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Posts Tagged ‘sex work is work’

Even though OnlyFans reversed its recent decision to banish sex workers, any company who turns on us so quickly can be counted on to do so again at the slightest provocation.  I’ve never gone the porn route myself, so I know very little about the ecosystem; however, I recently saw a Twitter account called “Dream Girls Fan Club” post this on Twitter.  I asked what name the creators would like me to credit and received no answer, but I’m not going to fail to share it because it seems to me they did a very thorough job, and if there’s anything here that can help sex workers to find a more stable work environment, I’d be remiss if I didn’t pass it on.

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Price Point

How do escorts decide how much to charge?  I can’t seem to find much correlation between rate and my satisfaction; I’ve seen amazing women charging a third of what I paid for a terrible session with a far less attractive provider.  Do they target a certain number of dollars a month?  A certain number of clients a week?  I’ve definitely known ladies to raise rates if they’re busy but I’ve never seen them lower rates.

Most escorts charge whatever is typical for their area, but some choose to charge a bit less to attract more business or a bit more to work less while still making what they need or want to earn.  It’s interesting that you seek some correlation with quality, when that isn’t true of any business; quality of widely-available goods and services often has very little to do with what one pays for them.  Every person has bills and other financial goals, and anyone not fortunate enough to have a trust fund has to figure out what they need to do to meet those needs and goals; why would you expect pros to differ from amateurs in that respect?  And why in the world would you expect ladies to ever lower their rates, especially in a time of higher-than-normal inflation?  Would you ever go into your boss and ask him to pay you less, or if you have a business would you lower your rates (outside of some kind of marketing ploy)?  Unless your business model is a “cheapest in town” one like Wal-mart, that does nothing but create the appearance of desperation, and in any luxury service that can be severely detrimental to business (not to mention the provider’s mental health).

(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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[The “sex offender” registry] thoroughly ruins someone’s life.
–  Elizabeth Ehret

Elephant in the Parlor

Americans pretend “politician hires whores” is something other than a yawn:

When…Matt Gaetz attended a 2019 GOP fundraiser in Orlando, his date that night was…a paid escort and amateur Instagram model who led a cocaine-fueled party after the event…The Florida congressman’s one-time wingman, Joel Greenberg, will [out] that escort to [busybodies] as one of more than 15 [sex workers] Gaetz [hired]…what distinguishes this woman, Megan Zalonka, is that…Greenberg [moved money around to tip her an extra]…$7,000 to $17,500…Gaetz…has declared that he “never paid for sex” [and] wrote off the stay at the hotel as a campaign expense

“Politician lies” ain’t news, either.

The End of the Beginning 

It’s good to see so many challenges to these medieval laws:

In 1993, when he was 18, Randall Menges had consensual sex with two other teenage boys at a camp in Idaho.  [He] was charged…with “crimes against nature”…and served seven years in prison…[then condemned to] the sex-offender registry…a federal judge in Montana ruled that Mr. Menges’s name should be removed from the…registry…but…the Montana attorney general, Austin Knudsen…said he planned to appeal…because “[laws are more important than people]”…Last September, [attorney] M[atthew] Strugar, along with the A.C.L.U. of Idaho, filed a federal lawsuit challenging Idaho’s law on behalf of Mr. Menges and another man who was forced to register as a sex offender because he was convicted 20 years ago in another state for performing oral sex on his wife…

Torture Chamber

Funny how people die of “undetermined causes” while cops are brutalizing them:

…[two South Carolina screws murdered] Jamal Sutherland, a Black man with mental illness, in jail…[by tas]ing [him] and pepper-spray[ing him multiple times while he cried that]…he couldn’t breathe…The county coroner has [tried to exonerate the screws by blaming]…his [his death on] an “excited state” with unfavorable effects from prescription drugs [rather than the fact that] police [were attacking him with a high-voltage weapon and dangerous toxic chemicals]…Sutherland’s manner of death remains “undetermined,” according to the coroner…[screws] Lindsay Fickett and Brian Houle…were [at first rewarded with paid vacations]…but the…sheriff…[later fired them in response to public outcry]…

Nothing To Be Proud Of

I hope they’re so “disheartened” they go out and find honest work:

Organizers of New York City’s Pride events…are banning [cops] and other [government-sponsored thugs] from marching in their huge annual parade until at least 2025 and will also seek to keep on-duty [cops] a block away from the celebration…“law enforcement…can…be threatening, and at times dangerous, to those in our community who are most often targeted with excessive force and/or without reason”…the Gay Officers Action League said in a release it was disheartened by the decision…and [called] the decision…[to place the safety of cops’ victims above the sadfeelz of cops] “shameful”…

To Molest and Rape (#862) 

Note that politicians took three years to act on doing something about rapist cops:

House [politicians] just passed a bipartisan bill that would make it illegal for federal [pigs, spooks and g-men] to [rape] people…the[y have abducted]…th[us closing the “she wanted it”]…loophole…[which] protect[s rapist cops]…The Closing the Law Enforcement Consent Loophole Act, created by Rep. Jackie Speier…would make it a criminal offense for [pigs, spooks and g-men] to engage in any sexual activity with anyone…while exercising their [police powers]…On the state level, it’s still legal in 34 states for [cops] to [rape] someone in custody [as long as they belch out the magic words “she wanted it” when caught]…

