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Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

Diary #437

It’s rare that I get to see Ghost Rider more than once in a month, but his visit this weekend was the penultimate in a series of social engagements starting at the beginning of last week which included celebrating the birthday of one of my friends on Wednesday (two days before her guest column posted), going to a play with Daedalus on Thursday, attending a dinner party at Savannah’s on Friday, then going with her and some other friends (including Lady Vi) to see Stormy Daniels on Sunday night.  It’s a good thing my brain has re-adjusted to the season, because otherwise I’d have been wiped out!  It was also one of those weeks wherein I was quoted in a number of articles, including this one by Stephen Lemons and another which will appear in Saturday’s news column.  I’ve also been asked when I’ll be traveling next, and to where; the holidays always make that problematic, but I’m definitely going to try flying out of Seattle at least a couple of times this winter before I expect the rate to increase due to movie screenings and speaking events early next year.  And that’s not even including Thanksgiving next week, which also means the start of my annual Christmas toy drive!  If you’re unfamiliar with this tradition (which I’ve practiced in one form or another since I was a stripper in the ’90s), take a look at this description from last year, and be ready to hit the ground running a week from Friday!

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Dedicating a day to the end of a war is a far different thing from using it to glorify the machinery of war.  –  “Armistice Day

One hundred years ago today, at eleven o’clock in the morning, the armistice which ended what was at the time called The Great War went into effect, bringing to an end a conflict like no other that had ever been seen before.  For over four years most of the advanced nations in the world (and their allies and colonies), spread across every inhabited continent, slaughtered each others’ citizens on an unprecedented scale, using all the weapons the Industrial Age had devised and a few new ones:  roughly 18 million people were killed and 23 million wounded, and whole countries were redrawn or wiped from the map entirely.  The monumental carnage was so traumatic it produced an entire “lost generation” and shaped art and literature for decades afterward; some idealists even believed that the horror was so great people would be shocked out of supporting warfare at all any longer, or else they absurdly chose to demonize the Germans as the font of all European conflict.  These beliefs converged in the popular term “The War To End All Wars”, which more sensible heads were already mocking before the war was over; even its originator, novelist H.G. Wells, was using it ironically by the early ’30s.  The ideas that humans could ever become sated with bloodshed, or that all violence springs from some evil “other” which need only be defeated to bring lasting peace to the world, are still popular among soft-headed naifs to this very day; they are close kin to the childish belief that the “right” people can be trusted with power over others.  The truth, of course, is far darker; it is that no human can be trusted with power over others, and that humans with the power to inflict violence on their neighbors will always do so upon the flimsiest pretext.  If there is anything that the past century has taught us, it is that the only war which will truly end all wars among humanity is the one in which the human species is finally obliterated.

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There is no “[sex trafficking] marketplace”, but rather all sorts of people selling and buying sex for their own reasons, some of them miserable.  –  Laura Agustín

License to Rape

Police states define the bodies of all citizens as “crime scenes” which can be violated by “authorities” at will:

San Diego County may not remove children from their homes and subject them to highly intrusive physical examinations without parental permission, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has ruled…The case stems from an April 2010 incident involving Michael and Melissa Mann and their four young children.  The Manns had apparently spanked at least one of the kids with a wooden spoon as a form of punishment…The county [abducted] the children…and [held] them in [custody]…while the parents went to court to regain custody…a doctor performed a 22-step medical exam requiring “blood samples and a gynecological and rectal exam…[including] separat[ing] the labia and look[ing] at the hymen”…County officials did not obtain a court order authorizing these examinations, nor did the parents sign off.  Indeed, the Manns didn’t even know [that]…their kids [had been molested] until one of them said something about it later…

Real People 

Universities are very slowly beginning to turn toward sex worker rights:

…Lady Lola Lightning…a 23-year-old [NYU] sophomore and Salem, Massachusetts native started playing with Periscope just five months ago….[and has] gathered a loyal following as a webcam model…she doesn’t use toys or do too many tricks; she just strips down and has a raw chat with viewers…along with her new job as a stripper in Brooklyn, she is able to pay for her entire tuition and living expenses without support from her family…

Not To Be Taken Internally (First Updates of the Year)

Please, y’all, do NOT let non-doctors inject liquid silicone into your bodies, unless you want to die:

On October 15, 2018, a 28-year-old Australian-born Seattle resident named Jack Chapman, also known as Pup Tank, died…he…was…romantically linked to Dylan Ray Hafertepen, a well-known member of the Dom/sub pup play communities in San Francisco and, later, Seattle…Hafertepen[‘s]…Tumblr (as well as the Tumblr accounts of several of his pups) contained numerous images of their engorged scrotums, dramatically increased in size due to liquid silicone injections.  In one picture, Tank’s testicles dangle outside of his basketball shorts, his nuts roughly the size of two dodgeballs…Since World War II, cosmetic surgeons and back-alley “pumpers” have offered liquid silicone injections as a quick and dirty form of plastic surgery…But such injections aren’t approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for cosmetic procedures because of adverse reactions.  Sometimes they harden into painful masses that appear like wormy tumors under the skin.  Sometimes the surrounding tissue gets infected…Other times, stray bits can travel through the bloodstream, causing [fatal] embolisms…Numerous articles have discussed trans women who end up disfigured or dead because of silicone injections by unlicensed pumpers.  But few mention the pumpers who offer silicone injections for gay men…Tank died from “silicone embolism syndrome”…[which] led to “pneumonitis”…bleeding in the lungs…and eventually…death…

The article is very long and very detailed, and describes what looks to me like a very abusive BDSM relationship.  But it wasn’t the emotional & psychological abuse which killed Chapman/Tank; it was misuse of a substance which has caused the deaths of many seeking quick, cheap body modification without proper medical safeguards.

The Notorious Badge

Looks like I’m not the only sex worker writing horror with sex worker characters:

Award-winning screenwriter Isa Mazzei did not have a welcoming introduction to the movie industry.  “I’ve…never been more sexually harassed than trying to sell this film in Hollywood,” she [said]…Mazzei, a former cam girl, has written one of the hottest horror movies on this year’s genre festival circuit.  Cam, which will debut on Netflix later this month, drags the audience inside the paranoia and perils of being an internet star.  Her success in creating a believable yet terrifying online dystopia was bolstered by its roots in Mazzei’s real fears, including the risks of being harassed, hacked, doxxed or assaulted…Mazzei had to endure the sleaze of movie execs who believed they could harass and belittle her because of her previous  sex work.  Lots of them asked her to share details from her past life, some suggested she was only credited as the screenwriter as a gimmick to help the pitch, while one owner of a Hollywood agency went so far as to write an alternate ending to the semi-biographical movie that included himself and Mazzei inserted into the script…

No Difference

African campaigns against homosexuality are a lot like US campaigns against sex work:

The governor of…Dar es Salaam…launched an anti-gay crackdown…calling on [collaborators] to begin reporting homosexuals for round-ups to begin next week…homosexuality is illegal in Tanzania, with same-sex acts between men punishable by a maximum life sentence.  “These homosexuals boast on social networks,” said [governor Paul] Makonda, a fervent Christian and loyal ally of President John Magufuli.  “Give me their names,” he demanded. “My ad hoc team will begin to get their hands on them”…Anti-homosexual sentiment is rife in Tanzania…and…has increased since Magufuli’s 2015 election…AIDS clinics have also been shut down under Magafuli, accused of “promoting” homosexuality, while he has encouraged women to abandon birth control and have more babies…

Somewhere in the Middle (#425)

Kate Iselin on myths about clients:

…Films and television shows cast clients as either sinister perverts who slither around in the darkness…or drug-addled millionaires looking for more Barbie-lookalikes to fill their yachts with for the weekend…Sure, not every client is perfect.  Some are far from it.  I could share a horror story or two about some who…disregard [hygiene or] boundaries…But clients like these are, thankfully, rare.  The majority of people who visit sex workers — whether they visit strip clubs, brothels, see private workers, or simply download some good, old-fashioned porn — are as normal and average as you and me.  They have jobs, and hobbies, and families, and social lives, just like anyone else…I believe it’s the heavy stigma around sex work that carries over to our clients, too: it makes sense that someone who thinks sex workers are immoral and disgusting would also feel the same about the people who pay to spend time with us…the belief that our clients are bad people is damaging not only to our clients themselves, but to the sex industry as a whole…

The Clueless Leading the Hysterical (#687) 

This is what a moral panic looks like:

The Drug Enforcement Administration [worked to drum up hysteria over] candy laced with marijuana and methamphetamine this Halloween.  The DEA St. Louis Division says there has been no [actual] threat, but [authoritarians are using the existence] of drug-laced edibles [in states where cannabis is legal to frighten the ignorant]…signs of marijuana or meth-laced candy include unusual wrapping, appearance, unusual colors, odd smell…candy…that is unwrapped or unmarked…

There has literally never been a case of a kid getting drugged candy in his trick-or-treat bag. Not a single one.  Every time the claim has been made, it turns out to be either an intentional hoax or some nefarious shit by the parents.

