Working Sex: Sex Workers Write About a Changing Industry


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Diving into sex work

This years show is an eye-popping evening of visual and performance art created by people who work in the sex industry to dispel the myth that they are anything short of artists, innovators, and geniuses! The wildly successful cabaret-style show is hitting the road again, bringing audiences a blend of spoken word, music, drag, burlesque, and multimedia performance art.

Intelligent and hot, disturbing and hilarious, the performances offer a wide range of perspectives on sex work, from celebration of prostitutes' rights and sex-positivity to views from the darker sides of the industry. Making its debut this year is the release of the anthology entitled Working Sex: Sex Workers write about a Changing Industry, edited by none other than the amazing Annie Oakley.

Angry and academic, sexy and sordid, hot and hilarious, Working Sex offers a unique take on class, race, gender and labor from people who live and work in the crucible of our collective desire and revulsion! Like the inspiring cabaret show, Working sex is written by men and women with life experience in the sex trade- making it the most diverse anthology about the sex industry in the US. Lee; and tour founder and director Annie Oakley. Special guest at select locations: platinum-selling hip-hop queen Trina! The show includes people from all areas of the sex industry: strippers, prostitutes, dommes, film stars, phone sex operators, internet models, etc.

It smashes traditional stereotypes and moves beyond "positive" and "negative" into a fuller articulation of the complicated ways sex workers experience their jobs and their lives. The Sex Workers' Art Show entertains, arouses, and amazes while simultaneously offering scathing and insightful commentary on notions of class, race, gender, labor and sexuality! Minimum Age: Wheelchair Accessible: No. Owner: Young Women's Empowerment Project.

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ShiraHassan gmail. Ask a question Contact us. Ticket Buyers. Event Producers. Find out about local events. At one point you talk about an alliance of anti-prostitution forces including some feminists, right-wing groups, and the police.

January 2008

The one you focus most on, or argue most with, though, seems like it's the anti-prostitution feminists. Why is that? It's particularly close to home because I am a feminist, and if it weren't for the feminist analysis I would be missing so many things that have helped me understand myself, my place in the world, and politics in general. But it's also with some grief, because I feel like the reason feminism is so lacking in sound analysis around sex workers is that mainstream feminism has been so effective at shutting sex workers out.

That is something that was not the case for the entire history of feminism. If you look back to the early history of feminism, there was a moment where some feminists were really grappling with how they understood prostitution, and even if they characterized prostitutes as the most oppressed among us, they weren't necessarily engaged with the police and the right-wing to increase the criminalization of prostitution.

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In many cases their analysis did not include sex workers themselves; they didn't think to include that most oppressed class in their own meetings and conferences and papers. It was actually sex workers who showed up and said, "You can't talk about us without us," and I think that was a moment of possibility of actual inclusion. Just as many women felt sidelined and excluded by feminism, so did sex workers; that's the grief. What differences or similarities do you see between gay rights and sex worker rights?


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The parallel that the book starts with is that there's a person called a "prostitute" just as there's a person called the "homosexual. More to the point, these weren't identities that emerged from the people themselves.


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  • These were identities that were imposed upon them from without. Moving ahead in history about a hundred years, you get to the dawn of the sex-workers rights movement, which is dawning about the same time as the gay liberation movement. They're inseparable movements. At the hallmark moments of gay liberation, whether that's Stonewall or even going back a year or two earlier to the Compton's Cafeteria riots in San Francisco, the people who put themselves on the line in those early struggles—which were struggles with the police—were also people who were in the sex trade.

    That identity was so closely linked with outlaw sexuality at that time. There are so many organizations that do work around sex work that are majority queer organizations. What does that say?

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    Does that say these are the people who come forward because they have experience in gay liberation or gay struggle? Or is it because so many sex workers are queer? I don't know at this point. But when you actually look at the people who are doing the work in sex-workers rights organizing, there's a lot of queer people and a lot of trans people.

    You can't really pull this apart or say this is a gay rights project or a sex workers project, because this is the reality of whoever is stigmatized in this society. This is the reality of who is considered an outlaw. This is the reality of who is considered disposable. Along those lines, I wondered what you thought about the success of the gay marriage movement in terms of organizing around sex work? I have vivid memories of being out as bisexual in high school, and then later identifying as queer in college, and having gay marriage seem like something that was so unimaginable even in my young adulthood that I would turn around to see that it was real.

    So part of me says it has defied my political imagination. But it wasn't at the top of my list and I don't think of it as the top of many people's lists in the communities that I'm talking about.

    What a sex worker can teach us about human connection - Nicole Emma - TEDxSaltLakeCity

    I think there are fights that are hard to turn away from. I mean, even in the communities in San Francisco we felt like we had to fight for it. How could you not?

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    With gay marriage, though, the devil is in the details. What happens to people who don't want to get married if marriage is going to be our gateway into healthcare, into being respected?


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    • And people ask the same questions about decriminalization. I see the sex workers rights movement pulling away from decriminalization in some of the same ways that the gay rights movement is pulling away from gay marriage. In the sense of, "Let's think about this a little more pragmatically. What do we really want?

      We want to be afforded the same access to public accommodation and services as anybody else does. Is the way to do that to attach it to our relationships? So looking at decriminalization, if we waved a wand and got rid of criminalization tomorrow, that doesn't necessarily change the way policing happens in this country.

      It doesn't necessarily change health access. Well, so the police can't arrest you for prostitution.

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      Working Sex: Sex Workers Write About a Changing Industry Working Sex: Sex Workers Write About a Changing Industry
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