Friday, April 24, 2015

Ten Reasons Sex Workers Are Great Parents

By Annie Temple

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

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

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

Was there a correlation? How did this happen?

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

Social wisdom is INCORRECT.

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

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

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

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

In Real-Time: Whore Stigma and Motherhood

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

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

The woman who "insulted me" posted this:

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

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

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

Ten Reasons Sex Workers Are Great Parents

#10. We have more money.

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

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

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

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

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

#9. We have more time.

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

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

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

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

#8. We respect boundaries.

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

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

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

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

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

#7. We are compassionate and non-judgmental.

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

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

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

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

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

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

#6. We set an entrepreneurial example.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#5. We have a different definition of success.

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

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

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

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

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

So why do we choose it? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But laugh them off we can. And we do.

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

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

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

#3. We tell it like it is.

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

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

Want an honest opinion? Ask a sex industry worker. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#2. We are excellent communicators. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#1. We give unconditional love.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

And I'd like to add one more...

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

About the Author

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

A Date With a Naughty School Boy #FacesOfProstitution

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh they could really give a smack with that!

What a great client. Very punctual!

About the Author

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

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Trade Secrets: Working Indoor

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

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

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

Working Indoor

When we refer to sex industry workers who work “indoor,” we are talking about the majority of sex industry workers - all of us who do not work on the street. We work in agencies, our own homes, clients’ homes, bathhouses, apartments, cruise lines and hotels, to name a few.

There are many “indoor” venues where sex work takes place. In-house refers to sex work done at a workspace such as a home, dungeon, or massage parlour. Out-call refers to going to the client – their homes, hotels, clubhouses, yachts, and even party buses.

Working indoors increases the health and safety of sex industry workers because we have access to toilets and showers for cleaning up and because others are usually around, in case we need help. But we should still be aware of potential dangers and take precautions to reduce any risks.

Safety Tactics

Here are some tips for staying safe when working indoors:

  • Do not answer calls from private or withheld phone numbers. Your call display can leave evidence, in case of an emergency.
  • Have a driver take you on out-calls, so someone knows where you are. If he is also acting as security, make a plan with him so he knows if and when to interrupt the session.
  • Call a friend or your agency in front of the client so he/she knows someone is keeping track of where you are and whom you’re with.
  • Have another worker or security in the next room.
  • Make sure the doors and windows are locked, and the blinds are adequately closed before commencing an appointment. This prevents predators or robbers from getting into the suite while you are entertaining.
  • Keep your cell phone close in case you need to call 911.
  • Have a safety plan to phone your booking staff if a conflict arises. Then stay on your cell phone while the booking person phones the predator, distracting him so you can escape.
  • Watch to make sure clients do not remove condoms without your knowledge.

Being Discreet

Here are some tips to help you keep your business discreet and consistent, without drawing the wrath of your neighbours or other community members.

  • Don’t keep clients waiting in halls, lobbies, or in front of the building. Clients appreciate discretion, and this can also help prevent neighbours from calling the vice squad.
  • Keep windows and drapes closed, to avoid offending others with visuals or noise pertaining to sex work. Keep the volume reasonable to help prevent police calls or neighbours complaints.
  • Don't discuss session activities or money with clients outside your home where the community and public can hear you.
  • Don’t wear a lot of make-up or dress sexy when going to an appointment. This cuts back on attention from civilians and allows you to travel more discreetly. Pack make-up, clothes, and make-up remover. When you arrive, immediately excuse yourself and go to the washroom and apply more makeup. Before leaving, wipe the extra make-up off.
  • Your home is your fortress. Do not party there. Keeping your home private and discreet is key because noisy tenants draw attention. Being a noisy, problem tenant can lead to eviction and force you to move your business location. This will cost you income and some of your regular clientele.
  • Don't get too close to your neighbours. A connection with a neighbour can quickly become complicated and end up compromising your privacy. For example, if a fellow tenant discovers your occupation, he or she may be frightened or offended, which can also lead to eviction and loss of income.

