have been considered more or less the same as whores would attempt to draw lines between themselves and the new pariah class.  And once governments began to criminalize prostitution or activities around it as a result of the new ideas, distinguishing oneself from a “common prostitute” became a matter not only of dignity, but practical necessity.

The first group to successfully shed the whore stigma was actresses, who had since classical times been considered interchangeable with harlots; after the dawn of cinema they actually moved into a de facto higher social class, especially in the United States.  Dancers whose style could be credibly represented as asexual or highbrow (preferably both) followed them, then masseuses and women who had extramarital sex for non-financial reasons.  In the past several decades, the number of such groups has exploded and now includes many whose claim to being different from sex workers is threadbare indeed; burlesque dancers, competition pole dancers, glamour and lingerie models, professional “cuddlers”, nude maids, waitresses catering to sexual fantasies  and even sugar babies insist that they are different from strippers, hookers and fetish workers in some real (and legally defensible) way.  Even people who are directly paid for a hands-on sexual service claim that being “certified” or “spiritual” or whatever makes them not sex workers, and some who cannot possibly deny that they are still pretend to be “better” than other sex workers because they are “legal”, or because they don’t have direct intercourse and parrot “trafficking” propaganda to kiss up to cops.  But this example from the January 15th Guardian takes the biscuit:  “As a professional dominatrix, I…[know] sex is a human need, and kink can be a meaningful part of the sexual spectrum.  We sex workers turn the erotic into a humane and powerful art.  [But] too many of us, particularly escorts, are miserable slaves, and we must fight tirelessly for their freedom…Mudflap Girl Tesselation  Way to go there, Margaret Corvid; boost yourself up on the backs of all us pathetic, dirty escorts…oh, excuse me, “miserable slaves”.  Because only wonderful, superior dominatrices can choose freely, while those of us who prefer to sell more mundane sexual services are clearly dysfunctional.  In my essay “Whorearchy” I wrote,

…a whore is a whore is a whore, and legal, moral or procedural lines serve only to break people into smaller groups which are more easily dominated by the power-hungry.  If you accept money from someone that he gives due to sexual interest in you, then you are a whore and everything else is just semantics.  When politicians, pundits or rulers use some arbitrary determinant like penetration, duration, location or motivation to bless some harlots while damning others, what they’re actually doing is reducing the size of the group who might oppose them and winning supporters from among those granted legitimacy.  This is why I’m harshly unsympathetic to those who vehemently maintain that their species of sex work or sensual therapy is absolutely not prostitution:  all they’re doing is throwing other women under the bus, and if we had all stuck together from the beginning of second-wave feminism…prostitution would’ve been decriminalized long ago and many women who are now dead or damaged might still be alive and healthy…

As I’ve pointed out before, gay people only won their civil rights by forming a coalition, and until sex workers stop drawing arbitrary lines between each other and accepting the lies and false divisions promoted by those in power, we will never have the same kind of success.

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I am writing this on my phone, for the living and the dead.  –  Jemima

Rough Trade Daniel-Nicolae Ilie

A man who raped a prostitute…has been jailed for [forty] months.  Daniel-Nicolae Ilie…paid £20 for sex…[but] when she refused his demands for further sexual acts, he attacked her…Judge Horton said…”A sex worker, like any other woman in this country, is entitled to her consent”…

The Red Umbrella

As usual, there were a number of articles for the December 17th observance, but for me four really stood out.  In the first, Siouxsie Q interviewed Dr. Annie Sprinkle, who first conceived of the idea; then UK politician James Shaddock published “As Liberals, We Must Stand Up for Sex Workers”; Jemima wrote a powerful poem called “For the Living and the Dead”; and the Global Network of Sex Work Projects released its new consensus statement, “On Sex Work, Human Rights and the Law”.

