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Archive for the ‘Biography’ Category

Diary #261

0628151635cI know I was busy last week, but if you asked me to tell you what I did I would mostly draw a blank.  Oh, I worked some and wrote some and helped friends some, but it was for the most part composed of such a host of little things that none of them actually stood out…except for Wednesday night, which was one of those lovely multi-hour duos in which everything goes just perfectly and one retires later with a deep sense of satisfaction and the feeling that all is right in one’s world.  On Sunday Jae and I rode on her motorcycle with Dykes on Bikes at the front of Seattle’ Pride parade; we then walked back along the route and marched all the way again with SWOP Seattle.  After that we floated about all afternoon with friends and went home tired and happy.  I would’ve loved to post a picture of Jae & I on the bike, but she vetoed the ones I didn’t veto until there were none left for me to use; I therefore went with this one of me with a friend (who shall remain nameless) who decided to go to Pridefest in drag.  And though my friend is a great guy and an ally to sex workers, this shot kind of symbolizes what Pride has become; it’s gone from a counterculture celebration thumbing its nose at The Establishment, to an Establishment celebration welcoming “respectable”, monogamous, vanilla gay folk with straight jobs to the big table while largely excluding all the queers who still deserve the name (including trans people, kinky folk and polyamorists) and actively ignoring sex workers.  So yeah, Pride is pretty fake and commercial now, but I enjoy Christmas despite its commercialization as well.  And now that picket-fence gay people have their state-approved marriage, perhaps they’ll no longer be able to put off the other sexual minorities they’ve been throwing under the bus for the last decade and a half.

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PFFFT-FRACK!  POP—SPROING-GING  –  Don Martin

Today’s the 46th anniversary of the Stonewall Riot, the beginning of the gay rights movement; I’ll say more about that in my column for Tuesday (and I think you’ll like the picture).  But today’s video is from Jesse Walker, and the links above it are from Saladin Ahmed, SkyeFranklin HarrisMistress Matisse and Walter Olson, in that order.

From the Archives

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How infinitely one of Your own Sex ador’d You, and that, among all the numerous Conquest, Your Grace has made over the Hearts of Men, Your Grace had not subdu’d a more intire Slave.  –  Aphra Behn

Some women are whores out of necessity, some by circumstance and some by nature, but Hortense Mancini carried whoredom in her blood.  She was an especially wild, bold and lusty whore from a family of whores, and a number of her descendants followed in her footsteps.  The fact that she, her family, her clients and her lovers were all noble as well does not change her essential whorishness, as we shall see; it did, however, ensure that her assignations, adventures and escapades would be recorded for posterity.

Hortense (or as her father called her, Ortensia) was born in Rome on June 6th, 1646; she was the fourth of five daughters borne by Girolama Mazzarini to her husband, Baron Lorenzo Mancini, who dabbled in astrology and black magic and died rather suddenly in 1650.  Fortunately, Giraloma’s older brother Giulio had joined the clergy, become active in politics, and risen to the rank of both cardinal and chief minister to Louis XIV of France (where he was known as Cardinal Mazarin); she therefore packed up her brood and moved them to Paris, where she hoped their powerful uncle would find them rich and influential husbands.  And that he did; Laure married Louis de Bourbon, duc de Vendôme; Olympe married Eugène-Maurice of Savoy-Carignano; Marie was the first love of the young Louis XIV, but was married off to Prince Lorenzo Colonna of Italy; and Marie Anne married Maurice Godefroy de la Tour d’Auvergne, duc de Bouillon.  But Hortense was the most beautiful and most favored by her uncle, so it’s unsurprising he turned down the suit of the penniless Stuart who was only a few months later restored to the throne of England as Charles II.  The cardinal then offered Charles a dowry of 5 million livres to make Hortense Queen of England, but Charles refused; this, however, does not mean he never got to bed the girl he was so enamored with; he just had to wait a few years.

Three months before her 15th birthday, Hortense was married off to Armand Charles de La Porte, Duc de La Meilleraye, one of the richest men in Europe; unfortunately, his miserliness and prudishness matched his wealth and he was also mentally ill.  Among his more bizarre behaviors were searching Hortense’s room for hidden lovers before locking her in at night, having his maidservants’ front teeth knocked out to make them unattractive, and vandalizing art to eradicate the genitals of human figures.  But this doesn’t mean he was uninterested in sex with his wife; within five years she had borne him four children.  Still, one can only imagine the dreariness of sex with such a man; sometime in 1666 she began a lesbian affair with Sidonie de Courcelles, and when he discovered them he sent them both to a convent (from which they escaped after tormenting the nuns for a while).  Finally, her brother helped her to escape her awful husband just a week after her 22nd birthday; he hired an escort to take her to Rome, where she moved in with her sister Marie (now the Princess Colonna).  King Louis was still very fond of Marie, and as a favor to her he granted Hortense an income of 24,000 livres.  She also became the mistress of the Duke of Savoy, whom her uncle had turned down as a suitor ten years before; he gave her a house, where she lived until his death in 1675.  At that point, two things happened:  the Duke’s jealous widow evicted her, and her husband managed to get a judgment freezing all of her income, including the royal pension.