Stags and Private Parties

These shows are usually done in private residences, party buses, or private clubs or restaurants that do not normally book entertainers. Booking is done either through agencies or privately and through online sources such as Craigslist.

Because it's an unregulated environment, contact is totally up to the entertainer and ranges significantly. You are responsible for your own security, transportation, and fees. You are generally paid to do a strip show, duo, or live erotic performance then you may offer lap dances. Some gigs require you to stay and socialize, hostess, or hang out with the party. Other gigs are quick "do a show and get out.” Pay ranges depending on tips, lap dances, time committed, and your ability to charm.

Most often stags are done alone or with another entertainer and without security. Safety precautions are the same as outcalls. Have someone know where you are, text the name, phone number and address to someone you know. Arrange for how often you'll check in with a friend or agent. With an exotic dance gig it's usually when you leave (or within the hour). If it's longer (2-4 hours), check in every hour or so.


There are many potential risks involved with dungeon work, including, for example, pinching fingers in clasps/chains, tied-up people falling while equipment is attached to them, bondage cutting off circulation, fainting from pain, etc. Some tools can be particularly risky, for example, the Violet Wand.

Predators posing as clients could also use our tools and supplies against us. Don’t allow your client to walk around the dungeon where he can get a hold of the gear. Get the client naked and crawling with the donation in his mouth as soon as possible. Then get him in restraining gear immediately.

Ensure that your co workers/ other performers know what they are doing and are experienced in particular with rope tying, toys, and bondage techniques. These can be dangerous if done incorrectly. You could be injured or worse.

Living in Your Workspace

It is not uncommon for sex industry workers to live in their workspaces. For example, some exotic dancers place all their household belongings in storage while they live on the road. Many Dommes live in their dungeons. Sex workers share rent on an apartment where they can live, work, and watch out for each other too. Actors operate webcam businesses out of their bedrooms.

If you live in your workspace, make sure you get out for breaks and fun as much as possible. Spending too much time in your workspace can make you feel bored, depressed, and burnt out. We are meant to have balance in our lives. Too much of one thing is never healthy.

Hours of work

The hours we actually perform services may be very small in comparison to the hours we are on-call. Some escorts, for instance, are expected by their employers to be on-call 24/7. But at the end of the week, they’ve only worked three to ten hours. The hard part is having a life. Get to your kids dance recital? How about a few hours of uninterrupted sleep? Good luck!

Exotic dancers are not required to be on call, but sometimes find themselves blacklisted for saying no to a gig. Many dancers get around this issue by booking through several agencies and switching whenever a conflict arises with one of them. After awhile, the cranky agency will forget about it and be glad to hear from you when you call again.

A show may only last 18 minutes but the exotic dancer often works 10 to 13 hour shifts. The time between shows is rarely enough to engage in meaningful activities.

Don’t underestimate the power of a psychological break. Being on-call or at work between sessions/shows, is NOT time off work. Only you know how burnt out you get without a break. Be good to yourself.


You know that big, lovable guy friend of yours who never has a job? Put him to work as your security. Yeah, it sucks to take a cut off the top. But it’s easier to give it up because he’s your friend. You’ll feel more confident and comfortable knowing you’ve got back up if you need it.

About Trade Secrets

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

About the Project

Who Contributed?

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

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

In Solidarity,

Trina Ricketts (Annie)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

"I'm Not Your Bad Apple."

By Annie Temple

Day one of the experiment called: Do words physically hurt? Two halves of the same apple sitting side by side - To one you speak kind, loving, happy words. The other gets anger, criticism, and mean words. What will be the outcome?
When I began the apple experiment, I did not know what to expect. Although the article that inspired me to try it showed obvious results, I must admit I had doubts. Could words hurt that bad?

The purpose of the experiment was to find out if words could affect an apple physically. I think there were more than just words involved.

Other factors to consider were the tones of voice I used, the volume and energy I directed at the apples, and even the happy and sad faces drawn on the plastic wrap so I would know which apple was which.

