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Stripper Music Monday: SXSW Edition

This year marked my 17th South by Southwest music festival. Despite the Mardi-Gras style crowds, traffic clusterfuck, and corporate sponsorship that swallowed Austin, it was a fabulous week. Here’s the stripper-relevant artists and music I saw.

Ted Leo at the East Side Drive In

“86 the Violence” performance celebrates UPR Recommendation 86

We agree that no one should face violence or discrimination in access to public services based on sexual orientation or their status as a person in prostitution, as this recommendation suggests.

The above language, derived from Recommendation 86 of the U.N.’s Universal Periodic Review is now an official part of U.S. human rights policy thanks to the efforts of hundreds of activist groups. It’s a huge, heartening step towards affirming the rights of sex workers.  While Tits and Sass is not an activist blog, one of the reasons this site exists is because there is a need to publicly state that people who accept payment to have sex, talk dirty, have sex on camera, strip, masturbate in front of a webcam, provide sensual touch, or pose for adult photos are not disposable and are not a special class of people who are fair game for violence and crime because of what they do for money.

Historical Wardrobe Malfunction

This is kind of neato—The Star Tribune has a blog called “Yesterday’s News” where it digs up old-timey newspaper articles, photos and ads. This week’s feature made the front page of the Minneapolis Tribune on May 9, 1953: Darlene LaBette Varallo, an “esoteric dancer”, was jailed for disorderly conduct. Two follow-up articles detail the handling of the evidence (“two little rhinestone-studded cones, a few lengths of gauze, a fringe and a pair of black net tights”) and the trial, which was complete with a lie detector test and testimony where the defendant explains that she was only guilty of a wardrobe malfunction:

SHE DESCRIBED her dance as a “can-can” plus a mixture of “a shuffle, ball hop, kick, twirls.” She denied Sullivan’s charge that she had bent over and shaken parts of her anatomy at the audience.
“You can’t bend over when you dance or you lose your equilibrium,” said Darlene, who testified she has danced since the age of 3 and was an Arthur Murray instructor for two years.
She said she certainly was wearing state’s exhibit F (the brassiere) when she began to dance but had to discard it because a strap broke. She also denied removing the state’s exhibit E (a tasseled fringe) from its original position around her – ah – middle.

The Week in Links: March 18

There were almost 600 crimes committed against sex workers in Ireland last year.

A (belated) article on SWOP-LA’s International Sex Workers’ Rights Day Celebration.

Amber Rose, model, radio personality, and former Kanye girlfriend, says she was a stripper at age 15.

Here’s a list of the 10 Best Prostitute Movies—but, ahem, it’s already been done.

The legal battle continues in the attempt to convict Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi for sex with a 17 year old prostitute.

A (former) Boston prostitute won $200,000 in damages after her successful case against a police officer who regularly extorted sex acts.

A Conversation With My Mom

I do these interviews because I want to talk with other sex workers about our work, and because I think we all have interesting stories. But, after interviewing Matthew and his telling me he was coming out, it occurred to me that I didn’t have to worry about that. I acknowledge that I am very privileged to have a mom who isn’t freaked out by my work, but we’d had very few conversations about how she felt about my work. Actually, we hadn’t had any. I tell her about sessions, and I told her when I started working, but beyond a few mentions here and there that was it. I wanted to know what she thought about my work, and since she’s a preacher, if she thought it clashed with our religion at all. I didn’t know what she was going to say, I swear, but I committed myself to reproducing whatever she said no matter what.

(Obviously this isn't my mom and I.)