Archive for the 'prostitution' Category

02
Nov
16

To Whore or Not to Whore Part 2

Survival sex work doesn’t take thought in the same way that blocking a punch coming at your face is an instinctual move for most. Taking the time to assess whether you can meet your basic needs in other ways is comparable to the thought process of assessing why you even had to block a punch to the face in the first place.  This is the art part of martial arts. It is different from “self defense.” I was indeed a front line soldier for many years, so self defense was necessary but “it (to be in the war, to fight, to survive, to struggle)”, I learned, like everything was ALSO a choice. 

If you are doing survival sex work you are not in control of the working conditions or clients and it is often an act of desperation not empowerment.  The funny thing is when I called myself a “whore revolutionary,” I also referred to my work as a matter of survival NOT choice.  I empowered myself in my survival versus my choice, I likened myself to a suicide bomber in an occupation I inherited.  It was a slippery slope, and I predictably slipped to surrender to the greater elements constantly wearing me down, including mainly my own thinking around these issues, which I was not ready to admit until I was ready to submit.


Sex work is ONLY empowering when you WANT TO DO IT and you get to do it HOW and WHEN YOU WANT to do it.  


When I am working online looking for jobs and opportunities in Japan that I can do without a visa, I look for hours on craigslist.  Just like any metropolitan city craigslist there are ads for adult video models and escorts and various other things in the sex industry.  I shoot off emails with sexy photos to see what kind of entity i’m working with, whether or not they will actually respond and if they can tempt me further.  Every month living in Japan and paying rent is a challenge for me. I don’t go out and party much because of my limited income, i don’t get to go to a lot of basic social things in the center of the city like a Japanese or boxing class because traveling there requires $10 on the train and usually whatever cost of the event and a meal or two.  I imagine myself living under a bridge with the other homeless in Japan or trying to live in a shelter of some kind with all my huge piles of luggage and my guitar.  I wrack my brain trying to market all the different skills i have in the different sections of jobs offered. I am a freelance writer, i can teach English, i can teach Tantra to groups and individuals, i can do things in food service, I am great with children…Is it really time to pull out the goddess standards and make my money by any means necessary? I meditate on it.


One of my first Tantra clients in Tokyo paid my regular rate for a non intercourse, energy based session. I thought he would be a repeat client, we seemed to hit it off well. I kept in contact with him for a couple months while I travelled and upon returning back to Tokyo I asked him if he wanted another Tantra session. It seemed he wanted more than I was willing to offer as thegoddess.  He wanted an escort. After a long annoying conversation, he ended it with, “Give me a call if you ever decide you want to escort again. Ganbatte (good luck).”  Normally I would have instantly deleted his contact, but i kept it like it was an EMERGENCY CONTACT because I knew that maybe that day in Japan would come and I might have to call him up and give him the date I wasn’t willing to give that day. I had already been to his upscale high rise apartment and knew some of his story, so, it would be a safe person to escort with if that day ever did need to come.  

I had started a crowd fundraiser to pay rent but also entitled a VIBE RAISER so that I could RAISE THE VIBRATION of my potential, of my possibilities, to remind me of the work I was brought to do in Japan.  I sent off a quick message to him and he was less than friendly in his response. I reminded him of his escorting proposal some months ago. I was cold and detached and removed from my body. Totally opposite of thegoddess in the VIBERAISER video singing and asking a crowd of followers to help support her mission.


“Is that offer still on the table?” I messaged.

We proceeded to engage in a long detailed negotiation about what I would and wouldn’t do for how much.  These kinds of conversations I hadn’t had in years as a goddess but that I was relegating myself to for SURVIVAL. I was swallowing my pride and willing myself to take it because it wasn’t going to be so bad and all these other reasons.  He seemed surprised that I even had a right to any boundaries or respect, though I had taught him how to honor me as a goddess before, he seemed to forget it all. He even asked “So why have you decided to call me now?” These types of emotionally triggering questions, that in my past I would answer with frank fearlessness. But I knew better than to bite the hand before it fed me.  “So, you need support?” he asked. “I need a client.” I answered stoicly, trying hard to bite my tongue and stay in the safety zone. “Isn’t that the same thing?” “NO.” I said without elaboration.  My coldness of heart made even me shudder.  I knew it would be the same when I saw him, which would make me likely a terrible lover when and if the time came. i resented him so much and his line of questioning, his arrogance, his lack of Godliness. i resented that I was even asking, that I had to constrict my soul so much to have a basic negotiation conversation. I hadn’t felt like that in years.  I went lap swimming to change my energy and do some moving meditation. i asked the Universe,”Is this REALLY what I am supposed to be doing here? Is this the answer you are giving me now?” Swimming. Swimming. Meditating. Moving.

The next day said client texted after all of what I felt to be painful negotiation that my rate for escorting (seen as more than the session completed before for the same price) was too much. Ended with another Good Luck to you.

I rejoiced. DELETED his messages and number and proceeded to remove that plan from my consciousness. it was a valiant effort.  I was not sure HOW a solution would replace this, but I was 1000% sure that HE was not offering any part of it.

I did another VIBERAISER/FUNDRAISER video without alluding to any of that interaction. I was ready to trust in new solutions instead of relegate to ones that I had known before.

Later that evening, a friend who had actually “broken up” with me randomly messages thru Facebook. “Hey, Im starring in a music video tonite in Shibuya. We need an Asian woman to wear a G string and play a prostitute in a hotel room with a Yakuza gangster. It pays $275 (my fundraiser goal was $500) if you can get down here in a couple hours.”

YES. YES. YES. YES. Y.  E.  S!!!!!!

VIBERAISER SUCCESS. Intentions heard thru the world in loud, magnificent volumes.

YOU ARE NO LONGER MEANT TO BE A WHORE.

 But all your experiences in life will put you in the greatest position to capitalize where others dare not enter, because they could not even imagine where you’ve been.

THIS WAS the Real WHORE REVOLUTIONARY not ANY of that shit I was doing before.  I never again have to question if that day will come in Japan, because it already did and thegoddess levitated above it all. 

22
Aug
16

I was actually a FREE INDEPENDENT URBAN OIRAN not an urban geisha!!


