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Archive for the ‘The Dark Side’ Category

Those of you who follow me on Twitter may remember that on several occasions I’ve tweeted GoFundMe appeals for homeless sex workers, organized by a close friend of mine who does street outreach.  Recently, I asked her to write something for me so that in future, I can point back to it to explain who it is I’m asking charity for.  This lady is a Seattle sex worker who is well-known in our community, but prefers to remain anonymous for her activism.  If you’d like to help her out (because she does 95% of this out of her own pocket), please let me know and I’ll arrange a way for you to donate to her important work.

Like so many things in this industry, it started with Kristen D’Angelo, who contacted me because her friend from Sacremento had a daughter living in Seattle.  Kristen’s friend was concerned his daughter was working on the streets and was hoping to get someone to check on her; she (let’s call her Jess) was homeless, using drugs, and working on Aurora Avenue.  Maggie and I ended up taking her out for dinner.  More than anything, she was surprised that instead of being met with judgement and Jesus, she was met by peers with compassion and kindness (along with some screening tips for seeing clients).  Shortly thereafter, I found out an acquaintance of mine had lost her housing, and she and her boyfriend were living out of their car.  I would go see her once, occasionally twice, a week, bringing lunch or dinner, and we would eat together and talk.  After a couple visits I starting meeting some of the people that they had befriended in their time on the streets.  I was struck by the situations of the women there.  To see women so vulnerable was terrifying…but I wasn’t sure what I could do.  I asked them: what do you need?  How can I help?  While I don’t have a tremendous surfeit of disposable income, I could certainly spend $100 a week buying food for people that badly needed it.  So I did.

Simultaneously, I was keeping in (more sporadic) contact with Jess.  It wasn’t long before I was heading up to Aurora once a week (give or take) as well.  Eventually I was out two or three nights a week talking to young women from Aurora to Belltown to SoDo, both in the jungle and working the streets.  I found myself out at 7pm, 10pm, or midnight walking through the city, talking to people.  Instead of being in Greenlake or Madrona, I found myself in places with appellations like the Batcave and Clowntown; I was under the viaduct and in tent cities along the highway.  Within this world, it takes time to earn trust; there are always, to this day, some women that refuse to talk to me or that I have met five times but act as if they don’t know me…and that’s fine.  For the ones that do talk, I hand out condoms and Narcan.  I bring jackets, food, toiletries, clean socks, and camping propane tanks.  I take girls to Planned Parenthood for panel tests; to emergency shelters; to drop them off at detox.  Many of them, if you asked, would not identify as a sex workers, and if you called them a sex worker, you might get punched in the face.  But, if you said, “if you give me a blowjob, you can sleep in my tent tonight.”  Well, that’s an easy yes!!  Whether they identify as sex workers or not, they know when they see me that religion isn’t coming into the conversation and I am not going to tell them what they should do or have to do.  Giving these women autonomy in their decision-making is very important; even when, in my opinion, they may make a terrible choice, it’s theirs to make and I won’t try to take that away from them.  Similarly, none of the things I hand out have strings attached; the only rules are I will not give out cash or buy drugs.

When I meet women that are open to talking, I may make some harm reduction suggestions or ask them what they need.  Much of the time, I listen.  Many of these women have suffered extensive trauma, have drug abuse issues (the desire to anesthetize a terrible situation is strong), or have mental health problems – or all three.  In addition, there is the pervasive sense of hopelessness that comes with being utterly marginalized and, in effect, thrown away by society; just having someone listen and acknowledge you can be significant.  It definitely isn’t the easiest volunteer path I could have taken.  There have been multiple calls from girls that have been raped, assaulted, or robbed.  I helped a girl that had been thrown out of a moving car by a client, and another girl that was pistol-whipped by her boyfriend.  I’ve Narcan’d people through countless overdoses (if anyone ever needs to be resuscitated – I am a fucking pro).  I’ve been hung up on by police when calling 9-1-1 for help and been told by the paramedics that they “can’t” go where they are needed.  I’ve stepped over dead bodies and had rats the size of Boston Terriers leisurely swagger over my toes.