Disaster (#1130)

It’s just going to keep getting worse:

…eBay…has changed its policies regarding what it considers “adult items” effective June 15, completely eliminating the category “Adult Only” for new listings…Items that contain nudity are allowed only if the eBay moderators consider it to be “nude art listings that do not contain sexually suggestive poses or sexual acts” and if they are accordingly categorized and labeled…[however] eBay also…reserves the right to decide what is and is not “art”…The company…somehow decided that vintage copies of only four magazine titles — Playboy, Playgirl, Mayfair and Penthouse — may be listed for sale or auction “as long as the listing does not contain nude images or explicit content.”  All other adult publications are banned…[as are] erotic videos and films…video games with a rating of X, XXX, R18 or unrated…and all “sexually explicit anime, comics, books, films, animation, manga, hentai [and] yaoi”…

To Molest and Rape (#1137)

Imagine a non-cop child rapist getting only three years:

A [typical and representative] Massachusetts [cop]…convicted…of [raping] a child was sentenced…to [less than] three years in prison…Daniel Cintron was convicted in a jury-waived trial of two counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14 and two counts of intimidation of a witness…Cintron has been in [jail] since 2018 when he…rap[ed] three girls.  But a jury in 2019…[said it was OK for him to] rape [kid]s while deadlocking on [mostly clown-costume-related] charges…

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I have often expressed how disappointed I am that the cultural reaction of Americans to The Hite Report and other ’70s studies & surveys of female sexuality was for most women to become (sexually) more like men, in other words for their sexuality to become less about the experience and more about the relentless pursuit of orgasm.  And it’s only become worse since the ’80s; virtually nobody (and yes, women are often just as bad as men) is willing to accept any more that some of us simply aren’t very orgasmic, and that whatever new “technique” or “toy” or “process” they want to try isn’t going to make any difference.  My anorgasmia is only partly due to a recessed clitoris; the rest is due to my neuroatypicality in general and my cognitive hyperactivity in particular.  And though most people recognize that I’m really quite intelligent and have had many, many thousands of hours of practice over the last 40 years, they still refuse to grok that I already figured out long, long ago (by the mid-’80s) what will produce orgasm on a semi-regular basis, “but will probably never act on [those things] again because they either come with too much baggage or it’s much too difficult to find the right person or persons to do them with.”  Though this is considered heresy in “sex-positive” circles, I simply don’t think it’s important enough to invest my time, effort, and money in toys, books, classes, Gwyneth Paltrow gimmicks, or silly cults in a fruitless effort to pursue an experience my body and nervous system seem disinclined to undergo.

If you’ve never seen a woman write about this before, it’s probably because most women who feel as I do are afraid to admit it.  They’re afraid of being considered defective, freakish, or simply not good enough, and not only by entities who reside outside of their own skulls.  But most anorgasmic women don’t write about sex; most women writing about sex haven’t been sex workers for their entire adult lives; and most of the sex workers who both feel as I do and write about sex (probably already a rather small group) are too concerned with commercial viability to admit that no, they really can’t orgasm 17 times from some dude’s fumbling around with their genitalia, and they’re really not thinking about sex as often as their clients do.  But for me, the best thing about paid sex is, I get the reward I want regardless of whether my wiring decides to respond in a way that will feed my partner’s ego.  And sex work gave me the confidence not to be ashamed to say that I don’t give a shit if I don’t orgasm.  But I understand that I’m unusual in many respects, so I was very pleasantly surprised to see this stunningly-honest article in The Atlantic:

I am a 39-year-old woman, and I have never, to my knowledge, had an orgasm…I love sex, and I’m probably on the kinky side—there’s very little that I haven’t tried.  But no matter how much I am enjoying myself, there inevitably comes a time, both on my own and with a partner, when the physical pleasure, having built and built, either fades to nothing or becomes a sensation too uncomfortable to bear, and provides neither the rapture nor release I have imagined…In the early days of [my] relationship [with my future ex-husband], I made…an appointment with a sex therapist, therein getting a glimpse of the growing and highly lucrative female-orgasm industry.  A plump, elderly woman…advised me to eat more dark chocolate, stop taking birth control, and sign up for what she called “orgasm camp,” an immersive experience …that would have me masturbating all day long.  She also sent me home with some female-centric 1980s porn, a list of recommended herbs and vitamins, and a prescription for Viagra that the pharmacist, alarmed by my gender, initially refused to fill.  For months I dutifully followed her advice…but…eventually, exhausted and even a little bit bored by the effort, I once again resigned myself to my anorgasmic fate…

…In her 2018 book, Faking It, the sex educator Lux Alptraum denounces a culture in which, for many men, the female orgasm has become “the primary, if not entire, purpose for pursuing sex—a sentiment that suggests that anyone who isn’t able, or doesn’t want, to achieve orgasm is some kind of freak or failure.”  Alptraum lays no small amount of blame for this on She Comes First, a wildly popular cunnilingus manual by the sex therapist Ian Kerner, which…established a new paradigm in which the female orgasm, once seen as mythic, was recast as compulsory…

