Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Should Vancouver License Sex Dispensaries?



Photo from 

Guest post by Andrew Sorfleet

It is well accepted. Sex and Sexual expression are an important element to health and well being. It stands to reason then that sex can and should be procured in a therapeutic setting. In fact, Vancouver has a history of the health promotion model for sexual services.

When I worked in a massage parlour with both women and men available, the licence was for a "Health Enhancement Centre." That was 1996. There were always two men on staff which ensured there was always one on door, if the other was with a client.

Only occasionally police would come for a visit and ask to walk through. They would also request an employee list. Mostly they were looking for foreign workers without permits, usually from places like Australia in those days. There was the odd uncomfortable joke and giggle, but these young officers were in a parlour lounge full of beautiful women in lingerie. I don't remember anything bad ever coming from it. Aside from a little adrenalin. There was an understanding.

It's 2016 - 20 years later. Vancouver is implementing bylaws to regulate pot dispensaries with a health promotion model. The sale of marijuana is still illegal in Canada, however the police have determined that enforcing federal marijuana laws against health enhancement storefronts that provide pot is not a priority use of police resources. Pot dispensaries flourished, in some neighbourhoods filling nearly every empty business.

The City of Vancouver implemented zoning, which included a 300-metre rule; bubble zones around schools and community centres, as well as distance from each other. There are also requirements for security and prohibition of minors. Safety is the focus of rules such as no cookies or candies to ensure that kids don't accidentally overdose on edibles.

As of May 31, 2016, 10 development permits were issued and another 11 were under review. The first business licence was issued mid May under the category of Medical Marijuana Retail Dealer and three business licences for Compassion Club category are under review.

The locations of issued permits and licences are shown on a map at: vancouver.ca/medical-marijuana-business.

These kinds of legislation are the jurisdiction of municipalities who have the authority to regulate land use through zoning, permits and licensing.

So why not take the same approach with businesses that provide sexual services? 

The Vancouver Police Dept has already issued policy guidelines which state that sexual services between consenting adults is not a priority for police resources. Instead, police resources are better spent ensuring that sex workers are not being coerced or exploited and are offered options to leave sex work.




VPD Sex Work Enforcement Guidelines on Youtube:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-gKafib7TN4

If the City's policy for marijuana is based on public safety, reducing harm and promoting health, what better way to protect the safety of the public and sex workers than to create bylaws which zone and license for sexual health services? Clients and police both could be satisfied that there is no exploitation or coercion of service providers.

Medical marijuana dispensaries in B.C. have their own association. Is it time sex businesses that employ sexual service providers formed their own association to lobby?

Permits & Licences and Bylaw Enforcement
(May 31, 2016)
What do you think? Please leave comments below. :)



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.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

"Trauma Bonds": A Weapon to Deny Agency to Sex Workers

Guest Post by Jody Paterson

As someone who stands alongside adult sex workers and allies across Canada in the fight for rights, respect and a safe work environment for people in the sex industry, I’m vehemently opposed to human trafficking.

Nobody of any age or nationality should ever be forced, coerced, beaten or exploited into doing any work they don’t want to do.

But that said, the Ontario government’s recent news release about the $72 million it will invest in anti-trafficking measures raised a whole lot of red flags for me. 

With so much emotion and so few facts around trafficking in Canada, I read between the lines of that news release and see nothing but more police efforts targeting non-trafficked people in the sex industry.

It hasn’t always been like this. Canadians used to understand that adults who choose to sell sexual services aren’t necessarily being trafficked, and that it’s important to make the distinction. 

Presumably the Ontario taxpayers putting up $72 million of their hard-earned income expect to see that money spent on preventing and prosecuting actual cases of trafficking, not on targeting adults who choose to work in the sex industry.

But things changed in recent years after the influential anti-sexwork movement seized on the concept of trafficking as a means to force governments to take action against consensual sex work. 

Things got even muddier when police departments started counting crimes of living off the avails of prostitution as “trafficking-related,” boosting what scant statistics exist as a way to make a public case for funding anti-trafficking initiatives.

Using much rhetoric and scant evidence, the anti-sexwork movement has produced countless reports, web sites and “fact” sheets that essentially position sex trafficking and sex work as the same thing. 

And never mind if sex workers say otherwise. “Victims” are presumed to be so controlled by whoever is trafficking them that their consent counts for nothing.

In fact, I felt a little traumatized myself to read the phrase “trauma bonds” in that news release from the Ontario government. It’s important that Canadians understand what a term like that signals to sex workers. This was one paragraph that really stirred up the red flags for me:

“In many cases of trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation,” writes the Ontario government, “trafficked persons may develop ‘trauma bonds’ with their traffickers, and may not view themselves as victims. As such, human trafficking is believed to be a vastly underreported crime.”

On the surface, the paragraph is vague enough to be true. But when it’s put out there with no evidence or statistics to back it up, it’s also vague enough to justify just about any action by the state if it can somehow be construed as necessary to stop trafficking – which in turn has become broad enough in its definition to single out adult sex work for much more police attention.

Think about what that means for sex workers, who not only have a very tense relationship with police at the best of times because of the way their work is viewed, but in many instances count police among those who have traumatized and abused them. 

Think about what it means for a whole class of workers to be denied agency just like that, deemed so deluded by their trauma that their actual, lived experiences of working in the sex industry mean nothing.

Trauma bonding is a term coined 20 or so years ago by U.S. self-help author Patrick Carnes to describe exploitive relationships. Like the Stockholm syndrome, it gets used to explain why some people continue staying with an abusive spouse, bad boss, incestuous family member and so on, even when they’re being harmed by the toxic relationship.

Such situations exist, of course. But what the anti-sex work movement has done is usurp these terms as a way of shutting sex workers out of any public discussion around their own industry if they don’t like the direction of the conversation. “Too traumatized to be listened to, and the poor things don’t even know it.” How convenient.

The discussions around trafficking are deliberately emotional, not factual. I really had to work hard to find any clear information when I was looking for the facts around trafficking in Canada for this piece. The best stats turned out to be in the latest U.S. Department of State’s country-by-country report (2015).

That report tells us that in 2014, Canadian police charged 121 people with some kind of trafficking offence, and 22 sex traffickers were convicted that same year. (And here’s something noteworthy: Of those 22 convictions, only eight actually went under trafficking laws. The other 14 were sex-work crimes, which have apparently now been rolled into “trafficking” statistics.)

If there’s a crisis of human trafficking in Canada, you’d never know it by the statistics. Both the trafficking-related charges and convictions in 2014 were less than in 2013. Just to put things in perspective, police reported 1.8 million crimes in Canada in 2014, of which trafficking accounted for .0004 per cent.

Some think we should be following the lead of the U.S. in giving trafficking the profile it deserves. But consider the U.S. stats in that same report: 208 federal human trafficking prosecutions between fiscal year October 2013- 2014, and 335 people charged. That’s out of 11.2 million arrests that year.

So when the Ontario government says it has 65 per cent of Canada’s trafficking cases, we should remember they’re talking about 40 offenders, and even then the majority are just the normal sex-work statistics around people convicted of living off the avails.

Yes, any case of trafficking is too many. But what we’re hearing these days is people making a case for why the adult sex industry ought to be considered trafficking

We are witnessing an active campaign to ignore the recommendations of the highest court in the land, and to affirm through further criminalization and emotional hyperbole that an entire class of Canadian worker must be denied human, civil and work rights so that the good and righteous can continue to hate what they do for a living.

Activities of the adult sex industry are being redefined as trafficking. Safe escort agencies are closing down and people are working alone more, because the laws prevent them from working together. 

Pressured by their clients, who since 2014 have newly been declared criminals, workers are seeking out even more discreet work places, increasing their vulnerability.

Is this really what we wanted? 

Have we spent all these years anguishing about Robert Pickton and the Highway of Tears and Canada’s thousands of missing aboriginal women, only to walk straight into this emotional, uninformed and harmful campaign to deny sex workers even more rights, self-determination and inclusion?

Does it mean nothing that that Amnesty International, the World Health Organization and the United Nations have all endorsed decriminalizing the adult sex industry? Do we think we know better? 

We shed crocodile tears for all the “victims” and then set about making life even worse for sex workers. The hypocrisy sickens me.

I want to stress again that I stand united with Canadians against human trafficking. But I’ve been fortunate enough to walk alongside sex workers for 20 years now, and denying basic human rights and work safety to them is no way to do that. 

Let’s go root out trafficking where it’s actually happening, and end this punitive, moralizing practice of trying to silence and harm the very people we’ve supposedly set out to help.

Jody Paterson is a former journalist and communications strategist in Victoria, B.C., and a past executive director of a non-profit run by and for people with experience in sex work, Peers Victoria.