I felt bad being mean to the bad apple, so I mainly tried using an angry tone of voice. I sang softly and lovingly to the happy apple and growled angrily and loudly at the bad apple.

Within one day, I saw a difference.  The "happy apple," as I had come to refer to it, was happy. Not a spot or imperfection anywhere to be seen.

"Happy Apple"
The "bad apple," whom I repeatedly told how bad it really was, was already beginning to rot on its left side. Brown lines and spots spread out all over it.

"Bad Apple"
Four days later, the difference was even more profound. The bad apple developed a noticeable rot spot.

Day 6 - Bad Apple is much browner and has a rotten spot. No rotten spots anywhere on Happy Apple.
I conducted the experiment for eleven days, until I'd had enough of rotting apple in my kitchen. The outcome was obvious.

Day 11 - How we speak to living organisms matters.

SUCCESS! The happy apple had a bit of brown but continued to be firm and smooth. The bad apple was wrinkled, brown all over, and rotting extensively. We proved that words, anger, and general negativity does indeed have devastating physical effects on the recipient.

This experiment was fun to do and it demonstrated an important lesson about how the way we treat others can impact their physical health.

But I learned so much more. I learned that everything that comes out of my mouth matters. I can either build people up or tear them down and that is exactly what I do every time I open my mouth. There are no neutral words when you are directing them at someone.

I began to notice how other people's words made me feel. I found myself empathizing with the bad apple. Like when someone would speak to me with a negative tone or words, I would say, "I'm not your bad apple!"

I also became very aware of what I said and how I said it - usually too late to check myself. I was appalled at how often I use sarcasm. I was also appalled at how I caught myself talking to MYSELF. I'd mistakenly believed I was rather good at positive self-talk. 

It turns out I treat myself like a bad apple more than I'd like to admit.

But what, might you ask, does this have to do with the sex industry???

The apple experiment gave me plenty of food for thought. In particular, I thought about how words and even sounds affected me as a striptease artist. I remember feeling like a happy apple...

...during the applause after my shows
...being welcomed back to a club I liked working at
...laughing with the other dancers in the change room
...being told to "have a good show" by my colleagues
...receiving emails of support for our annual cancer fundraiser from square folk
...being told by a T.A. in Women's Studies at SFU that there is feminist literature by sex industry workers and I am not alone
...being told I am appreciated for my activism
...getting a compliment on my new costume, or my dance ability, or my smile, or my music
...learning from my accountant that I can write off make-up, shoes, and blank CDs

And I remember feeling like a bad apple...

...being told to "grow some boobs" by a guy in front row
...having the DJ give me shit right before going on stage
...being warned that my ex could get full custody of our child because I'm nothing but a fucking stripper
...being accused of purposely trying to hurt my mother and told "I don't know you anymore" because I was a stripper
...being accused of perpetuating rape and told I could not be a feminist and a stripper at the same time
...being reprimanded for complimenting another student's cleavage when I was going to college
...having playdates cancelled after my job status was revealed by another mom
...being "asked" by a co-worker at my practicum if I was a stripper because she'd seen me on TV being interviewed and already told everyone in the office about my other job
...having the name plate in front of my cubicle changed to "Media & Pubic Relations" and then no one coming forward to admit to the joke

After pondering these memories, it occurred to me that all of my happy apple moments involved unconditional acceptance of me and the work I was doing.

My bad apple moments, on the other hand, were predominantly caused by judgment based on stigma. In fact, excluding a drunk asshole (or two) in front row and a DJ (or two) with ego issues, ALL of my bad apple moments were stigma-induced.

Come to think of it, the drunk asshole might have been responding to stigma too, thinking he had a right to bully me because I was a lowly stripper. Alas, we will never know if it was stigma talking or booze combined with a weak personality. Let's assume it was both.

Even the time I was "warned" by an instructor for complimenting my classmate's cleavage, it was stigma that singled me out. Many, much more "sexual" comments were made among my classmates and yet, only the stripper got warned. (In my line of work, boobs are an acceptable topic of conversation and sex has nothing to do with it.)