…I finally embraced the obvious solution: I started faking it…sex therapists…think that faking it breeds guilt and resentment…but the truth is that, for me, faking it was instantly empowering, even revelatory.  Overnight, the emphasis shifted from what I lacked to what I offered…faking it threw into relief my sexuality; for the first time since my divorce, maybe for the first time ever, men began to see me as I saw myself, and as I knew myself to be, which is to say, no less carnal than the next person, and perhaps even more so…

There’s a great deal more, and I think it’s especially worth reading if you’re anorgasmic yourself, or if you would like to understand why some women aren’t interested in catering to your emotional need to give them orgasms.  I myself have written in defense of faking orgasms on several occasions, and I’m in agreement with author Katharine Smyth about faking being a legitimate strategy to reclaim one’s sexuality from the tyranny of others’ selfishness disguised as generosity.  There’s quite a bit more after the part I’ve quoted, in which Smyth tries all sorts of other things for which I lack the patience, the credulity and the dedication; I must also point out that when I was her age, I had already been doing sex work on and off for 21 years and full-time escorting for 6.  But even so, I hope that by the time she’s my age she either finds what she’s looking for, or learns to stop caring about it.

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This guy lay in shit and…died in [a] cell that looks like a friggin’ horse stall.  –  unnamed investigator

Imagination Pinned Down

Like seeing pictures in clouds or inkblots:

When the unrecognizable body of Jeannette DePalma…was found atop a…wooded hill…called the Devil’s Teeth in 1972, rumors spread quickly that the [16-year-old] was killed in some sort of satanic rite…Police…[claim]ed…they had found signs they thought might be related to the occult, including crosses made of sticks and branches arranged in a coffin-like outline around her body…But crime scene photographs released for the first time [last month]…debunk those claims, showing that DePalma’s body was simply lying in a dense, brushy area…facedown with an arm draped over a downed tree branch…Jason Coy, a history professor…who researches witchcraft…said he can’t find any sign of the occult or any other symbolism in the jumble of brush and branches.  It suggests that investigators, looking for something sinister, saw patterns that weren’t there…“Everything in th[e police] sketch that was marked out as a cross, in these crime scene photos just looks like a pile of underbrush…it’s a perfect example of how…i[f] someone…[has] the idea that something could be occult, they remember things that way”…

The Naked Anthropologist

Here’s Dr. Laura Agustín with GAATW on the rescue industry:

Torture Chamber 

For a change, this journalist doesn’t refer to torture as “correction”:

…Reginald Wilson spent more than 1,300 days in and out of jail since 1997 for charges often related to his fragile mental health…in December 2018 [Georgia cops abducted and caged him] for a probation violation…[dur]ing a mental health crisis…he was [lock]ed in a padded [cell and given no professional help, even after]…he smeared his own feces on the wall.  “He never slept. He was constantly just up, doing almost like gymnastics when you watched the video,” one [screw admitted to]…investigators…Wilson stopped eating, drinking and refused to take medication…[yet] the jail’s psychiatrist never saw [him].  In[stead,] staff [just repeatedly yelled “stop faking” at]…him…[and cop]s tased him at least tw[ice].  After… eight days…a [screw] found Wilson not breathing…[and] covered in…feces…[he had] died from…dehydration…

Not for Any Reason Whatsoever

Do I really have to add, “Not because a little boy picked a flower”?

[A] 6-year-old…was accused of picking a tulip from a yard at his bus stop, his attorney Julie Boyer said, and…was on trial…for injury to real property.  The boy’s attention span was too short to follow the proceedings…[so] Boyer…handed him crayons and a coloring book…she…and others [explain that] children that age don’t have the mental capacity to understand the juvenile justice process and…can’t make informed decisions…[yet at present North Carolina]…expect[s them to]…”Should a child that believes in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the tooth fairy be making life-altering decisions?” asked…Judge Jay Corpening…[local] advocates…recommend…the age be raised to 12…The National Juvenile Justice Network recommends 14…

End Demand (#893)

It’s good to see a story like this quote at least one knowledgeable person:

Columbus [Ohio politicians] are weighing changes to local solicitation laws that would emphasize pu…shing [propaganda about] those who pay for sex [in addition to propaganda about] those who sell it…[politician] Mitchell Brown [vomited out popular nonsense about]…sex trafficking…chief [copagandist and rape apologist] Jennifer Knight…[salivated about forcing people into “re-education”] sessions…[but actual] researchers like Jennifer Suchland argue “end demand” policies often backfire…“Because there’s now substantial evidence to show that they are, one, not actually reducing the amount of exploitation, and two, they are increasing the precarity of those people who are in the sex trade”…Suchland says…the “end demand” model is based on a faulty assumption…

Knight is the sow charged with making excuses for the Columbus rape gang, and claims the way to “build trust” with women is to hunt, rape and cage them.

