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  1. #4365
    Quote Originally Posted by Intransit  [View Original Post]
    I enjoyed this post. Very interesting. The more contemporary ones were also good reads but obviously contrived.

  2. #4364

    Inside the Medieval Brothel

    Inside the Medieval Brothel.

    What was life like for medieval prostitutes? A case in the German town of andördlingen reveals a hellish world of exploitation and violence.

    Jamie Page.

    Published in History Today Volume 69 Issue 6 June 2019.

    In the winter of 1471, the municipal council of andördlingen in southern Germany got word of a scandal in the town's public brothel. It prompted a criminal investigation into the conduct of the brothel-keeper, Lienhart Fryermut, and his partner, Barbara Tarschenfeindin. After interrogating all 12 of the prostitutes working in the brothel at the time, the council learned that the brothel's kitchen maid, a woman named Els von Eystett, had been forced into prostitution and as a result had become pregnant by one of her clients. When Barbara discovered this she had forced Els to swallow an abortifacient.

    Drink that she had mixed herself, with the result that Els miscarried a male foetus whom the other women reckoned to have been about 20 weeks old.

    After forcing Els back to work only a few days later and swearing her to secrecy, things had returned to normal in the brothel for a couple of weeks. But it was not long until some of the prostitutes began to speak among themselves about what had happened. One, Barbel von Esslingen, had brought a pail of water into Els' room as she lay in agony and had seen the child's body laid out on a bench. After Barbara overheard her speaking about what she had seen, she sent Barbel away to work in the public brothel in nearby Ulm. But it was too late to stem gossip about the incident. Some regular clients had even begun to talk about what had happened, wondering aloud how it could be that Els, 'who had been big, was now so small'.

    Things came to a head when two officials from the city council in charge of monitoring the brothel paid a visit. They told the women that rumours of what had happened had reached senior members of the council and that an investigation was imminent. In a furious confrontation, Lienhart burst in on the women while they were eating and delivered a savage beating to Els, while she screamed defiantly back at him that he would have to hack off her arms and legs to keep her quiet. Later, as it finally became clear to Barbara and Lienhart that their cover-up had failed, they approached Els secretly to offer her a bargain.

    In exchange for her silence, they would agree to drop the debt she owed them and she would slip away quietly the next day while the women were eating dinner. Els agreed and, when the time came to enact the plan, Barbara sent her into the kitchen to fetch a jug of milk. As Els left the brothel and headed for the city gate, Barbara made a show of asking where she had gone and ordered the women to search the brothel for her. But, as one of the prostitutes, Margrette von Biberach, later testified, Els had already told them all about the secret plan. Even while they joined in the search, 'all of them knew how things really were'.

    The business of brothels.

    Sitting halfway down the Romantic Road, a stretch of some of Germany's most well-known tourist landmarks, andördlingen today is a quiet and prosperous place. Its most distinguishing feature is the wholly intact medieval ring wall that encircles the town, a testament to its past significance in the region. Among other notable events, andördlingen is associated with two of the bloodiest battles of the Thirty Years War and with a particularly savage witch craze, which made a heroine of one of its citizens, the innkeeper Maria Holl, who withstood 60 sessions of torture without confessing. In 1932, the town would host Adolf Hitler, who gave a speech there several months after losing the presidential election to Paul von Hindenburg.

    In the Middle Ages, andördlingen grew wealthy on the back of the textile trade, fuelling a significant population expansion and placing major demands on the town's council to provide peace and stability for its citizens. Like many other towns across western Europe, the provision of a public brothel was one part of this equation. In an argument still used today, licensing prostitution and concentrating it where it could be seen and regulated was regarded as a lesser evil than allowing it to flourish unchecked. This rationale was endorsed by no less a figure than St Augustine, whose treatise De ordine noted that 'if you remove harlots from society, everything will be unsettled on account of lust'. In parts of western Europe where licensed prostitution was the norm – a region that includes southern and central Germany, northern Italy, southern France, the Low Countries and Iberia, though not England – prostitution was thus assumed to provide an outlet for young and unmarried men who might otherwise endanger 'honourable' women. In some cities, most notably Florence, prostitution was also assumed to dissuade men from sodomy.

    Although there were some regional variations, most German towns that had licensed brothels followed a similar model. The brothel was purchased by the town and leased back to a brothel-keeper (in many places a man, though sometimes a woman), who was responsible for its day-to-day running. The keeper paid a tax to the authorities in return for the right to charge board and lodging to prostitutes living in the brothel and to take one third of the fee they charged to clients. Further income might be generated by selling food and drink. After paying for room and board, prostitutes were able to keep what remained of their earnings, as well as any tips a customer might give them.

    Broad acceptance of the social utility of prostitution ensured that it was a highly visible part of late medieval urban life. In many cities the social role of prostitutes extended to civic pageantry, where, as participants in dances, weddings and the entry processions of great rulers, they could be seen as part of the city's hospitality. The entourage of the Emperor Sigismund supposedly enjoyed the hospitality of brothels opened up by towns on his way to the Council of Constance in 1414, while an anecdote attached to Frederick III saw him greeted at the gates of Nuremberg in 1471 by prostitutes who captured him with a golden chain, only freeing him after the payment of a one florin ransom.

    Despite this recognition of their role in society, in comparison with respectable wives and daughters, prostitutes were considered dishonourable and sinful. Increasingly throughout the 1400's, any woman suspected of illicit sex risked being equated to the working girl of the brothel and might even find herself forcibly placed there by the authorities. This was not necessarily a one-way journey, though. Women who found themselves in brothels might hope to leave by saving up enough for a dowry that allowed them to marry and 'turn to honour'. In doing so they might follow the example of one of Christianity's most powerful symbols of redemption, Mary Magdalene, often portrayed as a prostitute in late medieval sermons.

    Like many of those in the Middle Ages who were not part of the social elite, the lives of prostitutes are known to us almost exclusively from accounts given by literate, mostly male observers. As the historian Ruth Mazo Karras has noted, although the concept of *****dom played a major role in policing the sexual behaviour of women at all levels of society, the voices of prostitutes themselves are virtually unknown. The testimony given by the andördlingen women is therefore unique in offering us a glimpse into the world of late medieval prostitution from the perspectives of prostitutes themselves.

    What do the andördlingen women tell us about this world? And what parallels might be drawn between their experiences and those of women working in the sex trade today?


    The criminal investigation carried out by the andördlingen town council proceeded along two primary lines of enquiry. First, there was the alleged abortion of Els von Eystett's child. Abortion (an act often conflated with infanticide at the time) was a serious crime, which could merit a banishment from the town; unlike some other parts of western Europe, it was not yet common in southern Germany to execute those convicted of it. Interestingly, Els herself seems never to have been under suspicion of aborting her child. From the start, the council seems to have accepted the story told by the other women in the brothel, which portrayed her as the innocent party. Most of the details of this narrative were actually supplied by just three of them: Els and two others, Margrette von Biberach and Anna von Ulm. Both women appear to have been special confidantes of Els throughout the traumatic events and described supporting her and comforting her as she lay in agony. Els herself actually testified in the nearby town of Weissenburg, where she had gone after being allowed to leave the brothel in andördlingen. This necessitated some co-operation between the two sets of authorities, revealed in correspondence attached to the trial record – a testament to the seriousness with which the andördlingen town council treated the matter.

    The second half of the investigation took the form of a general enquiry into the working conditions in the public brothel. Here, the council set out to discover whether and how Lienhart Fryermut had broken the terms of his oath as brothel-keeper, sworn when he began the job in 1469. Such oaths were a common means of regulating brothels in German towns. Because brothel-keeping was such a disreputable occupation, comparable with what the historian Kathy Stuart refers to as the 'defiled trade' of the hangman, binding an individual to his duties by an oath sworn to God provided a strong form of regulation that allowed authorities to dismiss easily those who abused their position.

    As became clear once the andördlingen women began to give their testimonies, there was more than enough evidence to suggest that Lienhart had done just this. Unlike the abortion enquiry, in which a small number of key witnesses provided much of the relevant evidence, evidence for this part of the investigation was spread across the testimony of nearly all the women. Their statements show that, although most of them simply answered questions put to them by the council, a number of the women took the chance to offer additional incriminating details about the ways in which they had been exploited and abused by Lienhart and Barbara.

    The first to come before the council was Anna von Ulm. Anna began her testimony by stating that 'the brothel-keepers treat her and the others very harshly' and that 'they compel and force the women to earn money at inappropriate times, namely on holy Saturday nights when they should honour Mary, the worthy mother of God, and should avoid such work'. She added to this that she, and almost all of the women, had been sold into the brothel, including one from as far afield as Italy, and were all heavily in debt to Lienhart. She said that he and Barbara 'force the women to let men come to them, and when they do not want to they are beaten'. In a similar vein, she claimed that 'when the women have their womanly sickness (menstruation) they are forced to earn them money and to let men come to them'.

