Archive for February, 2011

No question is so difficult to answer as that to which the answer is obvious. –  George Bernard Shaw

My monthly dip into the electronic mailbag for questions from my readers.

Maggie, I live in (an American city), do you know someone who works here?  I don’t know how to find someone like you.  Can you tell me how?

Most of the escorts I’ve known personally lived in New Orleans, and because there’s a fairly high turnover in our profession I probably couldn’t help you directly even for that city.  I can give you some general pointers, though.  You can always go to the phone book for an escort service, but nowadays unless you’re in a rush you’re probably better off going to the internet.  Eros Guide is a popular escort advertising site, but it’s mostly limited to larger urban areas so if you’re not in one of those it’s not very much good.  If you Google “escorts” and the name of your city you’ll see ads for escort service sites there, and of course there’s Backpage; the disadvantage of that site is that, though some quality girls advertise there, there are also a large percentage of part-timers and very low-end escorts.  Your best option if you’re patient is probably a hooker board; there are a number of large ones such as The Erotic Review, Big Doggie and ECCIE which vary in popularity in different parts of the United States, plus a whole host of smaller regional ones.  Besides the escort ads, there are also customer-generated reviews of most of the girls which will give you an idea what to expect from them.

The disadvantage of both escort boards and Backpage is that cops can find them just like you can, and can create fake escort ads on Backpage or fake client profiles on the boards in order to further their usual sleazy attempts to victimize hookers and/or customers.  Big Doggie was the subject of a major sting a few years ago and Montgomery County, Maryland infested TER last year, so use caution and only contact established escorts with a number of reviews.

Would you please give us a few pointers on how to perform oral sex on a man?

I think I can do this without being pornographic; at least I’ll give it a try!  The problem most women have with fellatio lies in the unconscious assumptions they make about it, and if you correct those mistaken assumptions you’ll be well on your way to a professional performance with very little instruction from me or anyone else.  The two most important things to remember are: 1) Your mouth is not a vagina; and 2) A man’s penis is analogous to a woman’s clitoris.

The first one may seem obvious, but it’s apparently not; I’ve done enough couple calls and two-girl calls to see a lot of really amateurish blow jobs.  Now, I have heard many guys say “there is no such thing as a bad blow job,” and though I believe them I also recognize that there’s a vast spectrum of experience between “not bad” and “fantastic” and if you didn’t want to be closer to the “fantastic” end you wouldn’t have asked the question.  Though both mouth and vulva have lips, only those on the face have the power of volitional movement, and the vagina has neither tongue nor teeth (legends of vagina dentata notwithstanding).  From a mechanical standpoint and psychological considerations aside, if you aren’t using your lips, tongue and (very gently) teeth you might as well just be doing cowgirl.

Most of my readers probably knew about the second factor as well, but let’s look at what it really means from a practical standpoint.  All fetuses have a “sex button” which, if exposed to testosterone, develops into a penis.  But from a neurological standpoint, this development is a lot like blowing up a balloon; the number of nerves doesn’t change, they’re just stretched over a larger area.  Compared to the clitoris, the nerve density in the shaft of a man’s penis is actually pretty low; the area of highest comparable nerve density is in the glans penis, or “head”.

Given these facts I think you can figure out for yourself what’s wrong with the typical woman’s technique.  She uses her mouth as though it were a mobile vagina, forgetting she has lips, a tongue and teeth (the latter often to her male companion’s great chagrin), and she spends most of her time stimulating the least sensitive part of the penis.  Start by concentrating on the “head”, using the lips and tongue, and paying attention to his reactions; do more of whatever gets a good reaction and less of whatever gets little reaction.  The well-known bobbing motion is good later in the process, but it’s a mid-game maneuver rather than the whole thing as many women seem to believe.  Don’t worry about deep throat or other fancy maneuvers; you can learn those later.  Concentration on using the right part of your anatomy on the right part of his is at least 80% of the secret.

Why do so many more escorts kiss nowadays?  It used to be pretty rare.

There are also more who will do Greek and more who will allow unprotected oral sex to completion.  We started to see that in the last decade as escort review sites became steadily more common; many escorts wanted something which would set them apart from the competition.  But the trend really took off just over two years ago when the economy went belly-up; a lot of part-timers lost their regular jobs and therefore needed to bring in more money from hooking, and a lot of amateurs who had never before directly asked for cash flooded into Craigslist and Backpage. The amateurs had no sense of appropriate professional conduct and the part-timers were desperate to make up the difference from their lost jobs, and so they started to offer things which, while not extremely dangerous like unprotected intercourse, were nonetheless more personal and “edgy” than what had been the norm even as recently as 2007.  And once that happened even many full-time professional escorts were forced to change their policies in order to remain competitive.  The good news is that (judging by the chatter on hooker boards) there is still almost universal censure of the rare, desperate whore who will offer bareback full service; let’s hope it stays that way.

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Straight Man:  Why do you keep snapping your fingers?
Comedian:  To keep the elephants away.
Straight Man:  But there aren’t any elephants within a thousand miles!
Comedian:  See how well it works?