For the years from the time that I started this blog, I branded myself for many years as the “Urban Geisha,” an “Educated Whore Revolutionary.”  I knew even then, that I was nothing near a “real geisha” but I was fascinated with the idea that part of the geishas art, aside from enticing men was to learn instruments, dances and traditional arts, including the art of conversation.  I prided myself at being the Urban artist of conversation because in honest reflection, I was never really that great at sexual acts during my escort years. Unless of course, I was attracted to the client or sometimes a client would surprise me with his abilities which didn’t match my usual “type.” This is what I liked about prostitution. It allowed me to experience people I wouldn’t usually allow in and, they had a 50/50 chance of doing me right despite the attraction factor.  The majority of time, I was really being the “2pac of prostitution (activist/musician)” character and many of my clients were urban homies, non violent criminals, drug users and other exiles of society, like I was. We would do a bunch of lines until the sunrise and I would entertain them with my art of conversation while making money. Sex was maybe 25% of the SEX work that I did.  Drug users were my favorites because of the fact that sex wasn’t so much a big part of it but keeping their lonely heart company while playing a facade was. And this was my definition of urban geisha. The other part that made me adopt the geisha moniker was because I was of Japanese heritage and I had the PASS TO CLAIM rights to my ancestry in America that the political activist community fights so hard to own and protect according to whichever heritage you can say you are part of. I HAD THIS PASS AND KIMONO CLAD KATIE PERRY DIDN’T as far as I was concerned.  But, I was no different than any other displaced descendant of a home country than the Black African American who tries to remember Africa by wearing an emblem around his neck and changing his name to something more African. The reasons we do this in racist America are evident but often our efforts fall short of accuracy.   I actually wasn’t any different than a disrespectfully appropriating Katy Perry who was just taking something she thought was exotic (and geisha are indeed RARE and Mysterious, even to Japanese today) and beautiful and creating a show around it for your pop culture entertainment and for you to be attracted to.  But when white American people do it on stage though…!!

An apprentice Maiko giving the EVIL SIDE EYE at a performance in a Kyoto tourist show copyright MPassion 2016

Now that I’ve spent some time in Japan, in actual observance and research of the true Japan and its culture I can see that many foreigners wear kimonos and the Japanese people are renting them to them for profit, but also to SHARE their culture correctly. Most Japanese would probabaly be happy and proud that Katy Perry  were wearing kimono on a big U.S award show, except maybe for the fact that she is mixing a Chinese brocade neckline and high cut waist of a cheongsam with a Japanese kimono in her outfit. Hey, shes mixing BOTH OF MY ETHNICITIES! I should steal that dress from her! Did Katy wear white face and try to imitate a geisha, or is that what the media called it (because all kimono clad women are geisha apparently)? She was actually just a white foreigner appropriating Asian fashions and aesthetic, something that can be super controversial and oversimplified on both sides of racist America.  Tourists rent kimono 100s if not 500 times on a good busy day throughout Japan as part of their sightseeing activities. Most of the kimono clad tourists in Japan these days are not even white folks, they are Chinese from China or Taiwan, but the point being that Japanese are happy to share and teach their kimono NOT their geisha customs.  There are dressers in tourist shops who help foreigners put kimono on and they style all the accessories so the foreigner doesn’t fuck it up. It’s not a cheap Halloween costume by any means, and its usually very authentic.  It is meant to be completely respectful sharing for tourists of Japan, as well as a profitable business to be in.

GEISHA ARE NOT PROSTITUTES and this was the biggest mistake I and other foreigners (mostly men who wish they were) make. They might get together with one wealthy client who becomes her sponsor/partner but mostly they are true entertainers, who are definitely erotic objects of desire but whose austerity around sexual partners makes her that much MORE attractive to seekers.  An Urban geisha might be similar to a true burlesque entertainer who could climb a 50 foot pole and do gymnastics tricks to entertain in a g string and feather costume but who also never really had sex with those they entertain. Certainly that was NOT what I was trying to do. i was turning TRICKS. Having quick and dirty sex for profit and I saw my HUSTLING (business street and survival savvy) also as part of MY ART.  The other part of my art came into play through writing my blog, speaking my activist truth, performing songs from the Whore Revolution.  THAT WAS ALL MY GEISHA-NESS, as I saw it then.  I only recently learned about the OIRAN, the kimono white faced entertainers that resembled the geisha in many ways except they were FLASHIER and THEY HAD SEX! Now THAT was more MARIKO PASSION for certainly. To my pleasant surprise, the Oiran traditional shoes were 8” platforms that required a male assistant to walk, which I would often recruit a random “escort” to help me not eat shit in heels on concrete. I regularly performed in 6” platforms in those days and I even had some “taka geta” (tall wooden slippers) of my own that I just threw away before I came to Japan but had owned since I was in my 20s before I even knew about Oiran (unconscious cultural memory!).  In Japan, there are regular parades celebrating the Oiran Dochu and Edo period costumes without shame around the association with prostitution because many of the Oiran and Geisha at the time were sold by poverty stricken parents who had no choice for survival. The sad truth behind these parades is that they do not reference the truth of the women who lived these lives of sexual slavery, yes I really called it that.

Real Oiran of Edo…not ideal working conditions

Movie set at Toei Kyoto studio park copyright Mpassion2016

Yoshiwara Dori Pleasure District

The Oiran lived in a gated area, and they were not allowed to leave except to view cherry blossoms once a year. The photos that I’ve seen show them behind wooden bars over the windows. Many of them died of venereal diseases and were wrapped in straw and dumped in unmarked graves at the Buddhist temple Jokan Ji. Jokanji temple has the spirits of 25,000 Edo era sex workers buried there. i have plans to visit and report on it in a future blog.  The Japanese government is known for the war crime of making Korean women into sex slaves for the Japanese soldiers, but what is also not said alongside the comfort women stories is that Karayuki San were the Japanese women who were indentured sex workers that were sent to other countries to service Japanese soldiers and other races of men overseas. I believe that karayuki san were also used for a short time to serve U.S military soldiers during their occupation in government sanctioned brothels as well. Many feminists in Korea and the U.S demanded the Japanese government apologize to the Korean comfort women, which occurred just in January of this year, 2016 but really, the Japanese should have to apologize and give reparations to the Karyukisans as well, but that would probably never happen as it was hard enough to get the apology and reparations to the Korean women. The government did actually put an end to the pleasure quarters of the Edo era, probably much in the same way that the sexual woodblock Ukiyoe prints became outlawed and banned so did the Oiran houses.  The mizu shobai, or sex industry of course never died in Japan, it just changed form.
But there is ALWAYS  MUCH BEAUTY in the darkness, darkness and light, yin and yang, just like in African slavery there were rich cultural traditions that survived and remained as a result of the struggle, oppression and captivity.  If you are not allowed to leave an area and can’t choose the amount or safety of your clients or you will be punished with death or a beat down, you are or were a sexual slave.

