Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Wendy Delorme on Art and Understanding

A quotation from French queer writer and performer (Quatrieme Generation) Wendy Delorme on audiences of sex art. I particularly prescribe to this idea as deft activism and good translation between cultures and ideas as a performer, pleasure activist and whore:

"If you have no chance to change their minds, the fuck them, be in their face; but if there is a chance to change their minds, well then use some lube!"

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Whores Are Breeding

Here at the Desiree Alliance conference, the sex workers are rolling in, dressed up and down and I'm experiencing the heat and tickle that I always get in a room full of excited hos. Chicago is humid as shit, but here in Avondale you could slice the sex into fat buttery chunks. But this year, not only are the conference attendees hot and fired up with righteous justice, many of them are also bedecked with tiny soft bundles of adorable young drool meat.
So now my cunt is flapping like a fish on a red-lit dock and my breasts are pulsing with phantom milk. Whores with babies. Damn.

I'm so jealous, I want one.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sex Workers' Writing Workshop

This is a writing workshop for people who work or have worked in all
areas of the sex industry to share their writing and get honest,
non-judgemental feedback. Workshop participants are not obligated to
write exclusively about sex work, but writing about work in the sex
industry (as well as writing about other topics) will be welcomed.
This will hopefully be a place where people can write and share about
their sex work experiences without having to censor themselves,
explain every detail, or endure stupid questions and moral judgements.
Beginning writers are encouraged to attend along with more seasoned

We will write using a modified version of the Amherst method: A
writing prompt will be given, people will write for 30-45 mins, and
then we will share what we've written and get feedback if we want it.

When?: The first and third Wednesday of every month, starting July 2nd, 7pm-9pm.
Where?: The Center for Sex & Culture, 1519 Mission Street, San Francisco
How much?: Sliding scale $10-20 (more if you can, less if you can't,
*nobody* turned away)
Who's teaching this, anyway?: Gina de Vries is a queer femme writer,
rabble-rouser, activist, sex worker, proud pervert, and Paisan. She
co-edited (with Diane Anderson-Minshall) the queer youth anthology
[Becoming]: young ideas on gender, identity, and sexuality, and her
fiction, journalism, memoir, and smut have appeared dozens of places,
including: Baby, Remember My Name: An Anthology of New Queer Girl
Writing, Dirty Girls, More Five Minute Erotica, TransForming
Community, That's Revolting!: Queer Strategies for Resisting
Assimilation, Bound to Struggle: Where Kink & Radical Politics Meet,
The Revolution Starts at Home, make/shift magazine, and Curve magazine
(where she was a columnist from 1997-2004). Gina curates shows for
long-running queer performance series San Francisco in Exile, blogs
for national LGBT blog Bilerico.com, and teaches writing workshops
wherever willing pupils will have her. She also serves on the Advisory
Board of the Center for Sex & Culture, and the Board of Youth Trans &
Intersex Education Services. She can be cruised online at
ginadevries.com and queershoulder.livejournal.com.

by Gina de Vries

Monday, May 12, 2008

24 Hour Vigil and Meditation in Honor of Deborah Jeane Palfrey

The beautiful, informed and incredibly insightful (she was the first to introduce me to the idea of sex worker as sexual orientation, an idea that resonates deeply with me) Surgeon Scofflaw wrote a moving piece about the death of the DC Madam and what its says about us; as a society as well as a community.

Starting at 4pm pacific time, there will be an International vigil and meditation of remembrance:

"So today, beginning at midnight GMT (6pm Central, 4pm Pacific) for 24 hours we’re holding a conscious meditation, vigil, or remembrance of Ms. Deborah Jeane. Light a candle, say some words, or sit in silent meditation with us. We’ll be sitting for 1 hour at midnight pacific time (8am GMT) and consciously holding her, and what her death means for all of us, in our thoughts all day."

Friday, May 9, 2008

From the mouths of babes, or in this case, a dude...

Sexual Linguistics is a little like the Great Barrier Reef. While so much has been covered, from the overly scientific sounding (tribadism?) to the commonplace (wanker) to the improbable and much mythologized (dirty sanchez as Great White attack? most people don't want to be on the business end of either...), there is still a lot of room for research and "discovery".

Last week, Beltane day, I was sitting in a classroom in a local high school as part of a 'sexual identity panel' for health class, peopled by about 10 students, age 14-18. The class started with a presentation on sexual identities from a girl who did great research and made an abridged queer history of the US though she endearingly mispronounced 'Sappho' and 'Kinsey'. Her timeline was so informative, I took notes. As part of her report she asked her classmates to identify a list of words describing sexual identities, they had been given a hand-out with such a list the previous week.

During this exercise one boy hesitatingly raised his hand and asked: "What about people, like narcissists, are there people who only like having sex like that?" Immediately several panel members chimed in with 'Narcissexual', meaning a person attracted to or engaging sexually with people who behave or look just like them. This young boy was credited with coining a new term, which once spoken had immediate resonance with the sex-savvy panel.

I'm sure most of us know one.
A couple who are practically indistinguishable?
Someone who prefers the company of other themselves?
Shit, this new nomenclature may wander a little too close to home...

