TRUTHOUT: New York Sex Workers Are Working to Decriminalize Their Trade

Bianey García arrived in New York City from Mexico in January 2005, 14 years old, alone and without a warm coat. “It was difficult getting here with no family,” she said. “When I got here, I didn’t have anything.” A year later, she was homeless in an expensive city, and still living as a boy.

Then there was a man, she said. He brought her to a restaurant in New Jersey, she remembered, giving her chocolates and flowers, “telling me that he loved me, that he’d do everything for me.” She fell in love with him. She was living on the streets and in the subways, so when he offered her a place to live as his partner, “I thought, ‘Why not?,’ to feel safe, protected — but it wasn’t real.”

“At that time, I was scared of being deported, I was afraid of being arrested because of living in the street,” García, now 28, said. Yet the man coerced her into having sex with other men for money, she said, and giving the money to him. He threatened to call ICE on her if she refused.

García planned her escape from him, saving money from trading sex on the side, not telling him. Being on her own was hard, too. After she transitioned at 18, she had trouble finding other types of work as a trans woman. “I ended up doing sex work again,” she said. “I needed it to survive.” With that came the threat of police.

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New York Sex Workers are working to Decriminalize their trade by Melissa Gira Grant

March 4th, 2019


TRUTHOUT: Decriminalizing Sex Work Is a Matter of Survival

In the summer of 2018, after more than a decade of housing instability, Nona Conner was facing homelessness again. She’d been evicted from the apartment she was staying in. Anxious to find another place to live, she restarted her old GoFundMe, titled “Black Transwoman Housing Crisis,” to get the money together.

She was relieved when there were enough donations for a security deposit and one month’s rent. It took her three months to raise it all. In the meantime, she’d been sleeping on friends’ couches, renting hotel rooms, and spending as much time as possible at her job at Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS), a grassroots organization where she works with queer, trans and gender nonconforming people of color to access jobs and job skills during the day.

Before working at CASS, steady employment evaded Nona’s grasp nearly as much as steady housing. Born and raised in Southeast Washington, D.C., Nona was 15 when she ran away from a physically, verbally and emotionally abusive home. She went downtown to K Street and started selling sex to make ends meet.

“I tried getting several jobs. I would call there, sounding like a woman, and introduce myself as Bri — I went by Bri before I legally changed my name to Nona — but then I’d get there in person and they’d see that the name on my resume and the way that I looked didn’t match up with what was on my ID,” Nona said. “They’d go on with the interview for one or two minutes, say they’d give me a call. But I knew what they meant.”

 

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Decriminalizing Sex Work Is a Matter of Survival by Jordan N. DeLoach

March 2nd, 2019


NPR: Getting Out Of The Commercial Sex Industry

Many workers in the commercial sex industry have trouble getting out because they enter at a young age, have no family support and have been traumatized on the job. An organization based in LA called Treasures provides these women with a safety net that includes support groups, peer mentoring, education, job counseling, and sometimes even child care.

As part of Treasures' outreach program, founder Harmony Dust Grillo and her staff visit juvenile detention facilities, massage parlors and, of course, strip clubs.

"This is definitely an epicenter of the commercial sex industry," says Grillo from the driver's seat of her car.

The mother of two with shoulder-length blonde hair scans a busy midday boulevard in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley. It's a familiar four-lane landscape of chain restaurants, retail and gas stations.

Grillo, wearing jeans and a leather jacket, lightly drums her fingers on the steering wheel. She sees and points out what others might miss, right under their noses. "Another motel, another motel. Lots and lots of motels," she says.

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March 2nd, 2019

THE JOURNAL OF SEXUAL MEDICINE: Are Role and Gender Related to Sexual Function and Satisfaction in Men and Women Practicing BDSM?

Published studies show good psychological health of people involved in bondage-discipline, dominance-submission, and sadism-masochism (BDSM) activities; nevertheless, there are few studies on characteristics related to gender, role in the BDSM scene, sexual functioning, and satisfaction among BDSM practitioners.

The aim of this study was to explore gender and role differences, prevalence of sexual complaints, related distress, and sexual satisfaction in BDSM participants compared with the general population.

A group of 266 Italian consensual BDSM participants (141 men and 125 women) were recruited with a snowball sampling technique. An anonymous protocol, including self-reported ad hoc and validated questionnaires, was used. The control group was composed of 100 men and 100 women who were not significantly different from the BDSM group for the sociodemographic data and were randomly extracted from an Italian database on sexual functioning of the general population.

Self-reported demographic factors, including favorite and most frequent BDSM practices, the Sexual Complaint Screener, and the Sexual Satisfaction Scale, were completed by the participants.

