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Catwoman annual #2, via pennyredful’s Instagram

For sex worker comics fans disappointed by Sex Criminals, Capes and Whips made this highly comprehensive and excellently illustrated run-down of Catwoman’s canonical career as a sex worker (with links to her backstory for those unfamiliar), covering almost 20 years and discussing the differing styles of writing, illustration, and approaches to sex work taken by the various authors in charge of her story.

Bay Area sex workers are calling for decriminalization with a strength and energy fueled by the closure of MyRedbook and the loss of safe advertising and screening space.

Melissa Gira Grant and Stoya have a thoughtful conversation with Dazed Digital about sex work, safety, and the way sex workers are silenced and spoken over; watch out for Stoya’s referencing of Tits and Sass.

Like Canadian sex workers, Scottish sex workers are being kept out of discussions of Nordic-style legislation.  SCOT-PEP is protesting their recent exclusion from a meeting:

A sex worker called Cat said: “It’s outrageous to hold a meeting to discuss sex work and to specifically exclude sex workers and sex worker-led organisations.”

Ms Grant said: “The planned meeting is for those who support the principles of criminalising the purchase of sex and as SCOT-PEP have publicly stated their opposition to this, their inclusion wouldn’t be appropriate at this time.

Is that so?

Taking a very different tack, the mayor of Bogota met with Bogota sex workers Wednesday as a part of his ongoing effort to include marginalized populations in conversations that affect them.

Offering corroboration to last month’s piece by David Henry Sterry, “Why Prostitution Can Make More Sense Than Working At Walmart,” Lara Michelle agrees: yes, working in the sex industry can make more sense than working at Walmart.

The Trafficking in Persons report (TIP report) system is not working in Thailand, and hasn’t been for a very long time.  By contrast, the International Labour Organisation has a new strategy which, by not focusing exclusively on trafficking and instead focusing on labor issues, appears much more promising. [READ MORE]

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(Photo by flickr user sharyn morrow, via Creative Commons)

(Photo via sharyn morrow’s flickr and the Creative Commons)

Dungeons are often a launching pad for newbies entering the industry as the work seems safer and often more socially acceptable to the general public. In recent years pro-domme, sub, and switch work has gotten more popular than ever. Meanwhile, commercial dungeon management continues to prey on people entering into the industry looking for an “empowering” job and finding out that it’s the exact opposite.

Serpent Libertine began her career at commercial dungeons in Chicago and later moved onto escort work. She is currently an organizer with SWOP-Chicago and part of the team behind Adult Industry Truth, which conducts research about human trafficking in the sex trade.

Cathryn: I started out doing fetish work independently, mostly spanking fetishists alongside my friend. I transitioned to indie pro-domming and escorting. My first time ever working in a house was last year but I’m back to independent work now. I’m what I like to call a prostidomme. I’m basically an escort, but I do the weird stuff.

Reina: An old friend from high school started Domming at a professional dungeon and told me the work she did at her dungeon was fun, but sometimes the work (and management) was crazy and weird. I was always drawn to the ‘weird and crazy,’ so immediately I was curious about what could possibly be so jarring that she had to leave that place and seek a new dungeon. I was there for a full year before winding up at another commercial dungeon for another year, before going independent in February.

Selene: I have worked as a pro-domme at two commercial dungeons; a year at each one. I learned about it through an acquaintance of mine at school who told me “I’m a Dominatrix.” I was taken by the title and my interest rose until I finally called the dungeon. However, I had no idea as to what was in store.

What was your initial experience working at a commercial dungeon? What sort of expectations did you have?

Serpent: Pro-domme work was my introduction to the sex industry. My roommate was working at a dungeon that this  guy ran out of a basement apartment near Wrigley Field. He resembled the singer Tiny Tim (google him), but was even more creepy looking, with a huge pot belly and frizzy hair. He never showered and had a voice changer on his phone so he could pretend to be one of the dommes while setting up appointments with clients. I’d become well-acquainted with him via phone calls to our apartment asking for my roommate so eventually, I asked to come into his dungeon for an interview to work as a pro-domme. When I arrived, first he first seemed pretty cool and funny, but after talking to him for awhile, he laid down on the ground and began sniffing my feet, without my consent. He would continually talk about these fetish videos he wanted to shoot and ask my roommate and I to do a “screen test” to see how we looked on camera. Later I looked in his kitchen cabinets and found dozens of videotapes, likely of other women who had come into “interview” with him. Tiny Tim dicked me around and never gave me a shift at the dungeon but later phone harassed my roommate by calling her over 20 times a day after she quit working for him. I accompanied her to court when she pressed harassment charges against him and he was ordered to stop contacting her.

