I woke up at my usual time and answered e-mails, which of course included stuff that would be best handled from my home office. This sort of emergency stuff never happens when Iâ€™m actually at home. Only the very few times a year Iâ€™m away from my desk.
The night before Iâ€™d practiced one of my speeches, so this morning I practiced the other short one. My long one was going to have wait. I felt I knew my material pretty well at this point, but perhaps I wasnâ€™t really paying attention to what was coming out of my mouth.
Today was St. James Infirmary Fantasy Sex Me Academy. I still donâ€™t get the title, but okay. It was the Whore College re-named. It was a day-long seminar of presentations to sex workers. I was hoping to learn new things, meet new people (sell books!) and do some market research on the sly. Armed with directions from Yahoo! Maps, I began my morning walk.
Since it was a cold morning, I wore a sweater. By the time I got to the building, it was warm and I was sweating (not to mention my back ached, my arms were trembling and I discovered how much I loathed my shoes). I was lugging books, brochures, water and plastic brochure-stands.
I signed in and said hello to Melissa Gira, whom I had met at Scarlotâ€™s radio show. I put up my brochure stand, with permission, and sat down to fan myself. I recognized a couple people from the SWOP meet the day before and we all started chatting. There wasnâ€™t enough time to answer questions and share ideas. It gave me a nice, social-butterfly feeling, and made me feel like a butterfly-brain because I could not pay attention to everyone at once (like I felt I needed to).
At first it seemed the only people there were activists, then other local sex workers came in. Good! There were no round-robin introductions, so no one had any idea what anyone did unless they volunteered. Most did, some never did.
The first session was hosted by a man whoâ€™d been in sex work for about 20 years. His focus was all on the creation and use of positive energy in sex work. It was amazing. He talked about what I talked about in my book (when I discussed energy) and far beyond. He said many things Iâ€™ve thought about but never articulated because I didnâ€™t think I had any credence. And he offered some great advice in dealing with particular issues. Iâ€™m working on putting into practice his breathing methods. It was a great session.
The next session was about physical safety. The speaker spent most of her session time discussing the two incidents in which clients assaulted her. A much briefer time was devoted to screening. It was fairly obvious that if she had done her diligence in screening, she would not have been in the situations she was in. Even so, her screening still consisted mostly of talking to the guy on the phone. As someone who fully screened and was strict about it, I canâ€™t imagine thinking youâ€™re safe just from an extended phone conversation. My methods werenâ€™t foolproof but since I was not arrested nor assaulted, Iâ€™m going to ascribe it to more than mere luck. I didnâ€™t feel the session discussed safety in the depth that the topic required. It mostly seemed to be therapy for her.
We broke for lunch and it was a good lunch, catered by Whole Foods, with great little pastries. I walked downstairs to see if Desiree Alliance had started sign-in. They were still setting up. They let me put my brochure stand on the table.
The next session was on marketing and rates. It was a great session, although we spent a little too much time on the first few topics and not enough on the end topics. It was also a Cliff Notes version of the primary marketing section in book #2. I was happy to see that the issues I thought were important only to Internet escorts are actually universal. I also felt that a little bit of my thunder was being (inadvertently) stolen. Oh well. This was the market research I was hoping for. And they explained some topics in ways I had not thought of explaining (though obviously I canâ€™t do it their way in my book). Everyone seemed to feel it was a worthwhile session.
The final session was on legal issues. We did not have nearly enough time to explore all the legal issues everyone wanted to know about, but the ones that were covered were worthwhile. Unfortunately, people were thinning out and it had been a long day.
The Academy was over. I hoped to run into several of the people later this week. Iâ€™d sold the books I brought with me (and I wished Iâ€™d brought a couple more) and was pumped about that. My head was still spinning with information and all the people Iâ€™d met and talked to. There wasnâ€™t enough time.
I went downstairs to officially sign in with the Desiree Alliance Conference. I received a nice folder with all sorts of info and my own pre-printed name tag! The two organizers were working their butts off to make it happen. Although it had been a fight to convince my backer that the $100 registration fee was worth it, I was happy to have contributed to support this.
I walked back to my hotel, vowing to take a cab later. My feet felt like raw nubs and I was sick of carrying my damn bag. I checked e-mail and worried about the security of the free wi-fi link, then decided I could do nothing about it. I needed Internet access. After freshening up I went outside to catch a cab. There were none around. A “limo” driver saw me and told me he could take me. Apparently there was a convention in town that was taking all the cabs. Since the hotel was on Market Street and there were no cabs anywhere in sight the entire time we talked, I said sure. It was $15 to be taken to my destination. (I also gave a $3 tip.) I felt a scam somewhere in there, but didnâ€™t realize it until Friday when a group of us took a cab back to the hotel and it was about a $7 fare. Damn!
After checking in with the DA folks again, I went to dinner with another SWOP-East board member, Jessica. We found a Spanish place that was very yummy (and incredibly busy and short-staffed). We talked a lot. We were trying to reach our other SWOP member, Jill. Her stuff was in the room we shared, so I knew she was here, but we could not find her or reach her on her cell (turns out she forgot her cell at home). She attended the trafficking panel that we’d decided not to attend. It was said to have been really good, but I was too damn tired to walk that far.
We headed back to DA for the wine and cheese reception. There were less than a dozen of us, sitting around drinking wine and eating. There was food and wine for plenty, so it was a very nice time for everyone to relax and chat. It lasted until midnight and almost no one else showed up. (Seems everyone had gone to the trafficking panel.) I got to know several people very well. And meeting DA’s founder Susan was great. She’s a very special person. Not only does she have boundless energy, but she’s a love goddess who kept her cool throughout the conference even when everything else was getting tangled. Her spirit imbued the entire conference. As we all pitched in to clean up, I begged a ride back to the hotel with the other DA organizer (who had a vehicle).
Jill was in her bed sound asleep. I tried not to make noise as I washed for bed. I’d had three Dixie cups of wine and had made headway with a fourth. I can’t remember the last time I drank that much. Exhausted, exhilarated, wishing the day was not over, slightly dehydrated, I turned off the light and was out.