Thursday, December 28, 2006

Glimpses of a Baby Whoretic

First sign I was a feminist:
Sitting in church every week, listening to the sermons given by the Priest. Thinking that's what I wanted to be when I grew up (I was maybe 4 at a guess). I thought I'd be able to give really inspiring sermons, shifting people's attitudes and lifestyles for the better. When I worked out I could never be a priest because I was a grrrl, a cold core of anger formed in my heart and Catholicism died a personal death for me. Kids always know what's fair and unfair.

First sign I was a femme:
In that same church, sitting in the same family pew every week, a woman sitting in the pew in front of us had hair so long she could sit on it. I was hungry and transfixed by her hair every week, imagining the day when I would be old enough to own hair as gloriously long myself. (I still do)

First sign I had a life-long boner for gender queers:
I was about 8 and madly, deeply in love with Boy George. I (somehow) knew he was gay, but just didn't care. I'd never seen a more beautiful creature. I collected every magazine, every poster. I slept with a Boy George doll. It feels a leetle creepy now to think of it - it was a Barbie-type of plastic doll, not a rag doll. But it was Boy George! With beautiful painted make up and the colour by numbers suit *sigh*

First sign I was into women:
A childhood spent watching 60s TV show reruns on the afternoon. Ginger Grant (the movie star) from Gilligans Island - the curves, the beehive, the shimmering evening gowns, the sexy music that played whenever she entered a scene. I now get that she was a second-rate Marilyn Monroe impersonator, but at the time....

And Catwoman from the old Batman TV show. Cat suits, claws, growls and purrs, ballet moves, sexy and dangerous in the one combination.

If there were sexy butch characters in 60s sitcoms, I just might have skipped a few stages in erotic development.

First sign I was kinky:
Playing Batman and Robin with my two male cousins. It was about the age where for a year or two most grrrls are stronger than most boys. I (of course) was Catwoman. Every time we played, I'd beat them, capture and tie them up, before revealing their secret identities to the world and killing them. They used to complain that this wasn't what was supposed to happen, but somehow it always did.

First sign I was going to be a whore when I grew up:
Finally familiarising myself with the original Monroe - late night movies: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire. I decided having a sugar daddy was better than getting a dreary job or catching myself a husband. Freedom and diamond tiaras! I could never quite work out how to obtain a sugar daddy (and after watching my friends manage the demands and controlling behaviour of theirs, I decided I didn't want one) so regular sex work it was.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Ask the Whore

I've had many, many of those conversations I refer to as 'sex work 101' with people, where people know I'm a sex worker, and want to check out bad movie/ media stereotypes about sex work, or just find out what it's like to be a sex worker. It can get a wee bit draining after the 50,000th time you're asked the same questions, but it feels important that the community education happens. And I'd rather people hear from me than Sheila Jeffreys et al, or the religious right, or the mainstream media.

There is the odd time where it would feel easier to just have a pamphlet to hand out, Anyway, instead I've decided to post responses to frequently asked questions on this blog. Please ask any questions about sex work you'd like - don't worry about appearing clueless, trust me I've heard it all. If you want to post anonomously, feel free, and for those of you that know my email address, you can email me questions, instead. When I have enough, I'll do a big FAQ post. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The joys of Quitting

I've been on patches since Saturday. As usual, when trying to quit smoking, my dream-life becomes vivid, and remarkably filled out. A cast of characters that rather resemble the sexual role call that my life has become over the last 6 weeks or so. On Saturday night I was wearing Mayhem's vulva mask (see her user pic) for at least half of an epic dream that seemed to take hours. My dream imagery is often very unsubtle and unimaginative. It became clear upon waking that this is a comment on my lack of shagging action over the last month, and my feelings in relation to this. Arrggghhhh! You'd think that my subconcious could come up with another metaphor for sexual frustration that walking around with a giant cunt on my head...

Sunday night I was living in a trailer park (is this a statement about my anxiety over the high costs of living in Sydney? Or a reflection of class conflict?) Within the first day of not smoking, my hideous flu returned. Flu-like symptoms are usually associated with detoxing from herion, leaving no illusions about how damned addictive cigarettes are. The good thing about this flu is I'm too busy being sick to notice withdrawl symptoms.

I had a client the other day who seemed to be wishing to help me out with any oral-fixation issues I might have as a result of not smoking- with a 45 minute blow job! Anyway, I clearly don't have any oral fixation issues - thanks Mr Freud (sometimes a cigar is just a cigar). This is a guy who has clearly watched way too much porn.... he seemed to really think that cock sucking would be such a treat for me. It's kinda funny that he picked the dyke top out of the line up. It would've been more fun for me if he wanted to suck my cock.

I'm actually enjoying the detox time. It feels good to release all this stored crap. The timing may seem a little strange, but being away from my non-sex work job for a couple of weeks means that I can be so brain-dead from withdrawl, without it impacting much on me.The thing that concerns me is not drinking, and having such a minimal illicit drug intake, I'll be left with no vices. there is something so smug and puritanical about str8-edge types, I'd hate to resemble them. Quitting feels like another valuable way of demonstrating my commitment to myself.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Big Reveal

I’ve been out to Hellfire last Friday and to Sly Fox on Wednesday. Hellfire was fun. The last time I went, there was so many sleazy str8 guys wearing street clothes perving on the freaks and scantily clad women that I was a little put off. This time it was much better. Zoo was a beautiful human Christmas tree!

As I’ve been out and about I’ve run into people who I haven’t chatted to much lately, who let me know they’ve been reading this blog, and liking it. It was very nice to get positive feedback, but made me feel oddly vulnerable for a few moments. I’m not under any illusions that what is published in cyberspace is private, and with my activism, outness and performance, I’ve never been someone who exists solely in the private sphere. This blog was never going to be a series of random secrets and bitching. However, I did start thinking about what drives me to be so open
and revealing of myself….

An intersex activist in Adelaide was speaking at a Feast forum on sex and gender a few years ago, and talked about how intersex people use their bodies as educational tools when giving others an insight into intersex issues. I thought about that at the time, and I feel that I use my lived experience a lot in making connections with others, increasing awareness about marginalised communities I identify with, and also as a way of offering support and shared experience for those people who have connected/similar happenings in their lives.
How public I am about my sex work/ queerness/ mental health issues is also a way of refusing stigma. I understand why many people can’t be open about these issues. They risk family and friends disowning them, possibly losing jobs or children. However, I can’t help feeling as if silence around this stuff contributes to stigma. Instead of arranging my points of marginalisation so that they fit into a closet and don’t impact on my life, I’ve arranged my life so I don’t have to be closeted. I chose to walk away from my biological family; I’ve chosen to only go for non-sex work jobs that allow me to be out about my work. I’ve tried really hard to keep my life free of bigots.

I’ve spent a lot of time challenging bigots in the public realm, like talk radio debates as an out sex worker with representatives from the Catholic Education Office in SA on sex work law reform. I don’t feel like I can do those things and be fighting the same battles with loved ones. It would just be exhausting. I need to be accepted, nurtured and celebrated in my private world in order to go into battle. I can’t be apologising for who I am, or never debriefing about a hard day, lest it reinforce a negative stereotype. I can’t be managing the embarrassment and discomfort of partners or family while I’m having things shoved up me on stage, or doing some sex positive education session at an event.

I refuse to take on the idea that depression, sex work or queerness are shameful, or need to be hidden. I feel like by my openness and normalising of these qualities must help in normalising them for others. After all, unlike heterosexuality, depression seems both normal and common…. and unlike homosexuality, depression can be cured if you seek support.

I think my approach to changing the world seems to be to imagine a world which feels safe for me and my kin, and live as if it’s already here. Sometimes this technique can hypnotise entire crowds into believing that queer dyke whores with mental health issues are the coolest people in the world. ;)
Spending your life trying desperately for safety and shying away from revealing anything sounds incredibly isolating to me. And far from avoiding stigma, for me it would be a daily reinforcement. However, I try to remember a statistic I heard many years ago – only about 4% of any community are activists. So it makes sense that not everyone has the kind of personality that embraces crusading for liberation at the expense of a truely private life.

If you stumble about Her Royal Whoreness, add a comment please. Tell me what you agree or disagree with. Interactivity is one of the joys of blogging.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Happy Summer Solstice (Litha) everyone!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Innocence / Ignorance

I'm so pleased that Katrina Fox has taken on the issue of underage sex:

So often the 'innocence of children' is used to excuse censorship and other oppressive actions of the State. Keeping young people in a state of ignorance about sex, sexuality and their own bodies does not protect young people from abuse, and is ultimately disempowering.

