Sunday, May 24, 2015

Trade Secrets - Strip Clubs

Post reproduced from Trade Secrets: Health and Safety in the Sex Industry which was published in BC, Canada in 2009. All advice given in these posts comes from sex industry workers who shared their experience and knowledge for this guide.

The Naked Truth will feature one section from the guide each week. This week's post is from Chapter One: Our Workspaces.

Note from Trina: If any of the information you see is outdated, please comment below or send me an email so that I can correct the information. I will also update each section on the Trade Secrets blog as I go.

Strip Clubs

Stages

The stage can be a dangerous place to be when you’re wearing stilettos. Especially if it is the first time you’ve gotten up on this particular stage. You need to watch for holes in the floor, speakers that are hanging low enough to bang your head on them, hanging wires from the lighting, and slippery or sticky spots where you step.

Stages with floor lighting are quite slippery in spots. An otherwise safe stage can become hazardous after a performance with candles or oils. Don’t feel bad if you need to walk off a stage and explain to the DJ that it is too slippery to perform on.

Stages that are covered in carpet can be difficult to dance on in heels. It takes a bit of getting used to. Your heels may snag on torn parts of the carpet, so be careful.

Don’t allow customers to place their drinks or belongings on the edge of the stage where you might trip over them. If a customer is belligerent and you feel safe enough to do it, simply take the item away and put it at the back of the stage until the end of your show.

In Alberta and some other places, it is customary for patrons to engage in the "loonie/twonie" toss. Sometimes this is done to tip the performer for her standard performance. Other times, a performer may play games with the audience so they can win posters and other promotional items if they have good aim. This practice can be dangerous if patrons throw the coins too hard, heat them up causing the performers to be burned by the coins, or hitting the performers in vulnerable places on their bodies.

Hotel Rooms / Accommodations

Dancers are often provided with accommodations in the adjoining hotel of the club where they are working. In other situations, you may have a dancer suite or house with your own bedrooms but shared kitchen and bathrooms.

Depending on the club, you will either pay for your accommodations or they’ll be free. Some clubs will have a housekeeping fee or other ways to reduce your paycheque. It’s good to ask ahead of time if the club has any extra fees.

You may be expected to share a room. This can be problematic if one of you smokes and the other doesn’t, or if you have a private health problem that is hard to hide in a shared room. If it’s not a good fit, you could be in for a really bad week.

To avoid such risks, ask your agent or the club before booking a gig if you will get your own room. If not, you could ask about paying extra for your own room.

Your agent might tell you who else is working so you can avoid sharing a room with someone you don’t get along with. You could also ask a friend to work that gig with you and share the room together. Or you could turn down the booking altogether.

Do not answer the door unless you who is on the other side and trust them implicitly. This includes bar-staff.

Security

Some clubs have not changed the locks to the accommodations for their dancers in years, if ever. There’s been many occasions when dancers have had complete strangers walk into their rooms, or had their belongings stolen from their hotel rooms or the change rooms while they are performing.

Let the clubs know if anything like that happens to you and advise them to change their locks. If you do not feel safe, consider leaving. You could rent your own room in the same hotel, or at another nearby hotel. Or you could risk getting blacklisted for a while and walk out on the gig. Your safety is more important than your paycheque.

Be aware that some accommodations do not provide telephones. If you have a cell phone, keep it charged at all times. Remember that even a cell phone that does not have service can be used to call 911 as long as it is charged.

Cleanliness

Some hotel rooms are very clean, and others should be condemned. Some of the worst hotel rooms will have mouse droppings, cockroach problems, or bedbugs.

It is a good idea to bring your own bedding along so you don’t have to sleep with someone else’s hair that is threaded through the hotel sheets tickling your neck all night.

You should also bring all your own toiletries, including toilet paper (in case theirs is like sandpaper) and soap. And if you like your baths, some cleaner and rags might be a godsend. Of course, you can always go shopping for these things in a pinch.

Some dancers have found allergy pills will help them get through weeks where the rooms have mold in them. You can sometimes smell mold – it’s a musty, damp odour. Other times you may not know it is there.

Fire Safety

As we all know, strip clubs are often run out of very old buildings that are not maintained. This means deteriorated electrical systems and smoke detectors that don’t work. The fire risk in strip clubs must be high since so many clubs have burned down to the ground.

Be very careful with cigarette butts, candles, or anything else you are burning in your room. Unplug your hair appliances when you’re done with them. Keep your costumes organized so you can grab them and run as it’s unlikely they will be covered under a hotel or club insurance policy. If you can afford house insurance, you can list your costumes for coverage and that coverage will extend to theft from a location outside your home, such as from a car or hotel.

Pole

Keep yourself and others safe by washing your hands before every show. This will prevent hand lotion, tanning lotion, and sweaty palms from getting the pole dirty or slippery.

Avoid moves that cause your anus or vulva to touch the pole. This is a common courtesy among entertainers that is expected of you.

If you do a show that involves some kind of substance that makes the stage or pole slippery or messy in any way – clean up thoroughly after your show out of respect for the following performers.

Don’t lick the pole. It is full of bacteria from the hands of numerous other dancers (and who knows who else when the club is closed).

Feel free to go up and clean the pole yourself before the club opens. At least you’ll know it’s been cleaned every day. Some dancers clean the pole before all their shows.

Towel

Carry a towel when you’re in the club in costume. Lay it down on chairs before you sit. This will reduce ass pimples and goddess knows what else.

Blanket

Buy a blanket that has two different sides. Use one side for the stage and one side for your body, so you will always have the dirty side down. Wash your blanket once or twice a week, if possible. A blanket that will slide easily on the stage is a nice choice. Some dancers even make their own blankets with their names on them.

Avoid white or neon fun fur. The fur comes off and sticks to your coochie and glows. White also picks up leftover paint from paint shows and looks grungy in no time.

In the Club

Watch your drink at all times. Even bar-staff have been known to drug the performers.

About Trade Secrets

Trade Secrets is a collaborative project that was contributed to by diverse members of the sex industry and their community.

About the Project

Who Contributed?

Some of this information may be outdated. Please feel free to comment below the relevant posts and information you'd like to add or update. Your help is appreciated.

Thank you for your commitment to supporting health and safety in the sex industry.

In Solidarity,

Trina Ricketts (Annie)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Retired Stripper Blues

The Byrd Show Lounge, Surrey BC, Canada
By Annie Temple

No matter how much we bitch and moan about the outrages of the exotic dance industry, when we leave it...we get the blues.

We can't wait to get away from the bullshit that goes along with being a dancer. But wherever we go, there is bullshit to be had.

Most jobs out there have equal amounts of bullshit in their policies or procedures. Most ignore at least some of the labour laws. The exotic dance industry is no different. So clearly, there's no escape from occupational outrage no matter where you work.

All jobs being equal - there are very good reasons why we experience "the retired stripper blues." I will attempt to list a few here:

We Miss Performing

Oh yes, we miss it very much. All that seductive playfulness we use to titillate our audiences. The stage. The lights. The applause. Dancing to the music. Wielding our pussy power as we crawl around the stage. It's a lot of fun! And we miss it very much.

We Miss the Money

It may not be "easy" money, but it's quick money. And every now and then, it's a good deal of money, all at once - when a very generous gentleman has emerged. ;)

We Miss the Flexibility

Booking a week off whenever we want - oh, those were the days. At most square jobs, we have to beg for a weekend off and we are often told "no."

