Friday, July 24, 2015

The Client Who Was Ashamed of His Scars

Guest Post by Kerry Porth


Kintsugi: A Japanese art where broken pottery 
is repaired with lacquer mixed with gold, reflecting a 
philosophy that treats the broken places 
as something to celebrate, not disguise.
Sometimes I had new clients who would call a few times before they would actually book a date. 

This was common with newbies and clients who had had bad experiences in the past – usually they had been rejected at the door for reasons of race or physical appearance or they had been robbed. 

Often, these calls would make me nervous too as I was worried that they were trying to get a sense of my safety precautions in order to rob or do harm to me. 

But sometimes, I was completely surprised when I ultimately learned the real reason why they were taking their time to check me out before booking a visit.

One occasion really sticks out in my mind, and, more than 10 years later, my experience with this client continues to have a profound impact on me.

He was a young man I’ll call James. The first time he called, he told me right away that he just wanted to chat about my services and that he wouldn’t be booking me right away. These types of calls often annoyed me as they would ask increasingly more detailed questions about what services I offered as their breathing became faster and louder – in short, they were utter time-wasters!

But James didn’t sound like that. I could tell immediately that he was very nervous as his voice was shaking and he wanted to know whether I had worked with clients who were physically disfigured before. 

To be honest, this was the first time I had been asked this question and I gently asked what the nature of his disfigurement was. He explained that he had severe scars from burns and skin grafts that covered 40% of his body. 

The physical appearance of my clients had never presented a problem for me before so I told him that what actually matters to me is how my clients treat me and that they are happy with my services. James told me he would call me back the following week once his payday came and would book an appointment then.

He called back three weeks later and provided more context about his fears. He had been rejected by a sex worker and girls he was dating in the past even when he explained about his scars. I’ll be honest and say that the fact that he’d been previously rejected by a sex worker did cause me a bit of concern as I thought that his disfigurement must be fairly extreme. 

But, by this time, we had spent about 30 minutes talking during our two calls and he sounded very sweet. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings and encouraged him to come and see me and promised that no matter what, I wouldn’t reject him. James still wasn’t ready to book me but called 3 days later and set up a date for that evening.

James arrived at my apartment and I was pleasantly surprised to open the door to a nice looking young man of 26. He wore a crisp dress shirt and chinos and the only mark I could see on him was what I recognized as a skin graft on his neck that disappeared under the collar of his shirt. 

I offered him a drink and he asked for water and we sat on my couch to chat. I asked him what he did for a living and we made small-talk about his job. I could see that he was very nervous still. When he made eye contact, he immediately looked away and blushed which I found completely adorable. Eventually I suggested we go to the bedroom.

Kerry Porth
Once there, I moved close to him and started to unbutton his shirt at which point he suddenly stiffened and asked if we could turn the lights out. I explained that I could dim them quite low but that I was not comfortable with full darkness for my own safety. I again assured him that he should relax and try not to worry about his body, that I would take things slow and that he could stop me at any time. Eventually, I took his shirt off.

Starting at his neck, the burn scars and skin grafts covered his shoulder and upper arm to his elbow, most of one side of his chest and all the way down across one thigh and buttock. He stared at the floor while I undressed him and started to shake. The whole time I softly told him to relax, that it would be okay.

Eventually, we were sitting naked on the bed and I could see that there were tears in his eyes. My heart ached for him. I held his hands in mine and asked him to tell me how he had been burned. 

He quietly told me that when he was 14 years old, his family home caught fire. He and his parents made it out but once on the front lawn, he realized that his 7 year old sister wasn’t with them and his parents were too overcome by smoke inhalation to go back in the house. He ran back in to save his sister by lowering her out her window to their father. Her bedroom curtains caught fire and wrapped around him as he struggled to get out the window. By this time, there were tears in my eyes.

I had no idea what those scars would feel like under my hands and against my body but I was determined to touch this young man and was surprised to find that the skin grafts and scars were velvety soft and slightly rippled. There was nothing disgusting or revolting about them at all. He was an inexperienced lover and it was over in a very short time but I broke my own rules about not kissing my clients on the mouth because I found the experience so sweet.

He continued to see me every few weeks for about 18 months. During that time he told me about dating situations where young women had reacted in terrible ways to the sight of his scars, even though he had told them why he had them. I wanted to find those girls and slap them. I encouraged him to keep trying – that one day he would find the right woman.

And then one day he did. He showed up at my door and explained that, while he would still pay me, he simply wanted to come see me one last time to say goodbye and to say thank you for, as he put it, giving him his confidence back. For convincing him that he wasn’t disgusting or disfigured. 

While I was sorry that I wouldn’t be seeing him any more – I had grown quite fond of him, you see – I was happy that he had found a woman who loved him for the hero he was, scars and all.


