Updates

First of all, Part 3 is here. And what happened after that is here. That’s February done. My June tour dates are here and I’ve updated the photo on Meet Jewel page – long overdue. The whole page needs to be updated but I’m not promising anything.

Secondly (but equally importantly) here’s a very badly- worded petition that I would like everyone who cares to sign.

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/49040

And here is what I think about it. OF COURSE I want any crime against me and my colleagues to be taken seriously and to be dealt with in a respectful manner. So I support the (arguably) good intention of this petition and the end result. But people need to understand that sex workers are at higher risk of being victims of crime for many reasons, and not all of them will disappear if police start taking us more seriously: working in a criminalised context, fear of police, stigma, marginalisation will still be around. Don’t even start me on sex workers who have children. And the language used is problematic to say the least. I can easily imagine some uninformed member of public (i.e. the majority) reading this and going into panic about how horrific my job is. A well-informed anti-prostitution activist, on the other hand, can use this to further their case that all sex work is violence and the only solution is to criminalise everything till kingdom come.

The anecdata used just sends me into a mental torpor. “In the UK, more than half of women in prostitution have been raped and/or seriously sexually assaulted.” By clients? By their partners? By police? By passers-by if they work in the street? By traffickers? By criminals who prey on vulnerable women who they know will not go to police? “The mortality rate for women in prostitution in London is 12 times the national average.” Hands up who wants to know what the national average is! And could we please have the national average for men as well. And the mortality rate for women in London who are not involved in prostitution. Because I guess it’ll be higher than mortality rate for women in the Isle of Skye (population 43.75 persons on an average busy day) and therefore higher than the national average anyway. And could we please compare it all to the mortality rate for sex workers in New Zealand where prostitution is decriminalised? And most of all I would like to know the source of this dead hooker statistic so I could go there and look up what death causes were taken into account. Suicide? Murder at work? Domestic violence? Overdose? Cancer? Car accident? AIDS? Old age? Were the women whose cases were used for this statistic street workers? Or did they work in a licensed sauna?

Nowadays, when people start talking about prostitution, it seems to be appropriate to throw in any statistic and it won’t be questioned. Over three quarters of prostitutes in London will experience sexual assault! How awful! 95% of prostitutes in UK are drug addicts and/or alcoholics! Horror! 11 out of 10 women involved in prostitution want out! It all goes. And why? Because politics. Because prostitutes have to be victims, otherwise the public won’t want to save them. Politicians are good at using this kind of statistics – just read Rhoda Grant’s “consultation”! By the way, today she published its results. You can enjoy them here. What a sad sad day for this country.

You probably feel that you got more political talk than you ever expected from this blog. I am sorry. I’ll leave it for now (but I’ll want to get back to this later) with just one other hooker statistic. I recently had to re-read Farley’s farts (Prostitution in 5 Countries, 1998) because I was looking for a specific quote. I found this:

A number of authors (e.g. Barry, 1995; Hoigard and Finstad, 1992; Leidholdt, 1993; Ross et al., 1990; Vanwesenbeeck, 1994) have described the psychological defenses which are necessitated by the experience of prostitution, and which frequently persist: splitting off certain kinds of awareness and memories, disembodiment, dissociation, amnesia, hiding one’s real self (often until the nonprostituted self begins to blur), depersonalization, denial.

And then a few days later I had to go to a dentist to have my root canal re-done. So while he was screwing my tooth and sticking little metal rods straight into my gum to measure the length of the canals, it occurred to me that this is the most invasive and traumatising procedure I’ve ever had to endure, physically as well as mentally. And where is this famed hookers’ ability to fecking dissociate? I wished I could pull off some sort of disembodiment trick there and then but apparently 7 years in sex work isn’t enough to develop this technique.

And yes, I know that what you really came here for is the competition! Well, thank you for your patience and reading this far. I have received a string of limericks and I’m very much looking forward to putting them up for vote. Come back on the 1 June. And prepare to be amazed!

There was once a lady…

Right, I am now officially back to work after a month of highly unpaid sick leave. Ah, the joy of being self-employed! I still tire easily so I’m not exactly up to the usual 4-5 dates a week yet. Please bear with me and I’ll get there eventually. I would like to give my apologies to people whose e-mails I took days to reply and express my gratitude to those whose bookings I couldn’t take for their patience and understanding. I would also very much like to thank Violet for her help and support while I was ill. Violet went to the hospital with me and helped with other things that normally I wouldn’t even ask for – forget expect! – from someone in sex trade. If this doesn’t show that sex work is a caring profession, I don’t know what does.

I have been (very) slowly updating my blog and you can now enjoy both posts about working with Dana Popa, the photographer (Part 1 and Part 2). Part 3 (the after-Dana part) will be ready in a few days. I have also been reading poetry. This needs a little explanation as I’m hoping to ask you, dearest reader, for help.

Recently I was contacted by a gentleman called Leonard with a view to a date. And, while waiting for the coming date to arrive, he’s taken it upon himself to keep me thoroughly complimented (and, more importantly, thoroughly entertained). Frankly, I have no idea why; we haven’t even met yet so he can’t possibly know anything about me other than what my blog says, and let’s be honest, this is MY blog. It’s about how awesome I am. I’m too biased to accept another point of view on this issue. But since he doesn’t question these basics of Jewelogy, I kindly let him get on with praises. And, as part of his daily complimenting routine, he now arrived at poetry. Having tried haiku, he moved on to limerick. Here’s a part of his e-mail (and I have his written permission to publish it):

“Let’s try the Limerick.