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Are Role and Gender Related to sexual function and satisfaction in men and women practicing BDSM? by Daniela Botta, Filippo Maria Nimbi,​ ​Francesca Tripodi​, Marco Silvaggi​, ​Chiara Simonelli

March Issue 2019

 


GOTHAMIST: Inside The New Movement To Decriminalize Sex Work In NY

Bianey García arrived in New York City from Mexico in January 2005, 14 years old, alone and without a warm coat. “It was difficult getting here with no family,” she said. “When I got here, I didn’t have anything.” A year later, she was homeless in an expensive city, and still living as a boy.

Then there was a man, she said. He brought her to a restaurant in New Jersey, she remembered, giving her chocolates and flowers, “telling me that he loved me, that he’d do everything for me.” She fell in love with him. She was living on the streets and in the subways, so when he offered her a place to live as his partner, “I thought, ‘Why not?,’ to feel safe, protected—but it wasn't real.”

“At that time, I was scared of being deported, I was afraid of being arrested because of living in the street,” García, now 28, said. Yet the man coerced her into having sex with other men for money, she said, and giving the money to him. He threatened to call ICE on her if she refused.

García planned her escape from him, saving money from trading sex on the side, not telling him. Being on her own was hard, too. After she transitioned at 18, she had trouble finding other types of work as a trans woman. “I ended up doing sex work again,” she said. “I needed it to survive.” With that came the threat of police.

She recalled a warm night in 2008, on Roosevelt Avenue and 86th Street in Queens, when she was arrested for the first time along with someone she was dating.

“I was walking with my boyfriend,” she said, “and then an undercover police car stopped in front of us, and [the officers] pushed me to the ground and take my purse. They search my purse, they found condoms, and they used that as evidence of prostitution. Even when they was arresting me, my boyfriend told them we were in a relationship, and they don’t care. They said [to him], ‘You have to go, or you'll be arrested.’”

 

Read the full article: 

Inside The New Movement To Decriminalize Sex Work In NY by Melissa Gira Grant

February 25th, 2019


MEL: THE FOOT FETISHISTS OF WIKIFEET ARE THE WEB’S GENTLEST KINKSTERS

Ludacris has a thing for feet. According to a 2004 interview he gave to Today, the rapper, actor and one-time Fear Factor host judges a lady’s date-worthiness by how sexy her feet are, rejecting anyone who “tricks” him by pulling a displeasing foot out of her boot. “I have a foot fetish,” he explained.

That a household name like Luda came out and admitted he had a fetish was titillating at the time, but the fact that feet were his fancy was somewhat less so: According to a 2007 study of more than 5,000 adults, foot fetishism is the most common non-vanilladesire. And as evidenced by Ludacris’ admission, it’s also the most seemingly mainstream. Nowhere is that more apparent than on wikiFeet, a celebrity foot fetish site, founded in 2008, that bills itself as “the most extensive online message board and photo gallery of women’s feet on the Internet.”

According to The Guardian, more than 700,000 people visit wikiFeet every week to rate and review the feet of over 30,000 famous women’s feet. Some of these feet are attached to A-listers like Ivanka Trump, Whoopi Goldberg and Emma Stone, but the vast majority of them are C- and D-list feet submitted by a global network of users who pull them from public sources like social media, magazine covers, film stills and Google Images.

If you’re a foot fanatic, I’m sure you’ll find wikiFeet’s selection — sortable by nationality, foot size and birthday — to be robust and satisfying. If you’re not, I’m equally sure you’ll find absolutely nothing sexy about it — the images are zoomed-out, G-rated and no more erotic than your standard Getty photo. The comments are equally tame and nothing like the ones you’d find on a typical porn site. “Beautiful soles, with elegant form!!!!” reads one. “Very nice #bath” is another. They’re also very, very knowledgeable about feet.

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The foot fetishists of Wikifeet are the web's gentlest Kinksters by Isabelle Kohn

Feb. 2019


VICE: How Trans Sex Workers in Paris Are Coming Together to Stay Safe

Near the sprawling Bois de Boulogne public park in western Paris, a white van belonging to a trans sex worker has been completely wrecked. The bed is torn apart, the bumpers shattered and trash dumped on the ground around the vehicle. "This really pisses me off," fumes Samantha as she surveys the damage to the van.

Samantha is a sex worker and employee of the Bus des Femmes – an organisation that works to provide sex workers in the area with a range of welfare services. She considers herself an expert on the Bois de Boulogne – where, in April of 2018, trans sex worker Vanessa Campos, 36, was killed while trying to protect a colleague from being robbed.

"You're looking at a kind of intersectionality with these girls; the combined stigmas of being trans, a sex worker and an immigrant," Françoise Gill, the president of Bus de femmes, later explains to me.

