Solace

Kitty Stryker with Andre Shakti. (Screencap from Ban This Sick Filth, courtesy of Kitty Stryker)

Kitty Stryker with Andre Shakti. (Screencap from Ban This Sick Filth, courtesy of Kitty Stryker)

I’m in the middle of being flogged by Courtney Trouble for Banned in the UK (NSFW), an anti-censorship porn critiquing obscenity laws. It’s getting a little hot and heavy and my ass is getting red when the tails whip around and smack the cameraperson, my lover, in the face. We all dissolve into giggles.

And they say there’s no authenticity in porn.

I have a boner to pick with Rashida Jones (Parks and Recreation), an actress and one of the producers of an “intimate and ultimately harrowing” documentary about porn performers (because even when a documentary is expressing disgust and pity for sex workers, it’s still sexualized). Directors Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus are very concerned about the impact of porn on culture; it was the subject of their first documentary, Sexy Baby. During an interview at the Sundance Film Festival about the film (which was bought by Netflix), Ms. Jones said, “Women should feel pleasure and have sex and feel good about it—and there’s a lot of shame involved with porn,” adding that “[i]t’s performative, women aren’t feeling joy from it.”

I’m an amateur-ish porn performer and one of the directors of a little company called TROUBLEfilms. As a queer owned, queer focused operation, fulfilling cis male fantasies is not really high up on our list of priorities, but I guess since everyone knows that “only men are visual” all porn is basically the same, right? And of course as the casting director of this company, I am blasé about performer safety and health—it’s not like we have a multi-page document of model rights and our ethical standards.

If only porn was as progressive as Hollywood—oh, wait, except there’s more representation in the porn industry for female directors and producers than in the mainstream film industry.

But I’m going to put aside my sarcasm for a minute, because this is a serious issue with serious consequences. There’s been a lot of discussion about “authenticity” in porn and how amazing and valuable and feminist a quality it is, but I call bullshit on that discourse. Indie porn performer Arabelle Raphael made a great point last year by stating that porn is still labor, and as such, it is by its very nature performative. All labor requires some sort of performance, from smiling at customers you dislike to being polite when you hate your boss. Labor in the entertainment field, whether that be acting on stage, screen, or in adult movies, is even more explicitly staged. Activist sex worker Siouxsie Q wrote about how when she was working with a feminist pornographer, the actual, negotiated sex she wanted to have with a real life play partner was considered “too much” to be “authentic” as defined by that director. So who decides, then, what is authentic and what is performative? Are these actually opposite ends of a spectrum?

(Editor’s note: Content warning—NSFW images after the jump.)

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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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The Devil's Auction, J. Gurney & Son (studio), part of the Charles H. McCaghy Collection of Exotic Dance from Burlesque to Clubs

The Devil’s Auction, J. Gurney & Son (studio), part of the Charles H. McCaghy Collection of Exotic Dance from Burlesque to Clubs

The Ohio State University has made a slew of classic images from the Charles H. McCaghy Collection of Exotic Dance From Burlesque to Clubs available online. Let us take inspiration for future outfits from it.

Bad boys! Whatcha gon, whatcha gon, whatcha gon do? That awkward moment when the chief of police gets arrested for soliciting a prostitute.

Strip club regulations are so weird. San Diego police raided a strip club to check for “business permits and work cards.” The raid concludes with police officers taking invasive photographs of the dancers. So, what are the dancers going to do? They’re going to sue their asses, that’s what. And a second club has come forward to complain about the SPD’s tactics.

Tits and Sass contributor Tara Burns helps New Inquiry readers figure out if they’ve been sex trafficked in this handy dandy quiz.  So glad we can further simplify the choice/coercion dichotomy in time for April 1st!

Ex-call girl/madam Maggie Mcneill eviscerates the Urban Institute “study” on prostitution in the Washington Post: “Lies, Damned Lies, And Sex Work Statistics.”

People Magazine profiles Rajib Boy, a Kolkatan sex worker’s son selected to participate in a Manchester United soccer training camp in England: “I am not ashamed of being a sex worker’s son…[My mother] is my main source of inspiration.” The article goes into how Indian sex workers’ rights organization Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee coaches local Kolkatan children and holds a soccer tournament every two years with children participating from over fifty different red light districts around the country.

A former basketball coach accused of sex trafficking was freed after a month in jail because prosecutors concluded he had been entrapped by police. Gee, some of us wish we had that defense available to us when we were arrested by undercover cops posing as clients!

Wah wah. Honolulu police can’t have sex with prostitutes anymore after all.

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Bangladeshi sex workers form a human chain in front of the Jatiya Press Club (Photo by Sony Ramany, via demotix.com)

Bangladeshi sex workers form a human chain in front of the Jatiya Press Club (Photo by Sony Ramany, via demotix.com)

The prostitution crackdown in the Guangdong Province of China will continue; 363 suspects have already been detained.

Strange news out of San Francisco last week as the faith-based sex workers’ outreach Solace SF was closed under allegations of fraud against founder Laura Lasky.

Canadian sex worker Celine Bisette acknowledges that Canada has done a terrific job asking the community at large how to re-write sex work laws and a terrible job asking actual sex workers how to re-write sex work laws.

This shouldn’t be a world first, but it is: a New Zealand sex worker has won a landmark sexual harassment case against her former employer, a Wellington brothel owner.

What’s not to love about Janet Mock? This is the woman that stuck it to the first tuberous vegetable to host a cable news show – Piers Morgan – in the most epic way possible. Here, Dr. Brooke Magnanti interviews Mock, amongst other things, about her sensationalized past as a sex worker.

Some Spanish feminists are pissed off about the Asociación de Profesionales del Sexo “intro to prostitution” class, offered in response to the growing number of women turning to sex work in Spain’s economic crisis. Of course, leaving inexperienced sex workers without the skills to manage the risks of their job is obviously the feminist solution.

In honor of International Sex Workers’ Rights Day this week, sex workers in Bangladesh formed a human chain in front of the Jatiya Press Club on Monday to realize their demands.

Contribute to this indiegogo campaign to send two members of SWOP-Phoenix and the Best Practices Policy Project to Geneva to educate the U.N. about human rights violations perpetrated by Arizona State University diversion program Project ROSE and the Phoenix police and the framing of sex workers’ rights activist Monica Jones for “manifestation of prostitution.”

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