However, kiddie porn and paedophilia panic often means people are too frightened of being labeled a child abuser to speak about these issues. As someone who was raised ignorant if not precisely innocent, I had to work really hard, tell lots of lies and get myself into a lot of trouble to access non-judgemental information about sex. I'm glad I was gutsy enough to do it. I shudder to think of the amount of terminations and/or STIs I may have had to deal with as a teenager, otherwise. It is so important to ensure young people have access to accurate information, and are raised in ways that foster a sense of pride in and ownership of their own bodies. That they know that their body is theirs, not god's, not their parents, and are able to make choices that feel right to them. I feel that age of consent, kiddie porn panics and mandatory reporting gets in the way of supportive adults being able to share information with young people.

I also feel it's really important for young people to not be trained to be 'obedient' to be considered a good girl or boy. That it's okay if they don't want to kiss the uncle who gives them the creeps. To promote the idea that young people belong to themselves, not to adults.

December 17th - International Day to End Violence against sex workers

Recently, 5 sex workers are murdered in Ipswich in England, but the murderer is not yet arrested. This ripper killer media frenzy is driving me – and most of the whore activists I know mad. So many aspects about it are sickening – the way journalists are almost frothing at the mouth (because whore murder victims make a case so much sexier than ‘soccer mom’ murder victims - the focus on 'the victims' - sexy pictures, descriptions of their physical characteristics, showing images of the crack pipes in one of the deceased's home....

The unsaid assumption that sex work is an inherently violent job, that if you choose sex work, you'll be lucky to survive the first week.... maybe you even deserve it....The complete lack of analysis as to the overwhelming affects of marginalisation and stigma, that presents sex workers to those who will be violent criminals (as well as the rest of the population) as sub-human, the impact of criminalisation, which reduces sex workers likelihood of reporting crimes against them, the risks of disclosure, which means sex workers will often not disclose about their sex work to their loved ones, so people don't know where they are when at work....

Often attitudes expressed by media sources and the police contribute to a culture that sees violence against sex workers as almost acceptable. During the investigation of the Yorkshire ripper, a senior West Yorkshire detective notoriously made a direct appeal to the killer, pointing out that he was now killing "innocent girls" and therefore "in urgent need of medical attention". The inference is clear - as long as he stuck to killing sex workers, he wasn't quite so much of a psycho...

In my now almost 17 years of sex work, encompassing private, brothel, opportunistic, escort and street-based sex work, I have honestly never experienced a clear case of violence from a client - however I've experienced the dehumanising attitudes of police and media, and the horrific attitudes of anti-sex work feminists who refuse to differentiate between sex work and rape - contributing to a culture that believes sex workers can't say no, that rape of a sex worker is more like 'unpaid overtime'. For those of us who care about social justice, for those of us that care about sex workers rights, for those of us who wish to see an end to violence against sex workers, these attitudes need to be challenged, sex work needs to be decriminalised in every country and police and media construction of sex workers as less-than human, as 'asking for it' needs to end.

To mark International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers, here is a statement from the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Debby Doesn't Do It For Free Update

The Debbys performed our HoHoHo Whore Variety Show last Sunday, and I'm at a stage now where I can speak about it with any degree of persective. I'll briefly speak about the show itself, but I'd also like to reflect on some of my choices in relation to performance.

Most of the Debbys are involved with several other whore activist activities - plus sex work on top of all of that, plus our recent loss impacted on all of us, so the decision to do a variety show - involving the fabulously funny and sex positive Sex and Glita from Gurlesque, the very sexy, political and supportive Kitty Minge and out/proud/glam Team Princess - as guest artists was a profoundly good decision.

The night started of with a rousing sex worker Christmas carol, followed by a beautifully silly, tasteless and highly political Steve Irwin inspired piece *crikey!* Much thanks to Kooky Divine for the opportunity to be a bloodsucking sexual health nurse and wear my vinyl nursie uniform, vampire fangs and carry a bottle of Dettol. Kitty Minge followed with much flashing and sex worker relevent stand up. Debby Desiderata did a gorgeous dance piece including (in loving memory of Drag Debby) some fire. Team Princess explored the whore stigma and crucifixion.

After the break, we showed a DVD of Drag Debbys final performance, then Mr Big Pants and Ms Big Wig did another cynical piece about politicians then Ginger Snapps did a fan dance with dollars, Debby Jett performed I Love Hocking My Hole, Sex and Glita did The Telephone Man (Sex looks uncannily like some of my early street work clients for this piece - a bit disturbing, really) and the finally piece, involving Decriminalise Debby, Disorganised Debby and myself was Don't W.H.I.S.P.E.R., SHOUT!

We've previously done Don't W.H.I.S.P.E.R, SHOUT! for Gurlesque and personally, it's a really difficult piece for me to perform. I have many moments during rehersals and the actual performing of asking myself why I get people to do such terrible things to me on stage. How much I'm struggling with it is apparent for some of the audience - I've had two people who identify as subs at different times comment to me after seeing it that I'm definately not a sub.

I guess my approach to performing is a similar one to my general community education approach - get people to make a connection and identify with me in some way, so it's easier for them to 'experience' my experiences, and to see the world through my eyes for a short period of time. Most of my performance ideas are layered with theory, so getting people to make an emotional connection, and/or throwing some sexiness into the mix is a powerful way of encouraging an audience to hang in there for the ride. Embodying the whore (rather than being one of many flesh and blood whores) for people, then acting out experiences of oppression/ disenfranchisment/silencing/stigma/being the archetype for patriarchy/ sex negative feminists to play with when exploring their sexual neurosis - is a major function of my performance work. I hope that by embodying the archetype - by putting a face, brain and opinion to the nameless, faceless other, it allows the audience to explore what we do as a culture with that archetype (and the human beings that embody it). And if I'm obviously experiencing discomfort, I think that fits in perfectly.

Because I'm really wanting to connect emotionally with an audience and to present something with layers of sex radicalism/ critique of patriarchal religion/ queer theory - plus a bit of cultural studies thrown in to the mix, my performative style is often a tricky one. I'll often put my body through an ordeal, flirt with Catholic energy and offer myself as the not-so-virgin sacrifice. The discomfort and confusion that creates for some audience members is important. Confusion is often a powerful place from which growth and learning can come.

Some feedback from some sex worker audience members who know and like me is interesting - it is hard for them to see these things being done to me. I just know I need to do this. I need to comment on a culture that comments on me and my choices. I need to take for myself the right of reply. It is a healthier choice than sitting in my own anger and frustration.

I also love being very, very femme and very, very strong - even when I'm 'subbing' in some way or recieving penetration or sensation play, I like to use my voice, body language and point of view to express agency, autonomy, power. I like to offer alternatives to strict binaries. I love to queer the popular perception of femme. The overwhelming majority of the femmes I know are articulate, powerful and very political people. How the hell the opposite characteristics emerged as the femme stereotype, I'll never know. After all, it takes a powerful, grounded character to navagate life in stillettos.

I wanted to say thank you to the Debbys audience. Gorgeous, intellegent people who are willing to engage with bad karaoke, politics, cunts, drag, and whatever else occurs to us to present you with. In listening to the voices of whores you do more than the politicians, bureaucrats, academic feminists, mainstream media and often AIDS Councils.

Friday, December 15, 2006

You've come a long way baby

I love contradictions. I truly enjoy life’s paradoxes. They keep my mind nimble and open doors to the wonders of the universe and the self. I’ve worked harder and had more responsibility over the last 6 months than ever before.

Since September, I’ve organised a training session involving people from around the country, then a national conference, then promoted and performed in a Debby Doesn’t Do It For Free show, as well as sex working and getting out and about, socialising and participating in community like never before.

In the past if I’d attempted half of this workload, I’d have had to pull out, probably had a nervous breakdown and retired to a darkened room for 6 months.

Right now I’m utterly exhausted, pretty damn broke as even though I’ve been sex working regularly, it’s been hard to focus and have the right energy to get much work, and have had a persistent flu for three weeks. The effects of Kenn’s passing are still quite present for me. Almost every day I’ll get a little teary without even knowing why at the time. The pressure build up from a huge workload has left me a wee bit wobbly and effected my decision making in some areas. I’ve gotten myself involved in weird random flirtations, when I don’t really have the time, energy or inclination for sex. I haven’t always been considerate of or communicated well with women around this stuff.

