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Archive for August, 2011

There’s a sucker born every minute.  –  P.T. Barnum

I understand the desire to believe in fantasies; I really do.  I’m 44 years old and I still occasionally daydream about finding a djinni in a bottle; I enjoy science fiction and fantasy stories and movies and even comic books, for goodness’ sake.  But if someone offered to sell me a djinni, a future-predicting device or a power ring, I’d make damned sure it worked (under test conditions of my own choosing) before I even considered talking about the possibility of negotiating the transfer of one red cent.  Most people, alas, are far less skeptical, and some are so hopelessly credulous that con games, work-from-home offers, pyramid schemes, emails from African bankers and many other scams find enough pigeons to make them worthwhile.  Because prostitution is illegal in this country and on the fringes of legality in many others, it has its share of scams; extortionists and practitioners of cash and dash (described in my column of one year ago today) are con artists posing as prostitutes, and whores themselves are often the targets of advertising scams (such as the one discussed in my column of last October 3rd) or attempts to set them up for robbery, rape or abduction.  For example, a particularly vile con artist in Florida has been preying on escorts for at least a year now with emails like this one:

Hello, my name is Paul Geary.  I’m a partner in A G P (Azoff Geary Paul) we are a management firm that represents various musical artists.  One of the bands we rep is Godsmack.  The drummer of that band is Shanon Larkin.  Shannon has a break coming up from the current tour that the band is on.  He will have about two weeks off and is going to S. Florida, to deal w/ a house and a few cars that he recently purchased there.  He has been extremely busy and going very hard for the last few months and is looking to take some time to decompress.  He actually had wanted me to try and contact you when he was in Houston recently, however there just wasn’t time for that to happen while he was there.  Apparently he had saved your info and now has asked me again, to try and contact you to see if you are available, to travel immediately to Florida to spend a few days w/ him there.  I cant at this time really tell you exactly how long you would be w/him there, however I can and will guarantee to you, a minimum of two days, w/a very strong possibility of it extending for a longer period of time.  That of course will depend on how well the two of you get along.  I have to be honest w/ you, and tell you that I do think its a little ridiculous for him to want to fly anyone, (nothing specifically aimed at you personally) across the country for something such as this.  As you can imagine there are a bounty of beautiful women in S Florida that I could, (and much more easily for everyone i might add) have make his acquaintance.  However  he has made it clear that he in fact doesn’t wish to do it this way.  He wants to see you, so, since that is his wish, that is what I’ll attempt to do.  That is the reason for this very long E mail.  I simply wanted to try and give you  as much Info on me and my firm so you can do your due diligence and check that this is a real and legitimate offer.  So you know we do have a full in house travel dept. that will take care of all your travel arrangements by booking you ROUND TRIP flight, your hotel, as well as your rental car.  This will all be booked pre -paid and you will have E Mail confirmations sent to you to.  You will then be able check in on line, as well as print out all your itineraries before leaving to go see him.  If you are interested and available to see Shannon  A.S,A,P, please give me a call @  561-866-9420 or simply E mail me at this Addy. and let me know.      Thanks  Paul

The scam attempts to prey on both the girl’s greed and any tendency toward celebrity worship she may have; girls who accept the offer (and I’ve heard of a few) are robbed of money and credit cards and stranded in Florida.  Due to criminalization, whores in the United States who fall for such tricks have no recourse, but in Spain prostitution is legal so the victims of this one (as reported in the Telegraph on August 12th) were able to go to the police:

The gang of six based in Fuengirola on Spain’s Costa del Sol made at least €50,000…after persuading some 180 men to pay a joining fee to register as gigolos.  The elaborate scam lured men in with advertisements in the national media promising vast returns for wining and dining lonely women.  Men…were then asked to pay joining fees of between €200 and €1,000… to be put on the books of “reputable agencies”.  But the online agencies were hoaxes and the clients never materialised.  Police said the masterminds behind the scam were a husband and wife and her older brother.  Three others were arrested for opening bank accounts used to transfer money from the victims for five per cent of the profits.  None of those arrested nor those that fell for the scam have been named.  Police said they uncovered the network after receiving complaints from different men who said they had never received any work as a result of signing up with the agencies.

As regular readers know there simply aren’t enough women willing to pay for sex with men to keep such an agency in business, but the myth persists (encouraged by Hollywood fantasies like Hung and Gigolos) and when I had my agency I regularly received calls from men who honestly believed there was a market for male prostitutes catering solely to women.  And as with every unrealistic fantasy, it was only a matter of time before some sleazy person found a way to take advantage of it.

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One year ago today I published my second “fictional interlude”, which concerned an inanimate object endowed with a human personality.  Today I’d like to revisit that theme, but via the medium of science fiction rather than fantasy and set in the future rather than the past.  I hope you like it.

“Are you sure it’s safe?”

“Sure I’m sure.  Do you think I want to get sued?”

“I won’t be able to sue you if my brain gets burned out.”