    Anna then went on to explain how she and the others had got into debt. As soon became clear, Lienhart had subjected them to a range of arbitrary charges that not only wiped out their ability to earn, but ensured that they were trapped by ever-increasing debts, which he used as a pretext to forbid them from leaving his employment. Although this was not strictly illegal – numerous employers in this era imposed restrictions on their workers' freedom of movement and might confiscate property to prevent them absconding – the sheer scale of Lienhart's exploitation made this an exceptional case.

    His practices included confiscating their tips and forcing them to pay cash gifts at certain times of year, including Whitsun and Christmas. He also sold goods to them at inflated prices. As Anna said, 'when he had something to sell to them, whether cloth or other things that were worth half a florin or a full florin, he sold it to them for two, three or four'. She also said that the women were made to exchange whatever 'even' pennies they had for uneven ones of a presumably lesser value. Upon entry to the brothel they had had their clothing confiscated and pawned to Jewish merchants, which for Anna meant that she was forced 'to go about miserably and almost naked, having no more than a skirt and no undershirt', with the further consequence that 'she can hardly cover herself, and is unwilling to go out among honourable people'.

    Those who came after Anna added to the picture. Els von andürnberg stated that when she first entered the brothel she had given Lienhart a veil with a value of two florins and told the council that 'for the skirt which she wears, she has to give him money'. Enndlin von Schaffhausen and Adelhait von Sindelfingen both said that they had had their clothes confiscated by Lienhart; according to Enndlin, this happened 'whenever one of the women has good clothes'. When it came to paying for their food and drink, Wÿchselbrünn von Ulm said that Lienhart overcharged the women by providing them with meals for 13 pennies when the same was available elsewhere in town for 12. Chündlin von Augsburg said that wine was sold to the women for a penny more inside the brothel than outside it. Enndlin also described a practice by which Lienhart charged the women double the normal amount of 'sleeping money', a fee levied when a customer wanted to stay overnight in the brothel. Margrette von Biberach said that, when she informed the brothel-keeper in advance that she had an overnight customer who subsequently failed to turn up, she was still made to pay the full amount of sleeping money.


    On top of these exploitative arrangements were further practices intended to squeeze yet more income from the women. These included supplementary labour, primarily spinning, a task which brothel-keepers in some towns were permitted to demand of prostitutes, although not in andördlingen. Anna von Ulm reported nevertheless that the women were made either to produce two large spindles per day, or to pay Lienhart four pennies. There were also restrictions on the women's freedom of movement. Anna also told the council that Lienhart had 'taken their churchgoing from them', denying them the chance to hear mass. She also said that he habitually did not let them leave the brothel, with the consequence that they were 'unable to earn their food'. On the subject of food, she pointed out that the women were usually given disgusting meals and were denied extra portions during menstruation, as was required, and were not given bread and meat during the week.

    Some of the women also told the council about the fraudulent ways in which Lienhart deprived them of an income. One practice common in brothels across the region involved depositing all of the money paid by clients into a central strongbox, which was then distributed among the women at the end of the week according to how many clients they had seen. Catherin von andürnberg said that, when this was done in andördlingen, she had suspicions that several women were paid less than they had earned, while Margrette von Biberach told the council that she had sometimes seen Barbara deliberately undercount the amount of money contributed by a particular woman, with the result that Lienhart would become angry and tell the woman in question that 'he has no use for her, and they earn him nothing'.

    The consequence of all this was that, in Anna von Ulm's words: 'They are all poor women and cannot save money, and the debt grows for each one although they do not know how, and they cannot pay off anything. ' But Lienhart's regime was not restricted to financial exploitation. The deprivations suffered by the women were made worse by frequent use of violence and intimidation. According to several of them, both Lienhart and Barbara beat the women frequently, often when Lienhart claimed that they had earned less than they should have. Margrette von Biberach said that such violence was arbitrary, since Lienhart 'hit them more for innocence than for guilt'. At times the violence appears to have a sadistic edge. Many of the women said that Lienhart beat them with a bullwhip, while Wÿchselbrünn von Ulm said that he sometimes used a rod or a belt. To make things worse, Adelhait von Sindelfingen pointed out that Lienhart had even been known to assault customers in the brothel, 'preventing them from earning', thus perpetuating a cycle of violence.

    Truly hellish.

    One prevalent image of late medieval prostitution, sometimes repeated in popular culture via fantasy settings, depicts the brothel as a sensuous environment in which good cheer and innocent revelry are the order of the day. There is some evidence to suggest that brothels in fact sought to cultivate this kind of image for themselves by providing luxurious furnishings, a warm oven and the opportunity to eat and drink in the company of women, a setting which aped the ideals of courtly love.

    Images like these, however, use the notion of the 'luxury' brothel as a sanitised version of prostitution to draw a veil over exploitative working practices and the privileging of male sexuality. In the case of andördlingen, the women's testimony indicates that life in a municipal brothel could be truly hellish. In one of several such claims in the case record, Chündlin von Augsburg told the council that 'she has been in other houses before, but has never seen women kept more harshly or despicably than here', while Wÿchselbrünn von Ulm claimed that 'the women are not kept here as they are elsewhere'. Catherin von andürnberg seems to have had much the same impression, stating that the women's treatment in andördlingen 'exceedingly harsh'.

    Like all exceptional incidents, it is important to question how representative a single case can be. It is possible that the women exaggerated the scale of abuse – or even lied about it – to secure more favourable working conditions. But it is also striking how readily they seem to have been believed by their interrogators. As dishonourable women, the testimony of prostitutes ordinarily counted for very little in a legal setting and yet the council had no difficulty in accepting their accounts over those of Barbara and Lienhart. At the conclusion of the investigation both were dismissed from their posts and banished from the city forever. In Barbara's case the council took the additional step of branding her across the forehead for her part in aborting Els von Eystett's child.

    It was the abortion, ultimately, which made this such an extreme case. Financial exploitation and violence were common enough in municipal brothels, but the forced abortion of a prostitute's child – as the council evidently came to see it – was an act of brutality well beyond the norm. It was this act which also produced some of the most distinctive parts of the women's testimony. In both of their statements, Anna von Ulm and Margrette von Biberach describe acting as confidantes to Els in the aftermath of her miscarriage. They told the council how Els had wept bitterly, saying that the sight of Barbara had filled her heart with misery and that she had 'taken my child from me and killed my flesh and blood'.

    Els perceived Barbara's actions in the wider context of abuse and exploitation, by which Lienhart claimed virtual ownership of their bodies and their capacity to earn. Viewed in this way, the forced abortion of Els' child can be seen as an instrumental act of terror, one which made clear that the brothel-keepers had absolute control over the women's bodies.

    But, if the record shows evidence of trauma, it also communicates the women's defiance. Els' own determination to speak out is manifested in the descriptions of her facing down Lienhart. And when their day in court finally came, the evidence provided by the andördlingen women was enough to prompt the council to take action against Lienhart and Barbara.

    In the year following the investigation, the city council drew up a new set of regulations for andördlingen's brothel which forbade many of the exploitative financial arrangements that had made prisoners of most of the women working there. Unlike most brothel regulations used by towns in this era, the rules also included an explicit clause requiring a given woman working in the brothel to report to the council immediately any kind of abuse or breach of the rules so that corrective action could be taken – a further sign of the impact made by those who testified in 1471.

    Beyond cliché.

    It is tempting to think of the events described here as part of a depressingly familiar picture. Exploitative working conditions, violence and danger are often thought to accompany prostitution, even in regulated and thus theoretically safer forms of commercial sex. A modern observer of prostitution might recognise in andördlingen's brothel a certain model of prostitution catering for low status clients, designed to keep costs low and drive up profits by exploiting its workers. Such a response also seems to affirm the old cliché of prostitution as the 'oldest profession' – an unchanging and ever-present phenomenon in human society.

    But this cliché is not a harmless one. Thinking about prostitution in this manner is not merely ahistorical, blinding us to what was distinctive and local about the conditions in a place like 15th-century andördlingen; it also obscures the individuality of the women involved. As the historian Judith Walkowitz has argued, it is important that we regard prostitutes themselves as complex individuals, whose experiences and life stories are distinctive and worthy of hearing. Prostitutes are not merely ciphers of a larger historical trend; this is difficult to deny, whatever one's own position on prostitution as a social and economic phenomenon.

    We know little else about the women who worked in andördlingen's brothel in the years after the 1471-2 investigation. A second, smaller collection of judicial records suggest that by the early 1500's another brothel-keeper by the name of Bartholome Seckler was in trouble with the council for exploiting the women working for him. In any case, it was only a few decades until the sea change of the Reformation saw municipal brothels swept away en masse across southern German towns, as civic authorities grew increasingly uneasy about the moral compromise required to sustain them. By the mid-16th century an institution that had been characteristic of late medieval urban life had vanished, one into which the testimony of the andördlingen women offers a brief yet vital glimpse.

    Jamie Page is a research fellow at the University of Tübingen. He is writing a book on prostitution and subjectivity in late medieval Germany.

  3. #4363

    Sex workers are falling through the cracks in coronavirus assistance programs around

    By Miriam Berger.

    April 29,2020 at 12:10 am GMT+8.

