Erika Moen is an artist and educator. She is the authour the comic strip Oh Joy Sex Toy. It started out several years ago as a sex-positive, diversity-friendly sex toy review but has expanded into all aspects of sex and sexuality. There is no topic that she's afraid of addressing. The strips are fun, subversive, educational, and visually appealing. You can read more about her here and here. Check out all her comic strips and reviews here. And a sample of her work:
I've posted about the Hooker Monologues previously: link. I had the opportunity to see an early version and it's fantastic. The show features 10 women who are all in some way connected to the sex work industry. The show, which revolves around their stories, is raw and powerful and directly challenges many of the stereotypes and myths about sex workers. It's also very entertaining. You can find out more information about the show by visiting its homepage: link.
The show is on from March 9-13 at the Firehall Theatre in Vancouver. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased here: link.
Ever wondered what makes people choose to become sex workers, and what it's like to enter the trade?
Motivations to get into sex work vary widely. Some get into it because they love sex and the attention; for others, it's a matter of survival as their choices are extremely limited. For most, the primary motivation is money.
The following is from a blog run by a male escort in New York. Here's the opening from his account of entering the trade:
Becoming an escort…
I spent my 20’s in a marriage in which I was happy and fulfilled in every way except sexually. I had next to no sex for 13 years. After an amicable but very sad and painful divorce and a lot of soul searching, I made up my mind that I would explore any kind of sex I had the slightest fancy of curiosity about. Anything. I would never judge myself, shame myself, or allow myself to suffer from regret for this decision. I was going to explore the profound kaleidoscopic spectrum of human sexuality… Every kind of kink, every dirty secret, every taboo, every delicious, piggy, nasty iteration I could possibly imagine of the most primal and essential male act of fucking. Escorting was right at the top of my sexual bucket list. It’s classic ego-driven male sexual fantasy… If you’re an escort, that means your cock is so amazing, your ass is so tight and hot, your stamina so crazy, your ability to get hard so reliable, your moves are so spectacular that people will PAY to have sex with you. It’s the ultimate ego trip. Ever since I was an underage clubber, I’ve idolized strippers, gogo boys, porn stars, and any other kind of adult entertainer. I’ve always been hypnotized by them… The confidence, the total commitment to being a sex object, the jacked bodies, big cocks, the flirting… They were just so fucking HOT. They had such power, they made all the men in the room hard. Everyone wanted them! I wanted them. And being an attention whore since I was a kid, I wanted to BE one of them. The idea of being one of them gave me both a huge boner AND a delicious ego trip, and that’s a powerful combination.
Go read the rest here (it's the post at the bottom of the page): link.
File this one away in news of the extremely uncommon.
From i100 at the Independent (in its entirety - link):
A man whose penis was ripped off in a road accident, and who has subsequently received surgery to fit an 8-inch bionic penis, is to lose his virginity to an “award winning” dominatrix who unsuccessfully ran for parliament.
Mohammed Abad, from Edinburgh, was run over when he was six years old in Huddersfield, in 1978. During the accident his penis was sliced off as he was dragged 600ft by a car.
Mr Abad had surgery to fit a fully functional 8 inch bionic penis in 2012. The organ has two tubes which inflate when he presses a button on his testicle.
“I have waited long enough for this — it’ll be a great start to the new year.
My penis is working perfectly now so I just want to do it. I’m really excited. I can’t wait for it to finally happen.”
Mr Abad also says he dreams of one day becoming a father.
He will meet up with sexual freedom campaigner Charlotte Rose in London this week for a dinner date.
Rose, a 35-year-old who won the British Erotic Award for ‘Sex Worker of the Year’ in 2013, ran for MP in the Clacton by-election in October 2014 and the Rochester and Strood by-election the following month as an independent on a platform of sexual freedom.
Rose, a mother of two, said she will waive her usual £200-an-hour fee:
“I am so honoured that he chose me to take his virginity.
We plan to have a dinner date so we can get to know each other and then two hours of private time. I’m not charging him.
I’m happy to help him build up confidence.
Hopefully he can then find a lovely lady to settle down with.”
Sex work is highly stigmatized. There are many negative stereotypes about the people who provide sexual services for money (i.e., sex workers). When the public thinks of sex workers, they typically think of survival sex workers like the ones you see on the street of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. But, there is huge diversity within sex work, and sex workers rarely have a chance to share their stories without fear of judgment and persecution. That's, in part, why this project is so powerful. Not all the performers are sex workers. Those who aren't are still directly related in some way as advocates.
I had a chance to see the show in its preliminary state - it was fantastic. Several of the people involved have been panelists for the class that I teach at UBC (I also consider them friends). So, I might be a bit biased. Legitimately, though, they kicked some serious ass. The show will be on stage in March. You can find out more and buy tickets here: link.