About the Author

Kerry Porth was born in Vancouver and completed an undergraduate degree at SFU in 1986. After years working in university administration, Kerry worked in the sex trade for four years leaving her with a lasting passion for improving the human rights of sex workers. After exiting the sex trade in 2004 and embarking on recovery from substance dependence, Kerry was the Executive Director for PACE (Providing Alternatives, Counselling & Education) Society in Vancouver's down town east side from 2006 to 2012. A passionate human rights activist, Kerry is a well-respected educator who regularly lectures at colleges and universities about the sex trade. Currently, Kerry currently works as a community developer with Living in Community, a project that addresses issues related to sex work in Vancouver and is lead researcher on an SFU project on sex work governance. She is also the chair of the board for Pivot Legal Society.

Trade Secrets - Typical Clients

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 Three: Our Clients.

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.


Typical Clients

Although there are really no “typical” clients, just as there are no “typical” sex industry workers, there are some things we can tell you about your patrons.

You may wonder if sex industry patrons seek a range of sex industry services or if they tend to stick with one. This is very individual, however, six out of the seven clients who contributed to this project admitted to participating in more than one area of the industry.

Here are some ways that sex industry workers who contributed to this guide described their customers:

Lonely Customers – They feel lonely for whatever reason (estranged marriage, divorce, disability) and they want to spend time with beautiful, intelligent sex industry workers.

Regular Customers – They come around often and may spend a lot too.

White Knights - They want to rescue us because they think we’re in a bad situation; they need to feel like they’re helping.

Young Punks – Younger guys who treat sex industry workers poorly and behave in a vulgar manner.

Fetish Guys – They have fetishes. For example, they love feet and they want to buy your socks. Or they like to watch you lap dance their girlfriend.

Tourists – These clients go dungeon hopping all over the world trying out the different Dominas. They aren't afraid to lay some money down, and you know you are getting graded and compared on your performance.

Time-wasters – Clients who call every day, and email about their fantasies all the time, but rarely book.

An escort in Vancouver describes her clients like this:

The nice ones: These are people who are looking for intimacy and companionship. Whatever they are lacking in their personal life, they hope we will help them find it.

The mean ones: These people will be mean to anyone. It just happened to be my turn that day. Since sex industry workers are at the front lines, like firemen, policemen and businesses with access open to the public, the chances for sex industry workers to meet people who lack proper people skills are higher. The chances to meet people who direct their anger and aggression towards sex industry workers also occurs. The stigma that sex industry workers are less than human and deserve less respect due to their profession is very real.

The floaters: Sometimes a person who has a distinguished fa├žade in the world, gets into an appointment with a sex industry worker and loses all mind of gentlemanliness. Suddenly he acts like an ape. When the sex industry worker reminds him of his actions or requests respect, the gentleman can amend himself and restrain himself. Sometimes he will stay nice. Sometimes he will switch back and forth.

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)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Trade Secrets - Our Coworkers

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 Two: Our Coworkers. 

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.

Our Coworkers
This chapter focuses on managing relationships with coworkers.  The following are examples of people who work as non-sex industry workers in the sex industry:

  • Agency Owners
  • Agents
  • Bar Managers/Owners
  • Bartenders
  • Booking staff
  • Bouncers
  • Cab Drivers
  • Content Brokers
  • DJ’s
  • Drivers
  • Encoders
  • Film Editors
  • Film Producers
  • Fluffers
  • Hair Stylists
  • Make-up Artists
  • Massage Girls
  • Photographers
  • Porters
  • Production Assistants
  • Security
  • Servers
  • Shooter girls
  • Sound Techs
  • Still Camera staff
  • Video Camera staff
  • Wardrobe specialists
  • Webmasters
  • Website Owners

Note: While there are wonderful examples of co-workers in all of the listed professions, this chapter focuses on managing relationships with difficult co-workers. This is not meant to disparage the incredible co-workers we know and love in the adult entertainment industry.


Booking Staff / Phone Girls

“Sometimes it’s just not busy and there aren’t any calls, calling the office over and over won’t change that and neither will getting mad at me.”
Booking staff takes calls and answers questions from potential customers about rates and services. If a client is interested, they will take down their information – name, location, and desired time for the encounter.

They select and inform the worker of the booked engagement and arrange a driver / security for the worker. There is usually a call-in service where they check in with you to ensure your safety during the engagement.

For some entertainers, phone girls manage more than just the phone. They tell you to do your laundry, delegate chores, and book out-calls.

Make sure booking staff knows how you like to promote yourself (specs, ethnicity, services offered, and special talents). They make commission off the call so they should want repeat customers.

Ask them not to lie about you. Lying to customers makes them disappointed and sets you up for potential violence.


Drivers
Your driver might be your best bet to staying safe in this business. Be sure that you have a driver you can trust. Good drivers will help you carry your bags, walk you out to the car, be sober and polite, and watch out for you.

During outcalls, make sure the driver is alert and waiting outside for you during your whole session in case you want to leave early.

It is best to ask what the prices are for a ride before booking the driver. Many drivers have a price list depending on which area of town you are going to.