Safe Position (#1058)

Don’t be deceived by Katz, a duplicitous proponent of Swedish criminalization:

Queens, New York, District Attorney Melinda Katz moved…to dismiss nearly 700 cases against people charged with loitering for the purpose of prostitution…[on] the same day…Mayor Bill de Blasio pushed [Swedish-style]…criminaliz[ation]…The…law was repealed last month out of concern it too often targeted…people…based solely on their appearance…Katz [followed up by bloviating about]…sex trafficking…

Katz is dismissing these cases because she has to, since the law they were charged under was repealed.  This isn’t some kind of personal move on her part toward sex worker rights, despite claims to the contrary.

Predictable Consequences

Lots of sex workers are quoted in this rebuke of prohibitionist yellow journalism:

The New York Times re[acted to]…the recent slayings of eight persons at three “Asian” spas…by a deranged religious nut…with a self-[indulgent article]…adopting the rhetoric…of…sex work…pro[hibitionists], painting the spas as havens for sex trafficking…without one quote from sex workers or sex worker rights advocates, the Times piece [claim]s that “experts say there are more than 9,000 such businesses” in the U.S. which are “fronts for prostitution,” and that “many of the women working there are being exploited.”  That dubious statistic hails from a particularly odious non-profit, the Polaris Project, which has long conflated consensual adult sex work with sex trafficking and has a history of dealing in fake statistics and urban legends…Massage workers…have no agency, nor any voice, in this scheme or this article…

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The younger generation…don’t understand at all how the government could ever enter your bedroom and tell you what to do.  –  Mandie Landry

Creating a Monster

There really is nothing new under the sun:

Neither Craigslist’s personals nor…US [censorship of] the sexual commerce they make possible are uncharted territory.  Reading…coverage of…FOSTA–SESTA, gives me a sense of déjà vu.  I have spent the last several years researching how, more than one hundred years before Backpage opened its online classifieds—well before the rise of the internet…lonely hearts [and] sex workers…had access to Parisian “back-page” classifieds.  Then as now, [politicians] scrambled for ways to stop them from using this new, democratizing print technology to “immoral” ends.  The largely unsuccessful, often counter-productive, and oppressive solutions they came up with during the French Third Republic (1870–1940) look strikingly similar to those the US legislature is testing out now…

This article is three years old, but it’s about century-old events anyhow.

Safe Position

This might fly in New Orleans, but it’ll definitely be uphill in the rest of the state:

Sexual acts between consenting adults should remain just that, state Rep. Mandie Landry said, regardless of whether they involve a financial transaction.  She said she will author a bill in the Louisiana Legislature that would do away with the state’s existing laws that outlaw prostitution….“If two people engage in a relationship in their own home, whether they exchange money or not, it’s between them”…Prostitution involving minors will remain illegal because minors cannot give consent, she added…

False Witness (#920)

Texas cops routinely destroy lives with the same method used to create the Satanic panic:

…a vast body of research shows hypnosis does not increase the chance of retrieving accurate memories.  In fact, it may implant imaginary ideas or distort recollections.  At least 21 states ban evidence in court that was gleaned solely through hypnosis.  Yet a Dallas Morning News analysis found Texas law enforcement has used the dubious method nearly 1,800 times over 40 years, sending dozens of people to prison — and some to their deaths.  After one week of training, any Texas [cop]…who passes an exam can attempt to use hypnosis in a criminal investigation.  Hundreds…have been certified to practice it in Texas since 1988…

The Scarlet Letter (#941)

Why do puritans pretend the literally prehistoric practice of shaming constitute a “modern” approach to harming people for having sexual urges?

The Alabama House of Representatives…approved legislation that would post pictures of men a[ccus]ed [o]f…solicitation…to shame them…f[or having]…sex[ual needs.  Bill sponsor] Merika Coleman…[bloviated a lot of disgusting sexual fantasies about] human trafficking…an[d]…argued that the state needs to attack the de[sire] for sex…Coleman said [she doesn’t care that]…posting the picture of a person who was arrested…harms those individuals who are not found guilty for the rest of their lives.  [She said it’s OK that] they are not able to get jobs…

Japanese Prostitution (#950)

Japanese attempts to suppress and hide sexuality prior to the Olympics will never be sufficient to please puritanical gaijin:

Social pressure surrounding the upcoming Tokyo Olympics has resulted in distribution troubles for traditional Japanese adult magazines, which have drastically harmed the already dwindling sector…[using the excuse] “that the magazine covers were offensive to women and inappropriate in front of children”…In the years leading up to the games’ original date of Summer 2020, “some of the country’s biggest convenience store chains…said they would stop selling the publications altogether”…Akira Ikoma, editor-in-chief of the porn magazine My Journey…said Japan is “hiding this part of the culture because they’re embarrassed”…

Torture Chamber (#950)

“Packed” = “concentrated”. And the concise word for “tent facility” is “camp”:

Hundreds of immigrant children and teenagers have been [imprisoned] at a Border Patrol tent facility in packed conditions, with some sleeping on the floor because there aren’t enough mats…Some [are locked up]…for a week or longer, despite the agency’s three-day limit for detaining [minors]…they…a[r]en’t…allowed to phone their parents or other relatives who may be wondering where they are.  Despite…coronavirus, the[y]…are kept so closely together that they can touch the person next to them…Some have to wait five days or more to shower, and there isn’t always soap available, just shampoo…Biden’s administration denied the lawyers access to the [camp because]…attorney visits to Border Patrol [camp]s [have] revealed severe problems, including dozens of children held at one [camp] without adequate food, water, or soap…