Ashley Madison

A [North Carolina] man blames the breakup of his marriage not only on the other guy, but also on the online infidelity service that he says made it happen…Robert Schindler…is suing her alleged partner…along with Ashley Madison…alienation of affection…laws have survived numerous efforts…to repeal them, and in recent years they have led to million-dollar judgments for wronged spouses…

Subtle Pimping

Another person who profited from whore stereotypes without consulting us or giving us any support in return:

Patricia Adler…[announced] that she would be leaving her tenured position teaching sociology at the University of Colorado at Boulder…[after] officials told her that one of the highlights of [her] course…had to go.  That is an annual lecture on prostitution…to illustrate that status stratification occurs in various groups considered deviant by society.  She seeks volunteers from among…teaching assistants…to dress up as various kinds of prostitutes — she named as categories “slave whores, crack whores, bar whores, streetwalkers, brothel workers and escort services.”  They work with Adler on scripts in which they describe their lives as these types of prostitutes…

The Leading Players in the Field, Not

Mira Sorvino is VEWWY SEWIOUSWhen CNN wants a “human trafficking expert”, you can be sure they won’t call on anyone who’s actually studied migration or sex work or anything; no, it’s always a has-been actress trying to reinvent herself as a “human rights champion”, accompanied by (usually religious) rescue industry types.  You may also be sure nobody’s going to even acknowledge the existence of any local activists, because otherwise we’d be cheated of a white savior’s journey into the Heart of Darkness, complete with serious-faced selfie.

Peeping Toms

A federal judge…in Utah ruled portions of the state’s anti-polygamy law unconstitutional…polygamists in Utah can’t apply for multiple marriage licenses, but neither can they be prohibited from living together as…husband and wives…The case was brought to court by Kody Brown…whose family is featured in TLC’s Sister Wives

Setting Women’s Rights Back a Century

Cathy Young published an excellent article on “How the government encourages kangaroo courts for sex crimes on campus”; it covers not only material from the above-linked column, but also topics explored in “Lower Education”, “False Target” and several other essays.  Definitely worth reading in its entirety.

The Crumbling Dam

The Canadian Supreme Court will announce its final decision in Bedford vs. Canada today; some have speculated that the timing may indicate that it will not be to the government’s liking.  Here’s law professor Kyle Kirkup:

…In 1967, the Supreme Court upheld a decision placing a man in indefinite detention after he was convicted of sodomy and deemed to be an “incurable homosexual.”  In 1969, largely in response to the decision, the federal government…decriminalized sodomy…Forty-six years after the decision, it is safe to say that the…Court…was on the wrong side of history.  Last week, the Supreme Court of India was widely criticized for upholding a similar law criminalizing gay sex…history will not be kind to the decision…the Supreme Court of Canada…has the opportunity to focus its analysis on the harms caused by…criminalization…instead of sending messages about good sex and bad sex.  What side of history will the Court be on?…

UPDATE:  The court was on the right side of history.  Unfortunately Parliament may not want to be this time…

The Law of Averages

A whole convention full of trafficking loonies in the formerly somewhat-sane Rhode Island gathered to swap disinformation, including ridiculous nonsense about pimped streetwalkers working out of strip clubs.  The writer pretends to have done research by explaining that “the average age of a child forced into prostitution is 12,  according to the U.S. Department of Justice…other studies place the age range at 12-15 years old.”  Of course, no study says anything of the kind, and the official DoJ study on the subjectThe Ladies of Trade Town put the average underage sex worker’s debut at roughly the same age found by every other study – about 16.

Presents, Presents, Presents!

I’ve received a number of presents in the past two weeks.  Sasha Castel sent me Strapless, a lovely scarf, some perfume and an Australian chocolate bar; Sailor Barsoom sent The Ladies of Trade Town; Eddie JC1 sent The Cartoon History of the Modern World, Part 1 and The Lurker in the Lobby, and Krulac sent Family Christmas.  Thank you all so very much!

Gingerbread House

The Alameda County [California] Juvenile Hall is…creating a girl’s camp for victims of sexual exploitation…Esa Ehmen-Krause, the deputy chief probation officer…says the plan is to convert some vacant detention units into a safe harbor…[by retrofitting] the space to make it feel comfortable…But [advocate Venus] Rodriguez…[asks] if the goal is to teach girls about healthy relationships and how to live independently…“How does that work in a lock up facility?”…

Unclean Situation

More on Ireland’s inbred prohibitionist cabal:

The Turn Off The Red Light (TORL) political campaign…is led by the Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI), who are funded by Atlantic Philanthropies.  ICI have received $5,903,868…so far.  13 other TORL organisations have…received a whopping $40,710,493…in total…the Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) which have provided TORL with extensive pro bono legal advice…have had $10,419,298…Ireland’s human rights organisations have fallen silent on the issue of further criminalisation of sex work…It turns out they are all funded by Atlantic Philanthropies also…a total of $17,762,683 between them…In Harm's Way cover

Long Spoon

The long-awaited call for decriminalization by Human Rights Watch has arrived, in a report on rampant human rights abuses committed by Louisiana “authorities”:

Louisiana state laws and practices that prohibit access to sterile syringes and criminalize sex work contribute to an uncontrolled HIV epidemic and an extremely high AIDS death rate, Human Rights Watch said…New Orleans police regularly interfere with sex workers who carry condoms, putting them and their clients at risk of HIV…“In Harm’s Way:  State Response to Sex Workers, Drug Users, and HIV in New Orleans” documents government…abuses of at-risk populations in New Orleans.  It calls for changes in state and local laws and policies that stigmatize, discriminate against, and facilitate police abuse of sex workers and drug users, and interfere with health services…

Rough Trade (TW3 #337)

California officials voted…to overturn a discriminatory rule that prevented sex workers who are physically or sexually assaulted from receiving money from a special victim compensation fund intended to help the victims of violent crimes…sex workers will now be eligible for state assistance to pay for medical and related expenses they incur as a result of the assault.  Members of the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board said they were compelled to change the “repugnant” rule after hearing the testimony of sex workers who have been assaulted and left without recourse or support following the crime…

Sex Rays

It isn’t only children who are harmed by sex rays; infantilized women are too!

Lap dancing club plans for Doncaster…have been rejected following serious concerns about the possible effect on the sensitive work carried out at a neighbouring women’s centre…[“authorities”] said the venue would…alter the perception of vulnerable women, significantly harming the service the centre provides…

Here’s a previously unknown property of sex rays; they “alter perception”, presumably like LSD.

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #349)

Melissa Gira Grant on a pro-Swedish model New York Times editorial:

…The alternative the Times offers?  Sex workers should instead be treated as “victims,” which the editorial claims can be accomplished by increasing criminal penalties against their customers.  But there’s no evidence, in the editorial or elsewhere, to support that assertion …[and] leading global health and human rights organizations have …condemned that approach, as have sex workers themselves.  Passing stronger laws against buying sex and treating sex workers as victims does nothing to actually protect [their] health, safety, or rights…and only perpetuates a system in which sex workers are endangered by the police.  The proposed French law introduces new penalties for activities related to buying and selling sex, only one of which is the highly publicized “fines for johns.”  The law is quite broad, and targets many more people who are involved in the sex trade than customers…Sex Workers Unite

Dr. Melinda Chateauvert also comments on both the New York Times article and the French law in this interview introducing her new book, Sex Workers Unite.  Meanwhile, the pending law has emboldened anti-whore fanatics:  “Forty people rallied…on the road between Beziers and [Nissan-lez-Ensérune]…to drive prostitutes out of their sight…they chased prostitutes until dusk…[in order to] prevent them from working…

Dutch Threat (TW3 #349)

A company set up to run brothels in Utrecht has applied…to set up a pension fund…The company, named Freya, says footballers and prostitutes both do heavy work and so should be treated equally in terms of pensions.  Footballers can save up to €5,000 tax free a month to put into a pension fund for when they are no longer physically able to play.  Prostitutes should be given the same rights to do this, [said] board member and lawyer Wil Post…

Hard Numbers (TW3 #349)

All you need to know about this Australian example of yellow journalism is its overlong title:  “Girls kidnapped by drug gangs and sold as sex slaves to cash in on the 2014 FIFA World Cup”.  Here’s the truth, courtesy of Dr. Thaddeus Blanchette’s commentary on a nearly-identical Time article:

…Fortaleza, one of the host cities of the World Cup, currently has open twenty cases of underaged prostitution (six of which involve foreigners) and TWO THOUSAND cases of sexual exploitation of children that have nothing to do with prostitution or tourism…in ten years of work researching Rio de Janeiro’s brothels…I have not encountered a single child prostitute.  Frequent police raids on these establishments also generally come up a cropper.  There are a few cases, of course, but I can count them on the fingers of one hand, from over a ten year period.  Where, then, are these legions of child prostitutes?  If the police and I and my co-researcher, Dra. Ana Paula da Silva, can’t find more than a handful in all the hundreds of commercial sex venues in Rio de Janeiro…where are these kids?…apocalyptic claims that the invasion of legions of sports fans would lead to an increase in prostitution…have NEVER been substantiated:  in fact, they’ve been consistently debunked…

