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A new walking tour explores Bada Hutong, Beijing's red light district for almost 600 years. Gabrielle Jaffe went along.
"Welcome to my humble brothel," jokes Simon Gjeroe, our 6ft-plus guide. Kowtowing to fit through the doorway, he ushers us into a two-storey building that was once one of Beijing’s bordellos.
At first it’s hard to picture this scene as we stand in this dilapidated house, with half-exposed brick walls and broken banisters. Then Simon asks us to look up from the interior courtyard and imagine the girls in their white silks coyly staring down at us from the second-floor gallery.
Simon and his fellow Dane Lars Thom are the perfect guides for this new tour, which started in May. These enthusiastic historians and founders of the popular Beijing Postcards shop have lived in China for more than a decade, spending much of their time chasing down stories and pictures of old Beijing in local archives and flea markets. At our second stop, they point out a stone carving above a doorway, which in Mandarin reads “collected treasure” – a euphemism, apparently, for the high-class prostitutes who once lived inside.
Today this duo aren’t just showing us around former houses of ill repute; they are helping us follow in the tiny bound footsteps of one of the area’s most famous residents: Sai Jinhua, the “Golden Lily” courtesan whose roller-coaster life saw her earn a reputation as the saviour of the Chinese nation.
Obscured under the thick veils of myth, facts about Sai aren’t easily ascertained. Some say she was born in 1874, others claim earlier. Aged about 14, she married Hong Jun, a high-ranking official more than 30 years her senior, whom she met in the floating brothels of Suzhou. Sent as a special emissary to Europe from 1887 to 1890, Hong brought Sai along with him, and she learnt German and mixed with the highest levels of society. After Hong’s death, Sai escaped to Beijing and began working once again in a brothel.
As we continue along Bada’s 6ft 6in-wide streets, stopping momentarily to let bicycles through or to take in the colourful food stalls and locals playing mah-jong, Lars reveals the second half of Sai’s tale. To quell the Boxer Rebellion, in 1900 an international force under the command of a walrus-moustached German general, Alfred von Waldersee, took over Beijing.
One night, as German officers burst into one of Bada’s brothels, the diminutive Sai began scolding them in their own language. Impressed with her German, they employed her as a translator. On meeting General Waldersee, she is said to have rekindled an affair from her time in Germany. It’s claimed that Sai used her influence over the general to secure clemency for some of her countrymen who would have otherwise been executed and to help broker a favourable peace settlement between the Chinese government and the alliance of foreign powers.
During their reunion, the couple reportedly stayed in Empress Cixi’s palace and, when it caught fire one night, were caught running out naked. At least, that’s how the story goes.
In reality, this tale is quite unlikely, not least because Sai would not have been able to sneak off to meet Waldersee behind her husband’s back while she was in Germany – with her bound feet she couldn’t sneak off anywhere.
Whatever the truth, Sai quickly became a cherished symbol, an ordinary person who stood up to the foreign powers and succeeded where the imperial government had failed.
Sai used her new-found celebrity to procure more business: in the year following her rumoured coup, she is said to have earned 2kg of silver daily. To visit the brothel she built in Bada during this period, we file down an alley so narrow that a cat is able to jump between the rooftops either side of it.
Inside, the past grandeur of the building is evident in its size and in its 10ft-high, Western-style stone arches. But today the scene is anything but glamorous. Situated in what is now one of the poorest parts of Beijing, Sai’s former brothel is has become slum housing, with dozens of residents crammed into the one-time pleasure rooms.
The area’s fall from grace mirrors Sai’s own destiny. In 1903 she was jailed, then expelled from Beijing after being accused of mistreating one of her prostitutes, who committed suicide. After a brief spell of happiness with another husband, by the Thirties she was found living in Beijing in near destitution.
Though her life lost lustre towards its end, her legend didn’t. As we stroll towards Capital M, an art deco restaurant where we will conclude the tour with a cocktail, our Danish guides recount the numerous times Sai’s story has been portrayed in Chinese literature and cinema. Sipping our drinks, I reflect on how this has been a unique chance to trace the myth of an unlikely heroine, so celebrated in China but little known in the West.The Sai Jinhua walk is available through Bespoke Beijing (www.bespoke-beijing.com) as a private tour for up to ten people for 3,500RMB (£370). The travel company also runs walks as public tours, priced at 250RMB per person (£27), on select occasions throughout the year.
Here's one Kinsey probably never heard.
Japanese school children are licking each other's eyeballs as a form of sexual arousal, Shanghaiist reports.
What's worse, the disturbing trend only gained attention after it led to an epidemic of pink eye, a highly contagious eye condition, typically spread by bacteria, that results in redness, swelling, and itching of the eye.
Authorities grew suspicious when kids began showing up at school with eye patches on. At first, adults thought it was just another eccentric Japanese fashion trend. It turns out that the eye patches were concealing pink eye, which the students had contracted by licking each other's eyeballs.
Japanese website Naver Matome (translated by JapanCrush) reports that one-third of elementary school students in one classroom either confessed to eyeball-licking, or having their own eyeballs licked.
The sexual fetish is unofficially called "oculolinctus." Subjects are aroused by licking their partner's eyeballs or having their own eyeballs licked.
A epidemiologist referenced by Naver Matome also thinks it's likely that school children are turned on by engaging in an activity that is considered corrupt.
If there’s a stigma around sex workers, it’s that we have placed them in a box of our own moral judgments, without really knowing anything about them.
What to make, then, of Lorelei Lee, who’s fluent in four languages, holds an MFA from NYU, writes poetry and screenplays, and references William Carlos Williams in herblog? Since emerging from the Kink.com dungeons (literally) more than a decade ago, she’s become not only a featured performer and director, but a poster child for the sex-positive aspects of the porn industry: she’s smart, literate, and firmly empowered by her choice to be a professional “pain slut.”
Lee is a natural choice for the documentary Public Sex, Private Lives, an engrossing film—screening at DocFest—which challenges our assumptions about porn and the women who choose it as both lifestyle and profession. Lee is one of three subjects in the film—the others are Princess Donna and Isis Love—who allow the camera to peer into where they are truly most vulnerable: not in their onscreeen nakedness, but in their offscreen lives.
Much of Lee’s storyline focuses on her relationship with another Kink.com employee, a transman named Tomcat, whom she married in 2012. Their love is portrayed as tender, compassionate and caring, yet not without awkward, jealous moments which arise from the nature of their employment.
There are snippets of Lee on-set, in BDSM scenes, which aren’t titillating as much as illuminating, giving context to the heavy social and psychological issues the movie raises. Nothing too graphic is shown in the doc, but it’s clear that a “rough day at the office” takes on an entirely different meaning for Lee and the others.