We Miss the Attention

Being told you're beautiful every day is a wonderful thing. It's too bad most husbands and boyfriends don't seem to know this. It's easy sometimes to forget you're a beautiful woman when you don't have random strangers reminding you of it every day.

We Miss the Exercise

Everyone knows that regular exercise is your best defense against stress or disease. When I was dancing, I was rarely ill. My job was fun and I kept in great shape. Now, I have to force myself to fit exercise into my schedule. (Personally, I dance around the kitchen while I make dinner in the evenings.)

We Miss Dressing Up Every Day

Most women love making ourselves beautiful in gorgeous clothes and meticulous makeup. As exotic dancers, we got to do this every day. Not only were our clothes beautiful, but we had matching bras and panties that we got to show off to every one in the audience too. Not many women get to put on high heels and sequins at work. It's an occupational perk. (Ooh, and we can write off our beautiful costumes and shoes, bras and panties, tanning, makeup, wigs, hair appointments, gas, food, travel expenses and more.)

We Miss Shocking People

One of the best things about being a dancer is telling people what you do for a living. Of course, most dancers are strategic about who they tell, but when they drop that bomb, they're always in for a good laugh and a story to tell in the change room about other people's reactions. It's fun to be viewed as the bad girl. Especially when you know that deep down, you're just like every other woman - neither good nor bad. It's just that no one else seems to realize this. (Our little joke on the rest of the world.)

We Miss Our Regular Customers

Yep. We do. And it's really hard to leave them behind. You see, at least when we were working, it was okay for us to talk to all these men outside of our personal relationships. But when you're a retired dancer, it can be hard to keep these friendships alive. A lot of boyfriends and husbands just don't understand the platonic nature of these friendships (at least from our perspectives), so they don't support the continuation of such relationships. We miss our regulars.

We Miss the Other Dancers

Exotic dancers are pros at laughter and good conversation. And we save the best for each other. Hanging out in the change room between shows and being with other open-minded, intelligent, funny women - well, it's good for the soul. We really miss the other dancers. That's what The Naked Truth Facebook group is good for. It's a retired dancer's good old friend. But it's not the same as the laughter and love that is shared in the change rooms.

Oh, I got the retired stripper blues.

Trade Secrets - Webcam and Internet Safety

Post reproduced from Trade Secrets: Health and Safety in the Sex Industry which was published in BC, Canada in 2009. All advice given in these posts comes from sex industry workers who shared their experience and knowledge for this guide.

The Naked Truth will feature one section from the guide each week. This week's post is from Chapter One: Our Workspaces.

Note from Trina: If any of the information you see is outdated, please comment below or send me an email so that I can correct the information. I will also update each section on the Trade Secrets blog as I go.

Webcam and Internet Safety

Some webcam entertainers work in an office setting with a computer and a bed in each room.


To prevent an exchange of bodily fluids from previous workers:

  • Put your own plastic cover on keyboard.
  • Bring Lysol disinfectant spray to spray on office phones used communally for webcam with phone sex shows.
  • Bring your own clean sheets and bedding to your cubicle.
  • Bring lots of your own toys and costumes. Cover toys with condoms if you are sharing.
  • It’s easy to be "on" for long periods of time, especially if you are in the comfort of your own home. But it's still a job and can be physically, mentally and emotionally draining. Take breaks. Set regular hours for yourself. Be prepared for busy times and slow times. Pace yourself. Watch your posture. Drink water. Eat meals. Get enough sleep.


Many webcam clients live in remote areas with few sex workers, so the only way they can get workers to visit them is if they pay all the costs. If a webcam client wants to send you money to travel somewhere for an actual live sex work session, take as many precautions as possible. Make them pay up front, give you their real names, and pay for your accommodations.

Internet Safety

If you are running a web service of any kind from home, make sure you have a firewall and an antivirus system to protect yourself from hackers.

If you are using wireless Internet in your home, make sure it is secure. Others can easily log onto unsecured wireless Internet connections and post information on the Internet that would lead back to you. You don’t want police showing up to your dungeon because of someone else’s actions.

As anyone can look up the owner of a web site domain name, it's also wise to make sure that your personal information posted is either blocked (with a third party service) or uses a P.O. Box address. Sometimes your web host company will replace your contact information with theirs. Just tell them that you are concerned about your personal information being available to the public. You should have the option to pay more for a "private" listing.

Although there are tricks to make it difficult for others to copy your photographs from websites, there is really no foolproof way of doing it. Clients can easily do screen captures of anything they see on the Internet.

Masking an IP Address
By Parched Mosquito

You can mask an IP address by placing a middleman computer between yourself and the "Internet." The most common way of doing this is to use a household router. A common router is a stripped down computer that handles all Internet traffic to and from your house before your Internet service provider sees it. Your individual computers connected to the router are not visible to others on the Internet, but the router itself is.

To move this into a context that could hide your webcam traffic, you would need to place a computer on the Internet that can do two things:

NAT (this is what your router does) and VPN. VPN is a secure connection between computers, across networks and media (media meaning transmission media like wires, fibre optics, and such).

After setting up a middleman computer, you use VPN to securely connect to the middleman computer. The middleman then translates your IP address and network requests between the communicating computers. In the case of the webcam, the broadcaster and receiver.

However, this will not prevent some people, such as "the authorities" from discovering your computer trail. But it will stop most "script kiddie hackers" in their tracks.

Most freely available versions of Linux can act as this so called middleman computer. Windows (server) can also do this, but it costs money.

At the very least, place a router between you and the Internet and turn on all the security settings. That way, the only information someone might get from you is what the Internet service provider can provide, i.e. subscriber info.

It is possible to break into these routers, which is why you can setup your own "router" using a dedicated Linux system computer. Very, very secure. But not for everyone as it requires in depth knowledge of network protocols, topology and Linux.

Ensuring Your Computer is Secure
By Thomas Covenant

This article is divided in two sections:

1. The threats you face and why you want to secure your computer
2. An easy to implement approach to give you some security.

Legal Disclaimer: The information provided is general and intended for “newbies." The discussion was current as of November 2009. It is impossible to have a totally secure system so it is critical to have your important files backed up.

The threat and why you want to secure your computer.

The world is connected via the internet; you can hardly have a functional computer without access to the internet.

There are very bright people on the internet who spend their entire day building “threats." If you read the newspaper you will have read about viruses, trojan horses, spoofing, spyware, malware and others. You can spend weeks looking at the differences between these different items but the common thread is …

Someone has control over your computer.

This is bad. A key-logger can record your password and banking information. A virus will try to attach itself to your e-mails, your computer might be part of a zombie network.

This is just a tip of the iceberg of badness.

An easy to implement approach to give you some security

If you are using Shaw then use their Shaw Secure program. If you have a problem then Shaw “might” be able to help you. Cleaning up a compromised computer is tricky and time consuming and you cannot be sure that the problem is fixed. A quick solution is to reformat your hard drive which means you will have lost any personal information.

Therefore: You have to have a backup of your important files.

You should have an anti-virus and a fire wall program.

The anti-virus and fire wall program will scan your computer and hopefully identify malware etc before they install. Microsoft offers Windows Defender which is free, but you can also use AVG Antivirus, or some commercial programs like Norton or Kapersky security products.

