Christianity

The author with Cupcake Girls Bri and Amy (Photo by

The author with Cupcake Girls Bri and Amy (Photo by author’s coworker)

“But how should I address the invitations?” the young brunette across from me asked.

“Husband first, so ‘Mr and Mrs blank,’” advised the older woman next to her, and everyone nodded.

I blinked and made a note, tried not to look confused or judgmental. I was at a planning meeting for It’s a Cupcake Christmas!, a benefit for the Cupcake Girls. They talked about logistics, about raffle prizes, about how much money they wanted to raise, and I played with my mug of tea, not sure what to make of these nice ladies who bring cupcakes to strippers, all of whom were younger than me and married.

Their mission statement reads, “We exist to bring non-judgmental support, consistent caring, community resources and peace, love and cupcakes to women in the adult entertainment industry.”

It sounds simple, but I didn’t get it. That’s why I was there, because I didn’t know what to make of them. This was like a “behind the scenes with the Cupcake Girls!” deal, and we’d scheduled a real sit-down interview over tea the upcoming week and between the two of those I hoped to have a better grasp on what was up with them. In the meantime I wanted to make the most of my sneak peek into how they worked but I kept getting sidetracked by questions like “Who goes first on the invitation?” I didn’t even know people my age cared about such things outside of like, Gossip Girl.

The first time I heard of the Cupcake Girls I was really confused. “The Cupcake what?”

My friend tried to explain:

“They’re Christians, they bring cupcakes to the club and spread the message of the Lord.”

“They bring actual cupcakes?”

“I think sometimes they do hair and makeup too. But they’re trying to make church look less scary and win Christ followers.”

“No way!”

I couldn’t wait to meet these people.

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Ohio gubernatorial candidate and ex-stripper Larry Ealy (Photo by by Lynn Hulsey, via the Dayton Daily News)

Ohio gubernatorial candidate and ex-stripper Larry Ealy (Photo by by Lynn Hulsey, via the Dayton Daily News)

“I did it for the exposure; really, it was more of a promotional thing,” said Ohio gubernatorial candidate Larry Ealy of his time as a stripper.

Some excellent tips for reporters looking to liven up a slow news day with salacious and sloppy stories about how sex workers are everywhere. We are, you know.  Watch out. And also watch for this formula!

The fact that sex workers use the internet is still surprising to some, but this roundtable with Melissa Gira Grant, N’jaila Rhee, Hawk Kinkaid, Stoya, and Tits and Sass contributor Emma Caterine goes beyond the initial shock of sex workers as Real People Who Really Exist to talk about some of the realities of sexual and emotional labor and the issues facing sex workers right now.

The Department of Justice’s Operation Choke Point (ignore the weak gag about blow jobs) is probably behind the closing of porn performers’ bank accounts.  As Melissa Gira Grant said in the TtW panel, “if you want a preview of what will happen to everyone else on the Internet, this is a really remarkable opportunity.”

Namibian sex workers want to meet with the police chief of Windhoek municipality to discuss pending legislation that threatens their lives and livelihood.

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April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman—can we trust them with the Lusty? (Photo by Nick Gripton on Flickr, image via The Eater)

April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman–can we trust them with the Lusty? (Photo by Nick Gripton on Flickr, image via Eater)

The Lusty Lady’s vacant space will be reopened by Ken Friedman and April Bloomfield, who own the cafe next door, as a cocktail bar which “will pay homage to what the Lusty Lady was…the wonderful seediness, and the dying breed of seediness.” Apparently, “initial design ideas include…a riff on peepshow windows ‘wherein a customer inserts a dollar and then a window opens to reveal a bartender—instead of a stripper.’ ” Holy hipster gentrification, Batman.

The Game told TMZ he writes off strip clubs and medical weed on his taxes.

Rebecca Woodard, one of Eliot Spitzer’s escorts, was pimped by the city of New York: “Manhattan prosecutors insisted she continue seeing clients while working undercover—and then forced her to turn over all of her earnings and gifts.” Oh, and Spitzer  wanted to pretend to be a self-defense instructor testing a student by attacking her. Yay gubernatorial role play.

Former Chicago cop Steven Mandell was secretly taped vacillating over which strip club owner he should murder in order to most easily take over their business. Decisions, decisions.

Honduras Redtrasex, the Network of Sex Workers of Honduras, demand justice for the murder of four local sex workers on December 30th, when five Centre City San Pedro Sula sex workers were shot, including one heavily pregnant woman. One woman survived and is in the hospital in stable condition. RedTrasex’s statement also noted another recent sex worker murder on December 15th.