Sources:

U.S. Department of State 2014 report on Canada and U.S.:
http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/243558.pdf

2011 Library of Parliament report on trafficking in Canada, with 2015 update:
http://www.lop.parl.gc.ca/content/lop/researchpublications/2011-59-e.pdf

Canadian police statistics:
http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/2015001/article/14211/hl-fs-eng.htm

U.S. police statistics:
https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2015/september/latest-crime-stats-released/latest-crime-stats-released

The Palermo Project and Canada Ten Years On – Tamara O’Doherty
http://icclr.law.ubc.ca/sites/icclr.law.ubc.ca/files/publications/pdfs/Palermo%20Project%20Key%20Findings%20Report%2015%20October%202015%20with%20copyright-2.pdf

Trauma bonds:
http://www.markmeans.com/clientimages/36010/sexaddictionfiles/csattraumabondscourse.pdf

Federal Ministry of Public Safety trafficking information:
http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/pblctns/ntnl-ctn-pln-cmbt/index-eng.aspx

Province of Ontario news release and anti-trafficking initiative:
https://news.ontario.ca/owd/en/2016/06/ontario-taking-steps-to-end-human-trafficking.html


Further Reading:

Sex Work vs. Trafficking: Understanding the Difference
http://www.alternet.org/story/84987/sex_work_vs._trafficking%3A_understanding_the_difference

The Truth About Trafficking
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/oct/24/truth-about-trafficking-sexual-exploitation
Sex Work is Not Trafficking
http://www.nswp.org/sites/nswp.org/files/SW%20is%20Not%20Trafficking.pdf

Dirty Tricks: Is The Anti-Prostitution Lobby Inflating Sex-Traffic Statistics?
http://thewalrus.ca/dirty-tricks/

Sex Work and Trafficking: A Donor-Activist Dialogue on Rights and Funding
https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/sites/default/files/dndreport_2009.pdf


About the Author

Jody Paterson is a writer, editor and communications strategist with 27 years of experience writing for and managing B.C. daily newspapers. She currently does communications work in Canada and Central America for non-profits whose efforts centre around social justice, whether for sex workers, people with disabilities, children with complex health needs, or women farmers in Nicaragua.

Jody is a past executive director of the grassroots sex worker support organization Peers Victoria, in Victoria, B.C. She continues to work with and support Peers Victoria on a number of fronts, including as a representative for Peers on the Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Dear Mayor Gregor Robertson...Honour Your Word to Sex Workers

Guest Post by Carmen Shakti

In the 1970’s and 1980’s, Vancouver’s West End was the home of a vibrant, close-knit community of sex workers. 

Sex workers lived together, worked together, and looked out for one another during those days. 

Jamie Lee Hamilton, a prominent Vancouver politician, sex worker and sex worker’s rights activist, worked in the West End during this time. 

She describes the sex worker community as glamorous, close, and on the cutting edge of sexual health and safety practices. The community was a pimp-free zone. 

‘If a pimp came around, we would tell him to put on a dress and some lipstick and suck cock like the rest of us,’ she says. 

They put out a journal called the Whoreganizer. They also contributed greatly to the neighbourhood economy. 

Then, in the 1980’s, many of the residents of the West End, started the ‘Shame the Johns movement,’ which was more about shaming the sex workers. 

Hollie Smith, who, along with nine other Vancouver sex workers and allies, including myself, created The Hooker Monologues, took to the stage in March with a story of the Shame the Johns movement. 

Hollie describes being rounded up by an angry mob, shouted at and hit with signs, along with her friends. 

Soon after, mayor Mike Harcourt introduced the Street Activities bylaw. Sex workers were fined between $350-$2000 dollars for their activities on the strolls. The Supreme Court later found this bylaw unconstitutional, but it didn’t stop the city from collecting $28,000 in fines from the West End sex workers. $15,000 of the money collected went to pay Gordon Price who spearheaded Shame the Hookers and Concerned Residents of the West End (CROWE). 

Sex workers were violently expelled from the West End. The workers were politically involved, and they fought against this treatment, but in the end, they were driven out by the politicians, residents, and their lawyers. 

The displaced workers moved to the industrial area in Mount Pleasant. That was when the murders started happening. There were three murders, known as the valley murders, that were likely committed by the same perpetrator. 

Eventually, sex workers found their way to the Downtown Eastside. Displacement, police harassment, criminalization, and lack of resources created the ideal conditions for serial killers such as Robert Pickton. Hollie Smith writes about this time in The Hooker Monologues, describing a once-close community splintered and driven into unsafe areas, subjected to violence and police harassment. 

In 2008, Jamie Lee Hamilton attended a mayoral debate at Saint Paul's Anglican Church in the West End, moderated by Jim Deva of Little Sister’s fame. She asked the mayoral candidates if they would be willing to issue an apology to the sex work community for their actions in the 1980’s. Gregor Robertson said that he would be willing to do so, and that he felt it would start the process of healing for the community. 

Jamie Lee began the process of seeking restitution from the city. She describes a long process of looking through archives, finding evidence of what had happened, and writing a report to the city. 

The city agreed to repay the money (without interest) in the form of a sex worker memorial on Jervis and Pendrell, near Saint Paul’s Anglican Church. Saint Paul’s Anglican Church is a partner in the effort to create this memorial. Jamie Lee describes them as one of the only churches to support the sex workers during the 1980’s. Some sex workers even sought sanctuary within the church during that time. 

Jamie Lee has been working on this memorial, with support from the city, ever since. On June 15th, 2016, a group of sex work exclusionary radical feminists, or SWERFS, gathered at City Hall to protest what they see as the city’s lack of initiative in enforcing Bill C-36, the new oppressive laws around sex work introduced by the Harper government in 2014. 

“The mayor is being targeted,” says Jamie Lee. “He has made some unfortunate statements in the past that the abolitionist movement has pounced on. He has said he believes that all prostitution is violence against women. He has also said that johns should be shamed. I disagree with that statement.” 

Despite the loud voices of a radical few that oppose seeing justice done to the sex work community, it is vitally important that the mayor show leadership now by standing by the community and keeping his promise by way of an apology. 

Jamie Lee says that the memorial is a testament to what is positive, a beautiful time during which sex workers contributed economically and culturally, as indeed we have been doing for a very long time. 

It is vital that we remember the vibrant history of sex work in our city and honour the contributions of sex workers to our society.


About the Author

Carmen Shakti is a Vancouver sex worker. She combines escorting with massage, Tantra and Taoist sexual yoga. She is also an artist and activist. She is currently collaborating on The Hooker Monologues, a theatre project that addresses stories and issues within the sex industry.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Why Clients of Sex Workers Should Not Be Criminalized

This past weekend we celebrated the International Day of Solidarity for Sex Workers. Many marched in the streets with red umbrellas. Here is a photo of Joyce Arthur from the Vancouver, BC, Canada event.



Activists in Canada are currently trying to overturn harmful new laws. Among the changes to the criminal code introduced in 2014 are laws that criminalize clients of sex industry workers.

Annie Temple addresses this topic on her new YouTube channel "Anarchist Stripper Mom."




She emphasizes the one main reason why clients of sex workers are not the enemy and how criminalizing them defies common sense and undermines any true attempt to abolish sex trafficking in Canada - the clients are the ones who see exploitation when it is happening. They will not report it if they fear being arrested.

There are many reasons why clients should not be criminalized, including...we need our customers so we can pay our bills; because we are hiding our customers, it puts us in more dangerous situations; clients fear giving their real names which makes it more difficult to screen out predators; predators are not customers...they are predators.



As you can see, common sense tells us that criminalizing clients is hazardous to our health. It also ignores the fact that many of our clients are good friends who care about us and we care about them.

Please, stop treating us like victims and stop treating our customers like predators. If you really care about trafficking and exploitation, recognize the difference between force and consent.


About the Author

Annie Temple has 17 years experience as a striptease artist and over 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. Annie is a mom of three, a lover of writing and dancing. Currently she continues to run NakedTruth.ca and recently she embarked on spreading her messages on YouTube as AnarchistStripper-Mom!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Trade Secrets - Our Business

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 occasionally feature one section from the guide. This week's post is from Chapter Nine: Our Business

This chapter addresses common issues of being self-employed in the sex industry, such as finding a business space, licensing, filing taxes, employment insurance, advertising, and how to earn more money. Be sure to read Chapter 12 – For Business Owners – because it also holds lots of good information if you’re running your own business.


Finding a Business Space

“Discretion is key. Be polite but avoid getting to know your neighbours. The less they know about your business, the better. Especially in an apartment setting.” 
“My dream for this is universal with most people, in every walk of life. I want to find a low cost but high quality suite to rent for business.”

Adult Film/Photography/Webcam Studio: Look for warehouse space in industrial areas for cheaper rent and neighbours who won’t notice or won’t care.

Apartment: It is a good idea to live in a high rise for security sake as well as so no one will notice the traffic in and out in a big building. Pick a location with soundproof features such as concrete floors. Hang drapes or fabric from your walls to lower noise transfer. Work during hours when others are working to avoid them overhearing you.

Dungeon: Find a space that is sound proof, has no carpets, strong wooden beams, and high ceilings in a non-residential neighbourhood.

Hotel Room: One of the benefits of renting a hotel room for your work is that your residence remains confidential and you can go home after work.

Strip Club: Find out which municipalities have adopted bylaws banning exotic entertainment to narrow down your search possibilities. Or try to find clubs that have a “grandfathered” liquor license, which omits them from being subject to bylaws that came into place after their liquor license had been purchased.

Licensing Requirements

If you are a self-employed individual running your business under your own name or alias and claiming taxes as a self-employed individual, you do not need to register for a business license.

However, if you are running a business with its own name (ex: The Naked Truth Entertainment), you are first required to apply for name approval (costs about $40 in BC). Once the name is approved, you must register the business within three months (also costs about $40 in BC).

You are also required to purchase a business license from your municipal licensing office to run a business in your community.

In some cities across Canada, escorts and/or exotic dancers are required to purchase licenses. Call the city you work in to ask if they are one of these cities. Licenses are often declined for people with prior criminal convictions. (See Chapter 4 – Our Work – for more information on licensing for dancers and escorts.)


