Whore’s Bath—More Than Washing Your Pussy For The Next Client

by Mariko Passion on July 10, 2013 · 6 comments

in Activism, Health

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.

Whore's Bath founder Erica Fabulous and Carol Leigh (Photo by Graig "Jaguar" Brooks)

Whore’s Bath founder Erica Fabulous and Carol Leigh (Photo by Graig “Jaguar” Brooks)

Having participated in both years’ events, I can attest to their magic. I arrived in emotional and physical pain that gradually evaporated under the touch of massage therapists who didn’t push me to talk about my feelings when I burst into tears during a neck massage. I knew I was amongst people who cared about my wellness, and that I could not be in a more appropriate place to feel vulnerable. TT Baum, a sacred intimate provider, gave me the most magical foot massage while we talked about the joys of doing conscious sex work with our clients. Pepper Cardamom’s tantra workshop was another healing gift. With 15 other providers, I witnessed the sheer power of tantra energy work as we ignited our collective shakti (feminine sexual energy) and exchanged mutual breast massages. I ended the day, happier, healing, and more recharged than ever. I felt blessed with new knowledge, love, and strength from my chosen family and community. In my opinion, Whores’ Bath combines all the perfect elements that allow a provider to see her next client with a renewed, invigorated sense of self.

“I liked that the space was open. Anybody could walk in, we weren’t crowded in one room,” said Doug Upp, a newcomer to the sex worker arts community from Honolulu who flew into the festival to screen his short film. “It was held in a secret location but it wasn’t a clandestine location. The hotel staff was cool; there wasn’t stigma or a weird vibe. (Oh my god, we’re whores, put us over there!) It was open and sunny. Everyone was cool.”

Laura Lasky, and the author in the background, way too excited about getting her nails done (photo by Carol Leigh)

Laura Lasky, and the author in the background, way too excited about getting her nails done (photo by Carol Leigh)

Doug may not have noticed whore stigma from the hotel because Erica never informed the staff that the event was a sex worker gathering. Three cute boys swinging happily in a hammock, a food table, and a few foot massages might have been all outsiders would have noticed. Most of the sex workers present that day appeared to be indoor internet workers who had the privilege of passing as San Francisco tourists, so our gathering did not attract attention. Sadly,this year’s Whore’s Bath event didn’t effectively reach the more marginalized sex workers in our community, and that’s a goal for both festival director Carol Leigh, AKA Scarlot Harlot, and Erica Fabulous for their next event. Both organizers suspected their challenges in finding an appropriate location impacted attendance and resulted in less diversity than previous years’.

Laura Lasky, director of the nonprofit organization Solace, has worked with SF Sex Worker Fest twice, in 2011 and 2013. Solace designed a new type of Whores’ Bath event, called The Solace Spa Suite. Lasky has previously brought the Solace Spa concept to Las Vegas, serving the sex workers that attended the Las Vegas AVN awards with spa services and breast exams in honor of her dear friend, the late Holly Stevens, a porn performer who died of breast cancer. This year, she will be bringing the Solace Spa Suite to the Desiree Alliance Conference 2013. Laura, a former sex worker and a fervent believer in the Whores’ Bath concept, carefully selected trained estheticians and knowledgeable volunteers for the services they will be offering. Half of the volunteers are former sex workers and all of them are allies to the community, ready to meet our specific needs.

“We know how all conferences and festivals can be stressful and sometimes overwhelming,” she says.“So go to the Solace Suite, decompress, find someone to talk to, be in silence, have a cupcake, have a treatment, have some time and reflect on how you are feeling. If you have a conversation about work with one of us we promise our empathetic response will never be ‘Why don’t you just quit your job?’”

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Carol Leigh July 10, 2013 at 1:26 pm

Thanks Mariko and thanks especially to Co-director Cris Sardina who attended the one in San Francisco, was so amazed by it, and made sure that Whore’s Bath would also happen at Desiree this 2013.

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Erica Fabulous July 11, 2013 at 2:29 am

Thank you Mariko for a great article!~ There are few things in life that feel like seeing a project you create and believe in grow legs and get produced by other people in other places. I hope to see it go beyond us whores and reach into all struggles of resistance, this concept of sanctuary and healing amongst the movement building. xo

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Sandra July 11, 2013 at 11:27 am

What an absolutely BRILLIANT idea! I love it and wish more places would follow suit.

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Elle July 17, 2013 at 10:06 pm

I absolutely love this. What a fun piece about a fun place, thank you all.

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Seska July 18, 2013 at 11:45 am

This is the first I have read of this. I am so impressed and inspired.

I also appreciate the challenge of finding a location that can be accessible to the diversity of workers that exists. This has been my experience as well – be it for demos, workshops and outreach.

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Maria July 21, 2013 at 6:39 pm

How would one volunteer services *specifically manicurist (i am licensed) services* at a Bath? really inspiring and beautiful, so excited to learn of these!

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