Anyway, a few days later I'm sharing malts with the venerables Dr. Carol Queen and Robert Lawrence and knowing their fascination with all things sexual, especially new developments; I recount the story of the origin of narcissexual. Without missing a beat (not to mention a sip of malt) Robert replies:
"Hmm...Narcissexual....so if they were into group sex would it be a Dopplegang-bang?"

What can I say?
It takes a young naive mind to find the new word and an old-ish* pervert to find the bad pun.

And I love that pervert for it.

*He calls himself "old", I added the "ish" because I'm not so sure...

Friday, April 11, 2008

Spitzer!? I hardly know her! (But if it's consensual, I'm in....)

What a set-up.
Through a convoluted series of events (that *did* involve a possible Britney-Spears-on-the-lam sighting) your whore finds herself sitting in on a ivy league undergrad Adult Psychopathology class. It's the first class back after Spring Break in a stadium-type lecture hall. I'm already sick to death of professors' glib references to their student body's tans. Was it really like this when I was upper-middle class on the East Coast? I guess it was.

The teacher who also has a private practice, comes in and starts a spiel about his spring break, seeing patients. Actually, I'm not sure if he's a psychiatrist or psychologist, so maybe they're "clients". Anyway, he starts right in with "So have you all heard much about the Elliot Spitzer scandal?" "Uh-oh", I say to my enrolled friend, not really under my breath, "this is going to piss me off."

And sure enough, it did.

Teacher is a middle aged white man with glasses and a smugly apologetic face, like he's practiced looking like a likable, compassionate oaf with a sense of humor when really he's just a small-minded manipulative jerk. Now, I admit, I am greatly biased based on my experience with East Coast mental health care providers, but this guy had one of those faces and mannerisms that I think they teach in psych school over there: 'trust me, like me, so i can ignore and control you.' But I only saw him for an hour, he may be a perfectly good clinician.

Anyway, Teach is talking about his patients/clients, and how last week they all wanted to talk about Spitzer. My friend warns me that this is just an opening monologue, some musings that have no real relevance to today's class. Teach goes through the various takes and reactions of his patients/clients, and I'm just waiting for it, but he's making a point. And then he delivers:
(approximate quotation) "And some people felt it was a victimless crime, which is outrageous if you think about how these women are enlisted and treated and why they do that work."

A $4000 escort to politicians is really a depraved, desperate victim!?! Really!??!?
My face is hot and I'm fidgeting in my seat and just as I predicted, I'm pissed.
This man thinks with his mock-insight and pseudo compassion he knows anything about the multiplicity of realities of what being a sex worker might mean? Of course he does, he teaches psych at an Ivy League school. Now I'm making idiotic generalizations, but then again, I'm not "teaching" them to 300 college students, some of whom might actually be intellectually curious and trying to learn how to think. The worst is that his comment is the "twist", in his narrative, *he's* the one taking sex workers into consideration. It's amazing how ignorance can be so infuriating.

And how many of those students with their massive tuition and big, hard student loans have turned a trick or danced a shift or sold phone sex on niteflirt? And how many will soon? Does he really presume that at a school full of presumably curious young people with $36,000 a year price tags on their education, none are supplementing their income or their scholarship with sex work? I mean what's more classic than the clueless asshole psychiatrist if not the cute young escort working her way through school?

As far as I can tell, in cases like these the exploitation and victimization all starts with the media invasion of privacy and sentiment that sex workers are easy grist for the mill, less worthy of protection. "Kristen" may be using the scandal to further her singing career, which would be a shrewd spin on having your life broken into and your given name suddenly synonymous with "scandal" on a Google search.

Anyway, the "reality", or rather the media fabricated simulacrum of reality of the story of Kristen and Elliot Spitzer has been covered enough. I'm more interested in how this story gets passed down to intelligent, hard working young people as a reinforcement of the 'common sense' theory of sex work, that all sex workers are pitiable victims; even though this story seems to pretty clearly defy the mainstream vision.

I've been putting off writing an email to that psych teacher. I wanted to confront him after class when the fire was still in me, but a wave of anxious students immediately subsumed him. It seems so much harder to defend and explain about the great spectrum of people and experiences that constitute sex work when I loose the power of connection from a face to face conversation.

I wonder how many of the students in that room paused when he said that? Or did they all just swallow it, as I once would have; as a good point, as common sense.

Oh, and the point of Teach's monologue? You guessed it.
Mr. Spitzer is a very sick man.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Berlin Turned Sexy Overnight

Well days 2-5 dispelled my notion of Berliners lacking sexuality, and thank Goddess for that.

In fact there was so much whorey and sexuality input that I don't have time to do justice to the two sex worker related highlights of my experience there so far right now. I'm in Prague for one day need to survey the scene here, which I've heard is running amok with rent boys. Ah, that twisted smile is spreading, I so want to dress like Oscar Wilde with pockets full of money, condoms, bon mots and silver cigarette cases. In my incredibly breif research on Prague I stumbled across this interesting tip: the age of consent is 15, though it jumps to 21 if money is exchanged.