You should also make sure that your computer software is up-to-date.

Many threats will use a weakness in the program to gain access to your machine.

Microsoft will update its software on the second Tuesday of every month.

Sometimes there is a large update and your computer will be running very slowly as the updates download and install.

Secunia software checker and Filehippo software update checkers are useful for non-Microsoft programs like Adobe, Firefox. etc. They will scan your computer and tell you if there is a revised program which you can download.

Another useful program is Belarc Advisor. It will do an audit of your PC and post the result in your browser window. It will tell you if you have missed any key Microsoft security updates.

Running a lean computer

Malware needs a place to hide. If you have a machine with lots of old programs that you don’t use you might want to clear them out. Even your casual internet surfing generates a lot of temporary files. Using a program like Crap Cleaner is useful as it clears out a lot of clutter so the anti-virus scanners will run faster.

You have to be aware and become pro-active

I have seen a lot of compromised systems where the problem was identified and then ignored. (Usually teenagers closing error messages resulting in massive spy-bot invasions). If you see an error message, maybe write it down and google it and see what others have found. You should also avoid wandering into “dangerous territory.” Warez programs (hacked computer programs ) are famous for adding a virus to their wares.

Also be cautious about opening emails from strangers that have attachments.

Concluding Comments

Being on the internet involves an element of risk. Your best defense is knowledge and some reliable software.

Hopefully this article is a start. Computer security is a huge topic and it is continually evolving. Knowing your computer, using the programs suggested and understanding the reports and error messages is vital. Google a lot … someone has seen your problem before and hopefully you can avoid more serious problems.

Passwords and Backup
By Thomas Covenant

Legal Disclaimer: The information provided is general and intended for “newbie’s”. The discussion was current as of November 2009. It is impossible to have a totally secure system so it is critical to have your important files backed up.

Passwords

Sooner or later you will have to secure “something” on your computer, be it your screensaver, router, hotmail account, your dating service, or more importantly your banking information. The password is intended to limit access to the particular program or device, so don’t write your password on a post it note attached to your computer screen, or on the desk blotter or give it to your kids or co-worker.

Now there are people on the internet who would like to find your password, let’s call them “Crackers." The motivation for finding out your password ranges from the “challenge of figuring it out” to the creep who wants to read your email to the professional thief who wants to clean out your PayPal account. Most of the work is done by computer programs so the “Cracker” can scan many computers in the hope that there will be a few with the doors left open. (There always are a few.)

So it is important to have a pretty good password that isn’t easily “cracked” but still easy for you to remember and type in.

There have been studies made of what people use for passwords, favorites are “ASDF,” “AAA," "1234,” your kids name, special dates in your life, and “God,” just to name a few.

Crackers can use social engineering and dictionary attacks to easily get past these passwords. Some programs like Gmail will evaluate your passwords to force you to make them stronger.

A good password has a mix of letters (lower and UPPERCASE) and numbers and maybe a ! or two. If your password was “bubblebath” maybe 6u66le6atH! might do the trick.

A good password should be easy for you to remember but difficult to guess.

It is a good idea to limit physical access to your computer or computer hardware as a Cracker can usually re-set the device back to the factory settings. There are websites listing the factory password settings for every device made.

Don’t use the same password twice if you can help it. A cracker can break your screensaver password in seconds and it would be the first choice at your bank log in page.

Don’t leave the default password active. Your router and computer may have a Guest account with the password “Guest." And don’t leave your password blank.

Backup

Introduction and Key Concepts

The average computer user has heard of “backup” but their computer usually has failed before they got the chance to “back things up."

It is critical that you back up files that can’t be remade such as the family photo album. It is also critical that you store the backup somewhere safe. (If your house burns down for instance.) And you have to ensure that the backup actually works.

Some people download their photos to the computer, burn a CD and have the best photos printed. If the computer crashes they still have the printed photo and they can rebuild the library from CD. If the CD’s were stored at your parent’s house then your data would be fairly safe. (Hopefully there isn’t a flood or earthquake.) You also have to hope that your computer can still read the back up medium - remember the 3 and ½ inch floppy disk?

More adventuresome people might backup their desktop to their laptop, with the hope that the laptop will survive it’s next drop.

You will also have to remember that burned CD’s or DVD’s will not last forever, and hopefully the JPEG format for pictures will still be around in 2020.

If your family photo album is small you might be able to put the backup onto an 8 GIG flash drive. Or if you have a large photo collection you will need an external disk drive.

Having two backups is a good idea. If your computer fails then you have two threads to recover your lost data.

Backup software

I’m currently using SyncBack which is a freeware program and it allows for backup or synchronization. Microsoft also has a similar product.

If you have added pictures to your photo album you can run the program to just backup the photos that are new (an incremental backup).

If you have a laptop and a desktop and are putting photos on whatever is handiest at the moment then the synchronization feature is really handy as it looks at both sources and automatically copies the missing photos to the other machine.

Backup needs to be done.

Every hard disk will eventually fail and every computer will become obsolete. Hopefully your family photo albums will keep pace with the changes in technology. Having backups that work and that you can recover from is important.

About Trade Secrets

Trade Secrets is a collaborative project that was contributed to by diverse members of the sex industry and their community.

About the Project

Who Contributed?

Some of this information may be outdated. Please feel free to comment below the relevant posts and information you'd like to add or update. Your help is appreciated.

Thank you for your commitment to supporting health and safety in the sex industry.

In Solidarity,

Trina Ricketts (Annie)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

My Rights Are Sex Worker Rights

Guest Post by Andrew Sorfleet

How Harper's new prostitution law violates Canada's Rights and Freedoms
In Vancouver, Sex Worker Rights Activists brave the weather.
June 14, 2014. Photo: Philip Lo


We've come a long way since Canada's Criminal Code was first enacted in 1892, which made "procuring women for unlawful carnal connection" a crime. There were already laws prohibiting sexual activity, of course. The Vagrancy Act of 1867 made "the defilement of women under the age of 21" illegal. And "common prostitutes," keepers, and frequenters of houses of ill-fame were liable to arrest.

The federal government introduced "An Act to Amend and Consolidate the Laws Respecting Indians" in 1880, better known as The Indian Act. Brothel keepers were banned from allowing Native women on the premises. In 1884, "tents and wigwams" were included in the bawdy-house provisions, to ensure that Native brothel keepers could be convicted. In 1886, The Indian Act is amended again, to ensure that Native men who frequent such places could also be arrested.

In 1931, The Statute of Westminster, gave Canada the power to enact its own laws. The laws of Great Britain no longer applied, unless enacted by Canadian parliament. It's at this juncture we start to see the influence of Canada's Supreme Court on prostitution laws. In 1939 the Supreme Court of Canada (The King v. Betty Cohen) finds that the habitual use by one woman of her own premises for prostitution is sufficient grounds to convict for the offence of keeping a common bawdy house.

August 10, 1960, Canada enacted "An Act for the Recognition and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms." The Bill of Rights declared that, without discrimination, every law in Canada shall not infringe on "any of the rights and freedoms herein recognized and declared." These rights include such fundamental principles as the right to life, liberty and security; equality before the law and protection of the law; and rules for arrest and detainment.

By 1968, The Bill of Rights begins to influence legal reforms. The Supreme Court of Canada (Patterson v. the Queen) rules that isolated instances of prostitution do not make a place a common bawdy house. There must be evidence of habitual use.

