New York

Jacqueline Frances (Photo by Danielle Rafanan)

Jacqueline Frances has drawn attention and acclaim with her deceptively simple cartoons of everyday strip club doings.  The simplicity of her comics draws you in, and before you know it, you’re seeing men and masculinity from a sex workers’  view that few people can bring themselves to take on consciously. Frances toured last year with her baby-stripper memoir The Beaver Show, and is touring this year with her new project, Striptastic!, a comic book celebration of strippers.  She’s traveling the country for the next month and a half on the Sex Witch Tour.

Red: So, early on in Striptastic! you have a great illustration of a woman onstage saying she’s smashing patriarchy, and then you write a bit below that about how stripping is feminist and against patriarchy.

And I wanted to ask if you think it’s that simple, because there are later illustrations of “bad nights,” and one of a girl being groped where the caption is something like, “for every Instagram picture of a stripper with stacks, this is what she had to put up with” (which is WAY TOO REAL). These illustrations hint at a different reality, one where women/strippers don’t have all the power—or much power at all—and the work is a complex negotiations of boundaries with customers for cash and then with management for their respect (or for them to at least act like it) and with some management beggaring dancers before allowing them to leave after a slow night.

So, given these illustrations, I was wondering how you see stripping now, if you still see it as a patriarchy-smashing activity, or if it is in fact just another job with compromises like everything else, or if it can be both. Can it be patriarchy-smashing if the clubs are set up to profit men with as minimal benefit to the dancer as possible? Is a woman with low or no social capital being able to earn a living radical (I think it is!), but can that also co-exist with the fact that she’s able to make this living by working in a space that expressly centers men, male desires, and male conspicuous consumption of female energy, bodies, and services?

And is her work that benefits all these men, is that still smashing patriarchy?

Jacqueline Frances: No, it’s definitely not that simple. We exist within it and all have bills to pay. There are many ways to chip away at and/or smash the patriarchy, and I don’t believe there is one pure and simple way to do it.

Red: What’s your ideal outcome with the book? Are you trying to build stripper solidarity? What would you like to do with that, if that’s your goal? What are your visions?

Jacq: Yeah, I totally want to build stripper solidarity! Hmm, what was my goal with the book? I don’t know—the book kind of just happened organically, I started drawing and I knew that people were disappointed that The Beaver Show wasn’t illustrated—

Red: [laughing] Did you see the review—someone posted a review of The Beaver Show and it was clear they hadn’t even touched it, they describe it as a comic book and I was like, “Mmmm…”

Jacq: No, it’s not! But yeah, there are a lot of typos and it is a baby stripper memoir, it’s how you start. And so I was like, “I guess I should make a book of pictures!”

So I made it, and the survey made it not so much a book about me, more about other people. And I was talking to my mom today, [telling her that] I want it to feel like a yearbook, I want other strippers to open it up and relate to it and be happy about the positive memories and the strength they’ve discovered through stripping and sex work. I really want it to be an artifact for the women who’ve done the work, to celebrate their achievement. And I also want it to be educational for people who don’t do it, but that’s not my MO.

My MO is not teaching dudes, that’s all I do at work all day. I’ll offer some pearls of wisdom, or my zine, How not to be a dick in the strip club, which I just made available on Amazon again, but this is a gift for strippers.

…I’d love to usher in more women telling their stories. I know it’s not safe to come out, I know I have a ton of privilege that makes it safe—stripping is legal, I’m white, I’m educated—I have a lot of privilege that makes it easier to come out, so I want to use that. I want to start a dialogue. [READ MORE]

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Ryder Ripps (photo via his Facebook page) Can we use this? Is it considered a part of the public domain?

Behold, the prototypical art bro: Ryder Ripps. (photo via Ripps’ Facebook)

Juniper Fleming co-wrote this with Tits and Sass co-editors Caty Simon and Josephine. Josephine and Caty discuss the project and media reaction and Juniper analyzes the project video.

Juniper is an artist and writer living in New York. Attaining her BFA from the School of Visual Arts in 2014, she was the recipient of a Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) Fellowship in 2013. She has shown her work internationally, and has been published in such places as Dear Dave and Make/Shift Magazine.