Lee is already at Muddy Waters, a Mission District café, when I arrive. I recognize her immediately: platinum-blonde hair—piled in a bun—, high cheekbones, and an infectious, slightly-dorky, smile. She’s wearing a tank top and skirt, and wood-soled heels which click-clack loudly on the café floor.
After introducing myself, I quote Anita Loos, author of the 1925 novel “Gentleman Prefer Blondes,” describing the character Lorelei Lee as “a girl who always seemed to do everything she wanted to do.” Lee smiles. “I love that. I’ve actually never heard that before.”
She adds, “I try to do everything I want to do. I try not to let my own fear hold me back.”
Lee’s demeanor is perky, ebullient, and cheerful; she smiles—and laughs—a lot. Now 31, she’s been in the porn industry for well over a decade, yet not only is she in great physical shape, but her profession hasn’t left her jaded, bitter, or incoherent.
As Lee says, “people often view working in porn as something women are coerced into. Like that’s the only possible way you would do it… in my experience, both in my own life and talking with the women I work with, we’ve all had other options. It’s not like there aren’t other options – it’s that this is the best option.”
Pornography, she says, can actually be empowering for women. The issue is that “we grow up seeing only a select few images of women’s sexuality. And you need to actually unlearn them in order to find what’s true for yourself.” The notion that porn is just one thing is a false dichotomy. “There are so many different directions you can go. So many ways that porn can be made.”
What follows next is a lightning-round summary of the evolution of feminist sexuality over the last 50 years.
“Second-wave feminists had a lot of that idea, that feminist sex meant one thing,” Lee explains. “Some second-wave feminists thought that sex with men was not feminist, for example. That you could never have dominance and submission, that you could never have toys, [or] vibrators… The third wave concept of feminist pornography is this idea of women just taking control. What that imagery looks like, what kind of sex we want to have on film, deciding what kind of scenes we want to put out there into the world.”
Such imagery, Lee says, can range from “vanilla soft to girl-girl porn, lesbian porn, to fisting fetish, chains, ropes, whips, what have you.”
The idea behind the radical pornography that Lee describes isn’t just to go beyond the limits of mainstream porn, she says, but the limits of “mainstream films, women’s magazines, this idea in our culture that has existed in for 100 years or more, that heterosexual sex is the only sex.”
Lee runs down all the typical clichés: “men want sex and women want relationships, women trade sex for relationships, and men are the aggressors, the only people who possess desire, and that it’s the woman’s job to be the gatekeeper, to say yes or no, but never have a desire of her own. And we see this played out over and over again in romantic comedies… If I’m reacting to anything in my own work, it’s that.”
When Lee first got into the business, she says, “one of the most important lessons I learned is that what’s sexy is not what’s pretty.”
After becoming a porn performer and “watching other women who were just powerful,” her attitude changed. “Seeing them in the middle of a scene, covered in sweat and spit and eyelashes falling off, and their makeup’s smeared, and their hair snarled, I was like, that’s hot.”
In her films, Lee has done interracial and gangbang scenes, as well as girl-girl, and played both domme and sub roles. She can easily appear to be a hetero fantasy, yet she identifies as queer, and is married to a trans man.
Even in today’s quasi-enlightened age, gender roles still matter, she says. “Even those of us who deeply question compulsory assignment of gender roles still get very excited by playing with masculinity and femininity at various ends of the spectrum and everything in-between. Gender is fun. It’s exciting. It’s full of things that feel taboo and things that feel sexy, and we can vary the way that we present ourselves to play with all of that.”
Lee’s lucky to have a supportive working environment which puts play at a premium. Her co-workers at Kink, she says, are “intelligent, exciting, creative people to work with… I’m constantly surrounded by this creative energy.”
She and the other Kink directors—whose job it is not just to shoot sex scenes, but to conceptualize them—consider their work art. “How does any artist stay inspired? You find the thing. It happens in your day-to-day, you see something and you say, I want to create a scene around that. Last month for me, it was… pudding,” she exclaims with a big laugh.
The notion of imagining a sexual fantasy and then being able to make it happen is one of the biggest perks of Lee’s job, “one of the most exciting things about working there,“ she says.
Is there anything Lee doesn’t like about porn? “It is a job. I shouldn’t pretend that it is a hobby or something that I can only do when I’m inspired,” she says.
Lee doesn’t seem to have any issues with who she is and what she does, but she has gotten some pushback from “the mainstream writing world,” from “people who didn’t want to be associated with me.” There’s a certain notoriety that comes with being naked on the Internet which can limit career options, it seems.
Not that Lee–whose blog is called “Guess What? I Deserve This”–is complaining. She recently completed a book of poetry and has had offers to be in independent films. But she’s not actively going out on auditions: between acting and directing, she says, “I have a full plate.”
With “Public Sex, Private Lives,” she says, “Simone [Jude, the director] has told a beautiful story,” adding, “it was meant to be thought-provoking, it was meant to make people question their preconceived ideas about sex, about porn, about who it is that makes porn and especially about women in the porn industry. But I think it’s also a beautiful story about relationships. Each of us—Donna and Isis and I—have one of our primary relationships focused on in the film, and that’s one of my favorite parts of the movie, is just looking at how complicated and ultimately rewarding those loving relationships are.“
The film goes a long way toward humanizing Lee and the other featured subjects. But Lee’s not sure she wants to be humanized.
“From a marketing standpoint, I’m not sure that you necessarily, as a porn viewer, wanna know about my personal relationships,” she laughs.
So what can non-porn stars learn from porn stars? “The most important idea I’d like to pass on would be the idea of trying things and finding your limits,” she says. “Not thinking that your own sexual desires should go into any kind of mold, not thinking that because you don’t want to do something it makes you a prude, or because you do want to do something it makes you a freak.”
So how does she do the things she does? The metaphor that comes to mind for Lee involves Nijinsky, the Russian ballet star. “People always asked him how he did those leaps where he stays up in mid-air. And he said, you just jump up and then you stay there.”
It’s not hard to imagine Lorelei Lee as a prima ballerina of porn, pirouetting, jeteing, and staying “there” for as long as she wants.
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A SATURDAY job in massage parlour led to work as call girl and a champion of sex workers' rights.
GROWING up in a strict Irish Catholic family, Laura Lee was lined up for a respectable career as a lawyer.
But after watching a film about a hooker, Laura astonishingly decided she wanted to become a call girl.
Aged 19, while her friends and fellow students had part-time work in bars and shops, Laura took on a Saturday job at a massage parlour.
Now 35 and mum to a 12-year-old daughter, Laura campaigns for sex workers’ rights.