There once was a lady named Jewel. . .

Well, now I am stuck. I need two words that rhyme with Jewel. My choices seem to be limited to “cool” (too cliché or completely the wrong temperature), “fool” (well, I feel like one for trying to capture your essence in verse, but still not quite right), “pool” (your eyes are deep pools of . . . well, your eyes are lovely but this is overdone, so no), “rule” (interesting, could close with “my heart she doth rule”. Need one more…) “school”, “tool” and “wool” all rejected, and don’t even think about “drool”. Maybe a new opening line?

A Jewel in Edinburgh lies

The cause of many men’s sighs

Clever and gorgeous

A mind like the Borgias

Her loveliness no one denies

Well, a reference to the Borgia family will certainly be new and the rest is properly complimentary, so it might work.”

I won’t lie, it did work. I was particularly taken with the fact that said Jewel lies. I suppose my job isn’t called “horizontal trade” for nothing. But I was upset to see the first opening line rejected when he already had these great rhymes lined up. All I had to do was put them together in the true lewd spirit of limerick:

There was once a lady called Jewel

Who saw every man as a tool.

While every man clamoured

to be her jackhammer,

I wrote her a poem, old fool.

Please understand that all I wanted was to show that the rhymes were good and could easily work. I didn’t mean to provoke another limerick from Leonard in reply:

there once was a lady named Jewel

like Pavlov she caused me to drool

my love for her brain

went right down the drain

when she started to talk of my . . .

I hope you laughed as much as I did. Which, at last, leads up to my question: what do you say about a little limerick competition? All limericks about me, of course. Anyone is welcome to take part, I’ll publish all the limericks (no names attached) that I receive (a month should be long enough, I think, after all people don’t look at my blog daily) and then the readers will choose the best one. I’ll be sure to come up with a prize. A dinner with the winner? Well, the rules and the prize will need to be thought through, for now it would help to know if people are interested to take part, so please comment below.

Operation Windermere, or Sex with a Woman

Continued from Part 1 where I warned you that it was going to get graphic, so brace yourself.

If you’ve met me or read my blog enough, you know that I have “one a day” rule which I only broke a few times. But I don’t think I ever explained where it comes from. The weird reason for the weird rule is that my body usually produces one orgasm a day. Therefore, if I demand an orgasm from each client, it’s unfair on whoever didn’t turn up first. Or, from a client’s perspective, if everyone pays the same, it’s unfair that the first client gets more for his money than those after him.

If you’re thinking ‘her clients must be clueless’, you’re wrong, but let me leave this point for later. If, on the other hand, you’re thinking “ah, another boring story of how women have it harder than men (ahem)’, this isn’t the case either. Other women may have 25 orgasms a day, I don’t care: when it’s quality against quantity, you know what I go for.

Unlike a lot of civilian women (and men), I get to have sex most days of a year and with different partners. This provides me with a lot of things, and knowledge of my own body is one of them. I know what works, I know what doesn’t, I know what may work in certain circumstances, I know how to create them and I know how to use the tools I’m given to my advantage. Orgasm for me is not something that happens when the stars are in the right alignment. It’s something I can time to a minute.

The real reason it’s one a day is because, as I said, I have them most days of a year. My body just needs rest between them. And when it gets sufficient rest (like when I’m off work, for example), it’s capable of more.

If you still don’t know why I’m talking about it and where the Nutter fits in, then let me remind you that I was off sick all April. The Nutter was the only client that month. So when about midnight he looked deep into my eyes and asked ‘Why is it that when I give 2 orgasms to any other woman, they are 3 weeks apart?’ I had to catch my breath before I could answer. And here we come to the question of clueless men.

The one and only problem with women – for women themselves as well as for men – is that they don’t come with directions for use. So if you don’t explore your self (and your body) – you don’t know. And not everyone bothers to explore. I have met women who genuinely believed that a man will automatically know how to pleasure them as soon as they meet. Imagine everybody’s disappointment when it doesn’t happen. But what’s the logic behind this? If you start a new job, you’re given training even if you’ve done this before – simply because each workplace has its own little rules and ways of doing things. So when a new person is introduced to your body, you can give them the training, or you can wait till they figure out on their own how things work. This is particularly ridiculous when you yourself don’t know how things work for you or when you can’t be open enough to provide some feedback, even if in the form of ‘Cold. Cold. Ok, getting warmer’. So yes, most men will be clueless until you give them a clue or two. And in my experience, men are more than happy to follow instructions. On the first date. It’s quite heart-warming how on the second date they don’t need your instructions anymore because they remember your basics; just some fine-tuning here and there.

I have to say that the same applies to men in equal measure. A lot of them have no clue about what their body reacts best to and where it is most sensitive. My most sensitive body part is my wallet – just so you know. Nothing turns me on more than having that filled.

So we had this eye-opening conversation with the Nutter about the importance of being open in bed, and went to sleep. In the morning he drove me all the way back to Edinburgh because the idea of me being travel-sick again wasn’t fun. And also because it gave us a few more hours together. And I hate to have to say this again, but this is the last entry about the Nutter. It looks like good things come to an end just like anything else. However, I quite enjoy the fact that this regular client vacancy was very quickly filled.

