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Not Even Close

Usually, when I devote a whole column to picking on a news article, it’s because said article is so hilariously bad or deeply disturbing (or both) that I can’t bear to limit myself to a quick jab of the knife in a news column, and instead prefer to lovingly vivisect it until the entire virtual room is spattered in blood.  But this is, alas, not one of those cases; the article’s author, Sonja Sharp, clearly believes herself an ally of sex workers, or is at least open-minded to the idea that sex workers deserve human rights, yet she can’t quite bring herself to shake off her childlike trust in government and her belief that cops are the “good guys”.  So what we get is an article that is generally supportive of sex worker rights, yet fails to properly place the blame for our oppression on the prohibitionists; instead, it adopts a kind of mealy-mouthed “moderation”, pretending that there is a legitimate “debate” to be had between those who say humans own ourselves and have unalienable rights, and those who pretend that individuals are owned by the State, which has the “right” to use violence to “protect” us from choices with which our owners disapprove.  There’s very little point in quoting the good parts, so I’m just going to concentrate on pointing out the bad ones.

[When] Police Commissioner James O’Neill and the city’s First Lady Chirlane McCray…[announced] the NYPD would bolster the size of its vice squad in order to stamp out sex trafficking…the hope on part of some advocates was that sex workers might see relief from the pressure traditionally brought to bear by police…

I have no idea who these “advocates” Sharp refers to are, but none of them are sex worker rights activists; we know better than to harbor naive beliefs that doubling the size of a police unit could in any way signal “relief” for those the unit is specifically intended to oppress.

…a growing number of law enforcement agencies…are forming their own anti-trafficking units—often using grants from the feds—and deploying similarly gallant rhetoric despite limited evidence their arrests do much to stop exploitation…But alternatives are time-consuming and remain opaque to most law enforcement agencies, which have been deputized to fight human trafficking in part because it’s widely understood to be synonymous with illegal sex work…Modernizing their approach is still a work in progress, to say the least…

Because the writer can’t bring herself to question the institution of policing, she buys into the claim that cops are interested in “stopping exploitation”; she imagines that the idea of just leaving people alone instead of persecuting them for private, consensual activities is “opaque” to cops, rather than recognizing “sex trafficking” as a boondoggle intended to disguise the ugly persecution of sexual behavior under a mask of “helping”.  The idea that cops’ behavior needs to be “modernized” is the most asinine of all; what they’re doing now IS the modern approach, by definition, since it’s less than 20 years old.  What we really need is a return to the approach which predominated throughout most of human history: recognizing that sex work is normal and not a government matter, and leaving it the fuck alone.

…Jean Bruggeman, executive director of the national anti-trafficking organization Freedom Network USA [says] “I think in their zeal to help [cops] are doing some very wrongheaded things,” including mass arrests of sex workers and John stings using fake Backpage ads…

More exoneration of cops, pretending their abusive behavior (including surveillance, rape, robbery, brutality, destruction of homes and lives and even driving people to suicide) is motivated by a “zeal to help”.  You know, like terrorists blow up innocent people in their “zeal to help” them get to Heaven.

…In what appears to be a more concerted approach than that of the NYPD, LA Sheriff’s detectives bring an outreach worker with them whenever they approach sex workers…always offering them diversion first, before an arrest is made…”if they flat-out refuse, we book them, and then they’re sent to the appropriate court,” where they are then [forced into] a system of mandatory services…It seems like progressive approach, one most people—even those who think sex work should be legal—might be able to get behind…

Yeah, it’s “progressive” all right, considering that the Progressive movement spawned the concept of Prohibition in the first place.  To pretend that people who want to suppress consensual sex are actually trying to “help” anyone but themselves is disingenuous in the extreme, yet Sharp just can’t see that attacking peaceful people and then forcing them at gunpoint to accept the government’s idea of “help” is evil even if implemented exactly as planned, both in theory and in practice.