Her choice of livelihood has attracted death threats. It will surprise many people – and will appall others.
She and her girl were run out of the town they lived in and her daughter was told in the street that her mum would die from AIDS.
Laura took her cue from the 1987 movie Personal Services, based on the true story of jailed London madam Cynthia Payne.
Laura said: “I was fascinated with the film and Cynthia Payne. For me, she epitomised everything amazing about being a woman.
“She was sex positive, she was brass-necked, she defied authorities and stigma and she was her own boss.
“Maybe it was a backlash against my Irish Catholic upbringing but I thought she was fabulous.”
Laura, who lives in Ayrshire, admitted the attraction to becoming a prostitute lay in the murky nature of the job.
She said: “I was attracted to having this secret second side, this secret night-time persona you morph into.
“You come back from uni in trainers and jeans and hit the shower and glam up into somebody completely different.”
Laura, who admits to being a late starter when it comes to sex, was studying for a law degree in her home city of Dublin when she applied for the massage parlour job.
She said: “I walked straight up to the door and got a shift. Two matronly older ladies there took me under their wings.”
The job, she says, meant she didn’t have to worry about money while she was at university.
She said: “I was finally being true to myself. I was the only person in my class at that point to have a mobile phone and a pager.
“Back then I could make £200 a day, so for a student I had a pretty amazing lifestyle.” For two years, Laura slept with men for cash and managed to keep her job a secret from her parents.
But when a local newspaper got wind of her job, she was forced to admit what she had been doing.
Laura said: “I told them over the phone and it was hell and very scary. I was worried about their health, really. It was a bit of a shock for them but they took it well.
“Now that I’m out and active as a campaigner it’s no longer an issue. They know I’m passionate about what I do with the campaigning work and there’s no point in trying to talk me out of that.
“It’s 2013 and nobody but nobody has the right to judge me.”
Laura and her daughter moved to Scotland after she dropped out of her law degree.
She said: “Every time I was standing in court, I’d be reminded of the time I spent on my back because I was familiar with half the law library.”
Laura found a job in financial services and set up home in a small Highland town but word got out about her past.
She said: “I thought Scotland was an opportunity to start afresh but old habits die hard and I realised there were no escorts in the Highlands so I set up a website. Unfortunately, the locals found out about it and made my life a living hell.
"I’d been there for five years when the proverbial hit the fan in 2008 and the locals took to every social media platform, exposing my real name and screaming abuse in the street.
“I was completely ostracised and lost my job.
“But the worst bit for me was when one of the local dignitaries from the town, a regular churchgoer, walked up to my daughter, then seven, and said, ‘Your mother is going to die of Aids.’
“You can imagine having to console a small child who had no idea what was happening. It was a horrible time.”
Critics would perhaps say Laura should have chosen a different job but she insists she has done nothing wrong.
Laura set up home in Ayrshire and now finds work through her website. She has a flat in Glasgow where she meets men.
She is also studying psychology at university as she wants to work with women in the sex industry who are experiencing issues linked to the profession.
But she can’t see herself giving up prostitution – despite trying to retire three times already. She said: “I still to this day get butterflies in my stomach.
“I’m a very happy and fulfilled escort and a passionate advocate of sex workers rights.”
She admits coming out has prompted fears for the safety and wellbeing of her daughter but she claims she’s done everything she can to protect her.
Laura said: “My neighbours here have been fantastic and absolutely amazing.
“I would rather my daughter knows she has a mum who stands up for the rights of a long- harassed minority group.
“The school have been absolutely wonderful and so supportive. I decided to let them know what I do so I could keep an eye and make sure there is no bullying going on. My daughter is a well adjusted, happy little girl.”
But Laura, who has appeared on a Channel 4 documentary, admitted she wouldn’t like her to follow in her career footsteps.
She said: “I personally would rather that she didn’t go into it. That’s because I have brought her up in a very protective bubble which is my fault.
“She is really quite soft. However, I’d rather she be brought into a society free from the stigma and, because I’m a mother at the end of the day, whatever choices she makes for the rest of her life, I will love her regardless.”
Laura believes it is time sex workers had someone to speak up for them.
She is campaigning against MSP Rhoda Grant, who wants an all-out ban on prostitution.
She is also campaigning for funding for a National Ugly Mugs Scheme – an online register of dangerous individuals who could pose a threat to the women.
Laura said: “Fundamentally, if Rhoda Grant has her way with this Bill, it will cost lives.
“People will be scared to report crime and if you look at the street scene, the women will have to work further away from support services and further from police services and where people can see them.
“I advocate quite strongly for complete decriminalisation. That has been shown over and over again to work. If you look at New Zealand
“They are a lot safer and happier, the rate of assault has crashed and they work with police, not against them.”
A Hot model escort Sarah is one of the sort after European model.
Actually really after watching the show I want to talk about the difference between male and female stripping and the two faced approach of some feminists claiming that stripping by women is somehow worse than stripping by men. There is the no contact rule in strip clubs yet if dreamboys or the like strip then women consider it okay to grab, scratch or squeeze . The clubs have audiences and all I can say about the male strippers it seemed to be a baying mob. It is just complete double standards, but the one thing that is a constant is the people working have made choices good or bad. Not everyone is going to be able to handle the pressure stripping but to close industries down because of a minority being against it and a tiny proportion of dancers having bad experiences is in my mind just a tiny bit stupid.
Via Gracie Passette
If the Japan Restoration Party — headed by Toru Hashimoto, the mayor of Osaka, and former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara — needs a new political slogan, the proverb Kuchi ga wazawai no moto (The mouth is the source of great trouble) would do nicely.
Both leaders have a habit of making offensive statements that attract attention and disdain — and generate long press conferences.
Ishihara, now 80, is best known for remarks that offended women, foreigners and minorities — such as 2001′s, “It’s useless and a crime for women to go on living after they (get old and) lose the ability to breed children.”
As if to show he was learning from his senpai (superior), Hashimoto, 43, put his foot in his mouth in May, first by trivializing the suffering of sex slaves in wartime Japan and its occupied territories, then by opining that U.S. soldiers in Okinawa would benefit from using Japan’s legal sex parlors. For a certified barrister, it was very sloppy oratory.
However, at a May 27 press conference attended by 396 reporters at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Japan in Tokyo, he managed to redeem himself just a bit.
There, he strongly condemned Japan’s use of military brothels before and during World War II, saying the nation owed a sincere apology to the Korean, Chinese and even Japanese “sex slaves” savaged by the system. It was almost a complete turnaround from his earlier remarks defending the brothels as a “necessary evil” in wartime.