Full of Themselves (#787)

Puritanical language is an intrinsic part of any story about cops raiding massage parlors:

Police have posted notices at 18 massage parlors in Kent [Washington] saying that they will be shut down…after a monthslong [escapade involving vice cops getting happy endings at] businesses that they say were fronts for prostitution…some of the massage-parlor owners and employees have been charged with crimes and…[prosecutors] plan…to bring charges against any customers who engaged in prostitution…many of the businesses…were not licensed by the state and failed to follow regulations to protect the health and privacy of patrons…

“Fronts”.  “Prostitution”.  “Crimes”.  “Engaged in prostitution”.  “Regulations”.  And it’s pretty hilarious to see thugs pretending to give a shit about people’s privacy while simultaneously plotting to destroy their lives.

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic (#792) 

It’s good to see “sex addiction” collapsing as an excuse for bad behavior:

A former WAFB employee who secretly recorded two female station employees using the restroom in 2017 was sentenced to four months in prison…Morgan McDermitt…must also register as a sex offender for 15 years. His wife, upon hearing the sentence…ran from the courtroom sobbing…Judge Beau Higginbotham initially sentenced McDermitt…to four years in prison…but then suspended all but four months of the sentence. In July, Higginbotham refused to accept a proposed plea bargain in the case that would have only placed McDermitt on probation…The judge asked McDermitt, who sought sex addiction therapy after his arrest, why he did not seek help before he was caught…

Damned Lies (#866)

It’s good to see fact checkers demolishing politicians’ grandiose claims about Backpage:

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton…[claimed to have] “shut down the world’s largest human trafficking marketplace”…The Texas attorney general’s office helped shut down the Backpage website, which is what another Paxton ad says.  However, the federal government led the shutdown and officials in other states pitched in.  Significantly too, we otherwise landed no confirmation that the Backpage site, which profited from ads about sex, also was the world’s largest trafficking marketplace–a classification that experts found dubious and unverifiable.  All told, we rate this statement Mostly False…

Suppression

This is especially important because other states are trying the same scam:

…Pennsylvania [prisons will]…allow…book orders to resume through a new centralized processing center…The [censorship plan] was…[pretended] to eliminate drug smuggling into the prisons, [when in actuality all contraband comes in via screws]…[Chief Screw] John Wetzel said the new procedure was a response to criticisms by book-donation groups…The new policy…allows family and friends to order books to be shipped directly from publishers or bookstores to a secure processing center in Bellefonte, Pa., where staff will screen books five days per week.  It also enables inmates to place orders directly from a hard-copy catalog…the book-donation groups still have concerns about how the new process will play out, including how the [prison system] will ensure the packages reach the inmates who requested them, intact with all supplemental materials…Sean Damon of Amistad Law Project, which led protests over the book prohibition…[is] not satisfied, as other new security measures — including the scanning and surveillance of incoming mail, and the photocopying of inmate legal mail — remain in place…

Traffic Jam (#877)

Remember that “threat” a Hawaiian prohibitionist claimed to have received from “pimps”?

The recent publication of a hyperbolic study that purported to show an “astronomical” level of demand for sex workers in the Hawaii was punctuated by…Police…respond[ing] to a call regarding a purported threat of physical violence against [prohibitionist politician] Khara Jabola-Carolus…police concluded that there had been no physical threat…[what actually happened was that during] a conference call…one [prohibitionist claimed to]…hav[e] received a…text message [from Dominique Roe-Sepowitz which in turn claimed] that…some person or persons were “trying to get Jabola-Carolus fired”…

Signs (#878) 

Another state mandates indoctrinating hotel workers into being anti-whore snitches:

A state mandate now aims to [harass] sex [workers] in Minnesota through the state’s hotel industry.  The law requires all hotel and motel employees to be [indoctrinated] in [anti-whore propaganda].  The training must be completed by Nov. 28.  After that date, all new employees must be [indoctrinated] within 90 days of hire…the signs to look for [include] guest[s traveling light]…or [with their children]…“There might be signs in the room – for example, that they…request extra sheets and extra towels, [and enjoy their privacy]” said Minnesota [prohibitionist]…Beatriz Menanteau…

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In the past few weeks I’ve seen a number of Facebook posts urging people not to wear offensive Halloween costumes, which got me thinking:  Are you offended when “amateurs” wear “hooker” costumes?

