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Conference Speakers

Keynote Address

Veronica Monet

Veronica Monet is a Certified Sex Educator (SFSI), a Founding Member of the Association of Sexual Energy Professionals (ASEP), and a trained volunteer for the Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence (CARDV). She recently relaesed her book, Sex Secrets of Escorts - Tips From a Pro (ISBN: 1592573681 Alpha Books 2005), available at Amazon.


(The list below includes confirmed presenters and will be updated as more presenters confirm.)


Porter

Porter is completing a B.A. in Women's and LGBT Studies at UCLA and will begin graduate level Women's Studies course work at Claremont Graduate University in the fall.  Porter's free time is spent lecturing on queer genders in introductory Women's Studies courses at colleges scattered about Southern California and in seminars offered at The Gay and Lesbian Center of Long Beach. After dark, Porter works as one of the promoters of the monthly queer dance night Club Butchin' L.A. in an effort to create greater queer solidarity in Los Angeles.

Abstract: Lusty Ladies: Analyzing Identity and Relationship Management On and Off the Clock

Sex work continues to be an occupational choice stigmatized and devalued by a significant portion of society.  As such, documenting the experiences of individuals employed in the sex industry serves as a vital tool in the continued effort to legitimize sex work as a viable and worthwhile employment option. 

The Lusty Lady Theater in San Francisco, California presents a unique opportunity for researching sex work because of its status as the only unionized worker-owned strip club cooperative in the United States.  Utilizing interviews with two self-identified queer femme dancers at the Lusty Lady, participant observation, and literary analysis several issues are explored in analyzing the lived experience of dancers at the theater.  First, the Lusty Lady’s unique status as a unionized worker-owned cooperative directly effects the immense autonomy dancers are given in choosing their own name, costumes, and persona as well as discretionary choice in refusing services to unruly and/or abusive customers.  Additionally relationships between coworkers, specifically queer femme identified women, are exceptionally tight-knit which directly contributes to a positive and emotionally safe and supportive work environment. 

Concurring with similar published research on the Lusty Lady San Francisco, the relationships between coworkers foster a noncompetitive work environment where employees freely exchange advice on improving performance.  In addition, dancers tailor their shows to fulfill the specific needs of the customer(s) (and also to maximize profits) and their performances often vary significantly depending on the perceived gender of the customer(s) engaged in the encounter.  Of related significance, just as the interpersonal relationships between dancers facilitates employees gaining new insights relating to their sexuality, customers also have the potential to contribute to the dancers’ increased comfort and growth pertaining to the performers’ sexual identities.  Finally, stigma associated with employment at the Lusty Lady arises not only from those outside of the dancers’ social network, but specifically for queer employees, hyper-glorification occurs additionally when female-bodied masculine queers within their social network glamorize and exoticize employment at the Lusty Lady which further isolates queer dancers from communities outside the sex industry.


Emily van der Meulen

Emily van der Meulen is a board member of Maggie's: The Toronto Prostitutes' Community Service Project.

Elya Durisin

Elya Durisin is a board member of Maggie's: The Toronto Prostitutes' Community Service Project.

Keisha Scott

Keisha Scott is the Administrative Coordinator of Maggie's: The Toronto Prostitutes' Community Service Project.

Abstract: Sex Work Regulation and Activism in Toronto

For more than 25 years, sex workers across Canada have been fighting for our rights and well being, challenging the laws, stigma and stereotypes that reduce our social worth and expose us to exploitation and violence. Maggie's: The Toronto Prostitutes' Community Service Project, originally founded in 1986, is a Canadian organization run by and for women, men and trans people working in the sex trade. Our mission is to assist sex workers in our efforts to live and work in safety and dignity. The speakers on this panel have worked in many different sectors of the sex industry and are representatives from Maggie's, Canada's oldest sex worker organization. We advocate the complete decriminalization of the industry and we support labour rights for all sex workers.

