Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Ashley Madison Hack - A Sex Worker's Perspective

Guest Post by Carmen Shakti

The recent Ashley Madison hack that resulted in users of the website’s private data being made public has had broad repercussions.

There have been at least two reported suicides in the aftermath. 

Conversations are happening about monogamy, cheating, and the complex realities of long-term relationships. 

Of course, the anti-sex moralizers are painting people who use the infidelity website with the same demonizing, one-dimensional brush that they use to paint the clients of sex-workers: Dirtbags! Cheating scum!

When I started working as an escort five years ago, I learned intimately how complex the realities of monogamy, infidelity and sexual and emotional expression can be. 

Many of the men who hired me were indeed married, family men. They were kind and treated me with decency and respect. Some of them shared some of the inner workings of their marriages with me. 

The stories were many and varied. Some had active, healthy sex lives with their life partners, but the partner was not interested in indulging a particular kink or fetish and gave them the green light to look elsewhere, discreetly, for fulfillment of that wish. 

Others had relationships with their wives that had become more akin to roommates and co-parents; they stayed for the sake of the children and the friendship with their wives, but still desired sexual expression with another person.

Last week, I had a session with a new client. After the sex was over, during pillow talk, he told me that he was married with children. He said that his wife had lost interest in sex, and he was still very sexual. He told me that he lives by a code: as long as it doesn’t interfere with his family life or hurt anyone, he gives himself permission to pursue discreet sexual experiences. 

I told him that I respected that, and I meant it.

In our culture, the idea of "happily ever after" is so deeply ingrained that we have trouble reconciling it with the realities of relationships and human nature. Not everyone can lead a completely authentic life, and for many, the brief interludes they arrange with sex workers or other discontented married folks via sites like Ashley Madison are an important release valve for pent up frustration and tension. 

These connections can be loving, intimate, and nourishing to the spirit. We could gain so much by accepting these relationships and acknowledging their value. Of course, honesty is preferable to sneaking around, but not everyone is in a situation where they can be completely honest.

When I began my career as a sex worker, I was not out to my family. Now I am out to most of the people in my life. In short, I live as openly as I can safely. 

My landlord does not know, and I write about sex work under my stage name, but I am up-front with most of the people in my life about my work. 

This has largely made my life easier, although I have also suffered for it. I have lost friends that were dear to me because they could not accept my profession, and I had a long-term lover leave me in part because he could not handle my profession. That was devastating, but I preferred it over lying to the people I love.

I acknowledge that my ability to be out is a position of privilege in many ways. I do not have children to think about, so I can speak a bit more openly about my experiences. I have a partner who accepts me completely and respects the work I do. 

I am, by choice, free of the shackles of respectability, inhabiting a place in the counter-culture where I can be my authentic self. Not everyone has that luxury. 

The touch and affection-starved wife and mother working in a conservative profession wanting to get her needs met without tearing her family apart. The husband caring for his chronically ill wife who is unable to have sex with him due to her illness. He still loves her, but craves sexual intimacy. Are these people wrong for taking care of themselves as well as taking care of everyone else?

Humans have never been a monogamous species. We as individuals are capable of monogamy, but it is not always easy, and it is not serving us to place monogamy on a pedestal. 

After becoming a sex worker, I changed my approach to relationships. Now, my requirements of my significant other are: be honest with me, play safe and take care of your sexual health, and make me your first priority over other potential sexual playmates. 

We would be healthier as a culture if we accepted sexual diversity and the different connections we can make in our lifetimes, but we will have to overcome many generations of self-hate and sexual shame to get there.

About the Author

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

TNT Presents the BoobaPalooza Fundraiser Calendar "Rides and Dames"

The BoobaPalooza Fundraiser Calendar "Rides and Dames" is now available for purchase!

Proceeds will go to a Nanaimo tattoo artist who suffered a violent attack with a machete on July 1, 2015 suffering a brain injury and devastating the family financially.

This project could not have been possible without the donated time and skillz of Alluring Artists photographer Ritchie (who did most of the work on this project by far). Cars and location were arranged by Annie Temple's brother T.J. Sugars. Models all donated their time and sexiness to make this project a success. See how many you can recognize.