    Beth Reid's financial prospects are bleak. Her work is banned under Sydney's shutdown. Her limited savings are dwindling as bills accumulate. The 36-year-old is preparing to apply for Australian unemployment benefits, which have increased in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

    It's a familiar story. But Reid faces an added obstacle: While her line of work — as a dominatrix — is legal where she lives, it remains highly stigmatized. To receive benefits, she would have to register as a sex worker with the federal government, creating a record that could have implications for her future.

    Still, she knows she's among the lucky ones: In all but a handful of countries, the sex industry is illegal. That means millions of sex workers, mostly women, are excluded from government programs meant to address widespread unemployment and economic hardship as the coronavirus continues to spread.

    Even in Australia, where sex work is legal in some states, Reid said she has seen an increase in "precarious housing situations, and also super precarious mental health" among colleagues left out of the system.

    "There are loads of sex workers who don't have access to either of the welfare measures," she said, referring to the federal government's two unemployment programs, "like migrant workers or those who don't have a fixed address. ".

    Sex workers in Australia and around the world, she said, are in dire need of the same support that other people are set to receive for loss of income, health care and housing.

    "Many sex workers come from communities that already face high levels of marginalization and social exclusion including people living in poverty, migrants and refugees, trans people and drug users," the International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSE) said in a statement. "Sex workers who are the primary earners in their families, or who don't have alternative means of support, are at risk of being forced into more precarious and dangerous situations to survive. ".

    Workers without recourse.

    Tens of millions of people work in the sex industry, according to some estimates — in brothels, strip clubs and massage parlors, or through escort agencies and on the Internet.

    Only New Zealand and two states in Australia have completely decriminalized sex work, meaning there are no specific criminal penalties for engaging in it. Other Australian states, as well as a few countries such as Germany and the Netherlands, have legalized it, meaning the state regulates sex work and permits it only in certain state-sanctioned ways, with more parameters and policing.

    The World Health Organization has advocated for the decriminalization of sex work. The question of decriminalization and legalization, however, is polarizing: Critics see laws that allow sex work as a cover for human trafficking and sexual exploitation, while advocates say it's a valid profession in need of protections, not policing. The countries that permit sex work follow a few different models, such as regulating brothels or allowing the selling of sex but not buying.

    Even in the few places where sex work is allowed, applying for unemployment benefits is unlikely to be straightforward. Many sex workers lack the paperwork to document their employment status. In Germany, migrant workers from countries including Bulgaria, China, Nigeria and Romania make up about 80 percent of the sector, according to Luca Stevenson, coordinator of ICRSE. These groups have been particularly hard hit by the closing of brothels where many lived, and many have been stranded by border closures. Some are now homeless and without access to assistance.

    In the Netherlands, recently unemployed independent workers are eligible for only about $1,000 a month — those in sex work included, said Nadia van der Linde, coordinator of the Netherlands-based Red Umbrella Fund, which supports sex workers worldwide. Not all sex workers, though, will receive that money. Many people in Amsterdam's red-light district are migrants who are undocumented or from elsewhere in Europe. Even some Dutch sex workers chose not to register, as the process is complicated and the designation carries stigma, van der Linde said.

    Demands for inclusion.

    Sex workers are used to being excluded from government services, said Reid, who has been in the industry for 17 years. To compensate, they have built tight support networks that are springing into action to set up emergency funds for assistance, in the forms of cash, food and health care.

    In some countries, the coronavirus crisis has created a new impetus to look out for sex workers. In Bangladesh, Thailand and Japan, countries where most sex work remains criminalized, although forms of it are regulated, governments have made efforts to include the sector in aid programs.

    Bangladesh shut down legal brothels on March 20 along with most other businesses in the country, leaving destitute residents with no income. After workers appealed, the government agreed to provide cash, rice and a rent freeze to women and families living in 12 brothels, Reuters reported.

    A few weeks later, when Japan announced a new subsidy program to help with child care during the outbreak, the country's labor minister expressly excluded the adult entertainment and sex industry.

    Two days later, on April 9, the government reversed course in the face of criticism. Determining eligibility for financial aid remains convoluted, CNN reported.

    In Thailand, adult entertainment venues employ an estimated 300,000 people and bring in around $6. 4 billion a year, according to Empower Foundation, a Thai sex workers advocacy group. The government ordered these venues closed on March 18. Days later, it announced an emergency relief, including $150 monthly for the newly unemployed.

    Most Thai workers who lost their jobs in entertainment venues qualified. Those who made money selling sex cannot apply, as that remains illegal, but workers such as dancers in bars were included.

    Even those without a contract could apply as a freelancer, said Liz Hilton, a member of Empower. Still, only about 60 percent of Empower's several thousand clients have applied, according to Hilton, who attributed the gap in part to the industry's high density of ineligible migrant workers.

    In Mexico, the coronavirus-related closure of hotels meant many sex workers suddenly lost their homes and income. Left with nowhere to go but the street, they were offered by Mexico City's government temporary shelters and cards with 1,000 pesos, or around $42, for emergency food and medicine.

    In Bolivia, France, South Africa and elsewhere, advocacy groups have been lobbying governments for similar measures, so far without much success.

    "Very few governments are actually taking positive steps to ensure the inclusion of sex workers in emergency steps that they are taking," said Ruth Morgan Thomas, global coordinator of the Edinburgh, Scotland-based Global Network of Sex Work Projects. "Nobody in this world can survive if they can't find an alternative way of feeding themselves or their families. ".

  4. #4362

    Chinese Moms In America's Illicit Massage Parlors

    Normally I would post the full text of an article like this, but removing the formatting will take too long. It's a good story, especially for China veterans who are hoping to recapture their glory days in Beijing / Dongguan / Shanghai at an American AMP.

    Key quote: "None of the women I spoke to said they had been forced into sex work."
    Last edited by Intransit; 02-05-20 at 07:44. Reason: Fix punctuation error.

  5. #4361

    CNN travel: What it's like to live in Amsterdam's red-light district

    I am in shock! CNN reports how the entire neighborhood of Amsterdam's De Wallen red-light district, including children, has no conflict with the presence of sex workers. Did CNN feminists fell asleep at the wheel? Where is the usual negative shit? Or does the attitude towards sex work in the US starts to change?

  6. #4360

    The ***** on Christmas

    Some seasonal material, from 2007. The title and choice of the W word is the author's, not mine.

    The ***** on Christmas.

    The Ups and Downs of Being a Sex Worker During the Holidays.

    By Mistress Matisse.

    That's sadder than a working girl on Christmas. ".

    The first time I had sex for money on Christmas, I was 21 and I'd been a call girl for a little over two years. I don't care a whole lot about Christmas. I have no objection to a one-day holiday, but I hate being beaten over the head with stockings and carols and Santa Claus for eight weeks, and I hate being told when I should feel jolly or giving.

    However, contrary to the sad-and-lonely working girl stereotype, I have a large extended family. I may be the black sheep, but my family is determined to gather me into the fold—whether I like it or not. It's not that my relatives aren't nice people. It's just that when we all get together to have a Christmas celebration, it's as if the punch bowl was spiked with 151-proof banality and tedium.

    Granted, at 21 I was still baiting my Southern-conservative family with my spiked hair, goth clothing, and sweeping pronouncements about the virtues of nationalized health care and gun control. I was used to being the target of some teasing. But attempting to be patient throughout a day of speculation about why I was the only female grandchild not married and pregnant left me deeply envious of orphans.

    I was sitting in a plaid recliner in my grandmother's living room, hoping the rum in my Coke would deafen me to the screams of my cousins and the roar of the football game my uncles were watching on TV, when my mother said, "Honey, something in your purse is beeping. ".

    My pager? The only person who had that number was the owner of the escort service I worked for.

    "Must be the alarm on that sports watch I got," I offered. "I'll go turn it off. ".

    I took the phone from my grandmother's bedside table, dragged the long cord into her closet, closed the door, and dialed my service.

    "Hi, sweetie," said my boss. "Thanks for calling back. Listen, I'm sorry to bother you on Christmas, I know I said we'd be closed. But this guy I know called, he's really nice, and he's stuck here on business. He wanted to know if we had anybody who'd come down to the Hyatt to see him. Any chance you'd do it? He'll tip you big time. ".

    An automatic, "No, I can't" rose to my lips, but before I said it, a piercing wail penetrated the closet door, as the effects of too much sugar and too little sleep took their toll on the Fisher-Price set. I heard my Aunt Alice calling me to come to the kitchen and whip the cream for the pies. I thought about my options for a moment: kitchens, football, and screaming children—or go fuck a strange man for money.

    "What's his room number?" I said. "I'll be there in half an hour. ".

    I told my family that my neighbor thought she'd smelled smoke by my apartment door, and it was probably nothing, but I just had to run home and check. The client was pleasant and uncomplicated, and the sterile beige serenity of the hotel, with its silent hallways and clean white sheets, was a balm. I returned to my grandmother's house to have some pie—someone else had whipped the cream—and then it was time for everyone to go home.

    It was the best family Christmas party ever.

    The expression "sadder than a working girl on Christmas" is based on the notion that working girls, presumably ostracized by loved ones (not always the case), are also deserted by their customers on December 25. While I am a pro domme now, I spent the first 10 years of my sex-work career straight-up fucking for money. And my experience says that while other people's Christmases may be white, Christmas can be nicely green for working girls.