I really wish this silly bit of business, which was probably already old when vaudeville was young, was merely a joke; unfortunately, this sort of idiocy is foisted on the citizenry regularly by “authorities” desperate to justify their existence and prove their omniscience.  Whenever some sort of disaster (like the “Y2K bug” or the “swine flu pandemic”) predicted by government officials fails to materialize, you can bet that their response will not be sheepishness or apology but rather self-congratulation; they’ll explain that the reason the sky didn’t fall was because of the hysterical prediction and the ludicrously expensive and vastly-overblown “precautions” it inspired.  Just as airlines now refer to all arrival and departure estimates as “on time” no matter how long they were actually delayed, so government agencies claim to have been correct no matter what the actual outcome of their predictions.

The most recent example of this was, of course, the prophecy that an army of gypsy harlots tens of thousands strong would descend upon the Dallas area for Super Bowl Week like a swarm of marauding locusts, consuming every teenage girl in its path and leaving the entire area awash in venereal disease and the crime which police love to claim “inevitably follows” prostitution like cops after doughnuts.  Sensible people like yours truly tried to explain that these predictions are made for every major sporting event nowadays and literally never come true, but obviously the “authorities” ignored that because the truth didn’t provide an excuse for tightening the government’s grip a few notches.  And since vast efforts were made and millions of dollars spent to chase bogeymen, officials couldn’t very well admit they were wrong; so, we get this bold-faced lie on the Texas Attorney General’s website instead:  North Texas Law Enforcement, Attorney General’s Office Prevent Human Trafficking Surge At 2011 Super Bowl:

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today announced the preliminary results of a joint local, state and federal law enforcement effort to crack down on human trafficking during the 2011 Super Bowl…a total of 133 arrests.

…“Thanks to a coordinated enforcement, public education, and deterrence effort, Texas-based law enforcement officials were prepared to respond if we encountered human trafficking victims – or the ruthless criminals who trafficked them,” Attorney General Abbott said.  “By working proactively to prepare for the nation’s most high-profile sporting event, Texas was uniquely positioned to crack down on traffickers and provide much-needed help to their victims.”

Sexually exploited human trafficking victims are effectively forced into committing a crime – which means that they are both victims and offenders.  In one case, the Attorney General’s Special Investigations Unit and Grapevine police officers arrested a female and charged her with prostitution.  After she was released from custody, the woman told the Attorney General’s Special Investigations Unit that she was a sex trafficking victim and identified her trafficker.  On February 11, Dallas police officers and NTTTF members successfully located and arrested Joshua Andrews, 39, and charged him with Trafficking in Persons.  Andrews, a suspected gang member, was taken into custody at the Dallas County Jail.  The NTTTF connected the woman with crime victim advocates to help her recover from her trafficker’s abuse.

Sixteen members of the Texas congressional delegation commended the State’s human trafficking prevention efforts surrounding the 2011 NFL Super Bowl in Arlington.  In a letter to Attorney General Abbott, the congressional members said:  “As you know, domestic minor sex trafficking impacts the lives of thousands of American children each year in states across the country, including Texas.  Your efforts in Texas are an example of what can and should be done to protect children at risk for and victimized by sexual exploitation”…

Wow, what a circle-jerk.  If these “officials” got any more exuberant in their praise and congratulations of each other, it would be a homosexual orgy (which I’m sure violates some sort of law in Texas).  Even with an undefined, open-ended time period (we’re told the “operations” went “through Super Bowl Sunday” but not when they began) the best they could do was 133 arrests, not all of them for prostitution, in the ENTIRE Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Considering that we’ve already been told 23 prostitution arrests is typical for five days in Dallas, we can guess that 22 over 2½ weeks isn’t unusual for smaller Arlington; let’s go out on a limb and imagine 23 arrests in Fort Worth and 24 in all the other suburbs (Grand Prairie, Irving, etc) put together and that gives us roughly 92 prostitution arrests in the entire Metroplex that week.  Add 41 unspecified “other” arrests (which an ambitious police department could easily manage in one raid) and we get 133 without even breaking a sweat.  And of all that, how many alleged “human traffickers”?  One.  And how do we know he’s a “trafficker”?  Why, on the testimony of an arrested streetwalker who had a choice of going to jail as a “criminal” or to a shelter as a “victim”, of course!  Does anyone else detect a faintly Swedish odor on these proceedings?

But just in case anyone else has the rudimentary math skills necessary to work this out as I did, Attorney General Abbot tells us that it would have been worse had thousands of cops and millions of dollars not been dedicated to this boondoggle.

Taxpayer:  Why did you spend all that money and devote all that manpower to harass prostitutes?
Greg Abbott:  To keep the human traffickers away.
Taxpayer:  But human traffickers don’t follow major sporting events!
Greg Abbott:  See how well it works?