A HUGE, SINCERE THANK YOU to Ritchie, T.J., all the car and bike owners, and models who came together one fateful day in May and kicked ass at creating a super hot calendar.

There are two date versions available:

September 2015 to August 2016

2016 – 12 Month (January to December)

Thank you for your support. We hope you enjoy our sexy calendar. Previews of all the months are available at the links.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Trade Secrets - Managing 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 occasionally feature one section from the guide. 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.

Treat Your Clients Well

“The type of customer we get depends on where we meet them. If we are on the Internet in a higher paying site, we meet that customer. If we are under a dark bridge at four in the morning, we meet that customer. If you have an attitude like you’re going to rip off a customer or are being a bitch, the customer will reflect that attitude. We are also in their space; our energy can change the mood.”

The following tips will help you promote safe and healthy experiences with your clients, and protect other sex industry workers as well. These tips come from many sex industry workers - choose the ones that work for you.

  • Be honest and upfront from the beginning. Let them know you aren’t looking for trouble.
  • Treat customers with the same respect you would like to be treated with.
  • Don’t rip off customers.
  • Do not lie about yourself (weight, hair colour, non-smoker, etc). Overt false advertising makes customers mad - sometimes bringing them to act violently towards their next service provider.
  • Do not steal from their home. If you want more money, raise your rates and learn new skills to provide a better service.
  • With Domination, you hear a lot of crazy requests. Try to be as non-judgemental as possible, but feel comfortable in asserting your boundaries.
  • Be careful when attempting to expand your services. If you change your mind after you’ve tried to offer something new (Greek, etc), you could get assaulted as many clients hate to be refused once in session.
  • Treat each customer the same regardless of how you feel about him or her personally.
  • Understand that the way you treat a client will have a ripple effect on the next sex industry worker and so on. Watch each other’s backs.
  • Perform what you have negotiated.
  • Treat them like people. You're a customer service professional, your job is to provide a person with a service, not look down on him for seeking the service.
  • Respect your client’s right to privacy.
  • Engaging in fun conversation is part of the territory. This can include some personal topics and questions. Whenever you talk about something personal, be sure to include a non-intrusive comment such as “…if you don’t mind my asking”.
  • Be nice to the nice ones. If they are mean, end the session immediately.
  • Agree on a price, time, location, etc and stick to it. They don’t like surprises any more than we do.
  • Don’t humiliate them (unless that’s a part of the agreement).
  • Don’t leave marks (unless that’s a part of the agreement).
  • Always remember – you’re in charge. That means the work is on your terms and on your time. Don’t compromise your values or your safety. For example, if you have set a limit at no contact, or no GFE (Girl Friend Experience), don’t let the customer convince you to change your mind in the middle of your session.
  • Maintain healthy boundaries – they are a client, not your boyfriend or girlfriend. Respect that they have a life outside of you.
  • Do not treat clients with contempt because of their appearance, their age, their race, their penis size, or the length of time it took them to reach orgasm.
  • If you treat clients well with all your heart, they can feel it.
  • Know your own personal boundaries and communicate these clearly to your customers. Do not let customers persuade you to go beyond the boundaries you have set for yourself. Do not let other workers' personal boundaries influence your own behaviour.
  • Do an interview to find out his interests or if he has disabilities (joint problems) before the session starts and let him know your protocol – meaning how you will behave.
  • Make sure your client has a safe word or hand movement if gagged.
  • Be personable. Sometimes they want to talk.
  • Don’t clock watch.
  • Be conscious of the cultural traditions of your clients, when possible.
  • Treat your client with honesty as far as what is consistent with the entertainment and fantasy aspects of the service.
  • Do not call them tricks or marks or other demeaning terms.

