Kickstarter

Claudette, Swiss intersex sex worker and grandfather, immortalized by Malika Gaudin Delrieu's photography: "I have the sex of the angels, why would I be ashamed of it?" (Photo by Malika Gaudin Delrieu via the Huffington Post)

Claudette, Swiss intersex sex worker and grandfather, immortalized by Malika Gaudin Delrieu’s photography: “I have the sex of the angels, why would I be ashamed of it?” (Photo by Malika Gaudin Delrieu via the Huffington Post)

Amnesty International will be debating their policy on sex work this weekend at their annual meeting in Chicago. (You can sign this petition supporting an Amnesty policy change in favor of decriminalization here.) Unfortunately, the only article we could find on the event is littered with quotes like this one: ” “Virtually all people who prostitute themselves were first prostituted as children…,” [Illinois Attorney General Lisa] Madigan said.” Hmm, wanna cite a source for that, Ms. Attorney General?

Katha Pollitt takes vengeance on our friend Melissa Gira Grant for daring to criticize her valorization of Lean In feminism by lambasting Grant’s new book, asking, “Why Do So Many Leftists Want Sex Work To Be The New Normal?” Maybe because they’re actually listening to us sex workers? (And there aren’t quite so many of them—as far as we’re aware, sex work is still criminalized in the U.S.) Pollitt also managed to very mistakenly characterize Tara Burns’ piece for The New Inquiry as the work of someone too privileged to speak for “the women at the heart of this debate: those who are enslaved and coerced—illegal immigrants, young girls, runaways and throwaways.”

Speaking of Melissa, this subtly whorephobic Telegraph interviewer sure is frightened of her: “Melissa Gira Grant can be quite scary…her fist strikes the table. Every interviewer she has spoken to…has asked her how she became a sex worker—and she’s angry about it. ‘Why do you want to know?” she demands, blue eyes icy with rage. “Why is this important to you?’ ” Those ex-sex workers demanding their right to privacy—they’re terrifying!

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is spending $398,213 on a project studying whether paying male Mexican sex workers for being free of sexually transmitted diseases will increase condom use. Ummm, the results of this research are pretty inevitable, aren’t they?

HuffPo profiled photographer Malika Gaudin Delrieu’s work on Claudette, proud intersex sex worker and senior citizen.

Vice Magazine made us roll our eyes with a piece entitled “Young Native Girls Are Being Sacrificed To The Canadian Sex Trade.” Mmmm, smells like white savior complex. Noticeably absent are quotes from Indigenous sex workers’ rights activists like Naomi Sayers or Jessica Danforth.

Today is the last day to take this Red Umbrella Fund survey on funding for sex worker organizations. The RUF plans to use the survey’s results to advocate for more and better funding opportunities for sex workers’ groups and networks.

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image from License to Pimp Kickstarter

What would you do if the strip club you worked at became a brothel? That’s the question Hima B. asks in License to Pimp, the feature documentary she is currently raising funds to complete. The controversial premise is that, by charging house fees, strip club are essentially pimping out the dancers, leaving them little choice but to become prostitutes in order to pay the house and make some money for themselves. License to Pimp follows the stories of three San Francisco dancers as they negotiate the changes in their workplaces and respond in three very different ways. 

I was excited to hear about Hima’s film, but I also had some tough questions for her. Although she and I have many things in common—we’re both former strippers who share a hatred of house fees, and we’ve both been fired from clubs for trying to fight labor violations—we haven’t always seen eye to eye. So I figured it was time we sat down and had a proper conversation.

I agree with you that house fees add a huge economic incentive for dancers to turn to prostitution, but there has always been an overlap between stripping and prostitution. The premise that house fees “turned strip clubs into brothels” doesn’t take into account the dancers who would be working as prostitutes anyway. I also think the idea that dancers shouldn’t be “doing extras” in strip clubs is unrealistic, and it prioritizes the needs of the more privileged women in the industry—those who can afford not to turn to prostitution.

I think we disagree on that matter. I started working in 1992, and for the first three years you’d hear about dancers who were prostitutes, but they would leave with the customers instead of having sex in the club. Then the stage fees started going up. At first it was pretty gradual—the fees went from $5 to $25 over about five months. It went from being fully clothed lap dancing where they can’t touch your boobs to, OK, they can touch your boobs, to, now you can get fully naked. And then the stage fees spiked. I distinctly remember it went from $25 to $200 in one day at the Market Street Cinema, and when that happened it was no longer about lap dances. It became survival of the fittest. [READ MORE]

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