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Diary #459

Though my Bay Area screening was a success, several things definitely did not go smoothly.  The screening audience was very engaged and I was joined in a Q&A afterward by veteran activist Kristen DiAngelo (American Courtesans); before the show I also recorded a podcast interview for my hosts, the Prostasia Foundation.  The next day I met one of my regular readers for a coffee date, then had a lovely overnight with one of my favorite gentlemen.  Also, the problem with my fundraiser was resolved, so at least I didn’t have to use personal money to pay my hotel and all (if you’d like to help me in future travels, please donate).  Those are the parts that went well; it was all the nonhuman factors which gave me trouble!  As regular readers know, I fly for free thanks to Ghost Rider, but that means flying standby and sometimes getting bumped to steerage, and if things are really overbooked it can mean getting bumped off of a flight entirely.  Well, last Monday I flew first class to LAX, but it looked like I was going to be bumped off of my flight to SFO until the very last minute (when they managed to get me onto the flight, apparently due to someone else’s missed connection).  At the screening Tuesday, we had some kind of glitch wherein the sound got about a second out of synch with the picture and the projectionist apparently could not resolve it; the theater made up to us by refunding part of our fees, and if you were in the audience and felt distracted, we will give you a free download (just email me for details).  Then on Wednesday afternoon, Ghost Rider (who keeps an eye on flight loads when he knows I’ll be traveling) let me know that it didn’t look good for the next day; we decided the best bet was for me to try to follow through with my original itinerary, but to understand it might not work out.  That turned out to be an understatement; by the time I got to the airport, my standby position for the flight had dropped from one to nine, on an already-overbooked plane.  Consulting with the gate agent revealed that, partly due to spring break traffic and partly to the genius who decided to repair a runway during the day (thus resulting in dozens of cancelled flights), there was no way to get a seat out of San Francisco for love or money.  Every flight on every airline out of SFO, San Jose, Oakland and Sacramento, flying to Seattle, Portland and even Everett (on Alaska Air) through every hub in the US was overbooked for both Thursday and Friday.  But I was in a good mood and mentally prepared for the eventuality; Priceline gave me a one-way car rental, SFO to Seattle, for only $130; I booked it, drove out of the parking garage about 2 pm, and I pulled into my driveway in Seattle at 12:45 (that included two refueling stops).  Definitely not an ideal situation, but in the days before I learned how to control my vertigo I did a lot of long-distance driving; the worst part about it was losing a whole day of writing time.  And it takes more than stupid bureacrats & drunk students to stop me from getting where I need to go!

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If you’ve been following me for a while, you may have noticed I don’t actually tour the way many escorts do; I just don’t like traveling to strange cities and sitting around in hotels hoping for business.  So unless you’re willing to spring for a long enough session to justify a special trip (at least as long as round-trip travel time, which basically means an overnight for much of the US), you would generally have to wait until you’re coming to Seattle or I’m coming to your city.  Well, in a few weeks there will be a situation kind of midway between “special trip” and “I’ll happen to be there”; I’m giving a presentation at Minnesota State in Mankato on April 29th (4 PM in the Ostrander Auditorium in the Centennial Student Union), then speaking at the Libertarian Party of Illinois convention on May 4th (Parke Regency Hotel in Bloomington).  That means that from April 30th to May 3rd I’ll be in the area between those two points with a rental car, so if you’re in Minneapolis, Chicago, or some place between, I’d be willing to see you if you book a dinner date on the 30th, 1st or 2nd.  If you’re in Chicagoland, I’ll have shorter apointments available on the 3rd.  Obviously I’m not going to bounce around like a pinball, but if you’re flexible and have the means & desire we can talk about a visit.  Don’t wait, though; I’ll be building my schedule as I get appointments, and as the schedule fills in I’ll have less flexibility.  Better still:  I’m willing to give you a special price if you’re willing to pay in advance.  And if you’re in Washington DC or southern Florida, keep your eyes peeled for similar specials in the next few months!  Of course, you don’t have to wait; I’m willing to make special travel deals for anyone who supports my documentary, and if you’re interested I’m just an email away.

