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Archive for the ‘Biography’ Category

It’s not like prostitution is ever going to go away, or it would have gone by now.  –  Suzanne Harrington

R.I.P. Christopher Lee Christopher Lee

Lee strode like a titan through the favorite movies of my life; he starred in four of the movies I’ve listed as among my favorites, and pops up in various places in other columns as well (search his name and see).  So though he isn’t a sex industry figure, he joins others such as Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson and Carmine Infantino whose influence on the landscape of my fancy cannot possibly be credited enough.  Rest in peace, Sir Christopher, though I won’t be at all surprised if you’re still observed stalking about foggy London streets in a cape from time to time.

Lack of Evidence

This will continue for as long as our work is criminalized:

A Tempe bar issued a public apology…to a transgender woman whose claims of discrimination by workers ignited an online firestorm…bar manager Rob Tasso said Briana Sandy, 55, should not have been asked to leave…”We welcome all kinds of people in this business.  We have many gay customers, we have transgender performers.  In no way did we ever mean to discriminate against you”…Tasso…pointed out that Tempe Tavern…neighbors an adult bookstore.  “Unfortunately, there’s a male prostitution problem that’s around here that’s unique to our situation”…

In other words, “We welcome all kinds of people, but prostitutes aren’t people.”

It Looks Good On Paper

The asinine dysphemism “prostitution ring” (used to mean one underage sex worker, her boyfriend and his mother) is bad enough, but the real story here is that Washington is one of the states with so-called “safe harbor” laws, which are hawked as “protecting the victims” by blaming their “crime” of consensual sex on a pimp instead of the arrested girl.  But as I’ve written before, the laws only apply to lily-white “perfect victims” with no prior arrests who are willing to rat out a supposed “pimp”; the great majority of underage whores have neither a pimp nor a spotless arrest record, and just go to jail like any other victim of the police.  The idea that listening in on a teenager’s jailhouse phone call like a nosy parent picking up the extension constitutes some sort of brilliant detective work, however, is a great moment in badge-licking.

Broken Record 

“Gypsy whores” idiocy with a revolting new Swedish-Canadian police-state flavor:

…Grand Prix weekend…is the busiest time of year for escorts in Montreal.  This year, local police are warning tourists that they may spend more time in jail than at the racetrack if caught trying to buy sexual services…Chief Insp. Johanne Paquin…said a specialized squad will be on patrol in strip clubs, hotels, motels and massage parlours, as well as on all the sites in the city related to the Grand Prix festivities…Canada’s new prostitution laws…”give us more tools in our tool box,” Paquin said…Hobby Lobby

The Widening Gyre

If cops don’t want people spreading stupid rumors, they need to stop spreading such rumors themselves first:

Lest you need any further indication that sex trafficking has become a genuine Moral Panic, I bring you the tale of Emily Stringer…[who] was shopping at…Hobby Lobby in Oklahoma City when she noticed “a middle aged lady” following her around the craft store.  Stringer “stuck with (her) instinct” and left abruptly, calling local police afterward to report the incident.  “The policeman said that this is unfortunately a common thing,” Stringer posted in a subsequent Facebook warning.  “They are abducting people for sex trafficking.”  Except…. of course not.  There have been no cases of anyone, of any age, being stalked and abducted by sex traffickers at Hobby Lobby or any other Oklahoma City chain store.  Outlets from Snopes to The Washington Post tore holes in Stringer’s story, and the Oklahoma City police even distanced themselves from the apocryphal anecdote—but…Stringer’s sex-trafficking warning had received 147,000 shares. The police rebuttal, meanwhile, was shared less than 500 times

That Old Black Magic

The “juju sex slaves” myth just keeps going like a battered zombie:

Spanish National Police announced on Monday that they broke up a ring of human traffickers who used juju voodoo and animal sacrifices to coerce women into prostitution…The traffickers had put the women through a juju voodoo ritual that used the victims’ finger nails or public hair and involved animal sacrifice in front of idols in a temple in order to “guarantee that the women complied with everything they demanded, under threat of death to them and their families”.  Juju…has commonly been used to drive Nigerian women into sex trafficking…by exploiting the women’s fears of the powerful “magic”…

A few points of interest:

  • Most people in Spain practice Catholicism, a sect in which a woman can undergo a ritual involving sacred rings and magic water in front of idols in a temple in order to guarantee that she be bound to obey one man under threat of eternal torture by demons in a pit of damned fire.
  • There is no such thing as “juju voodoo”; Voodoo is a New-World syncretism of Catholicism and traditional African religion which is practiced in neither Nigeria nor Spain.
  • The readers of this article are being asked to believe without evidence in the word of “authorities” that powerful and unseen evil forces are lurking about to abduct their children unless they give these “authorities” greater power over their lives.

