pop culture

Alana Massey’s new collection, All the Lives I Want: Essays About My Best Friends Who Happen to be Famous Strangers, is a fucking love song to sex workers. Yet, Massey’s own erotic labor—both licit and ambiguous—is not the focus of the work. Massey interrogates “our collective ownership” of considerable female figures like Britney Spears, Scarlett Johansson, Amber Rose, Lil’ Kim, and others in 15 brief essays. Throughout the book, her own sex work plays a more subtle role in her analytic critique of what, exactly, it means to be owned. But being metaphorically owned—by the public, by stringent gender roles, by a lack of resources, etc.—sits at the intersection of class and race, and Massey isn’t afraid to have those complicated conversations.

In her examination of 25 female celebrities, from Anna Nicole Smith to Princess Diana, Massey looks at how the public consumption of famous women influences the construction of gender and sexuality more generally. “Britney’s body is everybody’s,” Massey says, before expanding on the public’s “particularly pathological focus on her [Britney’s] claim to be a virgin.” This pathological focus on virginity is of course in stark contrast to Massey’s own erotic labor, where her own virginity is never in question. While Massey does not belabor the point, All the Lives I Want is centrally about the organizing force of the Madonna/Whore complex in the lives of all women, using celebrity culture as its lens.

Notably, Massey writes of listening to Beyonce while dancing as a stripper. She reflects on the “curmudgeonly old-guard feminists” who lampoon Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls)” because of claims that “women do not, in fact, run the world.” Standing in seven-inch heels and grinding on a crotch, Massey concludes that “girls run the world in the sense that they perform the invisible and unappreciated labor that keep the world on its axis. That is different from doing what everyone wants to do, which is rule the world.” She is neither overly optimistic about her role as a sex worker under patriarchy nor does she apologize for it. Likewise, she is not seduced by the pretty things of femininity but rather describes them as a necessary force of destruction.

Curiously, however, “sex work” is not Massey’s preferred term when delving into her personal narrative, despite her forthright descriptions of blowing sugar daddies and fucking strip club regulars. Even the dust jacket of All the Lives I Want references the juxtaposition of Massey’s sex work with her opulent cultural critique as, merely, “an exploration into the female economy.” While perhaps this is calculated, linguistic sorcery from the wands of editors, a means by which Massey’s work can be distinguished from the over-saturated genre of white, cis sex worker memoir, I could not help but notice the its omission. Similarly, at times Massey’s class status feels distracting. While I admire her truthfulness, I am admittedly unfamiliar with, for example, “low grade cocaine,” which she references in an essay about attending NYU with Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen. As a once seasoned coke user myself, I’ve never heard the expression. My understanding of the drug has always been that it is either “good shit” or “bleach.” To place the drug in a hierarchy of grades is completely foreign to me. This foreignness is just one example of the necessity for critical reflection on lateral whorephobia, a conversation that is thankfully happening more frequently. It is important to acknowledge these socioeconomic differences, even between sex workers. Massey has the choice to exclude “sex worker” from her self-identification, and that is a privilege that is not extended to all of us.

However, I do not wish to discount the ways that Massey clearly struggles. The title—a sorrowful plea from the notoriously melancholy Sylvia Plath—appears on the cover emblazoned in gold glitter. To the untrained, civilian eye, the use of Plath mourning, “I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want […]” seems like a nod to the alleged prettiness of female suffering. But only a sex worker knows that glitter can be as dark as the agony that precedes its application. In reference to a $900 antipsychotic prescription, for example, Massey states, “I knew the shortest distance between me and $900 was the length of a hot-pink nylon-and-spandex minidress covering a quarter of my body.” Indeed, these pretty artifacts of femininity—glitter the reigning objet d’art—are every bit as severe as the crushing insistence, whispered through the winds of patriarchy, that women stick their heads in an oven. And in this book, Massey demands a rearticulation of female suffering through the sparkling lens of sex work and celebrity, two cohorts of women whose lives and bodies are ruthlessly consumed by an unforgiving public.

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(image via http://nerdquestionoftheday.com)

(image via http://nerdquestionoftheday.com)

by Josephine and Caty

The year is 3056 and some things never change. You’re filing your nails in the dressing room. Just another dull night in the Martian strip club. Perhaps you’re idly thumbing through an old Cosmo as you wait patiently within the brothel at the end of the universe.

It’s not always this slow, it’s just that time of the year…Right?

You hear some odd whirring and clanking over the music. What the heck was that? That was nothing, you think. Probably someone trying to parallel park a junky lunar module outside. Whatever. Time to hit the floor.

A man across the room looks weirdly familiar. You approach him and say hello.

He responds in the most cliché way possible: “Do you want me to take you away from all this?”

Why does this man look so familiar? Could it be? Is he…the Doctor?

Hey, it could happen. Even Time Lords have needs.

We wondered, what would our good Doctor be like as a client or a customer?

 

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So, my apologies for showing up a little late to the Pretty Woman threesome. I hadn’t realized how painful it would be to watch this movie again, and so I had to take it in small bites over the course of the week.

I had already been a hooker for a couple years before I ever saw Pretty Woman  a few months ago. Even before I had seen it though, I’d casually reference it all the time with my friends when we’d make fun of tricks who thought they could be our boyfriends. Yes, I know this happens in real life, and even has happened to a couple of my friends. But it’s never come even close to happening to me, especially not with the kind of guys who’d be into “saving” me.

My boyfriend finally made me watch it one day several months ago, and I was even more grossed out than I had expected.

The film’s one saving grace: Julia Roberts is incredibly, uniquely beautiful. It somewhat mitigates the torture of listening to her slip in and out of an unplaceable generic “tough girl” accent (doesn’t Vivian say once she’s from Georgia? doesn’t sound like it…) and a super lame script. (By the way, drooling over Sasha Grey was the most redeemable part of The Girlfriend Experience, too.)

Some of the things that make me cringe, roll my eyes, or just say “huh?”:

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Stripper Planks

by Kat on July 8, 2011 · 2 comments

in Strippers

@whit_titty planks it up

It was only a matter of time before somebody would think to compile a collection of stripper plank photos (although one of them is maybe just a snorkeler). I’m kind of bummed that this didn’t occur to us, but that doesn’t mean that our readers can’t still submit photos of themselves participating in the hottest/most pointless trend of 2011. Send us your pics and I’ll make a stripper planks post in a few weeks. For those of you still confused as to what all this “planking” business is about, you’ve been overthinking it. Ya go somewhere, and you lie down on your stomach like a board and someone takes a picture. Yes, documenting yourself lying down is a thing. (Remember freestyle walking?) Check out Whit absolutely killing it. No wait, saying “killing it” is over, huh? Well, she’s hitting it out of the park! Look at how she’s all lying there and shit. Now do you still “feel like a 45 year-old soccer mom,” Charlotte? kat [at] titsandsass.com

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Shakira On The Pole

by Bubbles on June 9, 2011 · 1 comment

in Videos

In something that is really barely stripper news, Shakira’s video for “Rabiosa,” has her doing some poledancing, OMG. The first segment, where she’s sliding down the pole in a spin, got me excited because I thought she was really going to bring out some serious polework, but no. Mostly she just does her sexy Shakira thing; she’s not trying to be Felix Cane (if you don’t know who that is, click on that link now). The split she drops into at the end is quite impressive, though.
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