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Back Issue: April 2013

I am supposed to accept…that the laws of biology are suspended for human beings, or that the laws of logic and economics somehow do not hold when sex is involved, without any proof whatsoever…despite the fact that these things are roughly as credible as the claim that a group of six-headed lemurs from 61 Cygni has established a colony in downtown Hoboken.  – “Not Rocket Science

Mulberry Police by Ricardo Cortés (2013)Even though there were far fewer holidays in April than in the previous months of 2013, the number of columns which fell outside of categories was still relatively small because of the regular Wednesday and Friday features.  The holidays fell at the beginning and end of the month; it started with my April Fool column “Mulberry Street“, a Dr. Seuss homage (followed the next day by “The Story Behind the Story“, which gave some background detail).  And it ended with “May Eve“, which on this occasion looked at scary TV episodes.  This month’s fictional interlude was “Genius Loci” and its harlotography “Skittles“, and though there was no “favorites” column this time there was a song column, “I May Sell You Some of Mine“.  It was in the weekly features, though, that the numbers really racked up: my Wednesday Q&A columns this time were “Natural Processes“, “Garbage In, Garbage Out“, “Dry Run” and “Vice Versa“; and my Friday Cliterati reprints were “Awakening“, “China Dolls“, “Under the Bus” and “Monsters“.  falling rocksAnd after the news and links columns, that left only eight more: “Under Every Bed” ridiculed the expansion of “sex trafficking” hysteria to small towns; “I Saw My Brain” featured a bizarre criticism of a tyrannical Florida Sheriff; “Not Rocket Science” used illustrations from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to explain the concept of “burden of proof”; “Theatrics” showed how real exploitation which doesn’t fit the “sex trafficking” narrative is ignored; “Credit Where Credit is Due” called attention to a rare clever article in Jezebel; “The End of the Beginning” questioned whether the “sex offender registry” witch-hunt may be slowing; “The Auctioneer Effect” explained why penalties and restrictions always ratchet up; and “They Don’t Want To Know” looked at how the media self-censor to prolong ignorance about sex.The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali (1931)

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Diary #303

Maggie & Chester 4-17-16 The early part of last week was pretty quiet, as tax week often is; I probably should’ve made time to open the book-thickness sheaf of forms that my CPA sent me (apparently laboring under the misapprehension that I’m actually going to fill them out).  But since taxes give me actual anxiety attacks (that audit in 2003 which I was still paying for until last year probably has something to do with it), I put it off and I’m just going to send her my bank info and answer any questions she might have.  The weekend was great, though; on Saturday night I chatted on stage with Chester Brown at his book signing, and on Sunday we hung out together all afternoon.  We signed 10 books together (Chester’s signature in each includes a unique custom sketch), and I’m going to be selling them as a limited edition (I’ll devote a column to the particulars this Thursday).  Also, Chester agreed to do the cover art for my next short story collection, The Forms of Things Unknown; he took some reference pictures and I promised him I’d start working on the book in the next few weeks.  He definitely inspired me to get off my high-priced arse and start working on it, and I think once I get this one out I should have developed a pattern that will enable me to finally finish The Essential Maggie McNeill as well, and maybe start working at last on my Big Project.  That’s the theory, anyway.

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China Nympho CreamWould you write something for me?

No.

You wrote something for So-and-So!

So-and-So is a personal friend of mine, and I rarely say no to friends.

Will you do it if I pay you?

Sure, as long as it’s on a topic I care about or think is important.

What if I want you to say a specific thing?

You mean like writing you an ad?  If I were any good at that, I’d make a lot more money than I do.

Well, could I write a guest post and pay you to publish it?

Don’t even go there.

But you have guest posts every month!

Yeah, from people I invite; they’re guests, not infomercials.

Well, some of your guests are definitely selling things.

Yes, and those people are friends.  Did you miss the part where I’m loyal to my friends?

Do you have something against monetizing your reputation?

You’re kidding, right?

So, what’s the harm in my paying you to call attention to my product?