Emily van der Meulen will discuss and critique of the current regulation of sex work through Canadian federal law. Her paper, Sex Work and the Criminal Code of Canada, will focus on the 4 sections of the Criminal Code that stigmatize the sex industry, discriminate against sex workers' basic human and labour rights, and obstruct sex work organizing for improved safety and employment standards. These sections include: the bawdy-house laws of s.210 and 211; the anti-'pimping' laws of s. 212; and the communicating laws of s.213.

Elya Durisin will follow with The Municipal Regulation of Indoor Sex Work in Canada, a paper discussing the licensing and regulation of indoor sex work in some Canadian municipalities. In the absence of federal initiatives to amend criminal legislation on prostitution, municipal bylaws are appearing as a local form of prostitution law reform. Proponents of regulation say that licensing will provide sex workers with some of the social benefits of standard employment, however in practice licensing can present challenges to sex work being understood as a work relation and treated as legitimate work.

Keisha Scott will close the panel with Maggie's: A History, Then and Now . This paper presents a brief history of Maggie's and highlights our current and future projects and activities. As a government funded grassroots organization, Maggie's receives many benefits from core funding. At the same time, we face the challenges of sex worker mobilization and representation from diverse sectors of the industry. This paper, then, concludes with a discussion of strategies on how to build bridges between various sectors in our efforts to foster successful community building that will bring us closer to decriminalization.


Damien Luxe

Damien Luxe works with $pread Magazine as Art Director, has toured the US and Canada as a multimedia performance poet, and works currently in NYC as an independent, outcall fetish worker.

Sarah Jenny

Sarah Jenny is the webmistress of $pread Magazine, a seasoned Dominatrix with 6 years experience working in various facets of the sex industry and over a decade in online entrepreneurship.

Abstract: Clicking Past Craigslist: A Crash Course in Using Internet Media for Sex Workers

New Media isn't the wave of the future, it is the reality of the present. In this workshop, we intend to relay vital how-to strategies  for people who are interested in learning how to use the web for making money, either directly (internet-related businesses) or indirectly (marketing strategies). Participants will leave with the knowledge bank and insight of how to utilize this medium to increase income, marketability, and/or visibility.

The workshop will be divided into two main categories:

"DIY" (Do-It-Yourself): How to make your own webpage, write your own marketing copy & ads

"Non-DIY" (Not Doing-It-Yourself): Using existing webportals, ad

 services, blogging (guerilla journalism), and utilizing existing internet businesses.

Basic HTML, marketing strategies, advertising, and methods of receiving payments will be covered. Basic legal concerns and history will also be addressed.

Participants will leave with the confidence and knowledge necessary to Use the web for profit and presence! Links to resource web pages will be provided as permanent reference to attendees as well as a jumping off point for their endeavors.


Robyn Few

Sex Workers' Outreach Project, USA
website


Abstract: "The Importance of Organizing Globally"


Sex Workers Project, New York, NY
website

Melissa Ditmore

Coordinator, NSWP

Kristen Freeland

Program Associate, Sex Workers Project

Jennifer Ramirez

Outreach Coordinator, Sex Workers Project

Asia Lyons

Outreach Worker, Sex Workers Project

Abstract: "Problems and solutions: Educating the public and cultivating allies for sex workers' rights Presented by The Sex Worker Project and the NSWP"


Heather Tucker

Heather Tucker is a 25 year old women’s studies student at HSU (focus in International Studies, minoring in French and film), a former sex worker for 1 year in San Diego, and an anti capitalist, anti-racist, anti-homophobic issues activist.

Abstract: Criminalizing the Other

I would like to address women’s positioning within the current global economic context of United States empire building through discussing women in the sex work industry.  I would like to discuss violence against sex workers as well as the criminalization of sex trafficking.  Further, I seek to show how the criminalization of sex trafficking furthers police violence against sex workers and feeds women of color to the prison industrial complex.


