QueenieBonBon via http://www.melbournefringe.com.au/

Queenie Bon Bon (Photo via the Melbourne Fringe website.)

Deeply Leisured, a one-woman show by local Melbourne talent Queenie Bon Bon that details the joys and battles of being a sex worker, played during this season’s 2014 Fringe Festival. I was fortunate enough to see one of the six nights of Queenie’s show—her final performance was last weekend. It’s always fun supporting a fellow sex worker (or a “co-ho,” as Queenie would say) with whatever they’re doing outside of their work, but I didn’t think it would be this much fun. Queenie narrated her short stories on her experiences as a stripper, brothel worker, and all-around fantasy maker. The performance took place in Melbourne’s historically queer Hares & Hyenas bookshop in trendy Fitzroy. She sat, illuminated in symbolic red light, on a desk decorated by books and miscellaneous items. She looked like a modern-day Aphrodite, with her beehive and dangling condom-pack earrings.

It was enthralling and relieving to listen to her hilarious diary-entry style recollections. Her portrayal of sex work, while still being personal to her, seemed to encompass every thought and feeling I’ve ever had about the profession. She managed to put a comedic spin on even the smallest details; from having worlds collide when your butt plug tumbles over your toothbrush in your bag while you’re on the phone with mum to stringing out a service to savor the opportunity to pick the brain of a knowledgeable client. Navigating the simplest things, like choosing which song you’re going to jerk your client off to, are skills specific to sex work, requiring a thought process non-sex workers are unaware of. All sorts of situations require sex worker troubleshooting, like suddenly having stage fright during a golden shower upon finding yourself gazing down at your client’s expectant eyes and ajar mouth.

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Half of the $17000 fundraising goal for Angelia Mangum and Tjhisha Ball has been met.

Half of the $17000 fundraising goal for Angelia Mangum and Tjhisha Ball has been met.

Our very own Tits and Sass contributor Peechington Marie’s and Meli Machiavelli’s fundraiser for murdered Black dancers Tjhisha Ball and Angelia Magnum is at its halfway point of $8,000. Please donate to help them reach their goal and allow Ball and Magnum’s families to afford their burials.

Jada Pinkett Smith holds forth on stripping: it’s wrong. Unlike donating money to ethically dubious and educationally useless Scientology schools, obviously.

That’s fine though, because Usher and Juicy J love us.

Kate McGrew, the sex worker on the Irish reality show Committed, was called “revolting” during a phone interview; this op-ed disagrees, but does think she should quit her job. Civilians and their feelings about sex work, amirite?

The European Union’s sudden interest in what shadow economies are adding to GDP explained: besides bragging rights, higher GDP’s keep debt and deficits “within the EU’s prescribed targets.”

Despite the title “Confessions of a Geylang Sex Worker” (mistranslation or deliberate obfuscation?) this article is actually about a study of sex workers in Singapore, heralded as unusual for its discovery of the fact that sex workers are charging different rates to different ethnic groups based on their perceived willingness and ability to pay.

RedUP investigated New York’s Human Trafficking Intervention Courts to predictable-yet-disheartening results: despite the high-minded assurances of New York’s Chief Judge, the Human Trafficking Intervention Courts have failed to be the “great leap forward” that he promised.  Instead the same racial profiling and racism endemic to the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy plagues the trafficking court, along with the same cool unconcern for the potential life-ruining consequences of arrest, and the inadequacy of the therapy and life skills workshops offered. [READ MORE]

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Visual approximation of Ms. Harm Reduction and her gal pals. (Photo via Flickr user gbaku at the Creative Commons.)

Visual approximation of Ms. Harm Reduction and her gal pals. (Photo via Flickr user gbaku and the Creative Commons.)

Dear Ms. Harm Reduction,
About six months ago I had my first ever genital herpes outbreak. I am a cis female and a full service provider. I don’t do bareback, but I do still continue to work. I am on herbal suppressive therapy (lysine, other immune boosters and stress management) and haven’t had an outbreak since the first one. I know it’s controversial, but I love my job and I don’t want to do any other type of work. I just want to know how to be as safe as possible. Also how big of a risk is this? Am I totally fucked up for working? For the record I would never work during an outbreak, but outside of that, is it ok? I was also wondering if internal condoms (female condoms) offer more protection because they cover external surface area?