So Thursday night in Berlin while full of anticipation about a giant plate of spaetzle I spy a four-pack traipsing by, who then decide to stop and peruse the menu at Spaetzle Express (heh). They are ever so slightly dark/gothy but look mostly normally dressed except one girl in shiny black jacket, thigh high pvc boots, opaque black tights, dark lipstick and a severely angled straight black bob. Aha! That was what I was waiting for, in that moment she personified the Berlin I was hoping to see.

And it just got better and better from there, though an incidnet at a queer party leads me to suspect that Berliners are not quite as sex-positive as I would have guessed. I know, its not the 20's anymore, and I hate cocaine, so I'm mostly fine with that. But nostalgia for the glamour of a time you never knew is just so lusciously seductive. It's so easy to feel that one belongs there, in the past, when one gets the overwhelming impression they don't belong here, in the present.

Greta from "A Muse Tonight" did in fact write back, and quite sweetly too, although as suspected it didn't make sense for her to employ me for such a short duration since all of her business is through the presentation of the Muses on her website. But she was highly complimentary of my pictures and site and a ho always likes her feathers preened, especially by others in the biz.

Friday night I went to the PoopsyClub, a semi-underground monthly queer dance party, with bands and djs and a bit of drag performance. Arriving at 11:30 it was sparsely populated, Berliners go out late. I was offered a discount on entry because I was at that point one of the most dressed-up people there. I stayed until about 5 am, not being able to tear myself away from an eventually hopping party for the prospect of a U-Bahn ride and spending 10 euro to check out my other otpion: Angel in Bondage, a goth fetish party at a sex-dance club called Insomnia. (This place looks kind of amazing, and I still hope to check it out, though I am sorry I missed AiB, as it seems like the most relevant event to my interests during my stay.) So the night began at a club thats kind of like a warehouse or office space called "West Berlin" with me over-dressed as usual and mustachioed and glittered as frequent, being asked to have my picture taken by two different sets of people. That always feels nice, especially when I' m out alone in a unfamiliar town.

I end of meeting a lively an attractive cast of characters (a number of whom are from SF, ironically) and having a great time freaking out and dancing my ass off. The crowd seemed a little self-concious until about 2:30 when folks were pretty well drunk, but it was great to shake things up and make friends both sober and by myself. There was an unpleasant incident when a very drunk dude went nuts on stage and shook up a whole 1.5liter bottle of bannana nectar and then threw it; smashing it and covering the stage with juice and glass shards and all the coats and bags with sticky bannana scented goo. Remind me to tell you the story of this year's Sex Worker Art Show, but suffice it to say, bannana as a flavoring is amongst my very least favorites, so that was kind of a worst nightmare moment, but the show, she goes on.

Anyway, the dance floor was a smoky throbbing room bloated with body heat. It got damn, damn hot in there. I purposely dressed in layers so that I could survive the walk in the frigid Berlin leap year night and then take things off if I got too hot: a pinstripe vest over a white button down over a black mesh shirt over a red bra. So I started taking it off, first the white shirt.
No big deal.
Maybe half an hour later I felt stifled so the mesh came off, though with a Zoolander-esque (really? am I really using that as a point of reference?) move I didn't remove the buttoned-up vest.
Perhaps a few glanced askance.

But when I finally succumbed to the unbearable heat and unbuttoned my vest and let it hang loose over my bra, I felt an instantaneous vibe change. People sniffed. People talked to each other, eyebrows shrugging towards me. People (except my new gender queer popper-crazed Aussie goth friends) didn't dance as close. I am familiar with the feeling, suddenly I had over-sexed the place. Really!? Berlin? Queer party can't handle my (mostly contained) tits? Aww, shucks. And then the drunk dudes started lunging. Woah, its been years. Seriously, years since sweaty hands connected to slurring men started homing in on me without warning or apology.

Again, really? Berlin? Queer party? Maybe they can't "handle" my tits, but they sure want to *handle* them. I started feeling that whole "asking for it" story, and then I got irked.

( I paid the price though, just like the whores in the movies always do, well not really, *much* less violent. Not only did the dudes start a-groping, but I ended up accidentally leaving the mesh shirt, which I've had for like 10 years(!) in the bannana-coat smoothie. See, that's what you get.)

This is not the "anything goes" sexually comfortable (and naughty! and indulgent!) atmosphere I was hoping for. Shit, I brought my speculum in case an opportunity for a cervical show and tell presented itself, they all got off easy. I mean, I was wearing a bra! I feel like a shirtless girl-type drenched in sweat at a SF queer party seems pretty common-place and even celebrated, but perhaps I'm gazing at my town's sex-positivity through rose colored glasses. Or perhaps its too easy after 5 years to forget how exceptionally good we have it back there. Which is one of the top 5 reasons I like to travel. So I learned something a little sad about local culture and regained some respect and gratitude for good 'ole pricey, snobby, lovely home, and I ended the night dancing with a knit full-face lion head hood on, smelling worse than I've ever smelled, and crazy making out with cute girl with possible glass shards on her back; so just like an afterschool special I got both a lesson and a happy ending.
Well not coloquial "happy ending", I chose (despite adorably drunk pouty faced looks) to go home alone, but it was great none the less.