When it comes down to it, being stigmatized is like wearing bad words all over your body. But the words can only be seen through discrimination spectacles. When the spectacles are removed, the bad words disappear.

Which brings us full circle, right back to the person saying (or seeing) the words. I hope a SWERF (or two) read this article and learn something about themselves. I hope they realize that the words they see on my body are actually written on the inside of their discrimination spectacles.

Look at me without the stigma. See me for who I really am. Recognize how words have been used to tear me down. Recognize how words have been used to destroy lives. Words hurt. Stigma kills.

"I'm not your bad apple."  (And stripping was the best job I ever had.)

#notyourrescueproject  #stigmakills

About the Author

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

Friday, April 17, 2015

Trade Secrets: Working the Street

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

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

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

Working the Streets

“I like working the street because I can turn down customers if I want and I don’t have to give any of my money to anyone else.”

Our street-based workplaces can include motels/hotels, behind the dumpster, behind and in stores or businesses, by the jail, in a field, homes of clients, bar bathrooms, bar stools (in public), the sheriff’s office, vehicles, alleys, and street corners, among other places.

Stigma and stereotypes about sex work are usually focused on those of us who are street-based because we are the most visible population of sex workers. However, street sex workers are estimated to make up only 10 - 20 percent of sex industry workers overall.

Getting Along With Others
In neighbourhoods where there is more street-based sex work taking place, residents and business owners sometimes attempt to “clean up” the neighbourhood by forcing us out. They do this in a number of ways – from taking down license plates of johns to verbally and even physically attacking us.

Here are some ways to reduce conflicts with other community members when we’re working the streets.

  • Don’t pick a corner close to a school. Students and parents are around during the day and if you are too visible, they will complain. This will result in police action and maybe even a court-imposed "no go zone" order, which will force you to find another spot to stand. Any regular clients you have met won't be able to find you and you will have to start building a clientele all over again. UPDATE: Currently, in Canada, sex workers are prohibited from working or communicating near schools, playgrounds, day-care centres.
  • If you can, whenever possible take your customer somewhere indoors. This is safer for you as he will be less likely to harm you. It also means residents won't see the physical sex act. People offended by public sex acts will usually call the police.
  • Clients often approach people who are not sex workers in neighborhoods where sex work occurs because they can't tell who is a sex worker and who isn't. Criminalization has meant that sex workers must try to blend in to avoid detection. Dressing up would allow consumers to be sure who is who, however it could make sex workers more visible to police. One worker suggests a middle ground to try to stabilize this issue. She chooses to wear something nice, but not over the top.
  • If you mostly work in cars, try not to park in the same spot over and over. This will concentrate residual mess (condoms, needles) in one area and lead to complaints from residents or business owners. Always try to keep areas where you work free of debris to prevent police action
  • Attempt to build relationships with community members that you see often, by saying hello with a smile, or making small talk. Eventually, your neighbours will know you as a person and be more likely to take their concerns to you, rather than the police.Being a street-based sex worker is the most dangerous area of the industry because of our visibility and the subsequent police repression. Some of the risks include getting arrested or having to give favours to avoid arrest, being left stranded far from home, being set-up and robbed, getting raped and/or beat up and even killed, being isolated from help if we’re in danger, getting sick from working out in the cold, and even freezing to death.

Because of the laws around sex work in Canada, street-based sex workers try to avoid being arrested or having their clients arrested by working in dark, isolated areas. This makes us vulnerable to violent predators. John Lowman, a criminology professor at Simon Fraser University, estimates from his research that street-based sex workers are more likely to be murdered than any other person in Canada (Dr. John Lowman, Paul Dillon, "Life On The Streets in Dangerous," Surrey Leader, 17 May 1998).

