Vectors of Disease: Sex Workers as Bodies to Be Managed

This essay I wrote for QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking came out last year in an edition edited by Ryan Conrad pulling together pieces highlighting the experience of HIV criminalization.  The collection includes art by Demian Diné Yazhi and letters from Michael Johnson.  It was an honor to be included in this group and to be able to speak on the inherent overlaps in the criminalization of sex workers bodies and those living with HIV.  Buy the journal here

A few years after my entrance into the sex industry in the early 2000s I learned the line “sex workers know how to take care of their health better than everyone else—the idea that sex workers spread disease is a media-based myth.” I said it with a smile, my hands palm up, neither overbearing nor angry, and always willing to engage in dialogue for as long as needed for my audience to come around.

Myself and others clung to this, our motto of legitimacy. We were emissaries of safer sex info—and we learned our examples and statistics to prove our case. We trot out stories of clients at Australian brothels standing nude in front of us as we combed through pubic hair looking for unsightly bumps, squeezed the tip of their dick ceremoniously waiting for any kind of unsightly eruption of discharge—yellow, grey, or green. We had twice monthly health checks, and a lower rate of sexually transmitted infections than the general public. I told clients they had herpes, calmly and kindly, and instructed them how we could continue to have sex safely. I saw clients with HIV and we discussed their status as well as mine. The sex we had was safe, but then sometimes it was not.

For me the burden of being a responsible sex educator as well as a passionate and greedy hooker became tiresome. The emotional labor of giving someone the illusion of complete intimacy intertwined with moments of peppy sexual health boundary setting proved to be something I didn’t have the energy for some days and a deep feeling of guilt settled inside me.

In 2008, I moved to the United States and became involved in public health professionally. It was then that I realized how amplified the risk I’d perceived from bareback blowjobs and condoms slipping off. I went to the hospital after a client removed a condom during sex and came on my stomach. Full of fear, I went to the hospital late on a Saturday night waiting five hours to get post-exposure prophylaxis as soon as possible. The doctor showed me a Centers for Disease Control chart that showed the likelihood of HIV transmission from an encounter with a client who was HIV positive. It was somewhere around 8 in 10,000. I left without medication feeling confused and betrayed. For so long I had been operating under the idea that any moment of unprotected sex would create disease, because that is what sex workers are taught to believe in Australia. It is part of our duty to aspire to the status of responsible, well-behaved whores.

As I started studying to cut through the misinformation of my overly rigorous sexual education, I found myself turning around and using the same good hooker narrative I was trying to unlearn. I became the harm reduction coordinator at St. James Infirmary, the United States’s only peer-based clinic for current and former sex workers. Part of this job was taking the lead in our annual bartering with the Department of Public Health, where we battled to continue having sexually transmitted infections (STI) testing available for our community. I would repeat the story again that our HIV infection rate was low because sex workers make sure to be safe—after all, an STI can destroy our ability to do our job! Then I supplanted this narrative by calling up fears about what one sex worker with an STI could do to a client population that was far less likely to access testing.

Despite the truth of these arguments, I was minimizing the diversity of experience of sex workers and trading the right of people to obtain health care regardless of their behavior or their impact on “civil society” to a simple, easy to digest narrative. This narrative requires that there is only one kind of sex worker: a person who has the opportunity to prioritize their sexual health while working, but I knew that there are many who did not. By this time, however, I had learned that public health…

How To Fuck: A Case Study for the Bodily Exhausted

I’m so happy to have a story in Tobi Hill Meyers Nerve Endings – the only anthology I know of that is an all trans author collection of erotica.  The collection is really amazing.  I’m a harsh judge of erotica and I found something to enjoy in almost every story – the quality of the writing is extremely high – check out two of my favorite stories: Singularity by Katherine Cross and East Oakland Part II by Aria Sa’id.