Although tipping is nice, it's not mandatory. You should tip if they are providing security though, as being security is a dangerous, high-stress job.

Be aware of people who post ads for driver services online, but just want sexual services rather than a pay out.

If you’re a dancer jamming in Winnipeg and you don’t have a choice of driver, consider renting a vehicle while you’re in town.


Exotic Dancer Agents

"One club made us waive our right to say no to the live broadcast of our shows. Every single minute of our show was taped and put on the internet at no extra cost to the bar. If you agreed to work at the bar, you agreed to give away free porn. The same bar started a lunch hour meet and greet of customers in our underwear. We had to stand around in our underwear and ask for “bikini” dances paid by the customer. This time between shows was previously our own, then they just said 'do it, or be fired'."

Working with agents can be tricky. If you don’t do what they ask, they might stop giving you work. If you do what they ask, you might regret it. If you always do what they ask, they will take advantage of you. If you never do what they ask, you will lose your bookings.

Try to keep a middle ground between doing favours and saying no. For instance, say yes to stripathons and do a show or two for charity, but say no to working at a club that requires mandatory floor time. Or vice-versa. Do what is right for you.

If the agency you’re booking through starts bumping you out of gigs, go to another agency in the meantime, or book in another province. If you can’t travel, switch to private dancing for a month or two. Don’t let them push you around. If you don’t call for a while, they’ll be glad to hear from you when you do.

Don’t assume your agent is telling the truth about a gig. Some agents will leave out details and feign ignorance or say they assumed you knew. They will also tell you one show price, then give you another (smaller) show price when it comes time for the club to pay you. If you can, see your contract early in the week. It’s not always possible in this industry, but it’s good practice.

Let your agents know about new costumes, a great tan, or any new promo. If they only see you on the phone, they may not know how good you’re looking these days. Let them know you are investing in your business.

Be professional and reliable. And don’t be afraid to ask for a raise in show price if you think you deserve it. You can set your own show price by saying no to anything below what you want. However, some of the gigs with lower show prices but higher show counts (more shows) are the best, money making gigs out there. So be a little flexible.

Agents can be used to mediate conflict between dancers and bar management, but there is usually no one that can be engaged to help work through an issue with an agent.


Hair and Make-up Professionals

Hair Stylists

It is uncommon to have hair stylists for adult film and modeling unless you purchase their services before the shoot. If you are having sex, keep your hair simple as it's going to get messy during the workday. Bring your own hairbrush and hair products to the set for fix-ups during breaks. Some places may have a hair stylist provided. It's a tax write-off. So get receipts.

Make-up artists

Look at their portfolios first. If you like their work, ask them to come in for a free or discounted trial to see how you like them. They’re usually fun to chat with before a shoot.

Some make-up takes forever to do. Try to sit still and be patient while they work. If you have your own artist and it's going to be a long day, ask the business owner if you can bring her on set for touch ups.

If the make-up artist does not stick around for the shoot, it is okay to ask her to leave a little make-up behind for touch-ups. Some adult film / modeling companies have their own make-up person they like to use. It is also a tax write-off. So get receipts.


Movie Directors / Producers

Movie Directors / Producers (and photographers) can edit content however they like. You are required to sign your rights over in order to get work and get paid.

They tell you what activities are required during the shoot, but often you won't know what the content will be used for. They can also alter photos of you to make your face look different, and you cannot change them because you signed your rights over.

Remember that you don’t have a say in how you are advertised or promoted either. They can say you are a 'Barely Legal Cum Drinking Whore', when you’re really a 28-year-old, lesbian tennis-player.

Be aware that the directors and producers decide what content they want to shoot. If you don’t want to perform that content for some reason or another, you may lose the chance to work for that movie. Stick to your guns though. If possible, specify your boundaries ahead of time.


Photographers / Cinematographers

Usually you can collaborate a bit. Tell them if you have a bad bruise somewhere. Tell them if you don’t want your face in the shot. Prepare them, for instance, if you’re a squirter. Let them know they are going to get soaked.

Communicate honestly and respectfully. If you have an idea, most camera operators are open to trying something you suggest (themes, angles, etc).

Sometimes photographers are willing to trade the shoot for the photos. They will use the photos in their portfolios online or in print. In return, you get a free photo shoot to update your promo. This is called Time for Prints (TFP).


Security

When hiring security, it is best to use a friend or someone referred to you by people you trust. Tell them what you need and find out their experience levels before hiring them.

Come up with safety plans together. Make sure you know each other’s job descriptions and duties.

On more challenging nights, tip your security. It will keep them motivated in their job.

Strip Club Bouncers

"One evening, after repeatedly asking the bouncer to throw out a rowdy customer without success, the customer finally got up and threw a full pint of beer with glass at my face! I jumped off the stage and beat this asshole with my bull whip! He left the bar and later charged me with assault. MY BAD. The club owner said that I was “on my own” and the negligent bouncer was nowhere to be found. The charge stuck and I had to pay damages."