    That's because I'm not the only one who needs relief from the pressure of enforced family togetherness. Whenever I've worked on Christmas, most of my clients have also been ducking out of family gatherings and they've fallen through my door like men pursued by wolves. And most of them have said something like: "I gave presents to everybody else, this is my present to myself!

    "Oh yeah, they say the same kind of thing to me," said my friend Jae as we stood surveying the buffet at a holiday party. Jae works as a call girl, and she's had similar experiences working on Christmas. "So I started putting long ribbons and bows around myself—if I'm a present, unwrap me. ".

    And, yes, she really does that.

    "Some years I get the sexy-Santa outfit request a lot," Jae added. "Especially if there's some kind of TV special with chicks in sexy-Santa outfits. Guys get triggered by the visuals. Guys will bring over those big, fat candy canes and want you to put it up your ass—or his ass, for that matter. Particularly if they've been drinking. You do have to watch out for that on Christmas—guys who've been hitting the eggnog all day. " She shrugs. "But the tips are usually good. ".

    When my friend Natalie was an escort we had weekly vent-about-work sessions over dinner. She's since left the business, but we still do weekly dinners, and she still has plenty of opinions about sex work.

    "I may be a Jew," Natalie said when I asked about her experiences on the holidays, "but I didn't work on Christmas. The way I see it, if you've got nothing else to do on Christmas, then you're nobody I want to deal with. All the good clients have other places to be. ".

    Even the Jewish ones?

    "Christmas is a secular holiday, too, now," said Natalie, "not just a religious one. Only weirdos and losers call on Christmas. ".

    Natalie has a point. I've been to Christmas gigs where it was clear that the guy wasn't escaping from a family gathering—because he didn't have a family. Some of them were contented loners, just looking to be entertained. But some of them—well, Jae pretty much nails it:

    "Sometimes you show up at the guy's house on Christmas and you feel sorry for him, you know? Like there's this sort of Charlie Brown-ish Christmas tree with one present under it, and it's for you. ".

    Now that's sad.

    I remember one particular Christmas client.

    It was midafternoon on Christmas Eve. The client and I had never met before, but I showed up at his house at the appointed time, and he quickly ushered me inside. The man of the house was thin and pale, with faded blond hair, and he looked nervous. I could understand why: There's a reason married guys rarely have working girls come to their homes.

    How could I tell he was married? Well, the fact that the house was decorated in a nauseatingly cutesy-country-crafty style was a big tip-off. Not just decorated—the place was stuffed full of ruffled chintz and gingham, designer teddy bears and American primitive wooden plaques with bunnies and angels and hearts burned on them. There was a flowered platter of homemade iced cookies sitting on the hall table. And there were a lot of family portraits on the foyer wall, with Mom, Dad, and three little rug rats.

    "So you can be gone by six, right?" he asked.

    "Sweetie, I'll leave whenever you want," I replied.

    I paused before asking the obvious question.

    "Is your wife coming home?

    He nodded jerkily. "She and the kids are at church. ".

    I couldn't believe it. This guy had a hooker come to his house on Christmas Eve while his wife and kids were at church? He is so going to hell for this, I thought, and I'll undoubtedly see him there.

    "Well, let's not waste playtime," I said, moving toward the stairs. "Where would you like to. ?

    "No, not upstairs!" he said, practically panicking. "I don't want to mess up the bed. Let's just—do it in the living room. ".

    Easier said than done. We edged around the eight-foot Christmas tree that dominated the room and sat down on the powder-blue couch. He handed me an envelope with the cash in it. I tucked it into my purse and then looked at him, waiting for him to give me some sign of how he wanted to proceed. But he just stared at me like a trapped rabbit. The room was dim, and the lights from the tree threw alternating red and green splotches on his face. The effect made him look like he had some kind of facial tic, and I doubted that it was enhancing my complexion, either.

    "Okay," I thought to myself, "if I have to be gone soon, I am going to have to take control of this fuck. ".

    I stripped down to my tarty black lace lingerie and stockings, got his pants around his knees, and started unrolling a condom onto his dick with my mouth. He moaned and leaned back on the couch—and then we both gasped and jumped as the tinkling strains of "White Christmas" suddenly rose into the air. He looked wildly around the room for a moment, then relaxed and said, "Oh, wait, it's this pillow. It's got a music box in it, when you lean on it, it plays. " he fished a red-and-green throw pillow from behind his back and tossed it away. It played on for a minute, before ceasing abruptly with a mechanical click.

    He lay back again, but it seemed that our musical interruption had made his little Saint Nick unhappy. Or maybe it's this house, I thought, as I sucked him. It's completely antisexual. Interior decor as visual saltpeter.

    I stood up, pulled off my panties, and bent over the couch. I knew I should give him some dirty verbal encouragement, but my vast repertoire of porn talk had deserted me, and the best I could manage was a come-hither expression that felt as painted-on as the faces of the knee-high nutcrackers flanking the fireplace. I watched him maneuver into position behind me in the gilt-framed, holly-draped mirror over the mantel. In my black bra and stockings, I was jarringly out of place in the room, an affront to the relentless, smothering cozy cuteness. It was hard to even breathe. As he fumbled around behind me, the bowls of cloyingly sweet potpourri that sat on both end tables began to make my eyes water and my nose itch. I was going to start sneezing uncontrollably in a minute, I thought, and my mascara was going to run down my face in black streaks. It was like a Stephen King Christmas house, where it looks all sweet, but if you don't behave, it kills you.

    It certainly killed our date. After 45 minutes of unsuccessful fumbling, he looked at the clock and announced that I should leave.

    "Thanks anyway," he said, holding the door open for me. "And, uh—Merry Christmas. Would you like a cookie? They're gingerbread. ".

    Like any customer-service job, sometimes whoring is a breeze, sometimes it's a grind. But there's one thing that always makes the season bright: the money. Because Christmas—secular and otherwise—means presents, preferably expensive presents. Every sex worker I know drops a lot of cash at Christmas. Especially when she's new enough to still be astonished by how much money she's suddenly making. The urge to share the wealth with your loved ones at Christmas is strong.

    I was 19 the very first year I was working. My mom had separated from my dad a few months before, and she was down about her first Christmas alone. So I bought her a ton of presents—a VCR, obscenely expensive bed linens, and blue topaz earrings that matched her eyes. After we opened them and she stopped crying, I took her to one of those ridiculously extravagant buffets with ice sculptures and hand-carved roast beef. She cried a little more, and then we laughed at how silly it was and ate too much.

    The Christmas I was 23, my lover had just won custody of her two daughters, aged 4 and 6, after a lengthy battle with their father. She weighed her staggering legal bills against her low-paying job, and said to me, "I want to do what you do. " The tricky thing was that Martina was a butch dyke, not exactly a sought-after look in the sex industry. But under her auto-shop jumpsuit, she had long legs, a narrow waist and the-cup breasts, and with a little makeup, we figured we could femme her up enough to get by.

    She grudgingly agreed to practice walking in high heels, but she flat-out refused to wear dresses. We bleached her crew-cut hair platinum blond and told my agency to describe her as a Brigitte Nielsen type. Martina didn't have much of a knack for the prefucking chitchat, but as she put it, "Once I can take those stupid girly clothes off, I'm fine. " A surprising number of guys found her unstudied tomboy manner quite attractive.

    Martina took the cash and bought her two little girls so much stuff at Toys are Us that she had to make two trips with the car to get it all home. We could hardly see the tree on Christmas morning, with all the boxes stacked around it. I have never seen two children so shiny-eyed with gratified toy lust.

    "I would even wear a dress if I had to," Martina told me later that morning, "just to see them happy. ".

    What do people mean when they speak disparagingly of "a working girl"? Someone who sells her or his body? I have news for you: Unless you're a ghost who still draws a paycheck, you use your body to make a living, too. Ever been nice to a customer you really didn't like, or acted enthusiastic about something you really didn't care about, just because you were getting paid? Congratulations, you're a working girl, too. You're just not getting paid as much as I am.

    I got into sex work thinking, as everyone does, that it would be something I'd do for a little while before I went on to a real career. The culture of sex work was different then. This was preinternet, and most sex workers were isolated from one another. The popular media presented sex work as a one-way ticket to hell. Clients and workers were both much warier, each fearing violence, disease, or exposure at the hands of the other. I dealt with a lot of disapproval from friends and lovers who I came out to. In spite of all that, somewhere along the way, I realized I wanted sex work to be my real career. I liked the money, I liked the independence, and I liked using my sexual skills.

    There's still a lot of stigma. Even now, my mother would be distressed if I gave her exact details of what I did to get the money I used to buy her all those gifts. Martina's daughters might be disgusted to find out their mother was once a call girl. But the world of sex work looks very different now. The lonely-working girl stereotype has been replaced by the hooker who snags a book deal by blogging about her exploits. Buyers and sellers talk to each other and among themselves online; escort-review websites allow clients and working girls to hold each other accountable. Since everyone is a bit less fearful, we're all a bit more relaxed and kind and human with each other. When I first began working, I usually saw a client only once, maybe twice. Now I have guys who I've been seeing frequently for years. The relationships have their boundaries, but I am my real self when I am with them, and they are my friends as well as my clients.

