May 28, 2012 Adult Industry
Some of you are aware that I appeared on a National Geographic documentary that first aired in February. Now the rest of you are aware. Once again, my brush with mainstream media is generally negative. Eventually I’ll learn.
NatGeo spoke to me in April 2009 about appearing on their Taboo series. One of their episodes was going to cover sex work. Though I spoke for 90 minutes on the phone with Kate Witchard and emailed with her, they decided not to use me. This was right before I was beginning my travels and I pitched the idea to her, but she told me National Geographic wasn’t interested in following a working escort around the world.
Utter waste of time. I don’t take kindly to having my brain picked for free. (Shortly after, someone whom I suspect was producing the Belle de Jour series wanted to do that too so I quoted a price and never heard back.)
Last summer I was approached by NatGeo again. I was not interested. Daniele Anastasion, the producer, assured me this was a stand-alone documentary focusing on the US and the legal issues surrounding prostitution. After back and forth emails, I agreed to a 5 minute phone call that turned into 45. It seemed okay and I agreed to it. Of course they weren’t going to pay me a dime. (It’s a documentary! They wouldn’t do something so icky as pay for interviews!) No makeup provided either. But it seemed like it would be intelligent. It’s National Geographic, after all.
We settled on a shooting date. They weren’t thrilled about having to come to Dallas but since they weren’t paying me to show up anywhere else, Dallas was it. They wanted to shoot an interview — which was the point. They also wanted to shoot “B-roll,” which is silent footage that shows up in the background with interviewed voiceovers. This is where it started getting to be a bit much.
Someone (possibly a retired escort?) has finally figured it out. You can have the best pen-pal of all, for a fee, of course. Just like the guys who constantly write escorts without ever setting up an appointment, you will never meet your fake Internet girlfriend. Plans start at $250/month and go up depending on amount of contact required (sounds familiar). Seems to be the real deal, though I do wonder just how many different people are actually in the talent pool and if they are all actually females (it’s pretty easy to fool guys online).
Personally, I’m waiting for FakeHooker.com to debut. Oh wait, nevermind.
Another piece by Audacia Ray in which she recants former beliefs and apologizes for being a white female of conventional appearance (she should apologize for believing that New York/San Francisco sex work activists represent the entire rest of the country). But I read this piece and wondered if I was one of these sex-positive activists. No, I’m not sex-positive and don’t believe I’ve ever identified that way. Sex workers who endlessly blog about their personal/professional sex lives makes me squirm and I’ve never, ever stated that sex work satisfies my sexual self. (I usually go the other way and tell sex workers that this work is not a substitute for a sex life.)
Sex work is work to me, not sex. I am work-positive. I firmly believe in every sex worker’s right to work in the safest possible manner, maximizing their income as much as they can. As much as I can give sex workers the tools to do that, I will. Granted, my focus is on what I know best: Internet escort work. That still encompasses a pretty broad swath of people. I insist on sex workers working ethically as well — that’s my belief in how the world functions best. Not that I can somehow force anyone to do any of this. That’s a laugh!
For some reason, work is a four-letter word among Internet escorts. There is nothing dirty, ignoble or dispassionate about work. Job is also not a bad word, yet is also treated as such. Maybe my origins do affect my sex work. I was raised with a very strong work ethic and having a job was what one did. Since my family did not provide me with a trust fund to last the rest of my life, having a job and working was an integral part of my future no matter how I looked at it.
That my sex work is work isn’t a negative to me. I take pride in my work, I pour a lot of my personal energy into my work. My work revolves around connecting with individual humans on a personal level and making them happy. It’s not easy work and it’s not a job for everyone but it is a job that many are drawn to. I certainly don’t resent having to make a living. It’s an expected part of my life. Sure, there are annoyances but there are plenty of other jobs that would have killed my soul long before.
Audacia discusses the issue of money and yes, it’s a valid reason for why many choose this work. Nothing wrong with taking the highest-paying work one can get. But I have found that those who find fulfillment only through the money end up with emotional problems regarding the work. The answer for these people isn’t decrim, it’s helping them get similar-paying work they can personally handle. The reality is that not everyone is cut out for sex work. Just like not everyone is cut out to do all sorts of other highly-specialized work. Still, those who hate sex work but need to pay the bills deserve work-positive activism just as much as those who feel naturally drawn to sex work. (I’m deliberately leaving out the experiences of those who were coerced into sex work because, obviously, they made no choice to be involved.)
