Posts Tagged ‘prostitution

27
Dec
08

Harvey Milk, me and my mom

So this used to be more of a personal blog than a sex worker news worthy piece, so in thinking and overthinking “what should i blog? when should I blog?” i just decided that i work best when i just start typing because typing is so easy for me to do…I just watched the Harvey Milk movie with my mom on Christmas Day. Every Christmas Day we watch a movie together because my sisters spend this day with their partners’ families and historically I have not been partnered up with anyone so I’ve hung out with my mom at the movies!

This youtube thing is very fitting, if not totally inspiring, if we think of Obama as being the representation of HOPE as he has coined himself to be…The “us” es that Milk speaks about…that is me…queer prostitute of color..

It was SUCH an inspiring movie to watch with my mom because it was the best way for me to explain to her exactly what I do as a prostitute activist. I had JUST finished working on the PROP K campaign in San Francisco, and PROP 8 (gay marriage) had just been defeated in CA and Florida which was almost EXACTLY what they were fighting when Milk was running for all the offices that he had run for. The most inspiring thing for me was that he did NOT COME OUT of the closet until after age 40, nor did he START his political career as a historical LGBT activist UNTIL AFTER 40. And here I sit at 32 thinking that I am getting TOO OLD. He had run for offices 4 different times in San Francisco before he won his supervisor seat finally. So, being that we had attained 41% of the vote in San Francisco for decriminalization of prostitution, the first time on the SF Ballot is pretty damn amazing.

During the late 70s instead of talking about gay marriage, they were talking about FIRING GAY TEACHERS. This is pretty ironic for me to hear, since I was a high school teacher for many years, and openly GAY with a big ol rainbow flag behind my desk. I chose to call myself gay and not bi for the purposes of my teaching career because it was easier for me go with extremes than use the hot button word ‘bisexual’ which I felt might read as ambiguous to teenagers. Although, this new generation of queer youth is MUCH more accepting of bi and transgender peers than my generation. I KNOW I was internalizing biphobia, but it was pretty effective for the purposes of running the Gay Straight Alliance in our urban school.

I have met with supervisors (dressed as a street worker) and walked up the very stairs of San Francisco’s City Hall that Milk talked about making a grand gay entrance into, where he was assasinated by Dan White and cried and fought in the very same ways that he did…in the same places…

My mom asked me what the guy I am dating thought about me being bisexual and I said,”I don’t think he has a choice really…it’s not something that you can really control. It’s just who you are.” She asked me why I wanted to watch that movie, and I said, because I’m bisexual, it’s part of my history.

Being the openly gay teacher in the high school that I taught at and getting involved in LGBT youth activism for those years was a replacement for the sex worker rights issues that I had been working on previously to my shift into transitioning out of sex work into the “real world.” The only thing was that I MISSED the sex worker rights movement! I missed the POWER of sex work! So as soon as I finished my first year at that school, I quit and celebrated my reunification with the whore movement…OMG. That was already TWO YEARS AGO.

After watching that movie, I told my mom..”The organization that I am working with…it is VERY SIMILAR to what you see in this movie. The things that we do and what we go through are almost the same.” I said. My mom doesn’t know that I am actually a sex worker. She believes what I tell her, that I am just an ally, a researcher type, a consultant on the issue, not an actually worker. Perhaps she already knows and just consciously buys into the lie because it is easier. But, the important elements of what I actually do are not so important to my mom, because what I wish to share with her about what I do, I AM already sharing with her. I really don’t think it’s important to share the details of the sex work with my mom anymore than I am…Perhaps I might come all the way out of the closet with it, but I don’t think that it is that necessary. When I did the PROP K media stuff, I had to grapple with the fact that my Chinese family in San Francisco would see me on national TV. But the work that I do and the words that I am saying, I have a RIGHT TO BE PROUD OF, and if they watch it and can find some shame to dig up to throw at me, then I will just deal with it then, but no backlash has happened so far. A very few of my cousins know, but not too many. Not many of my extended cousins know about my LGBT activism. I haven’t identified any potentially queer relatives of mine, but there is always one or two that we don’t know we have.