“It’s just a standard psychograph like they’ve been using for over forty years,” Kevin said with more than a hint of annoyance.  “You’ve used one yourself for dubbing sentios.”

“Yeah, but you’ve obviously modified this quite a bit, and a standard psychograph can’t do what you’ve told me this is supposed to do.”

He sighed, and made an effort to be patient with her.  “You’re right, but all I’ve done is to increase the number and type of receptors and to develop new and dramatically-improved interpretation software.  The principle is still the same; it’s completely passive, and just records the electromagnetic impulses from your brain.  It’s a receiver only, not a transmitter.”

“OK, OK.  I get it.  But you can’t blame me for being a little scared.”

“I don’t blame you, Rachel, but you have to believe I wouldn’t have signed that contract with you if I wasn’t 100% sure this would work.  It’s a pretty sweet deal for you, after all; half the profit for just a few hours’ work.”

She leveled a mildly disapproving glance at him.  “Really, now.  It’s my name, my face and my reputation that’ll sell this thing, if it sells.  And it took me years to earn those.”

“I’m not denying that.  Let me rephrase it; you’ve already put in the work, and now you just have to invest a few more hours to cash in.”

If it works.”

“Why shouldn’t it?  The principle of recording emotions and feelings isn’t new; all I’ve done is to increase the fidelity and multiply the number of channels so as to take a complete personality pattern.  Using that, I can program the simulacrum to act exactly like you, and think of how much guys will pay for their very own Rachel Summers sex doll.”

“But that’s just it, Kevin; I don’t think she will act exactly like me.  Despite the fact that changes in brain chemistry and physiology can strongly affect personality, we’ve never been able to locate a ‘personality center’ in the brain.  Lots of psychologists call personality an ‘emergent system’, something which arises from the neurochemistry of the brain and is contained within it, yet can’t be mapped in one-to-one correspondence with it.”

“Descartes’ ‘ghost in the machine’, you mean.”

“Descartes didn’t call it that, a 20th–century philosopher did.  Laugh if you want to, but I’m not the only one who believes that the reason true artificial intelligence has never been achieved is that the human brain is qualitatively different from a computer and engineers keep pursuing a quantitative approach.”

Though he disagreed with her conclusions, Kevin had to admit Rachel had a first-class mind in that gorgeous head of hers; it was obvious from her sentios, which is why he had approached her with this offer.  Lifelike sex robots had been popular for decades, but they had no spirit; they just did as they were told.  And while that was infinitely superior to the inert manikins of a century ago, he knew from talk on forums that the first company to produce a doll which could give her owner what the “hobbyists” of his great-grandfather’s day used to call a “GFE”, would become rich beyond the dreams of avarice.  Programmers had tried to develop an adequate personality simulation for the last decade, but it was no use; nobody had yet developed a robot which could convincingly mimic the personality of an affectionate human woman.  So Kevin had hit upon the idea of copying a personality rather than inventing one from scratch, and whose could be better than that of a golden-hearted call girl turned actress, beloved of tens of millions as much for her warmth and humanity as for her looks and sexual skills?

It would work; it had to.  “I don’t believe in the soul.”

She shrugged.  “It’s your money.”  Pouring herself into the padded couch, she lifted the helmet to her head and made herself comfortable as Kevin adjusted dozens of settings on the control panel, then signaled he was ready to begin.

Five and a half long, draining hours later, Rachel arose, stretched and announced that she was desperately in need of a steak, a baked potato and a large chocolate milkshake.  “How soon will you know if we need to do a retake?”

“About three weeks, I think,” he said.  “But I’ll let you know.”

She kissed him on the cheek and said, “I hope I’m wrong.”  But her eyes said, “I don’t think I am.”

Three weeks turned into four, then five; Kevin wanted to make absolutely sure he had everything right.  Finally, all the programming was done; it took a few hours to load into the simulacrum, and then he had to wait for agonizing minutes as her systems initialized.  Finally, her eyes snapped open, and she abruptly sat up on the table; though she was physically indistinguishable from Rachel, there was something subtly different about her he couldn’t quite put his finger on.  The doll had been programmed with every aspect of her personality; there shouldn’t be anything missing, no behavioral difference between this robot and the real Rachel.  And yet she somehow seemed…cold.  Soulless.  He pushed the unwelcome and unscientific thought from his mind and decided to test her responses; if there was a problem he’d discover it soon enough.  Better start with the basics, he thought, so he looked directly into the seemingly-human face and said “I’d like a kiss.”

Her mouth twisted into a half smile as she looked at him with queenly hauteur and asked dispassionately, “What’s in it for me?”