Meredith Fortner

Meredith Fortner is a stripper getting her masters in Women's Studies at Texas Woman's University in Denton, a liberal oasis in an otherwise political wasteland of a state. She has been a fan and avid reader of sex work literature since she was sixteen, and finally decided to enter the business for herself last May. She is fascinated by all intersections of feminism and sexuality, and is specifically interested in the effects that sex work has on identity, both internal perceptions and external stigma.

Abstract: Stripping [and] Subjectivity

I spent a decade analyzing stripping from my safe, outside/r, academic-feminist perspective before realizing I could not understand its subjective realities without first gaining embodied experience. Having previously relied on second-hand knowledge to indulge my fascinations, I was stuck in polarizations of dis/empowered and pro/anti-sex work feminism; after having used my body as a primary site of inquiry I’ve found power dynamics within stripping extremely liminal and complex. Challenging my preexisting theories, strip club patrons aren’t just pedestalizing female sexuality; some customers use money to wield power in ways infeasible outside the club. Moreover, strippers’ experiences continuously defy binaric categories of dis/empowered: the compartmentalization of self resultant from utilization of “real” aspects of our subjectivities during willful objectification challenges normative ideas of what constitutes “proper” feminist consciousnesses and “healthy” psyches.

Strip clubs are spaces wherein men can reify temporary patriarchal control through commodification of women; buying power lets them objectify us while perceiving our subjectivities however they wish. Successful strippers control reality by embodying a fantasy: we make men believe we are happy, engaged, and wildly attracted to them—despite our true feelings. Thus, strippers highlight and express certain aspects of our subjectivities while simultaneously hiding or suppressing others, morphing our identities and blurring our markers of authenticity. Our vigilant performance of eroticized objects entrenches customer control over our expressed selves while destabilizing our perceptions of reality, making authenticity an epicenter of discourse. Though strippers constantly engage real aspects of our sexual personae, some encounters feel more real than others; blurring the line between performance and authentic experience, these unnerving moments cause a subjective compartmentalization necessary to preserve our self-integrity. As the distinction between “real” and “realness” fades, strippers’ identities come to inhabit a liminal space between our customers’ expectations of authentic objectification and our own manipulation of our subjectivities.


Gennifer M. Hirano, asian princess

Gennifer M. Hirano, asianprincess is curator of the show We, Asian Sex Workers in the Sex Worker Fest which runs from July 14-22 at Ar+space Gallery.  Gennifer has been showing her visual and performance art work in galleries and art spaces for 7+ years. She is an educator on issues related to prostitution, sex work, race, gender and class in her art and as an activist.  Her spoken word songs speak directly about the politics of violence against women, war and peace, and sex workers rights. Visit www.asianprincessartifacts.com

Laure McElroy

Laure McElroy, trade name Xtascene, is a community health worker, a former sexworker (until someone makes a big enough offer), an afropunk and a welfare QUEEN. She's a staff writer and teacher at POOR Magazine's Race, Poverty and Media Justice Institute. She edits the zine systemBitch. She has a love/hate relationship with her cats, and a hate/hate relationship with all forms of oppression and pedantry. She can be reached at laure@poormagazine.org.

Kenya Hayes

Kenya's family was involved in the business and she grew up believing that "People are people, no matter what they do." Kenya has volunteered for many years for Legal Services for Prisoners with Children. She primarily  provides in-home support,  taking care of people in a domestic context and has since the age of fifteen.

Abstract: Our Communities: On and Off The Streets

This panel explores issues of issues sex worker rights and community in the context of sex workers from diverse communities.  Moderated by Laure McElroy (from Poor magazine) this session will help create a space of respect and understanding across lines of race, class and work venues which often divide us.


Kirk Read

Kirk Read is the author of "How I Learned to Snap", a memoir about being openly gay in a small southern high school during the late 1980s. Kirk worked as an intake counselor at the St. James Infirmary, a free heath care clinic for sex workers. He will be performing at the Sex Worker Festival on July 22nd at Lick My Kitty: Kitty Kastro Memorial Cabaret.