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Simply put, commission of what the Legislature determines as an immoral act, even if consensual and private, is an injury against society itself.  –  Judge Chet Traylor, in the majority opinion for State vs. Smith (2000)

In my column of August 17th I wrote about Louisiana’s tyrannical “Crime Against Nature” law and the New Orleans Police Department’s evil game of charging prostitutes under this law so they can be persecuted for at least a decade by inclusion on “sex offender” registries. Since escorts can usually afford lawyers to arrange plea bargains to avoid the “sex offender” status, those convicted under the law are nearly all streetwalkers and the overwhelming majority of them are black or transsexual. The column also discussed Women With a Vision (WWAV), an organization whose “No Justice Project” is dedicated to overturning the convictions of these women so they can begin the process of reclaiming the lives destroyed by the so-called “justice” system.  Well, on February 17th regular reader Joyce sent me a link to this story which appeared in the Times-Picayune the day before:

People who must register as sex offenders because they were convicted of engaging in oral or anal sex for money filed a lawsuit against state officials last night [February 15th], arguing the requirement is unconstitutional and discriminatory.  Only in Louisiana can people convicted of selling their bodies be required to register as a sex offender, according to the lawsuit filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights…The registration requirement only affects people prosecuted under the state’s “crime against nature by solicitation” law, which is used when a person is accused of engaging in oral or anal sex in exchange for money.  People accused of prostitution, which includes any sex act, are not required to register…

The lawsuit was filed anonymously, but describes the difficulty the plaintiffs have experienced obtaining work and finding housing because they are registered sex offenders.  In Louisiana, the driver’s license of a registered sex offender is inscribed with those words in bright orange letters…[they also] appear in a state database and must notify neighbors of their legal status…attorneys for the plaintiffs said the registration requirement erects “insurmountable barriers” to people who are trying to restart their lives.  In New Orleans, nearly 40 percent of the people registered as sex offenders are on the registry because of a “crime against nature” conviction.  The label…often keeps people from being able to access drug treatment or domestic violence services, said Deon Haywood, director of Women With A Vision…”The toll it takes is devastating,” Haywood said about the registration requirements.  “They did what they did to survive and put food on the table.”

Louisiana is the only state that has separate laws depending on what kind of sex acts a prostitute engages in…The Legislature in the last session changed the penalties for “crime against nature by solicitation” to make the first offense a misdemeanor, which matches the potential sentence for first-offense prostitution.  Previously, a first conviction of “crime against nature” was a felony.  But while a person convicted of prostitution is not required to register as a sex offender, a defendant convicted repeatedly of “crime against nature by solicitation” would have to…plus, people who were convicted…before last year, when the law was changed, still must remain on Louisiana’s sex offender registry…all of the other offenses that require registration…involve some kind of force, coercion, or exploitation of a minor…[such as] rape, aggravated kidnapping of a child or prostitution of a person under 17.

I’m not sure what their chances of winning are; Louisiana has a long history of aggressively repelling all challenges to its 205-year-old sodomy law.  Even after Lawrence vs. Texas struck down all such laws in the United States in June of 2003, the state doggedly held onto its “crime against nature” statute unchanged for a year until a judge specifically invalidated portions of it, leaving intact provisions for prosecuting homosexual groups and those “promoting prostitution”.  Also, Louisiana is the only state to have (since 1982) a separate law criminalizing “Crime Against Nature by Solicitation”, and since this law only applies to prostitutes it remained unaffected by  Lawrence vs. Texas despite being clearly rooted in the same unconstitutional and discriminatory motivations.  However, this is the first challenge in federal court, which could make a big difference.

A week ago yesterday (February 18th) I called Lorie Seruntine, my contact at WWAV, to ask what part the organization had played in organizing the lawsuit (since the news story doesn’t really make it clear), and she explained that WWAV had contacted the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Loyola University Law Clinic and presented the requests for help they had received from the many women involved in the No Justice Project; the case is thus the culmination of about two years of work by WWAV on behalf of these severely oppressed women.  Lorie told me that everyone in the program, both staff and members of the community, is very excited about the case and the attention it has attracted in the national media.  She furthermore let me know that a long-anticipated revamp of the WWAV website had been completed and asked me to provide a link; observant readers may have noticed its appearance in the “Resources” box in the right-hand column last Friday.

Of course the filing of the case is only the beginning of the fight, and WWAV, the attorneys and the plaintiffs have a long and arduous fight ahead.  But regardless of the outcome of the case, you can be sure that WWAV will continue to fight the good fight; Lorie assured me that the organization has developed other strategies toward defeating this terrible law in the event that the court continues the long Louisiana tradition of allowing the government to invade people’s bedrooms and dictate their private activities.

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Regular readers know that once per month I publish little tales of heroic whores; if you like this one you might also enjoy the others linked here.

Deputy Leclerc pulled his coat closer about him against the icy wind of early Ventôse; how he hated this time of year!  It used to be that the beastly weather was made more bearable by the anticipation of Carnival, but the National Assembly had banned it as indecent and the subsequent governments had continued the prohibition, so there was absolutely nothing to ameliorate Leclerc’s misery.  Ah, well, c’est la vie; perhaps someday when the chaos had settled and all corrupt elements had been purged from society, the celebration might be allowed again.  He shrugged inwardly; it was best not to think too much about such things, so he turned his attention to avoiding the deeper puddles and quickened his pace a little.

“Why in such a hurry, Monsieur?” came a sweet voice from a doorway nearby.  “Surely you have a few minutes to tarry with me?”  The whore was both young and beautiful, and though her winter clothes disguised her figure somewhat he did not think he would be disappointed when the rest of her charms were revealed.  Well, why not?  His spirits were in need of lifting, and he could blame any delay on the weather.