So, perhaps Hashimoto wins points for condemning the sexual slavery in Imperial Japan. And as regards him recommending U.S. troops use Japan’s legal sex shops — well, it’s just possible his thrust was lost somewhat in cultural translation, resulting in him being misinterpreted to a degree.
Hashimoto knows a lot about Japan’s sex industry — certainly more than most of his compatriots, let alone others. Indeed, he has not contested claims by the Weekly Bunshun magazine that he frequents high-end hostess clubs, where he is a fan of engaging in “costume play” with workers there.
Hashimoto told reporters last month that “anyone could understand” brothels were needed for front-line soldiers facing possible death. He also stated that if U.S. troops made more use of Japan’s local and legal adult-entertainment services, the number of sex crimes committed by them would go down.
He isn’t the only high-profile person to have made this politically incorrect point. In 1995, U.S. Navy Admiral Richard Macke was fired for suggesting that three servicemen on trial in Okinawa should have paid for sex instead of raping a 12-year-old girl. Of their actions, he stated then, “I think it was absolutely stupid. I have said several times: for the price they paid to rent the car (used in the crime), they could have had a girl.”
In Japan, any sexual service — including oral and simulated sex — is legally available. The sex industry is huge, with many subgenre outlets such as “image clubs,” where the women dress up in line with its theme — as nurses, schoolgirls, furry animals, etc. There are also those hostess clubs, strip-shows, touchy-feely pubs and more.
However, prostitution is illegal in Japan — but in most cases only the pimp or brothel owner can be arrested, making it a crime without punishment for the customer and the sex worker. In certain cases, even intercourse can fall into a gray zone of “free love” legality if, for example, a “soaplands” client pays to be bathed before repairing to another room where he and the worker “fall in love” and consummate that feeling, notionally without a further fee being paid.
Many Japanese feel that fūzoku (adult-entertainment services) play a role in combating violent sex crimes, as desires can be satisfied with cash instead of violence.
It’s also a huge part of the economy. The sexual-massage market alone is believed to total ¥678 billion a year.
Hashimoto’s suggestion that if American forces used Japan’s legal sex parlors it would help ensure they let off steam without breaking the law was condemned as “outrageous and offensive” by U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
Some commentators mistakenly assumed Hashimoto was advocating prostitution — but he would hardly do that, since it’s illegal. Well, yes and no, because getting a sexual massage is not — unlike in most of the U.S.
So, attitudes to the sex industry aren’t just cultural differences between Japan and the U.S. — they’re legal ones, too. But at the time of his earlier remarks, the shyster Hashimoto appeared not to understand either point. Thus, trouble.
In his half-assed apology to the U.S., the mayor noted that “cases of sexual violence in the U.S. military are frequent and have become part of the national conversation in the United States. I suggested to a senior U.S. officer that maybe one way to deal with this would be to consider letting servicemen use the legal adult-entertainment services in Okinawa.”
Then, adding that he wasn’t advocating prostitution, he concluded by urging Japan’s legal sex industry to take measures to protect the dignity of those working in the field.
It is rare for a Japanese politician to address the rights and welfare of current sex workers publicly, which Hashimoto did then. But his motives may not be purely idealistic.
Hashimoto spent several years early in his career as an adviser for a consumer-loan company that was accused of predatory lending practices. He also served as an adviser to a business association in the red-light district of Osaka. Questioned about any involvement the group may have in the sex industry, he avoided going into detail by mentioning attorney-client privilege, and stated twice: “If they were involved in something illegal, the authorities would have cracked down on them” — so deftly evading the issue.
Hashimoto’s first set of remarks gave him the appearance of being insensitive to the “working woman.” Clearly that’s not the case.
Meanwhile, with Upper House elections looming in July, recent surveys have found that voters’ support for the JRP has fallen to an all-time low of 3 percent. Though the data was not broken down along gender lines, it seems increasingly likely it is losing the support of Japan’s female voters. Certainly Ishihara and Hashimoto appear to be poster boys of sexual discrimination.
Hashimoto’s Tokyo press conference may have been an effort to both quell international criticism and also establish him and the JRP as taking women’s issues seriously. They probably didn’t succeed.
However, among women working in the red-light districts of Osaka, at least, this champion of “dignity” for sex workers probably earned some new fans that day.
Eleven current and former sex workers living in Toronto have decided to tear down some myths and show the city what life on the street really looks like. They all signed up to be part of The Exposure Project, an initiative created by the All Saints Church-Community Centre, and photos they've taken will be shown in an exhibit at the centre on Friday.
I spoke with one of the artists, Janet, and she said her goal is to reframe the way people think about sex workers. Not all of them work on the streets, not all of them are drug users, and not all of them are forced into the work, by any means. Carly Kalish of All Saints thought of the idea, and she says it's her goal to help empower the women in an accessible way.
"We like to have creative options for people to express themselves and learn about themselves therapeutically. You can do that through art and creative expression; you don't always have to talk and do a regular therapy session and spill your guts."
got to see the photos as they were hung up the other day, and they are truly beautiful and arresting. The women had complete creative freedom as they worked, and there are bright shots of buildings and houses in the city, faces, shots of co-workers, rumpled beds.And yes, drugs and homelessness. The photos capture so many facets and fluctuations of life on the streets, and their tones roam the full range from darkness and solitude to brightness and innocence.
This is definitely an eye-opening exhibit, and worth checking out. The artists will be present, and there will be snacks and drinks served all evening. The photographs will be auctioned off in a silent auction, as well. It's on Friday, May 31 at 8 p.m., and tickets are $42.75, with all proceeds going back to All Saints to fund creative projects for women.
The vibrant Red Light District in Amsterdam is one of the most important, but also one of the most controversial tourist attractions in the Netherlands. On all but two small streets, women sell their bodies for sex. In the Barndesteeg and the Bloedstraat, one can find transgender or transsexual prostitutes. Men are nowhere to be found behind windows. Instead, they operate in parks, gay bars, gay clubs, chat rooms and illegal brothels.
Male prostitution is hardly discussed in the Netherlands, but it is out there – in every province, region and city. It is therefore important to raise awareness about the existence of these boys and men. During our quest to paint a picture of male prostitution in the country, we were often surprised by the helpfulness of the community even while being shocked about some of the details of the business.
Male prostitution is characterized by three major taboos. First, receiving money for sex is not generally accepted (from either male or female clients). Second, homosexuality is still stigmatized. And third, men are not “supposed” to be the victims of prostitution or sexual abuse, which often leads to their not seeking professional help when they need it (Repetur, 2011).