There are lots of great bouncers out there. They seem to genuinely care about our safety and they take their jobs seriously. Others could use some training (or a good kick in the ass).

Feel free to report bad bouncers to club managers. But be aware that the manager may back him up rather than you. Use your own discretion and trust your gut.

One strategy is to tip your bouncers in advance. It reminds them that they have a job to do. And you’ll likely see a marked improvement in your own security.


Strip Club DJ’s and other staff who manage the dancers

Exotic dancers work in close contact with DJ’s. In clubs where there is no DJ, it may be the bar manager or owner, or even the bartender. But there is usually one or two people depending on the shift who are keeping track of our schedule. Head bartenders, DJ's and management have the authority to mete out fines and take other disciplinary actions (e.g. firing dancers).

A strip club DJ is actually an MC. The only traditional DJ responsibilities he has are programming dancer’s CDs and playing music between sets. Most of his job is dealing with dancers.

The DJ is responsible for announcing the performers, building up the crowd, and being on the microphone all night. It is his or her responsibility to get the dancers on and off stage on time and ensure that everyone in the line-up is doing their shows. The DJ usually deals with show changes, trades, and screw-ups. He issues fines for late shows, and keeps the running of the stage out of the manager’s hands.

If you are lucky, the DJ is fun to hang out with, supportive of having a positive atmosphere, and encourages patrons to tip you. If you are not lucky, well – you’ll have to find another way to stay positive for your shows.

If your closest coworker is on a power trip, you need to tread carefully. He can get you blacklisted by the club or agency. He can cancel shows when the club is slow if you don’t tip to his satisfaction. If you have to rebel, make sure you have a backup plan.

The DJ has the added power of controlling your lighting and music. So try to get along well with him, even if you are putting on an award-winning performance to do it. Less conflict equals better lighting.

Tipping your DJ

In B.C. and Manitoba most girls tip at the end of the week, or if they get tips on stage they'll toss a few dollars to the DJ.

In Alberta, DJs expect to be tipped after every show, and they expect around 10% of your stage tips.

In Ontario and Quebec you generally tip if you get tipped. However, the features should always tip their DJ.


Webmasters

Webmasters design how you are being promoted online. You can have a complete business relationship with a Webmaster without ever meeting him or her in person. Check out their portfolios before hiring them. You can and should Google their names to check out their work.

Webmasters are under your employ, so you must tell them exactly what text/wording you want, and only send them your favourite photos.

You really have to describe the look you’re aiming for. You determine everything from font style (the way the letters look) and colour schemes to choice of wording. You are the creator behind all of it and it all makes a difference in the clientele’s mind.

Don't pay until it is done. It is always a good idea to give gifts (wine, baking, a little money) at the end of every well-done project.

If the webmaster you hired isn’t working on things in a timely manner, find out why. Give a deadline, and if they don't make it, find someone else. Change your passwords first before breaking the deal with them, so they no longer have access to your content, and make sure they know they have no rights to your material upon submission.


Other Entertainers

Sometimes, getting along with other sex industry workers can be hard. If there is a personality conflict or you feel another entertainer is being a princess, it can get pretty tense. Competition adds to the tension.

In adult film and modeling, you often must work with other performers. Even if there is a personality clash, you still have to appear hot for each other and perform sex acts on each other.

If another worker is giving you attitude, ignore her. If she verbally attacks you, try not to return the attack but simply defend yourself. Continue to treat her with civility for the rest of the time you work together, but don’t go out of your way to befriend her.

Don’t try to make it all better or fret about it. Let it go and move on. You can’t please all of the people all of the time. And in the long run, the other workers will respect you for maintaining a professional distance regardless of the melodramatics happening around you.

With more competitive entertainers, distance yourself and refrain from disclosing much, if any, personal information.

Sometimes it is beneficial to talk it out if the other entertainer is open to it.

Quotes from Sex Industry Workers

“Sometimes when it’s a bit desperate we fight- you took my regular-you owe me money. Sometimes people even lie and say you owe them money because they know you can’t remember.” 

“For web cam, I worked at a company where the other industry workers could link onto my work computer while I was trying to lure in customers. This was unfair, as they would pretend to be customers and waste my time with a bunch of free chat that lead nowhere.”

“Sometimes a girl jumps in a car before me. I let her have it [the client]. I figure she needs it more to do that.”

“Sometimes I truly felt it was necessary to fight, both verbally and physically, to demonstrate that I wasn’t going to be bullied. Other times I ignored conflicts, in hopes that they would pass. Most conflicts didn’t last more than a few weeks. Alliances were made and broken and re-made very quickly.”

“I have interacted with other workers I have pulled dates with other workers we took care of one another it was like family. Until the drugs really hit. Then things changed. There was a shift that took place in Boys Town. It became more about drugs.”