Her room was small but comfortable, and though her fee was high for a streetwalker she was clearly no ordinary fille de joie; he mused that in less egalitarian times she might’ve made a courtesan.  She certainly had the manners for it, inviting him to remove his boots and warm his feet by the fire while she got him a large mug of bouillon.  She then sat with him while he sipped the hot, flavorful broth, making small talk about all manner of subjects while he enjoyed the music of her voice and grunted a response now and again just to keep her going.  He soon felt a pleasant drowsiness overcome him, and since he was warm and comfortable and in no hurry to return to the winter outside he did not fight it, but instead drifted into sleep.

He awoke some time later on his back in a dimly-lit room; he felt dizzy, nauseated and weak and it took him several minutes to realize that he had no idea what was going on.  He tried to get up and immediately regretted it, then an unfamiliar feminine voice said “I would advise you to lie still for a while, Deputy Leclerc.  The embrace of the poppy is not so easily escaped by one unused to her caresses.”

A wave of nausea engulfed him as he jerked his head toward the voice, which tutted and then asked “Why do men never listen?” as he proceeded to be violently ill on the dirt floor.  When the sickness had subsided he lay back on the straw mat and the strange woman sat down beside him, cleaning his mouth with a wet flannel and feeling his forehead with a soft, warm hand.

“Who are you?  Where am I?  What is going on here?” he croaked, without waiting for any answers.  “Do you know who I am?”

“But of course we know, Deputy Leclerc, which is exactly why you have been brought here.  I am your nurse, here to ensure that you are well for your trial in the morning.”

Trial?  He asked incredulously; “By what authority do you presume to put a deputy of the National Convention on trial?”

“Why, by the same authority that we all presumed to storm the Bastille and set up our own government, namely the natural right of all men and women to liberty and equality.”

“The National Convention is the duly elected government of the Republic, and only the Committee of Public Safety has the right to administer justice!”

“In the opinions of many, the Convention lost its mandate to govern women when it sent our champion, Madame De Gouges, to the guillotine.”

“Many?  What many?” he scoffed.

“You will see in the morning,” she said, and would not elaborate further.

Leclerc did not sleep well, though neither his nurse nor his accommodations could be faulted for that.  No, it was the reference to Olympe de Gouges which worried him.  Could he be in the hands of the remnants of the Girondist party?  If so, his time on Earth was nearly over; he did not think they would be as averse to bloodshed now as they had been in the past.  He tried to engage his nurse in conversation, to no avail; she had apparently said all she wished to say and showed admirable restraint thereafter.

But the morning eventually came, and his nurse was replaced by a woman who presented a basin and ewer and bade him make himself presentable, followed by another who brought him a generous breakfast.  Soon after he was finished the door was opened and Leclerc wondered if he might not be suffering some aftereffect of the opium with which the whore had drugged him, because into the room came two tall women dressed as Amazon warriors!  He started to laugh but it soon died in his throat because their spears were quite real and the scowls on their faces quite serious.  They ushered him out of the room and though he considered making a break for it he realized that he had no idea where he was and no way of knowing the way to the exit.

In a few moments he realized he must be in some portion of the Carrières de Paris which had been renovated to include rooms and at least one large chamber into which he was now led; the rough walls of the former mine were covered with decorative hangings and the space was ringed with wooden benches crowded with spectators.  A jury box lay on his right, and directly ahead of him a judge’s bench and witness stand.  All of the seats were already occupied; he was the last participant to arrive.  He was astonished to note that he was the only normally-dressed person there; everyone else, from judge to prosecutor to jurors to spectators, were all arrayed in colorful costumes far more suited to a Carnival celebration than to a courtroom.  And as he surveyed the scene, he noticed something far more disquieting; every single masked face he could see was that of a woman.

The trial was like a nightmare; he heard his own voice pleading not guilty to the charges, saw himself standing and sitting and answering as he was bidden, listened to the women in their outlandish attire give evidence against him, and heard the damning recitation of his misdeeds against humanity in general and women in particular not merely for the past few years, but stretching back through his whole debauched life.  And as the testimony unfolded a common thread became apparent to him, revealed by the nature of the charges and the details of the witnesses’ accounts:  Every one of them was a whore.  He fancied that he recognized the judge and prosecutor beneath their masks as well-known courtesans, and it was not too difficult to guess that jurors and spectators were all demimondaines as well.  He realized now that he had misinterpreted the nurse’s calling Olympe de Gouges “our champion”; before she had become an advocate for the rights of women, a Girondist sympathizer and an outspoken critic of the increasingly-common executions, the noted writer had been a courtesan.  The demimonde apparently considered her one of its own, and the judge honored the great lady’s aversion to violence by sentencing Leclerc to a peaceful death by overdose of opium.

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I was…trying to create a voice for women who had actually been in prostitution within a framework that was largely made up of activists who hadn’t and who didn’t particularly want the opinions of those who had. –  Jill Brenneman

This is the conclusion of an interview which started Monday; if you have not read it please go back and read that part first, but be warned that the first two parts are the most graphic, disturbing narrative I have yet published or am likely to publish again, and I must caution sensitive readers to consider carefully before proceeding.  Today’s installment also contains one intense passage, but if you’ve read the others you should be able to handle this one.

Maggie: So due to Christine Stark’s resignation, you found yourself in charge of Escape immediately after you embraced harm reduction; what happened next?

