Image via Business Week
Dear Tits and Sass,
I’ve been an escort for 3 years now. I’ve painstakingly built up a great brand that is original and true to my personality, I update my website regularly with new text and pictures, I keep my blog relatively up to date. I advertise on four different sites (3 local, 1 national.) I have completely plateaued in my business, and I have no idea what else to do. I have a local core of clientele but lets face it, it’s not paying the bills. How do I shake out of this hooker slump? Is it just time to pack it in?
Down in the Slumps
Alice: There’s no need to pack it in unless you really want to. You’ve got options! It’s great that you’re keeping your website up to date, and that’s probably a piece of what’s keeping your core group around. The trick, though, is getting new clients to get to your website via your ads. Since you advertise on multiple sites in your local market, try diversifying your ads with different photos and approaches on each and keep them as fresh and updated as you do your website. It might seem counterintuitive, but taking an ad down for a while can give your business a boost, especially if you’ve been advertising on the same sites for the majority of your career. [READ MORE]
Futurama: definite contender for “greatest show of all time.” You already know it’s hilarious, but do you also know that it’s actually about sex work? Allow me to demonstrate with a series of GIFs, clips and humorous macros that I am convinced we can all relate to.
Few television characters embody the Douche Client more perfectly than Zapp Brannigan. You know the type: massive yet fragile ego that requires constant stroking, weird obsession with own perceived attractiveness, and a stable of skin-crawlingly irritating “seduction” techniques.
Melissa Petro, Pros(e)’s editor, at a reading. Photo by David Kornfield, courtesy of the Red Umbrella Project.
Released in the fall of 2012, Pros(e) is the first anthology of writings from the Red Umbrella Project’s Becoming Writers workshop, a creative non-fiction workshop for people with experience in the sex industries. Caty Simon and Jessie Nicole produced this collaborative review out of an hours long conversation that had to be abridged to a fourth of its original size to be readable. We had a lot of feels, as the kids say.
A notable story for both of us (and Jessie’s favorite) was “Fist” by Josh Ryley, which we both had strong visceral reactions to. The mix of humor and horror was nothing short of brilliant, and like all the best pieces here, it illustrated a ubiquitous sex worker concern–what happens to a sex worker if a client gets seriously hurt during a session? Other pieces felt incomplete, like introductions to an untold story happening outside of the pages. And some left us lukewarm or cranky. But the power of Pros(e) is in the variety of experience.
Caty: Melissa Petro’s introduction opens with simple but vital points. We’re taught that sex workers are “if not worthless, than worth less.” We feel the need to tell ourselves we’re exceptional, to distinguish ourselves from the rest of that hoish rabble. This engenders horrible, elitist attitudes reflected in many other sex work memoirs, sometimes from the title onwards, as in Ivy League Stripper and the like. These attitudes also create barriers to organizing together. A collaborative writing project like this can make the vital difference. We show each other how we are the same, rather than one sex worker writing to show how a nice girl like her happened to end up in a place like this. Petro also reminds us of the erasure of male and trans* sex workers, and Pros(e) works against that by including a wide spectrum of voices from the sex industries.
Jessie: Pros(e) connects the value of storytelling, an idea driving RedUP, to the concrete benefits that sex workers can gain from having a venue to tell their stories. This anthology, simply by virtue of existing, is part of a larger project to counteract the stereotypes and stigma that works to threaten those in the sex industries. [READ MORE]
photo taken by Stanton Wong
I’ve been reading Tracy Quan since before I was a sex worker, when a prequel to Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl was serialized on Salon.com, and I’ve been chummy with her online since 2003, when she graciously replied to my e-mails. I’ve learned so much from Tracy, her callgirl comedy-of-manners novels, and the quirky takes on sex work, relationships, and public figures in her articles. I imagine many of us have.
One of the first of the sex worker literati, Tracy was also one of the first to successfully transition from out sex worker and sex workers’ rights activist to in-demand freelance writer, modeling a career trajectory that helped bring our voices to the mainstream. Yet, her street cred as part of the sex workers’ rights movement is unimpeachable. After reading about the history of PONY (Prostitutes of New York) collaborating with ACT-UP in the 90s, I asked Tracy to talk about her involvement with PONY’s work during that era, as well as many other things.
You started working quite young, at 14 years old, as a way to gain financial independence from your live-in older boyfriend and your parents. Nowadays, there’s a whole lot of tangled discourse about youth sex workers, from a law in NY state that may be able to retroactively erase youth convictions , while another NY State law diverts those now arrested into “state protection”, to anti-sex work feminists shrieking fallaciously that the average age of entry into prostitution is 13, to the sex workers’ rights movement trying to figure out a way to help homeless queer and trans youth who subsist on survival sex. As a former teenage sex worker, what do you have to say about all this?