Nothing, if your product is any good and I’ve actually used and liked it.  Like, for example, I don’t mind giving Steak ‘n Shake restaurants a plug because I freaking love Steak ‘n Shake and will eat there every time I get the chance.  Hell, I once did a whole column on Waffle House.  But if you’re, say, a Nevada brothel where I’ve never worked, I’m not going to sing your praises just because you paid me to.  I’m the Honest Courtesan, remember?  If I like your book, movie, restaurant, brand of lube or whatever I’ll praise it, and if you want to give me money to really emphasize that praise I won’t turn you down.  But if your product is shitty I’m not going to damage my reputation by endorsing it.

I think you’ll like my product; how do I get you to try it?

Well, publishers do it by offering me promotional copies.  And right now I’m testing out a service that I may end up endorsing pretty soon, provided it measures up as it looks like it might.  If you genuinely think I’ll like what you have to offer, and you think my name will lend respectability to whatever it is, and I think you’ll be a friend to the sex worker community, and you’re willing to support my work by giving me lovely money, please feel free to email me and we’ll talk.  The worst thing that can happen is I’ll tell you “no”.

(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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No Fooling

1434So, did I fool you yesterday?  If you don’t have any idea what I’m talking about, try Googling Bérénice, Madame de Pascal.  And don’t feel bad; with the exception of 2013’s “Mulberry Street“, which was obviously a parody, I’ve managed to fool a large fraction of my readers every April 1st for the last 6 years.  Which is a roundabout way of saying “April Fool!”

I guess what allows these annual tricks to succeed is my reputation for scrupulous honesty (it’s right there in my blog’s title!) coupled with an utterly deadpan presentation; unless you were actually looking for it, yesterday’s faux harlotography looked and sounded a lot like every other specimen of the feature I’ve ever done.  Of course, there’s a good reason for that; it actually was every other specimen of the feature I’ve ever done.  What I mean by that is, I just clicked on the “harlotography”  category, scrolled down, copy-pasted the last sentence of the most recent harlotography, then the penultimate sentence of the next one, etc.  When I was done I had a hodgepodge of sentences which more or less delineated a composite whore’s life, then all I had to do was edit it until it made some semblance of sense, et voilà!  A credible-sounding biography of a harlot who never existed, complete with links to the lives of real people who never heard of her.  Even her name was a composite created by borrowing letters from all the different ladies’ names, and then hammering on it a little until it looked like a real name.  The reason she turned out French was because I’ve written about so damned many French whores, and she ended up in the 17th century because it looked right and nestled in well with Cardinal Mazarin’s name, which ended up in the text in the sentence borrowed from Hortense Mancini’s bio.  Even the epigram was created from bits belonging to the epigrams from the Empress Theodora, Mata Hari and the Madame de Pompadour.  And the pictures?  Pure serendipity; I just looked up 17th-century French portraits whose subjects are not definitely known, and happened on two who looked alike (but probably are not actually of the same woman).

So there you are:  the anatomy of a fairly effective (at least, I hope so) hoax.  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed fooling y’all!

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Back Issue: March 2013

“Problematic”…basically means “forcing me to think about things I’d rather not think about”.  – “Watershed

Saturn Devouring His Son by Francisco Goya (c 1820)You’ve probably noticed that these “back issue” columns have grown much shorter; it’s because three years ago, my procedures were changing so that a large fraction of each week was taken up by columns of a predetermined type.  The weekends, of course, were news and links columns; Wednesdays featured Q&A columns (this month’s were “Second Look” and “Quack, Quack“) and Fridays reprints from my columns in Cliterati (this month’s were “Vulnerability” and “A Fate Worse Than Death“).  You’ll notice that there are only two of each of those rather than four; that’s because holidays (in this case International Sex Worker Rights Daythe Vernal Equinox and  Easter) and monthly features (in this case the harlotography “Tullia d’Aragona” and the fictional interlude “Mercy“) pre-empted them.  Gumby brain specialistDiaries wouldn’t become a weekly feature for another year, but this month had one in “Comfort Zone“; there were also representatives of one regular (“My Favorite Short Stories“) and two semi-regular (“Struttin’ My Stuff” and “Book Review:  SuperFreakonomics“) features.  And once all that’s out of the way, there aren’t a lot left to describe.  “Puppet Show” reveals the prohibitionist use of shills and sock puppets to make themselves seem more numerous; “No Friend of Ours” explodes the myth of Nevada’s whore-friendliness; “Checklist” looks at the absurdity of “signs of sex trafficking”; “Banishment” discusses the return of an old punishment for “sex offenses”; “Watershed” speculates about the possibility of a reversal of the anti-sex worker trend; “Original Sin” explores the origin of “sex trafficking” hysteria in religious beliefs; “Absolute Corruption” profiles one tragic victim of the last major moral panic, and “Dutch Threat” examines Dutch politicians’ attempt to undermine the sex industry there.Victorian faint