The other side is that there are happier stories.  I paid out my own pocket for a girl to go to rehab because I believed in her when no one else did; she completed 90 days of treatment and moved back to her parent’s house in Minnesota.  That was over a year ago and she is still clean and sober.  Two girls had been living in and out of motels on Aurora and we worked together to get them into a low-income apartment; two other girls saw what they did and decided they could do it too.  I’ve acted as an advocate for a girl that was brutally raped by a prominent Seattleite; I connected her with a lawyer and could not have been happier for her when she got a ridiculously large settlement.  Money didn’t make the PTSD disappear, but it certainly put her in a situation where she could take time and heal.  Unfortunately, the stories with (ahem) happy endings are exceptionally few and far between; the emotional labor can be intense, overwhelming, and exhausting.  I’ve asked myself more than once why I’m not walking dogs at the Humane Society, and I have spent more hours than I can count crying on Maggie’s couch.  But I very strongly believe that everyone needs some help now and then; if I can help someone make a more informed decision or turn a corner, then it’s worth it.

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I don’t often do sequels to previous guest columns, but I thought y’all might want to see this update from “John Seattle”; if you haven’t read his column on Seattle’s “john school” yet, you probably should before reading this one.

Last year, Maggie was very kind to publish my response to Peter Qualliotine’s STOP Exploitation classes.  It was written before I had completed the series of classes; the final session ended with Qualliotine giving a pep rally-esque speech in which he asked, “Are you with me?  Will you stop buying sex?”  This question was met with a long, drawn out silence broken only by my giggling when I realized what had happened.  At the time I felt as if I had thoroughly rejected the toxic messaging of his class, but that was not as simple as it seemed.  It was Wendy Zukerman’s Science VS podcast episode entitled “Sex Addiction: Are They Faking It?” that gave me insight to the need to understand better the damaging impacts of shame.  According to the podcast, the truth about sexual addiction (one of the many toxic messages Qualliotine dispenses) is that no scientific evidence supports its existence; what some believe to be sex addiction is the feeling of shame, which is why belief in “sex addiction” is strongly correlated with religious beliefs that sexuality is sinful.

The “sex addiction” myth is thus very useful for someone who is trying to shame others out of their sexuality.  In a local article, Qualliotine was described as someone who “sees patronizing prostitutes as part of a continuum of…behaviors that includes sexual harassment, domestic violence, and rape.”  Through psychological manipulation Qualliotine’s message is that “the core of who and what you are as a person is that of a harasser, abuser, and rapist.”  What he calls “education” is actually based on sex-shaming in order to change behavior, a social conformity strategy very much like the thoroughly-discredited “conversion therapy” is supposed to “cure” gay people.  And even though it doesn’t accomplish what its purveyors claim, subconsciously this toxic messaging lingers, causing emotional damage and isolation in its victims that manifest in harmful ways, such as social anxiety, and despair.

There are a lot of reasons for people to have sex, and none are wrong as long as all partners give consent and treat each other ethically.  Undoing the damage caused by the lie that this is not so, that outsiders have the right to impose rules on other adults, is harder than one might think, but there are resources available; Dr. David Ley, Lola Davina, and Maggie are just a few of the writers who helped me to start the process.  But the first step is to recognize the damage done by sexual shaming even in people who intellectually know better.

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As most of y’all can probably guess, I have not been watching the Kavanaugh hearings on TV, because even if I did watch other TV news (which I don’t, and haven’t since I first started reading the newspaper around age 12, recognizing even then that it was entertainment and not news) I would certainly not watch this ridiculous circus designed to further the popular “red-blue” myth in the minds of the hoi-polloi.  I also have the word “Kavanaugh” muted on Twitter, but of course that doesn’t block tweets which don’t directly reference him.  So I was able to see and comment on this very interesting observation by Phoenix Calida:

So you know Rachel Mitchell, the woman who is going to question Dr. Christine Ford?  She’s a prosecutor with the special victims unit.  From Maricopa county.  You know, the place where sheriff Joe Arpaio worked?…The one who bragged about running concentration camps where guards tortured inmates?  And then he was held in Contempt of court for racial profiling and pardoned by Trump?…And remember when Sheriff Joe refused to investigate rape cases?  And cases where children were being sexually abused by adults?  All Bc the victims were Latinas?  That’s where this woman earned her credentials as a sex crimes prosecutor.  Rachel Mitchell is about to question Dr. Ford, an alleged rape victim.  And Mitchell earned her “credentials” working with cops who wouldn’t even investigate rape cases in their county.  How do y’all see this really turning out?