…demand reduction…is hotly contested among advocates and experts.  While less explicitly harmful than arresting sex workers, opponents say it does little to rout traffickers, while those who endorse it argue arresting Johns makes sexual exploitation less attractive as a business…

Aaaaaaaand I’m gonna stop right there before I am seized with the urge to disembowel Sharp along with her crappy article.  No, “end demand” isn’t “hotly contested” among anyone who actually gives a shit about human rights, nor is it less harmful than arresting sex workers (indeed, in the US it always includes arresting sex workers despite the rhetoric).  There is no legitimate “debate” over whether people own their own bodies, nor whether they have the right to consensual sex with other adult partners; pretending that there is such a “debate” is nothing more than catering to evil control freaks and sucking the dick of power.  The pretense that cops are some kind of sweet, well-intentioned social justice squad, and that it isn’t their fault the laws are bad, is so incredibly nauseating it boggles the mind.  Stories like this, written by sheltered little girls barely out of their parents’ houses, are vile apologies for evil policies that enable uniformed rapists and soft-peddle operations intended to destroy lives, enable armed robbery of citizens and increase the real “modern slavery”, mass incarceration.

Links #367

Ik kan niet ademen.  –  Jerry Afriyie

When this posts I’ll be on the first leg of my trip to Ireland, so it seems appropriate to share one of my favorite Vangelis compositions, the haunting and beautiful “Irlande”.  The links above it were provided by Tim Cushing (“pigs”, “sirree” and “dogs”), Kevin Wilson (“serve”), Marijke Vonk (“brutalized”), Radley Balko (“bald”), and Nun Ya (“guess”).

From the Archives

The law shouldn’t stipulate that we’re not allowed to make [personal] choices.  –  Sharon Jennings

Property of the State 

Remember that there have been similar cases in the US, and ever-harsher laws are being passed on the subject:

A woman in El Salvador who became pregnant as a result of rape has been sentenced to 30 years in prison after the death of her stillborn child…Evelyn Beatriz Hernandez Cruz became pregnant at the age of 18 but was not aware of it because ”she menstruated regularly”…On 6 April 2016 the teenager felt a severe pain in her stomach and went to the bathroom where she fainted with the pain…The baby…was stillborn but prosecutors argued that it could not be proven the child didn’t die shortly after the birth…

As I’ve pointed out before, this reversal of the burden of proof is becoming more common in sexual matters in the US as well.

Fallen Idol

Not a good move on Deen’s part:

Porn star James Deen has blocked the distribution of a documentary that addresses rape allegations against him, according to a lawsuit filed by the film’s director.  Maria Demopoulos alleges Deen thwarted the film’s distribution…by [stealing] the signed releases from her producer’s office…Demopoulos was hired by Deen’s company, Seven Sins, to direct the documentary in 2015…She was on track to complete a director’s cut…when Deen’s ex-girlfriend, Stoya [and a dozen other women]…accused him of rape…Her producer and a Showtime executive agreed that the film…would have to be re-edited to address the new claims…The producers screened the second version for Deen on July 30, 2016.  He had some requests for changes, but his overall reaction appeared to be positive…However, three months later Deen appeared unannounced at the producer’s…office…and Deen persuaded a production assistant to turn over a binder of signed releases…Deen also asked a post-production staffer for the footage from the film, but the staffer recognized him and refused…Deen then walked out with the binder.  Without the original releases, Demopoulos says the film cannot be shown at film festivals or aired on Showtime…

Legal Is as Legal Does (#599)

In 2011, sex work was re-legalized in Taiwan after ten years of US-style criminalization imposed due to pressure from Washington; however, the pressure has not been relieved, so Taiwanese police still harass sex workers thus:

A total of nine foreign women [whom cops pretend were] forced into prostitution in Taiwan have been [arrested] by Taipei police…during which the alleged mastermind behind the gang was also arrested…The [women] are currently [imprisoned] by…prosecutors…[cops fantasize] the gang…use[d magical] drugs to [mind] control the women, forcing them into prostitution…adding that the [police’s female] victims also included…foreign migrant workers [fleeing from exploitative but legal work contracts]…

Backwards into the Future (#629)

Adult man wearing a costume mansplains professionals’ own job to them:

…Justice Martin Makonese [dismissed a suit by sex worker rights activists in Zimbabwe] which sought an order interdicting police from interfering with [protest] marches…[the judge bizarrely claimed that Zimbabwe is] “an open and democratic society” [while spewing out the following censorious asshattery]…”It is a trade devoid of moral values and is demeaning…if this court allows prostitutes to parade, promote and glorify their trade, other groups…will be encouraged to promote perverse acts…”

The moron then claimed that for sex workers to demand basic human rights further stigmatizes us.

