Thursday, August 30, 2007


Okay, so I finally got around to answering some of those questions I asked for about sex work, ages ago on this blog. This is half of the answers to the questions, which seemed to group together as being related to sexuality and identity stuff and I'll post soon talking about feminism and about safety issues. I've added some other commonly asked questions, as they also seemed related to issues of queerness and identity.

Please be aware that the thoughts and comments expressed in this post, and in Her Royal Whoreness in general are my own, and may not always be representative of all whores, the sex worker rights movement, or any sex worker organisation or group I have worked for or been involved with.

For a broader taste of the sex worker rights movement beliefs and values, check out some of my links.

'Maybe not what you were asking for but why "Whoretic"? '

The name whoretic - which has been my online name for about a decade, is a play on the word 'heretic'. I was raised Catholic, and a lot of the sex negativity with which I was raised made it essential for me to do sex positive activism as a way of reclaiming sex and joy for myself. The hatred and distrust of pleasure, bodies and sexuality that is at the heart of so much patriarchal religion feels so abusive, to me, that affirming sex and bodies, and taking them seriously feels so necessary.
The fact that I am a whore, and an out proud, unrepentant whore has always felt like the ultimate heresy.
Update: My housemate (and substitute husband) says: The word heretic originates in Greek, as many Latin words did, and derives from a word meaning "to choose" (hairetikos, from the verb hairesthai).... which just makes it even more appropriate for me - an out proud whore by choice.

Why do you sex work?

For me, sex work is a form of sex positivity in action. Queer theory and the older Gay and Lesbian liberation movements allows us to critique a view of sex as only acceptable when occurring within very narrow frameworks – sex for love, within committed relationships, in order to make babies.
Sex work is one of the ways I demonstrate valuing sex for its therapeutic effects, its recreational effects, its beneficial effects on self esteem and self worth. I affirm the seeking of touch, orgasm and responding to skin hunger. As an out proud queer/dyke/whore, I can accept my clients’ varied desires without judgement, with support and playfulness. Sex work has taught me that even straight men need sexual liberation!
Sex work is one of the only ‘traditional women’s work’ jobs that is paid well. Parenting, nursing, teaching and other care work have not been compensated in a way that reflects their social value. The skills that make a good sex worker include esoteric ones such as comfort with intimacy, ability to confidently read body language, and a communication style that reflects both compassion and assertiveness. It is unusual and kind of fantastic to have these hard-to-define skills prove to actually be marketable.

'So can you actually be a dyke and suck cok 4 cash? Seriously though, does your lack of attraction for males make your sex work harder?'

It’s probably going to take a few more centuries for a sufficient number of women to unlearn female socialisation that automatically couples sex with love, or sex with relationships. Until then, the overwhelming majority of sex work clients will be male. Most of my female clients that I have seen have accessed sex work services as part of a couple with their male partners.
In some ways, it’s easier to work with male clients. It’s certainly easier to get to the point, and get them off in a half hour or hour session. It’s also easier for me to maintain a professional perspective – not feeling the need to constantly check in on how they’re doing. Also easier to maintain professional boundaries – I find a lot of women clients struggle with not being able to kiss during a sex work session, for example. I would like to see more women accessing sex work services; as that would represent a fundamental shift in the way women value their own desire and pleasure. Because of our cultural baggage that means that women are less likely to access sex workers, I enjoy being a part of other projects, such as workshops, that aim to give Queer women in particular access to different language, or different ways of thinking about sex and pleasure.
I think different dykes have different ways of describing their sexuality, and different feelings about it. For me, I identify as a queer dyke, rather than a lesbian, which for me at least has more room for diversity and fluidity. While I’m not currently attracted to str8 cisgendered men, they do not repulse me. Sex with str8 men feels pretty neutral for me. So sex work doesn’t have much to do with my sexuality; I think my queer sensibility is an asset to my work, but other than that there is quite a bit of compartmentalisation. I think most sex workers wouldn’t be attracted to every single client; however it doesn’t stop them from being able to provide services – so it’s not that hard for dyke whores.

Do you get more negative reactions from other dykes or other whores?

It depends on the dyke or the whore. The most common response from both dykes and whores is ‘how do you cope with servicing men if you’re a lesbian?’ It’s easier to explain this one to other workers, however, I find most women will get it that sex can be work, and that women have sex for a whole range of reasons, other than attraction. I often find myself doing endless community education – sex work 101 with queers; queer 101 with sex workers.
I find the most negative response from other sex workers usually happens in brothel environments, where some other sex workers will wait for me to leave the room before they change clothes. As if I’m going to launch myself across the room and ravish/ravage them. I try to let it be known that str8 women don’t really interest me - that some quality of queerness must be present, but that’s about it.
From fellow dykes, I think that combination of titillated yet repulsed is the most offensive and confusing response – where you are seen as unworthy of respect, but kinda sexy all the same. It saddens me as I immediately think of that chant from Reclaim the Night marches: “Yes means yes, No means no, whatever we wear, wherever we go”, and the related idea that sexual behaviour or lack of it shouldn’t make women more or less valued. I think a lot of women who subscribe to feminist values consider that as a truth in theory, but their behaviour towards other women may be different.