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Your argument defends an ideology; mine defends the truth.  –  Mason Cooley

Furry Girl has been in the news lately; her project to fund the first-ever sex worker rights billboard in the United States has succeeded, and it will be going up in Los Angeles in the next two weeks.  That has received a small amount of attention in local mainstream media, but as usual something negative has received a lot more, and more widespread, attention.  It started when “feminist” porn starlet Madison Young gave birth a few weeks ago, and decided to create an exhibition entitled “Becoming MILF” around the event (for those unfamiliar with the acronym, it means “Mother I’d Like to Fuck”).  As Tracy Clark-Flory’s August 16th Salon article puts it:

…The idea was that she would explore how she now embodies a contradiction, the dichotomy to end all dichotomies — that of the Madonna and the whore.  At the show’s opening, she served up self-made breast milkshakes and displayed a baby quilt made of burp cloths and “porn star panties.”  Surely it goes without saying that this sort of art doesn’t appeal to everyone, or most, but it’s brought about criticism from the unlikeliest of sources:  a fellow pornographer.

Furry Girl strongly criticized Young’s behavior on Twitter, calling her a “revolting person” and pointing out that her display would appeal to “baby fetishists” and “pedos”.  But most importantly she wrote, “It’s funny to see how many feminist kinksters don’t think consent matters when it comes to creating erotic art w/ a baby.”  Apparently Young and her supporters (whom Furry Girl calls “the sexy mommy mob”) angrily “tweeted” back and, well, the fur started to fly.  Bloggers blogged, Twitterers tweeted and pundits issued forth punditry; Flory wrote her article and Jezebel commented on it…and as usual everyone missed the point.

Furry Girl and I are usually on the same page.  That’s not to say we agree about everything; she’s a vegan and I’m an omnivore, some of the things she finds sexy are definite turn-offs for me, and while she revels in her “furriness” I obsessively pluck or epilate every single hair that dares to appear anyplace other than my scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes or mons veneris.  But when it comes to issues of sex work, liberty, feminism and common sense, we rarely disagree:  One especially important point in which we both believe is that sex work activists need to stop trying to look weird and wild and kinky and instead reach out to the mainstream Americans who support criminalization precisely because they believe we’re weird and wild and kinky.  IMHO we need to stress the ways in which whores are like other women, not the ways in which we’re different; as FG puts it, “I want sex work issues to stop being marketed as though they are of interest only to kinky hipsters, leftists, and sex radicals.”  So when a friend called my attention to this Tuesday night, I decided to see what Furry Girl herself had to say about it.  I didn’t have long to wait, as she commented on the affair Wednesday morning:

I am utterly baffled that I have to explain these things, but the sexy mommy mob is still hysterical after my comments on Twitter last week that feminist darling Madison Young is creepy-as-fuck for how she uses her baby as a non-consenting prop for her sexual politics and porn marketing…since people are asking me for a “statement,” and the sexy mommy mob is intent on growing this “story” into some kind of national outrage, I might as well clearly explain my position in one place…

The big take-home point that some people are missing:  It’s all about context.  I am against breast feeding in places where people go to masturbate…It’s hard to plead “there is absolutely nothing sexual about these photos/videos” when they are posted in sexualized spaces and/or crafted to look sexy…if she would never want to encourage people to jerk off to photos of her baby, she should stop posting them in a place where she typically posts porn…This issue is also about consent.  The baby is not consenting to being used as a marketing gimmick for her mother’s porn persona…I am against people using their children as props to serve an agenda…

I never said that no woman should be allowed to breast feed.  I am not against breast feeding in public or private, I am against doing it in sexualized contexts.  I would feel the same way if someone whipped out a baby at a swinger’s club, so it’s not just about the internet or porn.  I never said that sex workers…should not be allowed to have children, or that mothers can’t be sexy.  I have a number of kinky and sex working friends who are parents, and I know some sexy moms.  They, however, possess good sense and  boundaries and don’t force their offspring to be a part of their exhibitionism and work…I never said that no one should be allowed to photograph their kids or photograph breast feeding.  I didn’t comb through the Flickr pages of strangers until I found a random mother to criticize.  I’m specifically talking about a porn star who is using her baby as an attention-getting prop in sexualized contexts

A bubble-dweller

I hate what stuff like this does to the credibility of sex workers and pornographers as a whole.  People like me try to tell regular folk that porn and sex work is about consenting adults, not weird stuff with kids and/or the non-consenting.  To the sexy mommy mob, Madison is the greatest hero of her generation, but what about the other 99.999999% of America, the majority we need to get on our side in order to make any advancements for sex workers?  If you seal yourself in the safe bubble of San Francisco, surrounded by adoring fans, then of course you’re not going to care how you might be damaging the movement for acceptance of sex workers and porn.  I’m surprised that people like Gail Dines and Melissa Farley haven’t seized upon Madison’s baby fetish as yet another way to attack all of us.  This is exactly the sort of thing they live to hold up as a non-representative example of how we’re all horrible people…Donna Hughes threw a fit a year ago when a small sexuality conference apparently allowed in a high school senior…If letting a consenting 17-year-old hear about sexuality is enough for the antis to launch a campaign that says kink bloggers are basically child molesters, I wonder what they would think of a porn star sexualizing the breast feeding of a baby?  But of course, if the antis get wind of the controversy that Madison and her fans are so desperately trying to publicize, she will not be the one addressing the hard questions.  She has her feminist porn “revolution” to worry about, and the rest of us – especially her baby girl – can go eat cake.