The CBC has been following the making the of the show and last week The National featured this segment:
CBC also published a piece about the show:
Sex workers come out of the shadows to perform The Hooker Monologues
By Duncan McCue
When sex worker Carmen Shakti begins her ribald tale of five hours spent providing oral stimulation to an erection-challenged client — a marathon session that ends only after she develops cheek cramps — many in the audience aren't sure how to react.
"He's floppy as flounder, so I have to increase the suction," she reads into the stage microphone.
Eyebrows rise. Faces stiffen. Some chuckle.
But as her story builds toward a crescendo — with the client desperately trying to climax while the service provider fantasizes about steak dinners and kitchen appliances — nearly everyone in the house is howling with laughter.
"When I'm done, I lie in bed with my stack of cash, arranging it in stacks of 100. Yeah, baby, that's my rent for the month, right there! My face will recover," Shakti says with a triumphant giggle before strolling in stilettos back to her chair.
Read the rest here: link.
A very unique perspective on some of our cultural myths and assumptions, from a professional dominatrix.
From the article at the Rumpus:
There’s no such thing as:
- Intimacy without vulnerability
- An accurate definition of sex
- A typical submissive man
- A woman who isn’t someone’s wildest fantasy
- A neat cause-and-effect explanation for the nuances of human psychology
- A replacement for hard work
- A one-sided relationship
- Universal taboos
- A good age to stop playing
Read the whole thing to get all the details(it's a good read): link.
A new study published in the academic journal Deviant Behavior, and reviewed in PsyPost:
“Initially women who dance for men may experience a boost in self-esteem, but after time they suffer from a diminished self-concept,” said Scull. “My research finds that men who dance for women generally experience positive feelings of self-worth. So much so, that men will continue to strip even when it is no longer financially lucrative.”
Scull suggests these gendered differences are due to the fact that men and women ascribe different meanings to the objectification they experience while stripping. Female dancers may be more inclined to define sexual objectification as negative, because as women, they experience it more frequently than men.
Males, on the other hand, enjoy being objectified by audience members, Scull found. They did not define objectification with disempowerment and instead noted that they felt positive about being desirable.
Read the rest here.
TRIGGER WARNING FOR SEXUAL VIOLENCE.
Depending on your perspective, Max Hardcore is either a champion of free speech or one of the most reviled men in the porn industry (second only, perhaps, to Khan Tusion, the director of the infamous Meat Holes and Rough Sex series, etc. - to read about him click here - it's brutal, so heads-up). Max Hardcore did a 4-year stint in prison for breaking American obscenity laws. He is also very successful; in other words, his content sells.
Max Hardcore's films feature adult women dressed as, and acting like, young girls, gynecological toys, and extremely rough sex. He regularly spits and urinates on his performers, and chokes them with his genitals until they vomit. [These acts aren't necessarily indicative of unethical pornography in and of themselves - what matters more is labour rights, respect for and empowerment of performers, and consent.]
Max Hardcore claims that all his performers provide freely given consent and that pushing their boundaries is a requisite part of the contract. Some women like performing for him, but many do not, and some have even tried to press criminal charges of sexual assault against him. Performing for him was once considered a rite of passage - i.e., if you could work for him, you could work for anyone.
Despite his claims that he treats his performers with respect and that they freely consent to work with him, anecdotal evidence suggests that his tactics can be emotionally abusive, manipulative, and that he uses soft coercion to get performers to do things they would not normally do. For many of the women who worked for him, if they refused certain acts, or stopped their scenes, they knew that their careers were in jeopardy.
Still, we as outside observers must take care not to infantilize performers, and to balance our concerns with respect for autonomy. In other words, people need to be free to make their own decisions for the better or worse, regardless of the outcome as judged by us.
This is a scene about Max Hardcore from the documentary Hardcore. You can see the rest of the documentary here, although the video quality is very poor (NSFW!).
If the previous info and clip about Max Hardcore haven't already left a bad taste in your mouth, this is post-scene debriefing with one of his performers likely will. Presumably, he secretly taped it as insurance against claims of misconduct and exploitation. The woman he's talking with later accused him of sexual assault, among other things. This clip includes extremely NSFW language, is uber-creepy, and may be a trigger for those who have experienced sexual violence. It perfectly exemplifies the dark side of the industry.
This video clip is an interview with from the AVN expo, post-release from jail:
And here is a longer interview with him from 2011:
It's not often that you hear from the men who pay for sex. This is a long, but informative interview. The following are some snippets. I highly recommend you read the whole thing (here).
From The Rumpus:
Paying to Play: Interview with a John By Antonia Crane
To use a tennis analogy, I played all four corners in an attempt to interview clients. I hit up escort friends of mine with long-terms regulars, old clients who were articulate and thoughtful and guys I’d never met who had contacted me with sex work-related questions. I figured the client viewpoint—the missing piece, would be easy to obtain. After all, I’d had many a deep and intimate conversation with clients about sex workers and the negative way that clients were viewed in our culture. They openly shared their feelings about paying for it—what it meant culturally and what it felt like in the context of their lives. Men who thought of themselves as powerful came to me stripped of their routine status and its burdensome accessories. They wanted to tell their secrets. They’d crawled up my stairs in marabou slippers and a pink spandex thong, glided around my pole in the living room. They wanted to share their innermost desires and act them out. But, when I sent along my questions, I was met with silence.