But this is where the paradox lies – I’m feeling both really drained, but also giddy with joy. I’m so fucking proud of myself for what I have achieved in this time. I’m so pleased that even with my wobbliness and occasional lack of strictly ethical treatment of flirtations and sexual partners; I’ve behaved more ethically towards myself than in recent history. I’ve maintained my single status – I’ve avoided getting involved in doomed relationships with women who are needy but unable to reciprocate my love and support. I’ve proven to myself I’m able to meet huge personal goals. I think this increased strength and independence – along with the ever-present femme nurturing energy (hello June Cleaver) has been part of my increased appeal. My busyness has meant through-the-roof stress levels, skipping meals, sleep deprivation and smoking like a steam train yet in some ways I’m taking better care of myself than ever. My self-valuing continues to skyrocket – so I’m nobody’s doormat.

Losing a friend, colleague and community member has left and aching sadness, coming closely after another personal disappointment – yet I also feel outrageously happy – with myself and my life. Broke, in debt and unable to indulge my shoe habit, yet so very wealthy with my years harvest.

I guess that I’ve always know that life is really hard stuff, and that most of the really worthwhile things are really hard fought for. My self awareness and mental health have been things I’ve pursued with utter single-mindedness and discipline. It really has been like stripping skin away from bones, then regrowing new layers to get here. If I was less prepared for ruthless honesty, really taking a harsh look at bad patterns and sitting with my own shame at some of my behaviour, I never would have come through to this place.

I’ve been accused of thinking too much, pursuing complexity for the sake of it, of being too much of a busy brained analytical nerd. But let me state categorically that the self awareness and resulting psychological/ behavioural shifts have been worth it. Of course, the alternative could be continuing to beat my head against the same brick wall, and then turning around to blame the wall.

I’m feeling like I’m entering the next phase of my life and I’m tingling with excitement at the prospect of brand new adventures. I can guarantee that there will be new battles and stresses and hangovers from old challenges. But there is also so much confidence in my skills and strength to tackle whatever comes my way.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Swimming laps in the queerphabet soup

For many, many years I identified as bisexual. Actually for a decent chunk of that time, my personal sexual identity was pansexual – pan being all encompassing. Having had a range of partners including trans and intersex people, I acknowledge that there are certainly more than two sexes, and probably a different gender expression if not identity for each person on the planet.

So while I generally (publicly, politically) called myself bisexual (so many people struggle conceptually with the broadness of bisexuality, let alone moving even further away from binary thinking); I really embraced pansexuality. I loved the largeness of the word. All encompassing; wide open spaces; don’t fence me in. As a pagan, *Pan is one of my all time favourite poster gods. Half-animal, all musky smelling and feral. Earthy, goaty and sexual. A leering, queering trickster deity. Silly looking with little horns, cloven hooves and little fluffy tail. Yet to those of us who honour the wild gods of the earth, and the body’s intelligence – he is all wisdom and nobility.

Over a long time – years and years, my attraction for bio guys was on the wane. So was my comfort with heterosexuality. My one significant relationship with a str8 man was fraught with a fundamental lack of compatibility. Although an anarcho activist boy, how could he a str8 white able bodied man get my experience of marginalisation – and how my whore activism, and queer community space nurtured me (and why I insisted on wearing queer tshirts on our dates).

I was never ever comfortable with passing for str8. I never wanted, or knew what to do with heterosexual privilege. It pissed me off that my parents were ready to embrace any guy I was with– no matter how casual – as my life partner, and any woman, no matter how much she made my heart sing, as just a good friend. I still hate the stereotype of bi women always prioritising their relationships with male partners - that was never my practice, or the practice of the other bi community attached women I knew. I recognise that for some het community attached bi women, there is little incentive to honour the women in your life, I'd like to see that as being more about the heterosexism and general misogyny in our culture, that takes some personal awareness and internal work to move beyond.

So for a long time I was narrowing my partner choices to women, gender queers and bi guys who I could put in lingerie and fuck their arses. This worked for a while, but then many of the bi guys I was fucking were so very into their own cocks, so penis in vagina sex became The Main Event. All the other fun, creative, sexy things people can do together were sidelined. While I’m not averse to being fucked, it’s certainly not my most favourite dish on the menu.

Then – of course there is politics. The grooviest, most progressive boys I was playing with were still too far from being comparable to the gorgeous, smart feminist women in my life. Unfortunately the pro-feminist men’s movement seems just as tiny and lacking in influence as it did 10 years ago, while the other men’s movement is full of intimidating black shirts and seething resentment towards women.

The acknowledgement that bio men were no longer part of my erotic world was a sad one for me. My sexuality was no longer the neat reflection of my coalitionist politics, my instinct for inclusion. The tiny but sex positive bi community had always been so much cooler about my sex work, about my trans partners, about the dresses and heels. I also would like to believe that men will one day be better at understanding the impacts of sexism and refusing to participate in it; but who has the time to wait for that fine day? So it took me a damn long time to stop mourning my loss and to be comfortable identifying as a dyke, even now I usually add some words – femme dyke, queer dyke, dyke whore.

I now really like being a part of the shift in the dyke community – away from lesbian separatism. Away from policing our own behaviour. Towards a more diverse community. Towards sex positivity. Along with lesbianism, my attraction towards butch women has increased. While I make more sense in dyke spaces if I’m with a butch – I look less like a str8 girl who’s lost her way – my interest in butches isn’t around anchoring an identity, or around fitting in, or safety. It’s more about my life long passion for gender queers. I’ve always loved and appreciated the bravery exhibited by people who look uncompromisingly queer. Who are never going to pass as str8.There is a certain way butches communicate, inhabit their bodies and spaces that makes me weak at the knees. I never feel like I can even explain this quality, let alone understand it – as how I live in the world is quite, quite different. I don’t get much homophobia as I walk through the world; I get constant unwanted sexual attention from men instead. Obviously, I’ve capitalised on that by doing sex work – but who can say what is harder to live with – the invisibility and sleaze experienced by femmes, or the homophobia experienced by butches?

In many ways, I'm a very unstereotype femme. I didn't date butches at all up until relatively recently, partly because there isn't much of a butch-femme scene in Lil old Adelaide when I was growing up - and also, as a bi whore, the experiences of marginalisation I had felt within the lesbian community meant that up until the last 4 years or so, I wasn't dating dykes at all. It was safer and easier to stick to other bi whores (usually also femmes) than risk the impact of stigma up close. And as someone with a strong femme identity since my late teens, but without the expectation that femme means I must date a certain way, I don't feel like I have to be dating or fucking anyone at all to validate my queerness, or to justify my presence in the community. I know in every cell of my body that I'm queer as fuck.

My journey continues, swimming my way through queer waters. I’ve always tried to tell the truth about my life and feelings – and that means embracing change and growth. I hate that my life experience might somehow add to the pervasive notion of bisexuality as a phase one goes through, however I have always felt that the goddess meant me to walk a certain path – and that my path so far seems to be a fluid one.

*For further ideas about the personality of Pan, and his importance, I recommend Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins

Friday, December 08, 2006

Sick of being Sick

Well, the Debbys are performing on Sunday, and I've been struggling with flu since before Gurlesque. I notice at one time in history, 'depression after influenza' was used as a common explanation for suicides during inquests. It now makes perfect sense to me. I spent Monday working day shift at a brothel (this inevitably means Dr Phil, Oprah and Bold and the Beautiful). The combination of flu and menstruation meant that I was weeping my way through Oprah. Then off to a rehearsal Monday evening. Crawled around the place looking miserable in a Santa hat, looking for quiet corners to learn lines while chaos was occurring around me.

Somehow misery in a Santa hat is more effective than bare-headed misery. I even had Debby Desiderata giving me a massage. As it was, under different circumstances I would have flipped her, and massaged her. Instead, my flu seems to have left me rather passive, so I just proposed. I'm panicking and hoping my voice is strong and effective for Sunday night. I'm performing the last piece of the night, and I'd like it to work.