I don’t follow Twitter and therefore didn’t see the original comments, but from what I’ve read they’re a bit stronger than the sort of things I would’ve said.  That’s not at all unusual, however; as I pointed out in my column of June 4th, “I’m the Princess of Paranoia and 99.9% of the human race words its essays with far less caution than I employ in the composition of my grocery list.”  That having been said, Furry Girl’s explanatory essay is very clear and eminently sensible.  And as usual, I find myself in complete agreement with her.

One Year Ago Today

Presents” is a column about the thoughtful extras clients often give in addition to the fee.

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The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong; it’s like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can’t eat steak.  –  Robert A. Heinlein

In my column of January 9th I pointed out that

…modern culture encourages people…to surrender personal responsibility for their actions.  It’s not the fault of the human for misbehaving; it’s the fault of the drugs/tobacco/video games/porn/ guns/gambling/television/movies or whatever.  Even sex is called an “addiction”…The prostitute who offers a service is no more responsible for clients who come to her when they shouldn’t than an auto manufacturer is responsible for someone who is harmed by driving his car off of the highway, and neither can a client be held responsible for the free choice of a whore.  It’s time for people to stop allowing governments to treat them like children, and the way to accomplish this is to stop acting like children by running to Big Brother every time someone hurts our feelings, or expecting Nanny to remedy every consequence resulting from our own ill-considered actions.  It’s time for modern people to leave their state-run, police-guarded nurseries and grow the hell up.

One of the most potent weapons collectivists use to shoot down personal-responsibility-based arguments against the Nanny State is the “for the children” strategy; since everyone agrees that children lack adult capacity for judgment, clearly they can’t be held accountable to the same level of personal responsibility as adults and must therefore be protected.  That’s the foot in the door; it is quickly followed by the leg (all legal minors are “children”, exactly equivalent to four-year-olds) and then the body (in order to be sure “children” aren’t affected by whatever-it-is we have to prohibit it to adults as well).  Those who would defend an adult woman’s right to whatever sexual arrangements suit her are attacked by the “child sex trafficking” fetishists, who claim that it’s just and ethical to endlessly harass tens of thousands of adult whores in order to make it more difficult for a few hundred teenagers (characterized as “trafficked children”, of course) to ply their trade; furthermore, they believe it’s perfectly legal and sound to file nuisance lawsuits against advertising venues in the hopes of A) becoming wealthy without working for it, and B) establishing the precedent that websites are responsible for user-generated content.  Either they don’t recognize the damage such a precedent would cause to the American economy (as internet companies relocated to countries without such burdensome restrictions and users switched to international ISPs) and the chilling effect it would have on free expression, or they simply don’t care; fortunately, not every court is hell-bent on gutting the First Amendment, so a federal judge recently nipped an attempt at establishing such a terrifying precedent in the proverbial bud:

A federal judge in St. Louis has thrown out a lawsuit accusing Village Voice Media of knowingly allowing a pimp to advertise a teenage prostitute’s sexual services on one of its websites.  The suit filed last year on behalf of the teen sought at least $150,000 in damages.  It claimed that Backpage.com, a website similar to Craigslist, knew prostitution was being facilitated on the site but did nothing to stop it.  U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Mummert dismissed the suit Monday, [writing that] the allegations “do not distinguish the complained-of actions of Backpage from any other website that posted content that led to an innocent person’s injury…Congress has declared such websites to be immune from suits arising from such injuries.  It is for Congress to change the policy that gave rise to such immunity.”  Those comments were in reference to the Communications Decency Act.

The girl’s attorney, Bob Pedroli Jr., was critical of the act and said he would appeal.  “We plan to continue our fight in the courts and we ask everyone who cares about sexual trafficking of children on the Internet to write to their senators and…representatives and tell them to change this law now,” Pedroli said.  Phone messages left with an attorney for Village Voice Media were not returned.

The lawsuit did not list the name of the girl who said she became a prostitute at age 14.  The girl’s pimp, Latasha Jewell McFarland, 28, of St. Louis, was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty in 2010 to federal prostitution charges.  Prosecutors in the criminal case said the girl ran away from home and met McFarland in 2009.  They said McFarland persuaded her to work as a prostitute by telling her she could earn $100 for each sex act, and that McFarland took half the proceeds.  McFarland admitted she posted nude photos of the girl online, bought condoms, arranged meetings and drove the teen to hotels…In her lawsuit, the girl contended that items advertising sex with her were posted on Backpage.com…

Unless Pedroli is wholly incompetent, he knows that the CDA as initially enacted would’ve done exactly what he wanted it to, but the portion of the Act allowing such censorship was struck down by the U. S. Supreme Court practically as soon as it was passed.  And rightfully so; holding companies like Backpage (and by extension WordPress, Facebook, message boards, etc, etc…) legally responsible for the content of posts created by their users would utterly destroy the usefulness of the internet as a venue for individual voices (such as this blog), reducing it to control by monopolies large and complex enough to cope with onerous and intrusive government regulations and slowing its growth to a crawl as each and every new item had to be individually checked to ensure compliance with government standards.  Furthermore, the costs resulting from this level of micromanagement would mean an end to the virtually-free internet as we know it.