I love this story because I wrote it before meeting my girlfriend, and reading back it feels like a spell of who and what I needed in my life, and I got what I was looking for.   The story starts with a character dealing with anxiety around personal sex coming from sex worker burnout and goes from there.  Get the book to read the rest here

The routine gets to you. Scanning through your ads, updating them – I’m available now! New pictures, new ad copy. Suggestive but not explicit. Tag fisting but don’t say you fuck for money. Reading other hooker profiles, wondering if their persona is selling better than your own.

Then there are the calls, texts, emails:

“Send me nude pics”

“Are u horny?”

“Do you like dirty ass?”

“Are you tight or is ur hole sloppy?”

Then finally: “Would like to meet up.”

If you have the pleasure of meeting there is the labor of creating movie star intimacy within minutes mixed in with the mundanity of someones spit collecting in your mouth, tongues often wooden pressing against your own. The feel of genitals being up next to your face, soft and slippery or inviolably hard – and everyone wants you to deep throat. You want to deep throat, because it’s important that they know that you are good, that you are special, a boy with a vagina – what a delight! It is my goal in life to make you fully aware what a blessing it is to fuck me.

It’s not that you don’t enjoy some of these encounters, many you do. Money is a great lubricator, and you love having sex with some of your clients, look forward to it even. Great guys – some with bodies you love, like the dad you never had, and the pleasure of doing a good job is really the best satisfaction you can ever truly receive. But does someone who works at an ice cream shop go out for ice cream? The routine. The smells. The feeling of a strangers sweat drying on your body. Being on regardless of what’s going on in your life – who recently was found murdered or dead after a suicide or overdose; the sadness of the walk to the hotel – walking through streets full of shopping carts, people with nowhere to go but the sidewalk, cops circling like vultures – to that perfect perforation from their block to his block – sidewalks tidy, bistros and fusion restaurants a perfect border around his hotel with a bar, and a gym and a convenience store inside.

Sex work is work but also sometimes it is labor, like digging a ditch. A thirty minute blow job and ass fingering combo, allowing your holes to be stretched to a new capacity because a client want to fist you – it’s stress on your muscles, you know?

This is why you don’t seek out unpaid sex. You look at Scruff but mostly to see if there are any potential johns to be cultivated from the pool. At dance parties you flirt but mostly just with such generality no one could expect it to be personal. At friends house parties sometimes you share the perfect kiss, often you are high and there is that molly glaze that makes everything shiny, fascinating while also not absorbing. But if you have sex it is usually with your friends, people with whom a gift economy is already established – with some friends you can even relax: be a star fish, experience pain, tell them no hickies, have blunt conversations about STI’s. Everyone else feels like too much of the pattern. The sex might be amazing but somewhere in your body you are on the clock, waiting for them to cum and tell you how amazing that was, and that part is waiting with anticipation for your job to be done.

That is why you are looking for a reason to leave this conversation with someone you are getting along with fantastically. She sat down next to you at the bonfire, which now simmers as glowing coals. There are 10 people scattered around awake at this party. 3 of them are in the shack in the backyard next to you in a k hole – you can hear them, one orating a story of being on a big ship driving through Milky Way waters. There is one other person around the fire, asleep in a moldy armchair, an alter of beer cans at their feet. This moment feels private, intimate – the sky has streaks of grey coming up in the west and she is talking with her eyes connecting directly to yours in the pause between sentences.

On the Benefaction of Transsexuals

First bad decision: I was in Portland. I was walking around staring blankly at all the middle class excesses of capitalism – vegan cheese shops and boutique whiskeys, bored as hell – so I called this trick. I had made the firm decision to not see him after dialing his number the previous night and having the following interchange:

Hey man, this is Daniel’


“Yeah, you wanted to get together while I was in Portland? We were texting after you saw my ad on rentboy”

“What did I want to see you for?”

“Sorry, wrong number”

I look at my phone, and I look at the texts. Because I am not always smart I text again:

“Sorry, seem to have caught you at a bad time. Let me know if you still want to meet up”

I receive back: “Sure I do, I’m looking forward to our booking. Give me a call!”