In 1972, the Vagrancy Law section of the Criminal Code which was used to arrest a "prostitute or night-walker who ... fails to give a good account of herself" is repealed. Replacing it is a new law that makes it crime to solicit any person in a public place for the purpose of prostitution. In 1978, The Supreme Court (R. v. Hutt) rules that soliciting must be "pressing and persistent."

Ref: http://walnet.org/swear/SwearLawsHistory.pdf

Charter rights become symbol of Canada's independence

On April 17, 1982, the Constitution Act was signed by Queen Elizabeth II and then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and it replaced the British North America Act passed by Britain in 1867. Canada's Constitution with its own Charter of Rights and Freedoms became the highest law in the country, and Canada gained its full independence from Britain.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II signs Canada's new
Charter of Rights and Freedoms into law, April 17, 1982.
Photo: National Archives of Canada (http://canadianheritage.org)

All government services, departments and agencies in Canada - whether federal, provincial, territorial, regional or municipal - must respect the rights and freedoms guaranteed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Laws that are inconsistent with the Charter can be declared unconstitutional and struck down by a court of law.

[Ref: http://walnet.org/swear/SimplyPut.pdf]

Life, Freedom and Security

In December 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada (Bedford Decision) struck down all three sections of the Criminal Code that outlawed prostitution, on the grounds that the laws violated sex workers' right to security of the person. In other words, the laws prevented sex workers from employing precautions that would increase their safety on the job.

Chief Justice, Beverly McLaughlin: "by imposing dangerous conditions on prostitution; [the laws] prevent people engaged in a risky - but legal - activity from taking steps to protect themselves from the risk."

Everyone has the right not to have her or his life, freedom, or security taken from her or him -- except in accordance to the principles of fundamental justice.

The Harper government was given one year to enact new laws that addressed the Supreme Court's concerns, at which time the old laws would be repealed.

Commodification of sexual activity causes social harm

November 2014, The Harper government enacted The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA), making new prostitution crimes part of Canada's Criminal Code. Section 286 (Commodification of Sexual Activity) makes it a new crime to pay for sex. And, it's now a crime to live with, or regularly be in the company of sex workers (with exceptions for family and landlords etc.).

In the preamble to the Act, the Harper government attempts to justify these new laws, providing the courts with context and intent. The government "has grave concerns about the exploitation that is inherent in prostitution..." "The Parliament of Canada recognizes the social harm caused by the objectification of the human body and the commodification of sexual activity;" and "it is important to protect human dignity and the equality of all Canadians by discouraging prostitution."

But what about worker health and safety?

When PCEPA was enacted, The Premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynn, issued a statement saying she had a "grave concern" that the new laws would not make sex workers safer, and she asked her Attorney General to review the law for constitutional validity. But Ontario Attorney General
Madeleine Meilleur and her senior staff concluded the new law answers the Supreme Court's concerns over sex workers' safety and security. On April 1, 2015, Premier Wynn announced that "there's no clear unconstitutionality in the law," while refusing to provide any details. "We will uphold the law," she said, "the importance to you is that it's constitutionally sound."

[Ref: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ontario-review-finds-ottawas-sex-work-law-constitutional-wynne-says/article23734478/]

It wasn't just the Ontario government that had grave concerns about Harper's new criminal laws.

December 2014, the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) released its report, Sex Work in Canada: The Public Health Perspective. In the introduction, CPHA states that "stigma surrounding sex work, discrimination against sex workers, and the criminalization of various aspects of sex work make sex workers a hard-to-reach population." The report's top recommendation:

"The establishment of a regulatory framework based on a public health approach would provide an opportunity to regulate sex work as a business. As such, it would be subjected to the roles, responsibilities and legal requirements of those entities, and sex workers would be provided with protection under existing occupational health and safety regulations."

The report's "Public Health Perspective" underlined the importance of sex-worker associations in improving workplace safety: "structural supports such as sex worker unions which improve social capital and access to resources, are effective in fostering a climate of prevention with subsequent reduction in STI and HIV prevalence."

[Ref: http://www.cpha.ca/uploads/policy/sex-work.pdf]

The president of the Canadian Public Employees Union for Ontario, Fred Hahn, also stressed sex-worker health and safety. In his July 9, 2014 National Post editorial, Hahn states: "Sex workers deserve the same protections as all workers, including the right to earn an income without being persecuted, the right to a healthy and safe work environment, and the right to freely associate with other workers... Trade unions must support the health and safety of everyone, especially those working in precarious industries."

[Ref: http://www.nationalpost.com/m/wp/blog.html?b=news.nationalpost.com//full-comment/fred-hahn-sex-workers-deserve-the-same-protections-as-all-other-workers

Association is a right

Within the baroque complexity of Section 286 there is at least one infringement on sex workers' Charter rights. But, it's a bit complicated.

First, "everyone who receives a financial or other material benefit, knowing that it is obtained by or derived directly or indirectly from the commission of an offence. [s.286.2(1)]

Second, "evidence that a person lives with or is habitually in the company of a person who offers or provides sexual services for consideration is, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, proof that the person received a financial or other material benefit from those services [s.286.2(3) Presumption]

In other words, If you live with, or hang out with someone who charges for sexual services, you are guilty under Section 286.2 until you prove that you do not knowingly receive any material benefit.

The law also provides some intricately defined "Exceptions." For example: "legitimate living arrangement;" "result of a legal or moral obligation;" you provide "a service or good" that you offer "on the same terms and conditions, to the general public;" and, lastly, you provide a "service or good" that you "do not offer to the general public" if you "did not counsel or encourage that person to provide sexual services and the benefit is proportionate to the value of the service or good." [s.286.2(4)]

Everyone has the right to gather in peaceful groups, and to associate with whom she or he chooses.

Under s. 286, sex workers are banned from consorting with each other in anyway related to conducting commercial sex. It's a crime to receive any benefit "in the context of a commercial enterprise that offers sexual services for consideration." [ss.286.2(5)(e)] This includes any form of joint sex-business ventures, whether it be employer/employee, or co-operative, or even sex-industry conferences.

Technically, regular social gatherings such as potlucks are prohibited, as the exchange of ideas and advice could be considered "counselling" and "encouraging" the sale of sexual services. Food and beverages are the material benefit!

It is exactly this sort of legal prohibition that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was designed to protect us from.

Strength in Numbers

September 21, 2012, Supreme Court of Canada ruled that a society could be granted public-interest standing in a constitutional lawsuit (Canada v Sex Workers United Against Violence Society and Sheryl Kiselbach). The society, Sex Workers United Against Violence (SWUAV) was denied standing because a society cannot be charged under the prostitution laws in question.

The ruling explains that no sex workers were willing to bring a court challenge forward because, "They feared loss of privacy and safety and increased violence by clients. Also, their spouses, friends, family members and/or members of their community may not know that they are or were involved in sex work... They have children that they fear will be removed by child protection authorities. Finally, bringing such challenge, they fear, may limit their current or future education or employment opportunities..."

Sex Workers United Against Violence lead the Red Umbrella March
for Sex Work Solidarity in Vancouver, 2014. Photo: Philip Lo

The Supreme Court reasoned that SWUAV had the capacity to undertake the lawsuit, "The Society is a well-organized association with considerable expertise with respect to sex workers in the Downtown Eastside, and Ms. Kiselbach, a former sex worker in this neighbourhood, is supported by the resources of the Society. They provide a concrete factual background and represent those most directly affected by the legislation."