Ashton Kutcher has his answer now; during his Twitter tirade of June 29th he posted, “hey @villagevoice hows [sic] that lawsuit from the 15 year old victim who alleges you helped enslave them [sic] going?”  Of course, Ashton’s not bright enough to understand that he should be glad the suit failed, but most reasonable people are and for the moment, at least, that’s still enough.

One Year Ago Today

Advice for Clients” is a short tutorial on what to do (and what not to do) when making or keeping an appointment with an escort.

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When shall we three meet again/In thunder, lightning, or in rain?  –  William Shakespeare, Macbeth (I,i)

I had a rare “girls’ night out” this week; Kelly Michaels’ travels brought her near enough to my place to justify diverting here, so I welcomed her as a guest Sunday night and then she and I drove to Dallas to meet up with Kelly James, who had been there on tour for several days.  I originally figured we’d just go to dinner and talk a lot, then I’d spend the night there and drive home the next day; Kelly M, however, had different ideas and insisted I bring something fancy to wear so we could go out to a strip club in Dallas she had been meaning to visit for some time.  She didn’t have to ask me twice; it’s been ages since I visited a strip club and since there was a dress I mentioned once before (“Cynthia…convinced me to buy a “liquid silver” dress which I still haven’t ever managed to find an occasion to wear!”)  I knew this was my opportunity.

I never sleep all that well when I know I have a lot to do, but I don’t really need as much sleep now as I did when I was younger so six hours is usually enough.  I woke up early, posted my column and scheduled Tuesday’s to post automatically, answered my correspondence, performed my chores and then woke Kelly up before heading for the shower.  We managed to get out pretty early and arrived in Dallas during rush hour, but fortunately we were going against traffic so it wasn’t too bad.  We met Kelly J. and relaxed in the hotel for a little while before heading over to the Galleria, where Kelly M. got her hair done and we enjoyed a lovely dinner which she insisted on paying for (I considered arguing the point but I know a determined look when I see one).  We left just as the mall was closing and returned to the hotel to get dolled up, finally heading out in search of Kelly’s club.  After one false start (a very nice place which clearly catered to older businessmen, definitely a clubby sort of atmosphere) we got a tip-off which led us to our real destination, a place Kelly had heard about a year before and had never been able to locate specifically.

And that’s when the fun began in earnest.  I always volunteer to be the “designated driver” because I’m not really much of a drinker to start with, and taking that responsibility lets me win cool points for something I probably would’ve done anyway because it seems almost nobody can make a Brandy Alexander these days (when I ordered one in Frank’s presence years ago, he snorted “That’s not a drink, it’s a dessert!”)  So I remember everything that happened, which is probably more than the Kellies can say because they imbibed freely for hours.  Kelly M. is an extremely generous tipper, so it didn’t take long for the dancers to recognize our side of the stage as the place to be (especially on an otherwise-quiet Monday night).  This seems to have intimidated a few of the poorer male clients; one guy came up to the stage, saw how much money Kelly was throwing and returned to his seat with an audible “fuck this!”  So after that, we were careful to leave off when a guy approached the stage so as not to cheat the girls out of opportunities to sell lap-dances.  All three of us are former strippers, after all, so we know how it is.

The club management was, I think, pleased that we were there; not only were we tipping heavily, we were also (especially me) giving the patrons a little something extra to look at, especially when the girls got affectionate with us from the stage.  So it probably isn’t surprising that they didn’t say anything about Kelly M. snapping numerous pictures of us (but not the dancers or customers) with her camera phone.  I was pretty “high on life”, and after the strippers were done for the night I started dancing around in my seat; when the DJ played “Magic Man” by Heart I could no longer restrain myself and got up to dance.  The Kellies tried to convince me to get up on stage so they could throw money at me, but I wasn’t willing to risk that without knowing Texas laws on the subject.  Besides, the few customers still in the place (it was after 2 AM by that point) seemed to be enjoying my performance just fine; one guy kept moving his chair to see me better, then finally just got up to watch openly.  When we went out the men who yet remained outside the front door tried to make time with us, and Kelly M. teased one guy by throwing a few one-dollar bills at him (he laughed but didn’t pick them up, though the cab driver beside him did).

