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Archive for the ‘Biography’ Category

Diary #398

Last week was dominated by the sudden death of my friend Laura Lee on Wednesday morning; Matisse and I found out Wednesday evening about 10, but we were asked not to say anything until Laura’s daughter made a public statement.  Working out what to say to the press was a lot to ask of such a young woman, but she handled it with the strength and courage she inherited from her mother.  I never met Laura in person; we’ve been talking for a couple of years now about arranging that, but alas fate intervened.  But she and I have been online friends for years, and we shared the deep bonds of sisterhood that only whores can know with each other.  As I wrote in another diary column more than three years ago,

…when sex worker friends get together there’s a kind of camaraderie that I’ve not generally felt among groups of other adult women; it’s a sense of shared experience, of being denizens of a secret world unknown to the general population.  Perhaps we cleave to each other more tightly because the “good” women of the world reject us; perhaps it’s an outgrowth of the necessity for us to watch each other’s backs.  And perhaps it’s also due to our comfort with displays of affection and intimacy that others would find shameful…

That also extends to our online interactions; Brooke Magnanti and I were good friends and confidantes for years before I met her, and Matisse and I were so close that when we finally met for the first time in person, we were finishing each other’s sentences and people were surprised to hear that we hadn’t ever met before.  And the same goes for my relationship with Laura; we sent each other packages, chatted in DMs on Twitter, and supported and consoled each other through some extremely difficult times.  So when I heard the news, I didn’t receive it with the detached sadness one experiences at the death of a beloved celebrity or casual acquaintance, but with the pain of the loss of a real friend.  The sex worker rights movement has lost one of our greatest warriors, a fierce campaigner for human rights who was willing to go toe-to-toe with horrific evil for the benefit of thousands of women who didn’t even know her.  And those of us who did know her have also lost someone we dearly loved.

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Bills don’t evaporate when clubs shut down.  –  Reese Piper

R.I.P. Laura Lee 

In the eight years I’ve been writing obituaries for people important to the demimonde, I’ve never before had to write one for a personal friend.  It is with a heavy heart that I announce the untimely passing of Laura Lee, a titan of sex work activism, who left us without warning Wednesday morning.  Matisse and I were informed Wednesday night, but asked not to say anything until Laura’s daughter was ready to make a public announcement, which she did late Thursday:  “My mum unfortunately passed away on Wednesday 7th February 2018.  She asked me to let you all know that she was so grateful for everyone’s support.  I ask you to continue all of your amazing campaign work in her honour.  I’m so proud of all my mum accomplished in her tragically short life.  My family have asked for complete privacy at this difficult time.  Much love & power to you all!”  In respect for the wishes of my late friend and her family, this is all I can say for now, but I’m starting to collect information to write a proper harlotography for her soon. Rest well, sweet lady, and Aphrodite bless thee.

Sex Workers Against Trafficking

GAATW is the largest “anti-trafficking” organization which recognizes that sex workers are the best guardians against real (as opposed to prohibitionist-imagined) coercion:

Sex worker rights organisations are creatively responding to violence, exploitation and other abuses within the sex industry, including instances of human trafficking, according to a new report published by the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, Sex Workers Organising for Change: Self-representation, community mobilisation and working conditions.  The report is based on research conducted with sex worker organisations in…Canada, Mexico, Spain, South Africa, India, Thailand and New Zealand.  It highlights cases where sex workers, or sex worker organisations, learnt of situations where a woman was experiencing violence, working under unacceptable conditions, or was brought to the industry through force or deception…sex workers resolved the issue…by providing advice and referral to other organisations, negotiating with the brothel owner/madam, chasing the pimp out of their area, or gathering money to help the woman return home.  Despite this important work, sex worker rights organisations are largely unrecognised and even vilified by the anti-trafficking community…

Gorged With Meaning

Both sugar babies and sugar sites are heavily invested in pretending sugar dating isn’t sex work:

Brook Urick approves every piece published on Let’s Talk Sugar, a lifestyle site aimed at sugar babies…[which] is the media arm of SeekingArrangement.com…It may sound strange that sugar dating is attempting to reshape itself into a lifestyle brand.  But if you’re familiar with this scene, and familiar with Seeking Arrangement’s legal treatise, you’re well aware of the motives at play.  Prostitution is illegal in most of America.  Dates that come bundled with a suggested donation?  Not quite…Anything that portrays the sugar community as a niche cultural curiosity with an entire lexicon of inscrutable customs, taboos, and salutations, helps the company’s case that sugar dating is fundamentally detached from sex work.  Seeking Arrangement’s refusal to genuinely engage with the rest of the adult industry has earned mixed reactions from other, self-acknowledged sex workers.  Bobbi Besos, a prostitute who works at the Bunny Ranch in Las Vegas, recently penned a blog post on the brothel’s website—”Sugar Dating: Let’s Stop Sugar-Coating Prostitution“—arguing that the sugar scene’s quasi-legal standing meant that Seeking Arrangement can recuse itself from anything dangerous, coercive, or otherwise destructive that happens over the course of the transactional encounters they help facilitate…

Original Sin

Casual sex causes “sex trafficking”!