The unanimous ruling states that, "one of the ideas which animates public interest litigation is that it may provide access to justice for disadvantaged persons in society whose legal rights are affected."

[Ref: http://www.pivotlegal.org/scc_decision_in_swuav_a_triumph_for_access_to_justice]

Thoughts, beliefs and opinions

Founded February 21, 2012, Triple-X Workers' Solidarity Association of B.C. is the first registered association in Canada that focuses exclusively on sex workers' employment. According to Triple-X's constitution, the purpose of the association is: "To advocate for better jobs in the Triple-X industry."

According to the association's membership bylaw (filed with the Registrar of Companies May 21, 2014), you must be employed in Triple-X work to become a member. Only persons who have "agreed to the direct exchange of sexual stimulation for financial compensation within the last six months and intend to continue to work in the Triple-X industry" can join.

[Ref: http://triple-x.org/about/bylaws.html]

Triple-X leads the Red Umbrella March in Vancouver, 2014. Photo: Philip Lo

Evidently Triple-X offers a service - association membership - that is not offered to the general public. And, it is the very purpose Triple-X was created for: to "counsel" and "encourage" members "to provide sexual services."

In other words, sex workers' associations that focus on employment conditions (such as Triple-X) have effectively been outlawed. Under the Societies Act, board members are not allowed to materially benefit from the non-profit societies they direct. It would be any staff of the association, and possibly even the members themselves who could be breaking the law.

What about free speech?

Everyone has the right to have her or his own thoughts, beliefs and opinions, and the right to communicate, publish and broadcast them.

Advertising sexual services [s.286.4] makes it an offence "to knowingly advertise an offer to provide sexual services for consideration," unless it is an "advertisement of their own sexual services." [s.286.5 Immunity]

Escort Cards from the 1880s. Collection of Alan Mays
[https://www.flickr.com/photos/aemays/sets/]

In order to aid police in their search for illegal sex-business ads, PCEPA added any material that "is an advertisement of sexual services" to the list of materials police can get a warrant to search for, seize and forfeit. The list also includes crime comics, child pornography and voyeuristic recordings. [s.164]

To further aid police in identifying and charging clients of sexual services, PCEPA allows for the authorization to intercept private communications to do with "obtaining sexual services for
consideration," as those communications are now a crime.

"Everyone who communicates with anyone for the purpose of obtaining for consideration, the sexual services of a person is guilty of an offence." [s.286.1]

In other words, it's now legal for police to tap sex workers' phones and email accounts in order to find and arrest clients. The exhaustive list of other crimes under Section 183 - Invasion of Privacy, includes everything from "advocating genocide," "weapons trafficking" and "facilitating terrorist activity," to "municipal corruption," "use or alteration of nuclear material," and "high treason."

Everyone has the right not to be searched and not to have her or his property taken away without good reason.

Right to sexual expression

The Harper government's ultimate goal with the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act is to end prostitution in Canada. Justice Minister Peter Mackay said so himself: "Let us be clear about Bill C-36's ultimate objective: that is to reduce the demand for prostitution with a view towards discouraging entry into
it, deterring participation in it and ultimately abolishing it to
greatest extent possible."

[Ref: http://www.cbc.ca/m/touch/news/story/1.2759701]

By making paying for sex a crime, Harper's legal trickery tries to skirt the issue of sex workers rights -- in particular, the right to life, liberty and security. But you can't make only half a transaction a crime. Sex for pay is like two sides of the same dollar bill.

Laws that make paying for sex a crime infringe upon our sexual freedom, in particular, the freedom to set the terms under which we agree to have sex. And the new laws go even further than that. It's not only a crime to pay me for sex, it's a crime to live with me. It's a crime to fraternize with me. It's a crime to love me.

Sex workers are being shunned by the law -- excluded from society. That's a violation of our right to associate with others. My rights are sex workers' rights. I think most Canadians would agree.

[For a full text of the laws, see:
http://triple-x.org/pdf/SexualServices-2015.pdf]

Come to the 3rd Annual Red Umbrella March for Sex Work Solidarity, June 13, 2:30 p.m. Vancouver Art Gallery, Robson Street. Bring a red umbrella. Dress up. Have fun!


https://www.facebook.com/events/488382531324858/?ref=1

[poster: http://triple-x.org/pdf/redumbrellaletter2015.pdf]


About the Author

Andrew Sorfleet has worked in the sex industry for over a decade and has been a sex workers' rights activist since 1990. He is currently president of the board of Triple-X Workers' Solidarity Association of B.C.

Trade Secrets - Adult Film Studios

Post reproduced from Trade Secrets: Health and Safety in the Sex Industry which was published in BC, Canada in 2009. All advice given in these posts comes from sex industry workers who shared their experience and knowledge for this guide. 

The Naked Truth will feature one section from the guide each week. This week's post is from Chapter One: Our Workspaces

Note from Trina: If any of the information you see is outdated, please comment below or send me an email so that I can correct the information. I will also update each section on the Trade Secrets blog as I go.

Adult Film Studios

Before applying for an adult film position, find out either the name of the company, or the name of the person hiring. Google search their names. Check out their websites. Go to online forums for sex workers to read reviews. Ask others in the industry what they know.

If they are offering a huge amount of money, it is probably too good to be true. Call around, look at newspaper ads, or look at online listings such as Craigslist to see what the going pay range is.

Create a list of what activities you are willing to do. Ask the business owner what will be required of you, how long the shoot will be, and how much the pay will be. Try to negotiate your pay or the activities you’re expected to perform before the shoot.

Get regular STI checks from clinics or your doctor and get a photocopy of the results to bring in for work. You will need ID to show the doctor to get your results. Most companies require testing every one to six months. Ask about this in advance to get the ball rolling before commencing work, so you will be prepared. It usually takes one week to get results.

Have two pieces of government issued ID available at the time of the shoot. If they do not ask for ID then they could be pedophiles that film kiddie porn. Or they could be setting you up for a violent scene. Do not trust anyone who does not require ID.

Most professional film companies do not allow performers to bring accompaniments to the shoot. It's always worth asking though.

Use a 'spotter.' Whether it is a driver outside or someone you can text. When texting, contact your spotter every hour or two so they know you are safe during the filming / photography session. Make sure the spotter knows the producer’s name, address and phone number so police can be called if your texts stop coming and the performer won't answer the phone.

Leave a paper trail of where you are going. Email your spotter or a friend the location of the shoot as well as other information such as the name of the company, email address of the business owner, pertinent phone numbers and dates of the shoot. This way, if communication is lost somehow, the police can be called to intervene.

After you have had naked images of yourself spread across the Internet, prepare to be noticed in public. Some people may embarrass you publicly, disrespect your privacy, and act inappropriately. Stick to familiar places and find ways to maintain personal safety. This could be buying a guard dog, getting a tough-ass lover, hanging out at safe public locations when alone, and having a cell phone on hand at all times. There are serial killers who prey on those in the sex industry. Adult film performers are no exception.

When choosing adult film work, there are many options for employment. Some are safer than others. Solo work using your own toys is the safest way to not get an STI. There are many fetish sites that film only your feet, your armpit, bubble blowing or other interesting activites, that are very safe forms of employment. Working for an exhibitionist / voyeur shoot is great too as it could be a shoot of you changing in a change room, or a camera under a desk watching you open your legs.

