Out with the old, in with the new...
Looking forward to saying "goodbye" to 2012, a year of many disappointments and conflict and welcoming in 2013. While "13" generally symbolizes bad luck, here's hoping it doesn't this time around.
I rang in 2012 with a lot of promise and expectations. I'd been planning to return to grad school in the Fall and had a large research project in the works with two other industry friends that was set to launch in the summer. Instead, the master's program I applied for couldn't accept me for this year and I am now re-applying for Fall of 2013. Additionally, one of my co-partners on the research project bailed out as soon as we were about to launch (for good reason), forcing us to put it on hiatus for awhile. And now here we are at the beginning of 2013 and I am back to square one on both of these plans, hoping that things will look much different in a year's time.
In September, I purchased a used car after driving a reliable, but rusty Chevy for the past 7 years. Immediately I was faced with a host of problems and put almost as much money into repairs as I had purchasing the car. I learned some lessons on what not to do for purchasing a car next time around, which may come sooner than later.
There were some highlights- a much-needed vacation to Iceland in June was a last-minute decision, but a fun one, nonetheless. I wish I could've spent more time there, but I made the most of it and highly recommend people visit this unique little country if they ever happen upon a chance to.
The International AIDS conference in July (Washington DC) was a great opportunity to meet other sex workers and activists from all over the world. At long last I was able to meet the amazing Pye Jakobsson from Rose Alliance in Sweden and do drinks with Melissa Ditmore, a well-regarded researcher on sex work.
At last month's National Harm Reduction Conference in Portland, OR I participated on four panels and networked with some harm reductionists from all over the country. Met some new friends in Portland and went to no less than five strip clubs in the strip club capital of the US. It's a different scene out there than it is in Chicago, for sure! I wish there was more work out in Portland as I would visit there more often, but perhaps a Seattle-Portland visit next year might be another possibility.
A few notes...
~My website is currently down for re-design, but look for a new site sometime in January. I am still available for appointments, so please email me.
~ I am offering a $50 discount for the month of January to any gentlemen that attended the party I hosted on December 6. My way of saying "thank you" for attending. Another party isn't in the works right now, but possibly in mid-2013.
Best wishes to all for a very happy 2013!
California Prop 35- A Dangerous Proposition!
With elections just a few days away, I wanted to remind all of our west coast friends and readers to spread the word about California's Prop 35 and vote NO on this dangerous piece of legislation. If you haven't already heard about Prop 35 (Otherwise known as the CASE Act), it is yet another piece if misguided "anti-trafficking" legislation that could potential have destructive effects on sex workers who willingly choose this form of work AND partners and children of these people, who could all potentially be labelled as human traffickers and forced to register as sex offenders. Here's some bullet points on why this is such a bad bill-
~ Prop 35 relies on junk science to lie to voters about human trafficking cases so they can benefit from 100% of the new fines imposes.
~ Prop 35 relies on the failed polices of police engaging in sexual contact in prostitution sting operations to identify human trafficked victims will force the sex industry further underground, making it harder for law enforcement to find and identify actual human trafficking victims.
~ Prop 35 relies on the failed polices of mandating cities and counties to spend millions of dollars to implement and train police officers to enforce this law that doesn’t provide basic protections such as access to equal protection for those who are working in the sex industry or undocumented.
~ Prop 35 could result in children and domestic partners of prostitutes, who are supported financially from a prostitutes’ labor, to be convicted of human trafficking and forced to register on the California sex registry as sex offenders.
~ Prop 35 is overbroad – it could result in the arrest of and prosecution of teenagers for human trafficking who date, consume alcohol or a controlled substance, and engage in sexual activity an unintended consequence.
~Prop 35 is overbroad – it will give police too much discretion and will likely result in further police abuse of homosexuals and other disfavored minority groups.
~Prop 35 relies on the failed polices of further criminalization of consensual private adult sexual activity.
~Prop 35 will cost the state of California substantial funds to support Proponent’s chosen anti-prostitution trafficking non-profit groups with no oversight or accountability.
~ Prop 35 will cost the state of California untold sums to defend it in court challenges and will be struck down as unconstitutional.
~Prop 35 penalties which include registering all internet user names infringes upon protected free speech activities such as the right to engage in political dialogue anonymously on the internet and will cost voters money when it is challenged in court and ruled unconstitutional.
~ Prop 35 unconstitutionally limits a defendant’s right to assert a defense at trial – by preventing a defense attorney from questioning an alleged victim about voluntary work in the sex industry and will cost voters money when it is challenged in court and ruled unconstitutional.