I guess I was supposed to disappear in a puff of stripper-smoke. I guess they were put off by my confrontational, searing inquiries. It was one thing to tell me stories about their cancer-stricken wives and college-bound daughters while I listened in a fishnet bra by the paid hour. It was another to type their story in print. I was told my questions were too “hard.” The irony is not lost on me. I’d nearly given up when Max finally responded. He agreed to do the interview if it were 100% anonymous. I thought of the NY broker wearing my dress in my living room, red-faced and trembling with terror at the thought of giving up control. I remembered telling him “Stand up.” I held his damp chin in my gloved hand and said to him, “You’re safe here.” This was one of those moments. Max’s gentle courage was by turns surprising and tender as he flipped from sex worker to client. I was inspired by his vulnerability. I hope you are too.
The Rumpus: Growing up, what messages did you receive from your family about sex workers?
Max: Even though my home town is known for vices of various kinds, I can’t say I was ever aware of sex work going on in the 70’s, other than seeing strip clubs from the outside. I certainly never saw any prostitutes, or if I did, I didn’t know that’s what they were doing. My father was a sailor and spent long periods of time stationed overseas, and in recent years I’ve learned that he used to have relationships with women when he was stationed there, some of which involved financial arrangements. Some day I hope to get up the nerve to ask him more about it.
Rumpus: Tell me about your most positive and negative experiences you had with hiring women for sex acts/entertainment/ lap dances.
Max: The most positive experiences were always ones where there was a real emotional connection, where the sex part of the relationship took a back seat to just talking.
I remember one night going to a strip club. It was late on a Friday night, and I hate Fridays in clubs. It’s always really crowded and loud, everybody’s drunk, there are frat boys and bachelor parties, the girls are all making tons of money and you can’t really talk to anybody. But I was bored, and lonely, so I went, and this dancer that I had not seen in a year or two recognized me across the room and ran up and practically jumped in my lap. We were both sober by this point in our lives, and we just talked. For four hours. She was sick of the business— didn’t feel like working, I didn’t really want a lap dance anyway, and we just sat and talked until the club closed at 4am (about marriage and boyfriends and school and careers and music and life). It was just nice. Especially when you’re a socially awkward guy who has trouble talking to people and meeting people, you don’t drink any more so your old social life is dead, being able to sit and have an intense conversation with a really pretty girl all night is a precious thing. And there was really no other way I could see that ever happening. I couldn’t talk that way with my wife any more. I didn’t have any friends. I couldn’t meet a “civilian” girl somewhere, because I was married and unavailable. This was what I had, this was a rare moment, and I took it.
Rumpus: That reminds me of good nights I’ve had in clubs on Bourbon Street. During the Occupy movement, I remember sitting at a table with a group of guys discussing politics and education—just having a brilliant conversation for hours and enjoying that I was sober and sane and speaking to smart, engaging guys from various states with letters after their names. They paid me for some dances but it was secondary to the fun discourse at the table.
Max: The negative experiences were usually when I found myself in a situation where I felt I was doing something wrong, dangerous or exploitative. I think my situation is not uncommon, and I think most of us do not want to hurt anybody. Not wanting to participate in anything that’s harmful, that’s wrong, that’s cruel. But like a lot of other industries, both black-market ones like drugs or gambling and legit industries like food processing or farming, there are abuses. And so you go into it navigating through the abuses.
You’re in this for a connection. Physical—but also emotional. And a shadow of the dark side of sex work kind of hovers around in the background.
It’s like with drug use. You just smoke pot once in a while, and then one day you find yourself buying a little more weight, from a guy who’s got a gun in his car, and you realize there is this whole other big scary reality behind the little bit that you can see.
Rumpus: What is the thing you are most ashamed of? Afraid to tell me?
Max: I think the thing I am most ashamed of is that I’ve been to Asian massage parlors. These are places with women who are very recent immigrants from China and Southeast Asia, and for a fixed door fee you can get a massage, and for a fixed “tip” you can have sex. On the one hand, it’s convenient; it’s cheaper than a typical escort and you don’t have to make an appointment in advance or have your references screened by the woman. You just show up. On the other hand, the sex is often not that great.
And call me naive, but what I discovered after a couple of trips to these places is that many of these women are victims of sex trafficking. They’re imported into the country under the ruse of getting a good American job, and then their handlers make them work off their exorbitant “travel fees” in the sex spas before they are cut loose. And even after they work off their debt, often they just return to the sex industry, because they lack skills, they lack a verifiable work history, they don’t speak very good English, and the sex work is what they know and it becomes, in a way, easy money.