Skill Building and Training


“It may be better to apprentice in this type of work as there are many laws and liability issues that can arise. If you want to open your own film company it may be wise to partner up with someone who is more skilled and has more experience.”

While most of our learning in this industry comes from “apprentice-like” relationships with industry veterans, there is a lot we can do to become better business-people.

There are programs available through your city recreational services, colleges, and universities that teach basic accounting programs, how to write business plans, computer courses in Photoshop, and other programs.

What skills would help you run your business better? Choose the skills that you’d like to learn and pay others to do things you’re not so interested in learning yourself. For instance, if you are artistic but not very mathematical, learn how to make great ads for yourself, but hire an accountant to do your books.

Another important certificate all sex industry workers should have is First Aid. We hope down the road there will be First Aid courses designed specifically (and offered free) for sex industry workers, to address the kinds of hazards most common for us.


Workers Compensation



“Due to the criminalization of sex industry work, we are not protected by worker’s insurance for the actual duties we perform. People in other industries are covered if they contract diseases in the course of their work. If the sex industry was legitimized and able to truthfully apply for worker’s insurance, we could potentially be eligible for compensation when we get STI’s, like people with asbestos poisoning from insulating do.”

For the writing of this guide, we were unable to engage all the provincial worker’s insurance companies across Canada. However, we spoke at length with WorksafeBC and got some feedback from Manitoba and Saskatchewan.


British Columbia

It is required in British Columbia that all businesses that employ people must register with WorksafeBC. That includes strip clubs and massage parlours.

The Sex Industry


Massage parlour workers are covered for work related injuries under the Workers Compensation Act. This could include wage loss for time away from work due to work related injury.

WorkSafeBC classifies employers by industry groups. Services and occupations under these industry groups are described in the classification units. There is no “Sex Industry” or “Adult Entertainment Industry” classification, as yet.

Classification Unit 761021 Massage Parlour, Steam Bath, or Massage Services, includes escort services as part of its service description and escort is listed as an occupation. However, because it is illegal to own or operate a “bawdy house,” sexual services are not included in any classification unit descriptions.

If you work at a massage parlour and you suffer from a work related injury, you can make a claim. (Even if an employer is not registered, if they are in fact an employer under the Act, their workers are protected by the Act, and so can make a claim.) If a patron assaults you, you can make a claim but you may need to report the incident to police to be eligible for compensation.

Once you’ve made a claim, it is reviewed on an individual basis to determine if you qualify for compensation. There is no guarantee that you will receive insurance benefits.

Exotic Dancers
Exotic dancers who work in strip clubs are eligible for workers' compensation benefits if they are injured while working in a club.

Self-Employed – Personal Optional Protection
A person in business who is considered independent or a labour contractor may be eligible for personal optional protection. Applicants are approved on an individual basis. To date and to our knowledge, no one has applied as an exotic dancer or escort in British Columbia.

An example of how this may or may not apply: an exotic dancer working in one club at a time, week to week, will most likely not be eligible for Personal Optional Protection; whereas, an exotic dancer who is working in more than one venue in a day or week – dancing in clubs, doing seminars, pole dance parties, seduction workshops, stags, etc – may be eligible for Personal Optional Protection as an independent operator.

Making a Claim
WorksafeBC has what they call a “no-fault” insurance program so that even if you took unnecessary risks in your work, you may still be covered for work related injury under the Act.

Business owners with WorksafeBC insurance are required to provide training and health and safety supplies to reduce the risks associated with your particular job. Claims can include but are not limited to: assault, injuries from performance, and contraction of a disease in the course of your work.

The business owners are required by WorksafeBC to do a risk assessment and reduce identified risks as much as possible. For instance, they may be required to provide security if your safety is at risk; pay for your Hep B vaccinations if you are at a high risk of exposure in your job; or provide conflict resolution training if you deal with confrontations in your work.

If you make a claim, you, your doctor, and the business you were employed by at the time of the claim, must submit a report to WorksafeBC. If your employer does not make a report, they will be contacted by WorksafeBC and asked for it.

If the business did not have procedures and training in place related to the risk that caused your claim, WorksafeBC could possibly penalize them. They may also require that your contractor/employer does another risk assessment and develops policies and procedures related to all risks.

WARNING: The employer's assessments (premiums) may also increase depending on the amount of the claim. For this reason, you could potentially be blacklisted or worse if you make an insurance claim on a business. You may feel you have to choose between Worksafe or “be safe” and being safe may be your best option.

A person can anonymously report an employer safety violation. A person cannot make an anonymous claim for their workplace injury.

For safety violations or workplace health concerns contact WorkSafeBC at 1-888-621-7233.

Manitoba
Manitoba does not have compulsory WCB coverage for athletes or entertainers. However, if you are deemed on an individual basis to be an independent contractor, you can apply for optional coverage.

Manitoba WCB will determine a person's status by examining a number of factors. For independent contractors, they use a "bona fide" business test. They look at the situation and ask a number of questions to determine whether the person is in fact operating a business.

Here is a copy a section of contractor policy that talks about the business test:

Determining Status as an Employer, Worker or Independent Contractor

General
When a person is in a traditional employment relationship (i.e., works set hours for one person and receives T4 income), it is easy to determine that the person is a worker. However, in some cases it is not obvious whether a person is a worker or an independent contractor because of the manner in which the relationship between the service provider and the principal is structured.

The WCB will consider the details of the relationship between the service provider and the principal in order to determine whether the service provider is a worker or an independent contractor. The status of the principal (i.e., whether or not he or she is an employer) will be determined by the status of the service provider.

Specific considerations
In making the determination, the WCB will look at all of the facts. The manner in which the parties characterize the relationship will be considered by the WCB but will not determine the matter. The factors that the WCB will consider in making this determination include:


  • Is the service provider paid T4 income or business income? A person receiving T4 income is likely a worker. Business income suggests independent contractor status.
  • Does the service provider work under the supervision and control of the principal? In other words, does the principal dictate specific hours of work and/or how a particular task is to be performed or is the service provider free to determine those matters on his or her own? The more control that is exercised by the principal, the more likely it is that the service provider is a worker.
  • Does the service provider perform work that is an integral part of the business of the principal? The more integral to the business the work performed is, the more likely that a service provider is a worker.
  • Does the service provider have significant financial investment in and responsibility over, the vehicles, tools and/or major pieces of equipment that he or she requires to perform the work? Financial investment in, and responsibility over, vehicles tools and equipment suggests independent contractor status.
  • Does the service provider take financial risk or have the possibility of increasing his or her profit by, for example, performing the work in a shorter period of time? Significant risk and the possibility of reward suggest independent contractor status.
  • Is the service provider hired for specific jobs or is the working relationship between the service provider and the principal continuous and on going? Being hired for a specific job suggests independent contractor status; having a continuous, on going relationship is more indicative of a worker.
  • Is the working relationship exclusive or does the service provider perform the same or similar work for a number of different people or entities? Provision of service to one person suggests that the service provider is a worker.
  • Is the service provider responsible to pay all business expenses and remit his or her own income tax, GST, etc? Responsibility for business expenses and taxes suggests independent contractor status.No one factor is determinative of the matter. The relationship as a whole will be considered.

WCB looks at the whole picture, not at just one or two of the criteria and make the determination. If they decide that a person is an independent contractor, they can purchase coverage.

If a person does not appear to be independent, they will be considered a worker and the employer will be responsible for coverage.

Saskatchewan

Artists, entertainers, and performers are also excluded from coverage in Saskatchewan.


Filing Taxes



“Screw everyone but the tax man.”

The following information came from Johnny Demos, of Selective Income Tax: 604-460-6466 and the website of the Sex Professionals of Canada (SPOC):

Why pay taxes?

It is money paid to a government to fund its programs and services. Examples are roads, public utilities, education, health care, economic development, cultural activities, national defense, and law enforcement. Without a tax system, a government would not have any money to provide services.

Filing taxes allows you to save for an RRSP, buy a home, and make any other large purchases without questions from CCRA (Canada Customs and Revenue Agency). If you do not file, and live in a home or apartment, pay your rent, buy things, and are pretty much self-sustaining, the government may question how you can live with 'no income'.

Eighteen percent of all the claimed income you have made in your life can be invested into an RRSP for your future. There is no better time to plan for the future than now, so when the day comes that you want to retire, you will have a nice little nest egg waiting for you. You also get GST rebates, rent credits, claims on dependants and/or children, credits for donations, and many other ways to get benefits.

Sex work is technically considered 'self-employed'. A beneficial tax for sex workers is the Canada Pension Plan contribution paid out of our net business income, (The profit that remains after paying business expenses to earn money such as phone, car, rent, advertising etc.). It is beneficial because the government gives it back when you turn 65 and your contributions determine how much you get back. It also comes with a built in insurance policy benefit for death or severe disability that can be triggered before retirement. This is important to protect your family in case something happens.

Unlike private insurance policies, you qualify based on your contributions and not your profession. There are minimum contribution amounts in terms of years and dollars per year. This is why it is important to file your income tax and pay the CPP. Your contribution also reduces your taxable income. Also, if you wish to, you may pay more so that later you will receive a larger benefit.

What is the downside?

Since you do not get deductions taken from your pay like Income Tax, Employment Insurance and so on, you will most likely not get a tax refund.

Do I have to pay taxes?

The Canadian tax system is based on self-assessment. Each of us has the responsibility to ensure our tax return includes all necessary information for reporting income, claiming tax deductions and tax credits, and, finally, calculating our tax liability. In complying with the tax laws we all have the right to pay as little tax as is legally possible.