During a speech to pastors in Kansas City in December, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley linked the [supposed] problem of sex trafficking to the sexual revolution of the 1960s.  Hawley, the top Republican prospect to challenge Democratic incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill in November…[fantasized] “We have a human trafficking crisis…because people are willing to purchase women…like commodities…The sexual revolution has led to exploitation of women on a scale that we would never have imagined, never have imagined…the false gospel of ‘anything goes’ ends in this road of slavery”…

Missourians have a choice of one lying prohibitionist control freak or another.  Lovely.

Buttons, Bags & Banknotes 

UK feminists win another battle against the employment of women:

…Formula One’s “grid girls”…will find themselves unemployed as of next season.  They are the latest battleground in what has ultimately been a long-fought [prohibitionist] war, which has, at various times, seen arguments about the Sun’s Page 3, Kim Kardashian’s nude selfies, dancers in music videos [etc]…These women are sexually objectified, the argument goes…[and] they send the wrong message to young girls and women…For an argument that is ostensibly about work…any analysis of labour itself is conspicuously missing…Working conditions…would seem a better place to start than sweeping moral judgments on the type of work itself…

Why I Wait

Seeming paradoxes arise when ignoramuses equate marriage rates and childbirth rates with rates of sex-having:

Deaths now outpace births, marriage is plummeting, and young people aren’t having sex.  The media are calling it sekkusu shinai shokogun, or “celibacy syndrome”—an alarming trend that has the Japanese government funnelling tax dollars into speed dating and matchmaking services over fears of an impending economic collapse.  But in a neon-lit pocket of Tokyo’s Shibuya district, BDSM equipment, mirrored ceilings, vibrating beds, and condom vending machines paint a different reality.  Welcome to Love Hotel Hill, where Japan’s sex industry is flourishing…It’s estimated that more than half of sex in Japan occurs in love hotels…There are more than 30,000…in the country, and hundreds in Tokyo alone.  With increasing life expectancies, the rising age of marriage, and high population density, multigenerational households are ubiquitous.  When married couples live in close quarters with elderly parents and children, love hotels offer a practical alternative to thin-walled Japanese homes where privacy is scarce…Discretion is a love hotel’s most important commodity—they often feature secret entrances, covered garages, and disposable license plate covers.  Patrons can make cash-only transactions with clerks stationed behind opaque screens to guarantee anonymity.  Others have sophisticated automated systems…

“Sex trafficking” hysteria is being used as an excuse to make it increasingly difficult for US hotels to offer their patrons similar anonymity.

Amsterdam (#530)

What are they going to do to tourists who won’t turn?  Arrest them?

Guided tours in Amsterdam’s red light district must ensure tourists turn their backs to windows and not photograph prostitutes.  These new measures…aim to lessen the number of tourists visiting the oldest parts of the city…The new rules also ban tours with drugs or alcohol and tighten up the “conditions for bike and Segway tours”…Guided tours will also have to end before 11 p.m. and tourists will not be allowed to stand in bridges or in front of store entrances during working hours…Tour companies that do not respect the new rules…will be heavily fined…

Lack of Evidence (#546)

Remember how New York City claimed doubling the size of its vice squad would magically “help” sex workers?  Here’s what the extra vice pigs are doing:

…Raquel is a 23-year-old trans woman from the Bronx, who [was arrested by plainclothes cops for walking down the street]…it wasn’t until she arrived at the 25th Precinct…that she learned she was being charged with prostitution, along with four other trans women arrested that night.  A police report [lies] that she agreed to perform oral sex…These arrests occurred against the backdrop of an NYPD [propaganda campaign claiming they would] arrest fewer people on prostitution charges and focus vice resources on arresting men who buy and traffic sex…The announcement won praise from [prohibitionists]…Sonia Ossorio, president of the New York City chapter of the National Organization for Women, called [harassing sex workers and cheating them of income] a “big step toward combating this form of modern-day slavery”…

Something Rotten in Sweden (#710)

