five years of work selfies


My boyfriend found this joke on twitter that was (I THINK) first tweeted by @JNalv on twitter?

Anyway I had to draw it. Yes I did.

Four eels, visualized

Sex workers and legitimate experts alike were further embittered by the aforementioned Urban Institute’s laughable conclusions, which accepted outrageous brags of arrested, grandstanding pimps as truth (one claimed to make over $38,000 a week,) and uncritically announced that Atlanta, the United States’ fortieth most populous city and tenth wealthiest, has the largest sex economy.

Charlotte Shane at Jacobin about the folly of the Urban Institute study and how sex work is “hidden” until it’s time to arrest people.

There is no sex work without the city, though you aren’t likely to see much overt evidence of that today. Unless you’re a potential customer or a member of law enforcement – men whose business it is to look – people who sell sex might be invisible to you. But even in a state of crackdown, sex workers have always been able to find one another.

Melissa Gira Grant introducing her new series at the Atlantic’s Citylab.

Toronto Strippers: An Endangered Species

Why dancing naked at a bar is a declining profession in Toronto

Dancing naked in a bar is a declining profession in Toronto. In 1997, the city of Toronto issued 2,844 “burlesque entertainer” licenses, the cards that permit women and men to strip. That number has dropped by more than half. Today 1,284 people in town hold valid licenses to disrobe, paying $367.36 the first year and $258.70 to renew.

Signs of things to come.

Gentleman Snitches On Club For Not Being Gentlemanly

2 Arrested in Strip Club Prostitution Bust

Phoenix police raided a gentlemen’s club in west Phoenix and say the owner is accused of using the business as a front for prostitution.

In fact, they were initially tipped off by someone who thought he was going to a legitimate strip club.

It looks like a typical gentlemen’s club from the outside, but police say it was far from it.

God, what a narc.

I hope against hope that a network picks up this reality show about Shotgun Willie’s owner’s husband/Mayor of Glendale/Libertarian candidate for Colorado governor Mike Dunafon. I’m sad the trailer for the strip club reality show trailer got pulled but if it’s basically this video, plus a strip club, they’ve got a winner.

For Black Sheep on Christmas Eve

“Christmas Wrapping” makes me tear up in a happy, Christmas-y way, which can be a little awkward when I hear it in the middle of American Apparel or at the grocery store and get a little weepy. It’s because of the general cheerful holiday associating and also that in the lyrics, even though the singer is about to spend her Christmas alone before she runs into someone and they spend it together, she’s making Christmas dinner for herself, because it doesn’t matter if you’re with people or alone, in the country or the city, you can still feel warm and happy and safe on Christmas as long as you have whatever makes it feel like Christmas for you (cranberries, I agree that cranberries are important).

My first Christmas memory is waking up in the back seat of my mom’s station wagon as she and Dad are driving my sister and I home from Christmas Eve at our grandparent’s house. His parents always had a Christmas Eve open house, and family, friends, and neighbors would come by and sing carols in the formal dining room. Granny took a giant sheet of posterboard and drew a big snowman on it, and all of the kids got to write their names on it and decorate it with markers and glitter. There were cookies, divinity and sandtarts and sugar cookies decorated with colored sugar, a big pot of chili and a pile of tamales, egg nog (virgin for the kids), a tree with fifty-sixty years’ worth of fine glass ornaments, a fire in the fireplace (even though South Texas winters barely called for it). We got home and, awake now, my sister and I sat in the den and watched the Sesame Street Christmas special before leaving out cookies for Santa and going to bed. It’s a perfect memory and Christmas has always and forever felt like that for me even when it hasn’t.

When I was maybe 15, I was spending Christmas with my dad and stepmom, and my dad busted me sneaking a cigarette in the backyard. I got a pretty extreme dressing-down and haven’t ever reacted well to being yelled at, not at all. All I wanted to do was get the hell out of there and back home to where home really was, Austin, with my mom. But I was 15, and therefore doomed to soldier through the holiday as the surly bad teen. Except I knew how to call Southwest Airlines, and how to call a cab, so around five in the morning I snuck out of the house, had a cab pick me up on the corner, and got a counter agent to change my ticket to Right Now, I need to go Now. By noon I was back in Austin, and called my mom who was somewhat frantic since I hadn’t of course given her any warning.

Christmas was saved since I wouldn’t have to be somewhere where I felt bad, and I wouldn’t have to do that ever again. She told me, and my mom is amazing for doing this, that you didn’t have to stay around people who made you feel bad just because they were related to you. Maybe it was her social work graduate program making her say that, but it was important to me.

I’ve been thinking about this because I don’t have an easy relationship with my dad. Variously we made efforts, but for the last seven years that Christmas Past ghost has more or less been given up. Mostly I’m glad I don’t have to deal with awkward Christmases, and I’m glad I don’t have to lie about my work to keep anyone happy. But I think about my stripper friends, sex worker friends, and people who have to lie about their work or sexuality or gender presentation if they want any hope of maintaining a relationship with their families, around this time of year and it’s not right, and I know this is an unspeakably hard time of year for some of them.

It can be a hard time for anyone who is sad right now because someone doesn’t love them, whether that someone is specific or general. It’s hard for anyone who can’t fully be themselves because revealing details of their work or life would bring down family judgment or excommunication. It’s hard for anyone who bravely shares the messier parts of their lives only to be met with a barrage of vaguely insulting comments and questions. “When will you quit? Isn’t it dangerous? Have you even tried being normal?” You go out there, you share yourself because you think it’s the right thing to do, and then you can’t just have a nice holiday because you have to explain your whole existence.

I hate the thought of anyone being deprived Christmas feelings. You all deserve to have nice feelings, and nothing is more detrimental to that than feeling like the bad kind of black sheep. All we want is to be understood and loved in spite of it. It hurts so much to be cut off by family, to know that they think some piece of oneself is too damaged to truck with, maybe it’s even contagiously harmful so it’s best to not even talk. To be marked as Bad by one’s family of origin.

Or to mark them as Bad. Sometimes they are, and it’s for the overall best to separate oneself from mean and unpleasant people. But I hate thinking about my friends who hide themselves or had to cut off toxic family members or for whatever reason have these familial rifts because of their work or lifestyle or gender status, I hate that some piece of them gets deemed Unacceptable and then they themselves are Unacceptable.

I hope everyone has their family of affinity this holiday season, I hope that if Christmas means something to you that you have your way to celebrate that makes everything feel right. I hope you have family members like my aunt and uncle from Dallas. The first Christmas after I started stripping, I got worlds of hell for it from my dad, stepmom, and grandparents, and this was all my fault because I was dumb enough to think it was OK to be out about it. But it was no better than being 15 and yelled at for smoking. I thought I’d just muck through since I could cross the street and see my other, less judgmental grandparents after Christmas morning gift-opening.

My uncle handed me their present, and I opened it to find a pair of purple-gold-green tasseled, sequined pasties. Nobody else found it funny but the three of us laughed like crazy. It was ballsy of them to make a joke of the family shame that was my topless dancing career and made me feel understood and not utterly alone that morning. Thank god, someone can have a sense of humor, is what it felt like. It was one of the best Christmas presents I’ve ever gotten, and I hang pasties on my tree now because that’s part of what makes it Christmas for me.