Safety Tactics

Here are some safety suggestions from and for street-based workers:

Before Work

  • Dress nicely. You will be treated better and feel good about yourself.
  • Dress warmly.
  • Don’t wear anything around your neck that can be used to strangle or drag you, such as necklaces, scarves, etc.
  • Wear shoes you can run in, or that you can slip off easily.
  • Carry a whistle. While some prefer to carry weapons, such as mace, such things can be turned against you. A whistle is safe, small, compact, legal and loud.
  • Pick up an ugly trick list before working. (Bad Date Sheet, Red Light Alert, Ugly Mug, etc.)

Where You Work

  • Try to work in well-lit areas near a phone.
  • Carry a charged cell phone. Even if you don’t have a plan, you can make a call to 911 from any cell phone as long as it’s charged.
  • Carry change for the phone.
  • Work with friends, if possible. If you have to work alone, carry a piece of chalk with you to write down the license plate of your next client on the sidewalk or wall where you are standing. Always casually tell a client you have been seen leaving in their car and are expected back at a certain time.
  • Have a spotter.
  • Make friends with the other workers around you so you can watch each other’s backs.
  • Make friends with the beat cops in your neighbourhood, if possible. They’ll watch out for you more and take it more seriously if someone assaults you.

Before Getting In A Car

  • Always stand back a little when the customer first pulls up.
  • Familiarize yourself with types and makes of cars. And try to remember plate numbers.
  • Ensure the client is alone in the vehicle. A panel van or other large vehicle where the interior is not visible could hide predators.
  • Make sure there is a door handle on your door before you get in. Don’t get into cars that the driver has control over the locks.
  • If the car is a mess, don’t get in.
  • Make sure there is no gun, knife, rope, tape, or other weapon before you get in.
  • Look at the customer and check his level of sobriety and emotional state. Is he agitated? Does he appear drunk? High on drugs? Mentally ill? Be sure of his mental state before entering the vehicle.
  • Communication for the purposes of purchasing sex is illegal so do not talk about service or money through the car window or before entering the car. Get into the car but keep one foot on the ground outside the car while you negotiate what you will do and for how much. This way you have a better chance for escape if you are unwilling to accept the type of work the customer desires or the amount of money he is willing to pay.

Once In A Car (or at service location, if walking)

  • Once terms are negotiated and you are in the car, continue to evaluate his emotional state. If you are unsure for any reason, plan your escape for as soon as the vehicle stops.
  • If you have a cell phone, call someone or pretend to call someone as soon as you make the date and report where you’re going and something about your date that would help identify him. It may deter him from any ulterior motives.
  • If you have a cell phone, record the license plate number in your phone or text it to a friend.

During the Date

  • Tell the customer where you want to do the date and choose an area you are familiar with.
  • Envision an escape route in case you need one. If it's winter, see where you could hide under the snow.
  • Whenever possible, take the customer somewhere inside. Preferably to a place where there are other people and even better if they are people you know. A client is far less likely to attack you if he knows there are other people around. Being indoors gives you somewhere to clean up after, as well.
  • Don’t rip off the clients – they may take it out on you or other workers.
  • Watch to make sure the client does not remove the condom without your knowledge.

If A Client Becomes Aggressive or Violent

  • Tell him your name and try to humanize yourself by talking about your children or your life.
  • You could also say you are HIV positive, but this tactic might cause more anger.
  • Run into traffic and wave people down.
  • If you have to run away through snow, cover your tracks. A worker in Prince George recommends getting on top of the snow and rolling so there are no tracks, then hide until the predator is gone.

After the Date

  • Do not accept a ‘ride back’ to your corner. Whenever possible, exit the vehicle immediately after the session is over to prevent any further risk at the hands of a client.
  • Share information with other sex workers. If you have had a bad experience with a client, pass the details on to organizations that have a direct connection to bad date reporting.