Seduction Techniques

Sex industry work is all about selling a product. The more pleasant, engaging, and attractive you are, the more likely the customer will come back. Here is some useful advice from Trade Secrets contributors for attracting and keeping customers:

  • Look at what other workers are doing, and try to improve it in a low cost way. Make yourself unique, but don’t spend a ton of money doing it.
  • Eye contact is an amazing trick with customers. If they feel that you are dancing strictly for them, the money pours out.
  • Utilize what works for you, find your niche and you’ll be able to work it.
  • Confidence is one of the biggest techniques. Know you are ‘the shit’ (exactly what they’re looking for) and they will think so too.
  • Treat them like they are lovers that you chose and that you’re privileged to be with.
  • If you work in your home, make sure the place is clean and that the room you work in has everything you might need (towels, lube, condoms, music, lighting, toys etc.)
  • Keep notes on your repeat clients so that you can express appropriate interest in them as people.
  • Smile.
  • Provide excellent services and be patient with clients.
  • Tease, tease, tease …keep them wanting more!
  • If you take off your clothes, take a long time undressing, doing it slowly and seductively.
  • If you are a contact sex worker, engage in lots of foreplay.
  • If you massage, give oral, etc, use your breath on their skin.
  • Lots of “looky no touchy” works well to turn them on and keep them squirming.
  • Learn about YOUR body and what angles, clothes, lighting, expressions, and poses, look good on YOU. Practice in front of a mirror, camera or a friend to get all your looks just right.
  • Develop your own style. What do you specialize in? What sets you apart from your colleagues?
  • Ask your customer what he/she wants. Take the time to find their special turn-ons. Everyone is different.
  • Really listen to their words and body language. They’ll appreciate you for this on more levels than just sexually.
  • Be knowledgeable about current news and events.
  • Dance like everyone watching is important.
  • Be professional, learn pole tricks and sexy moves.
  • Monitor your alcohol intake.
  • Get some super sexy photos for your ads.
  • Keep a spreadsheet with info about clients so you can remember details about their lives.
  • Keep a positive attitude and provide excellent customer service.
  • Make the clients worship you!
  • Have impeccable posture, exude confidence, don’t be defensive or ever feel the need to explain yourself, and walk and move very slowly and deliberately.

Conflicts with Clients

“All of the conflicts were arguments over what sexual services I would not offer, and also because I refused to give out personal information (phone number, email, etc) or meet my clients outside of work.”

“I created a ‘fictional life’ for my companion persona. I always use those stories. If excessive questions are asked, I usually say, “Why are you asking?” I keep turning the questions back on people who ask questions.”

Conflicts with customers are inevitable, as they are in any service industry. Some customers will pester you for services you don’t offer, try to talk you down from your price, or try to control you in some other way.

If you show up to a date and your booking person misguided him about your appearance, you are about to experience a conflict. If a guy from front row yells obscenities during your first song, you are about to experience a conflict.

Learn to anticipate potential conflict so you are ready to respond quickly and decisively.

You can also reduce conflicts for other workers. Remember that it is not necessary to return the slander a customer spews out. There is a sex industry worker coming after you who may receive the blunt of it.

If you work in more than one area of the sex industry, try to keep them separate. For instance, don’t offer hand jobs under the guise of exotic dancing. Or if you do, ensure the men understand not to expect that of other exotic dancers.

If you find yourself in a conflict with a client and you are having trouble getting control of the situation, ask the client to stop the behaviour in question. If you work in an establishment with security, have the client removed. If you are working alone and the client is drunk or abusive, end the session and leave immediately.

Be very alert as to how you are treated. If you can see that a customer is trying to disrespect you or demean you, end the session and leave immediately. Say, “I am unable to proceed with this appointment.” If you work for an agency, request not to see that person again. Network with other sex workers to inform each other of “bad dates.”

Web cam work frequently results in being verbally abused online. The free chat option allows haters unlimited access to sex industry workers. The best thing to do is to ignore them and stay smiling. Nicer clients will surely come to your defense, or would rather book a show.

Don't waste your time with the jerkasses. And, make sure you can debrief with someone, as verbal abuse against sex workers is a hate crime and can be very demoralizing.

Talking to Customers

The way we talk to clients is very important and can impact our experiences. Some sex workers try not to say “no” or use words that make the client feel judged, thereby avoiding conflicts that stem from a client’s guilt or shame. For example, instead of saying “no” to anal intercourse, they will say something hot and cliché like “I want to feel your cock in my pussy.”

Figure out what services you’re comfortable with and make sure you know how to communicate this in an assertive, but non-aggressive way.