Operation Windermere, Part 1

It’s a cold but clear April morning. I wake up, shower, swallow a handful of antibiotics and painkillers, throw the rest of them into the little bag that I packed the night before, call a cab and go to Waverley. By the time I reach Carlisle I feel rather queasy: the side effect of the medication I’m on, I’ve never been travel-sick in my life. It’s 40 minutes until my connection and I walk around the station trying to coax my stomach into behaving itself. A beautiful carriage catches my eye and I get my mobile out. I know nothing about trains, but this one is really lovely; I take a picture of it and e-mail it to a client who loves trains. Ah, the beauty of modern technology that allows you to share what you see with people miles away from you in just a few clicks and several seconds! Then I board one of these hateful trains that make you regret having had dinner the night before and suffer for another hour. By the time I get to Oxenholme I am so weak at the knees I can barely walk but that’s ok, because The Nutter meets me right at the platform, takes my bag and  drags me to his car.

Edinburgh escortsThe hotel is right on Lake Windermere. From our room balcony a narrow garden path leads right to the water. We walk down the path, along the old wooden pier to get a better view of the lake. The view is so beautiful you wonder if it’s real. And it’s a clear sunny day which, as The Nutter dutifully informs me, is exceptionally rare for the area. Well, seems like it was meant to be. It’s the first time I’m in the Lake District and I  know I absolutely have to paddle in the lake: who knows if I’ll ever have another chance? The water is not easy to get to but if you’re a determined woman on painkillers – nothing stands in your way. I slip off my shoes, put my socks into the pockets of my jacket, roll my jeans up to my knees and jump off the path onto the rocks in the water.

The water is cold. The water is so cold that at first it doesn’t even register with my feet that they are in the water. Yet it feels the right thing to do: I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’m barefoot, which is rare, or the subzero temperature of water, but it gives a sudden clarity to my mind and this unexpected treat of a trip becomes very real. I want to say thank you to the Nutter.

We walk around the hotel garden. It’s beautiful, the heart of it is a little brook jumping on mossy stones. My feet are still wet, my jeans rolled up, and my shoes dangle from the Nutter’s hand.

Back in the room I have a shower and change for what is the actual reason of our Lake District visit – Home Service concert. It’s one of The Nutter’s favourite bands and he wanted to share it with me. He also wanted me to wear something casual to blend in with the audience. This isn’t the case of “even if I say so myself”. In jeans and a plain off-white top I still looked a few degrees hotter than any day an average member of this audience ever lived through. The Nutter did warn me to expect a bunch of bearded blokes with beer bellies. I had a close look before the show: out of 46 people in the audience 32 had facial hair and some of them were women.

I won’t say the concert was sheer joy, but I enjoyed myself a lot. With 46 people in the audience, the concert was quite intimate – just as I like it. I could see The Nutter’s pleasure, I loved being part of it. This type of music was new to me and I appreciated the experience. I got to see John Tams live, he hasn’t changed much since Sharpe’s days. And, of course, I got to be stared at by a bunch of bearded blokes with beer bellies: never before being beardless gave me such an advantage.

Part 2 will be unusually graphic for this blog. I’m quite looking forward to writing it.

For your entertainment only

Reproduced below without any care for the author’s permission, an entertaining trip into one man’s desperation.

—– Original Message —–
Sent: 04/25/13 01:25 PM
Subject: Proposition
Hello Miss. Jewel
I have a question, do you think any of your clients would pay good money to see two good-looking people together?
I’m a young guy in my early twenties and I often get complimented about my looks, but as I’m sure you already know good looks alone don’t bring money in the bank!
I find myself in a situation where I need more finance, so I thought maybe I could use what God gave me, to my advantage.
I understand you chose a profession and I respect it totally. The way I see it is many women do it indirectly, your just completely honest about it.
I was wondering if I could make sum income in a similar way? Nothing gay though.
Thank you for your reading this short message and I apologize if I wasted your time.
Hope you have a fruitful day,
J
From: Jewel <Jewel@scotlandmail.com>
Sent: Friday, 26 April 2013, 0:25
Subject: Re: Proposition
Hello J,

Thank you for the entertaining mail. The best part of it is that you enquire about how my clients would feel but you don’t seem to give a dead rat’s arse about my feelings, i.e. if I would want to engage with a man who wants to make money off my labour.
It’s not entirely clear to me what the many women you refer to do indirectly (have sex for money?) but I appreciate it that you understand that this is my job – having sex in return for payment. In view of this, I can’t see why you think that I would agree to have sex with you for free. If you are not paying, then I am not interested, it’s that simple. I’m a prostitute, not a slut.
As for my clients, since you asked, if they wanted to see two or more good-looking people together without engaging with them, they could do it online for free.
If you would like to become involved in the sex industry, you can either audition for porn films or become gay for pay. I can’t think of any other way that would bring you money in this trade.
Good luck.
Yours,

To: Jewel <Jewel@scotlandmail.com>
Sent: Friday, 26 April 2013, 2:32AM
Subject: Re: Proposition

 

