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10 Upsides to Being a Gigolo

via Coexist

Complex is an ironic name for such a shallow publication. When your major “News” categories include “Rides” and “Girls” alongside “Sneakers” and “Video Games,” it doesn’t bode well for thoughtful commentary. So reading “10 Downsides to Being a Gigolo” didn’t really surprise me: most media discussion of sex work is divided between horror stories and not-so-subtle nudge and wink humor anyway. It is striking how shows like Showtime’s Gigolos can entrench existing assumptions, however. So, while a companion may be subtly different from a gigolo, here is my point by point reply to these supposed downsides:

10. Being Professionally Obligated to Have Sex with Undesirable People

The first problem with this is the assumption that sex is an obligation. While it certainly is safe to say that I have sex with the vast majority of my clients, if I ever felt uncomfortable or unable to perform, I would give them a refund and call the whole thing off. That said, I have had sex with clients who I wasn’t attracted to physically. It is indeed part of the job and, for me at least, it becomes more about finding aspects of personality or focusing on the pleasure that your partner is getting out of the experience. Of course, that’s something men should pay more attention to in bed anyway.

Research Proves Men Come to Strip Clubs to Relax

Couch Dance, Philadelphia, PA, 2001, Juliana Beasley

This is the first review on Tits and Sassof an academic research article on stripping. Before I get to the review proper, I wanted to qualify this post with some thoughts on academia’s relationship to stripping. First off, in the spirit of showing all my cards, I used to do academic social science research. Secondly, I’m often skeptical of academic research and reporting on stripping and sex work because of researchers’ personal biases cleverly hidden in dense, gigantic vocabulary words. Furthermore, researchers rarely have direct, authentic experience in sex work and they end up appropriating sex worker interviewees’ experience for their own accreditation.

Though I think there is great potential for increasing knowledge by using an anthropological lens to study any subculture, I also think that when the outsider’s perspective is privileged over the insider’s lived experience, the subject being studied takes on the quality of a lab rat: voiceless. I don’t think all researchers need to experience what they study. The outsider’s perspective can be illuminating but it requires a relationship between the researcher and the researched based on respect and mutual gain. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to ascertain whether that was the case from only reading a study.

Top 10 Anti-Sex Work Billboards

Have you heard that SWAAY has an Epic Step campaign to create the first sex workers’ rights billboard in America? Epic Step is like the Kickstarter of billboards, so they need your donations in order to make this happen. Just look at how many anti-sex work billboards there are.

10. I feel like twitter is to blame for anything starting with “Dear,” including “Dear John” billboards in and surrounding Chicago, IL. “Dear Starbucks,” “Dear Netflix,” “Dear rain,” “Dear Man Soliciting Sex, We’re watching you in your sleep. Love, Chicago PD.”

photo by Chuck Berman via Chicago Tribune

“Two and a Half Men” Meet a Prostitute

I don’t purposefully watch “Two and a Half Men,” but like many popular sitcoms, it eventually becomes part of the cultural atmosphere and thanks to the public ubiquity of TVs, even the unwilling breathe it in. I first caught wind of an episode involving a prostitute when I was with a client. (Of course.) He turned on the TV in his hotel’s sitting room and then we retired to the bedroom. It wasn’t long before I started hearing the sounds of “hooker!” floating in. I think my guy was too wrapped up in my feet—figuratively; my feet aren’t quite that big—to notice, but I was aware and slightly embarrassed. Related: this one time a client and I went to see Cedar Rapids during our long weekend and ended up sitting through scenes featuring a sweet, hotel hustling lady who, if memory serves, has the obligatory “you think I like going with all those different guys?!” moment. Awkward! Dear World: when I’m playing girlfriend to a client, I need you to erase any and all references to prostitution because it makes us both feel weird. Kthanx.

Anyway, the next time I happened to be in the vicinity of a TV tuned to “Two and a Half Men,” I had a feeling that fate was about to be kind and hit me with that “hooker!” episode again. And sure enough, it did. Surprisingly, it was not as terrible as I anticipated.

MTV’s True Life Confirms that Sugarbabydom is a Hassle

The popularity of the sugar baby/sugar daddy relationship in the media is a bit of a recession phenomenon. It’s a grey-area of sex work lite that women with no experience in the sex industry can dip their toes into before they realize that if something sounds too good to be true, it is. The odds of finding an asexual millionaire benefactor are not good, but that won’t stop those with student loans or retail addictions from signing up on sites like Seeking Arrangement, Sugar Daddy For Me, Whats Your Price, and the like. MTV’s True Life follows twenty-one year-olds GG and Olivia, and twenty-two year-old Steve on their quests for financial dependence. Despite silly narration like, “They’re willing to ignore their hearts for the Benjamins,” I thought this was an accurate portrayal of what happens when young laypeople make an attempt at dancing the tango of conflicting interests.