Via Gracie Passette
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Sex workers and their supporters, perhaps a hundred of them, marched along a Toronto street last Saturday, chanting "no bad whores ... only bad laws."
They want an end to the laws which are supposed to prevent whores from earning a living but, in fact, only make their lives a lot more difficult and dangerous.
It was a "day of action" organized by Maggie's Toronto Sex Workers Action Project, a registered charity run by and for local sex workers for the past 26 years to help each other "... live and work with safety and dignity." It's a workers' movement with the same purpose as any other workers' movement:
"We are founded on the belief that in order to improve our circumstances, sex workers must control our own lives and destinies."
Substitute the words "civil servants" or "auto workers" for "sex workers" and Saturday's demonstration was just one more routine labour rally.
Except for one problem. It's impossible for these demonstrators to earn a living in their chosen profession without breaking the law.
The act of prostitution itself -- the work that enables them to pay the rent and buy the groceries -- is absolutely legal. Nothing at all unlawful about renting your body out for consensual sexual acts as long as it's done reasonably privately.
But it's illegal for these demonstrators to "communicate for the purposes of prostitution," "operate a bawdy house," or something mysteriously called "live off the avails of prostitution."
It's like telling lawyers they can practice law just as long as they don't tell anyone they're doing it, keep an office or hire support staff.
Every so often we're reminded that, as Charles Dickens wrote, the law is an ass.--------------------
Call her Samantha.
Except for a couple of semesters as a journalism student, she'd been in the business all her adult life. First as prostitute, then as call girl, finally as madam.
Samantha had been writing short stories about her life and work for years -- mostly for the titillation and delight of clients. But she had a higher purpose too. She thought people were just plain ignorant about her chosen profession and should be enlightened.
To her, prostitution was a job pretty much like any other, and undoubtedly the best use of her particular talents. So now she wanted to put her stories together in a book and needed an editor.
The easiest way to persuade me to become her editor was to promote me from friend to lover.
So she did.
What I found most interesting in Samantha's writing wasn't her invented persona as a TV news anchor and her frequently exaggerated adventures.
It was her philosophy about the job she'd chosen.
For instance, she wrote this following a distinctly steamy description of a professional encounter:
Whoring isn't real life.
It isn't even real sex.
There's something out-of-body, distant, uninvolved, about it. Men pay me good money to make them feel great. It's a simple business transaction on each side.
Supply and demand.
Keeps the economy moving.
Probably good for the skin too.
And it turns out that whoring is something I'm very good at. Up to now, I'm just a world-class amateur, now I'm becoming a world-class professional.
One of the best things about whoring is that there's no emotion involved, nothing that tangles my belly and cuts into my heart. Nothing that makes me yearn for that commitment, that kiss, that one phone call which soars me to seventh heaven and occasionally way beyond.
No emotion so, voilà, no meaning.
But it's not where I live.
Like any other whore I've ever known, I have two lives. One life earns all this money for being available for men and women who want -- and can afford to pay -- for the pleasure of my company.
It's the other life, my personal life, that's my real life. The life where I win and lose, behave well or badly, am happy or sad. The part of my life where there's real meaning.
The part where I have lovers and boyfriends and, once, a husband.
Like any good-looking woman (particularly big-boobed like me) I have my pick of men and can have sex, meaningful or otherwise, with as many men as I want, any time I want.
So when I feel like it, and I'm not involved with a lover or boyfriend or husband, of course I do.
Sometimes, when I'm just being generous after a great evening out, or there's nothing much else to do, the sex is emotionally empty but usually fun anyway.
Other times, when I'm in lust with some horny stud, the lust itself is emotional and therefore an entirely justifiable reason for the sex.
Then there's the occasional times when I think I might be in love, at least a little bit, when sex is not only entirely meaningful, it's absolutely inevitable.
The occasional thinking I might be in love part, of course, is where the commitment that isn't made, the kiss that isn't tried and the phone call that's never made reminds me that I'm a woman like any other.
I'm a laughing, crying, happy, sad, lonely, loving, fragile, needy, tough woman. Daughter, sister, aunt -- with or without lover, boyfriend, husband, depending on circumstances -- like any other woman.
My real life has got nothing to do with my profession.
In fact, when I'm working there's nothing womanly involved. Just business.
Men confuse money and power. They think because they can rent my body that they have power over me.
In fact, when I'm with a man professionally, I have all the power. And then when he finishes, by wonderful coincidence, I have both the power and the money.
Maybe there is a god, after all.
You know, just as well as I do, that whether the court rules for or against the appeal, brothels will always be with us.
So doesn't it make sense for the law to stop being such an ass and recognize that sex workers are citizens like the rest of us and therefore are entitled to the full protection of the law just like the rest of us.
No bad whores, only bad laws.
NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION TO SUPPORT SEX WORKERS
Adult entertainment directory site Slixa (www.slixa.com) has filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona against California-based Vibe Media, owners of CityVibe.
Slixa alleges that Vibe Media stole the look and feel of Slixa’s innovative site, and that facing increased competition from a better looking and more user-friendly alternative, Vibe Media began using Slixa’s look as its own. Specifically, Slixa alleges CityVibe has directly copied the layout of its VIP profile pages, leading to market confusion and lost revenue for Slixa. Marc J. Randazza of Randazza Legal Group is representing Slixa in the matter.
“Slixa’s profile pages rival those of famous centerfold-model layouts, so it’s pretty hard to miss. We had a number of customers contact us asking why CityVibe’s new VIP ads suddenly look like our profile pages,” Lee Ann Jennings, the spokesperson for Slixa, commented. “In fact, that’s how we initially discovered that Vibe Media had basically repurposed our layouts on their own site.”
“The new 'Slixa style' VIP ads on this competitor’s site are a direct rip-off of Slixa’s distinctive new design,” Jennings said. “From what we’ve seen, Vibe Media is attempting to mislead Internet users to believe that Slixa and CityVibe are related entities, or that Slixa, having just launched their directory, copied the style of CityVibe. This is a tremendous slight to our creative team, who has worked hard to produce a truly one-of-a-kind adult services directory.”
Slixa is seeking a court order to take down Vibe Media’s look-alike pages and to stop further infringement, demanding CityVibe cease using Slixa’s proprietary design. In addition, Slixa has demanded from CityVibe compensation for legal fees and further restitution as decided by the court. “CityVibe’s infringement warrants at least a public apology,” said Jennings.
Slixa Girls and their supporters can use the Twitter hashtag #goslixa to join or follow the conversation and find related news.