Melissa Gira Grant lists her picks for 2013’s Best Sex Work Writing. Tits and Sass is honored to have so many of our posts, as well as outside posts by our contributors and co-editors, included.

New regulations came into effect on January 1st  in Saskatchewan which allow bars in the province to feature strippers. Anticipating this provincial change in liquor law, Saskatoon’s city council voted to isolate strip clubs in heavy industrial zones, legislation in the same spirit as the adult services bylaw they passed in July 2012, which requires escorts, massage parlor owners and anyone working in adult entertainment to get a business license. More tut tutting and talk ABOUT sex workers from city officials without any input FROM sex workers is covered in the Star Phoenix.

Meanwhile, new federal Canadian laws which went into effect on Dec. 31st ensure that labor market opinion applications from employers seeking to hire foreign workers in the sex industry will no longer be approved. These rules come almost seven years after the federal Conservatives first promised to put an end to the “Liberal strippergate,” in which temporary work permits were issued to hundreds of exotic dancers by the previous government. “Strippergate,” seriously? Hiring migrant workers is somehow a scandal worthy practice?

The Good Men Project does it again, contributing to the flourishing genre composed of I Am A Non Sex Working Middle Class White Woman And Here Are All My Tormented Feelings About Strip Clubs pieces.

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Bibiane Bovet, Montreal municipal candidate and out trans woman and former escort (Photo courtesy of the Montreal Gazette)

Bibiane Bovet, Montreal municipal candidate and out trans woman and former escort (Photo courtesy of the Montreal Gazette)

Some British GLBT organizations and trade unions are taking the excellent example of their African counterparts, standing in solidarity with sex workers’ rights organizations like the English Collective of Prostitutes and the Sex Worker Open University in their campaign against proposals to institute the Swedish model of criminalizing clients. Sign the Collective’s petition against the End Demand model—Rupert Everett will thank you for it.

One of Montreal mayoral hopeful Mélanie Joly’s hand-picked candidates for a municipal position, Bibiane Bovet, is a trans woman who used to work as an escort in order to finance her bottom surgery. Joly knows about Bovet’s sex working past and—gasp!—doesn’t care. In fact, one of Bovet’s escorting clients, another municipal employee, advised her to run for the position in the first place, and Joly went on record praising Bovet’s integrity and saying she has her full support.

File under The Headline Says It All: “Groups ‘rescue’ Thai sex workers, whether they want it or not.

SWOP-Phoenix is protesting the Project ROSE Prostitution Diversion Initiative, in which Phoenix police and students from the ASU School of Social Work team up twice a year to arrest local sex workers and have them “choose” between a six month diversion program or criminal charges. SWOP-Phoenix’s position is that diversion programs “ignore the fact that many people who work in the sex industry are not victims in need of rescue, but consenting adults who should not be arrested, coerced into diversion, or incarcerated for working.”

While on a vacation in Thailand last month, Rihanna took in a “ping pong” strip show in Phuket, tweeting afterwards that she was “traumatized” by the “live bird, two turtles, razors, darts and ping pong [balls]” pulled from the performers’ vaginas. In a pretense of shock they’ll be sure to keep up till they get their next bribe, the Thai Police shut down the club and arrested the owner, no doubt also throwing a few of the club’s performers in jail along the way. Riri! Don’t make us sad. After “Pour it Up”, we thought you were Good for the Strippers. Now it turns out that you are (inadvertently?) Bad for the Strippers. Stop getting second world sex workers arrested, Rihanna, that’s a REAL faux pas. Next time just use your celebrity tweeting powers to get the Thai equivalent of a humane society to spirit away those birds and turtles from non consensual vaginal spelunking.

Melissa Petro tells the xojane reading public what escorts already know: “Most Dudes Have Probably Bought Sex At Least Once.”

With so many Tamil men dead or missing after three decades of civil war, with southern men filling up the jobs in the north’s building boom, and seeing as how widows are traditionally seen as inauspicious and unfit for remarriage, many women in female headed households in Sri Lanka’s North are engaging in survival sex work to subsist.

We covered SWOP-NYC’s letter to the Columbia Institutional Review Board reporting Dr. Sudhir Venkatesh’s wildly inaccurate and insulting research on New York sex workers in an earlier Week In Links.  (One blog entitled the fiasco “When Your Own Research Population Organizes Against You, New York Sex Worker Edition.”) Now, our own Tits and Sass founding editor Charlotte Shane eviscerates Venkatesh’s historical amnesia, insistence on reinventing the wheel without acknowledging the work of sex worker researchers before him, and his approval of police abuse of sex workers in The New Inquiry.

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