I owned shoes like these in my 20s!! Quickie Insta Oiran Portrait at Toiei Kyoto Park 2016

I did an Oiran portrait at a Kyoto amusement park and I was excited and am excited still about looking into getting involved in participating in the parades in April 2017 but in reading more about the truth of the lives of the women and girls I wanted to ALSO be sure not to gloss over the facts, the way the Japanese government and many people who are fans of Oiran Dochu do so often. Having lived the beautiful struggle of a FREE and INDEPENDENT URBAN OIRAN for years, you can see just by scrolling through my escort entries that my life was no parade, but it wasnt slavery, and I suffered and struggled through some of it but there was much JOY, TRIUMPHS, LESSONS AND PLEASURE TOO. Music, art, activism and community WERE the things that I loved in sex work, FUCK THE SEX.  Perhaps this was also the attitude of the Oiran and they poured their PASSION and life force into their arts in spite of it all.

What used to be the Yoshiwara Dori of the Edo Era is now Soaplands (kinda like massage parlors but soapier and mostly only for Japanese clients not foreigners). the women are free sex workers NOT and I say this too, NOT SEX SLAVES. They freely come and go to work, have families, test themselves and have safe sex so they don’t have the same UNHAPPY ENDING as the OIRAN of Edo did.

23
Jun
16

From Whore Revolutionary to Tantra goddess: Sacred Whore Evolution

4 years is a long time. I hope you have changed and evolved in 4 years too. Looking back on this blog I clearly can define chapters of my life. As i blog from Osaka, Japan tonight overlooking the Dottonburi River reflecting the bright lights of the touristy strip from the water, I have now finally realized a life long dream to live and work in Japan. Its been a month since I left LA and the U.S. It was a whirlwind of a birthday for me. Turning 40 was something I wanted to remember as the biggest “round number” ritual to date. I flew from LA to work in Seattle to visit the glacier in Juneau, Alaska to stopover in downtown Vancouver to finally Tokyo, a part of Japan I’d never been. I picked Seattle as a good place to make money for my trip and my intuition served me well. I was able to get solid clients who helped me bring in enough money to get through the next leg of my journey before Id be able to settle into Tokyo and begin my adventure in Japan: a country Id always wanted to return to since I last lived there for a summer with a beloved Aunt when I was 12. My faithful sex work funded vehicle named Sasha Gray (a Gray Scion named after Sasha Gray who played a GFE escort in the film Girlfriend Experience) had racked up 205k miles and had a dead transmission, some engine damage and a bunch of body repairs that I wasnt going to invest in over the vital mechanics needed. I sold her for a mere $1000 and aptly used that money to commit myself to my big move to Japan. I didnt know how I was going to get the rest of the money for my trip or how I was going to pay for the other expenses of living in this new country but buying a ONE WAY TICKET to Alaska and Japan for my birthday was a way to make sure that I would NOT turn back to the safe routine life Id grown accustomed to and not give up on my dream this time around. My biological family were meeting my extended Japanese relatives in Osaka with my 5 nieces and nephews and mom and I was not going to miss that trip because of lack of money. No way. I was simply NOT going to allow myself to fail going to Japan by the age of 40. And that was how I made it here.

The plane ticket was the initial investment that would use the profit from the sale of my car SG as seed money for the next part of my life in Japan. I had tried to manifest this journey in 2013 but I didnt make such a huge commitment like buying a one way ticket with no refunds.

FULL CIRCLE CONNECTION TO THE WHORE REVOLUTIONARY

I met my current Osaka host Yukiko briefly in Washington DC 2012 AND Desiree Alliance 2010 but didnt remember! FB_IMG_1466423299393
Yukiko from SWASH (Sex workers and Sexual Health) Japan and I after my performance at 2012 AIDS conference in Washington DC

Here is us after I did a performance inspired by the Korean sex workers who protested the closure of their brothels by pouring gasoline on their naked bodies. In my whore revolutionary days i could relate to the urgency of decriminalization and often felt that i would RIDE OR DIE or self emolate? for the cause of sex worker liberation. Although the goddess I am now doesnt carry that fury so intensely any longer (its now transmuted in many other creative ways).

EVERYTHING I did in the 16 yrs in this work and movement (im still criminalized and 2 of my sex worker/priestess friends are currently in jail/prison) was paid forward to this moment with yukikos hospitality to the clients and friends I am able to attract in Japan today. And none of it made sense until I got here. Funny how life works isnt it?

 

2016 Yukiko buying me Hello Kitty things in Osaka, staying in her home and being hosted by other SWASH members in Osaka.

TIMELINE OF EVOLUTION

2012 International AIDS conference performance with Scarlot Harlot im Washington DC
MARCH 2013 begin training in hands on Sacred Sexuality/Tantra at Ecstatic Awareness Institute in Oceanside, CA
Begin transition into “the goddess” a moniker for a Tantra pracitioner, a vessel of LOVE and Light, a LOVE worker, a spiritually awakened facilitator of healing and consciousness
OCTOBER 2013 60 hr Tantraquest training as a Tantric Life Coach with Shawn Roop in San Diego, CA

There are a lot of Tantra trainings and mentors that guided me on my goddess path. Im not going to list them all…