All-Purpose Excuse (#1063)

I love that Trumpists are holding onto the “sex trafficking” narrative like grim death:

On March 8th, the Lifeboat Project had the opportunity to host [politicians] and [profiteers trying] to stop [sex work using propaganda about] human trafficking…it was also a…[photo] opportunity for Ivanka Trump and [a payday for professional]…trafficking survivors…the…Founder of The Lifeboat Project, Jill Bolander Cohen…[introduc]ed the [fantas]y of having a universal signal that could be used world-wide…[instead of other folk magic] such as [wa]ving [red paper birds around like a semaphore flag]…or [activa]ting…[a super-duper anti-pimp tampon found in a public] bathroom…Jill be[lieves the stupid trope that]…victims [are literally “voiceless”]…so…[she proposed] flashing the letters “H” and “T” in American Sign Language…

Winding Down (#1101)

A long-overdue move by Mexico to throw off US domination:

…Mexic[an politicians]…approved a bill…to legalize recreational marijuana…The 316-to-129 vote in Mexico’s lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, came more than two years after the Mexican Supreme Court ruled that the country’s ban on recreational marijuana was unconstitutional and more than three years after the country legalized medicinal cannabis…the measure is widely expected to sail through the Senate before being sent to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has signaled support for legalization.  The measure…would allow adults to [us]e…and, with a permit, grow a small number of cannabis plants at home.  It would also grant licenses for producers — from small farmers to commercial growers — to cultivate and sell the crop…

You Were Warned (#1119)

Unless some country makes a policy of providing a safe haven, the open internet is doomed:

The Russian government’s internet regulatory agency, Roskomnadzor, has announced it will be slowing down Twitter…in the country, alleging that the platform has “ignored requests to take down material harmful to children,” including adult content.  Regional experts [say]…“that the Twitter slowdown was just the start of a large-scale offensive by authorities to assert control over — and ultimately block — social media”…Like many American crusaders against Section 230…Roskomnadzor claims this attack on free expression [i]s…to “save the children”…

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It’s complete and utter bullshit.  –  former member of OUR

Choke Point (#593) 

Prohibitionists love victim-blaming sex workers:

On March 3rd…Scott Stedman and Aaron Parnas published a hit piece on Forensic News lobbing accusations of fraud, theft, and money laundering at several adult sites…Stedman is rehashing old, baseless accusations for attention…it’s the banks, not the adult sites, which are responsible for sex workers losing access to their funds…Sex workers certainly have their gripes with adult sites…But accusations that [they] are particularly rife with fraud, theft, and money laundering seem to be entirely without merit…the only evidence Stedman and Parnas can point to are Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs)…[which] anyone can file…without any proof or evidence.  Banks have claimed that certain adult sites “may be operating in areas where underage children…might be forced to provide services.”  Yet not only did no bank report a single instance of underage activity, their only evidence was the fact that MyFreeCams serves users in “high-risk” areas such as Colombia, Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Lithuania, the Philippines, and Russia…In fact, all evidence points to all of these “suspicious” transactions being from adult platforms to content creators abroad…

To Molest and Rape (#869)

The “sex offender” registration is the only serious consequence:

A third Louisville [cop]…has [received a slap on the wrist]…for sexually a[ssault]ing a minor [he groomed via]…the department’s youth Explorer program.  A U.S. District Court judge…[let typical and representative cop] Brad Schuhmann [walk with a mere] six months of home incarceration and two years on probation.  In addition, Schuhmann will have to pay a $2,000 fine and register as a sex offender…The [lenient treatment was in spite of the] victim…calling Schuhmann a “monster” and a “predator” who has ruined her life…

Pyrrhic Victory (#1045)

Far too little, far too late:

…four individual civil liberties activists and the groups Mijente and NorCal Resist [have filed suit against] Clearview AI [because it] “engages in the widespread collection of California residents’ images and biometric information without notice or consent”…The plaintiffs argue Clearview AI enhances [cop shops’] efforts to monitor…activists…and [marginalized people]…

Lack of Evidence (#1052) 

Removing excuses cops use to persecute people is always a good thing:

[New York’s] “walking while trans” law…was repealed…in [Februar]y…It could prompt other states and cities that have similar laws on the books to follow suit.  California could introduce a bill to repeal a prostitution loitering law this year, and activists in Chicago, Atlanta and New Orleans have organized to reverse similar ordinances.  Last summer, the Seattle City Council unanimously voted to repeal drug trafficking and prostitution loitering laws…

Working From Home (#1052)

Another step toward a fully-independent demimonde:

…for many sex workers, corporate platforms aren’t revolutionary at all.  Censorship, technology failures and heavy-handed fees are just a few of the drawbacks of using social platforms for sex work.  Rather than rely solely on mainstream services such as OnlyFans, which keeps 20 percent of performers’ earnings, some sex workers use corporate networks only for advertising and conduct their real business on their own websites, which they build and control…

Served Cold (#1100) 