Hortense was desperate; she only knew one way to get money, and nobody wanted to cross her powerful and vindictive husband.  In stepped Ralph Montagu, the English ambassador to France; he secured her passage to England (she made the voyage in male drag) and an introduction to her former suitor, Charles II…and Hortense did the rest.  By the summer of 1676 she had displaced Louise de Kerouaille as chief mistress, securing thereby an income of £4,000 (English money, inaccessible to her husband).  His Majesty did not much mind her lesbian affair with Anne, his 16-year-old daughter by Lady Castlemaine (except for the time they had a fencing match in their nightgowns in St. James’s Park); her affair with Louis I of Monaco, however, was another thing entirely.  He even cut off her income, and though he relented on the money less than three days later, he did not restore her to her position (which was again taken up by Louise de Kerouaille).

History does not have much to say about Hortense’s lovers after the King, except for a lesbian affair with the writer Aphra Behn.  After Charles’ death her income was continued by his brother James II, whose wife Mary was her cousin; even after James was deposed in 1689, Queen Mary II continued to support her (though at a lower level).  She spent her time running a salon in her home, and died of drink (or suicide, depending on whom one believes) on November 9th, 1699; she was 53 years old.  Her long-estranged husband then added a creepy epilogue to her story by claiming her body and taking it around France for months before finally allowing it to be buried in the tomb of her uncle, Cardinal Mazarin.

Back in the first paragraph I mentioned that several of Hortense’s descendants followed in her footsteps.  Her son, Paul Jules de La Porte, duc Mazarin et de La Meilleraye, had two children, a son and a daughter.   The son, Guy de la Porte, had a great-granddaughter who married Prince Honoré IV of Monaco in 1777 and thus became the ancestress of the current Prince.  But the daughter, Armande, married Louis de Mailly, Prince d’Orange and became the mother of five beautiful daughters, of which four would later become mistresses to King Louis XV of France; she herself became the mistress of the King’s chief minister, the Duc de Bourbon.  For some women, whoredom is only skin deep; some have it in their blood, and others are whores to the bone.  But Hortense Mancini was a whore down to her genes, and I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that many of her descendants are still plying the trade in one way or another to this day.

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Diary #260

ComedyVariety.72Last week was, in a word, intense.  From Wednesday morning until Saturday evening I barely stopped at all, but absolutely none of it was bad; I spent a lovely evening with a new friend, learned a couple of things about myself, got a makeover, picked up a new skill, and then spent Sunday evening unwinding.  In fact, I unwound so successfully that I let my Links column go up incomplete yesterday; it’s not something I generally allow to happen, but this week should be less hectic (though I’d welcome a few more dates to fill it in some!)  This is as good an opportunity as any to call your attention to SWOP-Seattle’s sex worker variety show, coming up in only four weeks; I’m going to be the emcee and I’m excited to be introducing a few ladies you may know, including our headliner Kaytlin Bailey and my very own girlfriend Jae.  All in all, things are picking up nicely, and should be in full swing by the time I leave for Oklahoma around July 26th.  Remember, if you’d like to see me on that trip you only have a few weeks left to contact me!

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Anti-prostitution activists need to get up off the ignorance couch and look at science.  –  Dinsa Sachan

R.I.P. Blaze Starr Famous pin-up Blaze Starr (real name Fannie Belle Fleming) in 1950

Blaze Starr, the voluptuous stripper who was billed as the Queen of Burlesque and whose affair with…Louisiana governor [Earl K. Long] was the basis of a 1989 movie, died on Monday…[at the age of] 83…the Ron Shelton film Blaze, starring Lolita Davidovich in the title role alongside Paul Newman as the governor…drew on her memoir, Blaze Starr: My Life as Told to Huey Perry, published in 1974.  Ms. Starr said that she and Mr. Long were engaged to be married when he died in 1960, two months before his divorce was to become final.  She continued to wear a five-carat diamond ring that she said he had given her…

Safe Targets

An article about women who sell panties on Reddit ends with the following paragraph:

…While sex work is still criminalized, its sellers are relegated to the dark outposts of the digital universe, where unsavory clients moderate the forums and self-employed workers walk on eggshells just to keep their business afloat…Until the laws surrounding sex work change, communities like Sex Sells are the last bastion of defense against the Internet’s faceless antagonists.

