San Francisco Sex Worker Film and Art Festival

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Things fall apart in the Witcher brothel. (Screenshot from Witcher 3)

In this video game brothel, clients and workers become disembodied parts before they fuse together in a scene that manages to be amusing and nightmarish at the same time.

The top Honolulu prosecutor had to drop charges against the massage parlor workers who were arrested in a raid and then charged with sexual assault after the police couldn’t find enough evidence to charge them with prostitution. Elizabeth Nolan Brown shreds the whole incident and points out that, while charges are dropped, some of the women are still vulnerable to deportation.

Katie Hail-Jares calls out the Honolulu Police Department’s use of coercive tactics to “rescue” sex workers and discusses the multiple ways this policy is not only ineffective, but outright damaging.

A South African ex-sex worker and Sisonke activist discusses the economic circumstances that led to him going into sex work and the social stigma and violence South African male sex workers face.

Despite all the big talk about rescuing sex workers and helping people who want out of the industry, the Canadian sex work exit fund is too small to be of much use to anyone. More on that.

The Terrence Higgins Trust in the UK seems to be actually invested in helping HIV positive sex workers leave the industry! Unsurprisingly, THT actually works with sex worker support group SWISH.

A legislator in Tanzania takes the “If wishes were horses” approach to public health:

“It is unacceptable to find people engaged in commercial sex and then educating them on how to avoid contracting HIV. The only solution to addressing HIV prevalence is to prohibit prostitution,” Ms Ali said.

And on that note: two new studies are out examining why the attempts of other Indian states to replicate the success of Kolkata’s Sonagachi project—a “programme of HIV prevention through community mobilisation…intended to empower sex workers to tackle the social conditions which made them more vulnerable to HIV”—met with different results.

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(Photo by Ed Barnes, courtesy of Akynos)

(Photo by Ed Barnes, courtesy of Akynos)

Akynos is a multi-platform sex worker artist. Her many talents include photography, burlesque, and performance. She’ll be appearing this week in the San Francisco Bay Area Sex Worker Film and Art Festival from May 15th-24th, where she’ll perform in the Sex Worker Soliloquies series and teach classes in the Institute of Sexworkology, an all day workshop. More photos of Akynos in action after the jump.

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baltimore Hundreds of people protested in Chicago on Tuesday, in support of Baltimore and the many casualties of police brutality, including Mya Hall.

A Vietnamese restaurant owner turned her restaurant into a lucrative side business for herself and women being exploited by local factories, which, of course had to be stopped.

The San Francisco Sex Worker Film and Arts Festival is coming up, May 15th-24th.

Jessica Pilley, author of Policing Sexuality, the history of the Mann Act, goes over the history of anti-trafficking activism and its ties to racist immigration and border policies as well as the development of the surveillance state.

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The author indulging in the sort of whore's bath many of us take between clients. (Photo by Justin Bruce Malcolm)

The author indulging in the sort of whore’s bath many of us take between clients. (Photo by Justin Bruce Malcolm)

[The next Whore’s Bath/Solace Spa Suite event will be held at the Desiree Alliance conference on Weds, July 17th, between 11 AM and 6:30 PM. At the time of posting, we believe you can still register  for the Desiree Alliance conference, though you will no longer receive a room discount.—ed.]

Whore’s Bath is a day long retreat into spa and wellness treatments, by sex workers and for sex workers, created for the 7th San Francisco Sex Worker Festival in 2011 by sex worker community organizer Erica Fabulous. Her vision was “to provide a space for current and former sex workers to come together to focus on self care and get some much needed healing and nourishment, something we are generally giving to others while leaving ourselves without.” The bathing is both symbolic and literal. The idea behind the cleansing rituals in the Whores’ Bath offerings are cleansing the body and mind of stress, baggage, pain, confusion, tension, negative energy, drama, isolation, and much more. Water is not necessarily required. At this kind of Whores’ Bath, you can let the love and skill sharing from other providers be the source that replenishes you.