I have worked on my coming out with my mom for many years. I announced being bi to my sisters and mom during some getaway vacation to Napa almost ten years ago. My mom is a born again Christian, it is important to note so progress with her is very different than my dad who is my best friend and supporter of my sex worker politics and of so many things that I do. In the last few days, I’ve been staying at my Dad’s apartment posting Craigslist escort ads and taking calls for work in front of him (going into the other room) but nevertheless..just a glimpse at how very different they are. My dad has read some of my blog, knows about EVERYTHING I’ve done, from the arrest to the brothel and has shipped me books and novels and web links on sex worker activism. Having ONE parent like my dad is enough acceptance for MY WHOLE FAMILY (siblings and their partners included), I am really really lucky to have him. I am learning to love my mother more, as you might infer, we’ve struggled more on our relationship and it has had constant ups and downs through my life, but this Christmas was a symbollic truce of sorts…It was better than watching Nixon or Aliens vs Predator II which is what we watched last year. She says she doesn’t know what it is like to feel discrimination, that she came to this country after the Japanese internment, that she sympathizes with “us” but doesn’t understand what that might be like. I struggle to understand how a woman of color could NOT understand discrimination in this country, but I struggle to understand my mother as well. Perhaps we don’t struggle with each other anymore, we just accept and understand that we DON’T and might not ever understand completely. Perhaps also, she will never know that I consider my fate as a courtesan to be inherited by her, that sexual exchange is passed down from yo mama in many families. I learned how to know that men and their money was the key to my finnancial survival from her, as she had a sugar daddy partner for most of the years of our growing up and that she met my father when she was a hostess in Japan.

20
Nov
08

Transgender Day of Rememberance is Today:Duanna Johnson RIP

In LA, my desire to reach the transgender community has been met with some resistance by transfolk who are angered at being profiled wrongly of being prostitutes-but I say to anyone who is outraged at being profiled as a prostitute: They should resist state violence which occurs to those who are criminalized for prostitution EVEN MORE.  Being transgender and crossdressing is no longer a crime, and in states like CA there are laws specifically to protect you from gender biased violence (but that in NO WAY MEANS that it STOPS that violence from happening at the same rate).  Please light a candle, burn an incense, tip a 40, smoke a bowl or whatever for all of our TG sisters and brothers who we have lost in the struggle for justice or livelihood…

11
Aug
08

Yo soy una SUPER Estrella! *I am a superstar!*

photo by Cristina Rodriguez

photo by Cristina Rodriguez

What a week I had! Too many amazing things to write here about..My art installation, my performances on stage and at the Human Rights Networking Zone closing party. The Star Whores show that came together on the fly backstage with no rehearsal and almost no background music (my collaborator was BURNING the DVD during the time that we were supposed to be on!) Talk about craziness! It was good to know that someone does things more last minute than me…

this photo was from my solo show, which went well. I think that it went well because I have done these songs many times before and I don’t have to learn new words or be embarassed cuz I forgot the words and there will be much less unpredictablilities. the DVD will already be burned! But the Star Whores show, that was a mess..*but-the important thing was that people thought it was alright, the audience was HUGE (1000 people?) but forgiving. I just learned the words to Umbrella by Rihanna and wrote a new rhyme to replace Jay-Z’s bit in the beginning so I totally forgot the words. For some reason, I couldn’t even memorize the chorus correctly. Oh well, I know it now, so now we will have another sex worker rights song that I can perform. It’s now called “Red Umbrella” (named after the International sex worker rights symbol) My next show will be a fundraiser for my *LEGAL FUND.* Stay tuned.

What a great thing to be on a high budget stage with a great sound system and super large video projections behind you!

