Koch Industries is one of America’s largest privately owned companies and a major funder of conservative political causes. You can read about the Koch brothers (there’s family drama in addition to coverage of their Tea Party-supporting ways) in a couple of thorough articles from last summer in New York and the New Yorker. Currently their involvement in the election of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker and support of his union-busting ways is making news. Nothing says “America!” today more than billionaires working to kill collective bargaining rights.
They make a lot of products, but one of them is of particular interest to those of us in the various clothing relocation services sectors: LYCRA® spandex. I encourage you all to check the tags when you’re buying tiny stretchy clothes at the hootchie boutique, and boycott that particular brand of spandex. Avoid COOLMAX® sports bras while you’re at it, too.
Have you heard about this supposed “hipster strip joint,” the Westway, in New York? Stories about it usually are sprinkled with HI-larious commentary about how funny it is to mix hot nightlife spots with tits. SORRY NEW YORK, Portland, OR has been doing this for years. Mary’s Club, Union Jacks, and Devils Point are all strip clubs that draw crowds heavier on leather jackets than raincoats. This results in varying levels of profitability for the strippers (needless to say, Portland hipsters are not necessarily a cash-laden customer base). They might stare for free, or they might give you fifty bucks to play “Roadrunner.”
Will the Westway actually operate like a strip club, though? From the coverage, it seems like it might just have topless go-go dancers—on one night a week, at that—and people got hyperbolic in calling it a strip joint. Can you get a lapdance? Is there going to be a DJ announcing the names of the dancers? Will the dancers be paid or will they be paying the club to work there? And most importantly, who wants to go with me the first Monday in April?
Y’all catch that joke on 30 Rock a couple of weeks (S05E13) ago? Jack Donaghy is in his office, mourning the change in GE ownership. “This is where we used to hold retirement parties. The balcony below is probably still littered with stripper bones.” HAR.
One of the reasons sex workers become politicized is to make ourselves visible as real people to decrease our chances of being easy victims of violent crimes in a society where we are considered lesser members. Jokes like this (and Tina Fey looooves to write stripper jokes*) are one of the constant small ways sex workers are dehumanized to the public. Cracks about dead ones are less funny in light of the women’s remains that were found on Long Island.
Fey is beloved by a lot of women for modeling success in a male-dominated field, which makes her rage towards other women come off as bitter and unreasonable. You know what’s harder than being a rich white woman in Hollywood who gets called crazy because men don’t want to fuck you (hey, you still get to complain about it in The New Yorker)? Having your humanity denied because you are the woman they do want to fuck.
* “I love to play strippers and to imitate them,” says Fey. “I love using that idea for comedy, but the idea of actually going there? I feel like we all need to be better than that. That industry needs to die, by all of us being a little bit better than that.” Vanity Fair, January 2009
So, here’s the tea: I went from Dallas, TX, to the Desiree Alliance conference in Las Vegas on a bus last summer. By myself. Twenty-four hours or so of quiet and calm before the storm that Las Vegas always is. I remember sitting somewhere in New Mexico thinking, “I hope I meet some interesting people here,” because I don’t know any sex workers in my city.
Scratch that—I know a couple, but they don’t use this as their primary source of income, and I rarely see them. I suppose putting things like that into the universe was smart, because I met some amazing folks and have even kept in touch with some of them. If you knew what kind of hermit I am, you’d know how huge that is. One of those folks was Lusty Day.
I had seen her flitting about with her fun colored hair and chest piece, but hadn’t made an effort to interact until I saw the flier calling for people to participate in a film she was working on for partners of sex workers. As someone who’s had a relationship end because I give spankings for a living, I felt obligated to participate—Mama had some shit to get off her chest! The filming itself was pretty quick, and when I got in touch after the conference it was mostly because I’m vain and I wanted to see myself in the film. I’m glad I did though, because this woman is interesting and she’s doing some really great work in her community. Plus, “Every Ho I Know Says So” turned out to be pretty amazing. Interviewing her was an honor for sure.
So, what prompted you to create a video on things sex workers would say to their partners?
I was in a long-term relationship when I started doing sex work and at the time my partner was really floundering on how to accept and understand my work. We had such a difficult time finding resources, not only resources on how to be a good ally and support to sex workers more generally, but that also addressed some of the specific issues that come up in intimate relationships with sex workers. I wanted to support him, too, and acknowledge that it wasn’t easy, but to do that in a way that didn’t mean I had to give up my work, or change it to suit him.
Eventually we broke up after four years and I think that whore-phobia played a major part in that — not just his whore-phobia (which of course was apparent), but also the ways that structural whore-phobia meant he had so little access to support from friends or family on what he was going through. Basically everyone told him that of course it was almost impossible to deal with dating a sex worker, and of course it was going to go bad, and that he was oh-so-brave for putting up with it all. Yech.