Supplies for the Street

  • Zip-lock Baggies, in case you have to work in a car or schoolyard. This way you can take the condom and wrapper back and dispose of it in a way that respects the community.
  • Wet naps - so you can clean a little if you are working in a car or outside.
  • Mints - fresh breath always makes us feel better and is nice for the clients.
  • Condoms.
  • Lube.
  • Lipstick.
  • Sex toy - some clients will want no contact and just want to masturbate in front of you. If you have a toy, you can put on a show and the job will go a little faster.
  • Cell phone.

What Not To Bring

  • Never carry a weapon because it can be turned on you. Don’t give them something they can use against you.
  • Do not carry your ID or any other items of personal value. If the client wants to rob you, you won't be worried about letting him have your purse.

About Trade Secrets

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

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

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

In Solidarity,

Trina Ricketts (Annie)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Date With The Tickler #facesofprostitution

Hard Working Farmboy 
Make Me Sweat!
Guest Post by Andrew Sorfleet

He had long, dark brown hair. Curly, almost ringlets. John Lennon glasses. A formal black winter coat. Like you might expect in Toronto. It was 1992. He was young. Maybe 23 or 24.

One thing all my friends know about me, is that I am extremely ticklish. Go-into-convulsions-punch-you-in-the-nose ticklish. Do so at your own peril.

Consent was very clear. 1 hour. $200. Tickling.

I don't know about other whores, but for me, the standard 40-minute hour includes 10 minutes of uncomfortable conversation before we move to get undressed. 1/2 hour massage and we get to the punchline. And everyone's happy!

I lived in an illegal suite in a commercial building at the corner of Bathurst and Dupont Streets. Lucky for me, the washroom was just outside my suite door. I had plumbing for a shower stall and for photography and kitchen sinks. But no toilet. It used to be a business that made dentures. Many young artists lived in similar studio spaces at that time.

I installed a key-wind doorbell and a peephole in my steel door, and reversed the hinges so it opened out. That makes it harder for police to kick in.

He arrived with a black leather briefcase. As agreed, I got undressed and made myself comfortable on my futon. He opened his briefcase and pulled out four black soft cloth straps and proceeded to tie my hands and feet to the futon frame.

I've been tied up before. So I was a little anxious about the tickling, but not alarmed.

Then, he pulled out an alarm clock and set it for 1 hour. I was beginning to wonder what I got myself into!

Next, he pulled out a pair of black nylon socks, and proceeded to put them on my feet.

Then he pulled out a goose feather and a comb.

He started very gently at first. Enjoying as he awakened each nerve in my feet with the lightest of touches. As my giggles grew to minor jolts and contortions, his efforts accelerated, eventually switching from feather to comb to fingers. Moving from sole, to each individual toe. He knew his craft.

Unable to withdraw, due to my restraints, my laughter became almost painful. And then, he relented.

Just long enough for me to calm, believing my torturer had succumbed mercy, as I shouted no, no, no.

Then, slowly -- deliberately -- he removed the nylon socks.

Oh Noooo! I cried. Already laughing, tears streaming down my face.

And then, with relish he showed no mercy. No no no I cried in a falsetto voice. Tears of laughter rolling down my cheeks.

I thought I could take it no more. But a deal, is a deal. $200!!

Then -- he seemed to take mercy on me. He relented. I calmed down. Sighed. Sighed again. Then, I looked at the clock. Oh No!

Next, he eyed my ribs.

First, came the feather... But, it wasn't long until fingers. And for a moment, I was in love, as my tormentor attacked and retreated as I laughed until I hurt deep in my abdomen.

My hands were strapped above my head. With worry, I looked at the clock, realizing that -- armpits still exposed -- my trial was not yet over.

It was like he read my mind. Glee in his eyes.

He knew all along. How long an hour is. Fuck!

I laughed and I laughed and I laughed until it hurt so much and I could laugh no more. And I giggled and sighed and giggled some more. Then the alarm went off.

He untied the soft cloth straps. I was speechless. Thoroughly exhausted. Finally.

It was over. I wanted to kiss him. So badly. Thank him in some way. It made me so very horny!

But, unfortunately... He was very sexy! He packed up his briefcase. And left. Leaving me very hard for my next client.