Reginald M. Lamar

Reginald M. Lamar is a singer songwriter and performer whose work has been presented in art galleries, museums, night clubs, recital halls and on the street. Most recently  Classically trained as a counter tenor Lamar recently relocated to New York City from San Francisco.  Lamars' unique blend of opera, folk , and gospel with politically and sexually provocative song lyrics has made him a new favorite in the anti folk music scene in the lower east side of Manhattan. He will be performing at the Sex Worker Festival on July 22nd at Lick My Kitty: Kitty Kastro Memorial Cabaret.

Jeff Ball

Jeff Ball currently  is currently seeking an independent degree that combines art and non-profit administration.  Jeff began working as an escort after he met someone who  disclosed. "I'm the kind of person who really likes to immerse myself in things," say Jeff.

Jeff's video will be screened at the Roxie on July 21st.  His exhibit, Dis Closure, is on display at the St. James Infirmary.  There will be a tour in the afternoon on Sunday, July 22nd.

Konrad Product

Playwright and producer, Konrad left home at fifteen, got on the game and never looked back. Pornographer, poet and playwright, Konrad Product worked at William Morris Agency, MTV and Samuel Goldwyn Films. Favoring leisurely afternoon movies, Konrad Product has seen virtually every film about hookers.  His play, Natural Born Hooker, is featured on Thursday Night at CounterPulse as part of the Sex Worker Festival.

Abstract: Gay Male Artists in the Sex Worker World

This panel includes a number of writers and artists featured in the San Francisco Sex Worker Film and Arts festival including Kirk Read, Mattilda a.k.a. Matt Bernstein Sycamore, Konrad Product, Jeff Ball and Reginald M. Lamar. Each artist will discuss his work and experience as an artist and sex worker in the context of sex work, sex work culture, and in the world beyond.


Alexis Rivera

Alexis Rivera is a proud queer trans-identified woman. Alexis has been involved in the Transgender community for the past 12 years. She has participated as a Commissioner for the Los Angeles County Commission on HIV/AIDS and, for the past 5 years, chaired the Transgender Service Provider Network.  She moved to San Francisco to join Transgender Law Center and she emphasizes issues for sex workers in her work.

Natasha Sommers

Natasha Sommers is a transgender activist and artist. She has had numerous careers in her 21 years including floral arranger, secretary and, of course, escort. As a young person, she has organized other young people in many contexts. At the Desiree Alliance Las Vegas Conference, Natasha developed a youth program. Emphasizing community building, Natasha is a great support within her communities. Her many long years of experience in the industry give Natasha a special perspective about many populations of which she has been a part.

Tamara Ching

Tamara Ching is a long term and dedicated San Francisco activist.  One of the featured activists in the San Francisco documentary "Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton's Cafeteria," Tamara was recipient of the Harvey Milk Individual Community Service Award. Tamara has had a great deal of experience with sex workers over these years and has many stories to tell and much wisdom to impart which she does as a valued mentor in San Francisco.

Abstract: Issues for Transgender Sex Workers in The Bay Area

The Bay Area has a strong and diverse transgender sex worker community which includes many  who have been on the forefront of civil and human rights for transgender people. This panel will include some of these Bay Area transgender activists and sex workers who will discuss recent issues as well as their own unique contributions to the rights of transgender people.


Amanda Brooks

Amanda Brooks is a former stripper and retired independent escort. She's writing a four-part series of reference books for Internet escorts. The first book is out and the second is being finalized. Find out more at www.TheInternetEscortsHandbook.com. She's written for $pread Magazine and consulted for an as-yet-unproduced British TV show. Amanda is a board member of SWOP-East and ESCO Marketing Services, Inc. She's enjoyed radio interviews with both Carol Leigh (The Scarlot Harlot) and Libertarian Radio. A native Texan until late 2004, she lived in Dallas and currently lives in California.