On the way back to the hotel, we found a classic rock station and Kelly M. and I insisted on singing along on “Stairway To Heaven” while Kelly J. attempted to navigate us back to the hotel while drunk.  Somehow we managed it, got undressed for bed while clowning around some more and had a discussion about what the most extreme sexual perversion might be (Kelly J. kept disqualifying my suggestions on the grounds that they were “just disgusting”).  We managed to settle down and get to sleep by just after 4 AM, but not before Kelly M. emailed a few of the pictures to my husband (who was on a different part of the planet at the time and therefore wide awake and at work).  I didn’t get much sleep; my days of being able to lie in bed past 8:30 AM are long gone, but I let the Kellies alone until 10:30 and then roused them sufficiently to drag them to breakfast.  I had to get going soon after that in order to make it home by dark, but I arrived safely (though exhausted) and actually got a little work in that night.

What fun we had!  It really was like a little taste of the old days for me, and my husband was really excited for me as well because he thinks I work too hard and he was very pleased to see me relax and just have fun for a change without trying to accomplish anything.  It was also great to talk shop with a couple of my sisters; one of the drawbacks of our profession (especially under a criminalization regime) is that it tends to be very isolating, and being able to converse freely with other whores is enormously liberating.  I don’t think I’ll be able to do this sort of thing often, but I certainly hope it isn’t years before it happens again; perhaps next time I’ll figure out an excuse to get down to south Texas to meet up with Brandy and Emily.

One Year Ago Today

Celebrities” discusses clients who are public figures.  Professional ethics forbid name-dropping, but I think you’ll enjoy the column anyway.

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There are none so blind as them that will not see.  –  English proverb

Judging by the comments, some of my readers still aren’t convinced that “liberal” and “conservative” have become mere insults for political imbeciles to hurl at each other, nonsense words with about as much meaning as “poopyhead” or “cooties”.  In my column of June 13th I pointed out that most neofeminist rhetoric is not that of a “leftist” political philosophy as it’s usually labeled, but rather that of an anti-sex fundamentalist religion; well, today I’d like to show you the other side of that equation:  a writer from a so-called “conservative” think-tank reverently quoting Andrea Dworkin as though she were William F. Buckley in support of the “theory” that…don’t laugh, now…porn causes terrorism:

…pornography now appears frequently in the possession of violent terrorists and their supporters, including Osama bin Laden.  Regarding “smut” found on captured media, in 2010, a Department of Defense al-Qaeda analyst was quoted in The Atlantic:  “We have terabytes of this stuff.”  Terabytes.  That’s a lot of “smut.”  I wonder whether the pornography of today—now ubiquitous and increasingly grotesque—is one of the influences warping the mentality of those who aspire to or who actually go on to engage in ever more grotesque public violence.  Would those terabytes of pornography and such more aptly be dubbed “terrorbytes”?  Why, after all, would an al-Qaeda affiliate, as reported in 2009 from interrogations in Mauritania, select pornography to target new recruits?  We need to know…

…In a powerful 1993 article, Andrea Dworkin maintains that it was no coincidence that the former Yugoslavia was home to both a free-flow of pornography, which was remarkably fluid and unbounded by the standards of that pre-internet time, and then absolutely horrific violence.  She suggests that the wide circulation of pornography functioned as instruction in “a way of being:  dehumanization of women; bigotry and aggression harnessed to destroying the body of the enemy; invasion as a male right.”  In the former Yugoslavia, “the pornography,” Dworkin argues, “was war propaganda that trained an army of rapists who waited for permission to advance.  An atavistic nationalism provided the trigger and defined the targets.”  Ideas, ideologies, and –isms do matter, but they do not exist in isolation.  Consider an ideology like a seed and the disposition of the mind like soil.  The particular nature of the seed determines what may become of it.  Yet at the same time, the elements of the soil are part and parcel of shaping the manner in which the particular seed grows.  A seed in toxic soil can grow into a terrible distortion of the plant it is meant to become.  What happens when a radical ideology adheres in a pornography-saturated mind?

I believe our country needs to invest in research that questions whether it makes a difference when the minds that advocate for extremist ideologies are minds warped by pornography use.  Perhaps the twisting of the mind that results from pornography has an impact—an exceptionally dark, dangerous impact—on how radicalized individuals act out the concepts of their ideology.  Dworkin raised this specter in 1993, but since then, our general public attitude to the presence of pornography in violent conflict seems virtually unchanged.  Just as in 1993, our tendency today is to dismiss it as simply an indicator that “boys will be boys”…[the seizure of many accused terrorists’ personal effects] presents…an opportunity to bring research to bear on whether or not there is a nexus of influence with pornography and the grotesqueness of some modern conflict-violence.  We may need to invest in understanding the impact of pornography on those who use it, particularly on those who also become obsessed with extremist ideologies.  So, I wonder, is anyone in the U.S. government tracking and surveying the presence and types of pornography on these media?  If we have access to the libraries of the personal pornography preferences of those who support and engage in terrorist violence, we may have a window into the dark corners of their minds.  What lurks there?  It may be to our own peril that we would ignore this information before us.  In seeking to understand terrorists, studying their ideas alone is not enough.  We need to study and understand their minds—and in this day and age, this includes, in perhaps more cases than we are aware of, minds shaped by pornography.

