The author as Trinette in a burlesque tribute to Archer (Photo by Meneldor Photography of "Danger Zone," produced by Smooches and Science and Sailor St. Claire Presents.)

The author as Trinette in a burlesque tribute to Archer. (Photo by Meneldor Photography of “Danger Zone,” produced by Smooches and Science and Sailor St. Claire Presents)

In 2010, FX premiered Archer, an animated show that balances adventures in espionage with workplace comedy. The titular character is Sterling Archer, “world’s greatest secret agent” and colossal douchebag. While the rest of the cast eventually joins Archer in the land of functionally good but typically awful people, Sterling is usually the worst of the bunch. As the whole show plays with spy genre tropes, Archer is presented as being a more realistic version of characters like James Bond. He’s great at his job but he’s also self-centered, vain, reckless, and constantly trying to get drunk and/or laid. Getting laid is a challenge, though, because he’s a jerk. Enter sex workers.

While Archer is shown to have sex with women who aren’t sex workers, he isn’t typically shown having sex with them more than once. He regularly calls an agency for last minute date needs and one of his continuing relationships is with one specific worker named Trinette Magoon.

Trinette is, to put it plainly, fucking amazing. I recently portrayed her in a burlesque tribute to Archer and ended up rewatching every episode she appears in. Seeing all of Trinette’s supporting appearances at once rather than spread out over four seasons made it clear the creators really took care with her character.

Trinette first appears in the second episode of the first season. Archer is training a new agent and hires her to help out while he orchestrates a party simulation. The new agent, Cyril, is nervous as he has “never been this close to a–.”  Cyril is unable to figure out how to refer to Trinette,  so Archer remarks that he can call her a call girl as “Trinette takes pride in her work” and Trinette agrees. It’s going well until Cyril uses her as a human shield during the exercise and she tries to leave, accidentally pricking herself on a poison-tipped pen Cyril was given earlier. She passes out, the men roll her up in a rug, and throw her in a trunk.

If Trinette’s storyline had ended here I would not have been surprised. That is how our stories usually end on television. But there is a twist; Trinette bangs on the trunk and demands to be let out, and once she’s free she berates Archer for his treatment of her, demands his watch, threatens to have his kneecaps broken by her employer, and drives off with the car.

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via flickr user STML

(via Flickr user STML)

Have you ever wondered what’s taught in university social work classes about sex trafficking? Several sex worker activists recently decided to go forth and find out by taking the online Human Trafficking course offered by Ohio State University’s Social Work program through Coursera, an education platform that partners with universities to offer online classes.

Course grades were based entirely on starting and responding to discussion forum topics and the students’ creation of human trafficking public service announcements. Although Coursera claimed that the class had 30,000 participants, in the end only 97 completed the class and received a certificate. Those who completed the class have not received the certificates yet. As activist Bella Robinson, put it, “God knows what it will say.”

The forum discussion, according to one sex worker student who posted on Facebook, was “about 99.99% about forcing women to stop doing sex work.” There was little or no moderation, with students up or down voting each other’s posts similarly to the way Reddit users do. The instructor, Dr. Jacquelyn Meshelemiah, an associate professor at Ohio State’s College of Social Work, rarely interacted with students and never corrected misinformation or addressed abusive comments. [READ MORE]

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Courtney Love tweets about the strip club bet which marks her reconciliation with Dave Grohl. (Screencap of Courtney Love’s twitter feed.)

As of this posting,  Tits and Sass contributor Peechington Marie’s fundraiser to allay funeral costs for the families of young murdered Black strippers Tjisha Ball and Angelia Mangum is closing in two hours. Contribute and make those two hours count!

Courtney Love and Dave Grohl buried the hatchet and made a bet about who could get the most strippers at Scores.  (A source reports that Grohl is an excellent tipper!) Though Love left early, she’s not letting the bet go.  She can have me for free.

Mixed martial arts fighter and noted batterer of women War Machine (Jonathan Koppenhaver) hung himself with his bed sheet in jail and…survived.

Belle Knox has nothing but high praise for the Law and Order: SVU episode that borrows her story.

A new city ordinance in Oakland allows the city to evict people suspected of being sex workers, and requires their landlords do the same.

In fact—when it comes to sex work, at least—a tenant does not need to have committed any crime to be evicted for that crime. “The crime solicited need not actually be committed for solicitation to occur,” the amended bill now reads.

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Truvada, the only HIV medication approved to be used in PrEP so far. (Photo by Jeffrey Beall, via Wikipedia Commons.)

Truvada, the only HIV medication approved to be used in PrEP so far. (Photo by Jeffrey Beall, via Wikipedia Commons.)

Lindsay Roth cowrote this post with sex worker ally and colleague Cassie Warren. Roth and Warren work together at PxROAR (Research, Outreach, Advocacy, and Representation), a program for community activists which offers training and support around biomedical HIV prevention research and advocacy. Readers can contact them with questions about PrEP at lindsay@swopusa.org and cassandra.r.warren@gmail.com.

So you’re telling me you can take a pill to prevent HIV?

Yup. We believe that if done right, PrEP has the potential to be one of the best tools brought to market for receptive partner protection and power since the pill in the 1960’s. PrEP doesn’t double as a contraceptive, but it does reduce your risk of HIV by 90% when taken correctly. It’s still a sweet tool to have in your make-up bag, hard femme box, tool kit, whatever you call it. We are still in the middle of an epidemic, with trans and cis women, men who have sex with men, and injection drug users still being hit hard and unjustly. We deserve to have access to all the options that protect us against HIV.