Colleagues In Solidarity
If you get along with each other, hanging out with other entertainers can be the best part of the job. No one else understands your motivations so well. No one else is as fun, or funny, or honest as other sex industry workers.

Their jokes are the funniest because we get them all. Their stories are the most fascinating because we live such interesting lives in this industry. Their ideas are the most outrageous. Their comebacks, the most creative. Their personalities, the most charming.

Sex industry workers are pros at drawing people in, seducing clients with our personalities first. Then we are pros at making people comfortable and accepted. Our skills work on each other too. It’s a relief to be around other socially skilled people.

It’s also much easier to talk to other sex industry workers, since we don’t have to worry that something we say will be offensive or inappropriate. It’s difficult to balance such an open, direct lifestyle with the taboos of the straight world we live in. Some of us get tense in regular situations for fear of saying “the wrong thing.”

With other workers, we can talk about our ass zits, our relationships, our customers, our frustrations, whatever. And, we understand each other. Because we all have ass zits, relationships, customers, and frustrations. And we’re all busting our asses in the sex industry.

Keep the Peace

One of the best ways to get along with other sex industry workers is to keep your space small and tidy. Don’t leave your clothes or costumes lying all over the place. Don’t have your makeup spread out across the counter.

Bring your own supplies. Don’t use other people’s belongings without asking first. And don’t be late causing the schedule to get behind.

Here is how some Prince George workers are helping each other:


“We share dates and let each other go first if they need the money more. We also do duos and watch each other’s backs.”

“If one has a problem, others come running. If he’s hurting her, we’ll stop it if we can. If it is drug or pimp related, we’ll have to stand back and help the girl after.”

Advice for supporting other sex industry workers:

  • Share experiences with each other.
  • If a worker is not out of a call on time, check on her.
  • If you have a really bad experience, post a note that nobody should see him.
  • Give advice, safety tips.
  • Show new workers the ropes.
  • Try not to undercut.


Pimps

If you are being pimped in a way that is abusive or controlling or involves trafficking, and want to leave your “man” (pimp family/ trafficker), it can be difficult and dangerous.

You may have to return to work in a place where you will be found, harassed, or recaptured.

Pimps have been known to do all kinds of things to workers when the try to leave, such as:

  • Physical beatings.
  • Cutting or scarring a worker’s face.
  • Cutting a worker’s hair.
  • Holding a worker prisoner and bringing clients in for forced service.
  • Outing a worker to family and friends.
  • Stealing a worker’s clothes and possessions.
  • Waiting until a worker has made money and robbing the worker.
  • “Stripping”- Capturing a worker and removing all his or her clothes and leaving the worker somewhere public to be humiliated.You may be tempted to “choose” another pimp or pimp family when you need to leave an abusive situation. Chances are a new pimp will not help your situation and as a former rival you may be treated even worse as retribution. Also, if you “choose” too many times you will become known as “choosy” or a “Choosy Susie”.

Remember, you are a human being with rights. If you try to leave and your pimp or pimp family/ trafficker will not let you go, call the police. Abuse is illegal no matter who you are and forcible confinement is a very serious crime. The police will be able to file criminal charges, restraining orders, and ensure criminal repercussions for anyone who harms you. You may experience some discrimination from police, especially in more remote areas where police services are unfamiliar with issues affecting sex workers safety. Keep your head up and don’t let them brush you off.

Street Code dictates that any involvement of police or outside authorities by an underground community member is “ratting” or being a “rat”.

Our code of honour is a result of criminalization and is important if we are to protect ourselves from enforcement action. However, in the case of abusive pimps or people who traffic in human beings, we hereby state an exception to the “do not rat” rule.

People who operate unethical sex industry businesses and pimps who make a living abusing and exploiting workers harm our entire industry. Any person who has been exploited or abused in this manner may and should involve law enforcement or outside authorities in order to protect themselves and the public image of our industry. Only when we have successfully removed all people who harm us will we be a truly stable industry.

If you are nervous about accessing police services, contact a sex worker support agency or social services worker and ask them to accompany you to file your report. Or ask a family member or friend you trust. See the “Resources” section of this site for organizations near you.

How to leave a pimp safely

  • Call a local (or closest to your city) sex work organization to get referrals regarding shelter, food, and safe spaces.
  • Do not tell anyone your plan, as they may rat you out.
  • Create a safety plan.
  • Grab only what is essential, such as children, and act as though you are just going shopping or something that is part of your regular routine. Then go to a sex worker (or other) organization that can help you find a safe transition house.
  • From the transition house, you can phone family or friends. If you want to relocate to another city, the support workers at the safety transition house, or a sex worker organization can help you.
  • Try to remove yourself completely from anyone associated with your life during the time you were working for that pimp. If he finds you, there could be danger headed your way.
  • Surround yourself with good people while you transition into a new life; even if it is working for another sex industry business owner, or another industry altogether. Remember that women can be pimps. It’s not just men, as most are stereotyped to be. And indoor sex workers can have abusive pimps too. There are all sorts of awful agencies that are abusive, and having a bad pimp is not limited to the streets.


