Hi, Tits and Sass readers! We have had really good luck with our site comments so far. Aside from a few notes about how we should understand that dead hooker jokes are a necessary and funny part of modern humor, we haven’t received too many comments that suggest we all deserve physical harm for being sex workers.
Note that I said “too many,” not “none.” We got a couple that were either purposefully, trollishly obtuse or simply clueless on Elle’s Slutwalk post, and while we’ve had an informal policy of approving almost all comments, we figured now would be a good time to lay out some formal guidelines. It’s also a good time to, well, address this dude on his own terms. Do you really want to argue with us? Fine! We’ll get a professional arguer to deal with this for us. Please welcome Irony Butterfly to our pages.
Disability is the reason that I’m no longer a dancer. Occasionally, I’d fool myself and go back to work for a while, and then remember why I can’t do it anymore. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Dancing is hard on the body – and for my body, it’s particularly difficult. I’m having a hell of a time with chronic pain, and as it stands right now, it’s painful when I walk or drive. Thinking I can dance an eight-hour shift these days is an exercise in self-delusion.
I’m Mel, formerly known as Valkyrie. I started dancing when I was 20, and I retired this year. I’m bipolar, and I’m also physically disabled. I have a connective tissue disorder called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS). My joints are very easily dislocated, and I have issues with back and neck misalignment, dislocations, subluxations, moderate to severe chronic pain, and chronic fatigue. Think major arthritis and a hand tremor, and that’s the reality of the body I’m living in. I should mention that I am about to turn 31, and none of these conditions are readily apparent unless I talk about them, or unless I’m visibly wearing braces.
Disability is pretty common in the sex work industry—overwhelmingly, invisible disability. Many sex workers choose sex work because they can pick their own hours. The ability to earn high amounts of money in a short period of time really helps conserve spoons/limited energy, which is particularly helpful when dealing with a painful condition. Many dancers, models, cam girls, andfull-service workers suffer from chronic pain or physical limitations. Mental illness is also very common; I’ve personally run into people with PTSD, depression, bipolar disorder, and at least one sociopath (who, lest you get the wrong idea, is a friend of mine and a wonderful person, all stereotypes to the contrary). Mental illness can be disabling to a greater or lesser degree, depending upon circumstances.
I have some tips for those of us who are dealing with disability. Then I’ll be discussing disabled customers and how we can interact with them in a way that’s good for both them and us.
Like lots of small businesses these days, San Francisco’s unionized, worker-owned peepshow has hit some seriously tough financial times. But they’re still fighting to stay open! You can support their efforts here.
Some background: The Lusties unionized in 1997 and became a co-op in 2003 and, in addition to being the only unionized peepshow co-op in the world, they also remain one of San Francisco’s only independent clubs. Instead of paying stage fees and hustling for private dances, they receive hourly wages and each own a share of the business. Which sounds great in theory, but seems to not have been working so well in recent years.
Just days after celebrating their 15th anniversary of unionization, rumors hit the web that the club could be shutting down soon, due to worker disagreements, competition from internet porn, their idealistic-but-possibly-impractical business model (it can’t be easy getting a strip club to function as a co-op, when dancers tend to be transient side), and the general state of the economy.
Quite a few of the co-op members have left (Jolene Parton and Sandy Bottoms tell their stories here), but some are still working hard to stay open, according to this article from the SF Chronicle which, I’ll warn you, is pretty judgy and offensive. How come in such a famously sex-positive city, the biggest newspaper can’t find someone to write about the Lusty Lady’s current situation without throwing in a little anti-stripper moralization?
I’ll resist the urge to dissect the Chronicle piece and all the ways it fails (it’s pretty obvious if you read it) and encourage everyone one more time to support the Lusty Lady.
I was outed the other day as a stripper. I tracked down everyone involved in the gossip chain, found the weak link (who sent me an apology letter), and then asked one of the recipients of this hot morsel of Big News in a Small Town out to coffee. She told me she was surprised that I was nude dancing but she didn’t really care; she thought it was kinda neat and had I read Candy Girl? I would love it, she told me. It’s all about a cool girl stripper. I hadn’t read it but I’ve heard a smattering of talk in the sex worker scene about it. So I decided to read it, seeing as how, as my Small Town friend demonstrated, it’s the modern touchstone to answer every civilian girl’s fantastical question: “What’s it like to be a stripper?”
Here on Tits and Sass there’s general disagreement on the quality of this book. Kat likes it. Catherine doesn’t. So it’s kind of appropriate that I’m writing the review because I generally like 93 percent of the book and abhor 7 percent so deeply, I want to scream at Diablo Cody, “Are you fucking serious?!!”