Thing is, they are not glassy-eyed robot slaves sobbing under their oppressor like you see in movies about this kind of thing. They’re funny, they’re charming, they’re nice to you. And they’re very much in control as far as the sex goes: they set fierce limits about what is and is not allowed, and are usually much stricter about condom use for every act than regular escorts.
Rumpus: Do you think that any of the women you hired felt degraded or exploited? Did you? Do you think the women you hired considered themselves feminists? Do you think they considered themselves victims?
Max: Other than the women in the massage parlors I visited, I honestly don’t believe that most of the women doing this felt degraded. The ones that were escorts who didn’t have pimps, didn’t have drug problems, and weren’t trafficked, I honestly believe that they chose their profession about as much as any of us choose our profession. I don’t think they feel any more exploited than all of us workers feel exploited. We all have to work to live, and most of us would rather be doing something else.
Many years after my first blowjob-for-money experience, I went through a bi-curious phase and I guess I have to say now that I’m really a bisexual who leans hetero. Speaking only for myself, if my only two choices were becoming a warehouse picker for Amazon for $10 an hour, or sucking dicks ten times a day for $50 bucks a pop, I’d buy me some kneepads. Somebody can point to, say, a fellatio porn scene where the guy is rough on the girl and calls her names, and say that it’s inherently degrading, and my argument would be that it’s only inherently degrading if the girl doesn’t want to do it. I mean, I’ve had it done to me. I thought it was a blast. And I didn’t even get paid.
I really don’t know whether they considered themselves feminists. Do people even talk that way, outside of literary and political forums? We didn’t talk about it, specifically, although I imagine many of them did, and some of them didn’t, for the same reasons that non-sex workers do or do not.
Rumpus: What did you get out of your experiences with sex workers? How did you feel afterwards?
Max: Seeing women for money, made me a little less sad. It was a brief respite from loneliness, from my skin being hungry for human touch the way a drowning person is starving for oxygen.
Rumpus: If you think sex work is humiliating, how is sex work more humiliating than, say, working at Wal-Mart?
Max: I don’t think sex work is humiliating in and of itself, I think society makes it humiliating. You want humiliating? Try cleaning vomit-filled toilets in a frat bar on a Friday night. Try mopping floors for a person who spent more on their car than you will earn all year. Try being lectured in public by a man ten years younger than you because you poured his wine wrong.
Next time you’re in a fast food drive-thru at 2am on the way home from some bar, look through the window at the people in the kitchen, see how they are spending their Friday nights for minimum wage, and think about humiliation. Read about chicken-processing plants, Amazon warehouses. There are a million humiliating ways to make a living in this capitalist world we live in. At least escorting takes place in private.
Rumpus: Why do you think people react so strongly against sex work?
Max: It’s a combination of things.
First is the conflating of the worst abuses of sex work with all of sex work. A drug addicted single mom being pimped and beaten and coerced to walk the streets is a horrific and inhumane thing, but it’s the extreme end of the scale. It’s not inherent to sex work that it be done that way, any more than it’s inherent to casual drug use that drug cartels have to leave dozens of beheaded bodies by the side of the road every week. Otherwise everybody who laughed about smoking up on 4/20 has an awful lot of blood on their hands.
Also, people react very strongly against sex— or at least against sex done in a way that they disapprove of. People are going to say that sex work was created by the patriarchy, to serve the patriarchy, that it commodities women, treats them as objects to be bought and sold. I don’t agree. To believe that, you have to believe that all of these women lack agency, lack any will at all. That’s not been my experience. I’ve never “bought” a woman, any more than I’ve “bought” a guy to mow my lawn or “bought” a barista to make coffee.
From the Ottawa Citizen:
From Maclean's, in its entirety:
First national study sheds new light on sex work in Canada Rachel Browne talks to researchers behind five-year study by Rachel Browne
Earlier this year, Justice Minister Peter MacKay promised that Bill C-36 would eradicate prostitution in Canada and protect the most vulnerable in the sex industry by “going after the perpetrators, the perverts, those who are consumers of this degrading practice.” Despite criticism and repeated calls for the bill to be withdrawn, it will likely become law before the government’s December deadline.
Researchers from around the world are in Ottawa this week to hear findings from the first national study on Canada’s sex industry that seriously undermine the bill’s assumptions that most people who sell sex are victims and those who buy sex are fiends. While the study is unlikely to influence the new legislation, it provides rare insight into the lives of Canadians who buy and sex sell. It also adds to the body of evidence available for the inevitable Charter challenge.
“Sex workers are average Canadians. They’re Caucasian, in their 30s and 40s, and have education and training outside of high school. Most of them don’t feel exploited, they don’t see buyers as oppressors,” the study’s lead author Cecilia Benoit, a researcher at the Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia, told Maclean’s. “They’re not weird, unusual people. They are people trying to do the best they can with the tools they have to live their lives.”