Abstract: Fundamental Safety for Sex Workers through Personal Privacy – Legal and Relatively Simple Ways of Being “Hidden” from Clients and Stalkers

A straightforward how-to piece using legal techniques of misdirection and misinformation gleaned through my own experience and research. The concepts of having an alternate name and an alternate mailing address are simple ideas. The trick is in learning how to achieve them. An untraceable cell phone, credit card and even business bank account is essential for sex workers with more complex business needs. None of these methods will hide you from the IRS or the government, but they are enough to keep predators at arms length, which is something most sex workers want. [This presentation will probably include a handout.]

Abstract: Dating a Client and Retiring for Love – One Escort’s Journey Through a Minefield!

It’s every escort’s biggest taboo and every client’s biggest fantasy. As intelligent people assume, it’s not an easy relationship to have. But nothing prepared me for what my retirement would bring. I was unprepared for the mental and emotional repercussions of leaving a job I loved. I’m still learning to adjust. I would like to speak honestly about retiring for love. I felt I made this trip alone. Although I know plenty of girls have done the same thing, no one talks about it. Eventually of all us retire (though not for the same reasons); I would like to offer my experiences to those who have questions or may be facing the same decision.

Abstract: Is the Internet a Boon to Sex Workers? – Pros and Cons of How the Internet Has Changed Prostitution

The advantages that the Internet brings are numerous: great networking opportunities, greater chance to express one’s self, clientele with higher income and education, more discretion, more safety and much more business control. The disadvantages are not as obvious at first glance: review boards, “hobbyist communities,” not knowing who is on the other end of the e-mail, being discovered online when you don’t want to be, barriers to getting online, the tightening net of Internet search engines/indexing/ archiving. This would be a discussion of the good and bad points of the Internet revolution. I leave the final decision up to the individual listener.


Melissa Ditmore

Melissa Ditmore is the Coordinator of the Network of Sex Work Projects

Kristen Freeland

Kristen Freeland is a Program Associate of the Sex Workers Project

Abstract: Problems and Solutions: Educating the Public and Cultivating Allies for Sex Workers’ Rights

This two-part workshop first presents diverse issues facing sex workers locally and globally, followed by suggestions for advocacy with the media and the public.

The workshop will open with a discussion of problems faced by sex workers, including information and insight from outreach by the Sex Workers Project (SWP). This will be followed by a showing of the Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP)-produced film “Taking the Pledge” about the effects of the U.S. government’s Anti-Prostitution Loyalty Oath upon sex workers around the world. The film presents a platform for discussion of the political and personal implications and responses to U.S. federal government policies including the anti-prostitution pledge, law enforcement raids, and ‘demand.’ The discussion will also be informed by preliminary results from the forthcoming SWP report on raids in the U.S.

The second half of the workshop will be devoted to ideas for cultivating allies and promoting solutions to the problems discussed, utilizing the media toolkit developed by SWP with input from sex workers across the US and around the world. The toolkit is a resource for discussing these issues – both the local issues faced by sex workers in their own towns and the more general political issues such as U.S. policy - with people who are new to sex workers’ concerns in the interest of developing political allies for broad-based advocacy. It includes resources and talking points for working with the public, the media, and policy makers.


Rebecca Rosenfelt

Rebecca has studied women in pornography from both an economic and feminist perspective for nearly 6 years. Her senior honors thesis at Wesleyan University was a thorough analysis of the economic, feminist, political, and social factors impacting women in the industry. It received a score of High Honors from the prestigious College of Social Studies.

Rebecca currently works for a New York-based management consulting firm and in her free time writes about the pornography industry in her blog, Porn Perspectives (http://pornperspectives.typepad.com).

Abstract: The New Power Suit: Women as an Economic Force in the Pornography Industry

An examination of the evolving economic role of women in the pornography industry, with special attention to the influence of technology and the implications for feminism.