I call again:

“Hey – this is Daniel calling”

Its the same voice: “Daniel, yes so what were the plans we had”

“The ones we were just talking about via text?”

“Can you remind me?”

Although I have made a lifelong habit of pushing past every danger sign that has ever arisen in sex work, it occurs to me that something is not going well. I hang up. I don’t text. I tell my best friend something really sketchy just happened, but he is zeroed in on the TV in front of us. He places his head in my lap and looks up at me. “Pick me” he said, pressing my fingers against his face. I file this as one of several possible encounters with law enforcement that it’s best to pretend never happened.

The next day the same number texts me “Why didn’t I hear from you?” What the fuck…I tell him, call me. He calls, and its a different voice. I mention the calls last night, and he says he doesn’t know what I’m talking about but takes it in stride. Jealous boyfriend? I’m still sketched out but make a plan to meet him at a train stop so he can drive me to his house, which lays off the public transportation route.

The tram goes through Portland’s streets, till they are no longer busy with food trucks and bars, arriving in an area of long fences and houses painted fresh, deep reds and teals. The last tram stop is at a mortuary. His luxury black car in the parking lot of the bank next to it. They are so close that when I look over to where he stands waving, I mistake him for a funeral driver.

Grant is in his 50’s, white, another face in the sea of gay men who I meet as an escort. His energy is forceful, there is an edge that is hard to connect to. I wonder if it’s meth or something less temporary. He’s very interested in me as a transgender, at the topic of transgenders in general. He is very connected to Gay Inc. He knows that my people have a problem with it. He says “I don’t think many people know how much affirmative action we do in hiring transgender persons. If you look at our staff, many of our higher ups are from your community.” I look out the window as the car curves around the hills, carefully tended lawns rolling out in front of those big white houses.

He drives into the carport of a two story. The garage door opens to a room that reminds me of my Aunt Sydney, who wasn’t my real aunt but rather my grandmothers lesbian ‘friend’. I lived with her off and on while I was a child after my mom died. Her apartment was large with rooms that smelled of mothballs. Unlike my grandmas apartment where I slept in a cot next to the closet, Sydney’s had furniture that felt like it was from another century. I remember laying on the emerald carpet underneath the stained wood table – 6 matching carved chairs with silk cushions. I would pretend to be a princess trapped in another kingdoms castle, waiting for the doors to open, and for me to be brutalized by an unknown adversary.

Grants house is decorated like this, but without the carpet being tread into a matted down surface. Chandeliers sparkle light off the gold accents of cabinets. In front of me is another boy, younger than me, brown skin, slim in white pants, with an expensive hair cut. I move to shake his hand, Grant says: “That’s Josue, don’t worry he won’t be joining us.” Our hands touch and I slightly roll my eyes in attempted camaraderie during my smile – but he looks at me blankly.

Upstairs Grant talks about how he’s taking care of Josue. He’s been letting him live downstairs for four months, after his parents kicked him out of the home, nasty business. They aren’t dating, he’s just a benefactor. I look at the deep brown silk sheets. “Do you want a bathrobe?” he asks me. He hands me one while he heads to the bathroom. I take off my clothes and they sit awkwardly in a pile next to my backpack filled with packets of lube, condoms, bits of weed and colored pencils. The carpet feels so soft on my feet and the robe gently brushes against my flesh. I try to position my limbs organically and suggestively on the high high bed. Does he want me to be butch or femme? Is he interested in a bro with a pussy or the ultimate step in queeny faggothood? He emerges and I pull his body to mine in a tight kiss. Sometimes tricks are the best sex I ever have. My brain is able to circumvent any of the insecurity that usually sullies my hook ups, with an almost religious admonishment to ‘do a good job’ – which in turn provides me with the energy to hoover dick while tweeking nipples, wrist deep in ass, something which on my days off I just don’t possess the fucks or the finesse to work out the mechanics of.