The initial inspiration will always be credited to the coaching genius of Destin Gerek who suggested that I try this route of working and being when he acquainted me at a magazine party in LA, hearing that I was at the end of my rope as an escort and sex worker and running out of ways to keep denying that i needed to find a way out of the too often traumatic and ugly  parts of my work life.  He gifted me with life changing coaching and took me as serious as any high paid client of which he has had many. This pro bono coaching gift was instrumental in creating a new path that leads 4 years later to where I stand today. alive, well and doing better than I ever have in my life. Totally fulfilled beyond my wildest imagined dreams.  Some people have “come to Jesus moments” but I had renounced organized religion long ago and was having a “come to goddess” moment which wasnt about simply feminizing a previously masculine God head but it was a spiritual awakening to a whole new consciousness and free form collection of theories, beliefs and practices which I would apply to my client practices and own life. It was truly about coming home to SELF. God/GODDESS was about finding the faith and divine power and truth within and now. Not in any afterlife or big book or church. 3 years of practicing as a professional goddess I no longer identify as an escort or whore revolutonary and my Tantra practice has clients locally in Japan and back in the USA coaching by webcam. My lifestyle, clients, and practice are seemingly opposite of everything you read about on this blog before this post. But I do not renounce my past for the past brings us to our present and makes me have that much more gratitude and reflection.  I could not be HERE if i had not first been there.
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03
Sep
11

What Goes Around Comes Around

In the last month or more since I wrote my last blog, I am finally blessed with a come up of my previous luck of the summer.  I don’t love the work like I used to as times are a changing, but at least I am not hating every single thing that I have to do for it and there are steadier calls and some better clientele who aren’t trying to fuck me over at every turn.  I know when it is down down down that the pendulum swings and it will soon come back up, but it had been a long summer of bad, economic recession and vultures flying low and clicking their teeth in anticipation of me slipping. I am still working on transition, but I am not naive to think that this is going to be a quick process.  I have made steps toward re-integrating myself into the working world, paid for my own criminal background check so that I could make sure that my misdemeanor charge was showing as dismissed as I had fought for.  The funny thing about expunging your record is that even though you may have gotten any of your previous charges dismissed, the person reading your background check still gets to read what the original charges were alongside the original sentences which are usually set extreme to scare you out of thinking you have any chance of getting off easy.  My original charges read  “7 days of jail, 18 months of probation, HIV test report and stay off Craigslist erotic services section.”  WOW.  Try applying for a teaching job with that even though the final lines say clearly “probation terminated on good behavior and case dismissed.”  Starting this process indeed made me teary eyed, but I feel similar to the process of representing myself pro per (as my own lawyer) in court and fighting for the dismissal would be an interesting exercise in seeing exactly how hard re-integration can be for someone like me who is supposed to have a wealth of so called choices.

I hate the word CHOICE.  Hate it. Fuck choices when it comes to work.  Choice is a continuum.  And for me, so is sexual assault.  I have been violated so many times I stopped counting because it would just be disturbing.  I have been violated so many times that I have accepted that I am a permanent warrior enlisted in the gender violence war.  And that is not my choice. But ‘Choice’ is the dominant paradigm that sits in opposition to FORCE.  forced sex work.  forced prostitution.  sex trafficking.  slavery.  Choice is also a word thrown around in the PRO-CHOICE movement.  This same pro-choice camp also so often fails to notice the lack of choices available to poor, marginalized women of color in regards to reproductive options and sex work is a part of that.   They are all for women being pro-choice with their bodies except when it comes to “choosing” to do sex work.  We sex worker rights folks are aware of the FALSE DICHOTOMY between force and choice.  But still sex workers talk about choosing sex work because it sounds good.  Connecting sexual abuse, drug use/addiction and sexual assault to prostitution sounds awful, pathological, typical.  How can we make these connections without these attributes?  Those sex workers may believe that they have the choice to do sex work just as simply as they choose to eat candy in the morning (or not) or fast food at night (or not).  Perhaps I feel like it is not a choice because so many times I have had to go to WORK and suck up my feelings time and time again and it was far from what I would have chosen to do with my time.  The nature of the SERVICE INDUSTRY particularly ones with BOSSES or SUPERIORS is that when you don’t want to do it, it will always feel like slavery.  This is true of housekeeping, childcare, farmwork, garment work, office work or anything that has a naturally submissive aspect to it in order to earn gratuity above minimum wage.  For me, it started when I was a stripper hating the repetetive monotony of my job.  I had just gone through my first major breakup of my 20s with a guy I was in love with and going to work to be chipper and sexually entertaining to the world and other men was the most difficult thing ever.  It was at this point when I started to medicate with marijuana on a daily basis in order to create a positive facade over the hatred I had for the job.  In the beginning of the healing I would dance on stage and go in the private rooms to cry.  13 years later I still medicate depression and anxiety with marijuana on the daily but now I don’t feel so bad about it.  Using weed is not just a result of being a sex worker, nor is my depression or anxiety but I definitely can be fond of eating a half of a pot cookie, smoking a bong (in the past, I vaporize now) or heating up a vaporizer to deal with anything in my life that I have to go out and do that takes strength.  This included going to grad school, student teaching and regular teaching.  Marijuana allows me to reach a level of seratonin balance that life doesn’t.  I have a deep and intimate relationship with MaryJane.  She is my mothers nipple to nurture my cries in an empty apartment at times when I am bawling hopelessly on the floor.  She is also just a way for me to push out the negative voices and replace them with positive affirmations about the big picture: the beautiful sunny Los Angeles day, the awesome music, the delicious food, the fact that I have many talents, that I am an intelligent analytical being, a writer, a singer, a funny joking child like spirit that deserves to live life to the fullest.  Maybe I choose weed over heroin, alcohol or speed or other substances that close down emotions and thought or maybe I am just choosing to live.  Is that a choice?  I don’t even know anymore.  I think so.  I mean, I know I have potential that is greater than being a junkie or commiting suicide or even relegating myself to a full time “normal” job.   The word has been used in so many negative connotations (mostly in my choosing to do sex work) that I don’t even use it anymore except as a necessary part of sentences.  Let’s just say I don’t use it fervently.  I don’t believe that work is a choice in America or anywhere in the world.

Mostly because I truly believe that I have been attracted to sex work and have stayed in sex work for as long as I have to unravel and discover my power struggle with sexism, rape culture and patriarchy that was NEVER my CHOICE.