Maricopa County is, of course, a cesspool of political corruption, especially where sex work is concerned.  And Arpaio was a big Trump supporter, so one of his gang turning up in Washington to help Trump is not really a surprise.  But Phoenix’s tweets got me thinking, so I wrote this after quoting hers:

You remember Arpaio, right?  The guy who arrested newspapermen Lacey & Larkin for exposing his corruption?  The same Lacey & Larkin who were persecuted as owners of Backpage, partly thanks to the efforts of Cindy McCain, whom they exposed as a drug addict who robbed her own charity?  The same Cindy McCain, widow of John McCain, warmonger politician from AZ (where Maricopa County is) who has relentlessly demonized Backpage (owned by the men who exposed her crimes) for years?  Arizona is also the site of ASU, home of Dominique Roe-Sepowitz (who says sex work is bad because “body fluids” cause brain damage), who is paid big bucks by the McCain Institute and government cronies to do bogus “studies” designed to “prove” that “sex trafficking” was rampant on Backpage?  Funny how all of this shit begins to fit together when you follow the money and the trail of vendettas, alliances & favors, isn’t it?

And in case you hadn’t noticed, while this big show of “us vs them” was going on, Congress almost-unanimously passed the biggest war-advancing military spending bill in history, and the House passed a bill which expands the PATRIOT Act using “sex trafficking” as an excuse with solid support from both of these supposedly-deadly-enemy parties.  But please keep watching the fireworks and pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.

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Every so often, a sex worker or client who has been caught by the trickery of predatory cops asks me for a recommendation to a sex-worker-friendly criminal defense attorney, and usually I’ve been able to help them.  But recently, I decided that rather than doing this piecemeal, it would make more sense to compile a list.  I realize that this process will probably take some time, but it will never be finished if I don’t at least start, so for the past week on Twitter I’ve been asking for attorneys willing to take such cases to send me their contact info.  If you are such an attorney, you can submit the info in the comments below or by replying to my tweets, but the best way would be to send me an email by clicking this linkHere’s the page so far; even if you see there’s already a name in your state please don’t hesitate to submit your name as well; the more we have, the better.  And if you’re not a lawyer yourself but know one who belongs on the list, please ask that person to send their contact details to me!

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It’s been over a year since I wrote a new story, but this one has been slowly growing in my head since late autumn of 2014, and it finally came forth week before last.  I’m just going to tease you with the beginning; if you want a copy, you can either buy it on Kindle or get a PDF copy by becoming a patron of my blog.  If you’re already a patron, you should’ve received a copy one week ago today; if you didn’t, please let me know.

Dane retrieved his knife from the body of the dog and began to carve as many choice cuts from the carcass of the wild cow as he thought he could eat before they spoiled; it wasn’t that much, but he figured he’d be in Korneg within a few days anyhow, and then he could buy all the food he wanted with the gold & furs he’d taken from that trader he ambushed last week.  The job was easier than he had expected; he congratulated himself on having had the good sense to let the dog pack do most of the work of butchery before he started picking them off from the top of the ruined tower.  He knew they’d be back soon, once hunger overcame fear of the rifle; still, half a dozen precious rounds were a good trade for an equal number of big, thick steaks.  It had been a long time since he’d had beef, since that excellent roast in Westover; maybe he should’ve stayed there longer.  But Dane was a cautious man, and he figured it probably wasn’t wise to stay in any city after he’d killed, even though she was just a whore; sooner or later the local warlord’s peacekeepers would’ve figured out which of the transients currently in town had done it, and his career would’ve come to an abrupt halt at the end of a rope.  Or something both much worse and much slower, if the harlots’ guild had caught him first.

