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Entries in Audacia Ray (3)

Friday
Jan082010

The Caravan 016: Sex Worker Literati

It seems I picked the perfect night for my first time attending Sex Worker Literati as their theme was indeed "My First Time".  Hosted by the wonderful Audacia Ray and David Henry Sterry.

I had been planning on checking it out since the beginning but something always fell on the day it was happening.  Finally, after six months of waiting I got to witness it.  All I can say is wow.  There are not many events that can stir up this kind of emotion, and it's not just because I used to be a gogo dancer back when "topless" had just become "stopless" dancing.

The line up included Chelsea G. Summers who gave us an inside look at her first time dancing the champagne room at a well known strip club in NYC.  Jennifer Blowdryer brought us tales of her first time filming adult scenes.  Damien Decker's mandigo adventures were a treat in a half.  I was also very excited to catch Jodi Sh Doff tell her own wild tales of being with a woman for the first time.  I am a huge fan of her website and writing and fell absolutely in love with her when I found the "meet the dead boys" page.  I'm really looking forward to posting some of the audio. Zoe Hansen also caught my attention with her story of heroin and sex.  Of course Audacia's opener of fisting and rubber gloves left everyone laughing and with a souvenir.  David even shared his first time with a beloved family "friend".

Through all of this something much more powerful was happening.  I could feel it as it was happening but didn't quite get the full effect until I cam home, pulled the covers over my head, and took a deep breath.  Parts of this evening I could have written myself.  Long love affairs with drugs and alcohol, and dead fiancees and lovers crept back into my life. There's something quite healing about hearing other's stories, whether they be funny, or sad. I can't quite describe what I'm trying to say, all I know is that it's so much bigger than all of us and incredibly beautiful.  So I leave you now with: My First & Last Time GoGo Dancing (Beware of  the 4 a.m. grammar.)

It took me two weeks to learn how to walk in the shoes without falling to the ground.  It took me another week to walk with the entire outfit on, and cut my hair just so.  They were going to call me "Red Bettie," as most people who had seen me said I resembled the pinup queen.  A week before I was to perform, my cat got scared and put a huge scratch down my face.  I was lucky I didn't lose and eye.  My manager took one look at me and said "What the hell did you do? You better get rid of this! This face is money!"  He laughed but we both knew he wasn't joking.  Luckily the tube of neosporin did just the trick. 

The day of my first performance my mind went back and forth to that time one month earlier that I had accepted.  There was a part of me that always wanted to do this, and then there was a part of me that wanted to be "respectable".Looking back I had no idea what respectability really was.  I was nervous, cold, and barely wearing anything.

The club was different from what I expected.  They had a stage and a few pin-up photographs on the walls but the crowd was mostly preppy and I knew they weren't my audience.  I had a sinking feeling this was not going to go well.  "Fuck it." I said.  I took off my coat, walked into the bar and stayed to the right until my name was announced.  "It's just Bettie Page poses" I repeated.  And then the time had come, I heard my name, walked to the stage, did a few poses, and started to work the room.  Impressed I hadn't broken an ankle or fallen on my face, I started to get braver.  I sat on people's laps, scooted to the side of tables, and flirted with the boys and girls with white sweaters and tight jeans.  One woman called me over and I sat on her lap as her boyfriend took sweet snapshots.  I went to tease him by sitting on the edge of the table but sat too close to the edge.  The table started to go up, I started to go down, and I caught myself quickly avoiding catastrophe.  Red faced, I pranced away. 

Only two more rounds to go.  My best friend had come to both support me and tear me down.  I was self-conscious.  I've never been a skinny girl and I had gained 10 pounds since I had given up the pills and other things.  My manager came up to me and sighed.  "The skirt comes off, the next round." He said and walked away. "Ok."  I prayed my obesity would hide itself. My best friend snickered and whispered to my manager as I took off my skirt.  I was left in vinyl underwear & bra set and a cute little embroidered garter with stockings.  I took a deep breath and rocked it.  For all the cellulite, fuck it, for all the pudge oozing from the top of my thighs, whatever.  Luckily there were a couple of guys watching that were into me.  Unfortunately some, a little too into me.  When you're making a base pay and mostly working for tips, the audience thinks with their one measly dollar that they can do whatever they want.  On the upside, my manager was real good at keeping them from going too far. 

