Posts Tagged ‘bisexuality’

Raising the minimum age perpetuates the notion that sex workers are naive individuals with little to no agency or understanding of their own situation.  –  Laura Marks

Lack of Evidence

A fine example of barking up the wrong tree:

During a recent trip to Miami, San Francisco residents Heather Cox and Gigi Otálvaro-Hormillosa visited Dean’s Gold strip club in North Miami Beach…they were denied entry…[because] they’re women and weren’t “accompanied by a man”…”The message that women must be accompanied by men is totally infantilizing,” says Otálvaro…”it’s a direct statement of exclusion targeted at bisexual women and lesbians”…

Nope and nope. It’s not “infantilizing” and it isn’t “targeted at lesbians”; the Florida policy is an anti-whore measure intended to keep us from “poaching” clients from the clubs.  Don’t like it, lesbians?  Fucking lobby for decriminalization, then, because as long as we have no rights yours will continue to be infringed.  And guys, don’t think these laws don’t affect you, too:

…The YouTube video’s original caption to the video…“Bought a burger and pulled over to have a few bites. I suppose that constitutes probable cause?”  Fortunately, the citizen…pulled out his phone and started recording when the Austin cop  approached the vehicle…Rick asked, “Why am I getting pulled out of my car?”  “Because you’re being detained.” answered the unknown Austin PD officer…Rick immediately asked, “Why am I being detained?”  “Let’s see. It’s 2 o’clock in the morning and you’re in a parked here by yourself in a high prostitution, high drug area”…

They Still Don’t Get It

This “editorial” cannot have possibly been written by an actual editor, unless this paper hires its editors from the local eighth-grade class.  It is also virtually fact-free and if its nose were any higher up the arse of authority it would suffocate:

…Prostitution has always been a money-making endeavor.  It generates an income for the women and the men who often control them.  But, the profession has become more dangerous because many of the prostitutes are desperate for money to support drug addiction.  That, of course, means crimes related to prostitution have increased dramatically…Most of the women are not street-walkers, but advertise themselves on a website called The Back Page…police respond to ads to snare women, and place fake ads on the site to entice the male customers…Fewer women are now advertising on the site, but the demand from male customers was still too high…prostitutes were more numerous 40 years ago and they frequented the heart of the downtown.  Development in the center city that has attracted families chased the prostitutes away.  We appreciate the police for continuing to work on the prostitution problem and…the developers who continue to make the downtown a better place…

End Demand

Ever wonder what kind of sick propaganda men are subjected to in “john school” for the “crime” of sexual desire?

Imagine your mother or the person you think of like a mother.  Now picture her on the street, offering sexual services for $10 at least a half-dozen times a day…The goal of the day was to outline not only the “what ifs,” such as being assaulted and robbed, but to impart that many prostituting are forced there by circumstances, whether that’s another person, addiction, or mental illness…the men also hear about possible health impacts, from HIV to pubic lice, sexual addiction, and the impacts of prostitution on communities…


All anti-sex laws are repeatedly supported by courts until the day they aren’t:

A…judge has refused to find the laws that outlaw prostitution in Ohio unconstitutional in the case against two women who were operating a massage parlor…“Ohio prostitution statue compromises the protected right to sexual privacy by denying consenting adults the right to make decisions about sexuality in the commercial market place,” [defense attorney] Blake Somers wrote in his motion. “Such an instruction is not justified or mitigated by societal moral concerns…making the sale of sex illegal violates the right of sexual privacy derived from the due process clause and the defendant herein seeks nothing more that to invoke the principals of liberty that already exists”…