What impact does sex work have on your intimate relationships?

Well, being a very out sex worker – means that when I’m romantically interested in someone, that someone has to have a lot of conversations about sex work in the early stages. This gives them the opportunity to check all of those misconceptions about sex work. It also gives me a chance to see whether they have deeply ingrained sex worker phobia.

I don’t expect anyone to be initially 100% supportive of sex work, or be very politically aware about the oppression of sex workers. I hope exposure to my experience and through me of the sex worker rights movement will make a difference. If someone is much attached to anti-sex work values, then they don’t tend to stay in my life very long, either as a friend or partner. Bigotry is a really unattractive quality.
I don’t think sex work has any greater impact on my partnerships than any other work. I can say that doing night shifts – in any industry – is draining and bad for relationships, as is working in bad work environments, in any industry.
The sex worker rights movement has been a huge part of my political work for many years now. In fact I have described the sex worker rights movement as my primary partner and most committed relationship before... only half jokingly. So at times my burning focus on the movement has probably left partners feeling neglected, as when I was living in Adelaide and law reform was on the cards, lots of meetings, sitting in the strangers gallery watching Parliament in session, producing lobbying materials, doing media and debating anti-sex work Christians makes for a stressed and overloaded whoretic, without much time to nurture intimate bonds.

I have participated in many movements to varying degrees over time – peace and non-violence, environmental movements, feminism, queer visibility and rights, as well as broad left stuff. However, my sex work has been the one thing that has given me a criminal record; this has the potential to impact on my travel between countries and my ability to work in several fields of employment. So the degree of oppression and its impact on my life has meant that sex worker rights have been my biggest political passion. Also, there is a very simplistic, core part of me that just hates being told what I can and can't do with my own body that motivates me towards being involved with sex worker rights issues. Although concepts of identity are fraught for me, my biggest and most stable identity is always whore activist.

I find myself using some of the tools of LGBTIQ liberation in my sex worker rights work; outness and visibility, community development and identity politics. Not all sex worker activists use these tools. Often the impacts of sex worker phobia are so big that even activists chose a path of least disclosure to avoid stigma. The impact of my visibility on my own life - even though consciously chosen, has been huge. It has been really isolating, sometimes other sex workers won’t want to spend time around me, in case it is assumed that they are sex workers by association. Ultimately, I have avoided the closet in all my various identities, because I’m proud of who I am and my choices. The intersections of all those parts of me bring me richness and unique insights. I wouldn’t have my life any less complex, because that would signal a loss of meaning.
If you want to ask me a question about sex work, do it here.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Voulez-vous coucher avec moi(ce soir)?

The song Lady Marmalade was first recorded by Labelle in 1974, and it was inspired by New Orleans sex workers. The French Quarter is the city's red-light district. The song tells the story of a woman known only as "Lady Marmalade", who seduces a man she met on the street in New Orleans, Louisiana. Although the man has moved on from the experience, his memories of their tryst remain vivid when he tries to sleep. The song's chorus, "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi (ce soir)?", means "Do you want to sleep with me (tonight)?" in French,

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

High Heel Race in St. Petersburg

Hah! This is nothing.... when I started working in brothels in South Australia, they were regularly raided by the vice squad, so I had a lot of practice running in heels, scaling fences in heels, etc. I consider myself to be a high heel athlete!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

What will get me out of bed on a cold Tuesday morning

Sex workers demand industry regulation

Posted Tue Aug 14, 2007 11:01am AEST

A small group of sex workers have staged a protest outside a conference in Sydney, calling for the implementation of Department of Planning guidelines on the regulation of the sex industry.
The group says a panel of health, planning and local government officials developed the guidelines in consultation with the sex industry.

The Sex Worker Rights Action Coalition says the Land and Environment Court has made it clear that brothel developments can not be blocked on moral grounds.

An independent sex worker, Saul Isbister, says the guidelines would help councils to regulate the industry, without compromising the safety of sex workers.

"The guidelines recommend that councils permit all types and scales of sex-industry premises in their natural locations," he said.

"That means home-based sex workers in residential areas, and commercial premises in commercial areas - a very logical position to take."

And the paper bags worn on the heads - at several local sex worker protests lately, represents that local councils have become the new paper bagmen, with opportunities for bribes and corruption, rather than the police, as used to be the case prior to decriminalisation in New South Wales... Also the anonomity offered by the paper bags allows sex workers to demonstrate in favour of their rights, without having to deal with the impact of coming out on their lives...

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Reminder to treat yourself well

I don’t know if it’s a winter thing, and thus Seasonal Affective Disorder related, or specific stresses in people’s lives that by pure coincidence have happened all at the same time, or if crappy mental health is contagious (I suspect a combination of the above) but many people I know have been struggling with mental health issues, and either sinking below the surface or valiantly treading water.