How can I claim my taxes, if what I do is considered illegal? Won’t I get arrested?

Being a sex worker is not illegal in Canada. Also, the CCRA is not a law enforcement agency. Their only mandate is to collect taxes. They only contact law enforcement if you avoid paying taxes or commit tax fraud. Therefore, there is absolutely no risk to you for claiming your taxes. When filing your taxes, it is perfectly acceptable to use a generic term like 'entertainment’ as your occupation. (One SPOC member has been filing for years using the term ‘escort and tourist service’).

What about income earned outside of Canada?

Income earned, whether in Canada or outside Canada, must be declared. CRA has tabled monthly or yearly averages to convert currency for each country. If a country outside of Canada taxed foreign income, CRA will let you claim a tax credit for the foreign taxes you’ve paid.

How does paying tax work? What am I taxed on?

In Canada we are subject to Federal and Provincial tax rates depending on our taxable income bracket. Our federal tax owing is then reduced by non-refundable tax credits. For self-employed individuals, gross business income minus business expenses equals net income. In most cases, net income is usually taxable income.

What can I write off?

Agent fees – including GST, Socan, fines, DJ tips.
Travel – hotel, taxi, car rental, ferry, airplane, luggage, driver.
Meals – all bars, restaurants, groceries when working out of town.
Advertising – posters, business cards, photography, photo film, gifts to audience, ads.
Auto – gas, repairs, parking tickets, towing charges, BCAA, license and registration, Aircare, car wash, car loan interest, insurance, lease payments, capital cost of value of vehicle.
Cell phone minutes and long distance calls relating to business
Home Expenses – rent, mortgage interest, property tax, gas, hydro, strata fees, insurance.
Office Expenses – postage, courier, business license, computer, internet, printer, desk, filing cabinets, furniture or fixtures for office.
Costumes and supplies – costumes, shoes, tanning, nails, drycleaning, props, cd’s, lingerie, jewellery, hair appointments and products, makeup, sex toys, condoms, lubes, towels, gloves, equipment.
Miscellaneous expenses – RRSP contributions, tuition, charitable donations, child care, child fitness programs, accounting fees, dental, chiropractor, massage therapy, cosmetic surgery, prescription drugs, botox, laser surgery, eyeglasses, contact lenses.

What can I not write off?

Any expense used as personal and non-business related. Examples would be going to the movies, food or coffee in town, gym membership, alcohol, cigarettes, personal hygiene products such as soap, shampoo, tampons, deodorants, toothpaste, and toothbrush.

What receipts should I keep?

Keep all receipts listed for six years.

How do you suggest keeping my receipts and records in order?

Staples or Office Depot sell a receipt organizer binder.

What should I file my taxes under?

You file your taxes under your own name (sole proprietorship) but your business income and expenses can be filed under your own name or business name (stage name / alias). If you choose to file your business under a name other than your legal name then you must perform a name search first and then, when accepted, register the name with BC Registries.

How much does it generally cost to get my taxes done?

Between $200 - $500 per year depending if receipts have to be organized or calculated. There is also a $100 free for filing a GST return. All fees are deductible as a business expense.

What happens if I haven’t paid my taxes in a few years?
CRA will continue to charge interest (Bank of Canada Rate) on taxes owed to them. CRA would send your file to collections and eventually garnish your wages thru your place of employment. They could also freeze and liquidate your bank account.

Do I have to claim tips?

Yes.

(Exotic Dancers) What happens if I lost my contracts for each week I worked?
Each agency charges a small fee for a printout of your dancing history for each year. My company has accounts set up for each agency and I will request this information for you at your convenience.

What happens if the government disagrees with my accountant’s calculations?

CRA will reassess your return and inform you of any changes on a notice of reassessment. If you disagree with the reassessment, you can file a Notice of Objection. You must file the Notice of Objection within 90 days from the mailing date of the Notice of Reassessment. I would call CRA first to discuss the matter before filing.

What is the proper way to file GST info?
There are two methods of filing a GST return. First is the simplified method where you report GST collected on income and claim GST paid on business expenses (Input Tax Credits). Second method (which I recommend) is the quick method. Here, you receive a tax break on GST collected. You still collect 5% GST on income earned but you submit 2.6% on the first $30,000 and 3.6% on income above $30,000. This method is beneficial to taxpayers with small amounts of business expenses. It is also easier to calculate. Johnny Demos also recommends you file your GST on a yearly basis.



Budgeting and Investing

“Save your money because you won’t always make this kind and then you can have a nest egg for the future. Also take courses and classes. If you have the money, make investments in real estate, art, gold or antiques. I did, then I resold them at a higher price when I needed cash later.”

To figure out your budget, add up all your expenses for each month: rent, hydro, utilities, phone, internet, cable, cell phone(s), groceries, toiletries, car insurance, gas, debt payments, etc.

Now add in the things you’d like to spend money on: entertainment, clothes, furniture, RRSP’s, savings, etc. Add the two amounts together to reach your goal. This amount is how much you’d like to earn each month.

If your goal is too big for now, look at ways to cut down on your expenses. Can you move to a smaller place? Can you work and live with one phone? Do you watch that much TV?

Take the amount you’d like to earn each month and divide that by how much you charge for calls. That will tell you how many calls / shows you need to do each month to reach your goal. Break that down into days per week.

Be sure to schedule days off and extra days for unforeseen episodes of burnout or last-minute opportunities for fun. Don’t sacrifice fun for money. You’ll make way more money if you’re happy and well adjusted, than if you’re struggling through each day due to burnout.


How to Earn More $



“You can still play the game. But hustle. Don’t rob.”Set and Stick With Your Price 
“Trans workers: Don’t go cheap! You are valuable! Check other trans worker’s rates to see what your earning potential can be!”
 “Stay true to your price.”
"When lap dancing, never rub their laps continuously until you get as much money as they have. If they come in their pants, they will go home! You want them to stay hard a long time and buy more dances from you."

If you’re new to the industry or to a particular part of the industry, find out what the going rates are so you know what to charge for your expertise. Adjust that rate, if you like, to something you’re comfortable with, without undercutting too much. If you charge more than the going rate, you may get fewer or wealthier clients. Choose the rate and clientele that suit you best. Decide what your time is worth and stick to it.

Upsell
You can upsell with toys, services, panties, lipsticks, and dirty talk, among other things. Get creative! Upsell but try not to push your customers’ limits. Don’t hold back on what you agreed just to take more time than you agreed to or you could make them angry. They won’t come back, and they might think all sex workers do this.

Ask for a Tip

If you feel a client is very satisfied, ask for a tip for your excellent work.

Offer promo during your show. As soon as someone tips, pick up a poster and give it to the tipper. This will encourage others in the audience to tip too.

If you work for an agency that takes a cut of your fee, charge money for extras (anything above and beyond what is covered by the fee). Don't feel bad about asking for it. Most clients are aware that this is standard practice by agency workers.

Get Regulars and Keep 'Em

“Stand with your head held high, like you’re proud. You get treated better and picked up sooner.”
To keep them coming back, treat customers with respect. Make a point of learning their names, saying hello to them, and chatting with them about subjects you’ve discussed in the past.

Better yet, keep a database with their names, phone numbers, enjoyed activities, and special kinks. Clients are more likely to return if they think you’ll remember them or that you have a special place for them in your heart.

Maintain an online profile where regulars can find you and keep in touch with you.

Learn New Skills

“Keep them turned on with hot photos or movie clips. Set up times to do online web cam shows with the option of phone sex. Then he can get off while at the office, and you keep him thinking about you.”
Depending on your area of the industry, learn new skills. For instance, you can learn different types of massage, female ejaculation, pole dancing, BDSM, and/or other kinky activities. The more you can offer, the more versatile of a service provider / entertainer you’ll be.

Sex Them Up



“The more cliché lines I used the faster the client would finish.” 
“I was turned out by an old school madam who taught me how to offer very reasonable, safe services in a way that would be sexy for the client.” 
“The best attitude to have is ‘always horny’!”

Clients like dirty talk and compliments. Make them feel attractive. Boost their egos. Make them feel like “king for an hour.” Be genuine, flirty, compassionate, and confident. Behaving ditzy can sometimes up your bank too.

Update Everything

Update your photos and ads often. Update your wardrobe and equipment/toys. New sexy lingerie, a naughty nurse costume perhaps? Keep the fantasies alive and versatile.

Be Professional
Be responsible and reliable. Repeat business is better than a lot of one-timers.

Care About Your Appearance
To maximize your earning potential, it helps to look tanned, keep your nails manicured, maintain a neat hairstyle, and put on makeup before going to work.

There's a wide range of acceptable body types in this business. Some sex industry workers, such as exotic dancers, are not required to be model-thin to get work, but should look reasonably fit and toned.

It also helps to invest in quality costumes and lingerie. Try to look as clean and polished as possible when working.

Make Safe Sex Fun
Learn how to put a condom on with your mouth and other sexy techniques that increase your health and safety.


Do What You Love and Love What You Do

Quotes from Trade Secrets contributors:


“Work hard and choose modeling jobs that you enjoy. The camera picks up on everything and if you are not enjoying the scene, it really shows. If this is the case, reputable employers may overlook you for future shoots after seeing your lacklustre work.”

“Be a serious and ethical businessperson. Get a lawyer. Develop character. Pay your taxes. And stay safe. Do not believe everything agencies tell you. There are ethical ones, which will work with you properly. But sometimes things happen and you have to be able to protect yourself.”