With Grant I can tell it isn’t going to be a natural 10 star review. First he gets really whiny about barebacking – something I will admit to having done in the past – but in a quick cost-benefit analysis decide this scene is already too much. He switches to a new, more perverse role play where I tell him about how dick hungry I am. It goes like this “tell me how you went into the bathroom at school so you could look at dick – how old were you?” “Um..16, yes I would sneak in after science class, hide behind the lockers. Then I would wait till boys came in after soccer practice, and masturbate watching them get naked and touch each other.” Pretty soon in the dirty talk my age rolls back to 14 and I’m still a drooling cum slut.

There is a certain legitimacy in this – in my diary from that time there is an entry which reads “God, what is the fucking matter with me? I was writing in this cute little drawing book and (shit) I wrote a story about seeing Kennedy naked at a ritual! What is it that I am so ‘attracted to this guy (who was a goth probably future trans woman in retrospect) ?” I LOVE HIM AND HE DOESN’T GIVE A SHIT FOR ME!!!! Then there are two pictures, one of my dream which is a very crude image of him lying naked on top of me and then one of his dream which is a picture of a cape with a price tag on it. I don’t share this story with Grant, or the one about the first times that I had sex. It was in my car, and midway through I remembered I still had a tampon in. Pulling it out midway and thanking god for the red condom. It stayed in the detritus of the backseat until another, aged and jobless punk rock suitor picked it up weeks later, I grabbed it out of his fist – told him it was a piece of beef jerky and threw it out of the window.

Although my brain is full of overwhelming and disturbing narratives of young sexuality to share, I keep to the secretive trans people in the bathroom trope until his dick delivers. I enthusiastically kiss him “good job!” and he lays down for post coitus discussion. “You know,” he says “Josue has never seen a vagina in his life!”

“Well, that happens” I know where this is going

“You know you could show him – that would be a real hoot”

“Yeah, I mean it’s cool”

“I’ll give you an extra $50 if you show him – just for a second. He won’t touch or anything.”

Because I am already fairly dissociated, and besides – 50 dollars for a small humiliation with someone I will never see again seem worth it– I get into the bathrobe again and he goes to prep his “friend”. I enter like a host of an extreme game show about to show the guests which bugs they are about to eat for dinner. ‘Show him!” Grant says, his voice full of glee.

I open my bathrobe and Josue looks at me sheepishly. “Hmmm, wow, ok” We are both having a hard time displaying out the kind of childlike innocence our ringleader has in mind. “You look so much like a man, but have a vagina!” he says weakly. “Yes, I know! That is a part of the transgender thing, ha ha!” We hug at an angle. Grant looks let down.

While I get dressed he asks me about the phone calls. I tell him about the weird voice on the line. Oh, yes, well it’s very likely that my phone is getting tapped, he says. I start to get excited about the prospect of blackmailing him. In the car with the heated seats, he and his not-boyfriend argue about their flight to palm springs this afternoon. I put my hand in my pocket feeling the bills fold against each other and thank the goddess for the patronage of transgender people like myself by Gay Incorporated.


Note: this story is 100% fiction -The story, all names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this production are fictitious. No identification with actual persons, places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred.

IT HURTS TOO MUCH: The Emotional Reality of Trans Murders in 2015

“Taja DeJesus was a friend of mine—not the kind of friend to justify how central she feels in my brain right now, but close enough that if I close my eyes I can imagine her voice in my head, a kind of frantic laugh, and words tumbling out so fast that the emotion translated way before context. We didn’t have much in common. She was often homeless and extremely religious; on Facebook she sent me a message saying, “Cyd, I honor you, my angelic brother,” and photos of pages from the Bible. At the time I laughed about it but didn’t reply. I work 40 hours a week on top of running a porn company; even my tarot cards are dusty. I’m white-skinned and a trans man who has access to a lot of choices in my life. She was a Latina trans woman with very few.

