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Top 10 Anti-Sex Work Billboards

Have you heard that SWAAY has an Epic Step campaign to create the first sex workers’ rights billboard in America? Epic Step is like the Kickstarter of billboards, so they need your donations in order to make this happen. Just look at how many anti-sex work billboards there are.

10. I feel like twitter is to blame for anything starting with “Dear,” including “Dear John” billboards in and surrounding Chicago, IL. “Dear Starbucks,” “Dear Netflix,” “Dear rain,” “Dear Man Soliciting Sex, We’re watching you in your sleep. Love, Chicago PD.”

photo by Chuck Berman via Chicago Tribune

Is The Customer Always Right? On Professionalism and Boundaries, Part 1

summer-august-lazy-work-seasonal-ecards-someecardsBelow, four in-person sex working professionals discuss how to maintain boundaries while keeping clients happy, the most common problems that cause conflicts with customers, and what they think professionalism means in the context of a career plagued by stigma and illegality. Part two will be posted tomorrow. The women weighing in are Lori Adorable, Amanda Brooks1, Charlotte Shane, and Tizzy Wall.2

Charlotte: Sex work is very much my primary career, so I tend to think of it as I would any other personal service job, meaning I want a client to “get his money’s worth.” I want him to have the experience he wants to have. But I’ve also developed a pretty strong sense of boundaries over the years, and there are a lot of things I don’t allow and wouldn’t be willing to do no matter how much a client complains or cajoles. Do you think about your work in terms of satisfying the client? How do you negotiate that “the client is always right” mentality (yours or theirs!) with your own boundaries and preferred way of doing things?

Amanda: I’ve never felt I had to do anything the client or strip club customer wanted just because they were paying me. Quite the opposite. (I guess this means I have an “attitude”). However, I do feel they’re paying me to have a good time or have a need met. I consider it my job to give them my full attention and find a way to make them happy. I like making clients happy because it pleases me and offers personal satisfaction in my work. By “happy,” I don’t mean I do everything they’ve ever dreamed of. There’s always a middle ground.

Of course there have been times when I’ve shut off that inner voice and allowed a boundary to be pushed because of the money — but it always snaps back into place naturally, damn the consequences. I’m not someone who responds well to being told what to do or having my sense of privacy invaded. Add my stubborn refusal to fake it and it becomes a real mess, especially when I end up doing something I really don’t want (like have sex) just because I know it’s expected. Not to derail this into issues of consent; this is about personal satisfaction and playing a particular role that doesn’t fit me as well as it used to. As most service-industry workers probably feel, the less happy I am, the more I should be paid.

“Two and a Half Men” Meet a Prostitute

I don’t purposefully watch “Two and a Half Men,” but like many popular sitcoms, it eventually becomes part of the cultural atmosphere and thanks to the public ubiquity of TVs, even the unwilling breathe it in. I first caught wind of an episode involving a prostitute when I was with a client. (Of course.) He turned on the TV in his hotel’s sitting room and then we retired to the bedroom. It wasn’t long before I started hearing the sounds of “hooker!” floating in. I think my guy was too wrapped up in my feet—figuratively; my feet aren’t quite that big—to notice, but I was aware and slightly embarrassed. Related: this one time a client and I went to see Cedar Rapids during our long weekend and ended up sitting through scenes featuring a sweet, hotel hustling lady who, if memory serves, has the obligatory “you think I like going with all those different guys?!” moment. Awkward! Dear World: when I’m playing girlfriend to a client, I need you to erase any and all references to prostitution because it makes us both feel weird. Kthanx.

Anyway, the next time I happened to be in the vicinity of a TV tuned to “Two and a Half Men,” I had a feeling that fate was about to be kind and hit me with that “hooker!” episode again. And sure enough, it did. Surprisingly, it was not as terrible as I anticipated.

Man Calls Cops on Stripper That Won’t Screw Him: Stripping Isn’t Sex Work Lite

(Image by Nicolas Royne,  via Flickr and the Creative Commons)
(Image by Nicolas Royne, via Flickr and the Creative Commons)

One of the brightest spots of sex work activism is when some bright-eyed bushy-tailed sex-worker-to-be finds her way into the space and wants to know the best way to get into our sordid business. “Come, little one! Join me in the fresh hellscape that is the business of selling sexual services,” I declare, fancying my mentorship style half old-school brothel manager chain-smoking Virginia Slims, half Archimedes the uptight but good-hearted owl from Disney’s Sword in the Stone. But one of the darker spots of the same situation is when these apprentices say things like, “I think I could start with something easy like stripping.” Oh, girl. You did not.

It is times like this that I wish I had this story in my back pocket to pull out and give to would-be strippers that think dancing is the Diet Coke of sex work. It is the story of a man with a shit-eating grin and a monumental sense of entitlement calling the police on a stripper who denied him sex in a VIP room in the appropriately named city of Butte, Montana. To recap, this man believed that the denial of sex from a stripper was not only a criminal offense but a criminal offense worth escalating to involvement with law enforcement. The sense of entitlement to sexual services beyond the ones on the official job descriptions are ones to which strippers are subjected regularly. While it is newsworthy because the guy actually called the cops, strippers know that boundary-pushing clients are part and parcel of the sexual and emotional labor of stripping.

MTV’s True Life Confirms that Sugarbabydom is a Hassle

The popularity of the sugar baby/sugar daddy relationship in the media is a bit of a recession phenomenon. It’s a grey-area of sex work lite that women with no experience in the sex industry can dip their toes into before they realize that if something sounds too good to be true, it is. The odds of finding an asexual millionaire benefactor are not good, but that won’t stop those with student loans or retail addictions from signing up on sites like Seeking Arrangement, Sugar Daddy For Me, Whats Your Price, and the like. MTV’s True Life follows twenty-one year-olds GG and Olivia, and twenty-two year-old Steve on their quests for financial dependence. Despite silly narration like, “They’re willing to ignore their hearts for the Benjamins,” I thought this was an accurate portrayal of what happens when young laypeople make an attempt at dancing the tango of conflicting interests.