My Apologies: A June Cleaver moment

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

CAKE:1 c. butter, softened2 c. granulated sugar2 eggs1 1/2 c. flour1 1/2 tsp. baking powder1/2 tsp. salt1 c. sour cream1/2 tsp. vanilla extractTOPPING:1 c. pecans, chopped2 tbsp. granulated sugar1 tsp. ground cinnamonGLAZE:1/4 c. butter1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chipsPreheat oven to 350 degrees. FOR CAKE: cream butter and sugar in a large bowl until fluffy. Add eggs, beating until smooth. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add dry ingredients to creamed mixture, blending well. Gently fold in sour cream and vanilla.FOR TOPPING: Combine all ingredients in small bowl. For glaze, melt butter and chocolate chips in small saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons topping in bottom of greased and floured 9 inch tube pan. Spoon 1/2 of cake batter into pan. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons topping over batter and drizzle 1/2 cup glaze over topping. Spoon remaining batter into pan and sprinkle with remaining topping. Reserve remaining glaze. Bake 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool at least 10 minutes in pan. Turn onto serving plate. Drizzle remaining glaze over top of slightly warm cake.NOTES: As with every cake I have made lately, this one calls for a tube pan. I used a 13x9 lasagna-type pan with stellar results. You should check the cake for doneness at about 50 minutes if you use a flat pan. I used walnuts instead of pecans, since that is what I had available. When I ran out of vanilla I added in some lemon zest. Tasty.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Fight the Right

Originally uploaded by
Many exciting things on the internet. Some of my current favourites include this site for Ladies Against Women, a parody of the anti-feminist women of the Reagan era - almost as terrifying as the surrended wives movement and Ladies against Feminism. However, I want several Ladies Against Women badges, such as Born to Clean and Close your Eyes and Do your Duty.

I'm also a fan of that looks at one of the other insane abominations from Leviticus other than the thou shalt not fuck person with similar bits to you section.

With the scary rise in the religious right in Australia, I'm interested in performance protest as a creative way of being heard. I love the idea of using creative performance protest against the scary rise of right wing christianity in Australia. I want to picket along with a group of loopy christians holding a placard saying god hates shrimp. The only thing freaking me out about Ladies Against Women is that I think they look great, rather than silly..... It's a femme thing.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


I originally started this blog as a way of forcing myself into regular writing practice and a place for some public ranting to ease some of the frustration I feel about the ways of the world – particularly in relation to sex workers. I sometimes feel like it’s ended up being more of a self-help guru than anything else. It feels a bit strange to have ended up in so much ‘I’m okay, you’re okay’ territory, however I guess it makes a lot of sense, the last year has been very much about internal journeying for me…and I feel like I’ve done some really worthwhile inner work. So here I go again.

Some people have asked me how I came out from under the weight of clinical depression. It’s a good question; but I don’t feel like I’ve always been able to answer it with sufficient depth. I have suffered from lifelong minor depression, with major episodes taking up much of the last decade. It’s been huge. I once spent a year in bed. I worked at an escort agency one night a week, which was enough to pay rent, bills and basic food costs. I piled up my cats food and water bowls, and opened the windows for them to wonder in and out at their will, and they could get into bed with me for cuddles when they wanted. I was too exhausted to stand up for longer than a few minutes, and my vision was so badly affected by the depression, I couldn’t even read very much. It was a truly awful time, this was before I was diagnosed and on meds. Things got better after I was on Zoloft, but I spent the last couple of years on the maximum recommended dose, and while I was stable, I was a long way from well. I’ve been off meds entirely since December 2005 and hope I’ll never need them again.

The break up was a bit of a crisis point for me last year, things had got so terrible, I had to ask myself how I had got myself into a position where I was in love with someone who could treat me without respect. It was a big question that took months to really answer. I was also remembering the other really devastating break up I’d been through, when I was about 21, I spent a year breaking up with a partner of four years. From that point my major depression emerged. My last psychiatrist in Adelaide had mentioned that it’s possible to actually die from very severe depression. Aside from obvious suicide risks, when your serotonin is so depleted (serotonin is a neurotransmitter [responsible for passing messages between different parts of the brain] however it also regulates the gastro intestinal tract and other organs with within the body) your organs can simply shut down and you can die. So I was stuck in a new town without many friends, a relationship breaking up, I had to move, and I really needed to continue to work hard as Sydney is so fucking expensive. I was terrified, but I also had to fight for my own life.

We were continuing to cohabit for a miserable month after breaking up. Hideous politeness with moments of pure cruelty as the dam would burst. I was trying to keep it together as much as possible as I still hoped we could be friends at some point, so I didn’t want to break down entirely. I started obsessively doing housework (something I’ve never been good at) as a way of keeping moving and minimising interacting time. Something shifted. Exercise is a key self-help strategy and keeping in constant motion by washing, ironing, etc started to make me feel more in control. She went back to Adelaide for a family event for a weekend, which gave me some respite, and my brain started working again. I was walking home from the brothel I was working at about 6am. I started to feel like I knew how to emerge from this. I consulted some of my depression self help books and started to work out an action plan. It finally clicked into place that many symptoms of depression also prolong the illness.

Depression often means that you have no motivation to leave your house, engaging with the outside world, or interacting with people in a social context. Social contact and feeling a part of a community is a huge part of mental health. Depression tends to slow your whole body down, and motivation around moving at all just isn’t there. Exercise is hugely beneficial around depression – using your body makes a massive difference to your sense of well being and being capable. Statistically these two things make the most difference in terms of wellness and recovery, so these were the major focuses of my action plan. I regularly invited everyone I knew to coffee, dinner, movies. Anyone I met that seemed lovely, I exchanged contact details with, and actually contacted them and continued to build a network. I walked my arse off – sometimes 5 hours, sometimes 7, sometimes 10 hours. Constant walking. After such a convoluted explanation, it’s actually simple. Focus on the symptoms. The fact that it took me about a decade is indicative of what an analytical sausage I am - always trying to dig up the roots of the issue - wanting to lie about on couches and explore family history and dysfunction. Damn it - walking and going out more seemed too simple. Shift the symptoms and you shift the depression. And do all of this as if your life depended on it… because with chronic depression it does.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Who was that masked fluffer?

During a day into evening shift at my brothel last week, I had three clients in a row say I reminded them of an ex girlfriend. Spooky.

Now clients will choose a particular worker for a range of reasons: she seemed the least threatening and he was feeling shy, he has a thing for blondes, he saw her last time and had fun, she offers a specialist service that he wants, he likes curvier or bustier women, she reminds him of an ex he has fond memories of or someone he has a crush on, he's never had sex wih someone like her before, she seemed the most friendly, she gave him a wink during the introduction and he thinks that means she'll be fun in the room, she tripped over when coming in to the intro room but laughed it off and he found that attractive....

Three in a row who think I remind them of an ex is a bit much though. I was finding it creepy initially. I was also offended that I remind anyone of anyone, I do like to see myself as unique. Then I thought about it some more.... there is some nice woman out there fluffing all these guys for me who then pay me for sex. Thanks anonomous fluffer. Much appreciated.

Mess, Ghosts and Gurlesque

For someone who doesn't drink, I managed to get mighty messy last night. Red food colour stains on my new white Debby Doesn't Do It For Free pencil skirt (note to self: do not sit near stage when wearing white). Glittering pink and luscious red lipstick smears from hello kisses with fabby femmes. Gorgeous white fluffy boudoir slippers with stiletto heels now somewhat the worse for wear after someone dropped a glass of beer near pool table. I'm thinking of only wearing PVC from now on: if the worst happens, someone can turn a garden hose on me.

Worse than my sartorial woes was the feeling all through the night, wherever I turned, of being haunted by the ghosts of relationships past. Even more unsettling than my recent Adelaide adventures, all bar two of the women I've fucked or dated since moving to Sydney were out at the Impy - including the Evil Ex and the Crazy Ex. Clearly it's not necessary to have a near death experience to have your life flash before your eyes - a night out on the Sydney dyke scene ought to do it.

Those women I know who play and date within fairly restricted circles/ communities have my respect for their coping skills in navigating this crazy dance. I certainly wasn't managing well last night - but at the same time, couldn't escape as Disintigrated Debby was performing a piece in the last set of the night. My coping skills have been effected anyway this week, I've been working six days a week at my various jobs since Adelaide, and have had a flu thingie that seems to be going around - so mentally drained and not much immunity at the moment. It's the third time this month I've seen the Evil Ex - who just won't shrivel up and die, damn her. The cheshire cat (I've borrowed this metaphor from Zoo) is someone I've yet to build up immunity to. She still leaves me weak at the knees.

One by one they emerged and had their effect, not all of those I've bonked or dated had an unpleasant sensation attached - it's more the combination of all of them in the one space that was doing my head in. I was so distracted all night, I did little more than perfunctionarily greet several nice people, including a very nice woman I fucked during the last week. I feel ill-mannered and emotionally exhausted. After this Adelaide to Sydney ex-extravaganza - I've been forced to do some journeying into my past choices. Did I really spend five years in a relationship when we had no sexual contact after the first 18 months? Did I really fall madly in love with a woman who wasn't sober during sex for the first 3 months of our relationship, and was a mean and embarrasing drunk? Did I really allow myself to date several people who were ashamed of my dress sense, my sex work and my weirdness? Have I really been desparate enough to put everything into a relationship with a selfish creature who demanded more and more, til I drained myself of everything, only to have her dump me? Ouch!