To Molest and Rape 

STOP SAYING “FORMER” COP.  He was not a “former” cop when he committed the rapes:

A…Horry County [South Carolina] police detective [who]…sexually assault[ed] crime victims insists he will reject a plea deal…Allen Large…[raped] multiple women and [sexually assaulted]…the victims of cases he was supposed to be investigating.  Some of those women are rape and domestic violence victims…Large also faces civil lawsuits from women who have accused him of sexual assault and harassment.  Two of those cases have been [paid off]…

Hard Numbers (#744)

A promising start:  “A bill to decriminalise sex work in South Australia has passed the Upper House…13-8…The bill will now be debated in the Lower House before a conscience vote by MPs…

Cooties (#747)

Despite the popularity of this fantasy with UK cops, not one has ever been found:

Crime busters are bidding to free sex slaves from pop-up brothels springing up in Cambridge…many of which house…victims of human trafficking…against their will…women [are] being used as sex slaves within these brothels, with many suffering abuse in the most inhumane conditions…

Though it’s hard to recognize through the layers of cop masturbatory fantasy, what they’re actually talking about is ordinary sex workers using AirBnB rentals.

Quite Possibly the Most Uptight Nerd Ever (#751)

A politician describes my flexible, lucrative job as “undesirable”.  I hope she can hear me laughing:

…Online platform Rendevu has been downloaded by over 2,000 people since launching in Scotland last month and allows users to [book services from sex workers] at the click of a button.  But…[attention-seeking] politician…Sandra White…[said] “It’s quite worrying; it’s like a takeaway menu.  You just get the app, then phone it up and get to take away an escort.  Depending on what the escort is asked to do, it’s really quite disturbing that anyone can access it.  It makes this ‘undesirable’ type of work so available to anyone”…Australian entrepreneur Reuben Coppa founded Rendevu in 2015 and believes the app is a “game changer” for providing a safe space for sex workers…

I’m not sure whose ignorance is more astonishing, Miss “It’s like pizza!” or Mr. “Sex workers had no ability to advertise before my dumb app!”

The Pygmalion Fallacy (#755)

This is another article on that same ridiculous exercise in “sex robot” navel-gazing that we saw in Wednesday’s news column, but it contains this jaw-droppingly stupid rationalization of why the speaker’s personal discomfort with pedophiles owning child-shaped sex toys should trump the obvious benefits of giving people with such desires a harmless way to satisfy their needs:

“Imagine treating racism by letting a bigot abuse a brown robot.  Would that work? Probably not,” Patrick Lin, director of the ethics and emerging sciences group at California Polytechnic State University, told the Responsible Robotics researchers.  “If expressing racist feelings is a cure for them, then we wouldn’t see much racism in the world.”

Yes, this psychological illiterate is actually espousing the dangerous and discredited belief that sexual desires are learned responses, like bigotry.  Presumably he also believes in gay conversion therapy, “john school” and “just say no”, since those harmful brainwashing programs also rely on the belief that psychosexual needs can be “unlearned” or “gotten over”.  Obviously, expressing queer or kinky feelings isn’t a cure for them either, so we should just ban all non-procreative sex, including sex toys that aren’t shaped like anything identifiable.

The Widening Gyre (#755) 

I am so enjoying watching “sex trafficking” hysteria spin out of control of the “authorities”:

The Brown County [Wisconsin] Sheriff’s Office is investigating a sex trafficking complaint after a local woman posted on social media about [her fantasy]…In a Facebook post, a mother [pretends] two men were discussing how much money they could get for one of her daughters while watching the children play at a park…[even most “sex trafficking” profiteers admit] that children are [not] randomly kidnapped from parks or pools or shopping malls…Authorities…urge people to [let them control the narrative]…

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
We pillage and plunder, we rifle and loot.
Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.
We kidnap and ravage and don’t give a hoot.
Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
We extort and pilfer, we filch and sack.
Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.
Maraud and embezzle and even highjack.
Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.
 –  X Atencio

I often struggle to comprehend the incredible ability of the modern mind to not only reconcile cognitive dissonance, but to apparently function without even being aware of its existence.  Last week we had to endure the false “controversy” over Disney’s announcement that it was making changes in the animatronic figures featured in the 1960s-era Pirates of the Caribbean ride.  The story was covered in a number of places, but the writer from The Mary Sue made it easiest to zero in on the point I wish to make, so here she is:

Starting next year, Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride will no longer include the iconic Auction scene as we know it, in which animatronic “wenches” are sold as potential brides.  The pirates in the scene chant “we want the redhead,” but that redhead will now be reimagined as a pirate herself.  In a statement…Senior VP of Imagineering Kathy Mangum said, “We believe the time is right to turn the page to a new story in this scene, consistent with the humorous, adventurous spirit of the attraction.”  I took regular vacations to Disneyland growing up and absolutely loved the Pirates ride.  Yet I do remember, even as a child, finding something off about this scene.  I never tried to articulate it, and didn’t yet know terms like sex trafficking, but I did know that these women for sale weren’t in keeping with that “humorous, adventurous spirit” that permeates the rest of the ride…

So Vivian Kane, like so many puffed-up prudes, imagines she can project her adult feelings back into her child self, pretending that she “knew” there was something about the slave auction scene that “wasn’t in keeping” with the other activities of pirates.  Which other piratical activities, pray tell, is slave-taking “not in keeping” with, Vivian?  Robbery?  Kidnapping?  Arson?  Extortion?  Torture?  Murder?  I mean, it’s not like the famous song heard throughout the ride doesn’t list them.  In order: “We pillage, plunder, rifle, loot, kidnap, ravage, extort, pilfer, filch, sack, maraud, embezzle, hijack, kindle, char, enflame & ignite.”  Most of these are synonyms for “steal”, the last few connote arson, and though murder is basically cheated of a direct reference, it’s present as the warning “Dead men tell no tales” (intoned earlier in the spookier part of the ride).  But “kidnap and ravage” in the first verse there is pretty clear; it’s a nicer way of saying “abduct and rape”.  Because despite the weird 21st -century idea that pirates are somehow humorous, whimsical characters with ridiculous vocal mannerisms, they are actually (note the tense; they’re not mere historical figures) violent criminals, hijackers and robbers at sea with little compunction against mayhem, torture, murder and yes, rape.  But while nobody has yet managed to sell the idea of a humorous ride centering around terrorists, a kids’ movie series about carjackers or a “Talk Like a Rapist Day”, somehow pirates (bizarrely conceived as forever locked in the late 17th century) have been stripped of basically all of their realities (except maybe the ships) and re-imagined as lovable seafaring clowns led by strangely gender-and-sexual-orientation-ambiguous performance artists with highly idiosyncratic fashion senses.

Now, I’m not arguing against black humor; I’m actually a fan of it, and plays like Arsenic and Old Lace are among my favorites.  I see absolutely no problem with using very nasty subjects such as theft, murder, insanity, war, tyranny and yes, even rape and slavery, in entertainment (even humorous entertainment), provided it’s done competently (“dead hooker” jokes are badly overused & I’ve never seen one act as anything but a cheap laugh).  And the historically-illiterate man-children who have a problem with the existence of female pirates can sit and spin; here are two articles to start the rotation.  My problem is the neo-Victorian pretense that rape (and by extension, sexual slavery) is one topic that is absolutely off-limits, even when depicting fictional characters who joyfully commit every other crime of violence imaginable, including murder and torture!  Another example of the same asininity is provided by “feminists” who moan lugubriously about the lyrics of the Rolling Stones songs “Under My Thumb” and “Brown Sugar”, while failing to notice that the narrator of “Sympathy for the Devil” is boasting about having caused murder, war and genocide (because clearly, sexual exploitation of one single woman is much worse than the Holocaust).  This is the old “fate worse than death” argument writ large across the face of our whole decaying culture; it’s worse than ridiculous, it’s completely deranged.  If murder, piracy and the sack of whole cities are fit subjects for a “humorous, adventurous” amusement-park dark ride, so is “sex trafficking”; and if Disney’s going to start removing all subjects of moral panic from its properties, I’d like to see how it’s going to replace all of those witches.

I’m a member of a site from which people can purchase videos and pictures of women, and after a friendly messaging conversation I asked her for a series of pics.  We agreed on a price for a set number of pics and general outline of them; in the detailed description I provided with the money, I asked for her to smile because I loathe the frowny model face and the “open mouth, vacant stare” model face that seems fashionable in glamour photography.  She replied telling me that asking for a woman to smile is sexist.  Now, I get that if I was passing her on the street it might be sexist, but on a site that exists explicitly for the sale of sexually titillating content, this seems ridiculous.  Am I wrong? 