But obviously, Europeans and Americans are so much more sophisticated than the superstitious women who can be controlled by “magic”.

It’s Different Because It Involves Sex, Part Umpteen (#43)

Pole dancing is artistic expression — but lap dancing is not, a…[New York] judge has ruled…“There is a stage for the performers illuminated by spotlights; a dressing room for the dancers, who, at times, wear an array of different costumes; (and) tables and seating that are oriented towards the stage to focus audience attention on the performances;” and featured “choreographed dances,” [Judge] Pinto wrote…But the…more lucrative private dances were another story.  The auditor “credibly testified that in his 10 or 15 visits to Nite Moves over the course of years he purchased one or two private dances a night.  He said the private dances were very similar…He admitted he was not an expert in choreography but did not think what he experienced in the private dance was choreographed”…

Watershed

It’s so nice to see a few public intellectuals actually saying this:

…prostitution [has] been around as long as humanity itself, but…we don’t talk about it…Either it’s something glamorously Belle du Jour-ish, all swanning around five star hotels earning more cash per horizontal hour than the rest of us do in a vertical week, or it’s trafficked slaves, drugged and abused and held against their will in conditions so appalling we cannot bear to even think about it.  But what if in between these two extremes there’s a more mundane middle ground?…it’s a job.  It’s work…Dr Jane Pitcher…interviewed 36 self employed prostitutes…and…found that they all worked indoors, chose their own hours and clients, and set their own rates of pay.  None had been coerced into the work, and many were registered as self-employed.  They had good relationships with their clients.  It was far from the glamour/misery dichotomy…The obvious solution is to decriminalise all sex work, making it safer, more regulated, and not driven underground…

Umpteen Thousand People Can’t Be Wrong (#513)

Control freaks just can’t get that the Swedish model is unwelcome in Scotland:

The End Prostitution Now campaign…will call on the Scottish public, MSPs, charities and public bodies, to put pressure on the Scottish Government to [impose the Swedish model]…The campaign launch coincides with Labour MSP Rhoda Grant’s announcement yesterday of her amendments to the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill…She said…“I fear that if Scotland does not follow [Northern Ireland], it could become a haven for sex traffickers moving out of Northern Ireland“…

Fortunately, Grant’s attempt to circumvent the parliamentary process was immediately quashed.

The Course of a Disease (#515)

Activist Molly Smith on the problems with the Swedish model:

…Instead of focusing on creating bureaucratic hoops for sex workers to jump through, decriminalization prioritizes sex workers’ safety and health…While sex workers are not prosecuted simply for selling sex under the Swedish model, various laws continue to be used against them in punitive ways.  “Operation Homeless,” the memorably-named Norwegian police initiative, evicted people suspected of selling sex—a law aimed at “pimps,” but used against sex workers’ landlords…People who claim sex workers are “decriminalized” under the Swedish model tend to be…feminist…yet it’s hard to imagine the same feminists would consider abortion “decriminalized” if people suspected of seeking abortions were subject to deportation and extra-judicial (yet perfectly legal) eviction.  In fact, Sweden’s policymakers are remarkably open about the extent to which the law is supposed to harm people who sell sex.  The head of Sweden’s anti-trafficking unit told a journalist last year, “of course the law has negative consequences for women in prostitution, but that’s also some of the effect that we want to achieve”…

A Year Later (#515)

NO NO NO! This is absolutely awful!

…Under the old law, SNUG regularly partnered with Edmonton Police Service to run operations in which sex workers were taken into custody.  But instead of pressing charges, women were brought to SNUG offices, given some food and offered services.  When the law changed, police weren’t able to charge sex workers anymore and SNUG lost a crucial outreach opportunity…

Subjecting sex workers to violence in order to “outreach” to them is an absolutely terrible, dehumanizing, agency-negating idea; what next, shooting them with tranquilizer darts and RF tagging them for study?Primates of Park Avenue

Housewife Harlotry (#540)

Welcome to our world, New York housewives:

…is Primates of Park Avenue, an exposé on the moneyed mommies of Manhattan, really true?…Author Wednesday Martin…claims in the memoir to have spent six years “doing field work” with her two kids on the Upper East Side…But Martin only lived there for three years, with one kid, and mentions stores and services that didn’t exist, calling into question the scenes and ­behaviors she describes…Primates includes eyebrow-raising anecdotes, such as the claim that some women receive yearly “wife bonuses.”  After readers expressed doubt, Martin backpedaled, telling New York magazine:  “I don’t necessarily think it’s a trend or widespread.  It was just one of the many strange-seeming cultural practices that some women told me about.”  Although the book includes no such disclaimer and is advertised as a “memoir,” Martin [said] she “telescoped certain parts of the narrative in order to protect the privacy of friends, neighbors, associates and family.”  That “telescoping” seems to have moved events that happened in different neighborhoods and put them on the Upper East Side…

Traffic Circle (#544)

Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post “Fact Checker”, continues to hammer at “sex trafficking” myths:

…if you think about it for half a minute, [the “average debut at 13″] statistic makes little sense…if it is the “average,” then for all those who entered trafficking at age 16 or 17, there have to be nearly equivalent numbers who entered at age 9 or 10.  But no one seriously believes that.  Upon investigation, this claim crumbles to dust…FBI spokesmen say this is not their figure.  The Justice Department also says it is not a DOJ figure…Yet somehow this figure lives on in the echo chamber of Washington discourse.  The worst example we found was a Department of Homeland Security pamphlet for school administrators that boldly displayed both the claim about 300,000 children and the average age of 13.  It listed two sources:  The Department of Justice and the congressionally mandated Center for Missing and Exploited Children.  But the DOJ reference was to another opinion article that cited the Estes/Weiner report, not an official DOJ finding.  And the CMEC fact sheet referred to a report by Shared Hope International…which in turn relied on…the same Estes/Weiner report…in the end the source of the data is the same discredited and out-of-date academic paper.  It would be amusing if it were not so sad…The Washington Post and other news organizations also failed by allowing [the] claim to be published as an actual fact…This is a Four-Pinocchio statistic and should no longer be cited.

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bed of rosesWell, there are all kinds of things going on right now, but I can’t tell you about most of them because they’re sort of behind the scenes.  Suffice to say that I’m making some changes which should increase my income, and among those changes is training in a few specialized skills that I previously lacked.  I know, I’m a terrible tease; you’ll just have to watch Twitter or inquire discreetly if you’re dying to know (especially if you think you might be interested in more than an academic fashion).  I’m starting to firm up the schedule for my tour to Oklahoma; right now it looks like I’ll be leaving Seattle on Sunday July 26th, spending the night in Boise or therabouts, ending up in Denver on the 27th, moving on to Wichita on the 28th & arriving at my ranch on the 29th.  But that’s not by any means set in stone, and I’m not exactly sure when in August I’m coming back (though it’ll probably be the week of the 11th).  There are also some developments on the activism front: beside my trip to Vancouver this coming Saturday for the Red Umbrella March, Mistress Matisse and I visited with a reporter over dinner yesterday, and on July 19th SWOP Seattle will welcome Kaytlin Bailey for an appearance in our variety show at the Highway 99 Blues Club.  Also, just yesterday I received a thumb drive that Grace sent from home with my book on it; I’ll be starting to work on that again right away.  I’m sorry it has taken so long; as part of my apology, please accept this picture from my old escort website, taken when I was a mere 34 years old.  It was also on the drive Grace sent; perhaps if y’all are very nice to me I may share others.  Yes, that’s teasing again; I’m afraid I can’t help it.

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Although you go through great lengths to conceal your lesbian interest and proclivities, how do you deal with the compartmentalization psychologically and intellectually when you have a session with a client while knowing in your heart that you are a Lesbian?  Although you probably have always known for quite some time, what are the mental techniques that you employ while doing your job as an adult companionship professional to protect yourself emotionally but also give yourself an outlet to whom you really are?

I must admit to being rather confused, amused and befuddled by virtually every part of this question, and I don’t think I was alone; Cabrogal replied to the first part with, “If Maggie’s in a closet it’s a glass one surrounded by neon lights with a painting of Sappho on the side.”  And he’s completely right; I’ve never (not since graduating from high school, anyway) made even the slightest effort to hide my bisexuality, and wrote an entire column on the subject when this blog was barely two months old.  I’ve referred to it repeatedly, featured lots of pictures of beautiful babes, and otherwise advertised my interest in my own sex to at least the same degree in this blog as I have in real life for over 30 years.  I don’t think I could conceal my lesbian side any less if I went around wearing a T-shirt with “DYKE” on the back and a picture of Melissa Ethridge on the front.  However, I’m bisexual rather than wholly lesbian; I have no aversion to males at all, and in fact was married for 14 years to a very dear man to whom I will gladly give a freebie (if he is so inclined) every time we find ourselves in the same city as each other.  We can argue about exactly where I fall on the Kinsey scale, but it’s certainly no higher than 4; to say that I “know in my heart that I’m a lesbian” is simply not a reasonable approximation of the truth.