California now has its own annual anti-whore pogrom:

More than 500 [people] were arrested…56 [of them were sex workers “authorities” claimed]…were rescued during a statewide [pogrom labeled with the Orwellian moniker]…Operation Reclaim and Rebuild…[only] 11 [of the sex workers were underage]…Among the 510 [men] arrested, 30 [were labeled] suspected traffickers and 178 [were labeled] “johns”…

Checklist (#753) 

Just in case you didn’t think you were spied on enough in airports:

If you pass through the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, you may see new signs asking people to be on the lookout for sex trafficking.  Delta Airlines and the airport have [collaborated] with the Super Bowl and [prohibitionist profiteers] Polaris to [raise hysteria about] the [non-]issue…Delta has also [indoctrinated] thousands of its employees [in racial profiling techniques] to [harass passengers]…

The Course of a Disease (#796)

American politicians increasingly use Swedish-scented rhetoric in futile attempts to disguise the stench of tyranny:

Legislation just introduced in the [Pennsylvania] state House would tackle a key [PR issue] identified by [prohibitionists] seeking to improve the way [they are seen by the public]…[sex workers are] arrested while the customers [are less so.  Prohibitionists lie, claiming that]…a little more than half of victims of human trafficking are being used for sex work [when actually it’s less than 10%], according to the [prohibitionist] group Equality Now [which is led by disgraced prosecutor Lauren Hersh, who resigned in disgrace after she was caught trying to railroad two innocent black men for rape]…

Not So Easy

Prohibitionists are learning the hard way that the wind is shifting:

With more than 200 strip club workers and advocates filling a makeshift meeting room inside the Rosenwald Center’s gym Feb. 6, the New Orleans City Planning Commission (CPC) rejected parts of a plan from the New Orleans City Council to limit the number of strip clubs on Bourbon Street.  The CPC instead followed recommendations from its staff that call for a “soft cap” of 14 clubs, rather than a harder cap limiting clubs to one per block face, as the City Council had proposed…The CPC’s recommendations now head [back] to the City Council…The CPC…said in its report…that it “has not found a direct causality between the number of [Adult Live Performance Venues, or ALPVs] in the [Vieux Carre Entertainment District] and crime”…

That last line is a reference to the thoroughly-disproven dogma of “negative secondary effects“, which claims that sex rays emanating from sexual businesses damage the brains of bystanders, forcing them to commit crimes. 

But while the staid Times-Picayune promotes this ludicrous fantasy and worse:

…[Politicians] have been relying on Times-Picayune investigative series to stoke fears that strip clubs are hotbeds for trafficking…the piece [is]…riddled with more holes than a New Orleans paved road…its authors consistently equate exotic dancing and prostitution with “trafficking”…moreover, the Times-Picayune denies actually having uncovered a pervasive trafficking problem, explaining in the first part of the series that “there has been no evidence that clubs knowingly employed dancers who were victims of human trafficking”…the paper’s gripe with the clubs appears entirely based on the [fantastic] premise that “[s]ome pimps are known to require women under their control to dance in clubs”…

…competing news media are coming out on the sex workers’ side, and the Advocate even gave column space to stripper Reese Piper:

Stripping allows people to not just survive, but thrive, with flexible hours, high earning potential, and a low bar of entry.  When I graduated college, I had more than $80,000 in debt.  Dancing eased that burden…I am also autistic — a disability that makes it difficult to hold down a traditional job…it’s our right to work without fear just like everyone else…

Stupor Bowl (#811)

The real reason the government keeps pushing the thoroughly-debunked “Super Bowl sex trafficking” myth:

Guests at this year’s Super Bowl game in Minneapolis can expect cops, checkpoints, and security theater everywhere, in no small part thanks to the myth that the Super Bowl is a mass sex-trafficking event…”sex trafficking” gives federal and local authorities an excuse for posting police anywhere and everywhere people are gathering—and for enlisting citizens as spies, too…We’re transforming Minneapolis into a police state to…crack down on an issue that almost everyone admits is imaginary…Even crony charity groups that spread all sorts of sex-trafficking misinformation found this myth too easily debunkable to keep repeating.  Pretty much the only folks who haven’t gotten the memo that Super Bowl sex-trafficking panic is bunk are the law-enforcement agents who benefit from promoting it…