Hi Miss. Jewel,
Looking at things from your perspective Something you should have done before getting in touch, you kind of have a point.
I wasn’t looking to make money off your labour, I was thinking maybe we could both have a good time, make some nice money and you wouldn’t have to fake an orgasm for once. I used to think that after years in my work there is nothing a man can say to insult me: I’ve heard it all by now and I know what it’s worth. But look at this! He managed to insult me and all my clients in one sentence. This takes some talent.
I wasn’t looking for a free ride either, Really? Were you looking to pay me?  you look amazing and I’m sure your very good at what you do and so far I’ve always been told that I’m not too bad at what I like doing, so what I was looking to recreate was pure, pleasurable entertainment for the paying customer. Yes, but were you looking to pay me? 
As for what I said about other women doing it indirectly, how many women put up with some incompetent fool, never experience any form of joy in the bedroom and look completely miserable, Rhoda&Co comes to mind just for the sake of some financial stability…? At least you get it over and done with. So what you’re saying is that putting up with some incompetent fool and never experiencing any form of joy in the bedroom is definition of my profession. I’m afraid with this attitude your career in sex trade will be very short-lived.
I have nothing against homosexuals, what they choose to do with their ass is totally their business. I look at a beautiful woman like yourself and a get a feeling inside that’s hard to describe in words, but its like something triggers my animal instincts to hunt down and devour my prey. I wasn’t keen on meeting in the first place but now I have an overwhelming urge to actively stay away. I’ve never had that feeling towards a man, maybe its because I only like to give. So you are not looking to receive any pleasure from the free ride you’re asking for?
Some things money can’t buy and money alone definitely can’t make a woman cum. No, of course not. This is why I have sex with men and women instead. I personally find great joy and satisfaction in watching my woman orgasm, if that makes sense to you? It totally does. I see it in every client.
Even if I did have the money for your service Ah! Now we’re getting to the point! I still wouldn’t pay you, because you’re a cheap and arrogant sleaze. if you really liked me you would fulfill my every fantasy, I wonder what line of what page of my website gave this impression. regardless of how much money I had in the bank, right? Wrong. I can’t say for all women – there are stupid ones out there, too – but why would I want to waste my time on a man who promises only pleasure in return when I can have this same pleasure with a man who will provide something else on top: money, affection, responsibility, shared future, children, or at least a nice dinner?  
Anyway considering I managed to entertain you and we definitely can’t work together, how would you feel about becoming friends in the future? You have got to be fecking kidding. This is after I said I am not interested if you are not paying. You sound like fun!
And one last thing, what’s the difference between a prostitute and a slut?
I didn’t know it was a tricky question. It’s the difference between me and you. Starts with P and it isn’t “penis”. 
Sweet Dreams Miss. Jewel,
J

Sex Worker Open University in Glasgow

Sex Worker Open University Co-operative invites you to Scotland’s first ever Sex Workers’ Rights and Community Building Festival in Glasgow 5 – 10 April!
 
Scotland is one of the most recent countries to consider change in sex work laws. This has led to an uprise of anti-sex work groups campaigning for the introduction of an “End Demand” approach. This is the time for us to stand together and say NO to further criminalisation of our work and our clients. This is a unique opportunity to make our voices heard and to organise as a community for our rights and we hope you can join us! Please spread the word about our events and we will make sure to develop and distribute many resources (videos, press releases, etc) following the festival that can be used in our ongoing fight for access to the rights we deserve.
 
The programme includes films, cultural events, debates, international speakers, skill-sharing workshops and much more! Some events are open to public, others are sex worker-only spaces. 
 
We are very grateful and excited to welcome guest speakers both from around the UK (Scot-PEP, X:Talk Project and ECP) and from more distant places (STRASS (France) and Scarlet Alliance (Australia)).
 
With love, rage and solidarity, 
 
Sex Worker Open University Coop

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Sex Worker Open University in partnership with Scot-PEP presents

SEX WORKERS’ RIGHTS & COMMUNITY BUILDING FESTIVAL

Glasgow Fri 5 April – Wed 10 April 2013

April 5, Friday

♥ Sex Workers’ Rights Film Night! (PUBLIC EVENT)

7pm – 10pm, The Cinema, CCA (Centre for Contemporary Arts) 350 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow G2 3JD

Suggested donation: £5

SWOU Collective is proud to invite you to an evening of short films and documentaries produced by sex workersor about sex work. The videos will be introduced by sex workers and allies and will cover themes such as sex workers’ self-organisation, resistance to criminalisation, sex work and migration and effects of anti-trafficking policies on sex workers’ communities. The films include

  • Sex Worker Open University 2011, by Stoo Ireson, 2012 (UK). The second edition of SWOU brought together activists from a dozen different countries and included a Sex Worker Art Show, demonstration and many workshops!
  • Streets in Red, by Clare Havell, 2010 (UK). Short documentary on the subject of street based sex workers in the UK.
  • Normal, by Nic Mai (UK). Combined interviews with four young migrants impersonated by actors. The similarities and differences between the characters’ life trajectories are explored by focusing on their contradictory aspirations to lead a normal life. The four characters explain how they came to see their involvement in the sex industry as normal and how their notion of normality evolved with their life experiences. At the same time, their life trajectories do not conform to the victim/villain stereotypical opposition which dominates current debates about sex work.
  • The Honey Bringer, by Clare Havell and SWOU Collective, 2012 (UK). A documentary on the 2012 Sex Workers Freedom Festival that happened in Kolkata, India as an alternative conference and protest to International AIDS Conference in Washington from which sex workers were banned. Interviews and images from the biggest international sex worker gathering of all times!
  • Last Rescue in Siam, by Empower, 2012 (Thailand). This is the first film ever made by sex workers in Thailand. It is a short black and white movie inspired by the tradition of the old silent movies. The film accompanies the Empower research report Hit & Run on the impact of anti-trafficking raids on sex workers’ human rights.