It took almost seven years, but the press has finally caught up with me:

…Operation Underground Railroad…had arrived in a remote village seeking a missing child, acting on what founder Tim Ballard had promised was a solid tip from a source…But the missing child was nowhere to be found. And then…Ballard produced his source: a psychic medium from Utah…Soon after…the villagers became suspicious and increasingly upset as he began circulating through the village with a camera crew…The villagers began to gather, some of them armed with old shotguns, and…elders soon asked the[m]…to leave.  Several cars followed them out of the village to make sure they’d gone…The day was…indicative of a larger pattern for OUR…People who participated in and witnessed OUR operations overseas recounted blundering missions…that seemed aimed mainly at generating exciting video footage…Experts and advocates for sex workers and trafficking survivors also questioned whether OUR’s ties to a corrupt Thai police agency could lead to repression of pro-democracy activists…one person with extensive experience working overseas with OUR…said…nothing OUR did seemed recognizably informed by professional military or intelligence practice…no meaningful surveillance or identification of targets; no development of assets; no validating that people they sought to rescue had in fact been trafficked, or that people they were targeting were indeed traffickers…“They’d go and just push for pimps to show up with girls.”  If presented with sex workers of legal age, OUR would insist on younger girls…“He was creating demand…They conflate sex work and trafficking…They’re making it worse”…

Safe Position (#1110)

Even columns like this one by Steve Chapman are no longer rare:

Eliza Orlins…could be remembered for…moving the nation toward decriminalizing sex work…If elected, she says, she will “advocate for the full decriminalization of consensual sex work. This will begin with declining to prosecute all cases of consensual sex work.”  She is finding plenty of allies.  Five other candidates in the eight-person field have taken the same position…Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez is not in favor of full decriminalization, but he has stopped prosecuting sex workers on prostitution charges and recently vacated more than 1,000 warrants…A poll last year found that 52% of Americans think we should “remove criminal penalties for adults to sell and pay for consensual sex”…Among Democrats and voters aged 18 to 44, 2 out of 3 take th[at] view…

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This is the first of a new irregular feature in which I’ll post job opportunities which might interest people in my readership.  Many of you may know that I’m on the board of Prostasia, the first child protection organization which does not pretend that attacking the civil rights and free speech of adults will somehow support that stated mission.  A few weeks ago we received a major grant, and the board allocated part of the funds to hiring three part-time employees; I therefore asked our director Jeremy Malcolm to write up a description of what he’s looking for:

Prostasia Foundation, the only child protection organization that supports sex workers and includes them in leadership, recently received a major donor grant and is now hiring for its first three paid positions.  Prostasia’s Development Officer will be responsible for leading Prostasia’s fundraising efforts, including memberships, donations, sponsorships, and grants from charitable foundations.  Its Social Media Manager will have the primary responsibility to manage Prostasia’s Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram social media accounts.  The Video Editor will put their own stamp on Prostasia Foundation’s video communications, and grow its brand within video-sharing communities.  These roles may be filled at any level from intern through to part-time, with advancement to a full-time position, depending on the applicant’s qualifications and experience.  Further details and an application link are available on our website.

I probabably don’t need to add that since we’re judging applicants on their qualifications, sex workers are just as eligible for these positions as anyone else.  But since that’s so rarely true these days, I’m adding it!

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My friend Brooke Magnanti has a new project named Body of Work on the new platform Substack, and to call attention to it I’d like to share my favorite of the posts she’s published there so far. It’s both a moving memoir and a powerful rebuke to the sheltered puritans who pretend sex work is “The Worst Thing a Woman Can Do“, which is incidentally the title of this piece.

My dad was mowing strangers’ lawns on the day that he died.

He woke before sunrise – the habit of a blue collar lifetime – with his schedule for the day written out on a piece of college-ruled paper, copied from the app where homeowners booked him for reasonably priced lawn services. He had the rest of the week drawn up as a grid too, with blank spaces for last-minute jobs that might pop up on his newly purchased smartphone.

He loaded the truck with the tools of his trade: edgers and whips, a spade and a rake, a refurbished secondhand push mower, and drove the ride-on mower (also a refurb) onto the small trailer behind his 15-year-old F150. He put a lunchbox with two turkey sandwiches and four bottles of frozen water into the cab. They would melt during the hot Florida spring day, keeping his food cold and providing hydration as he worked in the full sun.

Sometime after 8am, he started having abdominal pains. The worst of his life. My father – no hypochondriac, also the habit of a lifetime – called 911. The hospital did some tests and discharged him by 10am, diagnosis mild constipation, prescription two kinds of laxatives. He didn’t feel better. His last few outgoing texts were to friends letting them know he couldn’t meet up later, he was sick. He went on to complete 3 of the 5 jobs on his schedule.

He died that night. 70 years old, retired not even one day of his life. When we found his phone, most of the missed texts and calls were from the app, set to automatically ping when he didn’t check in online for his agreed jobs.

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“What, are you too proud to scrub a toilet?”

That was a question I have heard a lot. After coming out as a former sex worker in 2009, I could count on at least one know-it-all standing up to pronounce more or less this exact accusation at every book signing, public speaking event, or festival I appeared at.