My first sexual assault was a date rape on the beach at 17.  A naive teenager is getting drunk at a youth hostel with backpackers in the their 20s.  One of them asks me to go to the liquor store to get more drinks for the rest but instead I found myself laying in the dark at a secluded beach in Honolulu, Hawaii the sight of my first taste of what it meant to not understand the intentions of men.  As Tribe Called Quest would sing,”Classic example of..a date rape.” It wasn’t physically violent so [all my]  perpetrator[s] probably thought it was consensual.  I don’t remember who he was, only that he was some white surfer dude and that I knew exactly at the moment of penetration that this was not my choice.  There were many more after that.  The worst was from the first boy I ever fell in love with at 16, my best friends brother.  This assault would tear my best friend and I apart for many years and create a rift in our relationship that was only fully healed when at his funeral when he died (heart disease at only 26)  I had to face his brother again for the first time since the assault and be cordial. It worked out. We hugged and I was able to forgive him. David helped me from heaven or wherever he was. Then, another backpacking incident in Northern Australia, a vulture asks me to come to his room to get a massage and naive 21 year old adventurous me thinks that he has innocent and therapeutic intentions. NOT.  Because of that incident is the reason I attribute to why I feel I get so much out of the sensual massages that I give men.  Sensual and consensual they come so easily in my hands.  It is more than them ejaculating.  It is like the power blood gives vampires.  A refill of my power supply that had been depleted by trauma.  A refill of my power supply that had been depleted from the sexism of that day walking down the street before I came into my power or dealing with the privilege of men of that given time in my school, in my dating life, etc etc.  Melissa Farley and her clan love to hear stories like this.  It makes them hard, gets them funded, makes them look smart, makes them feel that I fit the stereotype.  The big difference is that I am empowered in the end.  More so than not.  Otherwise I would not be in it for as long as I have.

“Everytime a client comes an angel [hooker] gets her wings…”

Some sex workers are in denial of this connection.  I’m not.  I see it everywhere I turn.  I saw it especially when I was working with street workers in Skid Row.  So many of those girls find street work and prostitution satisfying because it is a gritty hustle.  Because their Uncle used to take for free continuously now they can not only not be around that abuse but get paid for the same desires that their pervy Uncle once had. And yes, it IS more empowering than being returned home or going back to a foster home at times.  I get it.  Do you?  I like craigslist/LA Weekly/Backpage clients for the same reason.  I attain high class clients occasionally through these outlets, but mostly I deal with working class, younger, drug using guys that I can yell at (if they act up) and never see again.  And they call me for the same reason and I DARE them to try to disrespect me.   Workers can be mean and strict with their tricks and get paid for it.  We prey on their shame of what they are doing.  We get paid for their racism.  PAYBACK in the short term, but in the long term perhaps more damaging.

NOT ALL MY CLIENTS ARE DICKHEADS THAT WANT TO RAPE ME.  Lots of them, most of them are great and fine, average guys that I heal myself and them simultaneously by surviving our transaction with ease and bliss.

In my acknowledgement that I am in the tail end of my sex work career, I acknowledge that I have attained enough of the positive and the negative to move on.  I have pissed in the mouths of men and slapped them around with their own dicks (practically).  I have watched them destroy themselves with drugs throw their money at me in effort to seem manly and as a result their manliness has disintegrated before me.  They’re not nearly as strong as I thought they were before I first started dancing at 22.  From my first day at the stripclub, I wore my 4″ stilettos and was suddenly able to look them in their eyes and see them for what they really were: vulnerable.  lonely.  compassionate.

It was the prostitution world that really helped me see this, as well as being a dominant.  I didn’t finish the journey in the stripclub, as all the stripclubs in America are ruled by pimps that exploit their workers at least to some degree and in the worst case scenarios they mirror the sexism that the mafia has with their harem of girls that one has become familiar seeing in movies.  (“Tell her to go upstairs and see the boss if she doesn’t have her stage fee..”) I have defiantly held my ground in verbal altercations and watched them back down.  Sometimes I have lost and a screaming cussing dude has chased me into my car after I have refunded him his money back.  So,  I have also lost and retraumatized myself in this effort.  Prostitution was the only thing that could have done this.  Stripclub stripping is legal, somewhat safer.  I could have not gotten arrested in a Craigslist sting, nor robbed or ripped off in ways that I had as an escort by staying the stripclub.  It was all a part of my beautiful struggle, my journey that I am still on.

Today is the first week of my 2011 marijuana cleanse.  I try to do it once a year.  Last year it was because my asthma had gotten so bad that I could barely breath without coughing like an old man every morning.  I abandoned my bong for 50 days and then broke down and went back to it without condemning myself.  I have since switched from smoking to vaporizing and have eliminated smoking anything from my life.  This also eliminates most of the social rituals of being a stoner because most people don’t vaporize.  I can’t believe it’s been a year already.  I used to love my bongs so much, now the taste of smoke sickens me.  I caught a cold Occupying LA and going to rallies in front of city hall.  It was the first major rainstorm of LA’s autumn/winter cold.  This rally was also the first activist event that I had really believed could make a difference somehow.  I hadn’t been to a march or rally in over a year, maybe two.  I thought often about supporting Oscar Grant’s case, but I just knew what the outcome would be whether I took the time to wake up in the morning to support his cause or not.  I was right.

Whenever I am sick, I don’t feel like using marijuana because clouding my head with what would normally be euphoria just ends up feeling like I’m just clouding my brain with smog.  So sickness often is a blessing in disguise for me to take a break from a medicine that I am usually mentally dependent on.  I have since kicked my dependence on asthma steroids.  I weaned myself off of them slowly using a herb called Lobelia which I would drop into water and drink to help relieve some of the symptoms.  It was working.  This was a relief to me as the ashtma medication that seemed to work on me the best cost $200 for a months supply.  I knew that this was just a sham from big pharma.  The doctors prescription said I NEEDED it twice a day everyday when because of finanncial constraints I started to use it once a day and then once every 3 days and then..only as really needed. (in addition to Lobelia tinctures).  I was proud of kicking this dependence.  Medical expenses are no fun.  I still owe my asthma doctor $350.  A visit to that clinic was the same cost to me as I charged my clients ($300/hr) yet, it never seemed to even out, it was never easy to pay the bills and buy the needed medicine and I still have a tab with them.  Today I am proud of the fact that I have found St.Johns Wort to help with my depression, Passion Flower extract to deal with my anxiety and I have only used marijuana ONCE in 7 days.  The cold allowed me to not crave and the herbs help to alleviate the symptoms that I often use marijuana for.  I use marijuana as a pain reliever for chemical imbalances AND emotional pain.  When I face difficult situations with people I am often running to my weed supply, driving straight to a dispensary to feel better and be cradled by my familiar nurturer who sings an internal lullaby and tells me softly “Do not worry about what they are saying.  Do not worry about what they do.  This, too shall pass.”  It is like an herbal teddy bear, I cuddle it and it helps me sleep better at night.  Judge me if you will but you aren’t the one who is holding me or offering to come over when I am depressed, you are the one who doesn’t want to hear my bullshit, who can’t hear my bullshit because it inconveniences you, because it triggers you.  So keep on talking your shit, and I will keep using my weed.  I want to have a baby in the next five years and join the ranks of all the wonderful sex working mamas that I know who have succeeded in defying society’s stigma.  This year’s cleanse is not for the asthma, its for the future baby.  Twice already this week tough times have come and gone, I have cried in depression without crawling to my usual supply of painkiller and survived.  I am super proud of myself for this.  Every little obstacle that I overcome I give myself a gold star because you won’t.  and it’s quite alright.