 April 6, Saturday

♥ Laws and Policies that Impact Sex Workers, and Strategies for Resistance and Change (PUBLIC EVENT)

11am – 4pm, STUC (Scottish Trades Union Congress) 333 Woodlands Road, Glasgow G3 6NG

The day will open with introductions to the event by members of SWOU and delegate of Comic Relief and Red Umbrella Fund.

FIRST PANEL (11am – 1pm): The Push to Criminalise Clients and the Roll Out Effects on Sex Workers.

  • Jay Levy, University of Cambridge: Swedish Abolitionism as Violence Against Women
  • Scot-PEP: The Scottish Context: Organising Against the Push to Criminalise Clients
  • X:Talk: The Case for a Moratorium: Sex Workers Organising in the Shadow of the Olympic Games. Lesson for the Commonwealth Games?
  • Morgane Merteuil, Strass: The French Union of Sex Workers’ Approach to Fighting the Criminalisation of Clients

[Discussion between panelists and audience]

SECOND PANEL (2pm – 4pm): An Alternative Approach: Decriminalisation

  • Anastacia Ryan, NSWP and SWOU: Introducing Decriminalisation as an Alternative Model
  • English Collective of Prostitutes: Sex Work and the Law: Organising to Win Decriminalisation, Safety and Rights
  • Film: New Zealand Fight to Pass the Prostitution Reform Act (2003)
  • Anastacia Ryan, University of Glasgow/NZPC: Exploring and Comparing Sex Workers’ Experiences in Scotland and New Zealand
  • Zhara Stardust, Scarlet Alliance: Decriminalisation in New South Wales, Australia: The Successes and Challenges Faced by Sex Workers
  • Film: Australian Sex Workers Fight for Decriminalisation

[Discussion amongst everyone and sharing strategies for the fight for decriminalisation]

April 7, Sunday

♥ Skills Sharing and Discussion Day (SEX WORKERS ONLY)

12pm – 6pm: Email us at glasgow.swou@gmail.com for venue details.

This is a day for sex workers to gather to share skills and experiences. Workshops will include professional skills and discussions. It is a sex worker only event and all workshops are delivered by sex workers themselves. This is a safe and confidential space.

April 8, Monday

♥ SWOU Taboo (SEX WORKERS ONLY)

1pm – 5pm: Email us at Glasgow.swou@gmail.com for venue details.

1 pm: Taboo. Another sex worker only space, SWOU Taboo is a chance for sex workers to discuss issues that are quite personal and often used against our self-determination. We will create a safe space to discuss issues such as sexual violence, mental health and addiction, our relationship to money or our clients.

3pm: Sex Work as a Helping Profession. As sex workers we often provide our clients with important and invaluable services that support their physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual wellbeing. We will create a space for us to collect our stories and share our experiences of ‘helping’.

♥ Building Alliances (PUBLIC EVENT)

7.30pm – 9pm Mac Lecture Theatre, Glasgow School of Art, 167 Renfrew Street, Glasgow G3 6RQ

Viewing of extract of Proudly Trans in Turkey from Gabrielle Le Roux about trans activists and sex workers in Turkey, followed by discussion and presentation from members of sex worker, LGBT, HIV+ and migrant communities, feminist groups and trade unionists on the intersection between sex work and other criminalised or stigmatised communities and how we can build alliances for social justice and human rights.

April 9-10, Tue-Wed

♥ Reducing Stigma and Building Our Capacity (SEX WORKERS ONLY)

Email us at glasgow.swou@gmail.com for venue/time details and to register.

A public education workshop for sex workers by Maria Nengeh Mensah (Stella and Université du Québec à Montréal) and Chris Bruckert (POWER and University of Ottawa). This two-day workshop is a unique opportunity for sex workers to develop their knowledge as an educator, reinforce their capacity to confront whore-stigma, learn about the principles of public education, and share knowledge, skills and ideas around diverse trainings about sex work. Registration by email necessary.

April 9, Tuesday

♥ Sex Work, Stigma and Criminalisation (PUBLIC EVENT)

6pm – 8pm, CCA5, 350 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow G2 3JD

This interactive public education workshop open to all is led by members of Sex Worker Open University and aims to look at the root causes of whore-phobia and the effect of stigma and criminalisation on the lives of sex workers.

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PDF version of this programme available to download here. Please help us promote this festival!

SEX WORKER OPEN UNIVERSITY: www.swou.org (possible issues depending on your browser)

SCOT-PEP: www.scot-pep.org.uk

FACEBOOK EVENT: Sex Workers’ Rights Festival and Community Building Glasgow www.facebook.com/events/347770968675060/?fref=ts

A man, a woman and a suitcase

My cab stopped in the hotel’s driveway and a porter ran up to open the door. He grabbed my suitcase by the handle, pulled it and lifted his eyes at me.