Clients don’t like hearing “no” or seeing that a worker is uncomfortable or tense. It creates stress, and stress between a worker and a client can lead to violence. Try to firmly lead the client to a comfortable service experience.

Of course, it doesn’t always work since for some clients, conflict is what they are actually seeking.

Drugs and Alcohol

Working with clients while they are high on drugs or alcohol can be very challenging. Many sex industry workers refuse to work with clients who are intoxicated. In some areas, such as liquor-licensed strip clubs, you don’t have much choice.

Managing someone who is drunk or high takes a lot of patience and a sense of humour. Behaving in a caring but firm manner will sometimes work. However, if the client is clearly out of control, your best bet is to hightail it out of there pronto.

If a client comes to you with coke-dick, try to suggest something other than intercourse, such as a hand job. Make jokes like, “Maybe you shouldn’t have done that last line.” Say it playfully, especially if he’s trying to blame you as the reason he isn’t hard.

What Your Clients Want You to Know

“Have a good show. Variety and originality are good. Be clean. Be attractive. Have fun or act like you’re enjoying yourself. Comedy is a must. Talk to patrons. Circulate the crowd. Come back again. Maybe the patron just wasn’t ready.”

Customers want you to know:

  • They like comedy and personality.
  • Body language is very important.
  • Clients like you to communicate your limits and expectations.
  • Good clients want you to enjoy your experience too.

Surprisingly, most customers would rather pass on business advice to you than tell you how to do your job. 

Clients advise you to save your money, create a future, and don’t waste money on drinking or drugs. Keep your appointments. And remember that repeat business is good.

About Trade Secrets 

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

About the Project

Who Contributed?

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

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

In Solidarity,

Trina Ricketts (Annie)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Massage Girl Musings – Pheromones and Ulterior Motives

My basket of supplies includes unscented lotion,
unscented coconut oil, colloidal silver (disinfectant),
a cloth for wiping my hands, and my business cards.
Guest Post by Little Red

I thought the novelty might wear off. All this rubbing on people and loving it.

Alas, this must be my calling because I can't get enough of giving neck and back massages to music.

This is me when a sexy song comes on: I frantically look for someone to touch. Who will be next? Please?

The manager of the club told me that I am my own best promotion, because it looks like I'm enjoying myself so much that the other guys in the club are like, “I want to try that.”

I told him, it's because I am enjoying myself. I continue to build up a regular customer base. Why are men (and dancers) coming back for more and more? Because it is an intimate, caring experience with another human being. I think it helps too that I'm kind of cute.

I feel men of all ages and sizes as they melt under my touch. Some flex their muscles when I run my hands over them, letting me know they are strong. Some direct me to places on their necks or backs that need the most attention. I do my best, but I can't help it when I get into the zone and my massage goes where my hands take me instead – usually the shoulders, chest, neck.

The people who can't enjoy my massage are like me. Jaded. Walls up. Some of them may be able to relax when it is sex, I wouldn't know. But they cannot relax in a strip club with a strange girl working her voodoo magic on them.

My love energy is a promise they aren't ready to accept.

I totally get it, having had multiple love energy promises made to me during my work shifts. Touch is one way, fellas. Hands to yourself. The domme in me thinks of ways to punish you.

I hate it when guys cross the line by grabbing my ass. It wrecks the moment for me. I have nothing but good feelings toward my customers, until they touch me. Then I get pissed.

Surprisingly, this has not happened a lot. It turns out the worst offenders are mostly men I've known for 20+ years from when I was a stripper working the circuit. Naughty fuckers.

The DJ tells me that if a guy touches me, that's serious and I should tell the bouncer immediately. HA! I would lose some of my best customers. No, it appears I will have to handle this problem myself. Now, where did I put that whip?

Several men have told me how they don't normally come into the club or that they stopped in on a whim; that it must be destiny to find me because they needed my touch so much. I tell them I'm glad it makes them feel good. I tell them that it makes me feel good too, because it's true. 

Finally, I am getting the intimacy I need without having to fuck anyone or be their “one true love.”