Best,
Sexy Or Risky? Escort

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Angelia and Tjhisha

The fundraising page for the funeral expenses of Angelia Magnum and Tjhisha Ball; two slain strippers from Jacksonsville.

Tjhisha Ball and Angelia Mangum: Two names you should know but probably don’t. Tjhisha Ball and Angelia Mangum were 19 and 18 years old, respectively, two young women who were brutally murdered on September 18th. Their bodies were found in Duval County, Florida, reportedly thrown off an overpass, by passerby in the wee hours of the morning. Little has been said about the murder of both of these young women, and what has been said either glosses over or luridly magnifies one very important factor in this case: Tjhisha and Angelia worked as exotic dancers.

Over at PostRacialComments on Tumblr, the blog not only redacted the information about Mangum and Ball working as dancers, but proceeded to break down for readers questioning its motives why they would not include, comment, or discuss the girls’ work or the criminalization of the girls by the few media outlets to highlight the story of their murder.

In “Black Girls Murdered (But Do YOU Care)” from Ebony Magazine, Senior Digital Editor Jamilah Lemieux says, “Someone(s) apparently murdered two women and left their bodies on the side of the road for the world to see. We shouldn’t need for them to have been “good girls”—or White girls, or, perhaps good White girls—for this to be cause for national concern. There is a killer, or killers, on the loose.”

 

In “Rest in Peace: Angelia Mangum and Tjhisha Ball” from GradientLair, owner, activist, and blogger Trudy writes, “As I’ve stated before, Black criminals are treated like monsters. Black victims are treated like criminals. This further complicates, in addition to the dehumanization and criminalization of Black bodies, because they are Black women. Black women regularly go missing and at times are killed; our stories are underreported or shaped as “criminal” even when we are victims.”

While both pieces were necessary and both began to address the case of Tjhisha and Angelia’s murders, they are certainly the anomaly in terms of the majority of the coverage. Even in the case of “Black Girls Murdered,” a mostly positive portrayal, I thought to myself, “Why are we not acknowledging their work? Why are we pretending their work doesn’t matter? Why is their work becoming the elephant in the room?” I walked away from most articles I read feeling both shameful and shamed, as if they were written to say, “News reports say they were exotic dancers, quick, let’s fight to erase that so the girls can appear deserving of our sorrow and rage.”

At Salon, writer Ian Blair penned “Grisly Murder Ignored: How We Failed Angelia Mangum and Tjhisha Ball” and went so far as to completely erase input given on this case by sex workers. Not only did Blair not reach out to any sex workers, he neglected to quote any of a wide pool of us who have been posting regularly about these girls for nearly a week straight. Blair’s piece barely nods to and briefly namechecks “the sex work activist community,” with no mention of the YouCaring fundraiser Melissandre (@MeliMachiavelli) and I set up to fund the victims’ funerals. The piece reads as if Blair simply copied and pasted information he read online and didn’t bother to interview a single person for his article. There is no acknowledgement that much of his information came directly from current and former sex workers on Twitter. Salon’s writer fails to point out that neither Ball or Mangum’s families have enough money to bury the girls and the YouCaring fundraiser exists solely to help them with this endeavor. Blair prattles on, without much reference to Tjhisha Ball and Angelia Mangum themselves (the subjects of said “failure” on “our” collective part), instead devoting most of his column space to regurgitating words of well known and more respected Black people; quoting Ta-nehisi Coates at length; discussing Ferguson; Mike Brown; #IfTheyGunnedMeDown; Daniel Holtzclaw; Marlene Pinnock, and seemingly anything other than what the Salon write-up ostensibly set out to address: two beautiful young women who were brutally murdered and who also happened to work as strippers. This offering from Blair also casually ignores the reports that each of Daniel Holtzclaw’s alleged victims, save the last woman he is accused of having victimized, were also either sex workers, drug users, or both.