The question askers never stuck around to hear, really hear the answer: it’s hard to get a job in the UK as an American student, I couldn’t work more than 15 hours a week, no one was allowed to hire me if any qualified EU applicant was available, and that wouldn’t have made a dent in my bills anyway. ‘Too proud to scrub a toilet’ also seemed to be the takeaway most columnists went with when discussing my writing. According to everyone with a public opinion my problem was not lack of cash but that I was too proud, or precious, or whatever to do real work. I was spoiled.

Thing is, I wasn’t just spitballing about whether or not scrubbing toilets pays the bills. I knew already, from experience, that it would not – because cleaning was the very last job I held before moving to London. I worked for months at a hostel in Aviemore while writing up my PhD thesis. In between changing beds and mopping bathrooms, I collated data on forensic pathology cases and assembled chapters on the processes of human decomposition. Because I also was the hostel’s cook and lived on site, I was able to save almost everything I earned. I thought this would put me in good stead for the autumn, when I planned to submit my PhD back in Sheffield, then move to London to look for work.

Long story short: my calculations of expenses for life in the capital city were way, way off. By the time I paid the extortionate deposit and rent on a sad little room in Kilburn, I was already out of cash. But with my PhD not yet approved I couldn’t apply for science jobs. So I became a call girl. A choice that I thought (also mistakenly as it turned out) would be lucrative, not require a particular visa, and that I could leave behind as soon as I started my “real” career.

That was then.

This is now: I’m scrubbing a toilet in a million dollar house in one of my county’s fanciest neighborhoods. American Standard. The water in the American Southwest is mineral-heavy and leaves rings on everything; I’m not so much scrubbing as chipping away at stalagmites of built up lime.

It’s the first toilet I’ll clean today, the first of four bathrooms in this house, but it’s not the last time I’ll think about those people who imagined I was too proud to scrub a toilet. I’ve been scrub-a-toilet poor before; it’s not that big a deal. No, instead they were telling me the thing they considered to be the last-resort job of choice before “selling your body.” Their deepest fear, the most undignified thing short of being a whore (which as we all know is the worst thing a woman can do).

That’s the calculation according to society. Whore is worst, cleaner is second worst, and no one in their right minds would do either. Let alone both. Yet the jobs persist. Even in a recession. Even in a pandemic. Key workers both. Not the front lines, accumulating accolades and sometimes hazard pay, but the back lines, doing jobs few want to admit always need done.

Even in the midst of a global pandemic it seems cleaning after oneself is still a job for someone else. Lifestyle columnists Sarah Ditum and Janice Turner raised a few eyebrows when they staunchly declared the unavailability of house cleaners in the first wave of covid to be beyond bearable. Not for them picking up the mop, or worse yet, asking one’s husband and children to chip in. No, went the logic, cleaners wanted the work. They loved their clients.

I’ve heard people say things like that before almost word for word. People who are the customers of sex workers. Do I have to tell you women like those are just the sort of people whose husbands I once would have fucked for money? I know it, and I guess they know it too.

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If you too are in possession of a house and neither the time nor the inclination to clean it, you could book me or someone like me through any number of websites and apps. They all have slick, modern sites, enormous market capitalisations, and most importantly in this buoyant gig economy: they employ none of the people who show up at your door to do the work.

The landing pages show clean, modern homes resplendent in bare wood, white tile and brushed metal fixtures. Homes with six-burner gas ranges and fresh cut peonies in fishbowl vases. The kind of homes that few of the cleaners could ever dream of calling their own. The vibe is upscale, quiet suburb or cool high-rise urban.

And if you don’t mind what happens to your body, to your health, then there are always jobs like this, just not careers. With ubiquitous smartphones and widespread internet services that previously were available mainly to the well-heeled can be booked at the touch of a finger. In many ways the rise of sex workers on the internet when I was an anonymous blogger presaged the way many would soon be working in the 21st century.

My entry into cleaning for apps is straightforward. Sign up, submit a photo of my driver’s license, wait for a background check. Answer a few (very few) questions on my experience as a cleaner. I have a bit, from the aforementioned pre-London days turning over an 80-bed hostel in the Scottish Highlands for a summer, to helping out friends with holiday cottages.

I’m accepted on the platform and my rate is set at $15 per hour. That’s 4 dollars an hour above the nearest city’s minimum wage, more than twice the Federal minimum of $7.25, but well below anything that could result in the “thousands” the app’s ads on Craigslist promised. Up to thousands, I remind myself. Technically that means anything above zero. I’m assured through a short series of videos that work is straightforward and easy to come by, and that any problems I might experience with the app itself are quick to figure out. I’m told if I book 10 jobs this week my rate goes up, maybe as high as $22. I complete the series of Youtube videos that constitute training and log on.

There are no jobs. At all. Not today, and not tomorrow.

There’s one in three days! I click, eager to “claim” before anyone else does (because that must be what’s happening, right? There are no jobs because they’re already taken?) But when I google the location I find it’s in central Colorado – a 330-mile round trip from where I am now. Sure, there’s a $20 “bounty” for picking this one up, should I choose. But I decide to forego it. There is zero chance at this rate I will ever earn more than $15 an hour through the app.