The five-year study began in 2011 and is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Researchers interviewed 218 sex workers, 1,252 clients, 30 spouses or intimate partners of sex workers, 61 managers of escort or massage businesses, and 80 law enforcement officials. The interviewees were from six cities: St. John’s, N.L., Montreal, Kitchener, Ont., Fort McMurray, Alta., and Victoria.
Throughout the justice committee hearings on Bill C-36 in July, the bill’s supporters claimed the average age of entry into the sex industry is between 14 and 16. For the sex workers in this study, the average age was 24; 29 per cent of the sex workers interviewed said they had engaged in sex work before they turned 19. And while 43 per cent of the sex workers said they were satisfied with their work and 82 per cent felt appropriately rewarded, about one third of those surveyed reported having negative childhood experiences, and the same number grew up in foster care or other child services. The research team plans to examine the link between childhood abuse and the sex industry.
Benoit, who has spent decades researching the sex industry, says she was struck by the interviews she and her husband, fellow researcher Mikael Jansson, did together with the sex workers and their spouses or partners. “I realized just how similar they were to us,” she says. “They were dealing with the constraints of life, trying to support each other.” More than half of the sex workers in the study were in “significant intimate relationships,” and 59 of them were married or living in common-law marriages. Almost half the clients reported being married or in a common-law marriage with a non-sex worker.
Many of the interviews were conducted shortly after the Supreme Court struck down the criminal code provisions on prostitution last year. “People in the industry felt a little bit more at ease then, [and] open to tell us what they were doing,” says Benoit. She’s worried the new laws criminalizing buyers and advertising will push swaths of the industry underground. “It will be harder for clients to help anyone they see being victimized, because it will be illegal. The same with managers in the industry,” she says. “I’m a bit sad about what is going to happen.”
Canadians should also be worried that C-36 makes sex workers targets, says Chris Atchison, a sociologist from the University of Victoria who contributed to the study. “We see exacerbation of conflict and unsafe sex practices when we force people to engage in hostile, criminalized climates,” he says. Clients, or “johns,” in Canada represent all strata of life, so when we adhere to stereotypes, it ignores the diversity of the population and glosses over the bad apples, he says. And the small number of people who prey on the vulnerable in the sex industry will have greater cover, because johns won’t be willing to divulge their anonymity once it becomes illegal to buy sex. “People who are raping and murdering sex workers, they’re not clients,” Atchison says. “Nobody murders a sex worker and then puts $500 down on her corpse.”
Jean McDonald, director of sex-worker support group Maggie’s Toronto, says although C-36 is very similar to the provisions struck down by Bedford, her group is coming up with new ways to navigate the changing industry. She’s also confident some police forces will continue to leave sex workers and their clients alone. “There are some police services, such as in Peterborough, Ont., who, for the last 10 years, have made a point of having a policy of non-enforcement of prostitution laws,” she says. “There is that shimmer of hope I have.”
This is reflected in the report, which finds that police and municipal approaches to sex workers and johns are highly inconsistent across the country. Calgary Police Chief Rick Hanson applauds Bill C-36, for example, whereas Victoria police officers shy away from arresting those engaging in prostitution. The Victoria municipal council recently passed a resolution urging the federal government to abandon C-36. One Montreal police officer told report authors that his force focuses instead on “other crimes that are more serious, such as the trafficking of crack cocaine and the trafficking of firearms.”
Even if prostitution were decriminalized, which the report authors and those interviewed say ought to happen, Benoit says that wouldn’t be enough to make the lives of those in the industry better. “We need societal change, not just at the federal level. We need to change at a more personal level by examining our attitudes and how we discriminate against people,” she says.
Meet the Hardest Working Man in Porn At 35, Shimiken is the king of Japanese porn, a $20 billion industry that produces more than double the number of adult films that America does. The only problem: He's part of an endangered species—1 of only 70 (maybe just 30, by some estimates) male actors in a business that churns out thousands of videos a year—and while he keeps coming, the reinforcements don't. Why won't anybody help this guy out, for f***'s sake?
By Paige Ferrari, Photo by Jeremy Liebman
On a sunny Saturday morning in eastern Tokyo, a silver Audi pulls into a parking lot and sparks pandemonium. Out of the driver's seat bounces a small, stocky man with bulging biceps, spiky orange hair, and a broad smile spread across his effulgent, spray-tanned face. He bounds onto the pavement wearing a hoodie and a T-shirt that reads SEX INSTRUCTOR. To his left, the mostly male crowd leans forward, en masse. "Shimiken!" several shout, and a clatter of smartphone shutter sounds follows like a round of applause.
"Let's go," Shimiken whispers to a handler attempting to clear a path through the throng. He raises one arm over his head to air-high-five his riveted fans. It's the morning of the Japan Adult Expo, and the crowd has been waiting for tickets. Inside, they'll get to meet the stars of their wildest fantasies. Outside, they've already caught a glimpse of something rarer: the man who has actually lived them all.