17
Dec
10

2010 Notes on Sex Worker Violence in LA for December 17th day

LA has a history of serial killers that have preyed on prostitutes because they were easy targets.  No one would notice they were missing, likely the killer thought police would not act upon their murders because just like the Green River Killer in Washington who killed some 48 victims.   Maybe it wasn’t as bad as the pig farmer in Vancouver, Canada who literally put he says near 50 or more mostly prostitute women’s bodies from the Downtown Eastside area in the meat grinder so that their identities and numbers are still unknown but we have a few notable cases to remember on December 17th 2010:

The Hillside Strangler is the media epithet for two men, Kenneth Bianchiand Angelo Buono, cousins, who were convicted of kidnapping, raping,torturing, and killing girls and women ranging in age from 12 to 28 years old during a four-month period from late 1977 to early 1978. They committed their crimes in the hills above Los Angeles, California.  Many, but not all of their victims were prostitutes.

The Grim Sleeper preyed on young Black women who lived and worked (not all were prostitutes, but many victims WERE) in the Figueroa Corridor in South Central Los Angeles, shooting them in the chest and leaving their bodies in vacant buildings or parks.  He was at large for since 1985, making him tricky to track because he had not killed in 13 years.  There was a large community effort with the families to find the killer, injunctions on the corridor and lots of arrests on any and every Black man who solicited prostitutes or did any other crime was done in order to gain the DNA evidence of the killer at large whom they knew was a Black male in his 40s or 50s.

On July 7, 2010, Los Angeles police arrested Lonnie David Franklin Jr., a 57-year old black man, at his home in South Los Angeles, a location they described as being “right in the heart of it all.” Authorities said the landmark use of familial DNA led them to Franklin.

http://projects.latimes.com/homicide/list/grim-sleeper-killings/

PAULINA IBARRA

Police believe 24-year-old Jesus Catalan stabbed 27-year-old Paulina Ibarra to death inside her apartment on Mariposa Ave. on August 28, 2009.

The Los Angeles Police Department planned to hold a news conference Friday to share details of the arrest.

Officer Sara Faden says the slaying was investigated as a hate crime against transgender women.  The community and the police refused to acknowlege the fact that Paulina worked as a sex worker.  This was a strategic move to make her sex work a non issue in the investigation of the case, as having the police move forward with a transgender hate crime was enough of a challenge.

Police identified Catalan as a possible suspect shortly after the killing with the help of gay, lesbian and transgender residents and he has been arrested and his serving time without bail awaiting trail in LA County right now.

As a sex worker activist, I have always been irked that the acknowledgement of the fact that many of the victims were sex workers was a silence and an injustice to the systematic targeting that sex workers face when they are seen as easy targets by murderers, robbers and serial killers.

As an anti-police state and prison abolitiionist I have been against police injunctions on Figueroa Corridor and the systematic arrest of johns and forced DNA samples of any Black male suspect that fit the bill.  I am happy and relieved for the communities and families that at least the killer of their loved one is no longer roaming the streets.

When Paulina was murdered, I was upset that the community was silent about her life as a sex worker and upset that they did not want to think that perhaps she was not only a target because she was a transgender woman but ALSO a sex worker.

2010 saw the arrest and imprisonment of two at large killers in Los Angeles.  I am supposed to rejoince that they are “behind bars” but the current choices of behind bars or not behind bars doesn’t constitute a fair choice.  Like the “choice” of working or not working?  Working is not a choice. Navigating as a sexual being in a rape culture is not a choice.  When murderers are locked up it is a good thing for sex workers, but not when sex workers are also getting locked up in similar concrete holding cells as their killers.  Keeping prostitutes and their killers off the streets is the current model of keeping everyone safe and it is NOT WORKING.  As long as sex workers are seen as disposable and underground they will be targets of serial killers.  The police will not protect them until AFTER they are hurt or killed because the police are not allowed to protect the best interest of criminals.

In January of 2010, I was robbed for the second time in my sex work career when I did an incall at my apartment which I rarely do, but I was feeling good that day, pressed for time, had googled this guys numbers which revealed he had something for sale in a (made up) dentist newsletter and assessed that his energy was polite and good (enough). Your “gutt feeling” only goes so far..

He rose up in the middle of his massage and demanded his money back.  His sudden change of mood and demands felt threatening to me in my own home so I reached for the PEPPER SPRAY I carried in my bag and sprayed him in the face 3 times.  He did not scream, flinch, cough or blink.  he did walk backwards down the stairs and out the door and I stayed inside for many hours facebooking, traumatized and in shock. When I went to use my car later that night, I realized that he had come back to my house and slashed open one of my tires.  I was scared that he would return.  I filed a police report that night and took with me (upon the suggestion of a FB friend) to take witnesses with me to make sure that my claim was treated with dignity and seriousness.  The reporting officer did not disrespect me, but he did tell me that because the man did not actually threaten me with words or a weapon and the amount stolen was less than $500 that it was “petty theft” and not robbery.  It didn’t matter to me what the police call it, this was nothing new to me.  The first time I was robbed, I had sex with the perpetrator first and watched him empty out my bag and take the money back.  He said he had a gun but I never saw it.  The police would call that, because of the threat of a weapon robbery, but they would never call it rape or even sexual assault, they would call it “theft of services” but it seems to me if I had the guts to press charges the first time, I might have a good case.