In what follows, we’d like to lay out the basics of PrEP (no really, what is it? does it cost the first month’s rent?), add context to some of the controversies, and offer our take on what this means for sex workers. We do not anticipate that we’ll be able to answer all the questions people have in this one post, and we hope that you will comment or reach out to us directly if you’d like to know more.

What the heck is it?

PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. The main part to note here is “pre,” implying treatment before exposure. In this context, we are talking about exposure to HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). So, PrEP is a medication an HIV-negative person would take to prevent them from becoming positive. Currently, Truvada is the only form of PrEP approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Truvada is an NRTI (nucleoside analog reverse transcriptase inhibitor) which is just a fancy name for an HIV medication. It has been used to treat HIV since 2004. We used to know HIV as the virus that caused AIDS, and knew AIDS as a death sentence. However, because of advancements in the treatment of HIV, positive folks can live long, healthy lives. Folks can even be positive, on treatment, and unable to transmit the virus to anyone else. Recently the medical establishment stopped giving AIDS diagnoses: Because of new treatment options people can be at various stages in their HIV diagnosis, and we now classify HIV as stage 0, 1, 2 or 3 HIV.

Many readers may be familiar with PrEP’s sibling, PEP, or post-exposure prophylaxis, the use of antiretroviral drugs—ARVs (again, a fancy name for HIV medications)—to mitigate the risk of HIV transmission after a potential exposure. Any doctor can write a prescription for PEP, most Medicaid programs pay for it, and Gilead, the large research based pharmaceutical company which makes Truvada, has a patient assistance program to cover the the costs for the uninsured or underinsured, regardless of immigration status.

To summarize, PrEP vs. PEP:

  • Truvada as PrEP is taken before an exposure to HIV, specifically one pill a day, every day.
  • PEP is taken after an exposure to HIV, specifically within 72 hours, and consists of 30 days of full-regimen HIV treatment medication.
  • Both prevent you from acquiring HIV.

How does PrEP work?

The rationale behind PrEP is based on the way most doctors are treating HIV-positive individuals with ARVs. Truvada is a combination of two medications, tenofovir and emtricitabine. If HIV is presenting itself in one’s body, this medication blocks the replication of HIV in the body. Doctors currently prescribe one pill a day, as the medication must be present in the body to do its work. However, there are trials underway to test the efficacy of other ways of taking PrEP. So far, the results of the iPrEX OLE (open label extension) say that if you take it 2-4 times a week you are protected 85% of the time against HIV, and if you take it 5-7 times a week, you are protected 99% of the time against HIV (not other STIs or pregnancy). If you take it less than 2 times a week you have zero protection. 1

Can I take it right before I meet a date?

No. PrEP acts like a full metal jacket around your T-cells, so if HIV is introduced to your body it can’t get into the cells it wants to infect and replicate itself.2 It takes about seven days to make this metaphorical metal jacket around the cells in the rectum (drugs taken orally are absorbed quicker in the digestive track), and about 20 days to make a metal jacket around the cells in the vagina (our apologies if you call your junk something else) and in the bloodstream. So, for full protection, you’d need to be taking it every day for a week before you’re protected during anal sex, and every day for three weeks before you are protected during vaginal sex or during any activity in which you would share blood (e.g., sharing needles for tattoos, hormones, drugs, piercings, etc.).

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 aswopchicagostylebook2Help Tits and Sass contributor Peechington Marie’s fundraiser to offset funeral costs for murdered young Black strippers Tjisha Ball and Angelia Mangum meet its goal in its final week.

The Daily Dot covers an online campaign to have the AP style book replace “prostitute” with “sex worker.” Want more on this? You’re in luck, as Tits and Sass will be running a series on sex worker nomenclature, including posts debating the merits of “prostitute” vs. “sex worker.”

Monica Jones is still fighting her case in court over a year after being arrested and funneled into her own school’s diversion program, but the flaws in Project ROSE are becoming more apparent and more public.

Government officials and social workers need to come to terms with the fact that the victim/criminal binary simply doesn’t fit the majority of underage sex workers, points out Elizabeth Nolan Brown.

There are more male sex workers in England than the government thinks!  Which is not surprising as government stats have a male sex worker population of 0.

Another Christian anti-trafficking organization is using sex workers as labor for their tacky little products, and the products as a metaphor for the reformed sex workers’ transformation from something no one wants into something beautiful.  Such empathy!  Wow.

The Daily Mail appears to be having a slow news week, as Amanda Goff hugging a football player she ran into at brunch was judged newsworthy. (Amanda Goff made headlines earlier this year after outing herself and writing a book about her work as an escort, to much handwringing over the psychic damage this revelation will do to her children).

Trans sex workers in Pattaya, Thailand are being targeted by the police as part of an across-the-board morality drive:

Officials in Pattaya say they need to be seen to be doing something to scrub up the city’s reputation before the army is tempted to intervene in ways which local officials say might be bad for business.

More on the five year study that resulted in its researchers having the revelation, “Sex workers! they’re a lot like us!” Still, as fatuous as that comment was, the study is a nice respite in a week dominated by anti-trafficking organizations: its findings show that most sex workers are not coerced.

Backing this up is yet another report from Operation North Star: police officers in Regina also found that sex workers were working because they wanted to (despite the police interviewers’ apparent inability to accept that fact.) Guess it’s just that hard to accept an escort’s word at face value.
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