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I’m happy to announce that the funds disbursement issue with the fundraiser for The War on Whores has been solved!  Those who don’t follow me on Twitter may have missed that for over two weeks, WePay (the payment processor for GoFundMe and a number of similar sites) kept cancelling my withdrawals, sending me emails which announced “Action required” in the subject line and yet not telling me what action was required.  And like many modern web-based businesses, neither GoFundMe nor WePay has a proper customer service phone number, pretending instead that in an age of instant communication emails that take them days to answer constitute adequate customer service.  Eventually, someone decided to finally tell me that WePay recently demanded that GoFundMe (and presumably, other crowdfunding sites as well) ban the rewards for different donation levels which have been a staple of crowdfunding since it was invented (I smell FOSTA’s baleful influence here).  A few days after I deleted the rewards from the GoFundMe page, their cstomer service told me that WePay was apparently satified and would stop playing “Mother May I?” with my readers’ donations; on Tuesday, the day of my Bay Area screening, the funds finally hit my account.  And now that’s done, I’d like to remind readers about the fundraiser and ask for your help again, and to remind y’all that even though I can’t list them on the donation page the rewards are:

$30 or more – Donor
Permanent inclusion in blog-supporter deals (free stories, etc).

$60 or more – Friend
Autographed DVD of The War on Whores (will be sent when DVDs are delivered to us, probably late spring)

$125 or more – Sponsor
Autographed copies both of my books, plus The War on Whores DVD when it comes out.

$250 or more – Patron
When I’m in your city, I’ll have coffee with you and hand-deliver the Sponsor-level gifts plus an autographed poster!

$500 or more – Angel
When I’m in your city, I’ll have a leisurely dinner with you and hand-deliver all the Patron-level gifts!

$1000 or more – Producer
I will make a special trip to the city of your choice and give a full screening of the movie, with Q&A session, to the group of your choice!  If you have no special group, I’ll give you the Angel package without your having to wait until I reach your city!

Paul Johnson told me yesterday that the closed captioning is done, so the movie will soon be available on Amazon; also, thanks to my generous donors I was able to send him the money for burning the DVDs.  Onward and upward!

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Diary #458

Tonight I’ll be screening The War on Whores at the New Parkway Theater in Oakland; Kristen DiAngelo will be joining me for a Q&A after the showing.  The show starts at 7:30; tickets are $20 and can be purchased in advance.  I hope to see all of my Bay Area fans there!  Next screening: Minnesota State University in Mankato, MN on April 29th, at 4 PM in the Ostrander Auditorium in the Centennial Student Union; that event is free to students & faculty.  Of course, most of y’all reading this don’t live close enough to make it to either venue, but that’s OK; there are plenty of other ways to see it.  You can watch or download it on Vimeo; it should soon be available on Amazon as well, and we’re working on getting it into the iTunes store.  As soon as we can get my fundraising troubles sorted out (more on that later in the week, or you can read about the problem in this Twitter thread) we’ll be starting the process of getting DVDs made, and those will be for sale as well.  And if you’d like a screening in your own city (whether you have a nifty theater like this or not), just take a look here for info on how to do that.   

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I’ve noticed an annoying trend of late:  people including my screen name on Twitter so as to summon me into an argument they’re having with prohibitionist wackos.  Please don’t do that.

No, that isn’t nearly strong enough: Don’t Fucking Do That.