Photo by Shelly Prevost2

Two hours after I heard Taja was murdered in San Francisco there was an emergency meeting to respond publicly. The room was filled with people, many of whom knew Taja, some of whom didn’t but understood the death of a trans woman as a political situation. Almost everyone was trans, most were people of color. In the conversation that happened there was a tension that existed even sometimes within the same individuals, of wanting to spell out the specifics and deconstruct the situation vs. the pain of speaking—of transitioning from saying is to was.

That people were able to shift a conversation from tears to a negotiation of asks was a testament of how many times they’d done this task before. The sharp discomfort I felt in trying to find something constructive in a moment of grief was based on the relative privilege I own in not having had most of the people who’ve died in my life been so directly linked to governmental neglect.

Over a weekend and a day, a coalition organized out a three and a half hour political funeral on the steps of City Hall and inside the San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ meeting. Over 400 people witnessed trans women of color speaking about what it was like to live with constant barriers in their way—to employment, housing, healthy relationships, familial support, documentation, immigration, walking home without fear of harassment escalating into physical violence from passersby or police. A young woman, Vanessa Warri, told the audience that she fully expected that her name would be on the list of dead women one day.

Since writing this essay in mid-February, I have updated it twice to include more names. Last week a young trans girl took her own life. I had met her in December at a political rally. She spoke to the gathered crowd about how trapped she felt in an unfriendly world, about the painful decisions she’d made because there was no other choice. In a picture taken of her on that day, her hand-scrawled sign reads: “My Parents Call Me Filth. Am I not Human Too?”

It feels like too much, too much grief shared by too few. I start to feel paralyzed and panicky. At the clinic where I work, I talk to trans women every day who struggle to get their basic needs met, and now it feels overwhelming, like if I can’t find one person housing or help another person work through feeling alone, then next week may be too late. I know this feeling is unhelpful, even though I have to honor it as real. The trans women in my life feel anxiety waking up, waiting to discover who will be the next gone.

Are you sad? I hope so. Are you angry? You need to be. We need you to share this work.”

Read the rest of my piece in The Rumpus HERE

Photo by Shelly Prevost3

An Excerpt from My Story in Prose & Lore

Dear Mom,

I spent 27 years imagining you. More, since before that, the three years we spent together I was only a caterpillar– brain not yet ready to handle really knowing someone other than as an extension of self, or to understand that when we went to what looked like a park to put you in the ground, that that was it. You and I would never get the chance to become friends, and for most even saying your name was an issue of tension. Now, your sister, my aunt, has opened this door of communication which provides a clear direction for my imagination to flow after years of gathering clues from your paintings, the fear my stepmom had of acknowledging you and the parts of myself that made my dad retreat further and further.


I have your letters. Almost two decades of correspondence you wrote while you travelled across the world. I could never imagine writing letters to a family member in the way you did, with such bold assumption that they would accept your travels, lack of a career, and drug use. In one letter addressed to both my grandma and grandpa you wrote about having a yeast infection and and then on the next page trying peyote. The next, dated less than 2 months later, you’re in San Francisco, waitressing and witnessing the ‘Summer of Love’ . Words illustrate the chaos of too many people struggling for their own particular concept of freedom, while drug rich and resource thin. I find you a bit ugly in these letters, complaining about the homeless vets and writing pointedly about the race of the men who harass you, the reality getting in the way of my imaginary untarnished earth mother, with an open heart for all.


It is at this point in your letters that I start to get suspicious. Suspicious of what details might be left out. Yours wasn’t a rich family – you talk in explicit detail about each dollar you spend, worthy of mention is the meat you buy for 50 c, a bed you get in a rooming house for $5. There are typed out complaints about being ripped off by things that seem desperately cheap to me. Still, the calculation of how you travel from one country to another every 4-6 months on service jobs and an occasional art sale doesn’t make sense. Then another hint: you talk about men in the most unromantic of ways, with this man taking you on a trip on his yacht and then another to Mexico, they are never the central part of the plot though. You never talk about missing them, or wanting to reconnect. Not until you meet my dad anyway.