At 35 years old, Shimiken is the king of Japanese porn, more often referred to here as AV (adult video), and there is essentially nothing he won't do or hasn't done while getting busy with more than 7,500 different female costars, including a former teen pop singer, Hungarian exchange students, and a pair of 72-year-old twins. In 18 years and more than 7,000 films, Shimiken has refused only one scenario: having sex with an actress after she had sex with a dog. (He agreed to a rewrite in which the dog merely licked butter off the woman before their scene.)
Read the rest here.
Watch the clip first and see what comes up for you. I've added some commentary below.
Three things stuck out to me:
1. She notes that there is a subgroup of men who troll and harass her, and presumably say some nasty stuff. Why is this the case? What is going on culturally that there are men who feel entitled to demean, belittle, and harass female strangers on the web, especially those who do this type of work? I suspect it's because there's a group of sexually/romantically disenfranchised men who have been hurt or rejected by women, or who feel powerless and unattractive, and as a defense mechanism or to communicate their upset have become callous, mysogynistic, nasty, and abusive. You see this in the Pick Up Artistry scene, and in places like the RedPill on Reddit. They externalize their pain and suffering, and then create an entire ideology to support it.
2. She talks about body image and her struggles with her weight (in her case, being thin because of an illness). In some types of work, body appearance is a critical part of success (e.g., modeling, being a server in a restaurant, being a fitness/personal trainer, being in the media, etc.) - this has been an issue of much debate and concern. In camming, body appearance is also very central to success. So there is likely increased risk of body image dissatisfaction doing camming, which is tied to lowered self-esteem. It sounds like it is a real struggle for her, which might be worrisome. But, it's not for us to say, I suppose.
3. She mentions that she has lots of young followers, in particular female followers. I'd be a little worried about how these followers see her, and if they understand what camming and fantasy is about. Hopefully in her interactions with them, parts of her other than her sexuality become apparent. In other words, hopefully her followers can celebrate her sexuality, but also recognize that she is much more than simply a physically attractive object of desire (which actually increases her attractiveness to her fans - personality and interactions with fans play huge roles in cam models' success).
This is Buck Angel. He's a porn superstar, educator, advocate and supposedly all-around awesome dude. He describes himself as "the man with a pussy."
He was interviewed and photographed a while by Dirty Magazine:
BUCK WILD By Kirsten Matthew
Buck Angel has lived through several lifetimes. Born a girl in Southern California's San Fernando Valley, he made a living as a model (and developed a serious crack habit) before deciding to become a man, 18 years ago. As the "Man with a Pussy" he went on to marry a woman, and make award-winning porn. Now, he's keen to mainstream, by becoming an author, educator and lecturer.
DIRTY: DO YOU REMEMBER THE FIRST TIME YOU REALIZED YOU WANTED TO BE A BOY RATHER THAN A GIRL?
BUCK ANGEL: I always felt like a man. It wasn’t ‘I think’; it was ‘I am’. My parents treated me very much like a boy. They called me Buck. They didn’t treat my sisters like that. My sisters are both butch too; they have that masculine energy. But mine was male energy. That’s not really normal but it felt normal to me. Going through puberty at 15, things started changing. That was a breaking point for me. I got into drinking and smoking pot; had a psychological breakdown. I was extremely shy. I always wore a baseball cap. I couldn’t make eye contact, start up a conversation.
D: HOW DID YOU MOVE INTO THE ADULT FILM INDUSTRY?
BA: I think it was over 10 years ago or so that I made my first fetish film. It was for my own company, The Pro Dominatrix, that I started with my wife at the time. We made dominatrix and fetish (foot, smoking, bondage) films in our dungeon in downtown Los Angeles. I taught myself to use a camera and edit. We put them on VHS and sold them through the website. Then I started trying the Buck stuff. I have done 15 Buck films; most under my own label, Buck Angel Entertainment. I control my image. I only release one or two movies a year because I do not want to over-saturate the market with my product. I really love all my films. I have seen such a growth with my work and also with the talent that I am able to cast now. In the beginning it was very hard for me to cast, as people were scared to be in a film with me because they had no idea how this would reflect on their career. The adult entertainment business is very conservative in a sense that you can not really do crossover gay, straight work. But, I did it. And one more film and then I think I’m done with making adult films.
His commercial website can be found here (NSFW!).
Buck did a talk a while back at Idea City. He discussed his experiences growing up, his rise to stardom in both the adult movie industry and the popular media, and the politics and culture surrounding transgenderism. The clip of his talk is long, but worth every minute.
A documentary about Buck was released last year. Here's the trailer:
Another of Susannah Breslin’s projects about sex work.
A sample from a letter:
I am also, as always, conflicted. As a women with radical feminist politics, this is the one area where I diverge from the dominant opinions of that group. I am constantly evaluating how I can be a truly feminist sex worker. For me that question of feminist integrity matters more than how to be a safe sex worker, a high paid sex worker, or anything else. My integrity is the most important thing, and I never do anything with a john that I wouldn't do by my own choice.