I think the problem with the whole “offensive costume” thing is that, like nearly everything nowadays, it’s so incredibly overblown.  I totally understand why people from marginalized groups (including, but not limited to, black people, Amerinds and sex workers) are annoyed and offended when people from majority social groups who have never done anything to help them (and indeed support political policies that hurt them) use caricatures of their identities as costumes; it feels patronizing and kind of dehumanizing.  However, I draw the line at telling anybody else what to do, and I would actively fight any kind of institutional rules telling people what they can and can’t wear.  If some clueless amateur couple wants to dress up as “pimp and ho” caricatures I will mock them, tell them they’re classless imbeciles, and probably even mute them on social media; however, I would not support some puritanical bean-counter telling them that they were not allowed to make asses of themselves thus.  I’m of the “more speech” school; in other words, I think the most effective way of shutting down offensive anti-sex BS is to lob it back harder, as I do when I mock the “dirty whore” myth by featuring articles about sky-high STI rates among amateurs and declaring that they’re a public health menace who should be licensed and regulated.  So if I felt really strongly about some nitwit wearing a “whore” costume, I’d respond by creating an even more over-the-top and offensive “amateur” costume.

The worst excess of the “offensive costume” controversy, though, is people telling little kids that they’re not allowed to dress up as heroes of different races for Halloween.  If a little white girl wants to dress up as Moana, or a little Asian boy as Black Panther, or a little black boy as Batman, no adult has the fucking right to say anything about it…and frankly, I think it’s arse-backward anyway.  If a little kid’s greatest hero is someone of a different race, I consider that a good thing, not something to discourage; it brings us one baby step closer to the day when we start judging people by the content of their character rather than by the color of their skins or the sounds of their surnames.  And if a teenage girl wants to dress up as a famous whore like Calamity Jane or a fictional one like Inara from Firefly, not out of mockery but out of admiration, I have absolutely no problem with that.

(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 #436

I got a number of lovely gifts for my birthday last week. Angela Keaton described this flask (which I received from Jeremy Dunn, along with a smaller travel flask & an Alfred Hitchcock set) as “peak Maggie”.  Nattie Roman sent me a different Hitchcock set, and Daedalus gave me a sweater dress (and a grooming set for Shiloh!)  I also got some lovely things from my close friends (some of whom joined me for a small, quiet celebration Halloween night).  And I also received another, intangible gift:  birthday greetings from an online friend I haven’t heard from since I came to Seattle, but have often thought of quite often.  This was a little quieter birthday week than I’ve had for the past few years, partly because of the way things fell.  But it was good to have a few hours to visit with people I love, and to receive tokens of esteem and love from people I know both in person and online.  And when I’m in one of the dark moods that have been a regular part of my life since before puberty, it’s good to look at things like cards and gifts and remember that many people feel their lives are better for having known me.

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The most important lesson of the “Me Too” phenomenon has, of course, gone completely ignored:  it is the same as the most important lesson that ubiquitous cell phone video and Donald Trump’s presidency have taught us, which is that absolutely no one, no matter how respected by peers or loved by the masses or showered with professional accolades by superiors, can be trusted with power over other people.  Any power which can be misused, will be misused, and even if a given holder of power manages to do too little evil with it to be noticed, you can safely bet the farm that other individuals with the same power, either contemporary power-holders or inheritors of that power, will misuse it in some more spectacular fashion.  People with control over others’ livelihood will use it to extort sex; people with “authority” to inflict violence without personal consequence will do so, arbitrarily and capriciously, even upon women and children; people who believe themselves immune to the caprice of authoritarian thugs will not hesitate to summon those thugs in hope of inflicting violence upon others who somehow annoy or upset them; people with “authority” to impose ridiculous laws on others will do so even if they are fully aware of the damage those laws will do; and mad emperors supported by a chorus of sycophants will give orders so bizarre and logically incoherent they make the promotion of an actual horse to high political office look mild and benign in comparison.  And yet people refuse to learn what is right in front of their faces; they instead fetishize the magical power of “democracy” (a fancy name for mob rule) to somehow locate and elevate to rulership individuals who actually can be trusted with power, despite the obvious fact that no such human exists, or ever has, or ever will.