The questioner’s misunderstanding of all this could merely be a case of leaping without looking; he might simply be a new reader who didn’t peruse much of my back catalog before asking.  But the rest of the query is not so easily explained; it derives, I think, partly from a lack of understanding of the differences between male and female homosexuals, partly from a desire to cram reality into a Manichean duality that doesn’t actually describe it very well, and partly from an underestimation of the degree to which individuals can differ from one another.  Human sexuality is not like a standard light switch, which has two and only two positions; it’s not even like a dimmer switch, with an infinite number of subtle gradations along one linear path.  It’s much more like a faucet, in which two kinds of water can be mixed to produce many temperature gradations while the intensity of the flow can also have many levels.  In fact, if you can imagine a shower where the water can be directed to come out of either the lower faucet or the shower head or a movable nozzle or jacuzzi jets, that might be a model a bit closer to the truth.  Though modern Westerners  like to pretend that everyone falls into rigidly-defined boxes of “straight” or “queer” which they occupy from birth until death and never leave, the truth is that this does not adequately describe many, perhaps most, people’s sexuality.  Kinsey understood that there are many gradations from “totally queer” to “totally straight”, and though most men seem to fall toward one of the ends, a large fraction of women fall toward the middle.  Whether this is nature or nurture is hard to say; any sex worker can tell you that a lot of self-declared straight guys fancy transwomen, or crave being pegged, or otherwise display a fascination with penises that would seem out of place in the standard “all or nothing” interpretation of male sexuality.  And women are, if anything, even weirder; we can apparently float all over the Kinsey scale in response to stimuli or environment, so I might be queerer right now than I was in 2013, and much queerer than I was in 1993, but not quite as queer as I was in 1985.  The only “compartmentalization” that occurs in many people’s sexualities, and virtually all women’s, is that imposed by the individual or the society in which he or she lives.

shower in Ciragan Palace IstanbulFinally, though I obviously can’t speak for anyone else, I find the last part of the question to be highly overstated.  All sex workers have to have sexual contact with at least some clients they find unattractive; it’s only a matter of degree.  So while a straight escort might find only most of her clients unattractive, and a lesbian one might find nearly all of hers so, I hardly think that the latter is going to result in some special kind of emotional trauma requiring special techniques to overcome.  I’m sure that lesbian sex workers probably do get pretty sick of seeing guys after a while, but given that most sex workers burn out eventually I hardly think that represents a unique level of emotional trauma.  And though some people certainly identify as “queer” before anything else, I’m not one of them; I don’t think my relative preference toward male or female sex partners defines “who I really am” any more than does my preference for science fiction over “realistic” fiction, probably not as much as my preference for kinky sex over vanilla sex, and certainly nowhere near as much as my sense of self as an individual.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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Diary #257

0531152328Last week was another behind-the-scenes busy one; though I was kept running and had to make the time to do even the basic writing I expect of myself, none of it but the decorating (which will probably be finished this week) was anything any of y’all would be interested in hearing about.  Well, maybe that’s not entirely true; part of the problem was that I got into a rather stupid funk over last Monday’s anniversary  and it combined with homesickness and a few other issues to agitate the Things under my mental stairs, so that they commenced a most frightful howling which only got louder over the weekend.  I’m feeling very tired and beat-up as of this writing (five hours before posting time), so I hope you’ll forgive me if I keep this short.  I have just three other things I’d like to say before wrapping up.  First, on Friday I was reminded of just what a wonderful ex-husband I have; I got in a minor car accident (my fault), and because I’m still on Matt’s  insurance until we do the divorce paperwork, it will probably increase his rates.  I put off calling him for hours because I expected him to yell at me for my carelessness, but when I finally did he took it in stride, said something to the effect that “these things happen”, and told me how much he appreciated my being such a decent & civilized ex-wife.  On Sunday, I was quoted in a Politifact column debunking the “average whore dies after seven years” lie, and readers in Vancouver, BC may be interested in knowing that I’ll be participating in the Red Umbrella March in your fair city on June 13th, accompanied by several of my activist friends.

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Memory will lay its hands
Upon your breast
And you will understand
My hatred.