Still a Child 

Twenty-five years ago, Jim Kelly argued before the New Orleans City Council that women ages 18 to 20 shouldn’t be allowed to work as exotic dancers…The proposed ordinance was approved…but after a recent murder case involving 19-year-old dancer Jasilas Wright, Kelly realized it was not being enforced.  In July, he returned to City Hall to put teeth into the existing ordinance…Local dancers say the ordinance shouldn’t exist at all…”Don’t tell women they can’t work a f—king job when they’re adults,” says Lilith, a 27-year-old dancer at Babe’s Cabaret who started when she was 20. “To assume we’re all victims and have no other options or are forced to be there is simply disrespectful.”  Kelly says he is trying to protect young women…

Buttons, Bags & Banknotes Zoo Weekly

Bauer Media announced that Zoo Weekly would be closing “due to tough retail conditions”.  It has been declared that its October edition will be its last…it is a victory that Collective Shout, Australia’s most vocal anti-porn campaigners, is claiming as its own.  In August…Zoo Weekly was removed from Coles’ shelves after a “successful online campaign” was waged by Collective Shout…history has shown that Collective Shout’s real problem lies with the idea of women displaying their bodies in men’s magazines…The women who appear in these magazines, often dressed in string bikinis, have done so consensually and have been paid for their work…there have been no instances where Zoo Weekly has placed a woman on their cover without that woman’s approval…

A Tale That Grew in the Telling (#419)

Americans disapprove of teaching kids about sex, but they’re all for filling their heads with stupid anti-sex propaganda:

…North Carolina Senate Bill 279 would amend state sex-education standards to require all schools teach age-appropriate info on “the threats” of sex trafficking…The bill also says school administrators must collaborate with law enforcement agents when developing or presenting this material…Training cops on sex trafficking issues is often a collaborative effort by religious nonprofits and the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) who preach the new gospel of prostitution: that almost all women…were…forced into it and should be treated as victims; that the Internet fuels a thriving child sex-slavery trade; that “ending demand” for adult prostitution by targeting johns and using other tough-on-prostitution measures are necessary to stop children from being sold into sexual slavery; and that there’s a rampant and escalating problem with sex trafficking in the United States.  But there is no solid evidence that any of these things are true.  A DOJ-orchestrated, law-enforcement-centered sex trafficking “awareness” program for public school kids seems likely to spew the kind of fact-lite, panic-heavy propaganda that fueled school anti-drug programs like DARE…

The Course of a Disease (#423)

The Israeli journalist who wrote this article on brothels in Tel Aviv presents a much more nuanced view of sex work than one would see in the American media:

…Reports on prostitution tend to focus on exceptional cases, such as…an underage sex ring…[or] human trafficking, a phenomenon of the 1990s…They concentrate on…“notorious drug and prostitution den[s]”…[such as] the Hasan Arfa area…a warren of tin shacks and garages supposedly overrun by drug users and sex workers…[prohibitionist]  Rebecca Hughes…writes, “Most women do not choose to be prostitutes.”  The actual face of prostitution is more nuanced.  There are hundreds of brothels in Tel Aviv. Many of them operate openly, advertising their services on the street with business-sized cards scattered on sidewalks throughout the city by young men…

Innocence Never Had (#428)

Yet another attempt to cast young people as passive vegetables without agency:

On Tuesday night Sean ’Diddy’ Combs tweeted a petition asking the Associated Press to stop using the phrases “child prostitute” and “child prostitution” in their style guides and news stories.  “They are victims [and] survivors of rape,” he wrote, sharing a link to the Change.org campaign…Because the terms deal with the issue of people who are too young to consent to sex, let alone sex work, the group argues that saying “child prostitute” or “child sex worker” is both insensitive and factually inaccurate.  Instead, the group suggests that outlets refer to these children as “victims and survivors of child rape”…

No.  The number of underage sex workers who are “children” in any meaningful sense is virtually nil; the vast majority are above the age of consent, albeit below 18.  To call them “victims of child rape” is both insulting and factually inaccurate.