I turn down the piss requests, the "will you let my dog fuck you?" guys, the ones who try to bargain for more time and less money. I do not turn down the ugly ones, the lonely ones, the very hairy and sexually confused ones. There is something in me that loves them and their small perversions, loves the taboo of sex work and the incredibly novel situations that I find myself in. As an Ivy league masters candidate, this is not my last resort. I've lived with the love of my life for years and am satisfied in every way by our love/sex/friendship. I'm educated and well adjusted, yet I am also a working girl. We tend to defy your expectations, don't we?
The rest of the letter, and many more, here.
One of Susannah Breslin's projects: Letters from Johns. The project provided (it wrapped in 2009) an opportunity for men who've used the services of sex providers to share their stories, motivations, and experiences.
A sample from a letter:
I was a thirty four year old virgin when I first visited a prostitute.
I've always been shy and a bit of a computer geek, and somehow I missed out on opportunities at college and university that might have got my sex life off to a start. Once I graduated I ended up in an IT job, full of other single male geeks. None of us had much in the way of a social life, but I was furthering my career so it didn't seem to matter much. It was only when I hit thirty that I started to worry about the other things missing from my life. At that point, my age and lack of experience were a major worry. I was tempted by online dating, but knew that anyone I might meet would be more sexually experienced than me, and this became a major stumbling block.
At one point, I seriously considered sexual surrogate therapy, but in the end the price put me off. It did, however, make me start thinking about paying for sex, but at a different level. Websites and forums are what I do, and mostly how I interact with other people, so it didn't take me long to find forums devoted to escort work. I researched diligently, read up on the pros and cons, and the dangers, health and otherwise, of seeing escorts. The forums were an eye opener. The escorts posting sounded genuine, even relatively normal, and not the junkies I'd expected. I made up my mind to go for it.
The rest of the letter, and many more, here.
One of the original letter writers sent an update letter, two years after he sent his first letter. Link here.
Japan is a country that is dying—literally. A nation that was once considered the strongest economical powerhouse in the world, rivaling the US, has now slipped to second best. Japan has more people over the age of 65 and the smallest number of people under the age of 15 in the world. It is the fastest growing negative population in the world, and that's because hardly anyone is having babies. In these difficult times, the Japanese are putting marriage and families on the back burner and seeking recreational love and affection as a form of cheap escape with no strings attached. We sent Ryan Duffy to investigate this phenomenon, which led him to Tokyo's cuddle cafes and Yakuza-sponsored prostitution.
Some have pointed out that documentaries like this are simply capitalizing on the whole Japan is super weird stereotype. The content of this documentary is not representative of the Japanese culture in general - Vice tends to focus on experiences that are outside of the norm (i.e., cuddle cafes and the Yakuza), as that's what they find most interesting.
Somewhat NSFW (you can also watch a way more NSFW version on Vice.com: link):
From the Walrus:
Dirty Tricks Is the anti-prostitution lobby inflating sex-trafficking stats? By Alexandra Kimball
In 2007, a twenty-year-old Anishinabe woman from Garden River First Nation in Ontario quit her call-centre job, packed her bags, and boarded a Greyhound bus out of nearby Sault Ste. Marie. Before the call centre, Naomi Sayers had worked as an exotic dancer; she was heading for a network of clubs in southern Ontario, because another performer had told her it was a good place to maximize hours and profit. She arrived in London, moved into a dancers’ house, and began touring Windsor, Woodstock, and Peterborough. Keeping safe by travelling with other performers, she shared hotel rooms, transportation, and job leads. Her best friend and housemate, who worked under the stage name Alex, showed her the ropes: where to put her stuff, which dancers to watch out for. Sayers’s boyfriend had a car; sometimes he drove her to the club, and held onto her cash when she went in for shifts.
Sex work, she says, was entirely her choice. “Dancing got me out of the Sault,” explains Sayers, who is now a University of Ottawa common-law student and blogger-advocate for Indigenous women’s issues. And yet, she can’t shake the victim label.
As a young Indigenous woman who moved to an urban centre to work in the sex trade—even of her own free will, hoping to better her life—she fits the RCMP profile of a person who is vulnerable to domestic sex trafficking. The Criminal Code was amended in 2005 to make domestic trafficking an offence, and the definition is broad. Victims need not be moved, and while trafficking must contain an element of exploitation (“conduct that could reasonably be expected to cause” someone to fear for their own safety or for someone else’s), the code also states that people need not consider themselves exploited. This means they don’t necessarily get a say in whether they are victims; it’s up to the discretion of authorities.
In recent years, sex trafficking has gained attention and resources: the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking commands a $25 million budget and has developed partnerships with several NGOs to raise awareness about the prevalence and severity of trafficking. Non-profits such as the Canadian Women’s Foundation have created their own task forces; CWF released a $2 million white paper on the subject in October.