As far as I can tell the author, Jennifer S. Bryson, is serious; she has several advanced degrees and has written a raft of articles, plus a Bible coloring book for children (I am not making this up).  So she knows full well who Dworkin is; she just doesn’t care because their ideology is essentially the same:  suppress and control human beings, especially men, and especially especially forms of sex favored by men.  Both Bryson and Dworkin are (were) willfully blind to male sexuality; they do not understand it because they don’t want to.  It’s much easier just to judge others than to admit that one’s own way of looking at the world isn’t the only one, especially if one is a religious fanatic.

There is, of course, a true link between porn and terrorism, though it isn’t a causative one; the total sex segregation of Muslim society, combined with a shortage of available girls due to polygamy and arranged marriages and a sharp divide between “haves” and “have-nots”, means that there are an awful lot of sexually frustrated young men with no jobs, no prospects and severely impaired judgment who have little hope of ever having sex this side of Paradise (where they are taught they will receive 72 virgins of their very own).  Is it honestly that surprising to Bryson and her cronies that these men love porn?  I’d say it was a sign of serious psychological maladjustment if, given their circumstances, they didn’t collect “terrorbytes” (gag) of the stuff.  Terrorists also have cell phones, TVs, books, cars, food and all sorts of other stuff but nobody’s trying to pretend there’s a causative relationship there because (all together now) sex is somehow different.  It reminds me of the way that religious fanatics and cops of the ‘80s made a big deal if teen suicides owned Ozzy Osbourne records or Dungeons and Dragons books…ignoring, of course, all the teen suicides who had sports paraphernalia or other kinds of books and records.

I’m going to let her demand for an increased surveillance state speak for itself, but I must point out that our country already has “invest[ed] in research that questions whether…minds [are] warped by pornography use,” twice in fact; neither Lyndon Johnson’s Presidential Commission (funded shortly after he left office in 1969) nor Ronald Reagan’s Meese Commission (organized in 1985) could find any evidence that porn “warps minds” or indeed has any harmful social or psychological effects whatsoever, though the latter report concluded with a statement roughly equivalent to “despite the lack of evidence, we say it’s harmful anyway”.  As porn has become more widely available the rates of abortion, divorce, domestic violence, forcible rape, teen pregnancy and sex crimes against children have all markedly decreased, and some studies seem to indicate that the increased availability of porn is at least partly responsible for the decrease in rape.  Of course, fanatics (whether “Democrat”, “Republican”, “Christian”, “feminist” or whatever they choose to call themselves) aren’t interested in studies, except for bogus ones which can be made to “demonstrate” whatever they already believe.

One Year Ago Today

Recognition” explores the awkward situations which can arise when escort and client discover they already know each other.

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A man hears what he wants to hear/And disregards the rest.  –  Paul Simon, “The Boxer”

Several stories about “authorities” seeing and hearing exactly what they want to see and hear.

Give It a Rest

I guess the cops in Arlington, Texas aren’t satisfied with just going “booga-booga, I see you!” to escorts and shaming clients any more, especially since what they imagined would be their big chance to look like big shots fizzled exactly as I and other rational people predicted it would.  So now they’re resorting to harassing strippers and strip-club patrons instead:

Dozens of employees and patrons were arrested late Friday during a raid at the Flashdancer strip club.  In all, 44 people were arrested on narcotic warrants, charges of possession of controlled substances or outstanding felony or misdemeanor warrants, police spokeswoman Tiara Richard said…Richard said the location had a history of illegal drugs and prostitution.  Recently, undercover officers had been at the nightclub where they bought drugs from employees and saw prostitution, Richard said.  No arrests Friday were related to prostitution.  “Based on what they saw, there was a need to take action,” Richard said…

Don’t you just love Copese?  They “saw prostitution”; obviously their Super Police Vision allows them to see other abstractions such as “criminality” and “guilt” as well, which is why their testimony is so much more credible in court than that of us ordinary mortals who lack super powers.  Of course, that raises the question of why such gifted beings are wasting their time bullying strippers instead of pursuing international gangsters or something, but we’re not supposed to think about that.

Trafficking, Trafficking Everywhere!

The American desire to be the world’s moral arbiter, combined with its simple-minded view of reality, has resulted in its attempting to impose “trafficking” mythology on countries which have heretofore largely ignored this largely Euro-American moral panic.  Note the subtly sardonic tone of this July 24th story from New Zealand:

New Zealand is risking an American rebuke over one of this country’s pet aid projects, which brings hundreds of Pacific Islanders here to work for minimum wages picking fruit and grapes, warn high-level US sources.  Wellington sees the recognised seasonal employer scheme as charity, but Washington views it as verging on human trafficking and debt-bonded labour…Last week US Human Trafficking Ambassador Luis CdeBaca came with a delegation to talk with government officials, unions and lobby groups.  No statement followed, but sources say the Americans were alarmed at a lack of recognition of trafficking in New Zealand.  The Americans are investigating bonds used to bring minimum wage workers from Tonga, Samoa, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands.  “The burden of illegal costs and debts on these labourers in the source country, often with the support of labour agencies and employers in the destination country, can contribute to a situation of debt bondage,” a source said.