    The vast increase in the visibility and dialogue of real sex workers has changed my nonworking life as well. The misconceptions that I have to overcome on a daily basis have gone from massive to manageable. I have sex-worker pals who I can talk to when things get stressful. I have two committed partners who love me and understand and support my career. And I have a wide circle of friends who think I'm a good person. My family? Well, I'm still the black sheep, but they love me anyway. I am about as far as you can get from lonely, at Christmas or any other time of the year.

    I'm not on the run from any big holiday parties this year, so I'll be spending a mellow Christmas at home with my lovers. If you're a sex worker doing dates on December 25, I wish you happy clients, heavy tips, and an equally sweet Christmas of your own to go home to.

    Ho, ho, ho.

  7. #4359

    Aha! Such a big surprise!

    NY Times: Stamping out online sex trafficking may have pushed it underground.

    Many interesting comments from readers under this article.

  8. #4358

    Sue the Panties Off Them

    Prostitutes in Australia can now be sued for bad or incomplete service. This is a good thing for humanity and a bad thing for this board as it will cut down on complaining.

  9. #4357


    Prostitution in earlier days probably 1000 - 2000 years ago was considered as a respectable job in many countries in Europe and Asia. It was considered as a service. In Europe prostitutes were invited to test the potency of the prince before his marriage to a princess. In Asia prostitutes were invited by the king to serve his special subjects during a special ceremony. But now a days it is considered as a corrupt and immoral practice where as monetary corruption is a recognized as a normal practice. It looks like its just a matter of thinking. Certain necessities which were legal once have become illegal and vice versa.

    The mind gets caught in a dilemma. Right or not not right. Ultimately man does what he feel right, if immoral, then its done under cover.

  10. #4356

    Government subdized prostitution for disabled in UK

    "Councils pay for prostitutes for the disabled.

    Taxpayers' money is being spent on prostitutes, lap dancing clubs and exotic holidays under schemes designed to give more independence to the disabled. ".

  11. #4355
    Quote Originally Posted by Intransit  [View Original Post]
    Sex workers leave Twitter for Switter after controversial US law.
    I have found Switter fairly useless to find someone in a particular city. Other better options of sprung up but everyone is scattered all over sadly making it much harder to find real reviews etc.

  12. #4354

    Election ballot to stop prostitution in Lyon County, Nevada, USA.

    BBC News article Last call for Nevada's brothels?

    Same shit, different day feminism: pimps, trafficking, slavery, crime allegation, etc, etc.

  13. #4353

    Sex workers leave Twitter for Switter after controversial US law

    Sex workers leave Twitter for Switter after controversial US law.

    "This bill means any site sex workers use, even in their personal life, can be held liable. In reaction to this, we have already seen sites like Reddit, Craigslist and Skype begin to change their terms and silence or ban us from their platforms. Particularly in the USA, these sites are absolutely vital to sex workers. This will only force many more workers into the hands of exploitation and street work. There is a much higher chance of ending up in a potentially life threatening situation," explained a spokesperson for Assembly Four, the Melbourne, Australia-based firm that runs Switter and its associated site, Tryst, through an Austrian domain.

    This setup is because while any. Com domain could in theory be targeted by the new USA Law, in Austria, where prostitution is legal, escorts can maintain their privacy and safety without breaking any laws.

    The Assembly Four spokesperson, who asked to remain anonymous, also warned that this law has far-reaching consequences even for those who have nothing to do with sex work, as it paves the way "for a potentially fully censored and manipulated internet in the future. ".

    Although the company's servers have not yet been fully moved to the European Union and Switzerland, according to Assembly Four that's the plan for the future, not only because of the legal status of sex work there but also because in Europe "data privacy is held in higher importance. ".

    The homepage of Switter looks a lot like Twitter's TweetDeck, and allows members to search for clients or escorts based on location, as well as providing a means of communication for the sex work industry, enabling life-saving conversations like sharing client lists.

    "Switter is run by sex workers and technologists who have sex workers at the front of their mind when developing new features. Shadow banning sex workers on Twitter has been around long before FOSTA / SESTA. Since the introduction of the law it's only become worse. ".

    Assembly Four maintains that its platform is also much safer than Twitter ever was. The organization underlines that it takes "very minimal information from our users, we actively remove any known pimps, cases of [CodeWord908] or anyone seen as harassing workers. Twitter runs in a very different way and has a different set of priorities on its platform. ".

    The company right now has around 100,000 escorts and allies on its site, and continues to grow every month. Back in the USA, resistance to FOSTA / SESTA has also been growing.

    Besides its impact on sex workers, advocates for free speech and small businesses have voiced their concern over the new law.

    Referring to Section 230, the privacy law nixed by FOSTA / SESTA, Nuala O'Connor, the president and CEO of the Center for Democracy and Technology, said: "Anything controversial, unpopular or outside the mainstream could (be viewed) as a major risk of liability that many intermediaries simply couldn't afford to take on. An internet without Section 230 is one that diminishes the voice of the individual online. ".

    This article originally appeared on Its content was created separately to USA TODAY.

  14. #4352

    The expat and the prostitute: Four classic novels, 1956-62 (long)

    The expat and the prostitute: Four classic novels, 1956-62.

    By Isham Cook ON June 11,2018.

    A walk down old Wuchang's Tanhualin historic pedestrian street takes you past boutiques, cafés and nineteenth-century Western consulates and missions, before ending at grimy Deshengqiao, more alley than street, where a left turn plunges you into a more authentic China of milling crowds and open-front shops selling fish, vegetables and hardware items, a timeless street precisely because it couldn't be more ordinary. A right turn further down and you'll see the high school I've visited on a number of occasions regarding an English-teaching business I won't go into here. Street-side stands sell deep-fried chicken patties injected with processed cheese, a popular snack with the students. Further on south is the landmark Yellow Crane Tower, dating to the third century AD, destroyed and rebuilt countless times. It traditionally overlooked the Yangtze River; its present incarnation sits a kilometer inland. Like almost all Chinese cities, Wuchang used to be walled. City walls were employed to protect the inhabitants, but in September of 1926 the walls turned the city into a death trap when it was shelled by the Kuomintang Nationalist army, and the warlord in control of Wuchang, Wu Peifu, requisitioned all food supplies to the army. The siege lasted six weeks and thousands may have died of starvation, judging by the many bodies witnessed being tossed over the walls. An all too-common occurrence: most civilian deaths in wartime China were due to famine or deliberate starvation rather than guns or bombs; the siege of Changchun by the Communists in 1948 starved 150,000 civilian to death. The wall exists no longer, and the moat that once surrounded it is now Zhongshan Avenue. Most residents probably couldn't care less. Old Wuchang is a mere afterthought amidst the vast urban sprawl of contemporary Wuchang, which along with Hankou and Hanyang across the river form the megacity of Wuhan (pop. 20 million), the largest city in Hubei Province and one of the largest Chinese cities you have probably never heard of.

    Hankou is the most bustling of the three cities. Many of the stately buildings of the former British, Russian, French, German and Japanese concessions still stand. Now interspersed with elegant restaurants and cafés, the riverfront has some of the feel of Shanghai's Bund. I have walked the 3. 5-kilometer stretch of the Hankou Bund many times. Between the main boulevard and the river is a pleasant park built on reclaimed land; there is a ferry for crossing the river. A steady procession of cargo ships pass by day and night, which I took a short video of one evening, with bats flying about, from a spot facing the river in what was once the Russian Concession. In the autumn of 1926, while Wuchang was being shelled, you saw a very different sight. Spaced along the river facing Hankow (as it was then spelled) were British and American cruisers and destroyers pointing their six and eight-inch caliber guns down the streets as a warning to would-be Chinese rioters. If you happened to angle one of these guns upward and fired it, the shell would have sped past the rear wall surrounding the concessions, once again now named Zhongshan Avenue (the Communists' favorite street name), and the parks and sports clubs beyond (which up until a decade ago had been a warren of unmarked brothels whose sliding doors revealed to my curious eyes girls on sofas in gaudy lingerie), and well past the 2nd and 3rd Ring Roads to land somewhere between Jinyin and Dugong Lakes some fifteen miles to the northwest. If instead you fired the gun straight into the concessions, it would have effectively cleared the rabble all right, so effectively that much worse rioting would likely have followed, defeating the purpose. Not that there wasn't precedent for the use of heavy guns on massed crowds. Back in 1842, with just three rounds of a howitzer at close range, the British turned a street in Ningbo packed with hundreds of Qing troops into a "writhing and shrieking hecatomb" (Julia Lovell, The Opium War).