Jill: Less than a month after International Day of No Prostitution, I sent a public press release and also modified the Escape website to advise that we were now modifying the existing operational model and bylaws to make harm reduction a major component in our ideology and services.  Christine resigned entirely from the organization and the radical feminist and anti-trafficking communities were quick and very strong in their condemnation of adding harm reduction.  They demanded my termination or resignation and there was an abundance of criticism, hate mail, a death threat and efforts to get me dropped from scheduled speaking events.  I reached out to the sex worker rights movement, and though I expected a very negative response given my activism over the previous 3 years the response I actually got was supportive, warm and open.  That same month Christine and I and another member of Escape fulfilled a contractual obligation to make a presentation in Washington, DC at a Justice Department, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention conference.  When I arrived, the moderators spoke to me about what they had been told about my “conversion to pro-prostitution” and gave me a list of topics and words that were banned; it said “harm reduction” was a banned topic, “sex worker” a banned term.  I still used both in the first breakout session and was advised immediately afterward that my input had been excluded from the record and that my services were not needed for the remainder of the event.  I was fine with that, and I flew back to Minnesota, brought in new members with a harm reduction and/or sex worker rights viewpoint and refused to sign the anti-prostitution oath attached to a $10,000 grant offer (which cost us the grant).  In 2006, what had once been Escape officially became an autonomous chapter of SWOP called SWOP East.

Maggie: What amazes me is how incredibly ignorant the “antis” are, and how much they want to remain ignorant; most activists have been directly affected by whatever it is they’re trying to fight (people who join MADD have usually lost love ones to drunk drivers, etc), but it seems most of these anti-prostitution crusaders don’t have even secondhand knowledge of sex work.  Their opposition appears to be entirely academic and based on fallacies and lies.  Would you say that’s a fair statement?

Jill: I would say it is entirely fair.  For the most part they are ultra second wave feminists who have taken it to an extreme.  It’s like their goal is to impose their ideology onto the world from an angle of a political tyrant.  Dissent is not tolerated.  They are easily threatened by activists with actual experience in the sex industry; they view them as damaged, unreliable and essentially good only for doing the footwork in whatever battle they are wrapped up in.  Donna Hughes used to whine about how taking on the issue of prostitution had so harmed her career and how we, meaning those who had been prostitutes, didn’t appreciate it.  Nikki Craft said she hated prostitutes.  Others said they wished they had been prostitutes because they would have the experience without being fucked up like we were and have their academic credentials for credibility.  Of all the former sex workers I did activism with on the anti side in the late ‘90s, all but one have left or have been driven out of the anti movement.  Most gravitated to sex worker rights or harm reduction or left activism on the issue entirely.

The antis encourage lies, which they call “re-framing experiences”, to make their point.  As difficult and extreme as my experiences were, they wanted me to re-frame them, meaning add things that didn’t happen to make it worse.

Maggie: Eventually, you returned to sex work, but this time as a consenting adult in charge of your own life.  Obviously that happened after you broke with the antis, but what inspired you to go back to a type of work that must’ve had some terrible associations in your mind?

Jill: I returned to sex work in 2009.  Just a month prior, desperate for a job after the flight attendant job ended with the airline going bankrupt, I accepted a position as a valet parking attendant for a local hospital.  It was 3/10 of a mile run for each customer’s car in the parking deck.  At 43 years old, I lasted 9 days running roughly 8 miles a day before seriously injuring both knees on a misstep from a curb to the pavement.  Both knees required surgery and long rehab, and the workers comp carrier paid $106 dollars a week which didn’t even cover the rent.  Needing money and having very limited options I met with a local escort service that agreed to market me as 34 rather than 43 and I started taking outcall clients.  My years of counseling had paid off as had my time in the sex worker rights movement, because I found that I could set boundaries with the clients and that it wasn’t as it had been with Bruce.  I wasn’t a slave this time.  I couldn’t care less how the clients felt.  The deal usually was one climax or one hour, with very few exceptions; I found that I had no stomach for the longer sessions that some wanted even though it was more money.  Sometimes I had to catch myself as falling into the slave mode still wasn’t that far a jump from the present moment.  But it worked, although I often felt dejected that I was a prostitute in my 40’s.  Somehow I’d envisioned a different picture for my 40’s.

The true challenge came in July of last year when I was violently raped and assaulted by a client whose full time job was as a Federal Air Marshal.  Being handcuffed again, having someone hold a trashbag over my head until I stopped resisting and being forced to swallow the used condom as his point to fully ensure that I understood that he was alpha.  The rape set me reeling emotionally, and the past flooded back.  A few days later I flew to Vegas for the Desiree Alliance Convention but was non-participating; I was emotionally lost and mentally affected by the concussion he had inflicted.  Rather than attend breakout sessions or speeches by my friends and colleagues, I was lost in flashbacks and had difficulty determining reality and separating the present from the past.  I became suicidal and spent time getting prescription meds from my psychiatrist faxed to a pharmacy in Vegas.  I think a close friend that I was sharing a room with realized how far over the edge I was because despite my protestations they wouldn’t let me be alone.

Maggie: From your writings I can see that by September at least that depression had turned into anger.