There are a number of reasons why this is a colossally bad idea, but I’m just going to list a few of them.  First, I don’t debate prohibitionists because it lends them credibility and gives them a platform from which to regale people with their nasty “sex trafficking” wanking fantasies, yet accomplishes absolutely nothing positive because the head of a prohibitionist is “so stuffed with the reality-denying rubbish of his belief system that there is no room for facts“.  Next, I’ve already been over all this territory hundreds of times, and it’s an obscene waste for me to even be asked to “restate the content of my entire professional oeuvre in convenient 140-character sound bites” when it’s all right here on my blog.  I’m not a fucking monkey to dance for the amusement of internet randos with absolutely no power to change bad laws, nor am I an attack dog to be whistled up to dispatch annoyances you could easily just mute as I do.  It isn’t just that these people aren’t offering to compensate me for my valuable time, though obviously that’s bad enough; it’s also that (and this may be the most important point) I don’t fucking accept being told what to do by anybody, and the best way to get me not to do something is to demand, order, threaten, or attempt to trick, shame or intimidate me into doing it (and don’t even think of using reverse psychology on me, either).  I’ve always been this way; it’s one of the reasons my mother and I never got along, and why I so often ended up in the principal’s office despite being a straight-A student and a basically well-behaved kid, why no square job other than librarian ever lasted more than six months, and why every husband, boyfriend & male friend I’ve ever had has yelled at me at least once for flying up in a cop’s face.  I do not acknowledge that anyone has “legitimate” authority over me, so the second anyone acts as though they’re entitled to my time, energy, resources or (especially) obedience, any chance of their getting what they want goes down the toilet.  You want something from me?  Ask nicely, in private, and offer to compensate me.  But if the request is “please come beat up these idiots for me”, I’ll most likely just point out that it’s impossible to reason someone ought of a position he didn’t reason himself into, and suggest you mute them rather than letting them steal your time and energy.

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I’m not sure what’s scarier, the idea of putting people permanently on a public list, or aggressively incentivizing hotels to pry into the sex lives of their guests.  –  Kaytlin Bailey

The More the Better

It’s so very important for celebrities to be “out” if they did sex work in their youth:

Janet Mock, the writer, television presenter, and activist, grew up in Honolulu…she fell into the protective company of a glamorous cadre of transgender friends and mentors; her seventh-grade hula teacher was a māhū, a native Hawaiian term, Mock explains, for people who live outside of the gender binary…”Merchant Street…was…where the girls worked…I first went there when I was, like, fifteen, when I was able to go out at nighttime.  At first I came with…all these puritanical views…about what it meant to use your body, your only asset, in a world that’s not taking care of you…And so I knew that, by doing this sixty-dollar hand job, I would be able to have two months of hormones.  And so I remember making the decision to get in that car and, at fifteen years old, to do this, and to continue to do this…for, like, the next two years of my life.  And that was my way into sex work…

Business As Usual

It’s the same everywhere our work is even partially criminalized:

Sex work is legal[ized] in the Dominican Republic.  But despite this, sex workers are still vulnerable to abuse—particularly at the hands of [cops], who know they can torture…sex work[ers] with impunity…A new report…by Amnesty International…“If They Can Have Her, Why Can’t We?” features interviews from 46 trans and cisgender women sex workers, all of whom report suffering horrific violence at the hands of [cops]…“At least 10 out of the 24 cisgender women interviewed for this research described having been raped by police officials, often at gunpoint…Most of the transgender women had been subjected to…violent actions by the police that could amount to torture or other ill-treatment, typically focused on their gender-identity or expression”…

Now They Notice

It’s about goddamned time:

…LGBTI activists worldwide resolved to address the stigmatisation of sex workers, including in the LGBTI movement…and [to] oppose…all forms of criminalisation and legal oppression of sex workers – an historic first for…the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.  “By approving this resolution, our global LGBTI family is saying…that addressing violence, criminalisation and human rights violations against LGBTI and all sex workers must be a priority for our movement”, said outgoing ILGA co-Secretaries General Ruth Baldacchino and Helen Kennedy…this global LGBTI network representing more than 1,500 organisations from each region of the world join a growing number of human rights, health and anti-trafficking organisations demanding governments recognise sex work as work, and protect sex workers’ labour and human rights…

A False Dichotomy (#652)

Even in Australia, spineless “journalists” prefer to print prohibitionist pap than to consult experts:

Air Asia…decided to use “Get off in Thailand” as a campaign slogan, but considering the abundance of sexual tourism in the country, you’d think the…airline might have put a bit more thought into the reaction such a tagline would attract [from puritans].  Posted around the city of Brisbane, Australia the “Get off in Thailand” campaign promoting the airline’s direct route to Bangkok has not gone over well [with puritans].  Collective Shout, a [prohibitionist organization best known for its] campaign…against [pictures of]…women, [screeched] that the campaign was promoting sex tourism in Thailand…

“Collective Shout” has a long and infamous history of campaigning against lucrative jobs for women, including such tame & innocuous forms of sex work as bikini modeling.