    The timeworn suspicion and contempt the Chinese felt for the outside world only deepened over the century (1842-1949) that Western warships controlled the Yangtze. Stray yangguizi, or "foreign devils," were "constantly under menace from local populations who — given the slightest opportunity — would kidnap, mutilate and murder foreigners who wandered more than a safe distance" from the camps or concessions (Lovell). The hostility flared up in periodic attacks and massacres, notably the thousands of Western soldiers and civilians killed, along with tens of thousands of Chinese Christians, in the Boxer Rebellion (1899-1901). Things remained tense even after the collapse of the Qing Dynasty in 1912 and up through the outbreak of war with Japan in 1937. Paradoxically, anger toward the West regularly coincided with the far greater brutality of Chinese-on-Chinese violence. The mortality figures are beyond comprehension: 30-70 million in the Taiping Rebellion of 1850-64,10-13 million in the Chinese Civil War of 1927-37 and 1946-50, and 20-30 million in the Second Sino-Japanese War of 1937-45. Chinese casualties at the hands of the foreign powers, with the obvious exception of the devastation wrought by the Japanese, are minuscule by comparison, amounting to some 50,000 from the First and Second Opium Wars.

    Over the past decades, China's political stability, economic growth and maturing international outlook has greatly improved life for everyone, domestics and foreigners alike. The timeworn hatred and suspicion seems to have largely died down, hopefully for good, with serious outbreaks of anti-foreigner violence, such as the 1988 Nanjing riots against African students (after some had been seen cavorting with local women) now quite rare. For the first time in China's history, we can safely wander its streets at leisure. Thugs are still known to rob drunken foreigners outside bars at 3 am, but the problems we encounter these days are relatively trivial affairs — the company that doesn't pay your final month's salary and the landlord who likewise disappears with your security deposit when they know you're leaving the country. I'the rather be living in China now than in 1926, when for example we observe a foreigner struggling with his luggage in Hankow's British Concession after refusing the rickshaw drivers' outrageous prices, as described in Richard McKenna's The Sand Pebbles (Harper & Row, 1962):

    "They walked along Honan Road. Rickshaw coolies cursed them in English and Chinese. A fat white man up ahead was having it even worse. He was carrying a heavy suitcase and losing face with every step. He wore a straw hat and he was sweating through his white coat. His left arm stuck out stiffly, to balance the suitcase. Yapping coolies followed him. One ran and kicked the suitcase and it spilled open. The coolies began snatching and throwing socks and drawers and paper. They were not stealing it, they were just throwing it around. The man went to his knees, trying to grab his gear and repack it. A laughing crowd formed. ".

    Recall this was the British concession, subject to British law. The Sikh policemen hired to keep order stayed out of the way, mindful not to incite the mob over petty matters, who could easily and often did get out of hand, for there were plenty of volatile Chinese laborers around. Foreigners were strongly discouraged from venturing outside the concessions into the native city, where they risked being outright assaulted or worse, and where the protagonist seaman Jake Holman and shipmate Frenchy Burgoyne of the USA S. San Pablo, frequently stole under cover of darkness armed with revolvers. There were looking after the Chinese girl Maily, whose freedom Burgoyne had purchased from a riverfront brothel in Changsha but had been prevented from marrying due to miscegenation laws. The menacing atmosphere of the locale is well captured in the feature film (1966, dir. Attenburough). I first saw it as a child and it has long haunted me, particularly the scene in the Red Candle sailor bar in Changsha. The beautiful Maily (played by Thai actress and uncanny Gong Li lookalike Marayat Andriane) is stood on a table and auctioned off to the highest bidder. You may recall the scene, as her dress is rolled higher up her thighs with each bid to the chants of "Strip her! Strip her!" and is then ripped off her shoulders (in the novel it's torn down to her hips), before mayhem breaks out and Holman and Burgoyne ferry her away to safety. For cinematic purposes the love story is greatly simplified and compressed. A local family take her in. Burgoyne sneaks off the ship and swims across the freezing river to visit her one night and dies in her arms of exposure. When Holman finds Maily with the dead body, they are surprised by nationalist militia, who kill Maily as Holman escapes through the window.

    The events in the novel are at once more mundane, pathetic and moving. Maily is not killed but is eventually smuggled to Hankow, where Burgoyne manages through a local contact to rent a room in the native city, "above a kind of hardware store, with the stairs inside. It was small and shabby and the single window had no glass. Holman opened the wooden shutter and looked down into a short blind alley filled with beggars. " With "a clay stove and a rickety table," the room was "dismal. A few bright scraps of cloth" are hung up to offset the brown wallpaper hanging off the walls: "When Maily served the food, it was rice and fried peppers and pork in gingery sauce. They had only the chair and chest to sit on, so Maily ate standing, bowl and chopsticks in hands, like a Chinese woman. She brought them acrid Chinese wine, heated. The hot food and wine made the room steamy warm and good-smelling" (presumably the dish was 肉19997;28818;38738;26898; and the wine 黄37202. The only problem is, Maily doesn't love Burgoyne, isn't even attracted to him. It's Holman she wants. Loyalty to his friend and other inner conflicts prevents him from reciprocating. Neither has the guts to tell Burgoyne directly. Burgoyne does make that final swim ashore and is found dead by Holman, watched over by a Maily in a deserted alley. That's the last we hear of her.

    McKenna's fine novel has much to commend it, above all the richly observed first-hand period details. It was a deft move to set the story ten years before the author himself was stationed in Hankow and Changsha in a USA Gunboat, in that flashpoint moment of 1926 and early 1927, when the Nationalists were poised to kick out the Communists and Wuhan was a microcosm of the country as a whole, and the river a microcosm in its own right, two great antagonists thrust together on a symbolic stage, the Chinese shoreline, so easily traversed across a small portion of the river yet so far away. The river throws up a barrier of junks and screaming students and nationalists hurling refuse at the foreign devils, and one day a bizarre procession of Chinese college girls who protest the Americans' presence by going naked (the story is too unbelievable not to be true). They don't quite get their point across to the mind-blown San Pablo crew, who have been confined to the ship for months and denied their working girls.

    1936 too was a tense, key year. Despite the return of the international concessions to the Chinese, as long as the gunboats remained on the Yangtze so did the anti-foreigner enmity, albeit this was shifting to the Japanese upon their escalating attacks on Shanghai and other cities; in 1938 Wuhan would see calamitous war and half a million dead. The Hankow of 1936 would not have appeared all that different to the Hankow of a decade before: the same bars, the same tales and gossip, the same glimpses into life outside the concessions, an era so mysterious and entrancing now; and the same forlorn females to be wooed or rescued by expats, upon whom McKenna must have modelled Maily and Burgoyne. But even writing well in retrospect in the 1960's, the author seemed conceptually unable to surmount the entrenched stereotype of the doomed expat relationship. By definition the subject matter plunged his story into the realm of tragedy. The novel's ideology further required that Maily be tainted, her fate sealed at the outset, by her status as prostitute, even if an enslaved and victimized one. It's easier to make a character go away and the audience to forget her, if she has known low society.

    With Richard Mason's The World of Suzie Wong (Penguin, 1957), the expat relationship is freshly conceived, and we emerge into the sunnier world of comedy. There are several factors enabling this. Mason sets the story in wartime Hong Kong, a decade and a half prior to his own stay there, but the details of the setting are clearly drawn from his contemporary experience of the place. We are also in relatively free and safe British territory. There is no fearsome walled or "native" city, no dangers or threats, no need to be armed. When the protagonist Robert Lomax first arrives on Hong Kong Island after crossing over from Kowloon by ferry, he is politely told there are more appropriate places for a gentleman to stay than in the seedy district of Wan Chai. Wan Chai today is no longer seedy, at least in one sense of the word. It's clean, orderly, with gleaming office buildings and respectable English pubs. The women riding the elevator in the hotel on Hennessey Road I stayed in last December were locals, not Mainlanders, judging by their Cantonese and their poise; one had a see-through blouse and an areola that peeked out from the edge of her bra. They got off on the third floor, which had a single door and a "Members Only" sign.

    Lomax goes there anyway and picks a hotel at random, the Nam Kok, which turns out to have a lively sailor bar. The most popular of the girls is a Shanghainese who fled the chaos of the Mainland, Suzie Wong. She lives with her baby in a shanty flat not far away and is frequently seen outside the hotel. Significantly, then, she's not enslaved or confined but has freedom of movement and plies her trade by choice. Unlike the Red Candle in The Sand Pebbles, the Nam Kok bar is not a brothel. In fact, to maintain appearances the hotel forbids sex workers from entering the bar unless accompanied by a male. The setting is playfully raucous and comic, and Mason transparently conveys the idiom of the times in all its chauvinistic quaintness. Suzie is seen frolicking with a drunken American sailor, who "had been seized by sudden violent passion and was thrusting her back into the corner to kiss her and the girl was struggling, though only half-heartedly as if she found it no more than tiresome. There was not much to be seen of her but her kicking legs and her thigh through the split skirt. " Lomax remarks with a laugh, "Well, she's got beautiful legs, anyhow. " To which the girl opposite him replies, "But don't you think she is the prettiest girl in the bar?