Jill: After I physically recovered I felt a strong sense of rage.  It fully struck me when the escort service called me and asked me if I would consider a date with the air marshal again even though I had told them what he did.  They said he praised me and offered more money to have me again.  I was powerless to do anything to him because he was law enforcement, I am a prostitute and as such, I likely would be the criminal to the police.  I had no evidence because he made me swallow the condom.  But ultimately my anger is at abolitionists who fight so hard to keep prostitution criminalized.  Criminalization denied me any hope of justice and protected a rapist from prosecution just as it had when I was a runaway teen.  Their criminalization efforts and their faux rescue ideology are as much to blame for the rape as the rapist himself; criminalization gave him a blank check to do what he wanted to.  It reminded me just how easy it was for a client to reset the clock and turn me back into a slave captive to his violence, with the alleged rescue/feminist abolitionist movement cheering the whole process as saving innocents.  All of us doing sex work remain in danger because of criminalization and because of the “work” of the abolitionist movement.  I realized on the flight back from Vegas how easily anyone at the convention, any one of my sex worker friends and allies, could be quickly reduced to where I had been without recourse, with no legal protection and with an alleged anti-trafficking movement helping enforce the victimization.

While I’m still doing sex work because I need the money and lack other options, my sense of safety is compromised.  I’m haunted by the fact that it happened before and can easily happen again.  I realize how close I still am to being the devastated teenager lying on a cold cement floor unable to move from the pain of violent rapes and physical and sexual assaults, yet chained to that floor for the visual stimulation of a predator.  I feel like those same chains are still there, they still rattle, only now they are invisible, they are instead criminalization.  That criminalization is advanced by academic activists who have never been on that floor and are doing their “work” not because they care about saving anyone but because it advances their careers and gives them an ideology in which they can claim moral superiority and starve their “enemies” of human rights…enemies who are sex workers trying to make a living.

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More harm emotionally was done to me by rad fem activists than any pimp. –  Jill Brenneman

This is a continuation of an interview which started Monday; if you have not read it please go back and read that part first, but be warned that the first two parts are the most graphic, disturbing narrative I have yet published or am likely to publish again, and I must caution sensitive readers to consider carefully before proceeding.  Today’s installment begins after Jill escaped her pimp through serendipity and took the cheapest flight she could find, to Las Vegas.

Maggie: So, after finding yourself suddenly free, what next?  Did you get a regular job, seek out help from a charity, or what?

Jill: When I got to Vegas, I found a fleabag hotel to stay in, and after faking a diploma through some creative cut and paste I got a job at Denny’s as a waitress.  Eventually, I started cocktail waitressing at Rio and made much better money and was able to get a car and an apartment.  Both jobs thought I was a really good employee; I did what I was told, worked really hard, never questioned anything.  I tended to approach jobs as I had been taught by Bruce:  Shut up, do what I was told, do it fast, without question etc.  So ultimately what broke me is partially what saved me. It took years to regain the fire in my personality, but eventually I got my GED and then a job as a flight attendant with Southwest, which worked really well to ease my paranoia because every day I was someplace different.  As a flight attendant for the first couple of years you don’t ever really know where you will be going from day to day, so neither would anyone else.  My efforts at dating were terrible; I couldn’t trust men or get by my fear of them, so I tended to make every guy I dated into a bad guy even if he wasn’t.  In 1996 I entered a program called Council for Prostitution Alternatives in Portland and had a really awesome counselor and finally started talking about what had happened.  Even though Council for Prostitution Alternatives ceased operations, I continued counseling steadily and am still doing it as there are still issues to work on, plus I need the meds for depression and PTSD.

Maggie: So between 1984 and 1996 you just tried to deal with your trauma alone?

Jill: Except for 3 counseling sessions after a 1994 suicide attempt, yes I tried to deal with it entirely alone.  For years I was truly terrified of Bruce finding me, to the point that I had contingency plans for someone to take my dog if I disappeared for more than 2 days without notice.  For a long time I really expected that his finding me was destiny and essentially thought of how I would surrender if he did.  So much of me for so many years partially believed that I was wrong to have escaped and that I should have stayed, waited for him to come back or tried to bail him out.  I know it sounds fucked up but I really struggled with whether I should have escaped and whether I brought bad karmic destiny on myself for doing it.  I didn’t tell anybody any of this until 1996 when I opened up to a friend in Portland.  Initially it had started as an interview as she was doing a website for a runaway teen shelter and had seen my posts on AOL challenging some asshole who said that all runaway teens were just spoiled brats that didn’t want to take direction and just wanted drugs.  I unloaded on him on that message board.  She read it, contacted me and asked if I would agree to an interview.  I found that she and I were similar emotionally and then had an even bigger shock that we had some similar experiences although hers were as an adult and related to a former boyfriend.  I finally made the breakthrough of realizing someone else had been broken as easily as I had, which ultimately was also really painful because it hurt me that someone as kind and empathetic and really cool had to suffer that.  She was far more advanced on the internet that I was so she searched the country for prostitution based programs and contacted one in Washington, DC called HIPS, which ironically directed her back to Portland and the Council for Prostitution Alternatives as HIPS felt I was going to need extensive counseling and CPA was highly regarded for their counseling program.

Maggie: Your mixed feelings don’t sound fucked up to me; his conditioning of you was extremely thorough and effective and your mind adapted as it had to in order to stay intact.  I’m astonished that you survived as long as you did without any outside help!

Jill: I survived as long as I did because it is hard to die.  I developed a reputation for my fearlessness and bravado for many years, but it wasn’t fearlessness or bravado, it was a death wish.