The Course of a Disease (#778)

Remember that Irish prohibitionists celebrated this increase in violence vs sex workers:

Crime against sex workers has almost doubled in the two years since…Ireland adopted the “Nordic Model” on March 27 2017…[despite the warnings of] sex worker organisations [that exactly this would happen]…Statistics from UglyMugs.ie…[demon]st[r]ate that since the law came into force, the number of incidents of abuse and crime…has greatly increased…The number of sex workers using UglyMugs.ie has remained steady at between 6,000 and 7,000 per year.  The number of incidents reported from 2015-2017 was 4,278.  Since the law change, from 2017-2019, incidents rose to 10,076…crime has increased 90% whereas violent crime specifically has increased 92%…

Disaster (#885)

We did warn you dilettantes that this wouldn’t stop with actual sex workers:

Targeted online advertising by the Hump! Film Festival has been kneecapped by FOSTA/SESTA, according to festival founder Dan Savage…“Hump is largely dependent on targeted Facebook ads for ticket sales, and thanks to Facebook’s overreaction to…SESTA/FOSTA …it will not accept ads for the festival any longer, despite the fact that the ads themselves are G-rated and are only targeted at adults”…Savage notes that “Facebook no longer allows ads for, quote-unquote, adult content…as a result…we can no longer advertise on Facebook and Instagram, which Facebook also owns”…the festival’s Facebook business account was [also] “shuttered”…Savage urged listeners to follow Hump! on their social media channels and to subscribe to the festival’s official newsletter to stay up-to-date…

Elephant in the Parlor (#894)

I’ve been saying I distrusted Avenatti since the beginning:

Celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti has been arrested and charged with federal wire fraud and bank fraud in California as well as four counts of extortion in New York…Avenatti tried to extort more than $20 million from Nike…[and] embezzled a client’s money to, in part, pay off expenses for his coffee business, Global Baristas US LLC, which operated Tully’s Coffee stores…Avenatti purchased the coffee stores in 2013 with actor Patrick Dempsey, who sued Avenatti that same year to break their business partnership…prosecutors in California also accused the lawyer of defrauding a bank with phony tax returns to obtain millions of dollars in loans…

The Course of a Disease (#896)

Looks like the Spanish case of the Swedish rot may be especially virulent:

Finnish websites used by sex workers to advertise and share information with each other have been closed down following a judicial warrant by Spanish police…Sihteeriopisto (Secretary College) and the international counterpart, sexworknet, were launched in Finland but…maintenance was moved overseas when the sale of sexual services was outlawed in Finland in 2003…A sex worker in Spain said:  “The…website had [a] forum, where sex workers were sharing warnings about bad clients, robbery…There are of course other websites, but none of them has a forum.  We lost the platform…where we could communicate and support each other”…These closures follow closures of similar websites in other countries, including in the USA following FOSTA-SESTA…

You may have noticed that the cops always go for the best boards, noted for civility and sex worker forums.  This is not accidental.

Lack of Evidence (#900)

All prostitution “stings” are entrapment; that’s the whole point of them:

Dee Curry…an outspoken advocate for transgender rights in the District of Columbia for many years…said she…was arrested on Feb. 8…as part of a D.C. police “sting” operation…she considers the police tactics used to arrest her as a form of entrapment…and…a misuse of police resources…her arrest involved a…[vice pig] who posed as an Uber driver and…[offered] her…a ride…then…said…[he] wanted a blowjob for $30 and [specifically wanted to] park [next to]…a school …“I said no you’re not, not with me…And that’s when the police came”…Curry [is a former]…sex work[er who retired] after a previous arrest in 2011 in which she said she was similarly entrapped…[but] found not guilty…when the [lying pig] gave the signal, three or four police cars with flashing lights and sirens rushed to the scene, with at least two [pigs] in each of the [swinemobiles]…to arrest her…[instead of dealing with actual] crime…

Yes, cops are actually trying to press prostitution charges against a 64-year-old woman for walking down the street.  I’m sure you feel safer now.