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We live in the age of the side hustle. Everyone I’ve met since moving back to the US has one. The fine artists with an Air B&B, the candle maker who cleans for them, the solar installer who is also a part-time fire captain, the fire captains who sell third party phone cases on Amazon. The jiu-jitsu instructor with a window washing business. The college professor who works as a part-time paramedic on ski patrol. The ski patroller who proctors exams at the college.

There is no mystery as to why. None of these people are rich or have any illusions of becoming so. Side hustle as a phrase sounds cool, as if a few hours of your week here and there will make it rain and make the Moet pour. The reality is more prosaic. Life in the land of opportunity is expensive. With a stunted public transport infrastructure, cars are a necessity if you want to get by in most of America. The college degree has more or less taken the place of a high school diploma, sought out even for entry-level customer service, and the expansion of the student loan industry leaves many in debt long beyond their 40’s. Credit rating determines everything from your ability to rent accommodation to even whether or not you get a job, obliging people to spend and keep spending in the name of being a trustworthy consumer. Being a consumer obliges you to work. Once entered, the cycle has no end. Not even retirement, for those (unlike my father) lucky enough to contemplate it: in 1985, 10.8% of people over 65 in America were still working. The number in 2017 was double that, and expected to become still higher when the twilight years of Baby Boomers give way to geriatric Generation X.

It gets worse. A shocking number of America’s personal bankruptcies are due to inability to pay medical bills. From a high of 1.5 million in 2010, the year the Affordable Care Act came into law, it declined to 770 thousand in 2016. And yet the problem is not solved: the requirement to buy insurance even on price-capped markets still leaves a lot of room for expenses in the form of deductibles that can be thousands of dollars or more. People still avoid accessing preventive care and instead end up in the emergency room, sometimes not until they are on death’s door. We may be in post-Obamacare America, with many on the left making noises about some form of universal, free-at-the-point-of-delivery healthcare, but the wolf of sudden medical emergency could turn up and destroy your life anytime. Even in the coronavirus pandemic America did not manage to elect a candidate who promises universal healthcare.

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Four-Toilets is not a bad job as these things go. I know that immediately. It isn’t a 330 mile round trip to get there, for starters; only an hour from my house. The place is owned by a couple of about my age, pet- and child-free. They are not hoarders, and while some of it requires elbow grease (the aforementioned hard water in toilets situation) they’ve not left cleaning so long that any of it is out of hand, save a giant walk-in shower I spend about a third of the allotted five hours scrubbing.

The man goes out, and when he comes back, has brought me a sandwich. I don’t have time to eat on the clock of course. The app’s clients feed in the size of the job and the app gives them an estimated finishing time (no breaks). I do the last toilet, vacuum and mop, and am done bang on the hour the app predicted. I can’t help but wonder if there was a box they ticked that said “our house is already pretty clean” (it was) or if, in the future, similarly-sized jobs with less scrupulously tidy clients will be assigned the same five-hour time slot.

I don’t think about that, just sign on to the app to confirm completion of the job, load up my car (you are required to bring all supplies, including mop and vacuum, and more recently, PPE), and accept a shyly-offered $30 tip from the man. They want to book me again, once every fortnight. I say I’ll have a look on the app but I’d like that.

I have no illusions: few jobs will be as straightforward as this. On the drive home, I start making a list of what I need to replenish. Paper towels, microfibre rags, oven cleaner, furniture polish. Pick up some limescale remover! And some drain unclogging liquid. The tip covers my time driving to and from the house, and the gas, just about. It reminds me of being an escort when the client’s tips usually covered my transport.

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Twenty-one years ago today, on January 2nd, 2000, I started escorting full-time; now today I’m officially semi-retiring.  I had originally hoped this day would come much sooner, but life happened and financial disasters befell me, and it wasn’t until two years ago that I realized the time had finally come to scale back my professional life.  When I first went full-time I had already been doing various kinds of sex work (compensated dating, sugaring, stripping, etc) on and off for fifteen years, and after today I’ll still be seeing my regular clients (and other gents who have seen me at least once before) and a very few who come recommended by friends.  Even during the past 21 years I’ve done several different kinds of work (agency escorting, bachelor parties, running my own agency, independent escorting, and even a long-term exclusive gig).  So, this isn’t a simple, linear matter of retirement as it is in straight jobs, and yet it does feel like an ending.  I’m no longer using traditional advertising, no longer allowing myself to be solicited via text message by marginally-literate cretins, no longer screening so as to avoid said cretins (not to mention violent costumed rapists), and no longer seeing anyone without planning days or weeks in advance.  This doesn’t mean I’m cutting back on activism just yet; I plan to keep writing regularly for a while, and doing public appearances when those become a thing again, and in fact I may possibly have more time and energy for such activities now.  But even in that department, things have changed; when I first became an activist there weren’t all that many of us in the US, and now I’m glad to say there are thousands.  So all in all, I feel like it’s time to put away my dancing shoes, and settle into my role as an “elder stateswoman” of the demimonde, leaving the field of action to my much younger sisters…including those who weren’t even born yet when I started.

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