Imaginary Crises (#445) 

The people who profit from rape panic just won’t stop creating new bogus “studies” designed to uphold their cherished “1 in 5” myth:

More than 20 percent of female undergraduates at an array of prominent universities said this year that they were victims of sexual assault and misconduct, echoing findings elsewhere…The survey from the Association of American Universities drew responses from 150,000 students at 27 schools…Researchers acknowledged the possibility of an overstated victimization rate because there was evidence that hundreds of thousands of students who ignored the electronic questionnaire were less likely to have suffered an assault…

Here’s another hint: counting everything under “sexual assault and misconduct” as assault is the same as counting everything under “murder and assault” as murder.grumpy Gloria

The Leading Players in the Field, Not (#449)

This Indian critique of anti-whore “feminists” has especially strong words for Gloria Steinem:

…[Steinem’s] opposition to the AI proposal is based upon a rather parochial view of what sex work means to impoverished women, especially in developing countries…Since 2010 I have been engaged in ethnographic research with Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC)…Steinem visited  Sonagachhi in April 2012 on a six-day “learning tour”, under the guidance of Apne Aap Women Worldwide, an anti-[sex work] organisation…She called this tour a “life changing experience” because she met several women who were…victims of unspeakable abuse.  However…In the last five years I have only met a handful of women in Sonagachhi who were trafficked.  In the initial phase of this research I gathered stories of how the women arrived in Sonagachhi and a pattern soon emerged consisting of abject poverty, abandonment, hunger, motherhood, familial responsibilities, and finally survival.  Most women told me that they arrived in Sonagachhi through a friend, a relative, or a neighbour who was either working in and/or had contacts in Sonagachhi…The women also do not necessarily see their work as “making a choice” in the classic dyad of forced into, or chose to engage in, prostitution or sex work.  Rather, it is the absence of choice and the structural barriers of poverty that lead them to sex work…

Seizing Power (#567)

Backpage wants a federal appellate court to prohibit Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart from pressing credit card companies to de-fund the site…The company set the appellate process in motion…when it filed…paperwork to appeal U.S. District Court Judge John Tharp, Jr.’s refusal to grant a preliminary injunction against Dart…

Now They Notice

In another example of how the Rentboy raid is being treated differently from the many raids on female escort sites which preceeded it, here’s an interview with a gay Rentboy client; how often have you seen interviews with the clients of female sex workers, despite their far greater numbers?

…I now enjoy my sexuality in a way  in which I don’t think would have happened unless I hired escorts.  It’s specifically because the cash makes it professional.  It’s bad customer service for him to judge me for my interests…I’m not saying he has to put up with everything I want.  In fact, there’s some things that I’ve asked for that he says not to…If he says no, then it’s no…That professionalism and that distance is profoundly helpful.  It takes me to a place where I can just enjoy sexuality.  It’s nice and clean…I see laws against prostitution as intolerant…We know from Romer v. Evans, that mere moral prohibition against something is not sufficient grounds for making a practice illegal.  In Lawrence v. Texas, for the life of me, I cannot see how Kennedy’s reasoning about an ordered liberty about private choices between consenting adults doesn’t cover prostitution.  He has that weird declaration at the end of his opinion that this case has nothing to do with prostitution.  It comes out of nowhere, he just stuck it in there to cover his ass…It strikes me as profoundly cruel for people who have more barriers to an enjoyable sex life, to just criminalize a method that works for both parties…

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I’m thinking of hiring an escort to surprise my husband; I know he’d love it, but I’m not sure how I would react to it.  Any advice?

menage a troisIt’s a lovely idea, and the fact that you’re even considering it puts you in the class of cool, laid-back and sensible wives.  However, there’s often a gap between the spirit and the flesh, so there are several factors you ought to consider before actually going through with it.  First, you need to consider how jealous you might be deep down; though the very fact you’re thinking about this shows you aren’t sexually insecure, jealousy is a visceral reaction and it could surprise you.  Have you ever felt a twinge of it when you’ve seen your husband dancing with, flirting with or talking to another woman, or when he discusses old girlfriends?  Because if you have, you need to think about how you might react to watching him actually fuck another woman in front of you.  Even if it’s just a subtle discomfort, it could mar your enjoyment of the experience and even affect the way you feel about him immediately afterward.  As I always tell couples before we start, we’re there to give both of you an exciting evening, not to cause trouble between you.  So do think about how you might feel, and if you have a unexpectedly-negative reaction during the date you need to be honest about it rather than trying to bury it.

