I will go with thee, and be thy guide,
In thy most need to go by thy side. – Everyman
A personal blog is like its author’s online “home”, and those who read and comment there are like guests. And though the party here generally grew gradually, there have been several periods of explosive growth, most recently from late February to late March. Today’s column is a sort of welcome to all my new readers, but regulars may want to stick around as well because I’m going to give a little tour and I might end up telling you something you don’t already know. So come on in, get comfortable, let me offer you a drink and we’ll get started.
First of all, why “The Honest Courtesan”? I used to have a little box in the right-hand column explaining it, but had to retire it to make room for the Twitter feed at the beginning of the year. The name of my site is the literal translation of the Renaissance Italian term cortigiana onesta, meaning a courtesan who provided real companionship and intellectual stimulation in addition to sex. I learned of the term via Margaret Rosenthal’s book of the same title, which was the story of a Venetian courtesan named Veronica Franco; a movie named Dangerous Beauty was based on it. Notice the two hyperlinks in that last sentence? I use them a great deal (some might even say too much); they’ll take you either to old columns or to outside websites that will give you more information about whatever it is. If you’ve got the time, following them from any given post is a good way for new readers to catch up on my back-catalog.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. If you look up above my eyes there, you’ll see some tabs that may come in handy. The “Introduction” is actually just a static copy of my very first column, and will give you some idea of what I’m about if you haven’t figured that out already. Next to it is the “Index” tab; if you move your cursor over it you’ll see drop-downs for a multi-part subject index. The primary index is an alphabetical listing of posts by title, while the subject index is exactly that; both are totally hyperlinked for ease of use. If you want to know what I have to say about any given topic, the subject index is your friend. The next tab is “Resources”, and in the drop-down you’ll find “Bibliography”, “Filmography” and “Quotes”. The resources tab is a catalog of all the supplemental materials (mostly PDFs and a few very large image files) stored in the blog which don’t appear as posts or pages; the bibliography and filmography contain reviews of books and films, and the quote page is a selection of quotes about harlots or harlotry, most of which have appeared as epigrams on one or more of my columns. The last tab, “Offsite”, contains links (newest at the top) to places I’ve been interviewed, discussed at length or published guest blogs; its drop-down features “Links” (which are links to sites which themselves carry permanent links to this blog) and “Criticisms, Witticisms and Praise”, which is a list of cool, witty or otherwise notable statements others have made about me, even if they’re not flattering. These pages (other than the introduction) are all works in progress, so you may want to scan them every so often to see if there’s anything new.
Now let’s move over to the right-hand column, which remains in place no matter what page you visit. At the top is a calendar, which will let you go to whatever I posted on any given day. You’ll notice I post every day, but only once a day; I schedule my columns in advance to automatically publish at 10:01 UTC so all my readers can access them on the proper date, though the local time ranges from late evening in New Zealand to one minute past midnight in Hawaii. Every Saturday (give or take a day) I publish “That Was the Week That Was”, a synopsis of news items from the past week. Many of these are “updates”, stories that remind me of previous columns in some way or another; I provide links to those columns, so that’s another good way for new readers to catch up. Sometimes TW3 (as we call it for short) gets pushed to Friday or Sunday because of some date-dependent column on Saturday, but it will always be one of those three days. Once per month (usually but not always in the middle third) I publish a “fictional interlude”, an original tale with a prostitute as one of the important characters, and once about every 35 days or so I publish a “harlotography”, the biography of a famous whore.
The next box down in the right column is my Twitter feed; it displays my last five “tweets” and features a button to allow you to “follow” me. I use Twitter to call attention to whore-related news stories as I see them, to publicize articles on human rights issues which aren’t really appropriate for my blog, to “retweet” interesting or amusing items from other people and to publicize my daily columns. Even if you have no interest in Twitter you can click on the links you see in that box, and directly below it is another button which will sign you up to receive my daily column via email. Below that is a box with my email address and helpful instructions on how to ensure your message gets past my very aggressive filter-daemon.
If you keep going down that column, the next thing you’ll discover is a set of five boxes containing various links. The first, “A Few References”, contains links to several important columns. “Advice for Clients” and “Maggie’s Amazon Wishlist” are self-explanatory; “Handy Figures” is a list of numerical figures about prostitution with links to where the information can be found, and “Safety in Numbers” is a list of every column or study on this site which contains facts and figures about sex work, including a number of PDFs of scholarly studies. Though both “Handy Figures” and “Safety in Numbers” are posts rather than pages, I periodically update them to reflect new additions. Finally, there’s “House Rules”, which was my column of one year ago today; it contains a few simple guidelines to make everyone’s visit here more pleasant. If you just plan to read without contributing or if you’ve been commenting for a while you can probably ignore it, but if you’re a new commenter it might be a good idea to acquaint yourself with that post. Incidentally, that “one year ago today” link is something you’ll see in every column until early July; sometimes it’s embedded in the column proper and sometimes appended at the end, but it’s always there somewhere and provides yet another way for new readers to catch up. As of July 10th it will mostly become a part of “That Was the Week That Was”, though individual columns may still have such a reference when appropriate.
The other four link boxes all feature external links. “Friends of Whores” are sites which, though run by non-sex workers, actively support our rights. “Organizations and Allies” are various nonprofit organizations which support sex worker rights; some are sex worker organizations and some have a larger mission which includes sex worker rights or outreach. “Resources” are various reference materials on other sites, and “Whorish Media” are websites by or about sex workers, including a couple of group blogs and some items just for fun. Below the link boxes is a widget that allows you to look up posts by category. Next comes the definition of my own coinage “neofeminist”, and finally a legal disclaimer (basically stating you can borrow my stuff as long as you give me credit).
That concludes this tour of The Honest Courtesan; I hope it proved educational if not entertaining, and that you visit often. And if you have any questions, just ask them in the comment section below and I’ll be happy to answer them.