I’ve been told that you were very pragmatic, a little distant. In your letters I see that even as you describe the gardens you keep or the fabric you find with words that are so sultry and majestic in scope. You liked fine things. I inherited your clothing, but without the context for it I didn’t know how to appreciate it. Silk shirts, embroidered chaquetilla’s so old the black chord falls off if you touch it wrong, and I do because I’m a 14 and old who wants to wear Ross leopard print skirts and hot topic corsets. How did you own such beautiful things when you must have been struggling to survive?

To read the full story order Prose & Lore Collected Issues 1-5: Memoir Stories About Sex Work HERE

What If There Was Cruising Zone At The International AIDS Conference? – From Visual AIDS

See the original post online here

“Standard bold condensed” (1994), David McDiarmid, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Gift from the Estate of David McDiarmid, 1998 © David McDiarmid/Licensed by VISCOY, Sydney

Cyd Nova reports back from the 2014 International AIDS Conference

This year the International AIDS Conference—a collection of approximately 14,000 scientists, researchers, activists, non-profit workers, journalist and assorted folks—convened in Melbourne Australia for the biannual gathering. The conference brings together those who have dedicated their lives to the care of people living with HIV, and those working to the end of the epidemic to congregate in the midst of a drug company pageant. It’s disorienting, and an environment unlike any other.

This year was shadowed by the deaths of the six delegates who were killed by the crash of Flight MA 17 over Eastern Ukraine. How to properly acknowledge this loss, and the ripples of effect it would have on those in attendance, felt uncertain. A certain tenseness existed in many of the events I went to. In a conversation with other sex worker activists about disrupting a plenary, the fear of being disrespectful haunted our attempts to make plans, and during an Australian drag show an MC fought for a moment of silence from a wasted crowd of delegates.

Despite the somber atmosphere, the conference maintained a somewhat Disneylandishvibe. Walking through the doors of the large auditorium of the Global Village visitors were greeted with a blow-up castle fashioned in the shape of preternaturally large condoms. In front of the palace stood tight ab’d men and women wearing skintight “Lube Woman” and ‘Captain Condom” superhero outfits posing with politicians, delegates, and the wide-eyed faces of schoolchildren. A beautiful woman strutted across the main stage, wearing a v necked dress of cream with a cross pattern. The MC belts out her bio “she started sewing as part of recovery from domestic abuse – this item is a product of her resiliency in the face of HIV.” His cohost responds “and doesn’t she look sexy?”

These spectacles, which seek to engage people in a health crisis in their own way, are matched by those who work to cajole accountability in others. Health Gap coordinated an action, disrupting Former US President Bill Clinton’s keynote, to raise awareness of the Robin Hood Tax—a tax on Wall Street that would fund HIV research and care. Elsewhere, Daisy Nakato, from WONETHA Uganda, brought voices of sex workers to the main stage advocating for inclusion of peer voices into deciding on policies that effect those in the sex trade; and the executive vice president of Gilead was shut down from speaking by those protesting HCV drug Sovaldi annual price of 84,000 dollars.

A lot of the discourse of the conference centered around PrEP. The debate on it seemed inexhaustible. There was a meta moment for me when, during a panel called “50 Shades of Sexual Pleasure: When Science meets the Bedroom”, the conversation got stuck in a heated emotional debate on the resources being allocated towards PrEP – detouring from the original conversation discussing the role of individual desire and how to create prevention strategies which honored the need for humans to experience pleasure.

During that panel I asked the audience what it would be like if along with the Global Village and the Media Center there was a sex cruising zone, where we engaged in negotiations of desire and risk corporally. There were a lot of cautious laughter which I interpreted as discomfort – or rather dissonance from what that would be like in juxtaposition to the reality of the conference. I wanted to bring up cruising because, in my experience, there is a depersonalization with how sex and drugs are talked about within the HIV industrial complex. The ability to understand the virus as something contracted during the pursuit of pleasure by a unique individual has been replaced by looking at populations to manage instead of people.