In my cynical anti-government radical whore revolutionary paradigm, it is really hard for me to say good things about the LAPD and the justice system, but it seems to be with the way that the police moved on the Grim Sleeper and Paulina Ibarra’s case, as well as my own police report that indeed if you are a victim and a sex worker, they do not hold your crime of prostitution as an excuse to NOT take your crime or report seriously and that indeed you should attempt to make a police report and not be afraid that you were engaging in illegal prostitution at the time of the crime.  This is great news for sex workers in Los Angeles, not a guarantee of any sorts but a better track record than many other parts of the U.S.

I took action the second time immediately to change my life for the safer.  I was not going to enter my apartment through the back door and live in fear to come home.  I was not going to search for a man to cohabitate with me so that I could feel safer.  I went to the self defense store and bought a high voltage stun gun in addition to my pepper spray and I enrolled in Israeli martial arts in West LA: Krav Maga.  The training required a huge finnancial investment ($500) to start up but I decided it was absolutely necessary and long overdue because no driver outside, no police report, no restraining order was going to protect you inside the room with the person who wants to harm you.

Krav maga has honed my human weapons both mentally and physically.  The PTSD and traumatization from the second attack was entirely minimized because of my immediate start in a rigorous training program that I have been been consistently advancing in for 11 months since the incident.  I now have complete confidence that I can especially escape a strangle hold and have practiced repeatedly how to kick, defend and attack the attacker.  3-4x a week I train and on those same nights I go home take a shower and head to calls within a few hours.  The techniques are fresh in my head, not from a one day workshop months ago.

Most importantly, I am NO LONGER AFRAID to show him that I am not an easy target.  I think about the fact that I “only” pepper sprayed the attacker in January and that he had slashed my tire and maybe he was going to slash my throat instead.  If he attacked me today would i make him pay and beat him senseless for trying to harm me and sex workers before and after me?  Sometimes I fantasize that I am that superwhore.  I have to think like this or I will not survive.  To me, at times, it IS that serious.  I DO NOT CHOOSE THE VIOLENCE.  I may choose the work but these two things need NOT be mutually exclusive. I never saw or heard from him again.  In fact, since January, my escort life has been relatively smooth and without much incident.  I once fired my stun gun to warn a guy that I felt threatened with and the sound and presence alone of you being ready to defend yourself may be all that is necessary to save your life.

Soon, I will be advanced in my practice enough to share my skills with other sex workers and teach them how to not be victims in the best way that I know.  If I haven’t already emphasized the need to constantly train as warriors in this war that is literally waging against us, though it is easy to forget because we in LA and beyond gloss over sex work and the violence that occurs against us like it doesn’t exist, but sex workers like me and others who have seen and survived it first hand NEVER FORGET.

Sex workers survive individual and community violence by reaching out to each other, by being here tonight, by saying something on their Facebook about a sex worker they love, they know, they look up to tonight, because as long as we are underground, dehumanized, not allowed to be part of mainstream society through stigma and criminalization WE ARE ALWAYS AT RISK.  By attending a December 17th event you are helping to destigmatize the lives of sex workers in Los Angeles.  You help protect us by saying that you are unafraid to acknowledge our safety and our fallen who could be your sister, brother, cousin or partner.  LA is so fucking ass backwards about its thinking around sex workers and sex worker rights.  The more people we can get to even talk about sex work as work and not child trafficking in Hollywood or even South Central the better all the sex workers in the closet can be.

As I am closing out 2010, a year that was still difficult for me but was characterized by my development as a warrior, stronger and more confident than ever and ready to defend myself, my community and all the fallen victims that no one hears or thinks about whenever I can.  SWOP-LA was started in 2006, with just 3 people in Venice Beach CA.   Jesse Nicole is the new director and this December 17th is her first major SWOP-LA event.  It is our 4 year anniversary.   This year we are decorating a 10′ UHaul with a mural that was made by a young artist Brian Lombera and I and we will be driving around projecting movies about sex worker violence and rememberance starting at 6pm in West HOllywood by Matthew Shepard triangle.  If you do ONE THING for sex worker rights this year, in Los Angeles, please join us and many others in the U.S and the world on Dec 17th 2010.  Bring a red umbrella if you have, a donation if you feel so moved and a warm coat.  The sex workers in LA need your support and love tonight!  If someone you love and respect (me perhaps?) is a sex worker, then please come out and follow our truck on our caravan through LA. 

6:00pm

LocationMatthew Shepard Triangle

8300 Santa Monica Boulevard

West Hollywood, CA

follow us around LA for a few miles as we stop and show sex worker rights films at spontaneous locations and educate Angelenos about Dec 17th…

08
Mar
10

This is What I’ve Become Instead…

March 3rd came and went in Los Angeles and the director that took over after me has just told me that she is stepping down from running SWOP-LA.  It’s not a huge shocker.  The organization had been in slow decline for 4 months prior to her telling me.  On March 3rd I gave it the old SWOP-LA try for a second and spent a day and a half squawking around like a chicken on fire trying to plan some awareness event in LA for this date.  And just like it felt when I was the director of SWOP-LA, I was the sole person who was breaking their necks for this cause that no one seemed to give a shit about in Los Angeles.  I KNOW that that isn’t true, but on a community organization scale, I often feel like I have failed to build a sex worker community in any way, even after trying very hard for 3 years straight.  I feel that I, as a sex worker had been accepted into certain communities but none of the members of the other spaces would ever be seen supporting anything that was solely for the sex worker rights movement.  SWOP-LA was the organization that I founded, based on the dream that I could make sex workers rights have a presence in LA.  But as the last March 3rd ended my desire to pour energy into a wide expanse of apathy like throwing a roll of toilet paper into the ocean…I remembered that I left TEACHING before I left directorship of SWOP-LA.  I left TEACHING so that I could be a SINGER and a PERFORMANCE ARTIST.  And then I got sidetracked into running SWOP-LA for 3 years. Performing on the side.  But now, finally, for the first time since before I came to LA, I am an ARTIST again.  I get to pour my time and energy (AND MONEY)  into developing new creative work and furthering my career as a singer and as a performance and even visual artist.  And THIS is what I use my Master’s Degree for.  (Even though I used it in running a non profit as well).  THIS IS WHY I DO SEX WORK.  (to sing).  (to be an artist).  I used to use a lot of my income to run SWOP-LA, or to invest in my presence at conferences and travel and such.  But now that I am without credit cards for the most part nowadays,  I’m broke a lot.  I have to take lots of risks.  I could possibly live an easier life as a high school teacher (pending background check!!)  Agency work is getting tiring.  I have a 18 year old “bodyguard” now.  I would call him my driver, but he doesn’t drive.  Even the agency is slow.  They’re telling me I owe them $750.  I’m not going to pay them.  They can sue me.  I was giving them 67% of all the show fees, but apparently I didn’t account for the fact that if the show fee is below $250 they collect 80%, and on every first show there is $10 fee collected.  (which makes your percentage NOT the unfair 67% it was to begin with, but almost 80%).  I have no plans to pay them.  I never agreed to those terms on paper so they don’t have shit.  Plus I FIGHT FOR MY SEX WORKER RIGHTS.  They don’t know this. I’m going to work until that money becomes the issue that will fire me.  My boss acts like I’m the only one she can call, and business has been bad that I’m on call 7 days a week it seems.  She doesn’t want to lose me.