Still, it had been a good stay while it lasted, and a profitable one; besides the rifle and ammo belt, some fairly-new boots and a little gold, he’d managed to steal a good horse on the way out.  That put Korneg within reach; though he was a strong walker, no human could outrun a hungry wild dog pack.  And since it was high time he left the Valley, that was now a necessity rather than just a preference.  He’d heard talk of Korneg for years…of its wealth, of the succulence of its foods, of the impregnability of its walls…and of the powerful queen who ruled it.  He had always wanted to see it for himself, but though Dane was no coward, he was also no fool; he knew that no matter how soft its beds or its women, he could not stay in Korneg long before his way of life put a price on his head.  Still, it guarded the only known safe pass to the Cities of the East, and that meant he had little choice but to visit it if he wished to remain free and alive.

The next few days were unremarkable except for the rain, but even that was a blessing because it meant plenty of water for both him and the horse in a season when good water was usually a concern.  It also meant he’d be that much harder to follow, in the event some bounty hunter had picked up his trail.  So all in all, he was in an unusually good mood when on the next clear day he spotted the stone pillars marking the edge of Korneg’s territory, despite the fact that they made him vaguely uneasy.  They were unlike anything he’d ever seen in his three decades of life:  five times as tall as a man they were, carved in the likeness of two huge serpents which coiled around and around until they ended in heads whose baleful eyes stared down at him, glinting like purple gems in the early afternoon sun.  It was obvious that they were intended as a show of power, and the display was a successful one; even in the heart of Ghezhel, mightiest city of the Valley, there were no comparable monuments.  There was an engraved tablet at the foot of the one on the right, but that was of no help to Dane since he had never learned to read.  However, the road beyond was well-built and well-maintained; he knew he couldn’t be more than a few days from the city wall, and he might even reach a trading post before nightfall.  So he set aside his disquiet and rode on, steadfastly resisting the gnawing urge to look back to see if the stone guardians were watching him…

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Not all of the effects of the recent US government censorship drives are at the macro level, such as the castration or destruction of websites; some affect only individuals or smallish groups, but are still annoying and/or frustrating, and make work more difficult and less pleasant.  I’ve read that some Backpage girls who formerly worked on the street are now getting harassing phone calls or texts from pimps and pimp wannabes, offering them beaucoups clients in the hope of enticing them into a relationship.  And since the guys who used to use Backpage now don’t know where to go, they’re inflicting their ham-handed “Hey sexy” and untutored “qv* avail?” texts on sex workers who aren’t used to dealing with that (and in my case, lack the patience).  But worst of all, these police-state shenanigans have emboldened toads who want to harass & frighten sex workers.

A week ago yesterday, I got one of the automatic emails produced by the booking form on my escort site, and as soon as I saw nonsense like “Desired appointment length: forever” I knew I was being harassed by a troll.  And although I found his rather pathetic attempt to frighten me kind of amusing, I’m also aware that this sort of thing can be very disconcerting and upsetting to young, inexperienced escorts.  So I’m sharing this because if anyone reading this gets similar messages, you’ll know they’re from losers and not get upset or scared.  Anyway, below the gobbledygook he put into the fields for name, phone number, etc, I found this in the note field [all sic]:  “you are a dumb whore. prepare for your site to be shut down immediately. Dumb whore check out cabuyerbeware.com that is my work. Your information has been reported and forwarded to the proper authorites in seattle washington, FBI feild office”  Soon after I was done sharing this on Twitter for others to mock, I checked my emails again and found another one, clearly from the same lackwit, timestamped 41 minutes after the first; the note field contained this scintillating gem: “You are a whore. Your site will be taken down. You are a whore. THe proper authorities in the FBI field offices of seattle have been notified of your whore activities. good luck whore.

First of all, it’s apparent this moron has absolutely no idea who he’s dealing with, else he’d realize that the FBI undoubtedly already knows who I am and has a fat file on me, including my website address.  Secondly, the idiot apparently doesn’t get that the whole “buyer beware” scam is intended to scare clients, not sex workers, hence the name; of course they also want to scare whores, but indirectly.  To threaten us directly is to make their lies about wanting to “save” us transparent, and they don’t want that.  Thirdly, even if due to FOSTA my site’s domain name were to be seized by the feds at some point in the future (LOL at “immediately”), I would simply yawn & switch it over to the overseas domain name I’ve already prepared.  In fact, just before seeing this childish wanker’s pathetic attempt to frighten me, I was completing the last step to move my actual site files to a new overseas host; I’m sure most ladies are taking similar steps to protect their professional sites.  Lastly, it’s really quite pathetic that this wart seems to think that repeatedly telling me what I do for a living is some kind of insult; one wonders if he emails physicians with “You are a doctor” over & over.