Another important factor is your relative level of bisexuality.  You didn’t mention what exactly your husband has said about three-ways in the past; do you think he just wants two women working on him, or would he like to see you making love to another woman?  Because lesbian contact between the women is an integral part of many men’s fantasies about this subject, you should be prepared for that; if you’re bisexual or strongly bi-curious this is a moot point, but if you’re neither it would be a good idea to think about how you would feel about kissing another woman, or having her go down on you.  I think it would be an excellent idea for you to read my two-part “Couples” column, which goes into depth about couple calls from the escort’s point of view; the second part compares one that went really badly with one that went really well, and I think the differences may be instructive for you.  If you decide you do want to try, here’s my advice on finding a good sex worker for the job.  Good luck, and have fun!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Though sex workers usually have stage names which are different from those our mothers gave us (or burdened us with, as the case may be), those of us who are activists often have another name.  Ayna is a Seattle sex worker, but that’s not the name on her advertising; you’ll see why when you read this essay.  It struck me as timely given that when I reminded readers of my bisexuality by announcing my lesbian relationship with Jae, at least one reader felt repelled enough to voice his disapproval; I’m sure there are clients who would react in much the same way.

I have a good twin.  Although we are not related we are similar enough in style, looks and interest that people often get us confused.  We are both writers who are short, curvy, bespectacled, curly-haired, queer gamer girls who laugh out loud and spill beer everywhere.  I want her hair; not in some weird hirsute Freudian way, but in a lusty “Rebel Girl” way.
I envy and covet her side shave immensely; side shaves in Seattle are code for queerness.  I become sexually aware in a repressed state adjacent to Washington, so my nascent entrances into queer culture were formed with hidden meanings and slow looks.  My brain goes into Sherlock mode when checking women out – key ring check, side shave check, reusable tote from co-op check – Code Level Purple – flirt is a go.  I still tend to to seek out queer symbols and codes in order to safety flirt with other women, and I envy her side shave because I have long, healthy, flowing, dark, curly hair.  I want her side shave so when I go into the queer spaces which have been my home for so long, I feel like I belong.

I envy my friend’s side shave because she has a job were it is okay to be openly queer, and even though I love doing sex work, it is one of the last places a female-identified person cannot be openly queer.  I still have to pass as a non-queer person to the majority of my white, male, mid-40s customer base; I can’t freak out the normal majority.  Plus, men love my hair; they caress it, run their fingers through it, seek me out because of it.  I give good hair.  We are socially groomed to believe that long hair is the same thing as feminine, and in the type of sex work I do (mid tier escort), the equation is feminine = attractive = money.  A non-sex worker has more freedom in doing what she wants with her body in the world place whereas sex workers do not.  A sex worker’s image, in order to gain the most money from the most clients, must be built, maintained and curated for the gratification of the normative male gaze; if I were to change my hair to a “queer” style (such as a side shave) I would lose money, since I would lose the male gaze.  I would be seen as a “feminist” (heaven forbid), not the (semi) complacent sex bunny that the majority of my clients open their wallets for.