The complaint can be read at https://www.slixa.com/press/Slixa-vs-Cityvibe-Complaint.pdf
Slixa (www.slixa.com) launched its revolutionary entertainer directory late in 2012 and immediately shook up the adult industry with its centerfold layout entertainer profiles, clean navigation, and easy to use interface. With well-known quality entertainers flocking to create their own beautiful profiles, it's gained tremendous momentum with this fresh approach to the standard adult directory.
While listing adult services is nothing new, Slixa provides a welcome change for upscale adult entertainers and their preferred clientele of affluent and discerning gentlemen. Rather than scrolling through sites clogged with cluttered content and third party advertising, Slixa makes it easy for people to build a personal connection with the real entertainers they admire.
Slixa’s two blogs, Late Night and Under Cover, are widely read and include well-known contributors with regularly updated Q&As, interviews and informative articles for both entertainers and the clients seeking their services.
Fmr. dominatrix: 'My clients would pay me to enact role play scenes that they spent a lot of time fantasizing about'
Melissa Febos became a dominatrix at age 21 and worked in what she calls an upscale New York dungeon for four years.
Are we humans the only species who understand and utilize the dismal science? Can other animals grasp the concept of currencies? Can they trade?
Adam Smith did not think so. He argued in The Wealth of Nations that “nobody ever saw a dog make a fair and deliberate exchange of one bone for another with another dog. Nobody ever saw one animal by its gestures and natural cries signify to another, this is mine, that yours; I am willing to give this for that.”
Driven by their academic curiosity, and also perhaps by their desire to create an army of cheap bankers, researchers at my alma mater Yale launched a study to teach monkeys the concept of money. Through months of repetition, the monkeys were taught to exchange small silver discs for food.
Researchers eventually managed to teach the monkeys that different food items had different costs and allotted each monkey 12 discs to see what they would do. Monkeys turned out to be a lot like humans in the sense that they were miserable savers: Most of them spent all of their tokens at once.
The first-ever monkey bank robbery occurred when, one impulsive primate, presumably driven to crime by his newly-found poverty, leapt from his cage and seized a tray full of discs before hurrying back to safety.
Supply shocks were simulated by raising and lowering food prices: Researchers presented the monkeys with two equally desirable options, and then slashed the price on one. Monkeys always flocked to the cheaper item, although they did not seem to take any factor other than the price, such as nutritional value and taste, into consideration.
Monkeys were also taught to gamble in games where they had the opportunity to win additional food or lose it all. They showed a natural aversion to risk, a trait researchers now believe to be more innate than learned.
But most interestingly, researchers also observed one of the males making a “dubious” exchange with a female, a barter of “money for pleasure”. As soon as the trade was done, the female ran off to buy herself some food. The value of the disc was understood by both parties. This first observed instance of animal prostitution in captivity offers an interesting insight into monkey morality.
This experiment is quite well-known among economists, and I always wondered if it would hold hold true in nature. I found the answer thanks to a documentary on Adélie penguins that was airing on Turkish news channel CNNTurk at the height ofthe Gezi protests this past weekend.
Female Adélie penguins swap sexual favors for pebbles, which they use to make their nests. There was a devastating stone shortage in 1998, and desperate for rocks, breeding females went searching for single males with hefty stone collections. They then traded sex for the building materials. Both parties appeared to have understand the value gained in the exchange.
The world of animals is amazing, even for an economist. I am therefore truly grateful to CNNTurk. And since such a documentary has nothing to do with news, I am suggesting they drop the CNN name. I’d appreciate if you could take a couple of minutes to sign a petition to that purpose.
While Teen Mom-star-turned-porn-actress Farrah Abraham may be the most popular attraction at the Exxxotica convention this weekend in Fort Lauderdale, there’s a new kid on the block of booths with hardcore DVDs, porn actress autographs, erectile help and S&M whips.
There’s the booth of BeLoved, a new Miami Beach church that ministers to those who work in the sex business.
Manned by half a dozen Christians who promise not to judge, the booth adorned with its “Jesus loves porn stars” logo was seeing a steady flow of conventioneers during Friday’s packed opening night.
“Look at how many people are at this convention,” said pastor Timothy Savage, whose ex-stripper wife founded the ministry. “It’s proof that western culture has fully embraced the medium of porn. It’s not going anywhere.
“So, it makes sense to minister to it instead of fighting it.”
Savage’s faithful, up to 40, gather at 8 a.m. Sundays at the Miami Tattoo Co. parlor on Washington Avenue for prayer and nondenominational fellowship. Most work in strip bars and may stumble into his services straight from the job.
“Our message is that Jesus loves everybody, even porn stars and strippers and swingers. We’re not encouraging anyone to quit what they’re doing.”
This, however, doesn’t mean that Savage and his followers condone what goes on in porn, strip bars or massage parlors.
A former hip-hop DJ and frequent brothel visitor, Savage calls those who leave the sex industry “survivors.”
“As in everything that’s pleasurable, there are addictions involved,” he said.
My name is Ann, I'm a 5ft 7 black British female and your typical naughty catholic school girl. I have golden brown skin that's smooth and supple to the touch, big almond shaped eyes, beautifully round breasts with dark nipples and long slender legs with a deliciously round and perky, spankable bottom...
Despite the fact that their sexual preferences are listed in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as potentially problematic, people who play with whips and chains in the bedroom may actually be more psychologically healthy than those who don't.
A new study finds that practitioners of bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism, or BDSM, score better on a variety of personality and psychological measures than "vanilla" people who don't engage in unusual sex acts. BDSM is a sexual practice that revolves around those four fetishes.
BDSM is listed in the DSM-5, the newest edition of the definitive psychiatrist's manual, as a paraphilia, or unusual sexual fixation — a label that has caused controversy between kinky communities and psychiatrists, who themselves are mixed on whether sexual predilections belong in the catalog of mental disorders. As written, the DSM-5 does not label BDSM a disorder unless it causes harm to the practitioner or to others. [Hot Stuff? 10 Unusual Sexual Fixations]
Nevertheless, some psychiatrists see the inclusion of BDSM and other kinks in the manual as stigmatizing, particularly because studies have failed to show evidence that enjoying sex with a side of pain is linked to psychological problems. The new study, published May 16 in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, finds that, in fact, BDSM practitioners may be better off psychologically than the general public.
BDSM practitioners "either did not differ from the general population and if they differed, they always differed in the more favorable direction," said study researcher Andreas Wismeijer, a psychologist at Nyenrode Business University in the Netherlands who conducted the research while at Tilburg University.
Wismeijer did not set out to study the psychological health of BDSM aficionados. His research typically focuses on the psychology of secrets and secrecy. A chance meeting with the founder of the Netherlands' largest BDSM Web forum convinced him the group might make an interesting study population to look at how secrets are kept and who keeps them.