Drug Dealers

If you use drugs, here are some ways you can protect yourself.

  • Try not to take drugs from clients. It’s easy to become addicted when you’re always getting drugs for free. Plus, you don’t know what those drugs are cut with.
  • Buy all street drugs from drug dealers you trust.
  • You may feel that giving sexual favours in return for drugs is better than looking for a date, which could potentially be dangerous. At least you know the drug dealer and you aren’t afraid of him.
  • Or you might prefer to only use money to pay for drugs, believing that drug dealers give you more respect because you won’t trade sex for drugs.
  • It is very dangerous to accept drinks from clients. Even a bottle of water could be full of GHB. Be sure to watch the drink being poured, then keep an eye on it at all times.
  • Try to keep a distant, non-personal relationship with drug dealers so they cannot impact your life.
  • Try to use the same drug dealer consistently so you are sure of the potency of the dose you are taking.

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

About the Project

Who Contributed?

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

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

In Solidarity,

Trina Ricketts (Annie)

Friday, July 10, 2015

Trade Secrets - Costumes and Supplies

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.

Costumes

To keep your costumes in good condition, clean them within a week of wearing them. Hang them, fold them, or roll them gently. Keep them separated in resealable bags, or on hangers. If you wear panty hose, keep extras with you in case you get runs in them.

It may be okay to clean some costumes in a washing machine on gentle cycle or in a mesh lingerie bag, but if you’re not sure, don’t take the chance. To avoid damage to your costumes, hand wash them, roll them up in dry towels to absorb excess moisture, then hang or lay flat to dry. Use light soaps, not strong detergents, to ensure durability.

Be aware that stains are often impossible to remove from PVC. So wash colours separately. And hang everything to dry. It will lengthen the life of your costumes.

An alternative would be to purchase a mini, portable washing machine. It works great for hand-washables and only costs about fifty bucks. It is also environmentally friendly, as it does not use electricity.

Shoes
Some advice for getting the most out of your shoes:

  • Use black electrical tape to hold black boots together in a pinch.
  • Use black permanent marker to mask scuff marks on black shoes.
  • Get a grip put on the bottom of your shoes at a shoe repair place if they are too slippery. This is inexpensive.

Supplies

Many agencies, bathhouses, and other sex industry businesses provide supplies such as condoms, towels, and sex toys for workers.

If you work independently or your agency does not provide supplies, this responsibility will fall to you. Supplies can get expensive, but some are available for free, if you’re willing to look around.

Look for a sex worker organization in your area. This is a good place to get free condoms, dental dams, and lubes. Needle exchanges provide free condoms and lubes, as well as needles (for safe drug use and/or needle play). Some organizations also provide alcohol swabs and latex gloves.

Professional escort services may provide fresh covers for the bed, washcloths, and towels. Some will even include several kinds of liquid soaps, shampoos, and face wash in the shower; in addition to baby wipes, hand soap, mouthwash and Dixie cups.

Sex Toys

Other supplies include work toys, such as vibrators, dildos, or strap-ons. Make sure you use condoms on your sex toys to prevent STI transmission and for general comfort. (Some cleaners may irritate skin.) Tie the loose end, if you can, to provide a complete barrier. Then change condoms every time you change partners or the area of the body you are penetrating with the toy. Use plenty of lubrication to prevent the condom from breaking.

.

The best kinds of sex toys are ones that are 100% silicone. They are a little more expensive, but they last longer, they’re hypoallergenic, and they’re easy to clean. Many other toys are made out of soft, porous materials that are impossible to sterilize completely and put you at risk of infection even if you don’t share your tools. You can tell if a toy is silicone by its smell – it doesn’t have one. The smelly toys are the ones to avoid.

Cleaning Your Supplies

There are various ways to clean your supplies depending on what they are. It is always recommended to let your toys dry (preferably overnight) before using them again.

Boiling Water

Supplies made out of silicone, medical-grade stainless steel, glass, and polished stone can be boiled or put in a dishwasher.

Bleach

You can also clean supplies in a bleach and water solution (one part bleach, ten parts water) which will kill almost all viruses, bacteria, and fungi. The solution loses its effectiveness after 24 hours, so make a new solution daily.

Use this solution to clean up body fluids on a dungeon floor, bathtub or other surfaces. After using bleach, rinse with soap and water to avoid burning your skin.

Precept Tablets

For most supplies, you can put 2 precept tablets in 3 litres of hot water. Soak your tools in it for an hour before rinsing well with water.

Cleaning Metals

Use a pressure cooker for supplies made of metal. Get the water boiling for 15 minutes and add a few drops of bleach. Another method is to use rubbing alcohol and water for stainless steel and brass.