Nicole Albertini-Norris

After spending seventeen years in the Bay Area experiencing its culture as well as completing her BA at UC Berkeley, Nicole Albertini-Norris moved to London, UK to do her Master's in Gender, Globalization and Development at City University London. She is currently completing her dissertation on anti-prostitution laws and how they affect anti-trafficking measures either positively or negatively. Nicole is planning on moving back to the Bay Area upon completion of her Master's dissertation.

Abstract: Legalizing Prostitution in order to Fight Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation: A Critical Evaluation of Anti-Prostitution Policies

The policies introduced and implemented in the on-going battle to end trafficking of women for the purpose of sexual exploitation has resulted in further marginalization of women in the sex industry. Neglecting to draw the line - however fine it may be - between “voluntary” and “coerced” sex work ultimately violates women’s human rights. This paper is a critical study on the negative effects of anti-prostitution policies on women’s rights. In addition, the advantages of recognizing prostitution as legitimate sex work will be assessed. Ultimately, no matter how much policy-makers would like to abolish the sex industry under the guise of fighting trafficking, the reality is that an alliance between sex workers and anti-trafficking policy makers would prove more productive.


Darby Hickey 

Darby Hickey is co-director at Different Avenues, a program working for the health, rights and safety of people at risk for violence, HIV and discrimination. Our work addresses broad issues of homelessness, informal and formal sexual exchange, and social justice. Darby is also involved in organizing for trans rights in DC, and participates in various movements including for media justice, racial & economic justice, and more.

Skytrinia Berkeley

Skytrinia Berkeley is Peer Educator/Organizer at Different Avenues, where she helps to facilitate the venue outreach project that reaches young women of color working in commercial sex locales. She is a passionate advocate for the rights of marginalized communities, and excited to learn and share about organizing and working for justice.

Abstract: Sex Worker Leadership Institute Roundtable

This session, facilitate by Skytrinia Berkeley and Darby Hickey of Different Avenues, will gather participants desires and needs for activist skills. We will use participatory activities to get people thinking about what training areas are priorities for sex worker activists, as well as the skills and topics people feel they already have or would like to improve. The outcomes of the workshop will be taken into account for the planning of the fall Sex Worker Leadership Institute in Washington DC - which participants will learn more about as well.

Abstract: Do your own Research!! How DC sex workers and allies are gathering the data themselves

Darby Hickey and Skytrinia Berkeley will provide an overview of the community based research project currently underway in DC that is examining how DC commercial sex policies affect people. Participants will learn about the planning, preparation and execution of the research project, and how they can work to create a similar project in their area if desired. Lastly, we will talk about the importance of research to achieving advocacy and organizing goals.


Donna Sheehan

Founder of community radio KWMR, pesticide activist, Founder of Orlo Arts and Ecology, Co-author of Brainlines, Founder of Baring Witness, co-author of Redefining Seduction, Women Initiating Courtship, Partnership and Peace, Co-producer of documentary film Baring Witness,  Founder of Global Orgasm for Peace and Founder of Evolutionary Revolution, Founder of The Dolley Madison Award...I'm on my forth husband (no children), huff puff and moving through my 77 year and  still having Sunday Sex!

Paul Reffell

Live-in author, poet, builder, pesticide activist, co-author of Brainlines, Co-author of Redefining Seduction, Co-producer of  film Baring Witness, co-producer of Global Orgasm, and Sunday sex partnership.

Abstract: Your Feminine Power holds the Secret to Global Peace

Based on Charles Darwin's Sexual Selection, the only solution to peace in the western world must come from women - especially women who have intimate access to Alpha Males. Discussion:   Your visionary path, Sexual Selection, culture myths, The Male Mask, Kindness, Alphas and Betas and Partnership, and redefining global progress.


Marilyn Perry 

Marilyn Perry is a third-year doctoral student in English at the University of California-Riverside. For the past six years, Marilyn's central research has focused on life writing/art/performances/publicized personal expressions produced by sex workers in contemporary societies. Additional projects that keep her brain buzzing include: explorations of (female) sexuality and sacred prostitution in the work of Neil Gaiman, re/presenting trans performativity and queer jazz in print, and the (re)clamation of the Wicked Witch of the West as an American feminist icon.