If you are going to do sexual activities, check before the shoot if the company does bareback shoots, or if condoms are worn. Ask if dental dams are used during pussy eating scenes. Ask if you can use condoms during blowjobs. If barriers are not used, then there is a high risk of contracting diseases. Even kissing is unsafe, as many people have the herpes virus that causes cold sores. Only choose sexual work that takes as many health precautions as possible. Safe sex can still be sexy to watch.

If you have a violent situation occur on set, phone police or post reviews onto online forums to warn others. If there is a bad date sheet for escorts, report the incident to be put on there. Many industry workers cross over into other industries. When posting about violent situations, do it in a way that doesn't disclose who you are as the person reporting. This will help you to avoid repercussions from the community.

About Trade Secrets 

Trade Secrets is a collaborative project that was contributed to by diverse members of the sex industry and their community. 

About the Project 

Who Contributed? 

Some of this information may be outdated. Please feel free to comment below the relevant posts and information you'd like to add or update. Your help is appreciated. 

Thank you for your commitment to supporting health and safety in the sex industry. 

In Solidarity,

Trina Ricketts (Annie)

Friday, April 24, 2015

Ten Reasons Sex Workers Are Great Parents


By Annie Temple

Before I had kids of my own, I noticed something about my colleagues kids. And not just other strippers, but my friends in the escort business too. By and large, their kids were kind, considerate, helpful, and seemed to be incredibly well-adjusted as teenagers.

Up till that point, I believed that all teenagers were a headache to their parents. Teens and strife went hand-in-hand. No parent could avoid the dreaded teen years. They were a fact of life.

Apparently, I was wrong. In front of my face, were several examples of chill teens raised by sex industry workers.

Was there a correlation? How did this happen?

Social wisdom would have us believe that sex industry workers are terrible parents who routinely jeopardize their childrens' safety by bringing “perverts” around, leaving them to raise themselves, and setting an example of depravity.

Social wisdom is INCORRECT.

Children of sex workers that I know are more likely to be level-headed, socially aware, critical thinkers. Rather than putting their parents through a lot of grief, they are strong allies of their parents. Gutsy, confident, young people who speak their minds and care about others.

I was impressed. I made it a hobby to notice similarities in parenting styles among the parents of these stellar teens. I asked myself, what about their environment? How and why would their environment differ from a typical square parented home?

As a youth, I was far from chill. I fought daily with my mother, felt depressed and alone a lot of the time, and made bad decisions around boys and money. I wanted to learn how my colleagues had raised their kids so I could apply their techniques when I raised children of my own, in hopes that my kids wouldn't have the same experiences I had.

I am happy to report that the following tricks are tried and true. I've built my parenting styles around the ones listed below and my kids are as chill as you can get.


In Real-Time: Whore Stigma and Motherhood

Ironically, while I was writing this article, I posted this Facebook status (seen below) and experienced the same stigma I am trying to dispel.





A few hours after posting, while I made dinner for my family, my 15-year-old daughter appeared in the kitchen. "Check your Facebook, Mom," she said. "I hope you're not mad but I told off someone on your page because she insulted you."

The woman who "insulted me" posted this:





My daughter, upon seeing the above post, jumped to my defense providing a perfect example of how a sex industry worker (me) has raised a confident, socially-aware teen who defends rather than attacks her mom. I couldn't be more proud. Here is my daughter's response:





The proof is in the pudding. The following ten reasons sex industry workers are great parents could be said of parents with square jobs too. However, I rarely see square parents using these techniques.

Any parent can follow these tips to build better relationships with their children. Certainly, not all sex industry workers are terrific parents, but most of them truly are. And for good reason, as you will see below.


Ten Reasons Sex Workers Are Great Parents

#10. We have more money.

Like everyone who works, sex industry workers do it for the money. The money isn't always great but it's better than most of us would earn at other jobs. And sometimes it truly is great.

Because we are self-employed, we can choose to work more when needed to pay for extra curricular activities, financially support our kids passions, keep them in food and clothes, and manage extra costs as they crop up for field trips, bus passes, and other typical costs.

Single parents who rely on social assistance live in the worst kind of poverty you can imagine. Social assistance does not cover the most minimal, essential requirements – such as healthy food and weather-appropriate clothing.

Similarly, working a full-time job at $25/hour, after paying for childcare, travel costs (transit, parking, gas, car insurance), and other work-related costs such as business-wear is equivalent to being on social assistance...except that you don't get to raise your own kids.

The financial rewards of sex work are appreciated by all members of the family.

#9. We have more time.

Because we make more money in less hours, we have more time for our kids. Time that other parents spend catching up on housework or winding down from work, we can spend helping with homework, playing games, going shopping, and otherwise being present in our children's lives.

Being self-employed also allows us to schedule work around our kids needs. For instance, we can choose to work only when the kids are at school, or we can work nights while our spouses work days eliminating the need for childcare.

If our kids have special needs, we can work around their appointments. We can choose to work during a time that would be least stressful for our children. For instance, we could make sure we're home every night to put our kids to bed or make sure we're home every morning to see our kids off to school.

Sex worker parents have the gift of more time with their kids.

#8. We respect boundaries.

If there's one thing that sex workers know about, it's boundaries. A distinct part of our work is knowing our boundaries and enforcing them.

We have to set our price, lay down the rules of engagement, explicitly state our guidelines, and penalize those who attempt to cross our boundaries. Because our work is sexualized, the crossing of boundaries can get very personal depending on the infraction. 

Sex industry work sensitizes us to the importance of self-determination. We demand our right to provide sexual services, while also demanding our right to set boundaries. We also recognize that boundaries differ from person to person.

Our children are persons. They also have boundaries, whether they are physical, verbal, or mental. They have a right to privacy. They have a right to stand up for themselves. In fact, as sex industry workers who are also parents, we most definitely have taught our children to advocate for themselves. 

It's a wonderful skill we acquire, to set and respect boundaries, and we want to make good and damn sure our children are also skilled at standing up for their rights.

#7. We are compassionate and non-judgmental.

Of course we are! We know firsthand what it is like to be stigmatized, criminalized, and discriminated against. For sex industry workers, stigma is a fact of life. Even so, it still astonishes me after spending a lot of time among colleagues to be faced with standard social dogma. 

It's easy to forget we are looked down upon so intensely when we've been among our people. I shouldn't be surprised when stigma slaps me in the face again and again. Yet, I am surprised. Every time. 

Why am I surprised? Because I am not your bad apple! I am a whole lot of things...really great, wonderful things. I am the same as everyone else except for what I do for work and some of the cultural traits that go along with it (like speaking my  mind). 

Being the subject of deeply entrenched stigma and discrimination enables us to recognize it when it's directed at others. When most parents simply jump on the judgmental bandwagon, sex industry workers often do the opposite. We are more likely to express concern for the person who is being judged. We might even defend them.

What we are teaching our children in these moments is that we shouldn't make assumptions or generalizations. Too many false assumptions and generalizations have been made about us. We don't want to fall into the same judgmental patterns that have hurt us.

Through our example and our defense of others who may be deemed "deviant," our children learn that it is not their place to judge. And when it comes down to it, they know that we won't judge them either.

#6. We set an entrepreneurial example.