Wismeijer and his colleagues put out a request on the forum for people in the BDSM "scene" to take a variety of psychological questionnaires online. They also sought participants who didn't do BDSM via a women's magazine website, a personal secret website and a university website.
None of the participants knew what the surveys were about, other than they were on "human behavior." All told, 902 BDSM practitioners and 434 vanilla (non-BDSM) participants filled out questionnaires on personality, sensitivity to rejection, style of attachment in relationships and well-being.
The researchers chose these baseline measures because previous research on those in the BDSM community has focused on dire outcomes — whether they're more likely to have mental disorders or report rape and abuse compared with the general public. (They aren't, studies have found.)
The new results reveal that on a basic level, BDSM practitioners don't appear to be more troubled than the general population. They were more extroverted, more open to new experiences and more conscientious than vanilla participants; they were also less neurotic, a personality trait marked by anxiety. BDSM aficionados also scored lower than the general public on rejection sensitivity, a measure of how paranoid people are about others disliking them.
People in the BDSM scene reported higher levels of well-being in the past two weeks than people outside it, and they reported more secure feelings of attachment in their relationships, the researchers found.
Of the BDSM practitioners, 33 percent of the men reported being submissive, 48 percent dominant and 18 percent "switch," or willing to switch between submissive and dominant roles in bed. About 75 percent of the female BDSM respondents were submissive, 8 percent dominant and 16 percent switch. [10 Surprising Sex Statistics]
These roles showed some links to psychological health, such that dominants tended to score highest in all quarters, submissives lowest and switches in the middle. However, submissives never scored lower than vanilla participants on mental health, and frequently scored higher, Wismeijer told LiveScience.
"Within the BDSM community, [submissives] were always perceived as the most vulnerable, but still, there was not one finding in which the submissives scored less favorable than the controls," he said.
The study is somewhat limited by a self-selecting response pool and by the fact that BDSM practitioners could have been answering in ways to make themselves look better and avoid stigma, Wismeijer said — though the fact that the participants didn't know the reasons for the study ameliorates that concern somewhat. The findings are reason for mental health professionals to take an accepting approach to BDSM practitioners, Wismeijer said.
"We did not have any findings suggesting that people who practice BDSM have a damaged psychological profile or have some sort of psychopathology or personality disorder," he said.
Wismeijer isn't exactly sure why BDSM practitioners might be psychologically healthier than the general public. They tend to be more aware of their sexual needs and desires than vanilla people, he said, which could translate to less frustration in bed and in relationships. Coming to terms with their unusual sexual predilections and choosing to live the BDSM lifestyle may also take hard psychological work that translates to positive mental health, he said.
One study alone shouldn't determine whether a condition is placed in the DSM or not, Wismeijer said, but added that combined with other research, the new findings suggest BDSM is better seen as a lifestyle choice, if a slightly strange one.
"I'm not so convinced that BDSM should be placed within the DSM-5," he said.
In Woody Allen’s short story "The Whore of Mensa", a call girl service dispatches pretty blondes to clients’ hotel rooms. Except there’s no sex: the girls are all literature majors, getting paid to sell intellectual stimulation to men who fancy a hurried tête-à-tête on anything from Proust to Chomsky.
Outlandish as Allen’s fantasy is, it’s apparent that while sex sells, the package deal of sex and brains sells even better.
Grace Bellavue is the closest thing Australia has to a celebrity sex worker. The 25-year-old Adelaide escort is a sapiosexual’s wet dream: a brainy ex-digital marketer who’s as likely to tweet saucy details of life as a sex worker as she is her opinion on marriage equality.
"Nefarious escort, writer, miscreant and vagabond with a penchant for scotch and hip hop," her Twitter bio reads. Her profile picture is her face – another don't of sex work – layered over a larger image of her lingerie-clad ass. Last week, she tweeted: “Off to a hotel suite for some anal, blow jobs, wine, spa baths and hot sex. Time to go to work.”
In person, Grace – real name Pippa – is even more fascinating. I meet her at the Grace Hotel in Sydney’s central business district, where she stays each time she’s in town to amuse herself. Wearing a mid-length pale pink Peplum dress and tailored black suit jacket, she sits down to a plateful of sushi from the breakfast buffet and apologises for being late.
“Housekeeping came early, so I had to run around hiding all the condom wrappers from last night and get out of there as fast as I could.”
She’s in town for five nights as part of an Australian tour she undertakes at least four times a year to keep her growing list of interstate clients happy. Many of them already know her intimately: with more than 9,000 Twitter followers, almost 70 per cent of her bookings now come through social media. She tweets about politics, gives advice on blowjobs and encourages other sex workers to get online. Her willingness to discuss the more sobering aspects of her job and her ongoing campaign to improve the rights of Australian sex workers – she’s a regular contributor to Australian women’s blog Mamamia, and last year presented a talk at TEDxAdelaide about the future of sex work – has turned her into the unofficial spokesperson the sex work industry never had.
In a way, it’s all the product of very good marketing. Grace’s personality is her brand. She left the job security of call girl agencies two years ago to start her own freelance escort business, and, using her background in digital marketing, launched a slick-looking website and a Twitter account that quickly found a market. It’s a rare strategy in a line of work long associated with shame and secrecy."
“The idea of allowing your private psyche into a public domain for comment alongside your body is a daunting thing,” she says over breakfast. “We still have a lot of stigma, judgment and backbiting due to the nature of our profession. But social media has given sex workers a real opportunity to be heard.”
It’s an opportunity she’s wanted for a long time. She became a sex worker at 18, lured to a brothel in her tome town by curiosity and the promise of passion, a schoolgirl fantasy instilled in her by the Mills and Boon novels she read growing up. Sex fascinated her. Not the fumbling encounters of her teenage peers, but the idea that sex could be art, a thing she could practice and perfect. Her first encounter didn’t live up to expectations: her first client, a 37-year-old first timer, had even less an idea of what to do than she did. But she was eager to see how the experience could change her. She wanted to know whether she would look different in the mirror at home, whether she’d feel more adult. She saw twelve more clients that night, walking out of her first shift with something like $1,000 in her pocket.
At home, she couldn’t explain the sudden influx of cash to her parents, telling them instead that she was dealing drugs. It took her months to get up the courage to confess to her mother, who reacted by kicking her out. That she had no one to confide in or ask for advice is part of the reason she’s so open about sharing what she does with the public these days. “This is very much a job that needs debriefing,” she says, not intending the joke.
For the next few years she experimented with desk jobs before deciding on a career in digital project management. She pursued this but, bored of the nine-to-five, took up sex work again, working for escort agencies around Adelaide and Brisbane. She did this three times – from sex work back to the office – to appease the men she dated, all of whom observed similarly rigid views on monogamy. But the itch still wasn’t scratched.