I am not running a non profit.  There is nowhere in Los Angeles for sex workers to find community. LA will not become like San Francisco anytime soon.  I do not have the energy or desire to endure the mission alone.  This is what I’ve become instead…I watch this video and know that I am doing the right thing…It also reminds me of how much I can accomplish when I am single.  I am clearly evolving as an artist. This song was written and performed by me.  I have practiced with a pianist 2 hours a week since the start of 2010 and it has helped me have the confidence to totally pull off something like this with grace.  I sing a lot of Blues songs lately.  It suits my voice.  I did this song at a soul funk open mic poetry event called Indigo Lounge.  The current president of the NAACP was there and she was a minister with her other church going friends were in the house.  It was entirely fitting to sing the Billie Holiday song!  I’m sure they were totally overwhelmed inside!  The next poem I did was about EDUCATION and the one after that was about Asian families and relationships (Ms.wong)..

I look at this video and feel like I am finally going in the right direction…defriending all negative influences and unsupportive friends and lovers along the way…ONLY LOVE..my disposable income has all gone to piano rehearsals and Krav Maga training. Both of these have been the source of inspriation and happiness for me in times when I should be broken down and blue.

21
Jan
10

Teaching You a Lesson or Sexually Assaulting You?

I just wrote my first entry on the Yes mean Yes blog site! I am a voice in a chapter on sex workers in this amazing radical anthology called Yes Means Yes.

reposted in part below:

Taking off a condom in the middle of a sex act…it happened to me a couple of times.  One of the most notable ones was one of the last of 4 sexual assaults in my early 20s which culminated in me realizng that I had survived a series of different sexual assaults between the ages of 17 and 22.  This was just the last of 4 that I would allow to just roll over me like a big crashing wave that nearly drowns me and pushes me down, spitting sand and salt but told to just recover and keep surfing. I was urinating blood in the toilet.  I thought it was an STD.  I went to Planned Parenthood and one of their routine questions traumatized me.  “Could you be at risk of being pregnant or having an STD?”  The last guy I slept with that took the condom off in the middle of our sex came to mind.  I had to say,”Yes.” and take the pregnancy test.  It was traumatic at the time, what has become more routine for me now.  Watching Jerry Springer in the clinic lobby bitterly thinking that for sure I felt violated that I had to endure pain and uncertainty because of his irresponsibility. This one was definitely his fault because he took action to violate an unspoken trust agreement between two people using a condom that that condom should stay on during the entirity of the sex act.  It turned out I had kidney stones and that was why I was bleeding internally but the blood in the toilet was so traumatic that it forced me into a path of rape trauma healing of all my assaults, deal with boundary violations, go to counseling and understand PTSD.  I FELT that the guy who took off the condom violated me, and I experienced it physically (through the kidney stones) and emotionally as such and so to me, it was an assault.  Would the police classify it as such?  Of course not.  Does this guy think he sexually assaulted me?  Of course not.

Fast forward eleven years, 3 of the last of those I’ve worked as an escort in LA and beyond.  I have practiced boundary negotiations with hundreds of clients, customers, dates, boyfriends, and whoevers.  Things still happen.  Violations are part of the occupational hazards of this job.  I work with the herpes virus using barriers to protect my clients and reduction of unprotected oral, when possible.  Recently, the client knew that there wasn’t a condom on and continued to have sex with me.  We had used a condom earlier, but the second time he put it in I didn’t realize there wasn’t a condom until about 15 minutes into it.  I stopped to ask and he replied, “there isn’t one.”  I was pissed.  “That’s it.” I said. “We’re done.” I started packing my work bag and headed for the shower.  With more body language I let him know that I was not happy.  While I was in the shower, I wanted to resolve the issue so that somehow I could make it out of there on good terms.  This guy had just gotten out of prison, did drugs and clearly didn’t think that not using a condom sometimes was an issue.  I should be worried.  I told him that.  “when IS the last time you got tested?” I asked.  “They test you when you go to prison.” he says.  He claims that prisoner rape isn’t as common as the movies make it seem and that he never shared a needle. But you and so many too many men I’ve been with think not using a condom on every contact, every time is excusable for the sake of pleasure, or horniness. But, in this case, I believe it is also my responsibility to realize that a condom is not on, even though the penis holder is clearly in an position of power.  I’ll take some responsibility for [you fucking me without a condom].  Just so I don’t have to process what you did like another sexual assault.  He tipped me very well.  I’m not sure if it was because he felt guilty or not.  I must have made him feel bad.  He gave me his phone numbers and said I could call him for anything.  In the end, because I didn’t leave angry, I was able to not feel so violated.  It doesn’t always resolve itself like this.  Unsafe sex is an automatic ejection from the game.  I think though, you should always be aware of whether or not a condom is in use.  And if you are calling yourself a pro you should always be on top of that, literally.

I did feel initially violated but felt like instead of getting angry and calling him a rapist, I would try to gain an understanding about what HIS thinking, if any was….CONTINUE




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