Most of my risk-taking around my performance, activism, creativity and other choices have paid off. I've grown in strength and wisdom, and have become a more fully realised person. However, my partner choices at times have been truly awful.While my discernment over the last year has gotten better and better, I'm feeling like I should extend my current relationship ban to cover all partner sex for at least a while. I need to feel like my energy is put to best use right now, and my various work and Debbys commitments are overwhelming enough, without adding the sleep deprivation as well as mine and other people's at times unmanageable expectations to the mix. Any free time right now is best spent in self care, sleep and down time at home. At some stage I hope I'll be abe to reconcile some of my past choices - or maybe just know that I've really and truly moved to a healthier place, where I expect more from partners and demonstrate greater self respect in who I let in to my life, my bed, or toilet cubicle.

Disintigrated Debby was absoluely great. I'm so proud of her piece. I love her skill in making a relatively short piece about sex work, while also including other social justice issues. I have yet to achieve this feat in my Debby work. Still just raging away at sex negativity........

My learnings from the night:

  • This is not new, but I love, love, love Gurlesque - Sex and Glita do fantastic pieces - witty, intellegent, political, and just silly - it's an amazing sex positive, woman positive forum for emerging performance art you just don't see other places.
  • The Debbys are the most sucessful activism I've ever been involved with - creating spaces to celebrate whore culture and community, while inviting non-whores in to be tricked and treated into celebrating whores along with us.
  • If you are dating asshole after asshole, there maybe something you need to examine within yourself - it can't all be coincidence.
  • There are lots and lots of smart, sexy queer femmes in Sydney who have social consciences - I'm glad I'm getting to know a few of them.
  • Never wear white in boozy crowded spaces.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

At Last: a Jane Austen Reference

I started reading Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, just after the break up with the Evil Ex, while we continued to share a domicile for an excrutiating month before moving out from the house of hideous history. It may seem a little bizarre, but Jane Austen was of immeasurable comfort at a particularly nasty time.

All I had to preserve at that stage was whatever shreds of dignity I could imagine were still about me. I didn't want to collapse in front of the Evil Ex - it took me a few more encounters to truly understand the extent of the evil, so at that stage I was truly concerned about maintaining her respect for me (which wasn't at all evident in her behaviour) and not troubling her overly with guilt as a result of my grieving. Crappy reasons, as they were all about her and not at all about me. Eventually, however, my reasons for my dignity became more about my own self-respect and well being.

I needed to read heaps - even more than usual - at that time as I certainly wasn't sleeping well. So the classics it was. What emerged from Sense and Sensibility was a value system that said emotionally bleeding all over the shop and wallowing in self-pity would make you very ill, would set tongues wagging, ruin your reputation and your chances of catching yourself a husband; whereas maintaining self-composure, valuing other aspects of your life, such as friends and family and trying as much as possible to go about your daily activities was the path to contentment, inner peace and would create less regret in the long run.

I really connected with this stuff. Obviously, you have to put it all in the context of the era it was written. Unmarried women couldn't spend very much time with any man they weren't related to without causing comment, and couldn't express any interest in any man unless he had already proposed, without endangering their reputation. A lot of this seems like lunacy and is certainly wildly restrictive, and doesn't bode well for happy marriages, as it totally rests on male relatives being able to find out as much as they can about a guy's reputation and wealth, and basing the decision to marry on whether he has seemed to be respectable and has the means to support you. As Charlotte Lucas, from Pride and Prejudice thought, "Without thinking highly either of men or of matrimony, marriage had always been her object; it was the only honorable provision for well-educated young women of small fortune, and however uncertain of giving happiness, must be their pleasantness preservative from want."

The idea of the lady has always revolted me. However much fun for dress ups and role play crinolines and corsetry are, the emotional equivalent - restricted range of movement, not having a voice, all helplessness and breathiness and no self-direction, no strength and no capacity for assertiveness - is just stifling and without the potential for erotisisation (for me anyway). However, the Austen-approved virtues of self control and not letting your stuff hang out in public makes a lot of sense to me. It may seem like a weird comment to post in a blog of all places, but the reality TV/ talk show culture of public confession is freaking me out just a little. I am increasingly disturbed by the celebration of messiness and careening out of control in public. I think women in particular lose respect and credibility by these displays.

By all means, I think life throws up extraordinarily painful episodes that really tax our ability to keep it all together. I think working through issues can take time and effort and sometimes going back over the same ground. the universe has a habit of repeating a lesson over and over until you finally get it. Crying on the shoulders of close and trusted friends is to be recommended, as is going into therapy, journaling and anything else that will get you through. I just don't think self-destructing in public is a great idea or doing it around the-one-that-broke-your-heart or others who clearly don't have your best interests at heart. I think doing all you can to examine where your own patterns have contributed is immensely dignified and rewarding. I also believe strongly in moving forward with your own day to day life and trusting that if you keep putting one foot in front of the other that it will get easier with time. Trying your absolute hardest to not continuously obsess about whatever is making you miserable - as impossible as it sounds - is worth persevering with. I have found saying affirmations such as, 'and this too will pass' and 'I am a strong, gorgeous, dynamic goddess who will live and breathe success and will continue making the world a better place by my awesome presence' while wearing particularly high stilettos and very red lipstick to be very helpful.

Monday, November 13, 2006

I've been in Adelaide most of the last week for a sex worker conference.

It was the weirdest thing - I lived there my entire life up until two years ago, yet I found myself losing my sense of direction the whole time..... I was unexpectantly homesick for a while, how cheap to live, how pretty, how quiet, how easy to get around - Adelaide has many things going for it. Then I saw my sister, two exs (one nice, one nasty), and numerous gay men I hadn't seen for years in the space of five days. It cured the homesickness.

The conference itself was amazing - people who had been around the sex worker rights movement for ages, and brand new people. At this stage the movement seems pretty healthy, it's not big and established enough to start policing its image and kicking out any sense of diversity.

We had quite a decent sized sex worker contingent for the Adelaide Pride March, which is the beginning of the Feast Festival. Our chant of 'Sex worker rights are human rights; sex worker rights are industrial rights' seemed to resonate with the crowd.

The recent loss of beautiful Kenn (I attended the funeral the day before getting on a flight to Adelaide) and a sucessful conference which as usual felt like an oasis of sex worker safe space in a desert has been a bittersweet experience. I've been laughing and crying for over a week - often at the same time. It's affirmed for me how much I value the gorgeous fellow sex worker activists in my life and how important nurturing community space for marginalised communities is.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

What do you say about a man who died?

He was a gay man and a proud father. He was an exciting performer and a homebody, devoted to his garden and his dogs. He had a cynical, bitchy wit and was one of the most welcoming and generous people I've ever known. He was a control freak and had a careening messiness about him. He survived so much and was carried away after less than 72 hours of illness.

I lost a friend of about 10 years on Monday. I wasn't intending to write a eulogy, but I did want to record some thoughts.

Sometimes small and marginalised communities are very much like families. Sometimes community members who have a huge influence on us can be taken for granted. Sometimes personal qualities can drive us insane but common ground like a sense of justice keeps us connected. There were times i didn't see him for a year but now the loss feels enormous and just about everything I'm involved with is full of memories.

I hate that it takes something this awful to remind me that it is within a person's contradictions that their amazing beauty is located. i hate that it takes a death to really make me appreciate someone's contributions to my life and my community. I should have known his big spirit and big personality would leave such emptiness.

Monday, October 30, 2006

More tools for the toolkit - or in my case handbag

I've continued to have various conversations with queer women about relationship dramas; about why we do what we do - over-commit, under-value ourselves and set ourselves up as the president of our partner's fanclub - regardless of the fact that they may not be nearly fabulous enough to keep company with our amazing queer girl selves...I thought I'd share some more thoughts - some gained through therapy, some just through my own digging about.

1. If they tell you they can't do relationships right now, or that they aren't emotionally available - they mean it! They are giving you all the information right then and there! Thank them and LISTEN! If you are up for casual play with an uncertain expiry date, then by all means, have fun - but if not, or if you change your mind at a certain point, run like the wind in another direction. If someone has told you they aren't looking for a relationship right now, and you get involved and expect them to change their mind, you have no right to get angry if they don't. You can be disappointed, sad and wallow all you like, but it's not fair to get angry coz someone doesn't want the same things you do.