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While work is always an effort, work that one loves and finds rewarding is also a source of joy and fulfillment (not to mention money).  So when one has a good week full of work, with generous and interesting gentlemen whose company one enjoys, there’s a kind of  pleasant tiredness at the end of it that goes beyond mere contentment and job satisfaction to a broader sense of a life well-lived.  And for someone like me, who has a lot of trouble getting her nervous system to settle into anything like “relaxation” even when she’s soaking in a hot tub, that’s a really nice place to be.  Obviously, it’s an ephemeral place, but that’s OK; though I hate to get philosophical (a terrible lie), the entire universe and everything in it is ephemeral to one degree or another, and all we can hope for is to maximize the nice parts while minimizing the bad ones.  That’s why I’m taking even more steps to increase the amount of time spent with people I love, while decreasing that spent in unpleasant pursuits.  And if you want to spend time with me (in or out of hot tubs), eating good food and enjoying good conversation and other adult pleasures, you know how to get in contact with me.  Why put it off?  You, too, can maximize the nice parts of your life, and I’m very good at helping people to do that.

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Diary #396

Though we didn’t actually consider the relative business slowness of early January when planning our Mexican vacation, it’s a good thing we took it when we did because we’re definitely back in the busy season now.  And that in turn is a good thing, because I’m still not done refilling my coffers after the move and there are some long-delayed bills I really should take care of before I suffer my yearly throttling by Uncle Sam.  It’s also good because returning to real life after an idyll always makes me blue, and keeping my mind occupied with work helps alleviate that (as does spending quality time with people I love, which I had a larger-than-usual number of chances to indulge in last week).  Still, that doesn’t mean I’m averse to traveling for work; I’d like to go somewhere in March or April, so start getting your votes in now and the first city (domestic or foreign) which can promise me three good appointments will be the winner!

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The individual cannot bargain with the State.  The State recognizes no coinage but power: and it issues the coins itself.  –  Ursula K. Leguin

Prince was a far more accomplished and talented musician than even most of his fans realized, and behind the flamboyant stage persona was a very real, generous and complex person.  This video, shared with me by Ivan Dragomiloff, is footage of the artist in 1990, guiding his band through a rehearsal of Gershwin’s “Summertime”.  The links above it were provided by ClarissaConner HabibRadley BalkoTushy GalorePopehatTim Cushing, and Kat Murti, in that order.

From the Archives

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Diary #395

Usually, when I take a vacation or business trip, I get behind on my blogging while on the road and catch back up when I return.  But this time, it was the opposite; while Lorelei was sunbathing I actually had plenty of time to work on my blog on the balcony of our room, but when I got back I was so busy with appointments (both new and prebooked) that by Friday I was down to only two columns ahead!  Not that I’m complaining about either, mind you!  It does my OCD good to get a lot of paying work after a week of indolence, and though some of you may think working on my blog while in Puerto Vallarta doesn’t sound like much of a vacation, you’re not looking at the big picture.  I was working on my blog, all right…on a balcony overlooking the ocean, with warm tropical breezes and peppy music wafting over me, and a constant stream of no-extra-charge piña coladas, mai tais and daiquiris on my table.  Don’t worry, I wasn’t drinking constantly while there; most mornings, there was at least an hour between my waking up and drinking my first mimosa at breakfast, and when I got really tied up in my writing I might not notice my glass was empty for an hour or more!  You know, I’m not exactly a fan of Hemingway’s, but maybe he had something with that writing drunk thing.  Of course, Hemingway didn’t actually say that, and I wasn’t actually drunk most of that time (more…relaxed), but the point still stands.  And I’m not writing this drunk; I’m writing it stoned.  So I should probably just leave you with this picture Lorelei took after we had our beachside massages the last full day we were there.

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Diary #394

Lorelei Rivers and I are headed back to Seattle from Puerto Vallarta today, well-rested and ready to go back to work tomorrow.  It was a lovely five days; I would enthusiastically recommend an all-inclusive package (which is what we got) to anyone going to a similar resort.  Not only was it dirt-cheap by US standards, it was so very nice not to have to keep hauling out credit cards or wads of cash to pay for every little thing.  As you saw yesterday, the views were spectacular, and we ate whatever we wanted in any of several lovely restaurants; plus, free room service, free mini-bar, shows, several pools and a private beach, and all the free booze we wanted.  And though the drinks tended to be weak, a quick side-trip to the VIP lounge to spike them with even MORE free booze remedied that problem easily enough.  We spent most of Friday, Saturday & Sunday eating, drinking, lying on the beach (with LOTS of sunscreen to protect our exceptionally-fair skins) and of course shopping, then on Monday I went into town for even more shopping after we got massages in a lovely little tent up the beach from the hotel.  It’s a good thing we packed light on the way down, because, you know, shopping.

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