I don't remember how much I made that night or how good my first time even was.  I'm pretty sure I was far too nervous to even notice if anyone was actually watching me, but looking back I now know where it all began.  With those little pin-up moves, those tiny Bettie Page poses I managed to make a career out of it. 

I can't say I remember much of those days but I do remember the phone numbers written on the bills. As if I was going to remember each and every one of those guys who gave me money.  I remember I spent the money on dinner and maybe a 40.  We weren't too classy then. Later my manager moved in with me, and I stopped dancing, and started cooking.

Two weeks pass and it's Michael T's birthday party.  Walking into the same club with half of the same crowd and another crowd that was completely the opposite, I sat down and drank my rum and coke.  A clean cut man approached me and whispered.  "About two weeks ago there was a cute scantily clad young lady prancing around this dance floor.  Would you happen to know who she is?"  I smiled at him politely.  "I have no idea what you are talking about."

Sunday
Nov082009

Killin' It 05: 2010 Sex Blogger's Calendar Release Party

Friday I attended the 2010 Sex Blogger's Calendar release  party at Fontana's in the LES.  It was an amazing evening and for all of you looking to purchase a calendar, you can find it hereSupport Sex Work Awareness with a $20 calendar purchase.  They had some fabulous grab bags, wonderful raffle prizes ( I won 2 of them!) and of course the sex bloggers themselves were ultra amazing.  All photos by Nick McGlynn.  Click on Nick's name to see the rest of the pics.

Bella Vendetta and Audacia Ray

The two Urban Gypsies!  Tess D & me

The beautiful Abiola Abrams (who I won an awesome print of by JC.  I also won a photo shoot with him)

Calico with her calendar page

I just liked this pic.

This one is from Time Out New York. There's another one of me there but I'm kind of rockin' the double chin in it.  Can't win them all now can we? You can check them out here  Photos by Anna King

 

Tuesday
Oct272009

The Caravan 09: Pay As You Go: An Evening of Sex Worker Shorts

Over the weekend I headed out to Brooklyn to check out Pay As You Go: An Evening of Sex Worker Shorts.  Initially I was drawn to it by Audacia Ray's film short "VAMP: Sex Work Organizing in India".   I've been following Audacia Ray for a good while now and was intrigued by the non-profit SANGRAM who helps organize VAMP as well as providing practical training ground for other NGO’s and GO’s interested in working on the HIV/AIDS epidemic. 

VAMP: Sex Work Organizing in India by Audacia Ray was beautifully made and captures the essence of both the women involved in the industry as well as those who run the programs that help them.  One of the most intense and thought provoking parts of the film is whn a house wife and a sex worker are taped together discussing sex work, disease, HIV/AIDS,condom usage with sex workers as opposed to housewives, and actually getting to understand and relate to each other not only as women but as human beings.

Prostitution Free Zone by PJ Starr gives us a brief look into the anti-prostitution laws of D.C. which are being used to gentrify and push out those who have inhabited the areas for years.  The compelling thing about this film was seeing how incredibly brave the sex workers were to be taped, to fight back for their rights and to make sure they have safe places to go.  "Constitutional right to freedom of assembly? Not in DC, honey!" - from "Prostitution Free Zone"

The Line by Nancy Schwartzman discusses what happens when consensual sex turns turns into a forced encounted.  What happens when the person raped is not a "perfect victim"?  In the film she not only gives us a brief history of the evnts and emotions that led up to the attack but also her quest to confront her rapist and heal herself along the way.  The film asks the question: where is the line defining consent?

Workin Girl Blues by Damien Lux is a wonderful little short on jobs and the pros and cons of each job she has had.

You Must Know Me by HOPS & WITNESS was one film that brought tears to my eyes.  At one point a sex worker talks about how dangerous the job is.  How one evening she was raped repeatedly until morning and then left to hitchhike home. Like most she was afraid to go to the police because they either A. Do Nothing or B. Expect favors for their services. It brings up the question: "If sex work is illegal, do sex workers have rights?". 

The consistant theme throughout the night was human rights.  It doesn't matter who you are or what you do, every single human being deserves basic human rights and protection.  My only wish was that I could have stayed for the second half.  Of course I've just gotten word that Audacia will be hosting a repeat screening of sex worker docs the weekend of the NYC Sex Blogger Calendar party. 7:30 pm on 11/7 so I hope to see all of you there as well.