Hydrogen Peroxide for Leather
Leather items, such as whips, riding crops, and handcuffs can be cleaned with water and soap, using a bristle brush. Smooth on hydrogen peroxide, then let dry. Be sure to use a leather conditioner once the item is dry to prevent cracks and lengthen the life of your leather products.

Hydrogen Peroxide is also good for cleaning pleather and PVC.

Storage

Store your tools in clean, resealable plastic bags.


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, June 28, 2015

15 Signs Your Neighbour is a Stripper





15. She carries a large, heavy bag and a blanket out of the house every Monday


14. It seems like every song she hears, she says, “I've danced to this!”

13. When she tidies the yard, she bends at her waist and flips her hair as she rises.

12. She wears sweat pants most of the time.


11. She leaves the house with no make-up on and comes home fully done up. 

10. She sometimes wears a wig. 

Annie rocks a wig in this photo.

9. Her Halloween costumes are sexy and all the pieces match.

From Fantasy Design Studio

8. She has multiple men mowing her lawn, fixing her car, taking out her garbage but doesn't appear to be romantically involved with any of them.


7. She arches her back when she's gardening and it looks completely natural.

6. You're not sure but you think some of her friends may have breast implants. 

Photo courtesy of The Infamous Samantha Mack

5. She's the only resident in the neighbourhood who tells the asshole neighbour to “fuck off.” 

Photo taken from The Frisky


4. She pays her entire rent in five dollar bills. 


3. The bush in her front yard is suspiciously shaped like a penis.


2. She has a perfect tan year-round.

1. She occasionally has random sequins stuck to her body and doesn't seem to notice.


Trade Secrets - Working in Small Towns

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 in Small Towns

In small towns the streets are meaner, the rates are lower, and the competition is fierce. People can also be very judgemental.

If you’re the only stripper in a one-horse town, they will know why you’re there and may treat you poorly. Blending into the crowds will help you get through your stay a little easier.

For transgender workers, small towns can be downright dangerous. No matter who we are, our best bet is to smile and walk on by when faced with discrimination from others. And be very discreet about our work.

In a small town, we are more likely to run into a client in public – like at the grocery store – and we are more likely to have someone we know respond to our ad – like a teacher from a high school.

Small towns are sometimes very isolated. A few minutes out of town and you are alone on a highway. Not a safe place to be if you find out your date is actually a predator.

Be aware if you are taking the Greyhound to a small town at night, you may arrive there and find that there aren’t any cabs. Nothing is open. And you’re all alone. Try to arrange rides in advance through your agent, or call cab companies ahead of time.

If you think your cab driver is sketchy, you can discourage him from trying anything by getting him to take you to a bank machine where he will be seen on camera while you’re withdrawing money.

Not all rural communities have a stroll, so street-based workers may have trouble locating a workspace. There are also usually fewer resources than in bigger cities – less chance of finding sex worker organizations or needle exchanges.

While most sex industry workers say the money is better in larger cities, money can be good in smaller towns, especially when they are located near work camps or oil rigs. Being a new face in a small town can also generate business for you.


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, June 14, 2015

Regular customers who become lifelong friends with interesting benefits

By Annie Temple

We hear all about how clients of sex industry workers are perverts, oppressors, murderers, and rapists from the SWERF camp. Justice Minister Peter MacKay said it this way when he enacted a law with the Canadian Conservative government criminalizing clients:

“It’s my belief that prostitution is inherently dangerous,” he [stated], saying the government regards prostitutes as victims who need to be protected from those dangers.

The funny thing about considering us all victims is that it takes away our voices. Anything we say will be ignored due to our victim status. I.E. We are too degraded and oppressed to know what's best for us.

When we defend our rights, we are either "privileged" sex workers - unlike the majority who are victims - or we are pimps (members of the "pimp lobby"), or...(and this is the primary weapon used against us) ...we are brainwashed by our oppressors, maybe even forced to say that we like our jobs or risk being beaten within an inch of our lives.

It reminds me of the time we approached Starbucks asking them to donate coffee for our volunteers on event day. They agreed to donate the coffee with one stipulation - it had to be given to the exotic dancers and no one else.

Pardon me? I'm not sure what they thought was going on. But I promise, we let the dancers out of their cages and fed them that day. (Thankfully, most of our volunteers setting up that morning were dancers and we were able to cede to their demands.)

Between the pimps, gangsters, and clients, we sure are getting abused! (Please note the use of sarcasm.)

This is the danger of speaking for and on behalf of others. You get it all wrong. You are especially wrong about our customers.

However, media likes to sensationalize, so we often hear about predators who prey on sex industry workers.

Annie shows some love for the
"male member" during her stagette weekend (2008).
What we don't hear about are the customers we grow to care about. The ones who become lifelong friends. The interesting, albeit unconventional, friendships that grow out of sex industry worker-client relationships. But they are real and they are meaningful.

Before I go on, let's correct some language problems with the whole "client as oppressor" ideology. Despite the common term referring to predators of sex workers as "bad dates," they are not really bad dates. They are predators.