Humans are not yet ready for pure anarchy, and may never be; however, there are functional anarchist societies (I happen to be a member of one), and a small government of strictly-enumerated powers with ironclad guarantees of individual rights is probably the closest we will ever come to a just and incorruptible one.  As I wrote in “A Necessary Evil“, a large part of the problem is that people’s moral perspectives are blighted by a sick infatuation with government, a belief that there are some circumstances in which it’s not only tolerable but desirable to inflict violence on people who have done none to others, in furtherance of some pipe-dream of Utopia.  But this is the vile and barbaric belief-system of savages; as I point out every year on this day, nations and empires are as mortal as living creatures, and none enjoy the mandate of Heaven.  As I wrote in “Tiger, Tiger“:

…no person is morally bound to obey “authorities” merely because he or she happens to be physically located within imaginary lines on a map…the moral authority of ANY politician…is exactly as legitimate as the moral authority of a tiger pissing on trees to mark its territory.  In other words, one should be mindful that there’s a dangerous and irrational animal in the area…but that animal’s behavior doesn’t represent “justice” or a “social contract” or “divine right” or anything else but the predictable behavior of a violent animal with no understanding of what right & wrong actually mean.  “Authorities”, like tigers, are best avoided unless they’re locked up in cages where they can’t maim others…they are NOT to be given…any kind of obedience or deference except what’s minimally necessary to get away safely if one happens to run into one…

There is not and in fact cannot be any such thing as “legitimate” authority, whether that authority is chosen by elections, lots, birth, examining goat entrails, or pulling swords out of lakes.  And until humans collectively get that through their thick simian skulls, we are doomed to suffer an endless succession of evil rulers stomping on human freedom and dignity until they at last succeed in wiping us all out.

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When [the universe is] over it will fade away, leaving nothing behind except the fact that it existed, and that it was savagely beautiful.  –  “Whistling Past the Graveyard

Every year on this day, the Day of the Dead, I publish a thanatopsis, a meditation on death.  This is not to say that I myself only think about it at this time of year; as regular readers already know, Death and I are old friends, and “when he at last come to collect me it will be a rendezvous rather than a capture.”  Accordingly, he’s never very far from my thoughts, and I generally think and speak about him with the nonchalance most people think and speak about minor medical problems; at a recent checkup, my doctor questioned my disinterest in undergoing an expensive and extremely unpleasant cancer-screening test which is apparently considered routine for people above 50, to which my response was a shrug and “I’ve got to die of something.”  Some people think this odd, but I remind them that I am a courtesan, and sex and death are but two sides of the same coin:  the former is the door through which we enter the world, and the latter the door through which we leave it.  For the first few millennia of human civilization, sex-goddesses were usually also associated with war and death; the Sumerian Inanna was the twin sister of Ereshkigal, ruler of the dead, and once tried to usurp her sister’s throne (a misadventure which resulted in the death of Inanna’s husband, the vegetation-god Damuzi, and therefore the origin of the seasons).  And Mexican sex workers are among the most devoted worshipers of Santa Muerte, the personification of death.  My belief in the goodness of death is not merely a result of my pagan philosophy, though; it is also based in the practical understanding of the inevitability of death and its role as the redistributor of resources from the moribund to the young, and also in an unsentimental recognition that gerontocracy is the enemy of human progress:

…if you like working your arse off to support the decades-long retirements of a bunch of old dinosaurs whose cognitive norms formed a generation before you were born, just imagine how much you’d love it right now if 90% of the population were born before the Second World War, and a sizeable fraction of the people voting on stuff like sexual rights came of age in an era when it was still considered OK for humans to actually, legally own other humans.  The current rulers of our world were mostly born in the 40s-60s, and their ideas provide ample proof of that; imagine how it would be if most of them had been born in the 19th century…

Humans may be the smartest monkeys, but we’re still monkeys, fragile creatures controlled by poorly-developed minds dominated by primitive fears and foolish ideas.  So perhaps it’s fitting that Western culture’s impending demise is being driven by tyrants whose destruction of freedom and justice is enabled by the masses willing to give them any power in exchange for their impossible promises to delay death, both personal and cultural, just a little longer.

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