If you can read Spanish, the original editorial was printed in a very important Spanish newspaper, called La Jornada. I am happy with it..Great press, great experience. I was so mad at myself that I didn’t make my goal of performing for Gay Pride in any of the cities that SWOP had a booth at, but this performance takes the cake and makes up for that. In fact, before leaving for Mexico I was having a nervous breakdown over stress, money, not doing enough and other things, but that has all been forgotten for now. Now I am ready for other stages and am pumped up to go home to the US to make sure that that happens in the US and beyond. Harm Reduction conference in Thailand 2009, here I come!!

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2008/08/08/index.php?section=espectaculos&article=a09n1esp

06
Aug
08

Cambodian Sex Worker Liberation (APNSW video)

depressed because of criminalization not trafficking

depressed because of criminalization not trafficking

Pisey Ly and Kao Tha are AMAZING activist for Cambodian sex worker liberation!!

PI Say and Kao Ta (sp?) are AMAZING activist for Cambodian sex worker liberation!!

Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers (APNSW) Honored at AIDS Conference (where I am at right now!)

(Mexico City, August 6, 2008) – The Asia Pacific Network of Sex
Workers (APNSW) is the recipient of the 2008 international Award
for Action on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights, the Canadian HIV/AIDS
Legal Network and Human Rights Watch announced today. The award,
which recognizes outstanding individuals and organizations that
protect the rights and dignity of people living with or affected by
HIV/AIDS, was presented in Mexico City on August 6, 2008, at the
XVII International AIDS Conference.

“Sex workers routinely face human rights abuses, including the
discriminatory denial of health services, arbitrary detention by
police, harassment, and sexual and physical violence,” said Richard
Elliott, executive director of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
(www.aidslaw.ca ). “This award recognizes
the extraordinary contribution of the Asia Pacific Network of Sex
Workers in the struggle for sex workers’ rights.”

Since 1994, APNSW has represented sex workers in various policy and
educational forums, promoting the participation of sex workers in
HIV/AIDS programs and supporting dialogue between nongovernmental
organizations, governments, and activists. The group has challenged
the increasing criminalization of all forms of sex work and
unethical drug trials with sex workers as subjects.

APNSW has shaped policy at the global and regional levels, and
built the capacity of local grassroots sex worker organizations,
including by creating a network of transgender activists.
Throughout Asia, the network has been challenging gender-based
violence, promoting access to health care for sex workers, and
advocating for the decriminalization of sex work.

“I am honored to accept this award on behalf of the Asia Pacific
Network for Sex Workers,” said Andrew Hunter, the network’s policy
director. “International recognition of sex workers’ human rights
is vital to curb the HIV pandemic. Governments and UN agencies need
to promote sustainable, comprehensive HIV prevention and care
initiatives for sex workers that are community-led and protect
their human rights.”

The stigmatization, social exclusion, and legal marginalization of
sex workers contribute to human rights violations, and can
exacerbate their risk of HIV infection. Increasingly, according to
APNSW, anti-trafficking efforts and laws criminalizing
transactional sex have resulted in violence and human rights abuses
against sex workers at the hands of police. The organization
pointed to new anti-trafficking legislation in Cambodia, where sex
workers have been sent to “rehabilitation” centers and subjected to
sexual violence and beatings, and had little access to health care
or food.

“Being a part of APNSW – working in solidarity with tens of
thousands of sex workers in the region – has allowed us to
challenge the way the authorities have applied this law in
Cambodia, and to gain strength to bring this issue to international
attention,” said Kao Tha of the Women’s Network for Unity, a sex
worker rights organization in Cambodia.

“The International AIDS Conference presents a forum to focus
worldwide attention on the epidemic and our global response,” said
Joe Amon, director of the HIV/AIDS program at Human Rights Watch
(www.hrw.org/hivaids). “Unfortunately, too often that response has
been tainted by prejudice and misinformation. Only by ensuring the
health and human rights of sex workers will governments, UN
agencies, donors and nongovernmental groups be effective at
reducing the vulnerability of sex workers to HIV infection. The
Asia Pacific Network’s work epitomizes this.”