Although it's true that my soul is fed when I touch others in a caring way, I don't think I experience it the same way as my customers. They are lubed up with beer or liquor, like putty after getting a love energy treatment from a kind, smiling chick in a tight skirt. 

The way they look at me, with smoldering eyes, halfway into a massage; the desire I sense in them to get to know me (this woman with the magic hands); the way they groan when I put my arms around them in a “hug-like” chest rub...this is intimacy they have been starving for.

I get it. I'm starving too.

I'm not a complete robot. I feel a connection to each person I touch, regardless of gender or appearance. But I am not as affected by the experience we share as they are. Likely because I am the one doing the touching, rather than being touched. Also, we can't discount the jaded bitch part of me lurking behind my amicable exterior.

Like every rule, there is an exception. You know those people that you have sexual chemistry with? You have no idea how it got there or why it picked someone completely wrong for you, but it's there and it's strong.

I sometimes massage men whose pheromones must be mixing with mine unbeknownst to us. Those are my favourite massages. They may also be my undoing because they are like a drug. It takes a lot of my willpower not to harass my sexual soulmates to buy another massage.

Should I feel bad for using them this way? Selling massages to them when my intentions are more ulterior? I want to feel that special feeling you get when you touch someone with the right chemistry connection. I want to feel it in a safe zone, where it will lead neither to sex nor love.

The men who have been the most bad for me in my life were the ones I had the most sexual chemistry with. They are like an addiction that no one ever talks about. Fuckers.

I am constantly amazed at the epiphanies I experience doing this work. How much I needed to touch people. How touching people is healing me. How relieved I am to find a way to get my intimacy needs met without feeling obligated to date or have sex. To sum it up, how fucked up I am.

Don't worry, it's all good. Two weeks into my new job, and I couldn't be happier.

A sexy song is playing on the radio...Need to be touched, anyone?

Posts in this series:
Musings of a Mindful Massage Girl
Massage Girl Musings - Pheromones and Ulterior Motives

Trade Secrets - Screening Customers

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

The Naked Truth will occasionally feature one section from the guide. This week's post is from Chapter 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.

Screening Customers

“Anyone who does not want to use condoms or other protection, those who try to get a deal, and anyone who gets mad at YOU because THEY can’t get it up... Stay away!”

There are many ways to screen customers. Here are some tips from sex industry workers across Canada:

By phone:

When you are first learning to screen customers over the phone, you may book a lot of undesirables or no-shows. But over time, you will find it easier to be a good judge of character over the phone.
  • Don’t make appointments with blocked/private/withheld callers. Tell them to call back from an unblocked number.
  • Question them a bit and see how the energy is.
  • Listen to their tone of voice. Is the speech slurred?
  • Does the client speak to you respectfully?
  • Typically, a good client will phone to ask a few questions and book a time. If a phone call goes longer than a couple of minutes, this is usually bogus. The caller is just looking for a chat buddy. It rarely goes further than that.

Via Internet:

  • Ask them to communicate via email and keep emails on file once you’ve made the first appointment.
  • Only reply to well-written emails that at least try to sound like they are interested in seeing you specifically and aren't just cold-calling every pro in the city to see who will give the best rate.
  • Use DateCheck
  • Good clients use respectful language in their emails and are more interested in booking a time than giving long-winded speeches. They might have a few specific questions. But generally, people of quality have already researched your services and do not need extensive communication.

In person:

  • Check whether or not they are under the influence by checking for slurred speech, smell of booze, and facial expressions that would indicate intoxication.
  • Weed out the good customers from the bad based on the questions they ask prior to the service. Turn away customers who ask too many questions about why a certain service is or is not allowed.
  • Check their reaction to price to see if they can really afford it.

In General:

  • Ask exactly what they want including questions like: are you interested in gentle, romantic sex or are you wanting a hard-core banging? Sometimes these conversations will lead them to disclose more about themselves, which is useful for screening.
  • Get referrals from trustworthy people.


  • If they want to pay you really well, it might be too good to be true.
  • Different cultures view sex industry workers in varying lights.
  • Always be on guard.
  • Intuition is a powerful personal tool. It never lets you down. So listen to it always.

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

About the Project

Who Contributed?