After that, I began working at one of the large commercial dungeons in Chicago. If I was nervous at all, I don’t remember, but I had no experience in BDSM activities at all. My training was to sit in on a few sessions with the other dommes and then start doing solo sessions. Our “dungeon” was just an apartment and we sat around bored most of the time, waiting for clients. I had purchased some rather pricey latex fetish clothing but at this place, most of the other dommes did sessions in lingerie or cheap fetish clothing.

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Welcome to the club! (image via flickr user dustout)

Welcome to the club! (image via flickr user dustout)

Starting a new club is never easy. You have to contend with the management, the staff, and a whole new crowd of customers. It takes a while, but eventually you adapt to the new atmosphere. So long as you make it through the initiationthe unspoken way a tight group of strippers sometimes try to break the new girl in. Try to not to take it personally. Use the music you dance to as a passive-aggressive tool to protect yourselfand impress everyone in the process. Here’s how I do it.

Once I feel comfortable at my new club, I’ll begin requesting changes to my setlists. The retaliation begins when dancers giggle and request a couple of my freshly incorporated tracks into their stage sets during our shift together, as if it will get a rise out of me the way it riles them up, seeing stacks thrown at another dancer “ruining their song.” You know, “Pussy Liquor.” Their song.

When this situation occurs, I wait for my eyes to return to their proper position post-roll and gather songs from these dancers’ elementary school days, ensuring that they either don’t know them, or would never think to request them because it’s much too difficult to pout at yourself in the mirror as they’re played. The following list contains songs that aren’t necessarily obscure—but if the club DJ still used vinyl or CDs, these tracks’ albums would be the ones covered in dust. [READ MORE]

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Daisy Nokato of Uganda, speaking on main plenary at AIDS Conference 2014. (Photo via Elena Jeffreys’ Instagram account)

The International AIDS Conference in Melbourne featured discussion of how laws criminalizing sex work hinder efforts to prevent the spread of HIV. This Reuters story covers counterproductive global laws. A study was presented that argued decriminalization could cut the rate of infection by up to a third. Chinese sex worker activist Ye Haiyan was prevented from traveling to the conference.

Porn performers aren’t the only ones getting screwed over by banks: the owner of strip clubs Scores and Penthouse Executive Club is suing Deutsche Bank for $1 million after the bank reneged on a $17 million loan when it discovered the nature of his business.

As part of its “Consolidated guidelines on HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and care for key populations” (key populations being men who have sex with men, prisoners, injection drug users, sex workers, and transgender people) the WHO has announced that countries wishing to increase access for these populations need to remove the legal and social barriers preventing access, including decriminalizing sex work.  “The global fight against HIV and AIDS will not be won by relegating segments of the population to the shadows,” said John Berry. The WHO was guided in forming these recommendations by the actual target populations themselves.

Cyd Nova just made a handy list for you to hand out to your future acquaintances:  Nine Stereotypes Sex Workers Are Tired of Hearing About. Yes, this is a real job and no, it is never appropriate to ask someone about their abuse history. If someone actually does that, just take the list back and save it for the next person.

“What does the Swedish model get wrong?” asks this Time column, answering that it is the treatment of women as incapable of consent and the continued marginalization of sex workers. Moreover, it announces that decriminalization is actually the answer.

The Washington Post asks, “Do Dating Aps Have a Prostitution Problem?” Did the Washington Post have a slow news day problem?

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Photo taken by Silvia Escario

Visual approximation of Ms. Harm Reduction back in the day. (Photo taken by Silvia Escario.)

Dear Ms. Harm Reduction,
I’m an escort with an Oxycontin habit. For the most part I can plan ahead and maintain, but sometimes supply runs out and I have to go to work when I’m in withdrawal. I serve a middle class clientele, and I’d lose clients if they found out I was a drug user. I’m also afraid some of them might even become violent if they discovered I was a “junkie.” How do I hide the tell tale signs of dopesickness while working?

Best,
Sniffling Isn’t Cute y’Know

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