–  Gwendolyn Bennett

Today is the twentieth anniversary of an event I’ve alluded to often and described once, and though I did say I was going to write about it again today, I have changed my mind.  Perhaps I should’ve realized this would happen; as I wrote in the last-linked column,

By the time it was over, I felt as though my psyche had received the equivalent of a sustained beating with a wide assortment of blunt instruments; it took me years to recover from the accumulated stress, and I was still subject to panic attacks (often provoked by unpredictable stimuli) until about 2003.  Even to this day I dread being alone with my own thoughts unless I have something like writing or a book to focus on; when unoccupied by work, reading or conversation my brain is wont to start dwelling upon things best left shut up in mysterious boxes under my mental stairs…

I don’t often have panic attacks any more; not from flashbacks to the Year of Disaster, anyhow, and I’ve learned to contain them well enough that only people very close to me can tell something’s wrong.  But though my intellect says it’s ridiculous to let a specific day on the calendar affect me to that degree (no matter what else is going on in my life), I woke up in a depressive, uneasy mood Monday morning, and it took Jae hours to get me out of it; I suppose next Memorial Day will be the same, as it has been for the last 20 years.  I still prefer to avoid thinking or talking about that part of my life even when it isn’t the last week of May, so it probably won’t surprise you when I tell you that even though I had the opportunity to write this essay earlier in the week I kept putting it off and doing other things instead.  As of this writing posting time is only six hours away, and I can’t procrastinate any more…but neither do I have to punish myself further by dwelling upon awful memories.  I don’t think I will ever be able to forget the violent execution of the last pathetic vestiges of my faith in any kind of government actor, but creating more tragedy porn won’t serve any constructive purpose.  As much as it’s humanly possible, I’d rather leave those memories to howl in their crates and never give them the satisfaction of knowing with certainty that I can hear them quite as well as if I were sitting right on top of them.

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Diary #256

Things were a little quieter last week than they have been, which is to say only “very busy” rather than “incredibly busy”.  Unfortunately, very little of what was going on would be of any interest to my readers.  I spent a good bit of it dealing with decorating (as discussed in last week’s diary), a lot of it socializing with sex worker friends, less than I would’ve liked making money (or preparing to make money, or arranging to make money, or laying the groundwork to make money, or…), and far too much doing bookkeeping and dealing with affairs back at the ranch.  And speaking of the ranch, I was also a bit homesick this week; I really had been looking forward to seeing Grace again in April, and was very disappointed when our plans for a visit fell through.  Well, I’ll definitely be seeing her in July; I’ve got a trip scheduled for then that’s much too important to cancel.  So if you live anywhere along my route (Boise, Denver, Wichita, Oklahoma City, and all points in between) and would like to see me when I pass through, now is the time to make yourself known so I can fit you in!  Don’t worry, if you can’t make it on the way out in the last week of July, you could on the way back in early August.

I’ve picked the best shots from the photo shoot I did with Mistress Matisse last week, but they haven’t been processed yet; in the meantime, here’s an unprocessed as-is candid shot Matisse took of me during a break.  See how dedicated I am to keeping up on my communication with my readers?  So if I answered an email from you on the 12th around 3 or 4ish PDT, this is what I looked like when I was writing it.

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fabrics at Maggie's office 5-18-15Last week I mentioned two forthcoming events, one of which dominated most of my week.  And I don’t mean the photo shoot with Mistress Matisse, either, though that was fun (and pictures will be forthcoming soon); no, I mean the decorating of my office.  Jae has piles of lovely fabrics here and is arranging them on my walls and ceiling; I picked up a new bed and some kitchen stuff, and as I write this (yesterday) I’m about to pick up some floor mats to serve as a base for the rugs, soften footfalls and dampen sound (and, not incidentally, to make the floor more congenial to wrestling and other such sport).  Jae has quite a talent for decor, and what I’m seeing so far has me excited not just for this place, but also for my permanent residence at the country place once it’s done.  We have big plans for that place, by the by, and I’ll tell you about them as they develop; for now suffice it to say that a lot more people will be seeing my ranch in the future than have in the past.

Last Wednesday I had dinner with an ally from California who traveled here specifically to meet me, my SWOP friends and other allies; he has some ideas I’ll be telling you about as they unfold, but which could really help the sex worker rights movement in the PR department.  Also, business is starting to pick up for me, albeit slowly; it takes time to get established in a new city, especially in my price range and under the current climate of fear and sexual repression.  But I have lots of help and true friends, and it’s only a matter of time; I think by midsummer I should be well and truly back in the saddle again, and it shouldn’t be long before my writing schedule ramps up again and I get that promised book of essays on the press.

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