‘Yes, I know. Sorry.’

He tried harder, managed to pull it out of the cab and then heave it up the steps to the front door. There I took over. On days like this you want to shake the hand of the bloke who invented the wheel. And also that of the genius who suggested to attach it to a suitcase.

The Nutter meets me inside. We kiss and he takes the handle of my suitcase as we make for the lifts. And stops.

‘Exactly how many thongs have you packed?’

‘Six. No, wait, I’m wearing one, so it’s only five inside.’

His eyebrow is still raised as he pulls my suitcase into his hotel room and positions it on the floor. I open it straightaway: I can tell he can’t wait to see my thongs. What he sees is rows and rows of carefully packed books*.

‘Well that explains some things but raises another question. I didn’t realise you’d been to the Army.’

‘I hadn’t. It was the Navy.’

He looks at me.

‘Oh alright! It was prison!’

Now he smiles.

‘I’ve a CDO,’ I confess.

‘Ah. That explains pretty much everything.’

We need to be in the National Theatre for 7.30 so I rush to the bathroom. Out of the shower, I put on some make up, arrange my hair, get dressed and we’re out. All in all, it took me about 40 minutes to get ready. As the cab drives off, the Nutter turns to me.

‘All this time I looked at you getting ready and thought “Why won’t she just get a move on!” Why do women go through all these needless things when they get ready?’

‘Exactly what would you rather I skipped? The shower? The make up? Getting dressed? Brushing my hair? Kissing you between all of these?’

‘Well, when you put it this way, I’m not sure.’

We get to the theatre just on time. It’s The Captain of Kopenick with Anthony Sher. I think both of us enjoy it, even if for different reasons. The Nutter holds my hand throughout the show and lifts it to his lips now and again.

It’s a dry frosty night as we leave the theatre. The cloudless sky is full of stars. We walk across Waterloo Bridge, stop for a late dinner at a small restaurant and get back to the hotel.

In the morning, the Nutter stays in bed and watches me rushing around the room packing. His present of the date is, ironically, a book. A large and heavy book. The first edition of The Making of Classical Edinburgh. He knows how to please me but not my suitcase. Eventually we agree that I’ll leave a few books with him and he’ll pass them to me the next time I see him. I quite enjoy loading him with a Mosby’s Dictionary and a couple of textbooks on anatomy and pathology of a similar size. Now there’s enough room for his present and I don’t even need to jump on my suitcase.

He looks very comfortable and relaxed in bed, even though his eyes keenly follow my erratic movements around the room. I’m packed and getting dressed when suddenly he asks if he can see me off to the station. Why ever not? As the bathroom door closes behind him, I shout ‘And get a move on, will you! My train’s in 40 minutes!’

This is the first time I see him out of the shower. Independent Edinburgh escortsWhat a transformation! His wet hair brushed back looks much darker than ordinarily and gives him a sudden sharp look; his features so clearly defined, he resembles young Clint Eastwood with the square jaw, prominent cheek bones and piercing blue eyes on a face that now appears much thinner. But his long white fluffy hair dries within minutes and soon Clint is gone, replaced by the soft face with a timid smile that I know so well.

The Nutter pulls my suitcase out of the front door and the porter runs up to him.

‘Let me help you, sir.’

‘No, thank you, I’ll cope.’

‘But this is what I’m here for, sir!’

The Nutter looks at him and smiles a little.

‘Oh no, young man, this is what I am here for. Why don’t you get us a cab.’

Unusually for Kings Cross, the gates for platforms are open and the Nutter takes me all the way to my carriage. He shoves my suitcase under the baggage rack and kisses me good-bye. My thoughts still revolve around saloons and cowboys when I arrive in Edinburgh.

* I don’t usually travel with a suitcase full of books. This case is too surreal to try to provide a believable explanation.

A damsel in distress

If you remember, in Part 3 of my London visit I went to Praed Street clinic. That was a Monday. Friday of the same week, sleeping sweetly in my Edinburgh bed, I am woken up at dawn by a phone call.

– Jane?

– Merrr?

– Jane, this is Andrea from St Mary’s hospital.

– Wherrr?

– I’m calling about the results of your latest test.

– Oh?

– Please don’t worry, but…

(Funny how you always get a panic attack when they tell you not to worry. Suddenly I am wide awake)

– … one of your test results is inconclusive.

She goes into long explanations of why this could have happened and what it might mean, but, being in panic, I only get this much: an inconclusive test result means that I either have it or not. They test each swab twice. My first test for throat gonorrhoea was positive but the confirmative test of the same swab was negative. I need to take this test again.

I hang up and lie for a while looking at the ceiling. It feels surreal. Everyone knows that condoms don’t provide a 100% protection from anything, so this one time in 7 years is, I suppose, good enough. Hold on, it’s not like I have it for certain! Besides, if this really is the case, how did I manage to get it in the throat but nowhere else? How long will the treatment take? And then I’ll have to take another test, and wait for its results, hopefully negative then, so how long will I have to be off altogether? Hold on, it’s not like I have it for certain! I don’t have to be off. It’s only my throat that’s off limits. Gonorrhoea sits deep in the throat so I’m unlikely to pass it to anyone unless they lick my tonsils and I am yet to get a client with such a fetish. The rest of my body is disease-free although of course this isn’t how clients will feel about it. It’s getting in touch with clients I saw recently that I need to be worried about. Hold on, it’s not like I have it for certain!