Samantha is on her weekly rounds to check in on the area's sex worker community – a group that has felt considerably less safe since the French government introduced a €1,500 (£1,350) fine in 2016 for anyone caught paying for sex. Even though prostitution is legal in France, the fine was partly intended as a deterrent. But instead of working as planned, clients now regularly ask the women for sex in secluded areas to avoid the police. In a Médecins du Monde survey conducted with nearly 600 sex workers in France, 63 percent said they have seen their working conditions deteriorate, while 42 percent said they have experienced more violence since the law change.

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How Trans Sex Workers in Paris are coming together to stay safe by Manon Walquan and Edouard Richards

Jan. 11th, 2019


BUZZFEED: Margaret Cho Hopes The BDSM Web Series She's Producing Shatters Stereotypes About Asian Women's Sexuality

Comedian and actor Margaret Cho hopes the forthcoming web series she's producing, Mercy Mistress, dispels longtime assumptions about Asian women's sexuality.

Cho, actor Poppy Liu, and Yin Q, the BDSM master whose memoir serves as the inspiration for the show, stopped by BuzzFeed News' morning show AM to DM on Monday to chat about the series with reporter Hayes Brown.

When questioned about which Asian stereotypes she'd like the show to chip away at, Cho immediately responded, "Dragon Lady."

"But it’s the one way we as Asian women have been able to have agency and control of the narrative," said Cho, "that we have to assume these tropes like Dragon Lady, like the Lotus Blossom, like the Delicate Flower."

Cho said that the great thing about Mercy Mistress is having Asian women play with the stereotypes in a way that's "eroticized and having fun for us."

"I think that's the most powerful piece of this."

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Margaret Cho hopes the BDSM web series she's producing shatters stereotypes about Asian women's sexuality by Michael Blackmon

Jan. 7th, 2019


PRIDE SOURCE: Give Margaret Cho a Hand: Comic Talks New Kink Series, Queer Sex & Hollywood Homophobia

Damn that bulging carpometacarpal joint. Without it, Margaret Cho’s kink play could’ve been trouble-free, but nope – that thumb joint has been “the bane of my existence since 1991,” she tells me.

That’s right: I talked to Margaret Cho and we somehow landed on the topic of fisting. These things happen! (They especially do if, like I did, you launch your convo with Cho by informing her that your introduction to the word “fisting” was via her early stand-up.)

Clearly, our afternoon chat took many wild and sexually freewheeling turns when the trailblazing comic called to discuss executive producing “Mercy Mistress,” an Asian-led web series exploring BDSM through the relationship of its lead, a queer Chinese-American dominatrix named Mistress Yin (played by actress-activist Poppy Liu), and her new client. The series is based on sex-work activist and BDSM educator Yin Q’s memoir. Difficult digits aside, Cho discussed her intro to kink, diversity casting, what makes queer sex special and why Christian Grey should’ve been a sub.

You’ve long spoken openly about sex, sexuality and kink. Why is it important to you to talk about queer sex in your work?

It’s just another way to embellish identity. There are just ways of being ourselves, and when you’re queer and you come out, you come out to a world where you kind of need to figure out who you are because the examples aren’t out there for us. They aren’t defined. The lanes aren’t so, like, obvious (laughs). So, you really need to create it.

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Margaret Cho talks new kink series, queer sex & Hollywood homophobia by Chris Azzopardi

Jan. 3rd, 2019


ALLURE: How Asian-American Dominatrixes Use Stereotypes to Their Advantage in the Fetish World

In the 1999 film Payback, Lucy Liu plays a dominatrix named Pearl. Clad in patent leather lingerie and fishnets, she stomps on her boyfriend’s balls and recites the lines, “Me love you, baby, me love you long time.” Accurate media portrayals of sex workers of color are hard to come by in general, but from her criminality to her willingness to let her boyfriend beat her up, Liu’s character is a poor depiction of an Asian dominatrix.

Professional domination, a historically taboo career that combines sex work with BDSM, is already sensationalized in pop culture as a world of cracking whips, villainous dungeons, and anguished screams. But combining that with Orientalist, hypersexualized stereotypes — either the fragile “lotus blossom” or aggressive “dragon lady” — can send some in a tailspin of fetishization and prurient curiosity.

Which is why Domina Dia Dynasty and Mistress Lucy Sweetkill, two New York City professional dominatrixes (pro dommes), warned against generalizing their experiences for the entire community.

Lucy, 33, is Vietnamese American, and Dia, 41, is Chinese American. They came into their unconventional career in similar ways, but have opposing personalities. Lucy’s clients often call her “daddy,” because of her authoritative energy, while Dia’s ultra-feminine energy gets her the nickname “goddess” and sometimes, to her displeasure, “mommy.”

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Asian American Dommes use stereotypes to their advantage in the Fetish world by Tiffany Diane Tso

Jan. 2nd, 2019