Whatever They Need To Say (TW3 #350)

Sex workers in London’s Soho had their doors kicked in by riot police…[who] brought along journalists to photograph cowering women who were desperately trying to cover their faces…Working flats have been closed, throwing women out on to the street…migrant workers…were taken away…for compulsory “counselling”…and…removal from the UK, despite protesting that they were not trafficked victims…Kay Thi Win, a sex worker in Burma, has said:  “We live in daily fear of being ‘rescued’…[by] police, who break into our workplaces and beat us, rape us and kidnap our children in order to save us”…

Number Puzzle (TW3 #350) the alert Mary Honeyball

Tim Worstall replies to European politician Mary Honeyball’s claims of “growing disillusionment in places where [prostitution] has been legalized”:  “No, there is not growing support for such a framework.  You’re lying…[prohibitionists] are…wildly lying…There simply isn’t any evidence that ‘sex slavery’ is anything other than an appalling and vile and very rare indeed crime…

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I wouldn’t have known what I know now if I hadn’t lived the way I have.  –  Kathleen Rockwell

Though there have always been women who made a career of directly accepting money for sex, the majority of those who have taken money for it – perhaps as high as 90% of them – did so casually or infrequently, and never thought of themselves as whores per se.  Indeed, it wasn’t until the 19th century that any woman who had ever done so was judged to be as “fallen” as those who made a career of it and eschewed marriage and domesticity.  But like all new ideas, this one did not catch on everywhere right away; though it was popular in the “social purity” movement and later became the standard definition among American Progressives, many women of the transitional period continued to take money for sex on an irregular and unpredictable basis, leading to considerable controversy among both contemporary and modern bean-counters as to whether or not they were “really” prostitutes.

Klondike Kate, circa 1901Case in point: Kathleen Eloisa Rockwell, born in Junction City, Kansas, in 1873 (though she later claimed 1876).  Her parents had both divorced their spouses to marry each other, then in turn divorced after a move to North Dakota.  By the time Kate was five her mother Martha had again remarried to a wealthy businessman; until she was 15 she lived in a mansion in Spokane, Washington.  But after her stepfather’s business failed the marriage did as well, and Martha dragged Kate off to Chile, where her son from her first marriage was living; on the voyage there Kate accepted a young officer’s proposal of marriage.  Since Martha had entirely failed to grasp that “do as I say, not as I do” is an ineffective parenting strategy, she was aghast; she ended the engagement and upon arrival in Valparaiso enrolled Kate in a convent school.  No sooner had she graduated and started teaching kindergarten than she accepted another proposal, this time from a Spanish diplomatic attaché; she soon ended that one at the insistence of the school’s principal.  In later years, she claimed to have accepted over 100 proposals in her life, and broken all but a few of them; I suggest the reader view this as akin to courtesan’s claims of men committing suicide over them, or modern strippers’ staggering incomes that never seem to translate into actual bank balances.

Only three years after her arrival in Chile, Martha decided to return to New York; she soon asked Kate to join her there, but when she arrived in November of 1892(?) she found that her mother was both broke and too old to attract another rich husband.  Kate supported them both with a number of chorus-girl gigs until an old friend invited her back to work in a vaudeville theater in Spokane; there she not only sang and danced, but also made a cut from drinks customers bought her (it seems likely that her first tricks were picked up there).  When the Klondike gold rush started in the summer of 1897, Kate recognized it as a matchless opportunity; within a year she had put together the money to resettle her mother in Seattle and pay for passage to Canada.  She arrived in Victoria, BC late in the autumn, and discovered that the RCMP would not let women go any farther because the winter was “too dangerous”.  But like any good harlot, she refused to let the arbitrary declarations of cops deter her when there was money to be made; she therefore disguised herself as a boy and sneaked onto a cargo ship headed for Whitehorse, Yukon.