~ Prop 35 is overbroad – it makes duplicating and selling obscene materials depicting children a form of human trafficking and will cost voters money when it is challenged in court and ruled unconstitutional.
~ Prop 35 is overbroad – it would require individuals who engage in any kind of extortion to register with the CA sex registry as sex offenders even though the particular crime may not have been a sexual offense and will cost voters money when it is challenged in court and ruled unconstitutional.
~ Prop 35 is unconstitutionally vague – a law must be clearly written so as to give adequate notice regarding what is the illegal activity and will cost voters money when it is challenged in court and ruled unconstitutional.
A few years ago, we had to deal with "The Illinois Safe Children's Act", the original "End Demand" bill here in Illinois that successfully passed, but has clearly failed it in original goals (see article here- http://www.chicagoreporter.com/news/2012/11/escorted-jail). Prop 35 takes this flawed ideology to a whole new level, expanding the sex offender registry to sex workers and those with past convictions. Many ant-trafficking organizations are even coming out against this bill, as well as the ACLU, the LA Times, the San Francisco examiner, the Sacramento bee, and many more.
Please tell your California friends and clients to Vote "NO" this Tuesday on Prop 35.
Huge loss for sex worker rights community
Yesterday we lost an amazing, charismatic, and downright hysterical woman...Robyn Few, sex worker rights activist, leader, and co-founder of the Sex Workers Outreach Project in the US. Robyn had been battling cancer for almost 5 years and while the news was expected, many of us are still in shock as Robyn had pushed on way past the timeline doctor's had predicted for her. She was a firecracker...always the center of attention in any room, always laughing, smiling, and enjoying life. even during her cancer fight, she remained in good spirits, encouraging young activists to continue on with the work for sex worker rights she began in 2003 after starting SWOP.
From the SWOP-USA website-
"In June of 2002, the FBI arrested Few under the direction of John Ashcroft. Using the Patriot Act, Ashcroft was able to equate terrorism with prostitution and get additional funding for the very expensive investigation. She was convicted on one federal count of conspiracy to promote prostitution and received six months house arrest, which she finished serving in June 2004. Judge Marilyn Hall Patel allowed Few to continue her activism and volunteer efforts while under house arrest.
Dubbed the "patriotic prostitute," a campaign centered on the idea that prostitution should be decriminalized to protect women from violence began in October 2003 with The Sex Workers Outreach Project. SWOP is an outgrowth of the anger and frustration that Few feels as a result of her federal bust. "Until prostitutes have equal protection under the law and equal rights as human beings, there is no justice."
I was blessed to spend time with Robyn on several occasions and she served as an inspiration and mentor to me in many ways. At the Desiree Alliance Conference in Chicago in 2008, she admonished a group of beat cops on the street for harassing the TS prostitutes in Lakeview. The next night they came back to the hotel asking for her so they could chat with the little lady from San Francisco who was so passionate about the rights of sex workers. it was an amazing moment. If there was a lady who could make you proud of being in this business, it was her. She has always been out and proud about her past, her profession, and fearless in the face of criticism from any side. She truly lived life to the fullest.
RIP Robyn. You will be sorely missed by many!
The photo below is Robyn smoking a joint in front of the FBI building in DC. She was so fearless!
To learn more about Robyn's life and see some interviews with her, check out the link below.
Madame Rose Laws Events in Chicago this week
Returned back from my DC trip and the next evening had the pleasure of Meeting former "Gold Coast" Madam Rose Laws, who is back in Chicago promoting a new book that will be released in the Fall. For those who don't know, Madame Rose was in business for almost 30 years in Chicago from the late 60's to 2002, when she was busted after talking to a undercover cop she met at PJ Clarke's in the Rush Street area. Her clientele included professional athletes, politicians, celebrities, and the like. All word of mouth...she claims to have never advertised for business. She always treated her girls with respect and paid them even if she didn't get paid on her end. As someone who's worked for bad agents in the past, I admire that about her!
Laws will be making appearances at a few venues this week to read from her upcoming book. If you're in Chicago, come on out and meet the Madam.
Tuesday, July 31- Interview with Ursula Bielski at Hi-Ball Lounge- 738 N. Clark, 2nd fl., Chicago Starts at 7pm (?) Call for exact time
Thursday, August 2- reading at UnCharted Books, 2630 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, 7pm.