Maggie: But eventually you were drawn into the prohibitionist movement; did you first get involved with them through the Council for Prostitution Alternatives?

Melissa Farley, who says women are too stupid to decide for ourselves what we’re allowed to do with our own bodies.

Jill:  I was peripherally involved in the anti prostitution movement from 1997 to 1998 largely via posts on listservs, including the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW).  I wasn’t really doing much activism, more trying to create a voice for women who had actually been in prostitution within a framework that was largely made up of activists who hadn’t and who didn’t particularly want the opinions of those who had.  I had already run into steep conflicts with Nikki Craft and Melissa Farley; both felt I was an infiltrator from the “pro prostitution” movement or the CIA.  On CATW I and others wrote about our experiences in prostitution, and we tended to argue with Donna Hughes and the other academic members of CATW about their inaccurate and demeaning perceptions of prostitutes.  So CATW made a decision that those of us who had been in prostitution would be removed from the listserv and put on one specifically for us; their feeling was that an international listserv on trafficking wasn’t the place for survivors to discuss our experiences.  I balked very strongly at this; I felt CATW and specifically Donna Hughes were a farce not interested in trafficking or prostitution but only in advancing their careers, and I went public with it.

In late 1998, I accepted a position on the advisory board of the Women’s Recovery Center for Prostitution Resources in St. Paul, which was an exit program for those who wanted to leave the sex industry.  Then in 2001 I was invited to join Escape: The Prostitution Prevention Project, which was based in the Twin Cities.  In April 2001, I did my first speaking presentation, and this led to many other speaking events as Escape had become well known.  My role was largely to speak about my past; my colleague Christine Stark (who founded the organization) did the feminist/political side of the presentation.  Christine was very staunchly anti-prostitution using a very Andrea Dworkin-based approach.  In 2002, Christine and a collective of feminist activists in San Francisco created a protest called “International Day of No Prostitution”.  When Chris initially explained the concept to me I understood it to be a symbolic day to create awareness of violence in prostitution and a call to prostitution clients to end violence against prostitutes.  I had no further input into the event and it became an outlandish protest that went worldwide.  I felt it was academic and out of touch, and went to extremes like calling for the rescue of animals from “systems of prostitution”.

Escape got a lot of criticism from sex workers about the event, and I was chosen to respond to them but I heard what they were saying and it made sense to me.  Rather than challenge their views as I was expected to do, I heard their point and made no response.  At the height of the protest against International Day of No Prostitution, Christine Stark abruptly resigned as Executive Director of Escape, which left me in charge.  At the same time, the Sexual Violence Center in Minneapolis was seeking to expand its harm reduction-based services to offer them to prostitutes in need, so we agreed on a trade.  Escape had no office, just a phone and a fax; Sexual Violence Center would give Escape office space at their facility, access to a 24 hour crisis line run by Sexual Violence Center, legal advocacy for sex workers and a no-cost harm reduction-based counseling program for sex workers.  In return I gave my knowledge because no one on their staff had direct involvement in prostitution and they felt they weren’t qualified and thus reached out to me to fill that role.  As part of that process I went through their crisis counselor certification class (which was 40 hours of training) and became a certified crisis counselor in Minnesota.

To be concluded tomorrow.

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The only sense from me that seemed to interest him was pain. –  Jill Brenneman

This is a continuation of an interview which started yesterday; if you have not read it please go back and read that part first.  As I said yesterday, the first two parts are the most graphic, disturbing narrative I have yet published or am likely to publish again, and I must caution sensitive readers to consider carefully before proceeding.

Maggie: So were the clients just as bad as he was?

Jill: The clients tended to be less violent or sadistic than he was.  There were a variety of fetishes, of roleplays involving rape, torture, sometimes faking death.  Sometimes he gave me stims because after multiple clients in a day I often was in a daze and was struggling to remain attached to the present and coherent.  Eventually I started doing some outcall work, even occasional streetwalking on really cold nights ostensibly to remind me of where I would be without him.

Maggie: How did that “loyalty test” you spoke of earlier happen?  Was it a kind of trick to make you paranoid of anyone who offered to help?

Jill: One night I was brought to a client named Brian by one of Bruce’s friends, a guy named Chuck.  Brian invited me in, told me he just wanted to talk.  I mostly listened as he talked about wanting to understand what makes a girl do what I’m doing, then he asked me a question.  He said he knew who Bruce was, that he was a terrible man who was obviously hurting me.  He could see the bruises on my wrists and ankles, he saw some of the scars.  He told me, if I agreed, he would hire me again the next night and help me get away from Bruce.  I didn’t agree at the outset but he sold me on it and I agreed.

The next night I was dropped off at Brian’s house as promised.  Brian invited me in, this time inviting me upstairs to the living room; when I got there I saw Bruce, Chuck and some other men there.  Bruce said to me “you know what you’ve done, don’t you”.  I agreed that I did know.  He told me to strip, to get on my knees.  He threw a dog collar at me and told me to put it on so tight I couldn’t breathe.  I came as close to that as the collar would go, then he handcuffed me and left me kneeling for a long time while the guys talked about my betrayal, about how I was going to spend my last few hours alive.  They took me to Brian’s dungeon and every man got to do everything he wanted to.  For a while I was gagged because apparently they were realistic in realizing it was impossible to not scream.  Midway through the night Bruce took me to the bathroom, told me to get in the bath tub, that they’d had it with my bullshit.  He reminded me of the contract, that I was his slave and that I had to do whatever I was told.  He took the handcuffs off, then put a gun in my mouth and told me to grab it and pull the trigger.  The guys were impressed that I didn’t hesitate and didn’t try to turn it on one of them.  When I pulled the trigger nothing happened and the gun was taken away.  By then I was crying, but not for the reason they thought; I was crying because there wasn’t a bullet.  It wasn’t death that scared me, it was living through more.

