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Interview with Sarah Katherine Lewis

I first heard of Sarah Katherine Lewis in 2006 after she published her first book, a sex work memoir titled Indecent: How I Make it and Fake it as a Girl for Hire, then interviewed her after her 2008 essay and recipe collection Sex and Bacon: Why I Love Things That Are Very, Very Bad for Me. With writing that’s painfully honest, funny and sharp, I had fallen deep in literary love. So I was psyched when I heard she has a new book out, titled—with characteristic self-deprecation—My Boring-Ass Rehab Diary. Other than not really being boring-ass (the quick skimming I’ve done already has been making me laugh), the title is pretty straightforward: Lewis started the journal on January 19, 2011 and had it finished and ready to sell by early March. You can get your own copy here.

 

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.