The last day of the conference I went to the David McDiarmid exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria gallery. David was an early gay liberation activist and artist in Australia who died from AIDS related complications in 1995. Walking into his art exhibition the sounds from his mixtape “Funeral Hits of the 90’s” surrounded the space while his posters, paintings, sculptures and ephemera drew me in: Headlines— ‘POSITIVE QUEEN FEELS NEGATIVE Goes Shopping” and ‘’Plagueboy” magazine, huge glittering mosaics with figures spreading their rectums open, the names of boys tattooed on the bodies and a head with the word AIDS spelled in a swastika. I felt as if I was at a talented friend’s house party instead of in an enshrined art institution. In the work the experience of HIV/AIDS is complex, painful but also human and therefore funny, sexual, dynamic.

What if the International AIDS Conference looked more like David’s world? I saw tastes of that in the mini-conferences held in the Global Village (free, and open to the public) and Melbourne Town Hall (by groups representing specific populations). They brought a depth of peer shared information and complex narratives about the way HIV functions in peoples lives. I was lucky enough to be on two panels – one about trans sex workers, and the other about trans men who have sex with men – the sophistication and diversity of these conversations are only possible in these smaller, more supportive and experience informed settings. Empower – a Thai Organization – did safer sex demonstrations for sex workers with humor and bite – while chasing around figures of ill repute in a cardboard red car during the conference. Andrew Hunter, former director of NSWP who died last December, was honored by his friends and family with a day of films and art and laughter amongst the sadness.

During the “50 shades” panel a woman voiced her experience of existing in a culture which denied the idea that women should pursue pleasure. She reminded me of the most effective HIV prevention tool: the ability to communicate around consent and the belief that your body is worthy of care. It is my hope that the AIDS community will once again focus on that. Our lives depend on it.

STOP AB1576: Compulsory Condom Use Won’t Make Porn Performers Safer – From Tits and Sass

Read the whole article here

“In the last ten years, there have been over 350,000 sex scenes shot in the adult industry without condoms with zero infections occurring due to sex on film in that period. Within the above ground porn industry, performers who are shooting condomless sex are tested every 14 days for HIV/STI’s through a system that allows performers to choose who can see their results. If an HIV or syphilis result comes back positive, the entire adult industry within this system immediately stops shooting and all performers are tested in order to ensure that no other infections have occurred. Apart from the testing requirements of the job, porn performers are educated and self-aware about disease transmission. We know that becoming infected with an STI will affect our job as well as our sex partners’ jobs, and most people act accordingly. AHF has used the 24 people who have tested HIV positive through the testing agencies performers use as a way to drum up evidence of a failing system, but these positives were performers who had not been exposed on set, but in their personal lives, or those who were testing in order to start in the industry, who found out their status before ever shooting.


It is deeply upsetting that energy is being misspent in this direction. There are sex workers who need and deserve access to condoms who aren’t getting it—that is, every person engaged in prostitution in California aside from San Francisco, who can have condoms in their possession used as evidence for arrest. Sex workers engaged in prostitution do not have other risk reduction methods available to them, and those most targeted for police harassment—trans women and people of color—are especially at risk of being infected with HIV. Last year Tom Ammiano brought forward an assembly bill, AB 336 , which sought to abolish the use of condoms as evidence. AHF co-sponsored it but failed to live up to the responsibilities of supporting this fight by even sending out an email blast to their supporters or asking for them to call legislators. Why? Because they were focusing their energy on mandatory condoms in porn. AB 336 has been stuck in committee since June of last year due to lack of support, while AHF uses their minute of interest on the issue to trump up their concern for the sex worker community.”

9 Lies We Need to Stop Telling about Sex Workers – From Policy Mic

Its been quite a while since I updated this site with my writing – but I hope to do so more now with original pieces and reposts from other sites my writing appears on

9, lies, we, have, to, stop, telling, about, sex, workers,

9 Lies We Have To Stop Telling About Sex Workers
Image Credit: Getty

Sex work is probably one of the most controversial topics of our times, the oldest profession in history. The past 100 years have seen many shifts in public perception of the sex industry from good time girls to girls for sale.