    Though a bestseller at the time, the novel has not been regarded as particularly funny by subsequent audiences, above all feminists. Part of the problem is the language, the penchant for referring to Asian females as "little" and similar diminutives. To list a few examples: "'It's that little ***** of mine. She's with a sailor' "There had been lashings of whiskey to wash down the fabulous food, and the usual little Chinese hostesses to joke and flirt with the guests"; "The tiny luscious Jeannie came out, ushered by a gangling American sailor"; "An elderly amah with tiny slit eyes and huge prognathous mouth with gold teeth. " And my favorite: "the little blown-up football of a Suzie had appeared. " It wasn't just Mason, the vernacular was widespread. Time magazine wasn't immune, describing Nancy Kwan, who played Suzie in the feature film (1960, dir. Quine) as a "Wonton-sized" 5 ft. 2 in. , 104 lbs. And "the most delicate Oriental import since Tetley's tender little tea leaves. The new 'yum-yum girl' has saved the movie" (April 11,1960).

    In one scene, the Englishman "that little ***** of mine" Ben impersonates a policeman and kicks open a door at the Nam Kok to catch Suzie in a room with another American sailor: "Ben leaned over without effort and caught her ankle. He dragged her back across the bed like a lizard by its tail (and) began to spank her. He spanked her long and hard. Suzie lay there crying like a child. " It should be noted that that decade indeed had a thing about spanking. I recently chanced upon a 1950's New York Daily Mirror clipping, "If a woman needs it, should she be spanked? Inviting male readers' opinion on the topic. All were unanimous: "Why not? If they don't know how to behave by the time they're adults, they should be treated like children and spanked. That ought to make them grow up in a hurry. " "Yes," another wrote, "most of them have it coming to them anyway. " For Suzie, the spanking "had become one of the proudest events of her life. " But soon she leaves Ben for Lomax. He himself refrains from properly putting her in her place, causing Suzie some consternation. He seems torn: uneasy at the established practice of spanking and beating yet not wholly critical of it.

    All this, of course, was guaranteed to turn the novel and the moniker "Suzie Wong" into a signifier of White misogynist racism, and perversely, a certain exotic chic, e. G. , the Beijing nightclub called Suzie Wong that drew brisk business in the early 2000's (until shut down a few years ago in a neighborhood renovation). The feature film of Amy Tan's novel The Joy Luck Club (1993, dir. Wang) spread the message by lambasting the Suzie Wong movie as a "horrible racist film. " Nancy Kwan had actually been invited to play one of the mothers in The Joy Luck Club but turned down the role when they refused to excise this line. It's all a bit ironic and unfair, since the Suzie Wong movie greatly toned down the sexist language and violence of Mason's novel. There are no spanking scenes or turning girls upside down in their bar booth; Kwan's Suzie gets roughed up by a sailor at one point but fights back. Fans of the novel cite its charm — Lomax's earnest love of Suzie, his capacity for introspection, his commitment and marriage to her — and its progressive vision of interracial coupling in a racist milieu. True, he's not entirely sure why he's marrying her. A voice inside him nags: "'Don't be a fool — you know you'll regret it! You only want to marry her because her ignorance inflates your ego — because she makes you feel like a god. ' 'Well, what's wrong with that?' I asked the inner voice defiantly. " In England where they settle and where in the 1940's-50's they would have presented quite the sight, she acquires in his eyes, finally, a quiet dignity: "Soon she was sitting up proud and straight in the Chinese way. And she looked so proud and poised as we entered the gallery (where Lomax's Hong Kong paintings were on exhibition) that you would have thought twice before calling her a working girl. ".

    If the idea of "Suzie Wong" still attracts ire, long after this minor novel from a bygone era jogs few people's memories, it must have something to do with the name itself, the power retained in the name. One of the most common English female given names, it's yoked to one of the most common Chinese surnames. From old Hebrew Shoshanna and later Suzanne, Susan, etc. , and originally evocative of purity (the Persian lily flower), it's now whorish-sounding in its unnatural juxtaposition. What is the particular allure of "Suzie," which makes it any better than her native Mee-ling (Mason's spelling of 美29618;, "beautiful jade") or Mei-ling in the correct transliteration? We can hardly imagine the novel having as much appeal if it had been entitled The World of Wong Mee-ling. Is it that the inscrutable language is all too complicated for us? Is it simply a matter of clarity, to gender the name so that English readers know it's about a woman? Or is there something more nefarious going on in the profoundly symbolic act of renaming, to remind the subjects of the formerly occupied country that they can never wholly remove the traces of their colonization, that the name cannot be uttered without having the illocutionary force of a summons? The Sand Pebbles represents an earlier era, before this business of substituting English for Chinese names began, but Maily the brothel slave is shorn of her native name as well, inasmuch as it's been fully anglicized and domesticated for Westerners: it could be an English female name (the original is presumably 美20029;, or Mei-li); meanwhile, her Chinese surname is simply excised.

    Or is there something inherently threatening about the Chinese female who assumes an English identity? The Hong Kong Chinese have long done this (the present Chief Executive of Hong Kong Carrie Lam, the actress Maggie Cheung), but we don't seem bothered when Hong Kong males adopt English names (Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan). Yes, they all have their native names as well, and the surname unaccountably goes first. Today on the Mainland too, it's common practice for most students to adopt an English first name, again for the reason of taking on an English persona, but also to make it easier for foreigners they come into contact with to say their name (some Chinese phonemes are unpronounceable to people unacquainted with the language). In any case they don't seem to have a problem with adopting a dual identity, Chinese and Western. And I wonder why it is that we have a problem with it. Could it be the vague discomfort the Anglo world experiences at the sound of "Suzie Wong" is indicative of its own racism? Is there a collective sense that the Chinese do not have the right to an English name? Or to put it more bluntly, that Suzie has no business mixing with people outside of her race, and neither does Lomax?

    On the subject of names and naming, it gets more complicated in the case of our next author, Emmanuelle Arsan. Born Marayat Bibidh into a wealthy family in Bangkok in 1932, she was by her own account highly sexed from childhood. At the age of sixteen while attending school in Switzerland, she met her future husband Louis-Jacques Rollet-Andriane, a French diplomat fourteen years her senior. They fell in love and it's assumed she lost her virginity to him immediately, but they held off marrying until he managed to get a post with UNESCO in Bangkok eight years later. There they mingled with the expat jet set and made the acquaintance of the Italian aristocrat and libertine Prince Dado Ruspoli. They fell under the spell of his writings on sexual freedom. The three became inseparable, and there were freewheeling parties and orgies and frequent trips between Bangkok and Paris. Three years later, in 1959, Marayat and Louis-Jacques published a novel anonymously in France entitled Emmanuelle and circulated it privately among friends. It's understandable they were cautious about publicizing the book at the time. It's a shocking read and more importantly, well written, which makes it even more shocking.

    The semi-autobiographical novel recounts the author's sexual coming of age, and I don't mean merely losing her virginity but becoming liberated to a radical extreme, with acts of outrageous, if fictionalized, public exhibitionism. A few real-life details are altered or reversed. Emmanuelle's husband is a Frenchman named Jean who is already established with a job and house in Bangkok, while Emmanuelle herself is French, not Thai, and arrives in Bangkok for the first time to join him. There is a literary tradition of trains and planes symbolically serving as vehicles for sexual transport (most memorably the. M. Thomas's The White Hotel), and the excesses begin on the flight to Bangkok. Emmanuelle is in a curtained-off first class cabin; next to her is a man and across from them an English boy and girl, both "only twelve or thirteen. " The lights have been dimmed; she is touched and fondled by the man; he pulls out his penis and ejaculates over her. She receives the "long, white, odorous spurts. Along her arms, on her bare belly, on her throat, face, and mouth, and in her hair. " Suddenly the lights come back on as the plane starts its descent. The stewardess steps inside and she and the two children, who were "less than three feet away," stare at the semen-splattered Emmanuelle: "She looked at the damp spots that spread out in both directions from below her collar. She rolled back the lapels of her blouse and the pink tip of a breast appeared. Her neckline remained open and four pairs of English eyes were glued to the profile of her bare breast. " The stewardess helps clean her up in a private kitchen area, whereupon Emmanuelle is fucked by a handsome steward — all before the plane lands.

    The next portion of the story involves Emmanuelle's lesbian encounters at an exclusive sports club in Bangkok's foreign community, including one thirteen-year old who instructs the heroine on the art of public masturbation (to a select audience). She spends much of the latter half of the narrative with Mario, a wealthy Italian expat modeled after the Prince Dado Ruspoli, who tutors her in his erotic philosophy. His discourses supply the theory to the sexual practice of the novel's former half. There are highly quotable lines like, "Your horizon will always be shamefully restricted if you expect love from only one man. " And: "Adultery is erotic. The triangle redeems the banality of the pair. No eroticism is possible for a couple without the addition of a third party. " And: "A woman who makes the first move, at a time when a man isn't expecting it at all, creates an erotic situation of the highest value. " Bangkok is often regarded as the Amsterdam of the East not only for its red light districts but also its canals, notably the Klong Saen Saeb, a shabby experience for first-timers but whose mysterious lairs and lodgings along the banks grows on you and makes it one of the most romantic canals in the world. I need its water taxis to get to Khao San, which has a more interesting range of massage shops than Sukhumvit where I prefer stay when I'm in Bangkok, because the city's confounding layout has no other convenient means of transportation to the old city. One of the lodgings along the canal is Mario's residence in the novel. Another is the famous house built in 1959 by the American architect and designer Jim Thompson; the intrigue around his disappearance in 1967 has helped turn his house into a major tourist attraction today. He was possibly known to Marayat and Louis-Jacques back in the late 1950's (more research needed here). The couple were well known and increasingly notorious for their sex parties, indeed singlehandedly gave Bangkok a reputation as one of the first locales for swinging.