In a perfect world, everyone would only do the work they wished to do and it would magically pay their living expenses. We’re not there yet. Changing the laws and providing harm reduction is the best that can be done. I don’t feel there is inherent conflict in telling the world “Most sex workers choose sex work. Many like it. Many do not. None of them wishes to work in unsafe conditions and be subject to arrest or become ready-made victims of crime.”
Sex work is a gigantic spectrum of experiences. One thing I’ve noticed is that those who have negative experiences rarely acknowledge that not everyone shares their experiences, yet any sex worker who has positive experiences is seemingly required to acknowledge they aren’t shared by everyone. Positive experiences aren’t a by-product of “luck” or any socially-endowed “privilege” (a laughable concept under a criminalized system) — they’re a product of hard work by the individual sex worker who approaches their work as a business to be learned, managed and maximized. Does this mean every sex worker who has negative experiences aren’t taking the right business approach? Sometimes — yes. Sometimes just a little application of common sense and personal responsibility would do wonders for the sex worker. Other times the answer is clearly no, an awful lot beyond the control of the individual needs to happen to change that person’s fortune.
I’ve really said all I wanted to say today. I’m work-positive and will continue to be so. Audacia helped clarify this for me and I thank her for that — regardless of what I think of her thoughts, she made me think and that’s always appreciated (and I like her on a personal level). I’ve been trying to clarify a lot of things in my life lately and this is just one more piece in place (a small one, but one I wanted to share).
Jul 1, 2011 Adult Industry
This is a very quick post. I’m sure I’ll think of better things to say this weekend.
a little background
After Craigslist fell, everyone’s attention turned to Backpage. The attention cranked up but Backpage wasn’t saying much, however it instituted new advertising policies that just got in the way of adult sex workers advertising there.
The point of intersection came with the Superbowl in Dallas and the hordes of underage girls being trafficked into the city. Like, so many of them every single hotel in the metroplex would’ve been booked solid with working girls under the age of 18. The Dallas Observer, part of Village Voice Media, made much of the non-event that was the Superbowl (not including the ice storm — which was an event).
Meanwhile, over on the West Coast, Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, along with assorted other female celebrities, have been braying about the problem of child sex trafficking in the US. They’ve been raising millions, attempting to influence legislation and are making a lot of noise about this huge “problem” that even they admit has no solid numbers.
The Village Voice ran a story making fun of Ashton’s “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls” campaign and questioning the numbers of underage trafficking victims. Ashton took offense and started a Twitter war. He has a scary number of followers who are not sex workers yet consider themselves experts on underage trafficking because they follow his Tweets. Um, yeah.
Which brings us to…
Tags: abolitionists, activism, arrest, ashton kutcher, backpage, craigslist, decriminalization, demi moore, internet sex work, online escort advertising, police, prostitution on craigslist, sex trafficking, sex worker rights
May 19, 2011 Adult Industry
ne requiescat in pace
At this point, it’s faded into dust. Old news. Everyone’s moved on. Except me, obviously.
a personal history with craigslist
I’ve used Craigslist to find living quarters, household odds and ends, sold/swapped items, attempted to navigate the Personals (and still read them just for the laugh, not for the penis pix) and yes — advertised my Erotic/Adult Services on there, both in the US and several other countries.
Any provider will tell you advertising on CL was hit-or-miss. Not only was it stronger in some cities than others, it was certainly stronger in some countries than others. And sometimes the geographical differences were distinct for non-financial reasons: like the number of thick-skulled, hyper-romantics in Asia who confused the Erotic Services section with the Personals vs the crudity of London punters responding to the ads (they were not confused, BTW). One thing never changed: a literate ad with a decent picture stood out in every city, every country. (And then I got to watch how literate the other ads would suddenly become, usually mangling the English worse than their own, original writing.)
It was very much an open market and in many ways, the Internet version of standing on the street. Or perhaps sitting at the bar. At best.