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

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

In Solidarity,

Trina Ricketts (Annie)

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Conservatives lubricate with oil-based advertising

Red Umbrella March for Sex Work Solidarity. Vancouver, June 2015
What's all this about tar sands ads, Harper? You know you can't do that. You wrote the law. Section 286.4. Knowingly advertising the services of someone else is strictly prohibited.

And you know you can't make lube from tar sands, right? It's water-base lubricants now, not petroleum jelly. Oil-base lube breaks down rubbers. We don't need any more plumbing leaks!

What do sex workers say? #BeatItHarper

Read about the Tar sands advertising scandal.

Conservatives In/Out advertising "false and misleading"

A little of the old in/out in/out, Harper? Nudge nudge. Wink wink.

You KNOW you're not allowed to advertise In/Out. It's your law! Section 286.4 makes it a crime to advertise for someone else's riding.

And what's this about false and misleading claims? Embellishing your assets, tsk tsk. Back at the Supreme Court again. You should get a room.

Read about the In/out election scandal.

Stand together with sex workers, and say: #BeatItHarper 

Vote October 19!

Musings of a Mindful Massage Girl

Guest Post by Little Red

It's my second night touching men's necks, shoulders and the top of their chests in a strip club. While they enjoy the show, I help them experience all five senses.

I do not have strong hands.

While I try to give them what they ask for when they ask for more pressure, my massages aren't very deep. I'm sure, over time, my hands will grow stronger. Then, all those tense fuckers, will hopefully be able to relax a little and feel the true value of what I'm giving them.

Despite my weak hands, I am getting repeat customers. I am making good money. Not as much as I would make if I was offering a happy ending in a private space. But, I am not offering a happy ending. I am offering loving, platonic touch. I call it mindful massage because there is a purpose to my work. I caress my customers at a deal of a price. Only $5 per song.

Mindful massage, to me, is being present in the massage. Letting my hands be a conduit of caring touch. Everyone needs to be touched in a caring way.

I am incorporating massage "hugs" into my work because I find that most men groan with pleasure just to be held for a brief moment. This may also be caused by sexual arousal, with my clothed breasts pressed against their backs while I reach around and firmly draw my hands across their upper chests.

This is what I offer. Neck massages. My customers don't get happy endings, but they may get erections. I don't ask; they don't tell.

I should have done this a long time ago. I love this work. I feel like I am receiving therapy for my own past few years without loving touch. I'm still not getting loving touch (and I'm too fucking jaded to even be ready for it - probably break down in tears for days) but I am feeling regenerated.

My walls are coming down around my heart. I'm feeling...heartbroken. That is good because it means I am starting to feel again, which is something that has been lost to me for a long time.

But it is also bad because I am carrying their pain home from the bar. I'm told I'm an angel and thanked profusely. Some of them half-think they are in love with me simply because I'm being kind and touching them with care. At home, I must find ways to release the pain of my customers so that it doesn't weigh me down.

“Everyone needs to be touched in a caring way,” I tell them. And I believe it with my whole soul. Most of us are not getting it, even if we are in relationships. My advice to my teenage daughter is to choose partners who hold her in their arms with love.

I am a voracious reader and observer of human behaviour. At the strip club, I see men who are curled in on themselves. Shoulders caving. Strong, youthful, sexy, engaging, funny men who don't feel secure enough to sit upright. And me, insufficient to the task of building them up. Their mothers, wives, and girlfriends already tried it, I hope.

Many of these men have years of insecurity against the brief moments of love and acceptance I can give them while I caress them.

I am constantly asked for more than another song. Do you offer private shows in the VIP booth? Could we go somewhere? Can I take you out sometime? Wanna leave here and fuck? How much to see you somewhere private? Can I offer you a free oil change?

I thank them and tell them no. Oh, okay, I'll take the oil change. And maybe we can go on a date sometime, but don't hold your breath, because my invisible walls are heartily constructed. I promise...I am not the one.

Some men don't want to be touched. I see them flinch away from me when I tell them why I'm there. Others prefer to pay me to touch a dancer. Dancers, with their smooth skin and narrow shoulders, are also a pleasure to massage.