She’s full of shit and has been reading too much feminism.  This isn’t the street, and you’re not demanding uncompensated emotional labor from a stranger; you are a client ordering a custom product from a vendor, and that vendor specifically asked you to describe the product you want.  So when you do so, she tells you you’re “sexist”?  Is it “sexist” for a client who’s a lingerie fan to request I wear stockings to a date he’s paying me for, or for a diner to tell his waitress how he wants his steak cooked?  The very idea is idiotic.  My advice is that you tell her that her pointing out your sexism has caused you to rethink the situation, realizing that for a man to buy sexy pictures from a woman is not only “sexist” but also “objectification”, and you don’t want to participate in that.  Then cancel the deal with this airhead who doesn’t understand that sex work is work, and find an actual professional who understands professional behavior and will respond to a polite and reasonable request that’s outside her boundaries with a polite “sorry, I don’t do that” rather than with a hypocritical and absurd attack on your character.  The online sex market is full of unprofessional ninnies who make it harder for the pros, and you’re not doing anybody any favors by rewarding that kind of unprofessionalism with your money.

(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.)

Police, perplexingly, think that [stings are] a trust-building exercise.  –  Alison Clancey

Check Your Premises

Young women are passive, doll-like “children” without will or volition until a prosecutor points his magical finger at them, transforming them instantly into evil adult “pimps”:

Two days after turning eighteen, a California woteen [sic] was sentenced to 13 years in prison for human trafficking of younger girls.  Jelinajane Bedrijo Almario…was tried as an adult…Detective Richard Pontecorvo…[fantasized while masturbating that] “These people are great at locating kids with low self-esteem…these pimps are ruining these kids’ lives at an early age”…

“Woteen”?  I’m guessing he started with “teen” and then meant to change it to “woman” so as to create an apparent age gap & thereby demonize Almario more thoroughly.  Oops!

Broken Record 

Small cities come up with the most ludicrous concepts for supposed “gypsy whore” magnets:

Tourism and hospitality industry leaders will be meeting with the [Grand Rapids, Michigan] chapter of Women at Risk International (WAR)…to [spread propaganda about]…human trafficking…Michigan is one of the leading states for human trafficking…Between 100,000 and 300,000 underage girls are sold for sex in the United States every year…And, when there are…major events like ArtPrize…cases often soar.  The conference will [subject] tourism and hospitality professionals to [propaganda claiming consensual sex]…is bad for business [and encouraging them to rat out their guests to the pigs]…

Paint By Numbers (#551)

Fanatics are running out of stupid “sex trafficking awareness” stunts, so they’re recycling old ones:

A group of three recent University of Texas graduates are…cycling their way from Seattle to San Diego, to raise awareness of the sex trafficking crisis in our own neighborhoods.  Sara Belmer, Savannah Lovelace, and Grace Pfeffer are the…members of Pedal the Pacific.  They refer to themselves as “hilariously un-athletic girls” who are [spreading tired decades-old fantasies]…about the very real [masturbatory fantasy] of human trafficking…

To Molest and Rape 

Some cops prefer to rape by proxy:

…Maria Joseph [reported]…that Ville Platte [Louisiana] Marshall Deputy Arthur Phillips forced her to have sex with another man…Joseph [was asked to go for a ride]…with Phillips [and agreed] because she “assumed it was a date”…Phillips brought Joseph to his apartment, and then “called a couple of friends…‘Chris’ and ‘Ike,’ to come over and visit.”  After asking his friends if they had any money, Phillips then proceeded to “[demand Joseph]…touch Chris”…after “she told the men she didn’t do prostitution,” Phillips “proceeded to physically push Joseph onto Chris…[then] told her to give Chris oral sex and to do it for daddy”…later…he…[forced her] to have sex with [another man named] Joe while [he] watched”…

Do I really need to say “don’t go on a date with a cop, either”?  Why are people so naive?

The Pygmalion Fallacy (#646)

It’s fascinating how much energy these fetishists expend on something that doesn’t exist:

…In a report on the growing market in sex robots, the Foundation for Responsible Robotics [fantasized that] rapidly advancing technologies have already led to the creation of “android love dolls” [even though they actually haven’t]…robots raise complex issues that should be considered by policymakers and the public, the report said…including whether use of such devices should be encouraged in sexual therapy clinics, for sex offenders, or for people with disabilities…Noel Sharkey…said it was difficult to predict how far or fast the market would grow…[but pearl-clutchers pretend] that allowing people to live out their darkest fantasies with robots would have a pernicious effect on societal norms…

O, Canada! (#683)

Another chapter in this grotesque campaign to intimidate sex workers:

Sex-worker advocates are calling on police in British Columbia to stop participating in a…[scam] that sees [cops] pose as prospective clients and arrange dates in efforts to [intimidate] sex workers [into leaving the trade]…They…show up at the agreed-upon location…to [try to browbeat] the sex worker [into agreeing with their pretense that] she is working under coercion…advocates…call the operation deceptive, and say it erodes the already precarious relationship between law enforcement and the sex-work community…sex workers who have been targeted in these operations have described the events as frightening and traumatic…

Traffic Circle (#702)

Some cops just can’t stick with the “all whores are victims” program:

Escambia County [Florida pigs] have arrested 17 people in a two-day prostitution sting…Col. Robert Quinata [oinked that] operations such as this don’t stop prostitution in the county, but serve as a reminder to other offenders that police are aware [that human beings have sex]…he said…Escambia County doesn’t have a sex trafficking problem…as they don’t often find prostitutes working against their will…ECSO periodically uses undercover operations to target sex workers…and will continue to do so…to send a message…

Checklist (#732)

Clearly, critical thinking skills are not a prerequisite for passing nursing school:

…As president of the Emergency Nurses Association, I am calling for nationally consistent policies and clear protocols for identifying victims of human trafficking, and mandatory training of all emergency department personnel.  Those who work in healthcare, particularly in emergency departments, often encounter human trafficking victims.  Yet [we have no actual proof of that claim]…Florida and Michigan now require human trafficking training as part of their healthcare licensing processes…There are physical clues, like certain scars, markings or tattoos like the barcode I [claim to have seen, yet have no proof of]…their captors exert…[magical mind] control over victims…

Remember, there has only been ONE actual case of a barcode tattoo, in Spain in 2012, and that one was a case of life imitating art. Yet this woman claims to have actually seen one, and produces no proof.  This is exactly as credible as an Elvis sighting.

Full of Themselves (#746)

Massage parlor licensing is widely touted as a way to “fight prostitution”, despite not actually working:

A new Indiana law could [magically] bring an end to [sex work]…Massage therapists must now get a license…This October, seven central Indiana businesses were raided after [cops tricked] women [into] performing sexual acts…The Indiana attorney general’s office said the incidence of human trafficking tips quadrupled over the past two years…Not just anyone can get a license — you must be at least 18; go through 500 hours of training from an accredited school and pass a criminal background check, and exam…

The Widening Gyre (#749) 

I am so enjoying watching “sex trafficking” hysteria spin out of control of the “authorities”:

The Dubuque [Iowa] Police Department is scrambling to correct a story about an alleged abduction that got warped after it circulated through social media…on Saturday, June 24, a woman and her 8-year-old daughter were at Kennedy Mall when [the woman claims] an unknown female [of indeterminate species] began conversing with the girl, offering to buy her a gift of her choice in the store…The mother [says she] took the girl away from the unknown female and left the area…the…story was posted on social media where it was embellished and widely spread…

Diary #367

Late Saturday night, Lorelei Rivers and I will be getting on a redeye flight to the East Coast, where we’ll meet up with the gentleman I call Ghost Rider; on Sunday evening we’ll get on another plane together, and disembark the next morning in Dublin.  Yes, a generous client is taking my girlfriend and me on a week-long vacation to Ireland; that is seriously living the hooker dream, my friends!  Oh, wait; clearly I’m suffering from false consciousness, because we all know that the lives of prostituted women are unending cascades of suffering and degradation.  What I really mean is that an evil, exploitative “john” is going to “traffic” two helpless, innocent “victims” across international borders to satisfy his carnal lusts 50 times a day each.  No doubt we’ll be forced to use drugs to survive the violation; oh, woe is us!  Actually, in all seriousness I will need to use drugs to survive the flights, but those drugs will be my good old Valium and Zofran combo, plus as much booze as the air hostess will give me.  So much has changed in the last year and a half; at that time I couldn’t have even hoped for a trip like this.  But now my vertigo is more manageable (though that still requires a lot of planning), I have my passport again, and a generous gentleman is subsidizing my flying!  And that means this is really a kind of dress rehearsal; in the future, I’ll be able to travel to any place a client needs me to go, provided he’s willing to book me for enough time to justify the travel (at least 24 hours to the UK, Ireland or Western Europe and 2 days for anyplace farther than that).  Take a look at your budget, international fans!  And in the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for photo hijinks with Lorelei & me in the Emerald Isle!