Abstract: “‘Read me, Read Me, Oh Yes, Read Me!’: “Naughty Bits”, “Annie”-o-tation, and the Body in (P)Arts in Annie Sprinkle’s Post-Porn Modernist

Materials included in this presentation draw on a particular section of Marilyn's doctoral research. The talk will touch upon the following ideas: Sprinkle’s relationship with her readers, invitations of audience “participation (particularly in reference to the Sprinkle Salon section of Post-Porn Modernist), personification of the text to aid in the establishment of sexual and authorial control, communal (or possible cummunal) life writing and performance, the multiple self, the use of metatexual elements as souvenirs, and Sprinkle’s subversion of traditional notions of celebrity, sexuality, activism, and pornography. As a whole, the essay proposes that Sprinkle not only redefines the aestheticization of sex and art but that she also defies the traditional practice of bringing meaningful objects into our homes by changing the nature of the “precious  commodity” to include that which our society insists we should purposefully overlook and find distasteful. In addition, it may be argued that, in reframing the pornographic ideal through the physical “grotesque” (making reference to Susan Stewart’s work on “the domain of lived sexuality”) and removing stigmas of voyeurism, Sprinkle aims not only to alter the way Western culture treats sex workers but also to revolutionize the way we think about that portion of our population on the whole.  

A range of theories are used when engaging with the above - from feminism to life writing to sex positivism and beyond, concentrating particularly on the benefits to be found in the fragmentedness of the scrapbook subject and its eradication of traditional boundaries of the self, the printed word, the reproduced image while also considering a variety of additional deconstructions  of the notion of the autobiography/er as a singular, controlled entity, embracing the discontinuities at work within many postmodern personal narratives.


Lynn Kendrick

Abstract: Public Perceptions of Sex Work

The paper will address the perceptions of individuals in society when it comes to various Sex Workers. The Desiree Alliance conference of 2006 in Las Vegas created an open forum for sex workers, academics and others in the community to discuss many of the issues relevant to sex workers. While attending this conference many ideas were brought to light and the current research explores one of the various issues that were addressed at the conference. During the conference, one such sex worker stated that she was tired of being asked questions by researchers about why she was doing what she was doing. Instead she asked for the researchers to go to society and ask individuals that are not in the sex business why they had their negative perceptions of people that work in the sex business. From that conference, the following research was born. The research delves into why individuals in society have certain preconceived perceptions of individuals in the sex business. The current ongoing quantitative research has interviewed 60 individuals to date (more are being added daily) that have completed the multiple choice and short answer questionnaire. The questionnaire has examined responses on issues such as why people look down on sex workers, what has influenced opinions and where these ideas have originated. The research further adds to the existing body of knowledge on why and where negative perceptions come from as well as tries to validate if these ideologies are just a myth. The current research to date provides proof that individuals are more accepting of sex workers than they are willing to admit. Behind closed door and under the guise of research individuals have divulged their true feelings. Giving further validation to the adage that the “moral majority is really not that moral”.


Naomi Akers

Naomi Akers has worked with the sex worker community in San Francisco for over 12 years.  In her life, she has worked in a variety of sex work venues, both legal and illegal including—several Nevada brothels; escorting/internet dating in San Francisco; and as a stripper, massage parlor worker and street walker in San Francisco and Los Angeles.  As of August 2006, she is the Executive Director for the St. James Infirmary (SJI), a free medical clinic for sex workers where she has worked since 2002.  In May 2007 she earned her Master in Public Health degree from San Francisco State University. Naomi’s areas of interest center around harm reduction approaches, social justice and health as a human right, particularly for Sex Workers, and drug users.  As part of her MPH studies and as a project for Legal Services for Prisoners with children, Naomi recently conducted an oral health assessment of pregnant prisoners at Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla, California.  In the summer of 2006, she completed an internship project assessing San Francisco Exotic Dancers health needs.  For her Culminating Experience, Naomi completed an evaluation of podcast Social Media designed for independent Sex Workers with Internet access.  For more information or to download her work, please visit: www.towtruckpanties.com or www.pimpsdownhosup.com.