This year, the Whores’ Bath event created for the 8th San Francisco Sex Worker Film and Arts Festival was held at a cute two and a half star (#PricelineHookers) hotel in the Marina district. Three rooms were rented and there was a large turf grass area with hammocks tied to palm trees where everyone ate delicious food catered by Ckiara Rose. When you arrived on the grass, you were directed to plates and tables of food and drink and could sign up for tarot readings, a tantra workshop, full body massages, reiki, a meditation workshop, foot massages, and express facials. When the sun went down, we all migrated into the bigger suite and continued to bond and commune; laughing, griping, unwinding, eating, drinking and creating new friends and new memories. The late, wonderful Robyn Few, founder of the national Sex Workers Outreach Project and a major contributor to Desiree Alliance conferences, firmly believed in the power of these kinds of good times. It was in hotel room kickbacks like this that she planted seeds in people to grow her revolutionary garden of sex worker organizers. “Hanging with whores is supposed to fucking feel good,”I can imagine her saying, while passing me a gigantic joint.

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Incredible Edible Akynos stars in "Whore Logic" at the San Francisco Sex Workers' Film and Arts Festival (Photo by PJ Starr)

Incredible Edible Akynos stars in “Whore Logic” at the San Francisco Sex Worker Film and Arts Festival (Photo by PJ Starr)

The San Francisco Bay Guardian profiles this year’s Sex Worker Film and Arts Festival, focusing on contributions by festival co-founder Carol Leigh/Scarlot Harlot, Mariko Passion, James Darling, Siouxsie Q,  Juba Kalamka, Courtney Trouble, Amber Dawn, and Rhiannon Argo.

Toro Hashimoto, mayor of Osaka, outraged pretty much everyone this Monday when he stated publicly that the sexual services of enslaved Chinese and Korean ‘comfort women’ during WWII were a wartime necessity for the Japanese army. He also told reporters that there was no clear evidence that the Japanese military coerced women into service, which any historian can tell you is blatantly false. “Anyone can understand that the system of comfort women was necessary to provide respite for a group of high-strung, rough and tumble crowd of men braving their lives under a storm of bullets,” Hashimoto said. Oh, well, boys will be boys and rape will be rape, right?  Mr. Hashimoto then went on to suggest that U.S. servicemen in Okinawa should “make more use” of the local sex industry to “relieve the sexual energy of the Marines,” which may or may not be a good idea but is unlikely to be taken seriously considering the source. Local Okinawan women’s orgs have demanded an apology from the mayor, feeling that his comments express the misogynist racism mainlanders harbor against Okinawans.

Even anti-trafficking activists oppose using condoms as evidence of prostitution.

A Virginia woman answering what she believed to be an online dating ad was recently arrested for prostitution: “She says he [the undercover police officer] shoved a fistful of cash in front of her face and issued a command: ‘TAKE IT!'”

The Human Rights Watch reports that police in China frequently beat, torture and arbitrarily detain suspected sex workers, often with little or no evidence that they engaged in prostitution.  Condoms as evidence of prostitution are a favored tactic of the Chinese police, and sex workers are often arrested with no evidence against them besides the fact that they were carrying condoms.  Raids on brothels are timed, often occurring a few days ahead of politically sensitive events or whenever someone in government orders an anti-pornography campaign to please the leadership, and it’s during these periods that police officers demand steep bribes or sex, torture sex workers to coerce confessions, or lock them up for as long as two years without trial. Those who wish to see if their eyes can remain dry after reading the Human Rights Watch study on this can find it here.

The New Zealand Herald profiled one such Chinese crackdown on the notoriously thriving sex trade in the city of  Dongguan.

A North Queensland motel has won a legal battle against a sex worker who successfully sued for discrimination after being told she could not work as a prostitute on the premises.

Career focused social media site LinkedIn has forbidden escort and massage advertisements, even in countries in which prostitution is legal. Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof is quoted retorting: ““If it’s OK to do that, is it OK to drop Dairy Queen too because it serves too much fat and calories? Is LinkedIn going to be the moral arbiter, and drop Coca-Cola or anybody who works for a cigarette company?” Dr. Brooke Magnanti also takes issue with the site’s policy in her column in the Telegraph. She points out that “escorts who want to use LinkedIn as a business opportunity will continue to do so. They will just employ code words and careful screening – as they already do on virtually every other social network in the world.”

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