The Awards for Action on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights were established
in 2002 by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and Human Rights
Watch. An award is presented annually to one Canadian and one
international recipient. This year’s Canadian recipient was Peter
Collins, a prisoner and health activist in Ontario, Canada.

It’s been a honor to be collaborating with Andrew, Dale and APNSW. PLEASE CHECK OUT THEIR VIDEO and learn more about the situation in Cambodia! WordPress doesn’t let you embed anything from Blip.tv for some dumb reason. Star Whores 2 show tomorrow at 2:45pm!

* APNSW website: http://apnsw.org/apnsw.htm
* APNSW video on HIV/AIDS and sex workers’ human rights: http://
sexworkerspresent.blip.tv/#9772333

26
Mar
08

KEEP ON-dedicated to Ashley Alexander Dupree

Hey, I wrote this song soooo long ago. I just watched the video. LIsten to the words. How many of us are in this life to fuel our dreams? Do you think that being hounded by every man on the block since we were 13, was A CHOICE?

24
Mar
08

Embrace your SUPERWHORE and ride it harder than Governor Spitzer! GOD SPEED YOU KRISTIN!

This blog entry is inspired by articles like this: http://www.southtownstar.com/news/brehm/854961,032308brehmcolumn.article

ASHLEY ALEXANDER DUPREE KRISTIN SUPERWHORE

I’ve been following this story and not weighing in on all the internet madness that goes on in the blogosphere. I guess I’m really not a real blogger. I’m too busy on the computer doing work related to running my organization that I don’t have time to do internal work on my activism like blog and/or edit video. Or SING. Or WRITE MUSIC. Music about this movement and my position in it. Ashely Alexander Dupree, I haven’t looked at her myspace, but I’ve heard her song. I’m wondering if she is going to be able to survive this wave and make it to the top. I wonder if she is as driven to succeed as I am. I’ve been adding up all of the different offers that have been proposed to her by Dennis Hoff of the Bunny Ranch, Penthouse, and Hustler. She could be a LEGAL prostitute, completely OUT of the closet and cashing in and set herself up for life, smartly investing in music production and some property. She could set this amazing precedent by actually FILING TAXES as a SEX WORKER. Of course, I don’t know what kind of legal trouble she is in. But what can they get her for OVER the usual misdemeanor. My hypothesis is that whores are stronger than Britney and that Kristin won’t break under this pressure. She’ll just hide out and bide her next move. Then she’ll hit the cover of Hustler, Penthouse and then launch her album. Strike a deal with Flynt and do a concert and strip tease in all the Hustler clubs. AND GET PAID FOR IT. FINALLY. Not let that asshole who exploits, and I DO daresay EXPLOITS not because they are doing sex acts for free or very little money, but because he gets paid off of this both in physical stimulation often, from these willing drunk girls who too quickly become cheap and easy, which is what a working girl even hates, because believe it or not it ain’t your charm that makes us easy, its YOUR MONEY. Girls Gone Wild are cheap because they let a male priviledged producer capitalize off of their actions, again and again and again without ever demanding or even knowing how to go about demanding residuals. So we are always girls going wild but never escaping, sex slaves bound forever; not slaves like in that anti-trafficking is prostitution is ‘slavery still exists’ campaign sort of way either…More girls need to go TRULY WILD and REVOLT through the glass ceiling that exists especially in the male dominated media/entertainment/porno industry.

…but I’m only talking about that because i just saw Kristin/Ashley’s Girls Gone Wild. And I shared a Burningman camp with the GGW camera guy one year and he told me how he got them in the hotel room and how they’d just go crazy to be on the show that they would re enact every hetero college guy’s wildest dream and make out with each other and then simultaneously go down on him FOR FREE, or at most for $200.

But, I’m not an Emperor’s VIP girl. I was a craigslist upsell bait and switch agency escort. And sometimes I had sex for around $160 after the agency took their half. So, who am I to talk about being cheap, right? Charging a lot is a priviledge that some working girls NEVER reach and that is part of the problematic thing for most do gooders and even progressive activists. Sucking dick to survive is harsh. I’ve been there too.