Worse Than I Thought (#914)

A rare victory for sex workers against the state:

Florida [politicians] have for now ditched plans to create a registry of prostitution clients…after sex workers and activists showed up at the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee to protest and give testimony…A version of the legislation passed the committee without the solicitation registry included…It [still] requires that cleaning and reception-desk staff at hotels and motels be trained on spotting the “signs” of trafficking—a list of absurd and ordinary behavior that includes not wanting cleaning service—and creates new regulatory liabilities on hospitality businesses…Heather Fitzenhagen…author of the failed solicitation registry idea [was unhappy, and vomited out some lawheaded bigotry]…”a prostitute…is committing a crime…It is not my intent to work with them going forward”…

An Avalanche of Bullshit

This could potentially be very good for us:

Lawyers for…Robert Kraft…want the 77-year-old’s solicitation of prostitution case to be tried by a jury instead of a judge…Kraft…was charged [after a massive massage-parlor pogrom] along with…about 300 men…in total…Kraft rejected a plea deal in which…he…and his fellow defendants [would be forced to pretend]…they would be found guilty if their case went to trial, [pay] a $5,000 fine, [perform] 100 hours of community service…attend…a [brainwashing] class [much like the dangerous “gay conversion therapy” which has been banned in a number of states]…and be tested for sexually transmitted diseases…

A jury trial will allow the lawyers to present expert witnesses and debunking of the “sex trafficking” hysteria which drove the raids; it will allow them to dig into the money trail and present that in open court; it will provide ammunition for the lawyers of the other victims of this raid, and other raids like it; and it may inspire other men to fight.  As I’ve been saying for the past decade, if everyone charged in a “prostitution sting” would fight the charges by demanding a trial, the machine would grind to a halt and the carceral system would be forced to change its tactics.

On the Simultaneous Having and Eating of Cake (#922)

Even “legal” sex workers were harmed by FOSTA:

…HB 1756…strives to improve working conditions for strippers in Washington by implementing mandatory trainings, establishing an adult entertainer advisory committee, putting panic buttons in VIP rooms, and making a blacklist for abusive patrons…Savannah Sly, a sex worker and community organizer with Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) Seattle, believes the organizing started after FOSTA/SESTA…[and the government destruction of]…Backpage…sent shockwaves throughout the sex worker community…”There are displaced sex workers and clients who are looking for a place to connect,” Sly told the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee…[w]hen…internet spaces for sex work…disappeared…it forced [many] sex work[ers] offline and back onto the streets…former [escort] clients, without the spaces they used to frequent, are making their way into strip clubs…

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Diary #457

Last week was quite lovely!  On Monday I went over to Lorelei Rivers’ to help her with a little decorating that required four hands and two sets of eyes, and then we had our first Who night at her new house.  On Wednesday my friend Winnie had her baby, and I got to visit her at the hospital and hold the teeny girl (the first newborn I’ve held this century), whom I think will grow up to be as lovely as her mother.  I also launched a new fundraiser last week to cover some of the final distribution costs of The War on Whores, and to subsidize screenings for groups (such as student or activist groups) that can’t afford a screening fee; as usual, my readers amazed me by getting me to 25% of my goal in only four days!  And to top it all off, I heard from two of my favorite clients whom I haven’t seen in a while that they’ll be visiting in April.  Now, I’m not saying the week didn’t have its problems; however, the week in which I don’t turn into a complete stressball at least once or twice is a rare animal indeed.  So I’ve learned to enjoy the good stuff while it’s there, even if I can’t quite manage to keep the bad in perspective.

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