2. I've learn recently that I have put past partners on pedestals, looking through rose coloured glasses, and then, I put so much love and care into that person, supporting them in everything they do in the hopes of them putting me on a pedestal in their lives. How deeply manipulative are the arts of default femininity.We are trai
ned to do this as women, of course, but really, isn't it creepy and passive-aggressive? Instead of admitting vulnerability and need, and just asking to be loved and nurtured in the way I want to be; becoming indispensable, being so much more unselfish and supportive than any previous partner in order to win love, adoration and gratitude from a partner, in order to addict them as much as I am addicted to the warm-and-fuzzy relationship rush..... Eeewwww.I kinda knew about this dynamic for a long time, but making a connection with how manipulative and unethical it is spurs on my efforts to unlearn this toxic sludge.Which harks back to my earlier words... love yourself as you would a partner. Work out what kind of supports and caring you get from relationships and start practicing them on yourself. Invest all that love energy on yourself and your own life. Buy your own damn flowers.... take yourself to dinner and a movie..... become president of your own fan club.... write lists of all your best qualities (see if you can come up with at least 100)....... masturbate every day at least twice....... congratulate yourself whenever you demonstrate self-valuing behaviour or assertiveness...... ask for what you want. It is only the under-resourced, the trapped and the needy that need to manipulate others. If you fill yourself full to the brim with self-value, and resource yourself by practicing assertiveness you won't need to manipulate. If you treat yourself well enough, you won't be so needy as to fall into an incompatible relationship and have to twist it around until it fits.

3. Ultimately, you have very little control over the actions of another person. You can't trick, force or convince someone to love you, to treat you better or to meet your needs. Save gifts, letters explaining your point of view and why change needs to happen, flattery, post-break up sex designed to erase all memory of the break up. Invest that energy instead into walking away with as much grace and dignity as possible (not for them, who cares what they think - but for you so you'll have less to cringe over later), and putting into self care.

4. Remember that romantic relationships are one aspect of your life.... being single is not a death sentence. There is so much else going on in your life, or should be. Relying on a partner to fill up an otherwise empty life is also a bit creepy, and applies way too much
pressure on them.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Sex Workers Reclaiming the Night

I really enjoyed marching for Reclaim The Night.
A reasonably big sex worker and supporter contigent - and with two large banners, and several smaller signs - we managed to make the march look, to the casual observer, like a sex worker rights parade.Which makes perfect sense from the following article from the Sydney Morning Herald :

Sheik was 'out of line'
Elicia Murray
October 26, 2006 - 10:31AMo
Trad: Mufti comments misrepresented

At least one Muslim leader has branded the Australia's Mufti "out of line" for his comments blaming immodestly dressed women for sexual assault.The former secretary of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, Shujat Mantoo, said the Sheik Taj Aldin Alhilali was probably out of line, but he defended the Muslim cleric's right to stay in Australia."There would be many people like [the sheik] who uphold those views, and there would be among mainstream Christians, but we don't simply deport them. We educate them," Mr Mantoo said.Sheik Alhilali's comments were delivered in a Ramadan sermon to 500 worshippers in Sydney last month, a newspaper report said.He blamed women who "sway suggestively" and who wore makeup and no hijab (Islamic scarf) for sexual attacks.

"If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it ... whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat," he said."The uncovered meat is the problem."If she was in her room, in her home, in her hajib, no problem would have occurred."

Sheik Alhihali said that he only meant to refer to prostitutes as meat, and not any scantily clad woman without a hijab.

Mr Mantoo said the sheik was probably entrenched the Egyptian culture he was brought up in."Prostitutes ... enjoy the same rights as any other woman or man in this country and if he has said that he has to understand that there is equality before the law."He likened the cleric's views to those of some elderly judges, who were out of step with mainstream society's standards.Sheik Alhilali's comments have drawn strong criticism from some federal politicians and the federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward, who said he should be sacked and deported."It is incitement to a crime. Young Muslim men who now rape women can cite this in court, can quote this man ... their leader in court," she told the Nine Network.

"It's time we stopped just saying he should apologise. It is time the Islamic community did more then say they were horrified. I think it is time he left."

Treasurer Peter Costello branded the comments "totally unacceptable". Mr Costello called for Muslim leaders to condemn the comments, disassociate themselves from them, and pull their leader into line.Sheik Alhihali said that he only meant to refer to prostitutes as meat, and not any scantily clad woman without a hijab.Mr Mantoo said the sheik was probably entrenched the Egyptian culture he was brought up in."Prostitutes ... enjoy the same rights as any other woman or man in this country and if he has said that he has to understand that there is equality before the law."He likened the cleric's views to those of some elderly judges, who were out of step with mainstream society's standards.Sheik Alhilali's comments have drawn strong criticism from some federal politicians and the federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward, who said he should be sacked and deported."It is incitement to a crime. Young Muslim men who now rape women can cite this in court, can quote this man ... their leader in court," she told the Nine Network."It's time we stopped just saying he should apologise. It is time the Islamic community did more then say they were horrified. I think it is time he left."Treasurer Peter Costello branded the comments "totally unacceptable". Mr Costello called for Muslim leaders to condemn the comments, disassociate themselves from them, and pull their leader into line.

Some of us earlier in the day were outraged that the notion that if women sat quietly at home we would be safe from sexual violence still had currency. We were discussing marching in nothing but hijabs... but it would be an obscure and tricky way of communicating a message, and would risk getting interpreted as anti-Islamic. For me the fact that so many people still believe that the rape of sex workers is any less heinous that that of any other person makes me want to scream. Have we done such a bad job at educating society that rape is about power - that it is a form of violence - that although rape might look like sex, THE DIFFERENCE IS CONSENT - what determines if something is an assault is if it occurs without consent.

I believe that sex work is one of the most consensual forms of sexual contact. So many aspects of sex are taken for granted in a relationship - or even casual sex context - that just aren't in the commercial sex context. Kissing on the lips, cunnilingus, natural french (fellatio without a condom) are all negotiated - not just expected. As the commercial sex exchange is such a heavily negotiated exchange - where as an ideal, sex workers have the maximum amount of control over what occurs - why would non-consensual sexual contact be somehow more acceptable?

I believe that all rapes are in fact hate crimes. When your ability to have control over your own body and choices are disregarded by another - what else can you call it? Rape as a weapon of war, rape as a form of punishment, rape as a form of control: "If she was in her room, in her home, in her hajib, no problem would have occurred."

Monday, October 23, 2006

Drag Queen Femininity

I was at Carmen's 70th birthday party Saturday night. I don't know her very well, but I enjoyed paying homage to a Sydney icon much more spectacular and much warmer and friendlier than the Opera House.

It was a bit of a whore fest for me, with several Debbys and other local sex worker activists in attendance. Yah for the tiny bit of whore community in Sydney - and I look forward to playing a part in it's growth and development.

The room was full of gorgeous Maori, Cook Island and Australian transwomen and drag queens. There was also two big floor shows - drag extravaganza! The problem with so much drag experienced all in one night is the sense I had afterward of failed femininity. Ordinarily I feel quite comfortable with my femme status, but last night, I felt inadequate. My emotions, jewelery and hair just isn't big enough! I don't wear enough sequins!

Mostly, I like being a low maintenance femme - I'm not the slightest bit princessy - I'm easy going and easy to be around. I have too much in the way of middle class manners to throw big diva like tantrums. However, I do have a bit of admiration for what I call the drag queen version of femininity - more means more, Elizabeth Taylor in her prime/ Zsa Zsa
Gabor life style. Live big, demand more. I think sometimes (particularly in Sydney) shameless self-promoters get what they want, and the squeaky wheel gets the oil.

However, I have to accept that activism and drag queen femininity don't necessarily mix. While I can easily march in a protest in heels and a pencil skirt, activist movements aren't (or shouldn't be) the space for divas. I'm far more interested in building community and supporting progressive change for my communities than it all being about me.

It's only since spending time in the Sydney butch-femme community that my sense of being 'femme enough' was ever a concern. The policing and competition in small communities never fails to amaze me. It's played out in every community I've ever participated in, and it shocks and saddens me each and every time. However, I find myself buying into this stuff - not so much a policing of other's behaviour, but a scrutiny of my own. It's funny how that sense of being a teenager wanting to fit in never really leaves the psyche.....

I find it interesting that my models for femme aren't yet other femme dykes, but are still transwomen and drag queens. I find the acknowledgement of femme - and gender itself as performative (" We all came into this world naked, the rest of it is all drag." Ru Paul) and the bravery and grace demonstrated by the gender queer women in my life to still rock my world. The idea that flawlessly silky femininity isn't marred by large hands and feet, adams apples or voices of a lower register makes it more accessable - even to non-transwomen. I love the idea that femininity is so very precious and desirable that you will go to great lengths to acquire it. That is how I feel about it also.