Yet few can agree on how widespread the problem is, or how best to address it. This troubles former RCMP superintendent John Ferguson: “Are there victims? Yes. Is this a systemic problem? The evidence tells us no.” (Between 2005 and 2009, the RCMP reviewed 242 potential international human-trafficking cases, but made no convictions.) He points to the absence of information: Canada has no standardized system for the collection of such data. Ferguson also points to a 2003 RCMP report that claimed each year 600 women and girls are trafficked into the country for forced sex work; the report has since been discarded by the RCMP itself.
Instead, anti-trafficking advocates such as University of British Columbia law professor Benjamin Perrin rely on anecdotal evidence to bolster their arguments. In his 2010 book, Invisible Chains: Canada’s Underground World of Human Trafficking, Perrin seems to suggest that most prostitution involves coercion and threat; this risks conflating consensual sex work with a criminal offence, and misleads the public into believing that the trafficking problem is more acute than it actually is.
This may, in fact, be intentional.
Inflated or unsubstantiated trafficking stats are often disseminated by the same people who support C-36—the controversial bill that, if passed, would criminalize the buyers of sexual services, as well as third parties who exploit sex workers. In railing against sex trafficking, they can argue against the inherent evils of the sex trade without relying on explicitly moral or religious rhetoric—a useful digression when the public is less inclined than ever to condemn prostitution on moral grounds. (In July, one in five presenters at the Department of Justice committee hearings on C-36 had evangelical connections.)
While this study isn't academic in the sense that it was done at a university, was paid for by a funding agency, and went through the peer-review process, it is exceptionally good. The researcher (and authour), John Millward, waded through piles of publicly available data to determine the characteristics of the average porn star and what they do. The resulting article is entertaining and provides infographics displaying his findings. From John Millward:
For the first time, a massive data set of 10,000 porn stars has been extracted from the world’s largest database of adult films and performers. I’ve spent the last six months analyzing it to discover the truth about what the average performer looks like, what they do on film, and how their role has evolved over the last forty years.
‘Without any mental deliberation, picture the average female porn star. Just let her spring into your mind’s eye looking however she looks. Can you see her?’
I had bumped into a friend who I’d not seen in a while and this was the first question I asked him. He didn’t realise at the time that I’d been in self-imposed smutty exile for an untold number of weeks, working on the largest study of porn stars ever undertaken, and now I was out and eager to spread the news.
‘Erm, yeah, I suppose,’ he said.
‘What does she look like?’ I asked, struggling to hide my smile.
When he replied by saying ‘a blonde with big boobs’, I must admit I relished the opportunity to lean in, let the grin spread across my tired face, and say ‘That’s what everyone says. And in fact, it’s wrong’.
‘Oh,’ he said, after I explained how I knew what the average porn star actually looks like, as well as what her name probably is, how many films she’s most likely done and the probability of her having a tattoo or body piercing.
‘So you’ve spent all this time watching hundreds of porn movies?’
‘No,’ I said. ‘I’ve spent all this time analysing the demographic profiles and filmographies of ten thousand adult performers. There is a difference.’
‘I see’, he then said. ‘And how, dare I ask, does one go about doing that?’
Go read the rest here.
And the massive infographic depicting his findings (click to make larger):
From The Washington Post:
Lies, Damned Lies And Sex Work Statistics By Maggie McNeill
(Maggie McNeill is a retired call girl. She writes at her blog, The Honest Courtesan.)
Imagine a study of the alcohol industry which interviewed not a single brewer, wine expert, liquor store owner or drinker, but instead relied solely on the statements of ATF agents, dry-county politicians and members of Alcoholics Anonymous and Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Or how about a report on restaurants which treated the opinions of failed hot dog stand operators as the basis for broad statements about every kind of food business from convenience stores to food trucks to McDonald’s to five-star restaurants?
You’d probably surmise that this sort of research would be biased and one-sided to the point of unreliable. And you’d be correct. But change the topic to sex work, and such methods are not only the norm, they’re accepted uncritically by the media and the majority of those who the resulting studies. In fact, many of those who represent themselves as sex work researchers don’t even try to get good data. They simply present their opinions as fact, occasionally bolstered by pseudo-studies designed to produce pre-determined results. Well-known and easily-contacted sex workers are rarely consulted . There’s no peer review. And when sex workers are consulted at all, they’re recruited from jails and substance abuse programs, resulting in a sample skewed heavily toward the desperate, the disadvantaged and the marginalized.
This sort of statistical malpractice has always been typical of prostitution research. But the incentive to produce it has dramatically increased in the past decade, thanks to a media-fueled moral panic over sex trafficking. Sex-work prohibitionists have long seen trafficking and sex slavery as a useful Trojan horse. In its 2010 “national action plan,” for example, the activist group Demand Abolition writes,“Framing the Campaign’s key target as sexual slavery might garner more support and less resistance, while framing the Campaign as combating prostitution may be less likely to mobilize similar levels of support and to stimulate stronger opposition.”