“As difficult as it is sometimes, try to maintain a pleasant demeanour on stage. A scowling, grumpy and/or bored-looking stripper will only alienate the crowd. The friendlier you appear on stage, the more likely customers are to tip. When I'm in a bad mood I find that dancing to music I enjoy and trying to get my heart rate up a bit helps me turn on the happy face on stage.”

Friday, June 3, 2016

Red Umbrella March for Sex Work Solidarity

Sex Workers, Allies, Family and Friends Stand Together


On Saturday, June 11, sex workers together with their allies, families and friends are coming out for our annual Red Umbrella March for Sex Work Solidarity. This is our fourth year, marching in the street, brightly dressed with red umbrellas! Each year we highlight a facet of solidarity and encourage the public to come march with us. This year's focus is "Freedom to Associate is Our Right!"

The Freedom to Associate is a right granted to all citizens by our Charter of Rights & Freedoms. Canada's new anti-prostitution laws violate sex workers' freedom even to the point that standing in the street together is illegal if it encourages buying sex.

Marching together shows Canadians that when sex workers' freedom to associate is infringed upon, it is a concern for all Canadians. So, put on your best red outfit, get dolled up and let's show Canada that sex workers' rights are strong and proud and beautiful. March with us and show your support for Sex Work Solidarity!

Beginning at 2:30 p.m., the rally will feature speakers at the Vancouver Art Gallery (Robson Street plaza) and will be followed by a march starting at 3 p.m. Speakers will be available before the rally to answer questions from the media. The march will travel through Vancouver's Downtown Eastside to CRAB Park.

Participants are encouraged bring a red umbrella: the symbol of the global sex workers' rights movement. The Red Umbrella March is part of a national day of action, with similar events taking place in cities across Canada, including in Montreal, Saint John's, Toronto, and Vancouver.

The Red Umbrella March for Sex Work Solidarity is co-organized by the following groups: Triple-X Workers' Solidarity Association of B.C., Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence (SWUAV), Pivot Legal Society, PACE Society, B.C. Coalition of Experiential Communities, FIRST: Feminists Advocating for the Decriminalization of Sex Work, SWAN Society Vancouver.

Visit triple-x.org or our Facebook event page for more details. See also "Why Buying Sex Should Not Be A Crime":http://triple-x.org/pdf/redumbrellaleaflet2016.pdf High quality photos for print: http://triple-x.org/redumbrella



National Day of Action, June 11th, 2016

In June 2013, in response to the ongoing Bedford Supreme Court case, sex workers, sex worker rights groups and our allies across the country came together in a series of actions for a National Day of Action. The objective was to raise awareness around the need for sex work law reform, in particular, and to highlight the injustices that sex workers face because of criminalization. In the wake of Bill C-36, in June 2014 and 2015 sex workers and allies continued this tradition by organizing collective actions across the country to raise awareness around the needs for law reform in protecting and respecting sex workers human and labour rights. This year on June 11th, actions are being held across Canada in Toronto, Montreal, Saint John’s and Vancouver.

On June 11th, we invite other regions and groups to participate through social media by retweeting and reposting our messages on June 11th, as well as following our actions:

#SexWorkNDA

#RedUmbrellaDay

Or re-tweet our messages found at the following organizations who are hosting actions:

Maggie's: @MaggiesToronto

Sex Professionals of Canada: @SPOCsexworkers

Migrant Sex Workers Project: @MigrantSexWork

Triple X Solidarity Association of BC: @XXXWorkers

SWAN Vancouver: @SWAN_Vancouver

Sex Workers of the Downtown Eastside United Against Violence: @SWUAV_Vancouver

PACE Society: @PaceSociety

Pivot Legal Society: @pivotlegal

Safe Harbour Outreach Project: @sexworkoutreach

Stella, l'amie de Maimie: @AmiesdeStella

Actions:

Toronto: https://www.facebook.com/events/526319477554562/, hosted by Maggie’s, Sex Professionals of Canada, Migrant Sex Workers Project, Butterfly, Sistering

Montreal: A poster campaign in response to Grand-Prix repression, hosted by Stella, l’amie de Maimie,http://chezstella.org/

Saint John’s: A community and movement building day, hosted by Safe Harbour Outreach Project (S.H.O.P), http://sjwomenscentre.ca/programs/shop/

Vancouver: https://www.facebook.com/events/795415357258951/, Red Umbrella March, Theme: “Our Freedom to Associate”, hosted by Triple X Solidarity Association of BC, BC Coalition of Experiential Communities, PACE Society, SWAN Vancouver Society, Pivot Legal Society and Sex Workers United Against Violence (SWUAV)

****

Journée nationale d'action, le 11 juin, 2016

En Juin 2013, pour réponse au Bedford qui était en ce moment en cour suprême, les travailleuses.eurs du sexe, les organismes et nos allié.es partout Canada se sont réunis et mobilisées dans une séries d’actions pour uneJournée national d’action. L’objective était de sensibiliser la population autour du besoin pour une réforme des lois concernant le travail du sexe, et en particulier mettre en lumière les injustices que les travailleuses.eurs du sexe sont confrontées a cause de la criminalisation. En juin 2014 et 2015, dans la foulée du projet de loi C-36, les travailleuses.eurs du sexe et des alliés ont continués cette tradition en organisant des actions collectives à travers le pays dans le même esprit. Cette année, le 11 juin, les actions se passe encore à travers le Canada à Toronto, Montréal, Saint John's et Vancouver .

Le 11 juin, on invite d’autres régions à participer sur des réseaux social médias. Vous pouvez “retweeter” et reposter nos message, et aussi suivre des actions:

#SexWorkNDA

#RedUmbrellaDay

Voici les Twitter des organismes qui hôtes les actions:

Maggie's: @MaggiesToronto

Sex Professionals of Canada: @SPOCsexworkers

Migrant Sex Workers Project: @MigrantSexWork

Triple X Solidarity Association of BC: @XXXWorkers

SWAN Vancouver: @SWAN_Vancouver

Sex Workers of the Downtown Eastside United Against Violence: @SWUAV_Vancouver

PACE Society: @PaceSociety

Pivot Legal Society: @pivotlegal

Safe Harbour Outreach Project: @sexworkoutreach

Stella, l'amie de Maimie: @AmiesdeStella

Les actions:

Toronto: https://www.facebook.com/events/526319477554562/, hôté par Maggie’s, Sex Professionals of Canada, Migrant Sex Workers Project, Butterfly, Sistering

Montréal: Campagne poster pour répondre au répression politique et policières pendant le Grand-Prix, hôté par Stella, l’amie de Maimie, http://chezstella.org/

Saint John’s: Une journée de mobilisation et renforcement de la communauté, côté par Safe Harbour Outreach Project (S.H.O.P), http://sjwomenscentre.ca/programs/shop/

Vancouver: https://www.facebook.com/events/795415357258951/, marche des parapluies rouges, Theme: “Our Freedom to Associate”, hôté par Triple X Solidarity Association of BC, BC Coalition of Experiential Communities, PACE Society, SWAN Vancouver Society, Pivot Legal Society and Sex Workers United Against Violence (SWUAV)

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Why Are Strip Clubs Closing? (Survey)

Dear TNT Family,

Reacting to the sudden and unexpected news that the strip club I work in is cutting back its hours to weekends only, I vlogged a short rant about how the demise of strip clubs is hurting the sex industry.

You can view the clip here: 



I uploaded the video to Facebook first. Within one hour, the rant had been viewed over 60 times by friends and colleagues and had several shares. One day and hundeds of views later, an interesting discussion has ensued examining what exactly is the cause of strip clubs closing in BC, Canada.

Among the culprits named were...

-the failing economy
-bad decision-making by club owners, managers, and/or agents
-lack of theme shows
-Internet porn
-drinking and driving laws
-the dawn of the lap dance
-the dawn of the half show
-low pay and little incentive for entertainers
-lack of a rotating line-up
-government crackdown on “unacceptable activities” on stage leading to “tamer” shows
-greedy club owners
-unprofessional entertainers
-a change in public attitudes about having drinks on your lunch break or schmoozing clients in the clubs
-prohibitionists pushing an “exploitation of women” agenda; shaming others into agreeing with them

One commenter even said “the industry is dead.” I disagreed citing some clubs that seem to be doing well still. However, some current dancers are expressing in private groups that it's not worth being in the industry anymore due to their falling incomes.

Here are some of the other comments I had that were (or still might be) challenged by others:

“I agree there are multiple reasons why we don't have a strip club in every municipality anymore but it really started in the 2-5 years leading up to the Olympics. VIP's continue to be a popular part of many but not all strip clubs. Theme shows don't happen because of the onset of half shows. If anything, half shows (which started around the same time as the short-lived free shows in BC) have had a negative effect on the shows. Dancers aren't earning enough, nor is there enough time on stage to pull off big themes anymore. I fully agree that theme shows would bring people in and it is sad that they got largely phased out because of the onset of half shows.”

“I don't think it is "wising up and becoming more respectable to women" to stop going to strip clubs. Many customers LEARN how to respect women from coming to our clubs. Most customers already are respectful to women in our clubs. The small minority [of customers] who look down on us do that because SOCIETY says we are the lowest of the low - loose women with loose morals. Stereotypes and bullshit.”

“I think the change in public behaviours is huge. No more bringing foreign clients to clubs for meetings. No more lunch hour beers for construction workers. It became politically incorrect to combine work and drink, as well as the anti's pushing their "exploitation of women" agenda that so many people fell for.”