Girl Sex 101I often ask for two hours notice before seeing visitors to my place; I let people believe this is so I can get ready.  But since I wear very little makeup and routinely clean my house, the “getting ready” part takes thirty minutes; what takes the rest of the time is what I call the “Queer Roundup”.  Allison Moon’s Girl Sex 101 quickly hid under the couch, flyers from Insert Coin (a fabulous queer dance party), tossed in the kitchen drawer, “Fuck Your Patriarchal Bullshit” pillow thrown in the closet.  I have to literally “straighten” my place up.  If my queerness is seen, my femininity/straightness is called into question; the idea that a femme presenting person can be queer is a bit beyond the scope of most people.  If there is any question that I am enjoying myself or am off the center mark for bisexual providers (bi enough to do duos for male pleasure, but not enough to actually seek women out), then not only is my sexuality under scrutiny, my business ethics are as well.  This scrutiny comes into play via social mores built by hobby boards/escort review boards.

Escort review boards prize the idea of the “authentic” GFE (Girl Friend Experience); there is a constant conversation/argument about who and what is or isn’t.  Rumors abound of lesbian sex workers and how awful they are by lying to men for money; they are bogeyman stories to scare sex workers into behaving in an acceptable manner.  Men like to believe that sex workers are all natural nymphs and would fuck them regardless of money; this frees them from class guilt, the stigma of paying for sex and other emotions that might accompany seeing a sex worker.  And this happy lie is fed to them in sex worker ad content, promotion and branding.  They believe in this lie so intensely that it becomes cultural truth.  While we accept that sex workers exist outside of cultural norms, they can not exist outside of client-created normative ideals; if I have a client over to my house and it is is covered in rainbow stickers and Queer Liberation posters, and Feeldoes are drying in the dish drain, this happy lie becomes an ugly truth.  And if there’s one thing that the majority of “hobbyists” don’t like, it’s the truth.

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It’s been a long time since I’ve done a movie review column, mostly because its been a long time since I’ve seen a movie; I don’t really like watching movies alone, and since Grace and I don’t always enjoy the same films and I was frightfully busy all last year, movies were just something that had been pushed way down in my time-triage hierarchy to somewhere below “clean the bathroom” and slightly above “stand outside and look up at the stars.”  But now that I’m living with Jae I’ve had to make adjustments, and movies have re-entered the picture (at least on occasion); Saturday night we watched a film which she thought would interest me on two levels, and I was not disappointed.

My NormalMy Normal (2009) is the story of Natalie, a young lesbian (Nicole LaLiberte) working as a dominatrix in New York; though she enjoys her work, she views it as a temporary gig on the way to a career in filmmaking.  She befriends her drug dealer Noah (Ty Jones), who has aspirations to be a screenwriter himself; soon afterward she enters into a new relationship with Jasmine (Dawn Noel), whom she meets at a club.  But while Noah accepts her work and the two of them collaborate on a screenplay based on her life, Jasmine finds herself increasingly troubled by Natalie’s work and sexuality, and pushes away from her out of fear and jealousy.  Eventually, though, Natalie learns that her sex work is neither something to be ashamed of nor a secret impediment to her goals, but rather a source of skills and connections that will enable her to realize them.

This is an independent film with good production values and a talented cast; it has a few noticeable editing issues and a couple of clumsy plot contrivances (such as the fact that Natalie and her three dominatrix friends all leave the dungeon where they work to pursue various life paths at apparently the same time).  It also suffers from a bit too much “Hollywoodness”: the first scene was way over the top and IMHO pandered too much to popular media BDSM stereotypes; the denizens of the lesbian bar were all young, attractive and conventionally-groomed; and the end was a bit too neat to be realistic (not to mention the fact that its use of recursion came across as cute rather than profound).  But despite these problems it is a fun, light film with likable, engaging leads and a satisfying conclusion, and its pro-sex work, anti-stigma message make it a breath of fresh air.  In a medium where most sex workers are portrayed as either pathetic victims or nigh-superhuman temptresses, the depiction of Natalie and her friends (and the enterprising drug dealer) as ordinary human beings doing their jobs and getting by like anyone else was both refreshing and inspiring; even the title carries the powerful message that no matter what outsiders may think of the lives of sex workers, they are absolutely normal for us.

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