One of the most common personality traits among sex industry workers is the entrepreneurial spirit. Having an entrepreneurial spirit means being a self-driven, risk-taking, resourceful, creative, business owner.

I find there are two kinds of workers in our world. People who are happier in a secure job with a dependable paycheque and people who prefer to work for themselves. Sex industry workers, for the most part, prefer to work for ourselves. Otherwise, we might not have gotten into the industry in the first place.

I dare say that most sex industry workers aren't very good with authority figures. (Or maybe that's just me.) I have a desire to create my own destiny. Putting up with condescending, controlling, or otherwise micro-managing managers is not part of the destiny I want to create.

You might think that a parent who sets the example of going to a good job day-in and day-out who receives a dependable paycheque and says things like "In the real world, you just have to work with horrible people sometimes, so get used to it," is a better role model for children than I am. 

But I disagree. I believe that having such a defeatist attitude limits your child. In my adult life, I have not had to just "get used to" working with horrible people. Hell no! If I am working with horrible people, I am finding another job or dumping that person as a client or doing whatever I have to do to stop working with horrible people.

We all tell our kids, "you can do anything you want to do." Telling them they have no choice in certain matters, like putting up with horrible co-workers, is sending mixed messages. Conversely, setting an entrepreneurial example inspires children to shoot for the stars. 

When our children become adults and run into a financial crisis, they won't cry in their beers while they look for new jobs. Our children will build their own businesses while they look for new jobs. The new jobs might even be turned down if their businesses are thriving.

I'm not saying a dependable job isn't a wonderful thing, and I know many sex industry workers who've found their places in rewarding square jobs post retirement (myself included).

I'm saying that entrepreneurs live the philosophy of building your dreams, which is a wonderful example for children to have. And sex workers are entrepreneurs.

#5. We have a different definition of success.

When most people think of success, they think of prestige, financial wealth, and political power. But sex workers know that success is not measured by how high you are on the social ladder. 

After all, sex workers are "lower classed" citizens by most social standards due to stigma and criminalization. But we are living a life we have created for ourselves – one that makes us happy. 

In the sex industry, we may have really hit the big-time. We might even meet some of those more square ideals of success among our own people.

The thing is, we had to piss a lot of people off to get here. It's not fun having your parents disown you or your best friend break up with you. Being a sex worker opens us up to a lot of criticism from our loved ones on top of all the discrimination we experience from strangers.

Many people wouldn't be able to go against their families. Unsurprisingly, most sex workers don't tell their parents what they do for a living. But they still do it. Amidst the fabrications and double-life, sex industry workers still choose this work. 

So why do we choose it? 

I will tell you why we choose it. It is because our definition of success is "happiness." Oh sure, sex work is a job and I promise it's not always fun and wonderful. But what we get out of our work is what makes us happy.  

Having learned from experience that sometimes you need to break from the "road most travelled" to find happiness, we are much more likely to support our children in their pursuits. We are not under the illusion that you must graduate from highschool and earn a university degree to be successful. Most of us have those degrees yet did not find success through them.

No, success is not about academics or sports. It is about an individual's passions, interests, and talents. 

If stripping was the best job I ever had and I went against everyone to do it, then who am I to stand in the way of my child's happiness when he chooses something I don't approve of?  

Sex workers know this to be true: You don't have to be accepted to be happy. But it's nice to be accepted too. (Just ask our kids.)

#4. We can laugh at life's little blips.

Shit happens. If I became devastated by every little blip I experienced in the sex industry - like the time I went on stage without doing a cookie check to learn later that I had a massive piece of toilet paper stuck to my crotch (and how it glowed brightly under black lights) or the time I banged my head on a speaker - I would have to hide away for an eternity.

Sex work is intimate. It is personal. Ass zits and cellulite are there for the world to see when you're on stage.

Every sex worker I know has stories of "life's little blips" when things didn't go according to plan. Invariably, they are the funniest stories we have and we can only share them with each other because square folks just don't get it.

First, they don't know how we can stand being naked in front of other people, then they don't know how we can laugh off our most human moments, which cannot be avoided when working in the sex industry.

But laugh them off we can. And we do.

Sex workers know that you've got to be able to laugh at yourself. My first time up on stage, no one showed me how to shave... And the rest is herstory, very funny herstory.

So, when our kids hit those inevitable bumps in the road, we can teach them how to deal with devastation...or we could laugh it off as one of "life's little blips." 

When choosing between taking things too seriously or too lightly, go with lightly. It will bring more laughter into your life. Your children's laughter. A most beautiful sound, I know.

#3. We tell it like it is.

If you want something sugar-coated, don't ask a sex industry worker. We are recipients of brutal honesty and we give it as good as we get it.

A sex industry worker will tell you if your clothes make you look fat. A sex industry worker will tell you if you have something in your teeth, or toilet paper stuck to your shoe, or sequins missing on your underwear.

Want an honest opinion? Ask a sex industry worker. 

I actually think this is one of the reasons men see sex workers. It must be refreshing to know exactly what a person is thinking because we tell you straight out. 

We will tell you straight out that we did not invite you to sit down and you'd better move along before we do something about it. We will also tell you straight out how to be a good lover, that is, if you've asked and we feel moved to share it with you.

Our candid way of speaking doesn't end at "the strip club doors" (or other sex industry workspace). It is a part of our culture, and I think that most of us were this way before we even got into the industry. It takes an open kind of person to do this work.

Consequently, when it comes to our children, we are likewise candid. There's no beating around the bush. The penis goes into the vagina but the outer part is the labia; other girls only call you a slut because they're jealous; and don't sit in front of that computer too long or you'll get pudgy and pale.

My kids appreciate the direct approach. They don't always want me to talk so openly about sex. But too bad for them! "Sex" is not a dirty word. I repeated the word "sex" until I'd undone the conditioning my kids received in our sexually repressed society.

The result is that my children ask me questions I would never have asked my parents. They share their ups and downs with me, never fearing that I will judge or criticize them. This is the relationship I wanted to build and being a sex industry worker prepared me for it.

Whatever the values of individual sex workers, you can be sure they've passed them onto their children. We tell them what's up, and in return, they tell us what's up. The fun part is when we are getting schooled by them.   

#2. We are excellent communicators. 

Not only are we charismatic, endearing, and incredible conversationalists, but we are also very good at getting our message across. Only sex workers can tell a person to “go fuck yourself” in such a way that the person feels honoured as he walks away.

Our communication abilities don't get left at work. We bring them home. We use our skills to make our kids feel listened to, valued, and understood while also “getting” why we cannot always give them what they want.

We are also very good at de-escalating conflict. Part of being great at communication is recognizing subtle changes in a person's body language or tone of voice. Being aware of moments of sensitivity enables us to “talk them down” and avoid potential blowouts with co-workers and clients. Likewise with our children.

Being in the sex work business makes no subject taboo. Kids learn pretty quickly what they can and can't talk about around their parents. If their parents are sex workers, they learn that there is nothing they can't talk about around their parents.

Knowing that anything goes conversation-wise gives kids permission to talk about whatever pops into their heads. When we talk to our kids about the things that are on their minds, we offer them context. They will refer to this context when faced with applicable situations in the future.

Finally, being a sex worker and having either imagined or experienced explaining what we do for a living to our parents, we know what it's like to fear the telling of it. When our children come to us with “unpleasant” news, we do not freak out. We don't want them to fear talking to us. Our kids know they can talk to us about anything.