“I was too frustrated in the office, I couldn’t rid myself of the desire to run my own business. So I went back for good.”
The Twitter thing started as an experiment, but has since become her best weapon in advocating for the decriminalisation of sex work in Australia. Alongside national sex workers association Scarlet Alliance, local health organisation SIN and state based sex industry collectives SWAGGERR and House of ASPaSIA, all focused on improving the rights of sex workers, Grace has, in the last two years, become actively involved in lobbying the Australian government to remove all references to prostitution in legal definitions of criminal acts.
(Prostitution in Australia, like in the United States, is governed by each state and territory, and varies across the country: Queensland, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory have adopted models in which prostitution is legalised, while New South Wales (NSW) remains the only state in which sex work is almost completely decriminalised. Because of this NSW is often regarded as the leading model of sex work legislation globally alongside New Zealand, which has also adopted a decriminalisation model. The rest of Australia has seen no change in existing laws that uphold brothels and street workers as illegal, mirroring similar legislation in the UK and the United States, where Nevada is the only state to allow legal prostitution through brothels.)
The current battle is being fought on Grace’s home turf in Adelaide, where the South Australian government is debating the introduction of a new parliamentary bill – introduced by Labor MP Stephanie Key – that would see the state adopting an almost pure decriminalisation model, something sex work advocacy groups have been attempting to introduce in the state since the 1970’s. If successful, the bill will allow brothel owners to run their business in accordance with pre-existing consumer laws, reduce penalties for street based sex work and clear sex workers in the state of any previous prostitution-related offences.
Think of sex work like the hospitality industry – a transitional job where not everyone has the same skill set. But those who want to stick around and legitimise their skills can do so with the aid of a professional framework. In the same vein, decriminalisation gives sex workers the freedom to develop their own professional networks and code of ethics aimed at increasing sexual health and education in the industry.
“Decriminalisation works,” Grace says. “It allows sex work to be socially contextualised and regarded as a valid profession to be afforded the same human rights as workers in any other job.”
It also helps destigmatise the purchase of sex, making us that much less likely to be shocked or outraged every time a politician is caught in flagrante delicto with a sex worker.
“Clients get demonised more than we do. If you want a decent blowjob or want to try something new in a safe space, it should be okay to feel unashamed about going to a sex worker.”
Part of the problem is the lack of a united voice in the industry. Sex work can be an alienating job: where brothels are banned, it is illegal for sex workers to work together. The majority of sex workers spend most of their time alone, or in hotel rooms with clients, with little opportunity for peer bonding or large-scale coordinated efforts. This is why Grace has been so adamant to get other sex workers to follow her lead on social media: as she sees it, platforms like Twitter can provide a global support network for the sex work industry, aiding the spread of information and, when the need calls for it, act as a warning bell.
In May last year, Grace used Twitter to reveal the identity of a paroled rapist who attacked her in an Adelaide apartment. A former client, the man had threatened her a number of times before she had finally insisted he no longer call her. Using a false name, he lured her to the apartment where he pinned her against the wall by her throat and threatened to rape her. A well-timed scream saved her.
She reported the incident to police, but unconvinced she would be taken seriously, tweeted a photo of her attacker as a warning to sex workers in the area.
“It’s 2012. No human should have to face assault and attempted rape at work,” she told her followers.
The decision to report the man to the police was “not made lightly”, Grace says. In Australia, any sex worker who files a police report faces declaring his or her status as a sex worker. This information can be officially recorded, and can thus be potentially accessed by anyone who has the right to demand and obtain a criminal background check. As a sex worker with her own business and a huge following, she is lucky: there’s no real need for her to try and hide who she is in fear that someone she knows will discover what she does for a living. But most sex workers have a lot to gain from keeping their identity secret: many of the men and women Grace knows have family, friends and relationships that would undoubtedly suffer; a lot of sex workers also have children.
This is why Grace hesitated to report the violence against her, and why most sex workers choose not to report similar attacks to the police: a permanent police record affects everything from parental custody to access to housing, employment and community services. What landlord would lease his property to a registered sex worker? What company would hire someone who used to – or might still – be a sex worker?
“No one thinks about this stuff. Imagine being in a situation where someone is trying to do you harm, and you can’t report it or tell anyone about it. It’s shameful.”
Grace’s arguments about the ills of a non-decriminalised legal system are compelling, but they’re not convincing everyone. In particular the “white educated females” who Grace says harbour a deep dislike of the sex work industry and who – as the target demographic for Mamamia, where Grace has written about her parents’ reaction to her confession of wanting to be a sex worker and posted a chilling account of her encounter with the paroled rapist – regularly attack Grace by bringing up sex trafficking and the sticky morality of sex work by way of rebuttal to her posts. (She says sex trafficking, whilst a valid problem, is often mistaken for “sex migration”: sex workers moving to countries with better rates of pay and working conditions.)
“I wonder how many of the prostitutes care about how their profession affects the lives of the wives and children?,” wrote one commenter on one of Grace’s posts. “Oh I know: they could care less, as long as they get paid…”
Her resolve remains steadfast.
“At the end of the day, it’s true that we are fucking their husbands,” she says, suppressing a smile. “But it’s all part of changing the way we look at sex: when to do it, how to do it, and with whom.”
“If I just manage to convince just one or two people to see things from my perspective, then it’s all been worth it.”
It’s working. Since joining Twitter, Grace’s clientele has not just grown, but also significantly diversified. Her female and couple bookings have “gone through the roof”, and the number of bookings from first-time clients doubled.
“I feel a little like a My First Escort doll. I’m getting so many people who have never seen a sex worker before and who are curious to try it out. They always start out by following me Twitter, talking to me and finally building up the courage to make a booking.”
“It’s great to see more girls: I think for them it’s not so much being comfortable with me but getting some intellectual stimulation. Girls need personality and genuine conversation to be turned on.”
The fact her clients know her so well has also significantly changed her own experience of the job. For one, more and more clients are asking her to tweet about them. There are daily declarations of love, marriage proposals and invitations to elope. And almost every client turns up with a bottle of Scotch.
“They know I love Scotch because I’m always talking about it on Twitter. So they bring a bottle and they want to sit and drink and talk and ask me about my day.“
“So I ask them about their day and they tell me and we share this moment. I’m kind of like the therapist and they’re the patient.”
More and more, the term 'sex work' seems an inadequate description of the kind of service that Grace provides.
“It shits me, sometimes, but the fact of the matter is I seem to be having less and less sex. Who would have thought, right?”
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