“If we are going to bring back more theme shows, the dancers need to be up on stage for full shows and make a decent enough income to afford the costumes and supplies required to make it happen. Incentives!”

What do you think? Am I right? Am I completely out of it? Why do YOU think some strip clubs are closing or cutting back?

The answer to that question interests me so much, I created a survey to collect your responses. Please complete this very short, anonymous survey telling me your opinion on this subject. I will summarize the results in coming weeks on NakedTruth.ca.


Thanks for your insight and participation. Xo


Annie

PS. Please subscribe to The Naked Truth's Youtube channel to see more videos like this in the future and weigh in on relevant subjects. 


About the Author

Annie Temple has 17 years experience as a striptease artist and over 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. Annie is a mom of three, a lover of writing and dancing. Currently she continues to run NakedTruth.ca and recently she embarked on spreading her messages on YouTube as AnarchistStripper-Mom!   

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Why Sex Work is My Only Option...I Am Disabled

Guest Post by Anonymous


I am glad I made my kids' lunches before I went to bed. 

Sometime during the night, the joints in my hands and knees stiffened up and became very painful. 

I hobbled to the bathroom hoping I would wake up feeling better. 

This is the nature of my existence - I am at the mercy of chronic, debilitating pain. 

Will today be excruciating? Or will I launch into a week where I think “It's going into remission!”

I have high hopes of healing my autoimmune issues and working full-time again one day. I would be a workaholic if it weren't for my kids and my disability. I'm just that kind of person. I love to work.

As it is, I get federal disability benefits. My income will decrease substantially as each of my children turns 18. I will receive a little over $600 a month to live on when my nest is empty.

Before I was approved for disability,we struggled. I couldn't afford rent, food, or car. With my health issues and the food allergies we share amongst us, I really had no choice. I had to find work.

As you can imagine, there weren't too many jobs available to me under the circumstances. So, I started working for myself.

Today, between my disability income and my self-employment income, I am able to make ends meet. I feed my kids healthy, organic, whole foods. I run and re-fuel a vehicle. We have a roof over our heads and a song in our souls. Life is good.

On days when I am well enough, I work in the sex industry. 

On a square note...SKILLS! I gots skillz coming out the yin-yang. I could enter the square workforce in the good-paying industry of communications. I could go back to front-line support work - less pay but more intrinsic rewards. 

If only I could consistently make deadlines or commit to shifts.

Unfortunately, making deadlines and committing to shifts are not options for me. I can only work when I'm well and that's something I can't predict. My last employer told me straight out, “Come back when you're not sick anymore.” I pray for that day to come.

If this sounds to you like the lament of an exploited, trafficked victim of the patriarchy; you are mistaken. True, I have no other work options than sex industry work. But, it may surprise you to learn that I love what I do.

I would lose myself if my whole life consisted of mothering and being in pain without work to break the tedium and colleagues to banter with.

In fact, my work brings real comfort to people. My work heals people. Healing people in turn heals me. Since returning to the workforce in this industry, my health has improved.

Physically, I have less pain on bad days and enjoy more good days. Emotionally, sex industry work enables me to retain my dignity and optimism.

On days when I cannot work, there is no one to tell me I'm fired. There is no one emailing and texting me about their campaign as I struggle through my mom duties between my naps. 

There is no shame of calling in sick...again. There is no self-hatred. I do not lie in my bed second-guessing my reason for existence. 

Thanks to sex industry work, my children do not live in desolate poverty. I do not feel like I am failing as a parent. I do not beat myself up for being unable to provide for my family. I provide for my family.

Thanks to sex industry work, I have fellowship. I have respite from the daily struggle. There is laughter with other adults. There is kindness, support, understanding, and acceptance from a community that envelops me with honesty and compassion.

Will you say that I should live in poverty with my children and turn away from work you consider distasteful or sinful? Will you say that I should do other self-employment...find a way...anything but sex work? Will you discount my story saying I suffer from low intelligence, am privileged, or I am an exception to the rule?

This is what I say...

I am grateful for sex industry work. I am a fan of my clients. I am a good provider for my family. In this area of my life, my disability does not entirely constrain me.

Let my story be your epiphany...

I am not degraded, exploited, nor oppressed by sex work. I am empowered, energized, and enabled by sex work. 

The sex industry serves people with disabilities on both sides of the exchange. Please think about that before lobbying for my demise.


#SexWorkIsRealWork #Disabled_Powerful

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Looking for Study Participants: Sex Work, Motherhood, and the Family

Letter of Invitation

Title: Sex Work, Motherhood, and the Family

Ethics Clearance for the Collection of Data Expires: August 30th, 2016

Dear TNT subscriber,

My name is Lauren Gravis and I am an Undergraduate student in the Criminology Department at Carleton University. I am working on a research project under the supervision of Prof. Rebecca Bromwich.

I am writing to you today to invite you to participate in a study on Sex Work, Motherhood, and the Family. This study aims to discover how the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act impacts the institution of the family; specifically mother sex workers and their children. This study will also seek to assess the role of the woman as both a mother and/or wife and as a sex worker and the legal and societal impacts on these roles. Benefits to the participant will include that they will be able to have their voice heard, gain a sense of empowerment, and the opportunity to contribute to broader social understandings in the area of motherhood and sex work.

This study involves one 30 minute interview that will take place in a mutually convenient, safe location in person, as a phone call, or on Skype in that same location. With your consent, interviews will be audio-recorded. Once the recording has been transcribed, the audio-recording will be destroyed.

While this project does involve some professional and emotional risks, care will be taken to protect your identity. This will be done by keeping all responses anonymous and allowing you to request that certain responses not be included in the final project. Resources will be given to participants at the beginning of the interview and participants will be able to self-identify their level of emotional distress with the researcher.

You will have the right to end your participation in the study at any time, for any reason, up until February 28th, 2016. If you choose to withdraw, all the information you have provided will be destroyed.

As a token of appreciation for your involvement in this study, you will be provided with an honorarium of $20 for the interview. This honorarium will be given to you after the interview has finished and will be handed to you in cash if you are doing an in person interview. If you are a distance/phone participant the honorarium will be sent to you by e-transfer to your preferred email address, or sent in the mail to your advocacy centre by cheque.

All research data, including audio-recordings and any notes will be encrypted. Any hard copies of data (including any handwritten notes or USB keys) will be kept in a locked cabinet at Carleton University. Research data will only be accessible by the researcher and the research supervisor.

Requirements: 
  • Women or transgender men who have had children
  • Experience working in the sex industry (diverse genres included)
  • Must be over the age of 18 years
  • Must be living and working in Canada (past or present)

If you would like to participate in this research project, or have any questions, please contact me at laurengravis@cmail.carleton.ca or my research supervisor at 613-520-2600 x. 2082.

The ethics protocol for this project was reviewed by the Carleton University Research Ethics Board, which provided clearance to carry out the research. Should you have questions or concerns related to your involvement in this research, please contact:


CUREB contact information:
Professor Louise Heslop, Chair (CUREB-A)
Professor Andy Adler, Vice-Chair
Carleton University Research Ethics Board
Carleton University
511 Tory
1125 Colonel By Drive
Ottawa, ON K1S 5B6
Tel: 613-520-2517
ethics@carleton.ca



Sincerely,

Lauren Gravis

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Trade Secrets for Sex Industry Workers - Our Emotional Health

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 occasionally feature one section from the guide. This week's post is from Chapter Five: Us.

TRIGGER WARNING: This post shares and addresses sensitive stories and issues.


Emotional Health of Sex Industry Workers

This chapter focuses on us. It focuses on our emotional health and how our jobs impact our feelings about our lives.

Sometimes we feel compelled to minimize the exploitation that occurs in our industry so that the square world doesn't exclude us as much. We notice that the more we legitimize our work by focusing on the positives, the more respect we are given.

But in reality, service in exchange for money IS work. We should not have to legitimize our work by denying exploitation. Exploitation in this industry is a direct result of others looking down on us and denying our labour. It is because of this exclusion of our work as work that we feel obliged to hide the negative aspects of the industry.

We admit the hardships in this chapter. There are aspects of our work that we do not like. We are entitled to feel both good and bad about sex work. People in square jobs hate their jobs as much as we do sometimes. (If you've ever had a square job, you know it's true.)

This chapter is not a confession of exploitation in the sex industry. It is a realistic summary of the emotional complexities of sex industry work. For those who read our words looking to justify prohibitionist views, please do not use our painful moments against us.


What Stresses Us Out



“On the whole most clients are great and the hour is easy as pie. Sometimes though, I get clients who want to work me to the bone for the entire hour. It is difficult to maintain energy, enthusiasm, and interest when you're trying to suck off a 400 lb asshole who keeps telling you to ‘suck harder.'"
“The most stressful aspect of stripping for me is having to lie to friends and family about what I do for a living.”
“I supported my addiction and the addictions of other guys I hung around with. We kind of took turns with this role depending on who had the dates and how much each of us was pulling in. It was very stressful not knowing how you were going to survive minute to minute, hour to hour.”
“For me, the hardest part of the work was “playing dumb." I’m a well-educated feminist and it was very hard for me to have my clients believe I was a nymphomaniac bimbo.”

Interestingly, most adult entertainers feel that working in other common occupations, such as retail or hospitality, is far more stressful because of the low pay and poor treatment.