Communication is key in any relationship and sex workers kick ass at communicating.

#1. We give unconditional love.

If you've ever been rejected by a parent, you know what unconditional love really is. One thing it is not is rejection.

Sex workers I've talked to about this agree with me that they would never want their child to feel the way we felt when our parents rejected us for becoming sex workers.

I knew my mom would be upset but I held onto a memory from childhood when my mother told me that she would love me forever no matter what. Even if I was a murderer? I asked. "I would visit you every day in jail," she replied.

Apparently being a murderer is better than being a sex industry worker. When my mom learned I was a stripper, she yelled at me, cried at me, accused me of doing it to hurt her, threw in my face the most painful moments of my life, and finished with, "I don't know you anymore."

And that was that. She didn't know me anymore. She didn't call. She didn't visit. She would speak civilly to me when I called her, but she made no effort to keep me in her life. If I was going to  run a business that she didn't approve of, then I was as good as dead to her. Worse, because she would have mourned me had I died.

That was not a little blip in my life. I was devastated. Almost 20 years later, I can still conjure up those old feelings of betrayal.

My mother and I reconciled and now she says she is proud of my sex industry activism, but the pain will never truly go away. I will never truly trust my mother's love ever again.

I knew when I became pregnant with my first child that my number one priority would be to make sure she never felt rejected by me in her life. Never. No matter what.

Because you know what? People make mistakes. And sometimes those mistakes aren't even mistakes, they are just perceived as mistakes by those doing the judging. Becoming a stripper was not a mistake for me. My life has been positively enriched by the experiences I've had and people I've met in the sex industry. Some are friendships that will last a lifetime.

I'm not perfect. Although stripping was not a mistake, I do make mistakes. My children have said to me in moments of despair, "I feel like you don't love me." 

Those words are like pushing a button in my soul. I want my children to know without a doubt that my love is unconditional. 

Those words light a fire under my ass to give my love more abundantly, apologize for actions that would make them feel that way, and remind them that my feelings for them will never change. No matter what they do in life. Murderer or stripper.

Sex industry workers have learned what unconditional love is. It is love that embraces you even when you've let your loved ones down. It is love that lets you know that you can choose your own path, make your own mistakes, and shake the very foundations on which your relationship is built - and it will still be there, strong as ever, embracing and accepting you.

Conclusion

I've probably missed some other fabulous reasons why sex industry workers are great parents and I hope you will share your thoughts in the comments below. But mainly, I want to leave you with this:

The whore stigma that casts sex industry workers as bad parents is an intensely false and deeply damaging stigma that impacts sex industry workers and their children to their detriment. 

We know there is much to be feared by others knowing what we do. Abusive spouses win custody cases. Narrow-minded parents cancel playdates. Children are apprehended by social services. And all for the simple reason that our work involves nudity and for some of us, touching.

Nurses' jobs involve nudity and touching, but they are not assumed because of their jobs to be bad parents. Some people would never know what it's like to be touched if it wasn't for sex industry workers. Some people would not be able to feed their children if not for sex industry jobs.

So you see...Sex work is work. Our business is your pleasure. We want rights, not rescue. And all the other slogans we've created to educate the masses. 

And I'd like to add one more because #BeingASexWorkerTaughtMe that...

Sex industry workers make GREAT PARENTS. (I can provide references, but they're under-age.)


About the Author

Annie Temple is the stage and writing name of Trina Ricketts. Trina has 17 years experience as a striptease artist and 15 years as a sex worker rights activist, but she's been a rebel all her life. In 2000, she founded NakedTruth.ca to support other entertainers by reducing isolation, educating about health and safety, sharing information about gigs, challenging stereotypes, teaching etiquette to customers, and organizing in-person events for charity and to promote ethical businesses in the industry. Some of the groups and functions that Trina is associated with are Exotic Dancers for Cancer (now BoobaPalooza), The Naked Truth Adult Entertainment Awards, Trade Secrets Guide, BC Coalition of Experiential Communities, Canadian Union of Naked Trades, as well as several community sex worker supportive organizations. Trina is a mom of three, a lover of writing and dancing. Currently she continues to run NakedTruth.ca and recently she founded Digital Activist Media - a project to investigate digital activism strategies and share them with other change-makers. Trina's activism efforts have expanded to include many issues, but her main activities involve sex worker and health freedom rights.

A Date With a Naughty School Boy #FacesOfProstitution

Naughty Professor
"Assume the position!"
Guest Post by Andrew Sorfleet

"Maybe not quite as hard as last time," he said. "It hurt to sit down for three days. There were bruises! It was uncomfortable."

I felt so bad. "Oh, I'm so sorry." I said. "I didn't mean..."

"Oh no," he said. "It was good! I deserved it. But, maybe not this week. It makes things difficult at work."

I imagined him a school principal, or perhaps a teacher. He had that sense of properness about him. Rules.

He was red-faced. Balding. Spectacles. A short man. Chubby. In that shapely way, that has an attractiveness.

Now, I'll say right now. I don't get off on my clients. I never kiss. Not that I don't want to sometimes. But, I have to admit I was a little disappointed! He definitely had the most spankably round rump. And, That satisfying sting in my hand as I watched the exact print of my hand raise red, imprinted on his ass. After all, he had been a very bad boy.

I lived in an illegal suite in a commercial building at the corner of Bathurst and Dupont Streets. Built in the 1950s. Concrete and cinderblock. Three storeys. Large iron-frame windows.

Mine looked out over a large old gravel parking lot, bordered with a jungle of large maple trees and weeds. Third floor. Very private.

The building was very institutional, terrazzo floors. Iron railings on the staircase. The washroom fixtures were ugly pink. The walls were ugly green. My suite had red linoleum tile floors.

I had a bad thrift-store habit. A large oak teacher's desk (and chair) at the far end of the room. Behind it on the wall was a huge old oak framed chalkboard, complete with brushes. A large-faced school clock mounted above. 964 square feet. The room was divided by steel library bookshelves filled with books.

First. We discuss his infractions. A well-dressed boy, he listed his transgressions. I explained that there were consequences for disruptive behaviour. Then, told him to drop his pants. "Underwear too."

I bent his beautiful little arse over my knee. Firmly holding him down with my right arm, I raised my left hand and delivered the first strike.

He hadn't lied! Sure enough, there were green and purple bruises from his last detention. Such a squirmer. Eventually he required all my strength to hold him there. His arse, still begging. The imprint of my hand raises red. You could count my fingers. Beautiful. Takes practice! You can tell by the sound of the "SMACK!"

But, then I remembered. Not this week. I cut the session a bit short. Later, he thanked me.

I think he grew up in small-town Ontario. He was maybe fifty or so. A while to retirement yet. Extremely grateful. Polite. Always tipped.

He appreciated my penchant for things old. He was on the hunt for a particular treasure. Should I ever come across one. A teacher's strap. Made of black rubber. Maybe two feet long. About three inches wide.

He gestured with his hands. "And there's a red stripe up the middle. Where the wire runs up inside."

Oh they could really give a smack with that!

What a great client. Very punctual!

About the Author

Andrew Sorfleet has worked in the sex industry for over a decade and has been a sex workers' rights activist since 1990. He is currently president of the board of Triple-X Workers' Solidarity Association of B.C.