I want this (maga)zine to be a platform where the voices, and artistic talents of local sex workers be utilized as a tool to address the needs of the community, and to strengthen and build on the radical organizing potential between radical queer, feminist, gender anarchistic, and savvy, sex positive sex workers.
It is important that the narrative of sex work, and the people who do it be sculpted by those who live it, and the Sin.dicate is a forum in which we can capture a piece of the dialog of our community, and document our own space. The D.I.Y. ethic of punk culture that has informed queer theorists like Michael Warner, and Judith Halberstam have inspired me to fill a literary gap, in the silence that currently screams at me.
During a particularly boisterous evening of locker room drama, another dancer exploded into a rage of snot bubbles and incoherent streams of her life story surfaced between dramatic gasps for breath. Her truth needed to be screamed at that time, grasping for some sanity. This is too frequent an occurrence in locker rooms, and while I've never cried while another worker told me her life story, I have wanted to a couple of times. As she was embraced, and touched by friends and work acquaintances she had been threatened that she was going to be fired, as Honey-Jolene ran a few fingers through her hair she gave one final and impressive sob. It was gone she shmushed into a little puddle exhausted but relieved, and MIA started yelling. Not angrily, no it was hilarious; she made the whole dressing room laugh. "Oh HELLLL no you are not getting fired! Can't no body get fired from taking off their clothes! NO!" She broke all that tension with glorious righteous rage.
"You can't?" I asked fascinated, and excited.
"No, we got a union up in this bitch. If they try to fire a girl from taking off her clothes we all walk out. Fuck them, they can't do that" I was floored, and fuck them they can't do that became my oft-repeated catch phrase whenever co-workers have talked about harassment from owners and management. In Portland we were in a particularly good position to advocate for ourselves in our informal union, as the city has the most strip clubs per capita in the States. Minneapolis is a much smaller scene with a stronger corporate influence, and a lot of glorious rage is not being capitalized upon.
I have started an online forum, and posted on craigslist for the Sin.dicate, and I have a small core of queer talent for an editing board. I plan to bomb strip club locker rooms this weekend to solicit more talent, and voices for the project. As the momentum has begun on this project, and I been getting some exciting responses and inquires and pitches I have decided to host the first workshop over spring break, and direct this energy into some creation. I plan to do a couple more flyering and work shopping sessions after that. At some point I 'm beginning to think about how we are going to edit this piece, and how to respect the discretionary nature of our businesses and be very mindful of the personal safety of all contributors. I noticed that a lot of writers from the Flesh for Fantasy anthology who are primarily scholars and formers sex workers write in the past tense. They have analyzed their own histories and past experiences in the industry to tell stories that can be greatly supportive to other sex workers. I think for safety, anonymity, and respect this is an intelligent approach and the benefit of hindsight obviously allows for a clear voice and a strong editorial piece. Then there are writers like the feminist porn activist Annie Sprinkle who claim their sex working identity publicly and proudly. I have a lot of admiration for their audacity, and in order to demystify the identities and practices of sex workers I think some of that attitude is also necessary. So striking that balance between lewd loud and proud, and safe smart and reflective is going to be really important.
Kate Bornstein has been talking about changing the queer communities acronym to G.A.S.P., which stand for Gender Anarchy and Sex Positivism. I share her vision, her inspired ideas of coalitional work, and her desire for a more inclusive activist community. She came up with G.A.S.P. as a response to the Allie in G.LB.T.A. Which not many people identify with though they are or could be very much a part of the queer community and the rebranding of the acronym at a conference that still push transgender to the end. What I didn't get to in my positionality paper is my queer identity, and how that interests with sex work. My given name Andrea means great femininity, and I think my mom totally nailed it with that choice. While I myself am not very gender queer, very girly in fact I really appreciate people who are as they have opened up more social freedom and space for all of us to express our gender in a unique and self-satisfying way. I can contextualize the performance of hyper femininity that I do at work within the framework of queer theory, and in relation to camp and drag performances that tell another story about gender. I have regulars that our couples, and lesbians, and my performance often satisfies the bi curiosity of lipstick heterosexual women who often squeal with more delight over my shoes than anything else. Sex work is a much queerer world than most industries, in performance and in our personal lives as well. Personally I love kink. I have dabbled in domination professionally, and as the evolution of my performative sexuality began to unfold in that line of work I explored the abject world of BDSM clubs, public sex, and polyamory. Once I was lucky enough to be paid to have sex with my girlfriend at a sex club in front of a lot of people, it was awesome. I work with a few openly queer dancers, and many more identify as straight but love to play with girls. We drink at the 90s on work breaks and have moments of mutual glitter application appreciation with The Divas. I think that sex positive sex workers and gender anarchists do interact in powerful ways, and I can't stop thinking about Kate Bornstein's brilliant rebranding suggestion in the context of what I'm trying to do with the maga(zine).