It’s also possible this is the same fuckwad who texted me three days earlier from a Rhode Island number ending in 8550 (first name DeAndre, with listings on Verify Him as a psycho and harasser)**, ludicrously approaching as though he were a BDSM top and apparently expecting me to play along; he swore revenge when I humiliated him, and maybe he thinks this will accomplish it or at least make me nervous.  That guy kept calling me “bitch” over and over just as this one repeatedly used “whore”, and the writing style and self-important delusions are very similar.  But even if they’re different people (the two forms came from different IPs, so he was probably using a VPN and I can’t trace it to Rhode Island), the “bow to your king” dork is yet another example of the kind of loathsome vermin the government’s actions have caused to come crawling out of the woodwork.  During this time a lot of sex workers are nervous & jumpy, with good reason; assholes will use that in an attempt to get off on terrorizing women.  Don’t let them get to you, and even if you can’t help being frightened, don’t let them know you are or you’ll have a devil of a time getting rid of them.

*Quick visit, also known by the more vulgar term “blow & go”, is an extremely short (usually 15 minutes), very low-priced session favored by cheapskates.
**Ladies, if you think you may have been harassed by this nitwit and want his full info, email me.

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Nothing about the human animal is absolute; we’re all complicated organisms with the ability to feel several conflicting things at once.  So even though I’m among the most cynical creatures you’ll ever encounter, there is still a part of me that wants to believe that there is a limit to the stupidity of most of the creatures I encounter.  Alas, I am disappointed in that respect on the order of several times a day, with the result that my cynicism increases still more.  It is my fervent hope that sometime in the next three years I will achieve such a high density of cynicism that no hope of any kind will be able to resist it, and I will collapse into a sort of black hole of cynicism, from whose event horizon not even the slightest particle of faith in humanity is able to escape.  Then and only then will I be able to resist the urge to either beat my head against a wall or actually strangle every yahoo endowed with a one-dimensional sense of ethics who brays that the current sorry state of the American empire is the fault of whichever “wing” of the US Fascist Party he does not identify with.  The idiocy of this tribalism has only increased with the waxing of this century, and despite the fact that the venue in which most of it is displayed happens to be the greatest research tool ever devised by Man, we are still forced to endure deeply, deeply stupid pronouncements from deeply, deeply stupid people that it’s all the fault of Clinton Bush Obama Trump despite the fact that most of what’s wrong is the predictable result of processes going on at least since the Adams administration, picking up speed during and after the American Civil War, exploding during the Progressive Era and New Deal, and coalescing into the basis for their current form during the Reagan administration.  The latest example (and as most of you have probably surmised, the one which inspired this rant) is seeing apparent humans with the attention span of a goldfish and the research skills of a ficus tree blaming FOSTA (the 100% predictable end product of a War on Whores with its roots in the Clinton administration, midwifed by the Bush administration and raised to sturdy adolescence by the Obama administration) on a man who couldn’t find his own moral center with both hands, Google maps and a burning dumpster full of advisors.  No, this scheme for purging all sexual content from the internet is not the product of Trump, the GOP or even “Trump’s America” (whatever the fuck that intensely-moronic phrase means); it is a wholly bipartisan tyranny, and the only difference is that the Republicans are slightly more apt to claim that sex is “immoral” while the Democrats are somewhat more apt to claim it’s “demeaning to women”.  Don’t fucking take my fucking word for it; go fucking look at the fucking vote totals for every fucking “sex trafficking” law ever fucking passed, up to and including fucking FOSTA.  You will find overwhelming numbers of members of both official parties lining up to shred the Constitution, censor the internet, grow the power of police and other government functionaries, and heap every harm and indignity imaginable upon sex workers, our clients, or anyone else who dares to be openly sexual.  Hell, we’ve already got the concentration camps (though we now call them “correctional institutions”); all that remains is to see what final solution they dream up to “help” us.  And whatever it is, you can bet it will be passed with near-unanimity while a vast chorus of toadies cacophonously croak that it’s all the other party’s fault.

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