A client or customer is a person who purchases goods or services from another. Sure, they might try to negotiate a little, but they are respectful for the most part and ultimately, they respect a worker's stated services and price.

Can we all please stop calling predators clients? When a person holds up a gas station, do we refer to her as a customer? When a person attacks a realtor, do we refer to him as a home buyer? No, we do not.

Sex workers differentiate between clients and predators. Especially our regulars, who we depend on for a steady income, as well as their adherence to respecting our boundaries. Sex industry work is intimate. No one is arguing that. It is precisely this intimacy that leads to the meaningful, lasting friendships we form with our regulars.

In fact, most retired sex industry professionals will tell you they miss their regulars. Fortunately, I've been able to keep in touch with some of my favourite customers through email, Facebook, and The Naked Truth events.

One customer in particular, who inspired this post, has supported me through some of the most difficult moments of my life. He's been there for me through two separations, struggles with my ADHD / food sensitive child, deadly health challenges, and financial difficulties. He's offered invaluable advice, given me rides, contributed to projects for me, and he continues to send me money after all these years.

When he wanted to purchase services from my escort and Domme friends, he asked me first, in case I was territorial. (I wasn't.) Every new project I've started... Every decision I've contemplated and shared with him... Every opinion I've expressed no matter how much he disagreed... he supported me unconditionally.

I need to tell you that I trust this man implicitly. I have been alone with him. I have provided many no-contact private shows for him, including in the privacy of his home, and he has never crossed my boundaries. He has never touched me, even though we both know he wanted to.

I have shared family photos with him and told him about my children, their successes and challenges. I have gotten his feedback on novels I've written. I've emailed photos of my surgery scars to him.

Does this sound like a predatory, oppressive relationship?

As you can see, I have benefited immensely from my friendship with him.

But what, you might ask, does he get in return for all this?

I have asked myself the same question. I have expressed gratitude to him from the bottom of my heart on numerous occasions. I've asked myself: "What have I done to deserve his generosity?"

I can tell you what I've done.

I've worked hard to make our friendship mutually beneficial, so that it is not like I am using him. He would say, I cannot possibly use him because he wants to do these things for me. But it is important to me that he knows how much I care about him.

This is where the "interesting benefits" part of the equation comes in.

How might a former sex industry worker reciprocate in a friendship with a former client? Is there a sexual component or do we become platonic buddies? I can't speak for everyone, but for me there is still a sexual component.

Long after I stopped dancing, I still danced privately for him. Okay, he paid me, but I didn't do it for anyone else. It was the trust and deep regard I had for him that led to me putting my stilettos back on. The benefit to him was to enjoy the dances in the privacy of his own home, show me photos of his family, share a side with me that he does not get to show to many other sex industry workers he sees.

A sexy photo Annie shared with her 
former customer / lifelong friend. (2010)
I send him sexy photos. When my Christmas cards go out to family with photos of my kids, his card contains...a little more.

A sex worker-client relationship is not born in a sexual bubble. What enriches the relationship and inspires it to become "regular" is that certain something outside of the sexual exchange. We are people interacting with each other. We are not robots. Of course, there is something more.

With me, he can be himself. He shares truths with me that he cannot share with others who are close to him.

If there is a lapse in time when we do not connect, there's no bad blood between us. Somehow, the "no strings attached" nature of our worker-client relationship extended to our friendship too. We miss each other, but we don't berate each other for taking too long to respond.

He gets to share his experiences and insights from the client perspective through me when I introduce him to research and harm reduction projects looking for client expertise. In this way, he is making an impact on the health and safety of sex industry workers. His contributions are making the world a better place. So, there are the intrinsic rewards of sharing knowledge for a good cause.

For this article, I asked him "What do I do for you?"

His response was: "You have covered a heck of a lot of the reasons why I like you so much. Add to that, you are a really cool woman, you put up with my faults because I am not the easiest person to get along with, you light up a room whenever you walk in, and you do cool things like this or give me a TNT Award, you don't take the friendship for granted."

I ask you, should this man be criminalized for purchasing the services of sex industry workers

The answer is no.

Customers are not the problem. Predators are the problem. And there are already laws that deal with predators. Sex workers do not need to be singled out for rescue in our laws. The current laws should apply to us (and if they don't, then there is the REAL problem).

Clients are not exploiting us. The ones exploiting us are the ones who are making laws to limit our ability to work.

Clients are our friends. They care. They are our best allies to expose sex trafficking and child sexual exploitation. We should be making it easy and safe for them to report it when they see it.

I have a few regular customers from my dancing days that I keep in touch with. They tell me I'm beautiful and worship me unconditionally. I flirt back harmlessly. We all know what the boundaries of our respective relationships are. They are regular customers whose friendships I value.

I cannot stand by while my clients are disparaged in the media by the rescue industry and their friends in politics. Hear me now.

Leave our customers alone.

#notyourrescueproject


About the Author

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