But now, thanks to Ms. Kristin I’m trying to reach higher highs in this game. I’m inspired to CHARGE MORE and WORK LESS. Because, somehow, I’d lost my dignity and because I’ve been so deep in the credit card interest debt hole that I’ve had to work as much as possible, even when I didn’t want to until 5am or 6am, AND run my chapter of SWOP. But THANK GOD. and also Thank Kristin for inspiring me to charge more, cuz the year of the rat is ideed bringing the prosperity it promises…

DEVILS ADVOCATE: Okay, MP, why can’t you just see it as “sex positive?” Why you gotta hate on the brother just cuz he’s getting laid with his camera. Haven’t you done the same with your camera? Is it so wrong to use what you got? Maybe everyone doesn’t care if they profit…

I don’t know. I have issues with male priviledge. That’s why I am a sex worker. Dupree is a singer and a whore. This is why I am watching her closely and watching how the music biz is reacting. I wish it were me actually. I am a singer and whore! I am ready to blow up, but I know that the world is definitely not ready for ME! Although, NBC did call me for an interview and I was really nervous about being on national TV…but if Ashley can embrace her inner whore and use it to sell herself smart then she will have successfully made more than the usual percentage for women in this business. I’ve heard all these old school feminists call her disguisting and other things in the media, totally buying into the sanctity of marriage bullshit.

The fact that he is such a hypocrite and liar is the reason why he needs to face MAXIMUM penalities for his CRIME, but after his trial, the world needs to DECRIMINALIZE PROSTITUTION and come expose my ideas on politics, prostitution over music.

12
Nov
07

HELLO KITTY HAS NO MOUTH and Pimpin Ain’t Eazy

“Happy Endings, American Dreams” photomedia series by Mariko Passion, copyright 2007.

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The director of Girl Fest, Hawaii takes a stab at feminist critique of the We, Asian Sex Workers postcard seen in the post BELOW this one, which depicts one of the images that I did as part of the “Happy Endings, American Dreams” photomedia series above that I displayed on the ar+space gallery walls.

“…Notice how this girl on the flyer is made to be or at least look underage, wearing a Hello Kitty jacket– a popular youth logo. Keep in mind, Hello Kitty has NO mouth to speak for herself. This girl is sitting on a bed in a brothel. Below her are the credit card logos of visa and mastercard with the words “BUY FINE ART” in caps. This flyer is not only promoting the pimping and selling of young girls, it is COMPLETELY racist, perpetuation the hyper-sexual underage exotification of Asian women and girls.

To be clear, Girl Fest and I have been working for the rights and protections and services of women and girls with no economic option but to have their bodies sold for sex to survive. We want to get them out of the industry and help them heal. However, WE ARE COMPLETELY ANTI-PIMP and JOHN. We are firmly against the legalization and decriminalization of prostitution. This SWOP/APLE Pimp Lobby is subversively anti-woman, under the guise of the arcane term “Harm Reduction.”

Kathryn Xian and Girl Fest Hawaii (www.girlfesthawaii.org) which also ran a Girl Fest San Francisco the SAME week as the Sex Worker Film Festival and the WE, ASW art show represent the anti-prostitution position that believes that women and girls in sex work are not capable of self determination and that sex worker rights feminists are and should be called out for the PIMPS that they are. She uses Melissa Farley as her source for credible information on why prostitution is harmful. Farley believes that ALL sex work is forced prostitution/rape, all women in prostitution have been prostituted and are unable to consent due to their post traumatic stress disorder, and all male clients are rapists and need to be cured of their insatiable, morose desires.