I knew a few other guys who advertised in the NOW. They all had seen "The Tickler." I don't think any of them are quite as ticklish as i am though.

I never saw him again. Unfortunately. I fantasized about kissing him many times. He taught me something about myself. About limits and restraints. I grew from that experience. I should have paid him!

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.

Conquering Helplessness in the Wake of the Cindy Gladue Case

By Annie Temple

That feeling you get when you learn about something so horrific, so mind-fucking, so unbelievably unjustifiable, that you don't understand how it could have happened.

It may not be your first feeling. No. Your first feeling is probably RAGE. Overpowering RAGE that pumps out of your body in cataclysmic waves. Your brain attempts to process the absurdity, but it cannot be processed. Who did this? How did this happen? Who is to blame?

In the case of Cindy Gladue, fault belongs with more than the people who made the foul decision to acquit the man who murdered her. Fault lies in a system where indigenous sex workers are ignored, made into the "other," silenced, violenced, erased.

How we see, or rather don't see, indigenous sex workers is the problem. Our collective apathy is the problem. What Cindy Gladue's case declares like a blaring siren is that people like her don't matter.

But, you might say, she matters to me.

In the words of Naomi Sayers on Kwe Today"Our bodies are not terra nullius." Our bodies are not empty. 

"Some people say the Crown and the police failed her. But the system is doing what it was always designed to do… get rid of the Indian problem. Some say that there are legal tests and cases that would support the Crown’s case. Reducing her death down to abstract legal tests is violence. The violence that she experienced does not exist in isolation from all the other systems policing her life as an Indigenous woman and as sex worker. The system is violent."
And so, your first feeling, if you are like me, is rage. Rage at a system that is violent.

But there is often another feeling that comes after and with the rage. A feeling that sickens your soul. It takes your breath away and leaves you feeling nauseous and vulnerable.

The feeling I am talking about is helplessness.

Helplessness comes from a place of knowledge. The knowledge that what you are seeing is not just a glitch, a one time aberration of all that is right and good. No, you feel helpless because you know it is much much bigger than that. Naomi drives the point home in one simple sentence:

"If it doesn't shock you, you will understand when an Indigenous woman dies a violent death, it is “just business as usual.”"
But it is NOT "business as usual" if you've read this far. For you, this is so deeply wrong on so many levels you might burst.

You wonder, What can I do to make this right? How can one person, ME, impact such a deeply entrenched system of violence that erases the rights of indigenous women, especially sex workers?

It seems out of your range of control. You feel helpless.

I, too, struggle with the overwhelming-ness of it all. I, too, have had to dig deep, asking myself...AM I HELPLESS?

This is what I learned. I am not helpless.

You are not helpless. There is much you can do. You have the power to make an incredible impact. I will tell you how.

Start with some of the concrete things you can do, like write a letter to the authorities to express your outrage. Or sign a petition. Attend protests. Educate yourself about the issue.

When you've done those things, the simple things, then you will be ready to do the harder stuff.

Because now, you must use your voice. You must speak to your people about Cindy Gladue. Talk about the Highway of Tears and the missing and murdered indigenous women of Canada. Express your outrage one person at a time. Update your social media status with your outrage.

And when you see or hear someone else expressing the same outrage, support them publicly. Tell them, "I agree with you. I won't take it anymore."

At first, you may be uncomfortable speaking out. How do you bring up such atrocities over dinner with friends?

You can do it. You MUST do it. Teach your children about privilege and classism. Teach them about colonization. Teach your friends and family by example.

Educate your people. It is the most important thing you can do. Speak out. Let our collective outrage be the impetus for change.

If you see or hear violence against indigenous women, especially sex workers, speak out. If you can prevent violence, do it. You have the power.

We all do.

Conquer your helplessness now because it is urgent. Lives will be lost. Dignity will be denied. Until and unless we all speak out for our sisters, the terror will continue.

#SpeakOut #NoMoreStolenSisters

About the Author

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