    The canal and its exotic atmosphere is lovingly captured in the Emmanuelle film (1974, dir. Jaeckin), with a screenplay by the author and Sylvia Kristel in the main role. The film, of course, was hugely popular and spawned numerous sequels. I find the movie disappointing next to the novel. While there is plenty of nudity, explicit sex, so essential to the story, was unfeasible at the time. The film needs to be remade with a bigger budget and better acting, by a daring producer or director in an X-rated version that's true to the novel (I can envision Lars von Trier doing it). But I'm jumping ahead.

    The popularity of the novel as it privately circulated among its decadent readership convinced the couple to have it republished under the author's name in 1967 (the English translation was launched by Grove Press in 1971). By this point, Arsan had ventured into acting, and her beauty and reputation had gotten Hollywood's attention. At the seasoned age of 34, she was offered the role of Maily in The Sand Pebbles, under her cinematic name Marayat Andriane; Chinese actresses were hard to find and a Thai actress would have to do. She's nonetheless memorable in the role, but ironically so, for while her character is the epitome of tragic female virtue, the actress was one of the indelible faces of the sexual revolution — or depravity, depending on where you're coming from. Hollywood prudery allowed her dress to be yanked off no further than her shoulders and a full slip revealed underneath, but she surely would have had no problem being stripped completely naked. After all, in the film she later directed and acted in, Laure (1976; based on her novel of the same title), she engaged in sex scenes with full-frontal nudity. The ironies abound. The director of the Suzie Wong film, Richard Quine, evidently had a terrible time convincing Nancy Kwan to wear a half slip and bra rather than a full slip in the scene where an angry Lomax rips off her Western-style dress (she relented). Not that Kwan's reputation was entirely unblemished; she was rumored to have had a fling with Marlon Brando (who had driven the actress originally given the Suzie Wong role, the French-Vietnamese France Nuyen, to a nervous breakdown). Arsan was rumored to have had her own affair with Steve McQueen, and the delectable possibility is that it was sparked by their joint reading of the novel, in which, as recounted above, his character Holman was the real object of Maily's passion.

    Eventually it came out that Arsan's husband Rollet-Andriane was the author of Emmanuelle. He had apparently used her name as a cover to protect his working reputation. Equally likely, they collaborated on the story and he polished the French, or it was a three-way collaboration with Dado Ruspoli; it's hard to imagine she had no input into the novel. In this new configuration, "Emmanuelle Arsan" is more of an authorial idea, or ideal, than a person: the deftest of marketing ploys — the Oriental femme fatale authoress — to captivate a prurient audience. It worked, and the reclusive couple cultivated their enigma and mystique to the end, sheltering themselves in a retreat in the remote French countryside from the 1980's (Arsan died in 2005 and Rollet-Andriane in 2008). For my part, I can no longer watch Marayat Andriane, or Emmanuelle Arsan, or whoever this figure as elusive as a female in a Picasso painting is, play Maily in The Sand Pebbles without imagining her face thirsting for jets of semen, to the chants of "Strip her! Strip her!

    In the same year Rollet-Andriane arrived in Bangkok to marry the 24-year old Marayat Bibidh, a curious novel entitled A Woman of Bangkok came out by an Englishman, Jack Reynolds (Secker & Warburg, 1956, originally published under the title A Sort of Beauty), which in many ways is even more striking and shocking than Emmanuelle, though for different reasons. An intrepid traveler, the author had worked as an ambulance medic in Chungking (Chongqing) in China from 1945 until his capture and release by the Communists in 1951, whereupon he found work with UNICEF in Bangkok. There he raised a large family with a Thai woman. After a stint in Jordan from 1959-67, they settled back in Thailand, where he died in 1984.

    Bangkok has undergone numerous changes since the 1950's. The Klong Saen Saeb canal and the charming old city with the famous palaces and temples on the Chao Phraya River are thankfully still intact, but there was little sex industry to speak of, compared to the neighborhood upon neighborhood of red light districts today. The cult of sexual freedom propounded by the Andrianes was confined to elite circles. Not until the Vietnam War did Thailand begin to erect its notorious recreational industry, and then not really until the expansion of the war to Laos in the 1970's; the Thai city of Udon Thani, 50 miles across the border from Vientiane, was one of the early prostitution destinations catering to USA Servicemen. Back in the 1950's, however, Bangkok's nightlife wasn't much more than a sleepier version of Hong Kong's Wan Chai, with a handful of sailor bars and brothels. It's in one of these bars, the Bolero, that the hapless protagonist, Reginald Joyce, a young naif recently posted to Bangkok by his UK firm, becomes ensnared in a tortuous relationship with a prostitute named Vilay.

    Reynolds has a knack for strategic focus, and the fateful setting when Reginald first meets Vilay, or "Wretch" for Reg as she calls him in her thick English, is sharply etched in odd, surreal details, which serve to adumbrate the subsequent story. The open-air bar is "like a share-cropper's shanty on Brobdingnagian scale. A raised wooden floor, acres in extent; no walls; a low gloomy roof. From the gloom hang dozens of tawdry paper lanterns, all very dim and dusty. In the middle of the floor is a circular space waxed for dancing; this is flanked by the rows of tiny desks at which the girls sit like amazingly exotic schoolgirls in a kindergarten. " She had caught his eye on a previous visit and he was back to see if he could make her acquaintance. She avoids him until he approaches her, and charges him by the hour merely to make conversation with him at his table. Ten minutes into the session, she affects boredom and indifference and gets up to go mingle with others in the bar. He forbids her to leave since he's paying for her time. This makes her visibly upset, and she "leans far back in the armchair with her body almost supine and her head at right angles to it, propped up by the back of her chair. There is a frown on her low rather narrow forehead and her rather small eyes have gone smaller and are black with resentment. Her lips, tomato-red, are pushed forwards like a sulky child's. " When she refuses to fill his beer glass, he gets upset and splashes the beer over the table and on her. She leaves his table again and returns. He pays for several more rounds of drinks. She makes him buy flowers from a flower lady, and when he's not looking returns the flowers to the lady and pockets the money. She demands a bar fee to leave the bar with him and another large fee to take him back to her flat.

    There is no letup. The hard-sell tactics are repeated in anguished negotiations over the course of the entire narrative. The more entangled they become, the more refined her techniques of extracting money; the more he pays her, the fewer crumbs of affection she throws at him in return, until yet more banknotes are peeled off his wallet. He only becomes more obsessed, and soon he's giving her most of his salary. At first we recognize the sheer callousness of a manipulative sex worker in the tradition of Zola's Nana, but that doesn't fully account for Vilay's perverse behavior. Something else is going on. Their relationship has a more complex dynamic which seems to feed on itself. It's almost as if his abject and revolting helplessness drives her to a sadistic extreme, if only to shock him into recognition. At one point her son is hit by a car and she refuses to go to the hospital to see him, seemingly in denial over the gravity of the situation, but also in sheer defiance of his rectitude, who pays for everything and watches over the dying son. In another episode, Vilay convinces Reginald to rob a family closely acquainted with him, claiming she is greatly in need of a large sum of money, and he actually attempts it. He is on the verge of physically assaulting one of the family members in their home when he is caught, but as it's unclear exactly what his intention was, they desist from calling the police and let him go.

    I'll refrain from divulging any spoilers, except to say the ending of this study in psychological destruction has got to be one of the most humiliating imaginable for a male protagonist at the hands of a sex worker — the sort of brutal reversal or poetic justice that might appeal to certain feminist readers. Others may find it an exasperating read, given how unbelievable it is a man could so prostrate himself before a woman who treats him like a dog. And I suspect that is indeed the point the author wished to make: such men are a dime a dozen.

  15. #4351
    Quote Originally Posted by NewImage  [View Original Post]
    I look at it like this. If a lady comes to clean my house she is providing a service I pay her. I don't force her to do it and she can say no.

    A lady gives me a non sexual massage she is providing a service using her body I pay her. I don't force her to do it.

    A lady decided to use her body in another way she is providing me a service I pay her. I don't force her and she can say no.

    From my anecdotal evidence and research the vast majority of WG choose to do it. People who get all high and mighty think that their moral compass should be set on everyone. The exploitation argument went out years ago.
    The Abrahamic religions are all influenced by each other and greatly influential around the world. For reasons of health, the promotion of marriage and the major point of promoting procreation to increase the flock of initially small religious groups, Abrahamic religions view sex from very traditional and conservative views.

    While all cultures and countries generally look down on sex workers even at the risk of terribly hypocritical and sexist perspectives, the hostility towards sex work varies. It would seem on the surface Buddhist and Hindu cultures are more tolerant of sex workers.

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