So, Kathryn showed up at one of our University of Hawaii speaking gigs and called me and the rest of the APLE (Arresting Prostitutes is Legal Exploitation) a bunch of pimps, accused us of taking money from ‘the pimps’, and implying that we make underage girls lapdance at our lapdance fundraisers from SWOP. She was just waiting to throw her accusations at the end of our (Carol Leigh, Stacy Swimme and I’s) presentation, upon which she kept saying,”Hello Kitty has NO MOUTH, Mariko! She CAN’T speak for herself!!” and then in classic high school fight style, she stormed out saying “JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE A QUEER ASIAN FEMALE DOESN’T MEAN YOU CAN’T BE A PIMP, MARIKO!! See you on Monday!” …leaving us to deconstruct her accusations without her….

kittygrowsmouth1.jpg

Before Kathryn’s beautiful illustration/performance of the unreasonable hostility anti-prostitution feminists embody when dealing with sex worker activists in feminist spaces like the Women’s Studies Coalition Meeting of the University, she had sent the above analysis in email blast to all the local feminist organizations. I was honored to have been the subject of her deeper examination. That, after all is the POINT of making GOOD ART. If I have made you THINK, (re)think, re-examine and converse about MY work–then I’ve done my job as a post-porn modernist (as Annie Sprinkle might say) artist.  Success!

and now for some thoughts, STRAIGHT FROM THE KITTY’S MOUTH:

First off, calling me a pimp is CRAZY! Not because I have not perhaps technically participated in what could be considered as pimping (I ran a failed escort agency, which never never profited off of prostitution, it was more like an expensive experiment in advertising debt) believe me, so I’m apt to think it wasn’t pimping). PIMP is a an amorphous, ambiguous, misused and misunderstood term that has a pop culture definition (big hat, feather, gold grill, cane..a Black man usually) and a LEGAL defintion (profiting off the avails of prostitution) which makes an escort agent, a stripclub manager, a boyfriend/partner/husband ALL technically able to call themselves pimps. Then there’s the pop culture def which is like the N WORD in that it’s used just as much in songs and movies but has been so far removed from what it originally was that it’s lost it’s meaning because of cultural appropriation and bastardization.  Just like with many racially weighted and charged words, like the N word.

What do people MEAN when they say the word PIMP? And what does it mean to call a SEX WORKER ACTIVIST a PIMP? And to say that in some way, we are being PAID by pimps is even more ridiculous, cuz if any of you know the rules of the game: REAL PIMPS GIVE THEIR MONEY TO NO ONE, especially not to [NO BITCH.]

Pimps and self determined, independent, outspoken prostitutes like myself and the rest of the activists on the speaking tour with me, would certainly not work together financially. We WISH we got funding for our activist efforts by other donors besides OUR CLIENTS. At best, in some situations, like with Pam from APLE who did street outreach for years in Waikiki to girls who DID have stereo typical pimps who wreaked stereotypical violence on their workers, the activists and outreach workers who worked on giving the sex workers some sense of POWER, LOVE AND FREE CONDOMS were at best, tolerated.

Hello Kitty was born and created in Japan in 1976, and is “made in China” these days, making her half Chinese and half Japanese and 31, JUST LIKE ME!! The girl in the image is made to imitate the many, many, faceless, long, black haired, shamed, trafficked Asian sex slave that she thinks I really am in that photo.

To be clear, I have been working on giving Hello Kitty a mouth my entire sex work activist career of 9+ years. In this sense, HK stands for the voices of Asian women’s sexuality, Asian feminism, Queer Asian women even. On a more personal note, I do IDENTIFY with Hello Kitty because of her childlike sexuality, it’s true. But that has always been a part of my specifically very hyper sexual, hyper ethnic style of art making and performance art; ever since I was known as the asian****… If Hello Kitty is the voice of Asian women, Asian sex workers, Asian culture then, in every way, with the work that I do, I try to give HK a MOUTH to speak for herself. We, ASW was a group show, not a solo exhibition and it featured the MOUTHS of many many Asian women from Bangladesh to Chicago, and it seems to me that anti-prostitution events like Girl Fest might do the opposite of allowing the Hello Kittys of the world to speak for hersel[ves].




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