However, sex industry workers have unique stresses not experienced by mainstream workers. They worry about people finding out what they do, how their parents feel about their jobs, and what their friends and families back home are saying about them.

More things that stress us out in the words of Trade Secrets contributors:

  • Uncertainty of confirmed work.
  • Lack of professionalism.
  • Not making any money.
  • Standing out there where everyone can see me. (on the street)
  • Fighting with other workers.
  • Fighting with clients.
  • Working outside in the cold.
  • Wondering if I am going to have a safe night.
  • The stress of always keeping thin, looking hot, and having a deep enough tan line.
  • Pressure to perform.
  • Competition.
  • Hate crimes.
  • Internalized homophobia (my own and clients).
  • Health.
  • Emotional and mental health issues.
  • Shame and stigma.
  • Not knowing if I’m going to get busted for solicitation.
  • Gay bashing on the street.
  • Knowing that the residents do not want us working on their streets.
  • Being asked personal questions by clients.
  • Fear of getting caught doing sex work in my own home.
  • Fear of using public transit late at night while coming or going to outcalls.
  • Aging.
  • Language barriers.
  • Not having enough clients.
  • Robbery.
  • Police and building manager.
  • I am afraid of no money at the end of a day.
  • The long hours.
  • Physically and mentally strenuous nature of performing and interacting with customers.
  • The preferential treatment of some dancers, and not getting paid what I know I'm worth.
  • Threat of violence or arrest.
  • Witnessing drug use, violence, and other destructive behaviours.
  • Talking to and sharing emotional experiences with clients.
  • Negotiating rates.
  • You can’t predict whether it's going to be feast or famine.
  • Fear of losing my children.
  • Fear of losing my straight job if found out.
  • Fear of my children finding out and how they might react.
  • Constantly answering the phone.
  • Consumers who just call and waste your time or even book an appointment and no show.
  • Having things thrown at me when I'm working on the street.


Burnout


“I have felt burned out and not wanted to deal with horny men before. I keep other square jobs that I work on-call on the side in order to take a break from time-to-time.” 
“I remember long stretches of time, like years, when I thought the job was easy and safe. But I could go from feeling comfortable to burnout very quickly.”

Burnout is a common health hazard in this profession. If you are working all the time, hustling for a living, or taking on too many clients, you’re sure to experience it. There is only one cure for burnout – taking a break.

Depending on how bad your burnout is, you may need to take an extended vacation from entertaining. Turn to your closest friends and family. Do what you need to do to have a break. To reduce extreme burnout, take breaks often. Whenever you feel yourself beginning to hate life, take a break. Don’t wait until you’ve convinced yourself life isn’t worth living anymore and you’re two months behind on rent.

If it is not financially possible for you to take a break, at the very least, try to cut down on your hours or clients. In between work - eat healthy, sleep, and exercise. Cut down your personal life obligations until they are as minimal as possible. Veg out between work engagements and don’t feel bad about it. Your health is number one.


How We Feel About Our Jobs



“Satisfied. I only take one or two calls a week. This way I can eat well and not worry about money. Student loans don’t give enough to live on.” 
“Overall, I'm very satisfied with my job. I love dancing on stage, doing my makeup and wearing beautiful costumes. The freedom to take time off work whenever I want is another fantastic aspect of the job. Stripping has done wonders for my personal development. It's made me far more assertive, more adept at thinking on my feet, and more efficient at deflecting criticism. Developing the athleticism and strength to dance and do pole work, and seeing my body become more lean and toned as a result, has also done a lot to boost my self-confidence.”
“I love my job. I love the costumes. The high pay. The freedom of time. I do have to worry about my appearance a lot, and keep in great shape. When I feel bloated, or I am having an off day, this affects my self-esteem just like with anyone else.” 
“It wasn’t until after 10 years of working that I became dissatisfied for I then wanted to form a relationship with just one man. So I quit and went back to school.”
"I feel like I am providing a very healthy and helpful service to people. It can be hard when I get the clients who don’t appreciate that, but I try to focus on the ones that do. Usually when the clients are disrespectful, it’s a reflection of how they feel about themselves, not me."

Adult entertainers, for the most part, consider their work creative and empowering. Other benefits include freedom of time, increased confidence, and becoming more open-minded sexually.

However, this work is not always beneficial for our souls. It’s easy to become dependent on the praise and love given by our customers. Then when we are away from the work, we feel inadequate and invisible. Then there is the added complexity of having lovers. (Explored more in Chapter 7 – Our Relationships.)

This business enables us to fend for ourselves financially, work flexible hours, and support our families. But, like any job, it can sometimes be bad.


“Sometimes it feels disgusting. I think I’m as lonely as they are.” 
“It depends if I have money or not. It changes from day to day.” 
“Unsatisfied. I got raped and I quit. It was too dangerous. I was really scared. Before that though, I always had good food and nice clothes.” 
“At the time I was doing sex work, I was not sexually functional due to childhood abuse issues. Sex work (having sex when I wasn’t sexually aroused and faking arousal) was no different than sex in an intimate relationship was for me. I had my first orgasm with another human being at the age of 40, nine months after exiting the sex industry.” 
“I feel like because I am a part of the sex worker rights movement that there isn’t a lot of room for me to talk about how shitty it sometimes was. That I have to maintain a strong face, and never appear to be the victim.”
“I know today that I used my body to get what I wanted. I believe that the work contributed to my low self-esteem and sense of worthlessness. I still feel a lot of this now that I am no longer in the trade. I found participating in degrading acts has left me with this sense of emptiness, this disconnect, guilt, shame, and remorse.”


Maintaining Boundaries

It is very important to maintain your boundaries in this work. You may test them once in awhile and find that you do not like the outcome. Go back to the old way until you’re ready to try something new again. If the old ways are tried and true – find ways to be more creative with them, rather than crossing boundaries to turn up the spice.

Forgive yourself and forgive others. Forgive the people who have harmed you. And forgive yourself for any harm you have caused. That is the only way to emotional liberation.


Emotional Clients


“It’s just a part of the job, seeing clients who are paying you to brighten up their lives. So many of our clients carry heavy emotional loads. It can’t help but affect us.” 
“I experienced a lot of internalized homophobia from dates who took out their own anger/frustration/shame on me. This ranged from cold/unfeeling quickies to rough/violent episodes.” 
“There were days when I thought of myself as a counsellor. I felt that clients actually left feeling less guilt and shame than when they came in to see me. Other days I was just numb.”

As sex industry workers, we are on the front lines often dealing with people who are looking for solace, some kind of respite from the pain of their lives. There are many techniques entertainers use in different situations. Here are some suggestions from contributors to this guide:

  • If your client is experiencing extreme emotions, the best thing to do is listen.
  • I have never experienced an angry customer. And if I did, and he was angry towards me, I would probably leave.
  • I leave if it’s too much.
  • Talk to them and help them through it.
  • Distract them with sex.
  • People with disabilities- be compassionate, support them, this is the noble part of our job.
  • I feel bad for them but I have to let it roll off of me.
  • It is better that there is no emotional connection whatsoever.
  • I have done a lot of studying of psychology. I'm not exactly a therapist, but I can relate and understand.
  • This rendezvous is based on fantasy and illusion. If too much reality gets in, I remember it is his life and it doesn’t have to affect me personally.
  • I respect his sensitivity that he felt comfortable enough to talk about it with me.
  • I always have the power to redirect the topic of conversation.
  • With some of my clients, listening was the primary activity during a date.
  • I ignore customers who project their anger or other frustrations onto me and I try not to give them much thought, so as to not take on their negative energy.
  • I massage the customers and then clap my hands three times to dispel negative energy. A plant in the room where you work will dispel negative energy too. Crystals can absorb also.

Confidence and Body Image



“I have never understood what other people see in me or even believed them when they said I was beautiful. And so when complete strangers pay ME for sex, they CHOOSE me. It’s a huge ego boost.”

Being in this work creates an interesting relationship with our bodies. Sometimes we are more confident about our bodies and our sexuality (as well as our ability to seduce our way to financial freedom) once we become adult entertainers.

One sex worker said she felt better about her body when she realized that women with big hips and cellulite were the top bookers. Another woman had been insecure about her small breasts until she started dancing and realized that her body was just as appreciated by customers as her “Double D” co-workers.

It can also work the other way, making you feel less confident. If you get fired for having small breasts or told by an employer to lose weight, this can have disastrous effects on your performance.

When we don’t feel good about ourselves, it impacts our ability to do our jobs well. The spark just isn’t there. We feel it. The customers feel it. It sucks. That’s why with confidence we have to fake it till we make it – at all times.

The pressure to be thin really affects confidence. It can lead to eating disorders and threaten your very life. Develop a thick skin. Try not to take anything that anyone says to you personally. You are not going to be ideal for every client or employer. But there are clients and employers out there that think the world of you. Focus on the people in your life who bring positive feelings into your world and forget about the ones who impact you negatively.

Growing old is particularly difficult for adult entertainers. We rely on our beauty for an income, so when our ass(et)s start to sag, it’s not only depressing, it’s financially hazardous. Plastic surgery is always an option, but exercising, eating right and wearing natural sun block will actually slow aging.

Aging can be slowed, but it cannot be stopped. And so, as the days go by, so does the ability to make it in this industry.

Find things to be good at that don’t involve looking beautiful. Nurture your interests outside of work. This will help the transition from entertainer to retiree when the time inevitably comes.