And so, after a miserable week-end, on Monday morning I go to Edinburgh GUM clinic. I hate this place. The walk-in clinic is open 8.30 – 10am. If you show up at 9.15, you are told that the clinic is already full and you’ll have to come back tomorrow. Unless you’re a hooker with gonorrhoea, in which case they’ll kindly squeeze you in as an extra patient. EXTRA patient! In a walk-in clinic!

I get to see a nurse. I tell her why I’m there. She goes. I wait. A doctor comes. I tell him why I’m there. He takes a throat swab and goes. I wait. Second nurse comes, with a Petri dish for another swab. This one is for cultures, so they could determine what antibiotics will work better. Then I wait again. Third nurse comes, with a syringe and a pack of pills. She tells me what the treatment involves; details aside, it’s a heavy-duty course of antibiotics. She rips the syringe open and starts filling it.

– Hold on, have you already received my test results? Even the cultures?

– No, of course not, they’ll be ready next week.

– So why do you think I need the treatment?

– Well, er, because… You know, to save time.

– Would you take this amount of medication for no reason?

– Er…

– When I have the test results, I’ll take it. Or not.

I leave. I feel sicker than ever. A whole week to wait for the results.

Incidentally, that was the week when Walter could visit Edinburgh. And I couldn’t see him! Well, I could, but without kissing this is a waste of my time and his money and kissing he wasn’t comfortable with in my ambiguous condition. He comes anyway – to show his support in more than just e-mail.

We start with a lunch. We’ve a lot to talk about, mostly his plans for my next video. Then Walter wants to go to the cinema. I don’t. Guess who wins! It’s not that I dislike cinema. It’s that I love Walter. And in the cinema we’ll be watching a film, not spending time together. So instead we have a hot chocolate and do what we always wanted to do but were afraid of: shopping for lingerie. In a little boutique in West End I introduce us as Mary and Alfred Hotchpotch (his nome-de-videocamera), he sits down on the sofa with a cup of tea and I disappear in the change rooms. Some time later he joins me there.

Out of the boutique, I take him for a walk in Dean village, we have another hot chocolate and then go home where I change into my new lingerie, he wipes his saliva with his sleeve and we go out for dinner. A beautiful day and we didn’t even kiss! Oh alright, we did. More than once. Mostly in the change room. And also after dinner when it was time for him to go to the railway station. A beautiful day nevertheless.

The following morning I get another call. All results are negative. The crappiest week of my working life over nothing. Well, I have some lingerie to show for it. Quite literally! Walter took a couple of pictures!

February in London, Part 3

Continued from Part 1 and Part 2.

The following morning the Nutter comes to pick me up from my hotel. The weather is slightly better and we walk to the Royal Academy of Arts to visit the Manet exhibition. We queue outside in the snow for something like an hour: the Academy is very English and very Royal in this respect. The exhibition is a joy.

I’ll be honest, I’m not big on art. My favourite movement is Pre-Raphaelites, that should tell you enough. But I am captivated by portraits and figure painting. Now, before you accuse me of neglecting the beauty of nature in art – you’re right. It’s true, landscapes bore me out of my skull. Seascapes – not so much, but close. Still life, on the other hand, is fascinating as long as it’s a flower painting. Anything other than a bouquet in that composition and as far as I’m concerned, I’m looking at a landscape again. The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge has a whole room dedicated to flower paintings. If there is anything the Dutch are good at…

Anyway, figure painting. I’m not a connoisseur, I don’t care much for brush strokes and techniques. I enjoy the story the painter tells me. Figure painting is like blogging. When I blog about a client, I tell you how I see him. I’ve never seen him at work, or with his children, or at a funeral, so my blog entry is not a well-rounded and truthful depiction of a man, it’s a description of my experience of him. I can bet all you want that his wife would tell a very different story. Similarly, looking at a portrait we see the person the painter saw. We can only guess about the actual poser. The painting tells us more about its author than about its object. Olympia, the notoriously controversial painting of a prostitute. It’s not like she’s the first hooker to ever be painted, far from it. But very few of the thousands of sex workers painted before her looked so unrepentant, unashamed and unabashed. She wasn’t caught unawares when dressing or spied on when bathing. No, her accessories show that she’s naked by choice and she’s very comfortable with it. Moreover, she looks dominant. She knows what she’s doing. I guess that’s the real controversy. What do we know about her now? Nothing but her job. The way she looks here is the way every other sex worker would look when naked (I am now really curious to see Dana’s photos of me). Does it tell us anything about Manet? He is evidently very comfortable with female sexuality. He doesn’t want to own it, he celebrates it.

Independent Edinburgh escorts

Fair enough, the woman in the painting is a model, but any real life sex worker could be painted very differently in the context of her job by another painter. Of course, not all painters are good story-tellers and not all portraits are there to be heard. That’s why the exhibition was a beautiful learning experience. And I was taken by his signature: “Ed. Manet” on most paintings. It was hard not to poke the Nutter in the ribs with my elbow and say loudly, pointing my finger: “Look! Another good one by Eddie!”

