This Time, It’s Personal

Image via Matt's Movie Reviews

Image via Matt’s Movie Reviews

You, the sex working masses, have spoken! Here are the top three most hated work aspects for strippers, escorts, and fetish providers. Choose one from the list/s that apply to you, and wait on the edge of your seat for the inauspicious winners to be crowned on Monday, October 28th. Voting is open until 11:59pm PST Sunday, October 27th, but why wait for the last minute to vent your rage? DO IT NOW.

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saphThe following is an excerpt from the first volume of dancer JA Sapphire’s self-published memoir, Sapphire: Escape. At this point in the book, it’s 1996 and Sapphire has just decided to work as an exotic dancer for the first time. She has escaped from an abusive background and moved to Atlanta from the Eastern Seaboard, and worked a series of jobs, but found herself unable to pay rent, so she made her way to Magic City and has been taken to the dressing room by one of the managers, Nick.

I watch Nick close the door behind him as I place my bag on the table to search for something to wear. I don’t have much. I pull out something that I think is very sexy, something that I bought from the lingerie place in the Phipps Plaza. It’s black, full-lace with thick lace embroidery that covers the real important parts. It has two snaps at the bottom of the crotch, the neck comes up like a turtleneck, and the shoulders are ruffled. I take out a small red pencil and light the tip with a lighter to line my eyelids. I use the black mascara to extend my lashes. I use the black gel called Ampro to smooth my hair’s edges. With curl activator I bring up the waves in my hair. My hair is still cut into a boy-like fade. I pull out some lipstick that cost me about two dollars and paint my lips. I look at my reflection thinking I look great.

I start rubbing my body down with lotion when I notice a medium light-skinned girl with broad shoulders walk in. She’s dressed very conservatively in a white turtleneck, jeans and bootheels. She places her bag on a chair and glances at me but doesn’t speak. She goes in front of the mirror and stares at herself. She has blunt-cut bangs. She untangles the scarf from around her neck and the back of her jet-black hair. I feel that it’s impolite that neither one of us is speaking; therefore, I walk up to her with an extended hand to introduce myself to her.

“Hello,” I say happily. “I am Janel. I’m new here.”

She looks at me disdainfully up and down, then walks out the room. I hear her mumbling to Nick, then laughing. She returns but never says a word. “Excuse me,” I interrupt. “About how much money do you make in here?” She cuts her eyes, looks at me angrily and remains silent. “Excuse me,” I repeat myself. “Do you hear me?” [READ MORE]

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Mmmmkay?  (image via imgur.com)

Mmmmkay? (image via imgur.com)

If there’s one thing we love here at Tits and Sass (besides vagina pageants and corny films about sex work, that is) it’s complaining. And it’s our dedication to this fine art that led us to conceive of a poll where you, our dear readers, could weigh in on the worst things about your jobs. We excluded the most obvious and serious options (the stigma; the illegality; the cops) and focused instead on some of the more precise sources of annoyance, usually client based. Voting will be open until Wednesday at 11:59pm PST, after which we’ll have another vote on Friday to rank the top three responses in each field. Leave out anything we missed in the comments and please, feel free to rant.   [READ MORE]

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("Nose art" by Alberto Vargas)

(“Nose art” by Alberto Vargas)

I will forever associate foot fetishism with terrorism. Although George W. Bush had been in office for almost a year, 9/11 was when “the Bush years” really got rolling. I’d been politically curious my whole life, and activism-oriented in recent years, energized and excited by the emerging global trends that were dubbed the “anti-globalization movement.” A friend and I had just submitted an article discussing the murder of Carlo Guiliani to Onward!, a now-defunct anarchist newspaper. Guiliani was killed by police during protests against the G8 summit in Genoa, in July 2001 and our article contrasted his movement martyrdom to that of the Kent State Four, and the less famous Jackson State Two. It was exciting to be wanking theoretical, especially about how we, as US-based members of A Movement, might effectively organize domestically for change without an obvious and tangible Big Bad (i.e. The War) to rally people around.

Hahahahahaha!

The article was outdated before the issue went to press. Suddenly, years of organizing and strategizing around the IMF and World Bank policy were blown out of the water and there was a new, even more mass-murderous game in town. Soon we’d have two big, obvious wars, not to mention the racist detentions of Arabs and Muslims right here in Brooklyn, a wave of attacks on mosques, massive crackdowns on civil liberties, endless new, tangible evils, and not much more by way of an effective mass movement.

When the first plane hit the north tower, I was in Manhattan, near the Empire State Building, talking to a foot fetishist. I worked the Tuesday morning shift at a phone sex bank—someone had to. This was the fourth Tuesday I’d swiped in ten minutes before 8 a.m., picked up my headset and booth sign stating my stage name and “girl number,” settled into a vacant cubicle on the talking floor and logged in for early morning action.

[READ MORE]

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The madam of an opium den relaxing into a nod—note that is she is unbothered by clients as she does so. (One of a series of photographs by Hungarian photojournalist Brassaï taken in Paris in the early 1930s.)

The madam of an opium den relaxing into a nod—note that is she is unbothered by clients as she does so. (One of a series of photographs by Hungarian photojournalist Brassaï taken in Paris in the early 1930s.)

(You can find part one of this discussion here)

Caty: I’ve seen former drug-using sex workers like Kate Holden write that trading sex for drugs directly with a dealer was “just tacky,” and in my shallow, callow early years as a heroin-using escort, I often said the same thing. But the real reason I’ve avoided doing this for a decade, with one exception, is that I’m terrified to have the power dynamic between possibly withdrawing user and dope holding dealer client be that starkly clear. I can safely retreat into the farcical mask of my privilege when with my escorting clients, I can advertise as an “ex-Ivy League activist and escort” on my Backpage ad, leveraging those respectability politics for all the profit they’re worth, and within that pretense, I can be as primly outraged as a Victorian maiden with her honor insulted when these clients ask for a BBJ. I can’t maintain that pose shaking and sniffing in some dealer’s living room.

I remember the one time I did trade a blowjob for three bags, early in my dope career. I remember his limp cock in the condom, the way he grimly surveyed my grimy, slovenly SRO room, how he said, concerned, that I should do the bags first, so then I had to do them in front of him even though I wasn’t sick yet and all I wanted was to enjoy the dope after he’d gone and I had my solitude returned. I know it could’ve been much worse, but I’d never felt so exposed, so confirmed as all the stereotypes about junkies whores.

Then there was the part where I had to awkwardly encounter him every once in a while for years after that—and that’s another thing, trading a session directly for dope means that one has to break the common rule escorts make about not seeing people that know their real name, people who are part of their social circles, as clients.

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