In fact, in the cases of Tjhisha Ball and Angelia Mangum, as in the case of Daniel Holtzclaw and his alleged victims, the idea of sex work as an important factor in the crime continues to be obscured by other supposedly more important issues, watered down to nothing in order to be considered palatable to sensitive audiences. The few conversations I’ve seen on Twitter, Tumblr, and the occasional news articles and blogs focus only on the collective (non)reactions of people when a Black woman is the victim of violent crime. I do not want to take anything away from that analysis. I know it’s absolutely true: Black women are the least and the last in line for anger, rage, justice, pity, sympathy, and empathy.

@PhilOfDreams said it wonderfully on his Twitter feed:

“murder of a white woman: there must be an investigation.
murder of a black woman: there must be an explanation.”

Black women are upset, we are incredibly sad, we are begging to be cared for, and we have a right to feel this way. We are completely correct in our steadfast refusal to simply disappear into the ether when we are violated, when our lives are snuffed out. We are justified in our anguish and in our anger. We are righteous in this, and I am not here to take away from it. I am here standing with my sisters and speaking out too. We are the most spotless of lambs, sinless in our desire to simply be seen as just as important as anyone else. But, what I am also here to say is this: in the midst of the tangible and thickening silence from what could arguably be called one of the most vocal corners of twitter, Black Feminist Twitter, and even Feminist Twitter as a whole; in the midst of the silence from virtually everyone and everywhere: where is the outrage for two teenage girls who were brutally murdered? Is the outrage lacking because of their race? Definitely. Is it non-existent because of their reported interactions with law enforcement? Absolutely. But it is also lacking because they were reported as working as exotic dancers. This cannot be denied. It is unfair and unethical to say anything different.

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Tits and Sass contributor Peech promotes a fundraiser to cover the cost of funerals for young murdered strippers Tjisha Ball and Angelia  Mangum. (Screenshot of twitter feed.)

Tits and Sass contributor Peech promotes a fundraiser to cover the cost of funerals for young murdered strippers Tjisha Ball and Angelia Mangum. (Screenshot of twitter feed.)

Please donate to and share this fundraiser for a memorial for Angelia and Tjhisha, two young strippers who were murdered and left by the side of a road last week to very little outrage or coverage.

This fundraiser to support Miss Major, Black trans woman elder and sex workers’ rights proponent, to recoup her losses after her house burned down recently, is also worthy of everyone’s attention.

The first national study of sex workers has destabilized many of the arguments being used in favor of C-36 (which is in the report stage); at Maclean’s, Rachel Browne interviews the researchers behind the study. After decades of research and then this particular five year study, Cecilia Benoit (half of the husband and wife research team behind the study) says, “I realized just how similar they were to us.” It’s amazing how, despite existing apart from human society in a rarefied bubble, we still manage to be so similar to them, isn’t it?

Seventeen facts from the report.

In the wake of a documentary about underage sex workers in Malaysia, critics are saying it’s wrong to call them sex workers: not because of issues of consent or trafficking, but because there isn’t enough of a sex industry in Malaysia to warrant calling anyone in it a worker.  That happens in Thailand.  Oh.

Greg Lundgren’s movie CHAT looks like it will either be appalling or amazing: a one camera, one take film about a cam girl, unfortunately from the point of view of her clients (who cares about them) and even more unfortunately, facing an unknown future: CHAT has “only screened once before, and no one really knows if it will screen again.”  I hope it does.

File under nauseating: councils in New South Wales have been left with “no other choice” but to hire middle aged men to sleep with workers in unlicensed brothels, all as a part of busting the operations.  Though New South Wales has decriminalized sex work, a loophole regarding local council regulations renders this legal.

Noah Berlatsky reemphasizes what Daniele Watts’ arrest has highlighted: the racist and racialized stereotyping of black women’s sexuality is toxic to black women, sex workers, and sex working black women.

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