I thought I’d take some time to remind everyone about some good mental health practice tools. Good mental and physical health goes together, so if things are falling off the top of your overloaded bundle, focus on the basics. Drink water and camomile tea, get plenty of sleep, eat some fruit and vegetables, breathe deeply, get some exercise. Treating yourself well is good for your self esteem, and it provides you with a basic foundation for managing stress. Basic self care is also one of the least mortifying mental health initiatives I have ever undergone.

Breathing slowly and deeply remembering to fully exhale is good for stress-related asthma and panic attacks. When you are experiencing racing thoughts, slow down and talk to yourself – is the most catastrophic and dire answer the most likely? Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is handy for the racing-panic-attack-thought-patterns and also the helpless-hopeless-depressive-thoughts, and when you learn how to do it well, it is incredibly empowering to be able to pull yourself out of the blue funk or the anxiety horrors. For clinical depression, the two most statistically useful things to do are to get exercise and to increase social contact. Grab a friend for a brisk walk. Borrow a dog and walk him/ her regularly - walking a dog is a great way to become instantly popular.

Some books that may be useful: You Can Beat Depression: A Guide to Prevention & Recovery by Dr John Preston, and for those of you going through yucky break ups, its Sex And The City style chick focused and assumes heterosexuality, however, take from it what you can: It's Called a Breakup Because It's Broken by Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt. Oh, and I keep hearing good things about MoodGym.

Oh, and if you need to, get on meds (anti-depressants, or others), if you are still high and mighty about using anti-depressants, consider that myself and many others I know wouldn’t be here to preach to you if it weren’t for our meds….. and if you are using anti-depressant medication (or are just struggling with depression in general) please cut down on the amount of alcohol or other depressants you are using to give yourself the best possible chance of recovery.

Getting queers, whores and other outsiders to love ourselves, do self care, treat each other well and build community are all important political acts. Imagine that we all had more energy to fight for equality and a more just world? Imagine if we, instead of self destructing had more time for critiquing the dominant paradigm? The work of previous generations of activists have meant powerful changes for the social standing of queers – the fact that young queers now can regularly come out to their families without rejection would have been almost unimaginable, not so long ago. I look forward to a time when baby (newly out) queers have the opportunity to slot into a queer community that is thriving, to look forward to a range and choice of social spaces that aren’t solely focused around alcohol and late nights, where diversity is genuinely celebrated. Where queerness is so valued that self care practices are common. Sex workers aren’t even in a place yet where very many of us at all feel as if we could come out, and the whore stigma is still huge and crippling.

Oh, and everyone needs to go and get a copy of Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks and Other Outlaws by Kate Bornstein. Because Kate is completely fucking fabulous, that’s why. What, you need another reason? Well here:

I’ve written this book to help you stay alive because I think the world needs more kind people in it, no matter who or what they are, or do. We’re healthier because of our outsiders and outlaws and freaks and queers and sinners. I fall neatly into all of those categories, so it’s no big deal to me if you do, or don’t. I’ve had a lot of reasons to kill myself, and a lot of time to do it in, and I stayed alive by doing things that many consider to be immoral or illegal. I’m glad I did it, because I’ve really enjoyed writing this book. This may be a scary time for you, and if that’s so, I hope I can help you find your courage again. If we meet some day, let me know what worked. —from Hello, Cruel World by Kate Bornstein

Monday, August 06, 2007

My Winter: by whoretic

Well the off-line world has been so damn exhausting and absorbing that I haven’t been here much at all over the last couple of months. I promise two major updates over the next two weeks – one for International Whores Day activities, and one for the yucky sex work law changes in NSW that have gone down.

In the meantime here is a general update of winter highlights, in easily digestible dot points:

  • I have moved out of the frat house, and into the ghetto. My new house is funny looking, with yellow paint everywhere, and faux wood panelled walls. Not even real wood panelling. I keep hoping for afro’ed individuals to appear at the front door to clean zee pool, but alas… so far, no cigar.

  • I have a new part time job. My first grown up non-sex work, non-sex worker organisation job. Still in the HIV sector, I still get to be out about all aspects of me. It is still a kick arse organisation that I feel proud to be associated with, but just really different.

  • I have a great housemate. I kidnapped her from the frat house. We work really well as housemates. She loves my cats. She has cute hair. She plays with me in the toy section of Kmart after we do grocery shopping at the Metro. Yah!

  • I am the proud owner of a Ponyville Sweet Shoppe (my Little Pony). All of Ponyville looks so amazing though, that I am considering buying all of the pieces and setting up our study as Ponyville. Must remember to be practical and also fit computer desk, crafting stuff, bookshelves and extra clothing racks, and form Ponyville around these necessary items.

  • Winter is a great time to be a furry. Hooray for new animal hats. Hooray for pets from friends. Hooray for wearing smeary eyeliner and a fluffy hat with ears. My favourite way of looking just now, it even works when I am very tired.