Abstract: "Evaluating podcast social media as a health promotion tool for independent sex workers with internet access." May 2007

Sex Worker/Adult Entertainer who work collectively have lower rates of HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) then Sex Worker/Adult Entertainer who work exclusively as independent Sex Worker/Adult Entertainer (Cohan, 2006; Ditmore, 2002).[1]  Thus increasing the number of Sex Workers/Adult Entertainers who engage in collective work has the potential to decrease HIV/STI rates for the sex worker/adult entertainer community. The purpose of the project was to evaluate if a podcast made by current/former Sex Worker/Adult Entertainer about the benefits and challenges to networking would be pertinent to independent Sex Worker/Adult Entertainer who have Internet access, and if listening to this podcast would make workers more likely to network.  The evaluation tool for this project was an on-line survey, with primarily quantitative as well as key qualitative questions. During a three-week evaluation period, 216 people listened to the podcast and 27 people completed the survey.  Of those people, 8 identified as currently doing independent sex work/adult entertainment.  Exactly half reported they learned a benefit in addition to a challenge to networking; 75% said they would benefit by networking with other workers; and over 60% said they were morel likely to network with other workers.  About 90% said they would recommend the podcast to their workers and subscribe to the podcast in the future. Evaluation results were shared with the community through a discussion format on Episode 2 of the podcast as well as through email links to the summary survey results.

[1] Independent sex work is defined as “independent in-call/out-call, independent massage, phone sex, web-cam and street based sex work” while collective sex work is defined as “escort (for an agency), massage parlor, exotic dancing and bondage-discipline/domination-sadomasochism (BDSM).” Collective sex work means workers who work in groups, for agencies or in established venues. Massage parlor workers and strip club entertainers are examples of collective sex workers who work in established venues (Cohan, 2006).

Abstract: "Health assessment of SF Exotic Dancers."  Summer 2006

For the last two years, the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women (COSW) has been hearing testimony from former and current dancers about the current working conditions of strip clubs.  There has been a tremendous amount of disagreement between former and current dancers about the working conditions of strip clubs.  While the majority of current dancers state conditions in the strip clubs are fine, some former dancers say that risk for sexual assault, HIV/STI transmission, illegal stage fees imposed by strip clubs and coerced prostitution are primary health concerns for dancers.  In an attempt to discover if the claims of former dancers are applicable to current dancers, a health assessment was conducted with current exotic dancers.  Thirteen women (13) were interviewed using a structured survey with key qualitative questions.  Results revealed that the majority of dancers did not think risk of HIV/STI transmission, fear of sexual assault or the existence of private booths are a work related health risk.  Nearly half of the sample thought that stage fees were or might be a work related health risks. The lack of healthcare, the shoes that dancers wear, standing on their feet all day, the number of shifts dancers work a week, not making enough money, cleanliness and location of the club, customer harassment, and being treated badly by other people because of what they do were reported as work related health risk by the majority of exotic dancers in this sample. 

 


The Desiree Alliance conference organizers are committed to support for representation and inclusiveness of cultural, racial, economic, age, and gender identity. Please read our Diversity Statement and join our efforts to build a respectful, diverse, and strong sex worker movement.

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Desiree Alliance is a coalition of sex workers, health professionals, social scientists, professional sex educators and their supporting networks. We seek to encourage a better understanding of human sexuality by promoting ethical and unbiased research into sexual subcultures; to promote saner and more sensible approaches to policies relating to adult sexual health and behavior. We use this information to educate and empower the public to have healthy and rational attitudes about sexuality.

Desiree Alliance is a Project of Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs (SEE), a 501(c)(3) non-profit.

 


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