I never knew how much I would enjoy touching people. Today is my day off. But there is a yearning in me to return to the bar. A yearning to touch more men. Spill my love energy into the curve of their shoulders, where they literally and metaphorically carry their burdens. Show them again, that there is salvation. There is caring touch and it heals.

It's healing me. It's helping me to open up again. I am as broken as many of the men I caress, if not more. Some have offered neck massages to me in return, but I fear I am like the flinchers. Can I sit still long enough and relax enough to receive their love energy? I don't know that I can.

But I feel, instinctively, that being the giver will break down the walls around my heart. It won't happen overnight. But it's happening now. Little by little. Each time I pour myself into a mindful massage, I open myself to give and the open door lets a little light in.

I need some light in the darkness of my soul. Things I've suffered in the past few years are things I would never wish on anyone. Not even my ex-husband. I spent so much time forcing myself to be strong. Forcing myself to go on. Forcing myself to smile through pain and pretending to be well. I guess we all have our trials.

Imagine if we could receive caring touch at those most painful and vulnerable moments? Imagine if we could give and receive loving touch when we've hit rock bottom?

Of course, were this foolishly-hoped-for ideology to be the case, business would suffer for sex industry workers. Loving touch is what many of us are here for. We also offer compassion, discretion, and the chance to speak the words that are hidden in the souls of our customers.

If you are a sex worker, you likely know how it feels to watch a grown man cry or hold him in your arms while he shakes with suppressed emotion. Half of what we all need is a person to confide in. The other half is probably to be held while we cry.

Likely this is the reason that many customers hire sex industry workers just to talk. As a dancer, I was paid countless times to sit at my customer's tables and listen to them, offer caring responses, “womanly” advice. They did not want private shows. They wanted community.

I loved being a stripper. It gave me so much. I hated men before I became a stripper. (Blaming them all for the crimes of a few.) I was insecure around suit-and-tie guys. I was jealous of other women. I lived in extreme working poverty.

I don't hate men anymore. I am not intimidated by people with more money than me. I enjoy looking at other beautiful women. Stripping gave me so much. The best part was being paid to dance.

Dancing is in my soul. Maybe that's why I keep coming back.

I have returned to work in the strip clubs every time I had financial needs that weren't being met elsewhere. And I don't just mean stripping. Yes, I returned as a stage dancer after my daughter was born. I returned as a VIP dancer too many times to count. I returned as an event coordinator, a beer-store clerk, a promoter, and a customer.

(Sex industry workers are geniuses at re-inventing ourselves.)

Now, I return as a mindful massage girl. The strip clubs I've worked in are like home to me. This is me returning home. And yet, it is also me beginning a wild ride. A wild, fascinating ride where strangers perform acts of healing through physical, platonic touch in a strip club.

I heal you. You heal me. We connect like humans were designed to do. Isn't it amazing? A chance for redemption. It's just what the soul ordered.

It's what my soul ordered. I am surprised and thrilled to find a chance for healing through my work in a strip club. I hope my service will help others heal as well.

After all, I think it bears repeating that, everyone needs to be touched in a caring way. Let me touch you with my words for now.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Sex Workers' Votes Count #BeatItHarper

Sex workers' votes count!
Red Umbrella March for Sex Work Solidarity,
Vancouver, June 2015
Harper thinks #sexwork votes don't count. We say #BeatItHarper !

First of all, robocalls won't work on sex workers, Harper! Don't you know we invented call screening?

Who is going to take a call from a guy named "Pierre Poutine"?! We're not likely to believe that the polling station has been moved from the West End Community Centre to White Rock, either.

In March 2012 the Chief Elector Officer, Marc Mayrand announced that his office received over 800 complaints that alleged fraudulent calls to voters in as many as 18 ridings - telling them the polling station location for the 2011 Election had changed!

Of course the Conservative Party "absolutely and definitely" had nothing to do with it.

Here's a great timeline to refresh voters' memories:

Don't know who to vote for?

Look at each party's resolution on sex work! You can find them all in this great guide, "Sex Work on the Hill," from Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform (pp. 14-17). The guide also has tips about strategic voting, and answers questions about the election process.

Stand together with sex workers, and say: #BeatItHarper ! Vote October 19!