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Under Construction

minkFor over a year now, people have been asking when my next book is coming out.  And for almost that long, I’ve been saying “soon”.  Of course, I was wrong; it hasn’t been anything like soon, and I’m sorry about that.  It’s just that, as everyone following for the past year and a half knows, real life intervened.  In spades.  With brass knuckles on, after she had already drugged my drink, tied my shoelaces together and stolen my distributor cap.  Since arriving it Seattle, it’s a miracle I’ve even managed to get a column out every day, much less do any other writing.  But I am beginning to dare to think that phase might finally be coming to an end.  I’ve had a lot more time for myself recently, and though I’ve had to use a lot of it to play catch-up, that can’t last forever.  I honestly think I might finally be reaching a point where I’ll have both the time and the energy to start putting books together again, which would be sort of nice on a number of levels; I’ll let you know how that progresses, but I’m not going to humiliate myself again by announcing yet another probable release date and then failing spectacularly to meet it.  I’ve also been thinking about having a portfolio of nudes done; if I do, I’ll send them for the asking (and postage) to any subscriber or patron, and they’ll be available for purchase to anyone else.  Because what’s the use of being a sex symbol if one can’t monetize it?

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Not Last Night

I was born at night, but not last night.  –  Dr. Helena

laptop nudeAs most of my regular readers know, I get a lot of questions; nearly every Thursday I answer one in a column, and that doesn’t even count the interviews requests from journalists, academics, students and others.  I try to make time for as many of these as possible, and usually I succeed even if it takes a while (and even if the answer is just a link to a previous column in which I’ve already covered the topic).  But while I can justify answering reader questions in print because, after all, I get a column out of it, I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask that y’all please refrain from asking me to do email interviews any more (unless you’re offering payment).  The problem is this: while I’m sure it’s very convenient for you to have my answers all neatly typed out for you to cut-and-paste as needed, it takes much longer for me to type all that out than it would to just say it to you.  Furthermore, typing an answer requires my undivided attention, while talking on the phone does not; last summer I gave several interviews while driving cross-country, and I’ve even done them while sitting on a train, lying in bed naked or walking around in the grocery store.  And given the paucity of free time I have and the vehemence with which my friends are insisting I make more of it, I hope you’ll forgive me if I insist that from here on out, I restrict myself to the easy voice interviews rather than the time-and-labor-intensive email variety.

There is one certain kind of email interview, however, which I’m going to single out for attention.  Just recently, I got an interview request from a high school student which was clearly nothing more than the questions he received as part of a assignment, and he thought he could fool me into answering them for him.  Now, this wasn’t the first time I’ve received such a letter, so even though I’m answering him the rest of you smartass students need to listen up as well:  Listen, kiddo, I didn’t just fall off of the fucking turnip truck.  Don’t let my spectacular bod fool you; I’m old enough to be your grandmother, and I was probably outwitting teachers before your parents were born.  I’ve been around the block more times than you’ve masturbated, and if you think you can trick me into doing your homework, you need to be slapped harder than I’m willing to give you for what you can afford.  It’s bad enough when adult reporters try to get me to do their work for them, but it reaches a higher level of impudence when the person who thinks he can outwit me isn’t even as old as the last bottle of wine I drank.  So cut that shit out; if you want to interview me come up with some proper questions, record it, then write the damned paper yourself.  The practice will do you good, and one day you’ll thank me when you become an actual writer rather than a fucking stenographer whose “craft” consists of parroting whatever moronic propaganda the cops are shoveling out at press conferences in the late 2020s.

(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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