I have a new roommate. She recently turned 18 and ran away to my house. 4 years ago she was in my 9th grade classroom and since I have remained in touch with those kids who have remained in touch with me, P and I were able to support each other in this time of mutual crisis. She just left a 1 BR apartment shared with 2 families and 3 or 4 kids under 13. Being in a living room all to herself is probably a luxury. She has 2 jobs (that actually PAY the rent) and a high school diploma which is already worlds ahead of what my ex-boyfriend came into the equation with. I have kept in touch with her peripherally through text message updates and perhaps annual outings. She and I had a connection since she was a 9th grader because within a week of meeting me, she told me she was bisexual and that she wanted to be a stripper. I NEVER told her that I was a sex worker, or that I had spent 3 years as a stripper and never revealed to her or any of my students that I had done sex work. I gave her a book.
Lily Burana’s “Strip City” because it was comprehensive rights based, realistic and entertaining, and, my dad had given it to me, so it seemed appropriate. Knowledge is power for everyone, especially those that have the intention of getting into the sex industry at a young age. She never did become a teen prostitute, or an unwed mother or chola gangstress. She was always a leader, a cheerleader, a model undocumented student citizen who would probably never on her own be able to afford college as long as she would have to pay International student tuition for her college educaiton and have no access to Federal Student Aid…
We are not romantically involved in any way. In fact, it’s been quite interesting for me all this week. In the same week that I had re-entered the high school classroom, this time as an unpaid volunteer and tutored a few students she called me wanting to move out of her house. Since I am on the verge of not paying my rent next month, it could NOT have come at a better time. It would be refreshing to live here and have the other person PAY RENT for once. Really Refreshing.
In the week of my big meltdown, another Phoenix rose from the ashes that was SWOP-LA. She goes by Mommy Fiercest and I met her doing outreach in Mexico City at the AIDS International madness conference. I don’t remember of course, because that conference would bring EASILY 100 individuals to your booth EACH DAY. She joined SWOP-LA and has slowly been participating in various events with me as I drove myself to burn out..The handover was simple and beautiful. Like a president changing office. Ha. Almost. But it’s really been quite smooth and i am so relieved to hand over the keys. It will be a true measure of my success if she takes it makes it bigger than I did. Or if we get some grant money to pay people to make it bigger and more present than I ever could self funding it with my prostitution.
I am back to unplugging the laptop and webcamming with callers in private in my room. P shows no interest in sex work and in the last 4 years that I have known her has tamed down quite a bit as far as her outward sexuality as she has gotten older. You would think that that would be the first place that the average undocumented female worker would go. But I guess that’s my warped perception. So how do you change over from being a open whore in your face artist back to a reserved responsible adult role model trying to educate a young person. You don’t. Why? Because she is 18 now and she’s not my student, she’s my roomate!
We have a very pure relationship actually. I tried to be very compartmentalized while I was a teacher. I was very serious about my work. I ran a Gay-Straight Alliance in a South Central and it went over fine for the most part, no fear. I never would imagine being attracted to my students nor did I talk to them in detail about my personal life. That was the golden boundary for most teachers to stay sane: your personal life, especially sex life is to be ignored as if it did not exist. You don’t need to go there with them. period. Just smile and say you are a virgin. and leave it at that. In fact, when I was teaching, I politically chose to identify as GAY and be the GAY TEACHER because I wanted to appear somewhat off limits, and “asexual” to most students, especially the young men I was trying to teach about sexism, homophobia and misogyny. I didn’t even like the word BISEXUAL because it had the word SEXUAL in it every time you uttered it, and that, suprisingly is NOT my main objective every moment with everybody, despite the whore that I know that I am. When teaching high school, I felt and perhaps still feel that the more ASEXUAL you are the MORE POWER YOU HAVE. Not like creepy or like the asexual chemistry teacher who was too unattractive and unkempt even to hire a provider type of way, but asexual in a secret file but still there way, like with most politicians, but not as hypocritical. Because unlike with adult men, SEXUALITY is NOT a bargaining chip that wins you access or privileges. With your young male students, its the other way around and I wasn’t interested in abusing my power with anyone in ways that it had been abused with me. With young male students, the power dynamic of sexual advantage is very much there for them already with the girls that they are actually or just talking about “deflowering” or making babies with. As a female adult in their lives, I had the thankful advantage of being exempt from that realm of teen sex drama, because I had already gone through it once, thank you.
I brought a student in to the office for repeatedly calling me “sexy” instead of my name and used his harassment, and other student’s essays about homophobia and date rape as the basis of my Master’s inquiry paper. In some strange way, escorting has just been this ongoing and continuous exploration of male privilege and where the seeds of that first begin to grow. It is something that I have probably been exploring my whole healing life…
So living with P these days, being an all out urban geisha and web cam mistress during the day in my home office, it’s been interesting. I have to learn to recompartmentalize again. I am fortunate that I have found amazing women to help me in my struggle, to answer the call to lead without having to be nagged or pushed to do so. I am old enough to be her parent, who would have had her when I was 17 and was now struggling to support us with my dying sex work jobs. But instead she is helping me. In ways that my partner could not even do after 2 years. Crazy isn’t it? And this happens to me because I am that overcaring mentor and open door give you my cell phone number type of teacher sometimes. It paid off this time.
A university singing/speaking gig was cancelled in new york. That would have given me a $1000 to pay rent AND travel and visit friends I haven’t seen, have some paid art R&R inspiration alone time…but NO. CANCELLED. So I started to work on generating new material to send all the other campuses that I haven’t even started to talk to yet. I got that gig from this blog, I think. I haven’t even really begun any publicity on myself as a touring artist. I guess running SWOP and being in the relationship for the last 2 years were more than enough for me to deal with. But I guess I had to do all that. I’ve been thinking so much about my life process lately…
I have been finding hope and value working in the adult school classroom because students are motivated, diligent, QUIET, and there is no lesson planning. You are proctoring, mentoring, managing and motivating. That’s the job. Lots of correcting and filing. It’s everything that being a day school teacher is minus the hard parts. It even pays more. So I’ve been excited to report to my therapist taht things are looking up. I even showed up on time for the first time in 5 weeks today.