As a sex worker of 10 years who has been involved in activism and policy work, I have heard the full gamut of assumptions people make about the industry, which is easy to do — the media does not allow much room for nuanced portrayals of the lives of sex workers.

Such perceptions can lead to increased stigma, dangerous laws and discrimination, however, so let’s go over nine of the biggest lies told about sex work.

1. Sex work is not real work.

Unlike the romanticized or sensationalized depictions of the media, sex work is actually a job that requires many more skills than lying down and waiting for sex to happen to you.

In my work as an independent escort and a porn performer I personally use the following skills: I have to be a skilled writer to convey myself to my audience in advertising and written communication, letting people know who I am, what I do and what my limits are in ways that are exciting and clear, while being careful to not do so in a way that is incriminating.

During a booking, my job is to provide physical and psychological pleasure and have the other person leave feeling attractive and refreshed. In each booking I ascertain what that person needs to get out of this time together. This requires counseling skills, negotiation techniques, sexual health education skills, teaching skills and of course sexual technique because a blow job isn’t just putting your mouth on a penis. I am anything but unskilled.

2. Sex workers need to be rescued

Kittens need to be rescued. Sex workers should be granted the agency to make decisions about their own lives.

In order to provide an environment where people who wish to exit the industry are able to do so, educational and economic resources must be provided, affordable housing made available and there must be good employment options for mothers, immigrants, youth and the formerly incarcerated.

The idea that you can “rescue” a sex worker by arresting them fails to address the underlying reasons that people engage in the sex industry if they don’t want to — many of which will likely still be there when the system has spit them back out. Only now, that person will have an arrest record, making accessing employment and housing all the harder, keeping them trapped in street economies.



‘When Faggots Shoot’ published on the Rumpus


An excerpt from my story about faggots and guns – read the rest of it here

“When we initially met, years earlier, Bob told me about his collection of firearms. We were in bed together, our bodies stretched out post-sex. He told me how he bought his first one in response to the threat of ’80s AIDS paranoia. He and his boyfriend started amassing weaponry together when a proposition calling for an AIDS quarantine was put on the ballot. His boyfriend was HIV-positive. They lived together in this house for a decade. Bob didn’t seroconvert until the early 2000s, though, long after that boyfriend died of an opportunistic infection.

In ’86, even though Bob was mostly closeted, he planned a revenge-killing spree. He wanted to walk up to Jesse Helms in a dark alley and leave his body full of smoking holes. He dreamed of drugging Lyndon LaRouche and leaving him facedown in a blood-splattered hotel room. Of waiting on a rooftop for days to pick out Ronald Reagan’s tiny head from a mass of bodyguards, pull the trigger, and watch the body gently fall to the ground.

Bob came of age with the backdrop of Stonewall and Harvey Milk. He deserves these revenges. His stories fill up the room between us, settling the distance between our bodies. I never ask him what happened or why, instead of going vigilante, he stayed in his job as a scrap-metal executive, flying from country to country to negotiate against unions. It is best practice to not ask clients embarrassing questions. That is part of the role of a sex worker: to let clients remember only the good stories about themselves.

That day was the first time we met, but I decided immediately to do what it took to make Bob my regular, even though doing so would break down the boundary between sex-work life and real life. Bob would be my primary romantic relationship for a couple years, the real reason I couldn’t really commit to dating anyone else.

Bob fucks me like I’m the drink of water he’s needed for a long, long time. In bed, when I lower myself onto his cock, he growls into my ear, “Your body is made just perfect for my dick.” I kneel next to him in the kitchen and drink his piss while he deep fries me breaded eggplant. It isn’t all about the sex though. He is caring and kind of lonely. I am caring and kind of lonely as well.”