…The Americans also believe trafficking of sex workers – especially from Asia – is taking place.  But Catherine Healy of the Prostitutes Collective told them the collective does not believe this.  “We haven’t come across sex workers who are victims of trafficking yet,” she said, adding the word trafficking was “such a dramatic catch-all…What we are asking for is old-fashioned labour rights.  We explained that sometimes sex workers are made to work exceptionally long shifts and have their money withheld by some brothel operators.”  Healy said some managers and operators are “dreadful to work for” and the Department of Labour should deal with them.  The collective told the Americans it was pleased sex workers had the right to say yes to sex work and that this was getting rid of exploitation.  “[CdeBaca] acknowledged it was important to not conflate prostitution and trafficking, as has been our recent experience in dealing with the American administration and their overall response to sex work”…

I’ve heard several US government officials claim lately that they believe it’s important not to conflate prostitution with trafficking, yet they keep doing it both in this country and in others.  The success of decriminalization in New Zealand must drive prudish American officials bats.  But as for Americans chiding New Zealand about the use of migrant labor in harvesting crops…

{ring! ring! ring!}

“Hello?”

Hi, Kettle?  This is Pot.  You’re black.

Waking Up

It’s good to see so many educated people beginning to recognize the truth about sex work, though it’s rather sad to think so many of them (including the self-described “sexologist” who wrote this July 27th Huffington Post article) were ignorant enough to believe all the lies and stereotypes in the first place:

Think “sex worker,” and “affluent,” “educated,” and having a “strong family background” and “access to resources” are not the descriptors that come to mind.  But a University of Arkansas study recently found that many U.S. women joining the “high quality,” illegal prostitution market encompass all of those qualities…Far from desperately trying to fund their next drug high, childrearing expenses, or bills, they bare their wares for the very same reasons most people look for work — for money, stability, autonomy, and job satisfaction.  Such research joins a string of flabbergasting findings on who would consider joining the “world’s oldest profession.”  A British study, published in the journal Sex Education, found that 16.5% of undergraduates would consider sex work, with 93% pointing to money as the primary incentive.  Another Leeds University study, involving over 200 lap-dancers, reported that one in three participants engaged in such work to fund their schooling…a Berlin Studies Centre study has reported that one in three university students in Berlin would consider sex work as a way to pay for their education.  (It further found that over 29% of university students in Paris and 18.5% in Kiev would contemplate such.)  Some 4% of the 3,200 Berlin participants reported already having engaged in some type of sex work, like erotic dancing, Internet performances, or prostitution.  Researchers speculated that greater student workloads and higher fees have made sex work’s high hourly wages quite attractive.

While many people can’t wrap their head around a person’s desire to engage in sex work, this field’s potential to become your “average day job” changes depending on what the sexual exchanges involve.  With the term “sex work” encompassing a wide range of jobs, like erotic modeling, stripping, lap dancing, erotic massage, being a dominatrix, and webcam work, a person can make money doing ‘tamer’ activities than prostitution…Often involving zero physical contact, those sorts of jobs seem much less demeaning and threatening, hence, in some realms, become more socially acceptable.  These “artistic performers,” as they’ll often call themselves, often don’t feel victimized…

Dr. Fulbright, if you consider these findings “flabberga­sting” it’s because you were previously reading anti-sex work propaganda instead of talking to real women (which causes me to question your credibility as a sexologist).  For intelligen­t, educated women to choose sex work is nothing new; we’ve been doing it at least since ancient Sumer, and the Golden-Age Greek hetaerae and Renaissanc­e courtesans were the most educated, accomplish­ed women of their times.  The idea that sex work of any kind, even prostituti­on, is “demeaning and threatenin­g” exists largely in the minds of ignorant outsiders like yourself, not in the minds of the free adult women who make up the vast majority of our profession and always have.

If You Want Something Done Right…

The families of several of the women who were murdered by the Long Island Killer are (unsurprisingly) dissatisfied by the lackluster efforts of police, who (unsurprisingly) don’t appear too anxious to catch what appears to be a cop raping and murdering hookers.  So (as described in this July 30th article from CNN), they’ve decided to hire private detectives and to place Craigslist ads looking for information from other working girls who are too smart to trust cops; as Amber Costello’s sister put it, “I worked for a service when I was younger…We knew we had to protect ourselves. Police were not an option.”  Don’t expect CNN to understand this; they’re too busy pumping up their ratings by advocating further criminalization so more girls like Costello will be murdered in the future.

One Year Ago Today

The Empress Theodora” is a short biography of the woman who was inarguably the most successful whore of all time; she rose to become a Byzantine empress in life, and an Eastern Orthodox saint after her death.

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