Out of the Academy, we walk a little around Piccadilly and then he takes me to a little restaurant in Jermyn Street for lunch. The lunch conversation is an eye-opener: we go through our “history” of 5 dates. First time he came across my website, he thought “She’s bloody arrogant!” First time he came to see me, he assumed I was older than the website said. And I have to say that the first time I saw him he looked and acted much older than the Nutter I know now. So maybe it’s all in the eyes of the painter. Has he changed since? He says he has. He is now more sensitive and considerate to others’ needs. I don’t know about that. I notice his increased confidence around me (and his new talents in bed) and his attention to his clothes. Unlike the first time, he’s now a tasteful dresser, understatedly elegant. If I were to paint him, you’d see a very sexy 60 year old man.

Time flies when you’re happy and it’s 2.45 before I know it. I have to leave the Nutter at the table and rush to Praed Street clinic for my appointment at 3. This is the first time I am at the clinic dressed for going out (shirt+skirt), not for blending in with the other clinic attendees (jeans+T-shirt) and suddenly I am treated differently. Even my reply to the same old question of “how many clients a week do you see?” (why do they have to ask every time I’m there? To check if I’m lying?) doesn’t inspire a raised eyebrow.

Thankfully, the Nutter leaves for his hometown from Paddington, 5 minute run from the clinic, and I make it there just 10 minutes before his train leaves. We walk to the gates, stop to say good bye and I reach to kiss him. As our lips touch, he drops his suitcase. He bends down to pick it up, mumbling something along the lines of “clumsy old fool” and I give my usual line of “I tend to have this effect on men”. But I can only wish. This is the first time a man drops something other than his trousers when I kiss him.

February in London, Part 2

Continued from Part 1.

The Old Nutter opens the door and I sneak in with Dana in tow. He plants a kiss on my cheek and steps back a little, opening his arms:

‘I made an effort this time,’ he smiles.

I laugh. It’s a reference to our second date and I’m pleased he remembers what I taught him. And, just as that time, he looks very presentable indeed. I do have a thing for a well-dressed man.

I introduce him to Dana and disappear in the bathroom for a few minutes while they are chatting. I told him what taking part in the project involves (nothing except being photographed. In a way that doesn’t show his face) and he agreed, but I still expected him to be apprehensive. He wasn’t. He looked as relaxed as I’ve ever seen him in my presence.

I return to the room to find him talking to Dana pleasantly, something about the political situation in Romania. It’s unclear if the Nutter is gone all professional because of anxiety or because the concept of small talk is beyond him. Either way, if it’s not about me then I’m not interested, so I tell them we are ready to start and Dana moves to the corner of the room where she found a good spot to take pictures from. She sits down on a chair by the window, opposite a mirror on the wall. I sit down on the bed next to the Nutter. Dana watches us in the mirror.

This is probably the hardest beginning to a date that I’ve ever had. With the camera winking at me, I find myself unable to do any of the things I usually would when meeting a client I’ve seen a couple of times before. Talking about the weather is just too silly but bringing up a personal subject is impossible because we’re not alone. I’ve always known I take responsive clients very close to heart but I never realised just how close. It feels like something between us will evaporate if shared with an outsider. So for a few minutes we just sit on the bed, him waiting for me to take the lead (as always) and me not knowing what to do (as never). But it can’t go on like this for hours so I ask him for a glass of water hoping to get a minute to collect myself.

As he gets up, I pinch his bum and, without turning to me, he tells me to stop objectifying him. I giggle. He pours me a glass of sparkling water, I quickly finish it and… pull off his pullover. The sooner I do what Dana expects to see, the sooner she’ll leave. This isn’t fair to her: she is looking for the authentic experience and she most certainly doesn’t want to be a burden, but I brought her all the way here and I don’t want to kick her out with nothing. It isn’t fair to the Nutter either: he is looking for the authentic me and he most certainly deserves neither empty conversation nor a hooker show. But he can wait a few minutes while I sit in his lap, kissing him and unbuttoning his shirt. I make sure I hear a few more camera clicks from Dana before I tell her that now would be a good time for her to go.

She quickly shows us the images on her camera so the Nutter can make sure his face isn’t there. One of them she points out as a particularly good one.

‘Mmm, I look good!’ I think, looking at it.

‘I didn’t realise I am that bald,’ says the Nutter with a sigh.

Dana leaves and at last I can be myself. We fool around a little and then I remove the rest of his clothes. Now it feels natural and effortless. With Dana watching a prostitute at work this same action was an act of prostitution. On our own, it’s just a man and a woman doing what men and women do. For me, the difference is almost palpable. For the camera – I don’t know. In her project Dana wanted to show women who happen to be sex workers. Maybe she got exactly what she wanted after all: on my own, getting ready, I happen to be a sex worker. With a client, I clearly am a woman. It’s rather sad that it took me years and help of another woman to find out how I really see my work.

Some time later we get dressed and go to a restaurant close by for a late dinner.

‘Did you really feel objectified when I pinched your bum?’ I ask as we walk and the wet snow gets into my boots.

‘Are you kidding? I’ve never been so flattered.’

The morning in the gallery will be in Part 3.