The night was hours more torture which included hanging me by my neck, which damaged my larynx to an extent that is still obvious today.  It never fully healed correctly.  When the night was finally over I was left in the bathroom chained to the sink.  Everything hurt to such an extent it was virtually impossible to move.  I knew I was bleeding from either my vagina or rectum or both but didn’t care and couldn’t move enough to look.  They left me there for a couple of days, aside from kicking at me to see if I’d move or taunting me with water to drink…I didn’t work again for over a week until enough of the bruises had disappeared.

Maggie: So obviously, Bruce was a sexual sadist of an extreme kind; it seems that torturing and breaking you was really his primary motivation, and the money was only secondary.

Jill: Yes, I agree with that.  I don’t know that specifically as he never said it straight out.  And clearly money was important and I was bringing him a lot of it.  I was very young and clients could essentially do almost anything they wanted to with me and I would do almost anything the client wanted.  I didn’t have any say in the matter.  I believe Bruce found a way to make a great deal of money and indulge his motivation.  I think his sadism went to such an extreme that it kept getting harder and harder for him to be fulfilled.  He talked often about how hot he felt it was when I got a certain look in my eyes.  It’s hard to describe this in writing.  The look was essentially that I wasn’t there anymore emotionally.  That he had caused so much pain and so much degradation that it didn’t matter who did what anymore.  He took great pride in demonstrating to his friends and other men what he could do to me, how easily he could make me say anything he wanted.  Our cover story, that he came up with, was that I was a college freshman that was studying “women’s lib” until I had met him.  Now I was his slave and he was proud to demonstrate that to other men.

Maggie: Since you were so totally broken, how in the world did you ever get away from him?

Jill: All the violence, degradation and shame had left me totally compliant.  I also knew I had no place to go if I did get away; I had no one to call and I was terrified of the police as I had some awful cop clients.  So I finally only escaped his control through a fluke.  One day just a little before my 18th birthday I was locked in the closet like usual, naked, handcuffed.  I heard a ruckus, heard Bruce explaining to somebody that his girlfriend who was Goth and into BDSM and fantasy was in the closet, heard him showing my fake ID that said I was 19.  Then some cops opened the closet; they took off the blindfold and handcuffs, and told me to go put some clothes on then they would speak to me.  I actually asked Bruce what he wanted me to put on, but they told me not to worry about that, just get dressed.  I came back down stairs and they asked me what I was doing in the closet like that.  I stuck to the story that I was 19 and it was just a bondage fantasy with my boyfriend.  They explained to me that my boyfriend was being arrested on an outstanding warrant.  I asked weakly for a female officer.  They told me if I wanted to speak to a female officer there were plenty of them down at the station and asked if it was worth it to me to get arrested also just to talk to a female officer.  I realized then that the cops thought I was going to try to defend him; I don’t know what I was going to do, but I backed off on the request.  They explained the process for me to bail him out and took him.  I was terrified and had no idea whether this was real or just another loyalty test.  So I went back in the closet and waited a long time.  Still nothing.  I had reached a point where I really had to pee.  I wasn’t allowed to go to the bathroom at will, only when I was told to, and Bruce checked the toilet often to see if it was wet so I didn’t dare to use the toilet.  So I went outside, then realized I had locked myself out of the house.  I could only get into the garage, so I sat with the dog for a few minutes.  The dog, Rocky, was a pit bull and would likely have attacked anyone but Bruce and I, so Bruce kept some money hidden in the garage.  So I took the hidden money and fled out of fear Bruce would come back at any point; I let Rocky go out of the garage so he could find food and water in case Bruce really was arrested. I got a cab to Burbank Airport (by this time we had relocated to LA and were living in Pasadena), then went to the ticket counter and got a $29 one-way ticket to Vegas that departed in 40 minutes.  Literally 1.5 hours later, I was in another state and suddenly free, but I was terrified that Bruce was going to find me and much of me felt worse for escaping.  Now I had to watch over my shoulder and I had very little money, no idea where to go or how to rebuild my life and myself.

That is my escape.  No dramatic rescue.  No rescuing exit organization.   I got away for no other reason than I had to pee and didn’t think to leave the door unlocked to get back in.

Maggie: It’s almost impossible to imagine a person being that broken and yet eventually recovering, but you did it and I can’t even begin to tell you how much that impresses me.  I’m a strong person, but compared to you I’m a spoiled whiny-baby.

Jill: Eventually I came back from it.  I learned from it.  In some ways I don’t regret it because over time I learned about oppression, about understanding the suffering of other people.  I grew up in a very conservative family until they threw me out at 14.  I wouldn’t likely have learned about tolerance, about empathy, about diversity without the experiences I went through.

To be continued…

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