Friday, October 20, 2006

A Retraction

I take back some of my earlier comments on the Hair Monster post.... apparently it takes a femme to know what to do with all that hair....

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A Fine Romance...

I've been single for a whole year now. And I intend to be single for a good period of time still. I have a pattern when a significant relationship ends... I crawl into a hole and die for a while... spend some time grieving.... spend a short period of time shagging madly.... then fall madly in love and build (my version of) a white picket fence all over again and start playing wifey. My version of wifey is a very queer version - negotiated non-monogamy, sex work and kink - but I'll still bake cookies.

I'm currently wanting to extend my madly shagging period for as long as is possible, in order to spend as much time unlearning ingrained relationship behaviours that I can. I've spoken to several friends about these issues, and (I don't know whether to be glad about this or not) it's not just me. No matter how queer we all are, how feminist, how into alternative relationship models - the Hallmark sentiments still resonate with many, many queer women.

Still over-looking obvious issues with a partner or prospective partner's character. Still valuing a partner or prospective partner's interests, goals and needs over our own. Still putting the 'relationship' in a central place in our lives, and putting more energy into it than our careers, hobbies or passions. Still changing or downplaying our uniqueness or things that are ordinarily of huge importance to us in order to not freak out a partner or prospective partner. Still feeling completely wrecked when relationships end.

How many women (regardless of their sexuality) put the same amount of passion and energy into their jobs as they do their relationships? If more of us did - we could well be running the world by now - rather than just shouldering the world (Atlas was a Titan in Greek mythology, who as a punishment held the world on his shoulders - I never really bought the idea that a male was really in that position - it's usually a woman holding up more tha
n her fair share of the world). Queer women may have particular issues that cause us to over-devote to relationships. Mental health issues are rife within the queer community (an affect of stigma), and our partners may be particularly needy as a result. Some of us have genderqueer , transgender or intersex partners, who may need special support. Often isolation and stigma that we are experiencing may mean relationships and the intimacy experienced in them may be especially important to us.

And let's face it - regardless of who you are - how many healthy relationship models are you presented with? Popular culture is full of knight-on-a-white-horse riding in to save you from the mundane images. "I'm nothing without you"; "I'd die if you left me".

I'm really interested at the moment in the idea that you can focus on changing behaviour and the attitude shift will follow. So one of the things I'm finding helpful right now is paying attention to other areas of my life - my work, projects, friendships and spirituality. This means that I'm not allowing any room for romance to rear it's head, and if anyone appears who has enough amazing qualities to tempt me in that area, hopefully, I'll only have so much time to squeeze them in. Spending time living alone and pursuing my interests and goals has made me a happier, more fulfilled person with better self-esteem. I'm less needy because I know how to meet my own needs. I'm laughing more, I'm more playful and more relaxed than I ever was in those unsatisfying, unbalanced and controlling relationships. I'm so proud of myself for tackling depression head-on and making amazing in-roads - all because I could devote all my time, energy and motivation to my own wellness.

I guess what I'm saying is that a happy, busy person is less likely to put her whole self in to a relationship - particularly a unsatisfactory one. Someone who demonstrates tremendous self-care and self-valuing is less likely to lose her sense of self by being too much of a care-taker in an unequal relationship. And instead of rescuing our partners - how exciting would it be if we could rescue ourselves?

Monday, October 16, 2006

On Depression, Liberation and Outness

About a week ago I spent time discussing birth order and it's affect on personality - as a youngest child I am apparently the joker/ trickster entertainer - using humour and razzle-dazzle to distract from the serious stuff that is the chunky filling of life to the oldest child. I did spend quite a bit of time choosing bright feathers to wear before visiting my parents when we were still in contact. They must have wondered sometimes if they accidently gave birth to Liberace (I was considering writing a femme Liberace - but that would be redundant, really)

Discussing my costume took up at least 20 minutes if it was spectacular enough. Something to break up the safety of mundane conversational topics of the garden, recipes and my cats. Even more mundane was the guarantee of those topics that were off limits - my partner's transition to living full time as a woman, my sex work, my sex worker rights activism, the range of mental health issues present in my family, the fact that both my sister and one of my nieces were shacked up with dealers...

I wasn't ever the kind of person that could feel safe and comfortable in a closet. I'm a lousy liar, and better skilled at disarming honesty. Even though I was out about everything with my parents; the fact that everything meaningful to me couldn't ever be spoken about and that my mother was even angrier with my need to share my freakish perversion with her, rather than just doing it and never talking about it probably contributed enormously to my depression at the time.

Lack of responsibility is a huge label applied to the youngest child in the family, and in many ways, being diagnosed with depresson was so liberating, because it meant I wasn't lazy, unmotivated or irresponsible. In many ways, dealing with depression meant challenging my super-ego and it's limiting beliefs that sex working in order to fund my activism and fetish shoe habils, while off saving the world weren't as valid as being at university or some other more culturally supported activity.

I now feel pretty damn responsible, actually. I feel that some of the most responsible things I've done is to be fearlessly out and proud, and attempting to create community spaces for sex workers. I think occuping fringe areas is being very responsible, as it is the progressives and fringe elements that create change and move society forward.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Three things that have made me happy this month:

1 The return of Gurlesque! I was at the October 1st Gurlesque Sleaze Recovery, and was very, very happy to attend the first show of the season. It occurred to me how healthy and thriving the dyke/ queer women's alternative sex culture in Sydney is right now, and how important Gurlesque is to cultural change - the huge variety of acts on the one stage - lots with political content, or just very queer, and celebrating of diversity makes me very warm and fuzzy.

A huge highlight for me was Wife's piece. Beautifully cut (and later cut through) black satin frock, images of queer, anti-racism, sex worker rights, women's and broad left activism flashing up on the screen, red beads, silver sparkly stilettos, gorgeous lingerie and "Love is a Battlefield". Wife is always so amazing - a lovely, articulate, passionate, present femme woman. An inspiring human being as well as a performer. I love her use of trad-femme props - the name Wife, fabrics, sewing, fashion, cooking in a way that makes them metaphors for dissent, protest and empowerment, rather than buying into seeing femme frippery as inherently mundane, silly or symbols of oppression.

I also spent some of my time at Gurlesque buying loads of pussy pounds and tipping the cage dancers. I'm not usually that comfortable in the buyer mode; however it feels important for women consumers of erotic entertainment (stripping, sex work and porn) to get out the money and adequately reward the workers. While the cage dancers at Gurlesque may not always be professionals, it's about shifting the cultural messages that say that women don't pay for it. I'm hoping to lead by example.

Another highlight for me was that Zoo was one of the cage dancers, wearing her new cock and not much else. I had lots of fun giving her Spanish and blow jobs while tipping. Also leading by example in this area, it seems, as people stated being much more interactive with the cage dancers after that.

2 In preparation for an intense phase of concept development for performance pieces for the afore mentioned December Debby Show, I've been spending some (at the moment quite rare) free time steeping myself in sex worker culture. I've particularly enjoyed revisiting my long-term goal of promoting adelie penguins, one of the few (recognised) non-human species that engage in sex for gain, as mascots for the sex worker rights movement. This article , this one and this one are the basis of my obsession. I have also found joy in the fact that I can get stuffed Adelie penguins on line.

3. I seem to be on top (which is always good for me) of my latest depression episode. About six to eight weeks ago I started noticing a return of early depression symptoms. Increased sleeping difficulties, decreased motivation and concentration span. I've been off meds since the new year, and 2006 has been about self-care and a focus on mental health as a way of life for me. Some of the strategies that I've found really helpful have been: working through it - just head down, push on through stuff - being stronger and more focused that the depression, long brisk walks for about 5 - 8 hours, really committeded socialising and building up networks in Sydney, and saying affirmations (sounding like a complete egotist as I'm doing so, but it actually works).

When I recognised this new episode for what it was, I was really frightened - I know that after a decade of chronic depression, I'm not going to snap out of it easily, but I was terrified of losing the gains I'd made so far and slipping back into despair. What I did was immediately made a counselling appointment, informed my boss of my concerns and the possible affects on my work, and increased my busyness levels. I've found I can out-walk depression, and generally keep my body in constant motion (something about keeping the metabolism sped up seems to do great things for the seretonin levels. Having a brain too full of work, socialising and short and medium-term plans is also helpful at keeping the cognitive distortion negative thinking stuff at bay.

So my life feels pretty fabby right now. I feel very much in control of my mental health, and although pretty over-loaded and sleep deprived, I have so many joyful moments all the time, and some special things on the horizon. The best part is that all of the things that are important to me - sex worker activism, my pride and outness, my sex radicalism, my queerness, my femme identity, are all intact and nurtured.