Harm Reduction

From the “no shit” department:

Sexual relationships that involve the exchange of money cannot be considered adultery, according to a Tokyo District Court ruling involving a couple and a bar hostess…No damages were rewarded to the plaintiff – the wife of a man who was allegedly sleeping with a hostess for more than seven years…she had sought more than $32,000 in compensation.  Judge Masamitsu Shiseki of the Tokyo District Court ruled…the sex between the plaintiff’s husband and the hostess was strictly business, and therefore did not harm the marriage…”such conduct does not damage peaceful marital life,” Shiseki…said.  “Even if the wife is disgusted by the act, it does not constitute a legal offense”…

Check Your Premises

Here’s another case exposing who really gets targeted under U.S. sex trafficking statutes.  Far from the cartoonishly evil kingpins or sociopathic perverts of political lore, it’s people like Oregon resident Julie Haner, who as a 19-year-old drove her 17-year-old friend across state lines so they could both make money via sex work.  Haner and the girl has previously attended high-school together and been on the same cheerleading squad…

Gateway

The sheriff of Charlotte County, Florida is adamant that sex work brings evil in its wake:  “There are obvious health risks, not only to the defendants, but also to their innocent family members, because of this type of activity…”  Obviously the sheriff must also believe that people who eat too much fatty food or work long hours should be arrested due to the “obvious health risks”.  But the head of vice for Charleston, West Virginia, isn’t so sure:

To people who say prostitution is a victimless crime and a waste of police resources, Young said the department is urged to make the arrests by members of the community…He conceded that the crime tends to have a “revolving door” of new offenders…officers don’t have reason to believe the women were trafficked or otherwise forced into the work…Young advocates for incarceration for the crimes so that arrests will be more of a deterrent…the women just make more deals to be able to pay the fines, he said…

Subtle Pimping

Looking for new vices to tax, Nevada lawmakers have turned their sights on escort services and massive music-and-light festivals in the desert.  Lawmakers…eliminated loopholes in Nevada’s live-entertainment tax, a lounge-lizard levy that had covered cabaret performances and burlesque dancing.  It now includes a 9 percent charge on tickets for events such as Burning Man…The tax…also would apply to “pickup fees” for escort services, but not prostitutes at Nevada’s 24 legal brothels…

Gorged With Meaning

Leave it to the Daily Fail to reverse the “sugar babies are exploited” narrative:  “Students lure online sugar daddies into paying their tuition fees: How young women are using the internet to find rich men who will give them cash in exchange for relationships” San Francisco Chronicle 1-20-1917

Hooker Humor (#31)

Miranda Kane uses her good reviews to catch reporters’ attention:

…her frank and funny one-woman show, The Coin Operated Girl, has won rave reviews…billed as “the cheapest hour you’ll ever spend with a prostitute”, it has drawn comparisons with the tell-all blog Belle de Jour…“There are a lot of people saying we should ban the buying of sex because all these women are being forced into it, but the only reason they are being forced into it are things like the Government cutting benefits and that there aren’t enough facilities out there to help with drug and mental health problems…we need to look at the base reasons why they are doing it”…

Watershed

After being drawn to the dynamic and outspoken prostitutes…at [a] conference…I met Ishtar Lakhani…who has been advocating for the decriminalization of prostitution in [South Africa]…“(Steinem’s) argument is that we live in a patriarchy.  All women are oppressed; all women are victims…a woman…[should] decide what [she wants] to choose…If you want to do sex work, it is your choice and should be respected”…The Nordic model is often touted as the solution to the prostitution problem.  However…the Nordic model has not helped women or reduced women in sex work or increased women’s safety…the model [also] affects the women’s ability to make money because of reduced number of clients…It is time for feminist activists and governments around the globe to recognize that New Zealand’s decriminalization model works.  Anti-prostitution activists argue that decriminalization expands the industry, but New Zealand’s government has found that not to be the case…

Full of Themselves (#418)

One can always tell a story influenced by the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC):

…Unlike street walkers who ply their trade in motel rooms, those selling their bodies are doing so by intermingling with a legitimate business…Those using massage therapy as a front operate out of clean buildings indistinguishable from legitimate massage parlors…Manteca Police Chief Nick Obligacion…[lied] that [sex work] doesn’t qualify as a victimless crime…[because of] human trafficking…[even though his cops have never] found [any women who] said they were being forced into prostitution…[he pretends that] Human trafficking…is a growing problem in…Manteca [anyway and his DA crony] Tori Verber Salazar [tells old men lurid wanking fantasies of]…victims as young as 11 years old that are forced to do tricks…

Held Together With Lies (#542)

Remember that ridiculous probitionist “study” that pretended sex work “costs” France €1.6 billion a year?  Well, Mark Draughn took the time to work out the economic actualities, and it’s very interesting reading (and, as you might expect, completely different from what the prohibitionists pretend).  Like Gaul it’s divided into three parts, but it’s well worth your time.