Take heart. As we age, we also become savvier. With all our years of experience, we can do anything. We can start our own adult entertainment businesses – and run them ethically and responsibly to honour our own histories. We can join the square world and wow them with our entrepreneurial skills and charm. We can do anything because we are strong, resilient, creative, and self-driven - common traits among us.


Our Sexuality


“It has had a mild impact on my sexual relationships. Because I've really found what I enjoy in sex, it has been difficult to go back to traditional vanilla relationships. But not impossible, I just really need to be truly enamoured with the person.” 
“I would use my sexuality to boost my confidence. I would take men home for a few hours, then kick them out when I was done with them. I still have issues with my sexuality, trying to find the balance between housewife and stripper, as well as what I really want from a sexual relationship.” 
"Sexually speaking, performing in an adult film is not satisfying at all and can be quite frustrating as the sexual performances are only for the purpose of other people's enjoyment" 
"Stripping for eleven years was an amazing experience that freed my mind from the constraints most people feel about their sexuality. Being naked in front of hundreds of people was sexually empowering and not a bad way to meet guys. Yet finding a significant other that loves you for who you are instead of what you look like is difficult as a stripper." 
"My job is my personal sexual relationships; when I am horny, I go to work!"

Being sexy is the job, so it goes without saying that the job impacts our sexuality. Inhibitions have a lot less power over us. We become more secure in and comfortable with our sexuality.

We talk quite freely about sex and all things sexual. There is a rare comment that makes us blush.

Sometimes we are sexually drained from work, and so neglect our lovers. Sometimes we respond in the opposite way. Watching other men seek services when their wives are withholding sex inspires us to meet the needs of our partners more consistently.

It is sometimes difficult for us to be sexy for our partners because it feels fake. We do it so often for money, that it can seem insincere doing it for the people we love.

All of these are normal feelings that are felt by many sex workers. Do what feels right for you. When it comes to sex, there are no right or wrong answers. Isn’t that what we’ve really learned in this business anyway?

(See Chapter 7 – Our Relationships, for more information about managing personal relationships in this industry.)

How We Fit Into The World


“For the longest time I felt I did not fit in though now I am out of the trade, it is easier because I can talk about what I do for work.” 
“I feel like a normal person who goes to work and does their job, just like anyone else. At the same time I'm acutely aware of the fact that I lead a double life. I have a 'real' life that revolves around me stripping, and a 'fake' life I create as a front for family, friends, and others who don't know I dance. Maintaining this 'fake' life is highly stressful and causes me to feel extremely detached and alienated from many people.” 
“I don’t like being around people who have it all, like jobs and no violent past.” 
“I pass for normal.” 
“In the beginning it was like I was doing a bad thing but I continued to do it because I enjoyed the attention from men. In the end I felt like a cockroach of society.” 
“Outside. Condemned. Oppressed. Ostracized.”

It’s easy to assume we just don’t fit into the world. We are treated as outcasts and deviants. We are equally pitied, hated, and worshipped. While we are at work, it all seems quite fine and comfortable. But out in the “real” world, people try to shame us and force us to change.

However, the reality is that we are neither worse, nor better than any other person in the world. “I am not better than anyone” is easy to follow. But “no one is better than me” can be difficult for people who’ve consistently been treated as the lowest class of humans.

Yet, we all have inherited the earth. No one person has more right to being here than any other person. We all shape the world we live in by how we outwardly behave and react. If we avoid places where we feel inferior, we are depriving the world of our greatness - a greatness that every single person in the world has.

Read this quote from American author Marianne Williamson from her book A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles:


“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?

“Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking, so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

“We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
You do not have to believe in God to know these words are true. You just have to believe in yourself.

Some ways to feel more connected to the rest of the world are:

  • Remember that you are equal to every other person in the world.
  • Reject any suggestions – personal or societal – that make you feel of low worth.
  • Join groups you are intimidated by (Parent Advisory Council, board of a charity, etc) – you’ll soon see that everyone else is just as intimidated by you!
  • Don’t identify yourself by what you do for work. We are not our jobs. This is just one of the ways we make a mark in our lifetimes.
  • Volunteer with charities that are meaningful to you to feel like you are contributing to something important.
  • Realize and remember that what you are offering through your work is also an important contribution to the world and nothing to be ashamed of.
  • Spend time with other industry workers where you feel free to be yourself.


Quotes from Sex Workers – How We See Ourselves

“I am a facilitator, artist, healer.” 
“I am a good person, independent, intelligent, doing a good job to support myself.” 
“I am straight-forward and compassionate but I won’t take any crap. I have a big heart but it is sometimes guarded. I am easy-going. I care about people. I don’t like to see people suffer. I don’t believe in religion. I believe in spirituality.” 
“I think of myself as a single individual in my community. I’m just another person on this rock floating around a star in space.” 
“I'm a professional providing a service. I'm no better or worse than anyone else.” 
“I provide a service that is a healthy outlet for people. Healthy, that is, if all of our companion rules are followed.” 
“I am a pioneer. I am an entrepreneur. I am an exciting person who is ever-evolving with the ever-evolving, changing world.”

Substance Use as a Coping Mechanism

"I rarely drink at work, but frequently smoke marijunana before or at work. It makes me more sociable. I consume GHB at work sometimes too. It has the same effect. I usually have an Ativan (lorazepam) in my purse in case I get an anxiety attack, but that has only ever happened at one club, twice."

Many people use substances to cope with the stresses of life. Whether it is a glass of wine in the evening or a doobie in the morning, substance use is a common coping mechanism.

If you find that you are using substances to cope, it is good that you are at least aware of it. Try to monitor your substance use to reduce its harmful effects.

If you notice you are increasing your use or binging, you could be experiencing anxiety, depression, trauma or PTSD. This is when you should be most attentive to yourself, using self-care strategies and/or seeking therapy.

Attempt to find ways other than substance use, or in conjunction with less substance use, to stay sane. (See "Staying Sane" in this chapter.)

One very good coping mechanism is to phone someone you trust and debrief with him or her on a regular basis, especially if you’ve had a disturbing experience. If you can do this in person, that’s even better. Sharing your experiences with another person you trust is very healing.

(See Chapter 6 - Our Bodies – for more information on substance use, their effects, and self-care strategies for substance users.)


Staying Sane
There are many ways to maintain your mental health. Avoiding burnout (by taking breaks) is a big one. Other good ways to feel better mentally are:


  • Have a hobby – painting, scrapbooking, something creative that will allow you to express yourself.
  • Try therapy. Many entertainers, because they are creative, prefer art therapy or other alternative therapies to more traditional ones. There are community-based counselling and therapy options that are low cost or free, although many may have waiting lists. Check with your doctor or a community health clinic for more information on free or inexpensive services.
  • Do things you’re good at that are separate from your work. You may be an incredible pole dancer, but what can you do off the pole? Are you a chef? A mechanic? A website designer? Nurture an identity of yourself that is separate from your role as a sex industry worker. We are not our jobs, after all. (Although it can sometimes seem like it in this field.)
  • Take long walks, get out of your workspace, and get fresh air. Go bike riding or swimming on occasion.
  • Redecorating your play space can be therapeutic.
  • Spend lots of time with your friends.
  • Sing karaoke or go dancing.
  • Take days off to visit family.
  • Write an anonymous blog.
  • Write poetry, paint, or make sculptures.
  • Listen to music.
  • Lift weights.
  • Run.
  • Watch inspiring movies.
  • Beading/ crafts
  • Crocheting / Knitting / Sewing
  • Have a sense of humour.
  • Give yourself time to heal.
  • Structure your life to include a balance of a little bit of everything.
  • Access services.
  • Put yourself next to happy people.
  • LAUGH!
  • Stretch.
  • Keep a journal and write down your thoughts. Get what’s in - out!
  • Yoga.
  • Honey and salt body washes once a week.
  • Take art classes.
  • Read a novel.
  • Entertaining can make us relax. Making friends is another good way to relax. (Some clients can be our friends.)
  • Eat well, exercise, and get lots of sleep every day.
  • Debrief with a friend after particularly stressful situations.


Be Strong

“Stick together, work together, find solutions, create a positive environment, treat others with respect, work as a team, be responsible for your own actions, fight for your rights, earn respect, and always present a positive image to your community and the public. Have confidence and be proud of what you do and who you are.” 
“I no longer use drugs or booze. I keep a journal and attend a 12-step program. I swim and go for long walks. I forgive myself and understand the choices I made in the past were the best I could at the time.”

We are resilient, aren’t we? We are able to withstand almost anything. We are very strong individuals. In fact, sometimes when we leave the industry, we start to become vulnerable. Then we recall how strong we can be, and revert to our tougher selves. This is a power we all have within us. It’s just that adult entertainers use it regularly.

We all have moments of feeling weak, and that's okay. It is part of being a strong individual - to allow ourselves to be vulnerable (when it is safe to do so) - as that allows us to be honest with our processes and our selves.

While retiring or once retired, we sometimes experience feelings of sadness, guilt, grief, shame, fear, or anger about the life we’ve left and the constant survival mode we may have existed in. We may need to separate ourselves from the work and criticize it for the painful experiences that we feel it brought upon us.

This is not only normal; it is extremely healthy to experience these emotions. They are part of the healing process. Just be sure to carry them out to their conclusion – which is the safe, healthy, and well-rounded human being you see in the mirror.

Even in the worst circumstances, we develop skills in this work. We become mentally prepared for anything. We learn to have a backup plan. We learn survival techniques – we practically invented them. We are resourceful, resilient, and revolutionary as a community. And we have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.


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 with 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)