JOSEPHINE: It was Salvador Dali who famously said, “Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.” Perhaps New York-based artist Ryder Ripps was considering those words when the Ace Hotel in Manhattan brought him in as a one night artist-in-residence and provided him with a free night’s stay and $50 for supplies. Ripps decided to outsource his work to a couple of sensual massage workers from Craigslist and dubbed the results ART WHORE.

An internet controversy ensued; bloggers and critics accused Ripps of exploitation and ignorance. Ripps posits that he was actually making a point about exploitation. See, he did not feel fairly compensated for his work so, obviously, the “creative” thing would be to make someone else do it! Ripps was paid nothing for his work, in fact, at the end of it, he said he’d actually lost money after paying the workers for their labor. In essence: Ripps felt exploited by Ace Hotel, so he exploited someone else in an effort to emphasize his own exploitation. I think? Whoa. That’s deep. Mind blown.

His narcissism is so meta.

It gets better with Ripps’ oh-so-eloquent defense of the labor provided by the massage workers for ART WHORE: “Because good art is like good sex.” Got it. Sex workers making good art is very similar to sex workers making good sex, and good art is like good sex so, see, this whole project makes perfect sense. You just don’t understand.

[READ MORE]

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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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(Image from the film: Advocating in Albany, (No Condoms as Evidence), Red Umbrella Project)

(Image from the film: Advocating in Albany, (No Condoms as Evidence), Red Umbrella Project)

I’m a community organizer for Red Umbrella Project, and for the past year and a half I’ve been one of the leaders in the struggle to ban the use of condoms as evidence of all prostitution-related offenses in New York. We recently had a great victory in this campaign with a NYPD directive issued that bans the use of condoms for three misdemeanor offenses: prostitution, loitering for the purposes of prostitution, and prostitution in a school zone. Unfortunately that still excludes most prostitution-related offenses which, while targeted at clients, managers of the sex trades, and human sex traffickers, all too often are an initial charge filed against those doing sex work, especially transgender women of color. So our battle continues. But I feel it is important to clarify for people in the sex trades around the world why it is that we as a peer-led group by and for people in the sex trades place such great importance in this issue. While some may say that advocacy of any goal short of the decriminalization of all prostitution laws is selling out, the decriminalization of condoms opens the door for greater possibilities in organizing around other decrim efforts both in New York and elsewhere.

Handcuffs empower no one. Red Umbrella Project knows, from the arrests and incarcerations of our comrades, family, and friends, that the criminal justice system is toxic to the lives of people in the sex trades, especially those most marginalized within it. All too often sex work criminalization goes hand-in-hand with the criminalization of trans women and queer youth of color, undocumented people, and low-income women of color. Believing strongly that a peer-led model personally empowers the lives of people in ways that even the most progressive justice system cannot, we oppose the tearing apart of our communities by arrest and incarceration.

[READ MORE]

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One of the images Red Umbrella Project used in their campaign against the use of condoms as evidence. (Art by kd diamond, image courtesy of Red Umbrella Project)

One of the images Red Umbrella Project used in their campaign against the use of condoms as evidence. (Art by kd diamond, image courtesy of Red Umbrella Project)

Go Audacia Ray and Red Umbrella Project!!! The big news this week is that the NYPD has finally ended the policy of confiscating condoms from suspected sex workers to use as evidence! The change still leaves a loophole, however: they can still seize and use condoms as evidence in sex trafficking and promotion of prostitution cases.

There were several really great pieces this week deconstructing the trafficking conversation and calling for labor and human rights for sex workers: Georgina Orellano, with the Argentine Sex Workers Association, “is adamant that women who choose the sector to make a living should be given the same labour [sic] rights as everybody else.” Orellano is consistently brilliant at shutting down the interviewer’s hand-wringing attempts to make sex work into some kind of metaphysical violation; especially gratifying is her distinction between men who pay to have sex with kidnapped women (criminals), and the clients of sex workers.

Also satisfying: Anne Elizabeth Moore takes apart the racism and imperialism of the anti-trafficking movement and Christian “anti-trafficking” organizations (shady as always). Like many of us recently, she needs clarification about the concept of women “trafficking themselves.” THANK YOU FOR ASKING ABOUT THIS! Also: “Arguing that, in an ideal world, no woman would willingly sell sex, abolitionists aim to eliminate the industry entirely. Sex workers, when asked, note the absence of this illusory world.” High five! [READ MORE]

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