Traffic Circle (#546)

Glenn Kessler isn’t the only one at the Washington Post who’s attacking “sex trafficking” mythology:

…At times, various government agencies have estimated that there were as many as 50,000 victims a year in this country.  Then, in 2004, another estimate came in at about 14,500 to 17,500, and then lowered it to 1,362, our colleague Jerry Markon wrote in a lengthy article in 2007…The FBI on April 6 put out its first report on human trafficking…The numbers were from just 13 states reporting…Even so, the total number of human trafficking offenses reported for either “commercial sex acts” or “involuntary servitude” in those 13 states was 14.  There were a total of four arrests…

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You do not like them. So you say. Try them! Try them! And you may. – Sam-I-Am

Green Eggs and HamTwo and a half years ago I published “Due Consideration“, in which I discussed issues on which I had changed my mind due to the persuasive arguments of others:

Despite my steady progress toward cronehood, I find that I still do change my mind on some things from time to time.  Really, this isn’t surprising; while most people become steadily more conservative as they age, I have become steadily more radical.  The reason should be obvious:  as many of you have observed, I am unusually pragmatic and unafraid to follow ideas and observations to their logical conclusions…

But that column only discussed areas in which my political ideas had changed; my personal ideas hadn’t shifted at all, not for a very long time.  And while I guess that isn’t especially unusual, neither is it conducive to personal growth; there were some things I had done the same way, or refrained from doing at all, or felt a certain way about, that were supported by absolutely no good reasons…or at best for reasons that ceased to be relevant twenty years ago.  In fact, some of these things were counterproductive, impeded my happiness, or were downright harmful.  So when I started looking at myself last autumn in the wake of my tour and my impending divorce, I began to see clearly that there was a lot of emotional, behavioral and psychosexual baggage best left behind at the station when I boarded that train for Seattle last November.  I resolved to open myself up to new ideas and experiences; to refrain as much as possible from continuing to do things merely because I had always done them that way; and to recognize that “I’ve never done that before” is an argument for trying something rather than an argument against it.  Though all of my friends (including Matt) have encouraged me in my journey of discovery, Jae & Matisse have been instrumental in making it happen; Jae encourages (some might say “goads”) me to keep an open mind about things and refuses to let me sell myself short, while Matisse is a genius at making me comfortable and providing me with irresistibly-attractive opportunities for exploration.  You might say that Jae pushes, and Matisse pulls, and my other friends cheer me on or even strap roller skates to my feet, and in the end I nearly always discover that I really do like green eggs and ham, after all.

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Diary #259

0613151745bOn Saturday I attended the Red Umbrella March in Vancouver; I was asked to give a short speech to the attendees (my first time speaking through a bullhorn!) and afterward gave a couple of interviews, one to a local radio station and one to podcaster Steve Chong.  I’m still not quite used to being a celebrity, so it’s always a little surprising to me that people want to take pictures with me and the like!  Afterward, I had a lovely dinner with the organizers before heading back to Seattle.  It was my first time in Canada, though it won’t be the last; next time maybe the American border official won’t be so absurdly pompous, though I’m not holding my breath.

But while last week was relatively sedate other than the march, allowing me a bit of catch-up time, this week will be nothing of the kind.  Yesterday started with a phone call from a reporter at about 9:15, and didn’t even begin to slow down until about 5 PM; that’s a microcosm of what the coming week will be like, so I’m battening down the hatches and getting ready for the ride.  Some of it is work, some activism, some personal, some writing, and most of it also requires extensive emailing or text messaging before the event itself.  But it’s nearly all good stuff, so I’m not complaining!  I’ve already scheduled visits with several of you during my upcoming trip, so let me remind y’all of the dates:  Twin Falls, Idaho on July 26th, Denver on the 27th, Wichita, Kansas on the 28th and home on the 29th.  Then I’ll be in Oklahoma for two weeks, during which I’m game to do side trips to Dallas, Shreveport or similar destinations until I leave to return to Seattle around August 12th.  If you would like to see me during that trip, please let me know ASAP; I need to lock things in for scheduling purposes!

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