Klondike Kate, circa 1900She worked as a tap-dancer in Whitehorse for most of 1899, then joined the Savoy Theatrical Company when its new theater in Dawson opened in 1900.  Since she stood out in looks, talent and sex appeal from the other girls she soon attracted the attention of Charlie Meadows, who offered her $200 a week (about $5500 today) and star billing at his Palace Grande Theater, where she immediately became a huge hit.  Her show-stopper, the “Flame Dance”, included her twirling a huge swath of red chiffon about while singing and dancing; men threw money at her during the act, and she charged them to dance with her afterwards.  She is also known to have charged for company, but was extremely discreet about it; altogether, she later estimated she made about $500 a week beyond her salary, a total of about $30,000 ($815,000 today) by the end of 1900.  On Christmas Eve she was crowned “Queen of the Yukon” by her fans, and a miner named Johnny Matson (more on him later) fell instantly in love with her.

Unfortunately, she had recently begun a relationship with an ambitious Greek immigrant named Alexander Pantages, a former boxer and current bartender with plans to open a chain of theaters.  They opened the Orpheum together early in 1901, and with Kate as its headliner they were soon rolling in money.  But in the spring of the following year, Pantages realized that the gold was running out and suggested the two of them move to Seattle; Kate did not wish to leave Dawson, so they embarked upon a long-distance relationship.  Even after she finally came back to the US in 1903 or 1904, she wanted to tour while he was stuck in Seattle working on his dream of a theater chain.  While she was performing in Texas, Alex took up with a violinist named Lois Medenhall, whom he married on March 12, 1905; though their relationship had clearly been cooling for a long time Kate was furious and filed a breach-of-promise lawsuit against him in May, seeking the return of the $60,000 she had invested in his theaters plus another $25,000 in damages.  The affair upset her terribly, however, and she started drinking heavily; she settled out of court in April 1906 for a paltry $5,000, then moved to Fairbanks, Alaska, opened a hotel and performed at a nightclub called the Floradora.  Luck was not with her; the uninsured hotel burned down in 1907 and she left Alaska flat broke.

Klondike Kate, circa 1906Since she was only 34, she easily built up another career in vaudeville.  But there was not nearly as much money to be made in Seattle as there had been in the Klondike, and besides she was depressed and drinking; after a knee injury ended her dancing career for good in 1914 she had a nervous breakdown, and left Seattle to open a boarding house in Bend, Oregon (at which some of her boarders seem to have been whores).  Though money was tight, she preferred to do most of the menial work herself rather than sell any of her expensive jewelry; as she later told a biographer, “I can remember the queer looks on the faces of customers, seeing me up to my elbows in soap suds, with a thousand dollars’ worth of diamonds in each ear.”  She eventually built her business into a profitable enough venture to make large donations to the town’s volunteer fire department, but made the mistake of selling it in the early 1920s to start a restaurant in California…which promptly failed so badly she was forced to borrow money from the now-successful Alex Pantages.  The latter’s fortune did not last long after that, however; in 1929 his wife Lois was tried for killing a man while driving drunk, and Alex was charged with raping a young actress.  Though his conviction was overturned after two years in prison, he was financially ruined and died of a heart attack in 1936.

Kate married a cowboy named Floyd Warner in the late ‘20s, but that was over by the time she received a letter from Johnny Matson, who had never stopped loving her; he had read a newspaper account of the Pantages trial (during which Kate had been subpoenaed by the prosecution as a character witness) and decided to look her up again.  In that letter he proposed, and she married him in Victoria, BC on July 14, 1933.  He was still a miner and very solicitous of her welfare, so he insisted she spend the winters in Oregon rather than at his remote claim.  During this time she began to be invited to appear at miner’s reunions in Portland, and spent her winters training young Hollywood actresses in vaudeville techniques.  They lived happily this way until the winter of 1946, when she was notified that Matson had been found dead in the woods miles from his cabin.  Two years later she married another old admirer, an Oregon accountant named W. L. Van Duren, and was still with him when she died at the age of 83 on February 21, 1957.  Though she is not well-known in most of the US, she is still remembered fondly in Alaska and Oregon; in the former as the glamorous showgirl of her youth, and in the latter as the generous civic benefactress of her later years.  And despite what moralists like to believe, they were one and the same woman.

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