Anyone who tells you you have to conform more, get in the closet (any closet) or develop hobbies that involve more knitting and less saving the world in order to find peace, stability or good mental health are lying and deeply cynical. Sometimes I feel that being true to the complex creature I am is the real achievement of my life. To discover I can maintain my messy, careening, passionate self and find community and emerge from depression is awe-inspiring. Blessed Be.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Hair monster

The deliciously spikey one (Zoo) took this photo of me during lounge room picnic on Sunday. I've decided that I'm nothing but a life support system for my hair.

When you have hair that permanently looks like it's just been fucked - it's easy to slip into a space where your hair becomes a sex organ - draping, flicking, tickling,- using as bondage rope for piercings. I shed hair whereever I go. On clients, on lovers, on friends - long brunette strands - I mark my territory (at least it's more polite than pissing on legs).

However, despite numerous lovers avowed affection for my hair - very few have treated it as a sex organ - pulling, using as a handle, using as reins, grabbing great handfuls.... The options present themselves but are seldom taken up...

Maybe despite my obviously strength they still can't see past the 'delicate little petal' femininity and are afraid I'd break. So my hair fucks but goes unfucked. Did someone say stone?

The Pick-up line of the century

“You’re really beautiful, and you’d look even better with your fingers up my arse”

I was delivered this line a couple of weeks ago; it was so good, I had to record it.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Debby Alert!

Debby Doesn't Do It For Free Presents:

the Ho Ho Ho Christmas Variety Show

(we promise there will be at least 3 hos on stage)

With Special guests Kitty Minge and Sex and Glita

Sunday December 10th at the Imperial Hotel

doors open at 6, show starts at 7pm.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

On Pissing and Providence

I should know by now to never brag and to never say never. Last night at the Sly Fox I was bragging that I'm never piss shy - sex work broke through any culturally enforced discomfort about urination. I'd rather piss on a client than do penis in vagina sex - particularly as golden showers earns me more, so that's pretty good insentive to get over any weirdness.

Anyway, the golden shower grrrl who was proud of managing to piss on one guy 3 tim
es in a 45 minute session (he paid extra, he was a fun regular client who had a great sense of humour, and he wanted to video the event but was having technical difficulties) was today stuck in the toilets at my non-sex work job waiting for two seven year olds (one of their mum's works on the same floor) to leave so I could do what I was there to do. So I can piss in the mouth of a 50 year old male stranger, but not in a cubical next to two chattering little girls?

I think I was swept into a seven year old state myself, and full of the mortification that comes with any bodily function at that age, and as a femme, I think that horror of being an unpolished flesh puppet full of physical reations that you don't have complete control over is still very close to the surface. Thank the Goddess for guiding me towards my whorish path - without that glorious earthiness, and regular reality checks, I'd be a mess of neurosis!

Different people have different conceptions of the divine - to me the Universe (made up of Goddess, God, the Divine Hermaphrodite and others) primarily has a sense of humour. Every time I make a definitive statement about myself, I find the opposite occuring. Beautifully humbling; however it makes me live in fear that I'll turn around and start having lots of free sex with bio boys.

Maybe it's all that reading about the trickster deities of various 'tribal' religions. Or maybe the Divine exhibits all the qualities towards us each as individuals that we expect. So those Christians that believe in an awesome fearful God get what they ordered;and a pagan whore with a sense of humour that gets me in trouble experiences a group of deities that jerk the rug out from under me in order to keep me from getting too comfortable.

I like it my way - as a queer person, I want to embrace destablisation with pleasure.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Eye watering eye candy

Oh my! Pretty pictures of corset piercings!

Animal crackers in my SLIT

Went to launch of SLIT Magazine's animal issue this Saturday with posse of whores - Decriminalise Debby, Discredited Debby and Sienna. I did pink pussy number just to wear new pink leopard print tail. Sienna did grey donkey - with eeyore ears and nose, Discredited did girrafe in order to wear spunky new gold boots - complete with giraffe plushy toy head nipples, Decriminalise did pony (of course) with pony plushy puppet as headwear and excellent improv hoof gloves. The only thing better than hanging with whore posse is whore posse in furry drag.

Pretty soon after we got there - and before many others had come in - I was introduced to an improv snake woman (snakeprint pants and some face paint) who responded with "Oh...another cat". AS IF YOU CAN HAVE TOO MANY CATS IN A ROOM!!!!!!!! I didn't bother responding, but I do try to be appropriate - and what could be more appropriate than a pink pussy at a SLIT launch? Hmmmph! *Sound of pure femme disdain*

I knew about maybe 30% of the launch attendees, enough to chat to. It's finally starting, after two years in Sydneytown - the first year mainly taken up with navigating financial aspects of surviving in big city with totally different sex industry and in trying desparately to resusitate a relationship that should have been compassionately euthanased - to feel like I might have a niche in this huge scary place.

The cow show was a highlight - leather, cow print body paint, 'branding', silly mooing song and milky udders all adorable. There is a silly playfulness and lack of contrived sexuality about SLIT launch performances that I really enjoy.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Whore Stigma (part one)

Spoke today with one of my favourite fellow whores, Sienna. We discussed her mother's recent comment about the sex worker rights movement as a 'quite an industry construct' and about how we (the sex worker rights movement) worked hard to get sex workers involved.

I still find it incredible that women (whether sex workers or not) can discount the need for a sex worker rights movement. The impacts of the
whore stigma is felt by all women, whether professionals or amateurs, chaste or unchaste. I recognised in this comment, the distant voice of my own mother, who aside from her Catholic objections to my sex work, experienced my outness and activism around this issue as a further confrontation to her value system. Not just a whore but a whore who refuses to be shamed into silence.

Good girls are kept from straying by consequences attached to sex work. Around Australia, the consequences can include a criminal record, having the Family Court remove your children from your care, individual registration as a sex worker with either the police or government department, being evicted, having sexual assault considered to be par for the course, crimes again sex workers treated as less-serious than those against non-sex workers as well as social ostracism.

Obviously, in other countries the consequences of sex work can be death.

As long as we maintain the divide between good girls and whores, and punish the whores, good girls will be forced to restrict their behaviour in order to avoid those consequences. What does that mean for good girls? I'm reminded of a Reclaim the Night chant that has always been special to me, "Yes means yes. No means no. Whatever we wear, whereever we go" The concept of stranger danger keeps women afraid and restricted in their everyday lives. Don't leave home after dark, don't dress too slutty, don't be intoxicated in public, don't be loud or draw attention to yourself, don't talk explicitly about sex, don't swear, don't be unladylike.... Don't be whorish. Even though the majority of abuse experienced by most women (including whores) will be perpetrated by their partners or other family members, most women restrict their behaviour for fear of consequences.

I was reading this article written by Sasha, a sex worker activist about her experience at the Toronto 2006 AIDS conference that highlighted for me the systematic way that the whore stigma opporates. A newer incarnation of the consequences of deviance has emerged through the neo-conservative movement in the US and other Nations - the use of money to enforce Christian morality. Absolutely chilling.
I was particularly moved to angry tears by certain sections:

"In 2003, the Bush government created a policy that forces nations to sign a "prostitution pledge," preventing organizations that empower sex workers from getting US HIV/AIDS funding."

"Thursday is a press conference called "New Findings on the Impact of the US Prostitution Loyalty Oath on HIV Prevention," moderated by Jodi Jacobson. Activists Melissa Ditmore from New York, Gabriela Leite from Brazil and Hazera Bagum from Bangladesh -- who just the night before won a Red Ribbon award for her work with the organization Durjoy Nari Shangha -- are on the panel. The havoc wreaked by US policy is enragingly transparent in all the literature given out by international groups (condom shortages in sub-Saharan Africa; outreach workers in Cambodia fired for treating sex workers; sex workers turned away from clinics in Thailand) but it is Bagum, breaking down in tears when telling of the 16 drop-in centres (DICs) around the Bangladesh capital that have been closed in order to comply with the pledge, who really drives the point home for me. The DICs not only provide a place for thousands of women to get condoms -- the number they're selling now dropping from 73,000 to 30,000 per month -- but somewhere for them to rest, wash and gain literacy skills and moral support."

I find the 'industry' focussed on the abolition of sex work - the organisations that construct sex work as violence against women, that kidnap and deport sex workers, that set up the spectacularly unsuccessful but very well funded exit and retraining programs to save sex workers from themselves to be far more bizarre and 'impressive'. The ability for the 'rescuers' to discount the voices of sex workers and their lack of concern about providing real economic alternatives just blows me away....