So Much, Not Enough: Sex Work Laws in Australia

Australia’s sex work laws have a long and interesting history. While sex work is legal in many areas of the country, there are still many stipulations that complicate sex work there. In Western Australia, for example, prostitution itself is allowed but some activities associated with it are not, including working in brothels or doing sex work in pairs. This puts Perth escorts and other WA sex workers at risk, because brothel work and paired work is often safer than solo sex work.

I became interested in Australian sex work laws when I discovered Zahra Stardust. Zahra does many different kinds of sex work – including stripping, poledancing, and porn – and she’s also taught gender studies at a university, advocated for sex workers’ rights at the United Nations, and spoken out in the media against Australian censorship laws in porn. Basically, she is a badass. A badass who’s hella smart, incredibly cute, and can squirt enormous amounts.

Zahra has worked closely with the Scarlet Alliance, also known as the Australian Sex Workers Association, with the goal of achieving justice, equality and autonomy for sex workers down under. Among other things, the Alliance does research about sex workers’ lives and work. One finding of theirs is that the mandatory HIV testing required of sex workers in some areas of Australia may actually be a bad thing. A 2012 article (of which Zahra Stardust is a co-author) claims that mandatory STI testing increases stigma, and is invasive, costly, and ultimately unnecessary, because Australian sex workers have some of the lowest STI rates and highest condom usage rates of any sex workers in the world. This suggests that government intervention into sex work may be more hazardous than helpful.

It does indeed seem that many sex work laws make sex workers less safe, despite technically making their work legal. Brisbane escorts and other Queensland sex workers are allowed to work privately or in licensed brothels; however, they are not allowed to hire receptionists, drivers, lawyers, accountants, or cleaners, and they are only allowed to tell another person where they’re going if that person is not a sex worker too. This obviously makes the work not only dangerous but also even more laborious and time-consuming than it already is.

This minimal level of legalization doesn’t even work the way it’s supposed to. A 2009 report found that 90% of sex work in Queensland is either illegal or unregulated. It’s no surprise that when you put ridiculous limitations on how sex workers are allowed to conduct their work, more and more of them will work outside the bounds of legality.

I don’t live in Australia and I’m not anywhere near as entrenched in this world as someone like Zahra Stardust, but at least on paper, it seems like Melbourne escorts and other Victoria sex workers have some of the best rights and protections of any sex workers in Australia. In licensed brothels, sex workers may refuse to see a client if they feel the situation may become unsafe or violent, and they cannot be punished for doing this. Condoms and lube must be provided to sex workers for free in these brothels. Brothel owners must provide workers with clean linens, showers, baths, and hot and cold water. Escort agencies have to provide sex workers with a cellphone or another two-way electronic device to allow for safe communication between workers and licensees. Privately licensed escorts in Victoria are allowed to hire staff, unlike in Queensland, but they may not advertise to find staff.

While there are still many ways in which Australian sex work laws are lacking, it seems to me that they are miles ahead of many other countries in this regard. For example, here in Canada, it’s legal to sell sex but illegal to buy it (?!). I hope that more countries move in the direction Australia is heading, albeit with more protections for sex workers and fewer absurd restrictions on how they can do their work.

 

Note: this post was sponsored, but as always, all opinions and writing are my own!

Monthly Favorites: Smulder Smut & Cumshots

mosaic9646b478aa2e8f09cd1ee726e446e97438998713

Toys

• I’m still diggin’ on the rechargeable Magic Wand. When you want an easy, quick orgasm to alleviate stress, the Magic Wand is the natural choice. That was my situation this month: I had so many deadlines and work gigs that most of my orgasms were of the perfunctory sort. And the Wand was, indeed, Magic in that respect.

• My G-spot’s favorite plaything this month was, once again, the Njoy Eleven. I don’t know if I’ll ever get over it. Sometimes I fall asleep cuddling it. Sometimes I take it in the bath and stay in there for an hour or more. Sometimes it makes me come so hard that I fall off my bed. What can I say? I’m smitten.

• When I could convince myself to use a dildo that wasn’t the Eleven (a rarity), I usually reached for the Tantus Uncut #1 this month. Its girth is ideal for my current preferences, and its realistic-ness went well with all my recent Fox Mulder fantasies (see below).

Fantasy fodder

• I binge-watched season 1 of The X Files in July, and, well, you know me: if I love a show, I love its fanfic too. Archive of Our Own is absolutely rife with Mulder/Scully smut and I am 100% on board. Of particular interest? Scrabble-fuelled fucking, sexual tension + nipple orgasms, and asexual Mulder/bisexual Scully. (I have a thing for oral servitude, obviously.)

• I feel like I say this in every Monthly Favorites post, but I watched a lot of amateur blowjob porn this month. (There’s that oral servitude kink rearing its head again.) At one point, I typed “best blowjob” into XTube’s search box, and it gave me this. I hit the replay button more times than I care to divulge.

• Do you have dirty-talk phrases that haunt you in your pre-orgasmic moments? Particular words and turns of phrase that, for whatever reason, push you over the edge? Some of mine this month: “You like that?” “Let me make you come.” “Come all over my cock.”

Sexcetera

• SO, I POSSIBLY SQUIRTED. I know I should blog about this properly, but I’m still so paranoid that it was just pee (hence the word “possibly”) that I’m hesitant to write about it in depth, incase it was a total fluke. But here’s the combo that seemed to make it happen: an upright position (as opposed to my usual supine pose), James Deen porn, very fast thrusting of the Eleven, the aforementioned Magic Wand, and a longer-than-usual build-up to orgasm. I looked down right after coming and the handle of the Eleven was dripping, as though my lady-come had spurted down the length of the toy. And then I slid the Eleven out and some more liquid sprayed out onto the floor. Hmmmm. Cool!

• I’ve been noticing lately that it feels best to position vibrators on the upper-right quadrant of my clit, instead of in the middle where I’ve traditionally preferred to be stimulated. Interesting how bodies and preferences change over time! Right now, the closer I can get to my internal clitoris, the better it feels for me. Innnnteresting.

• I started a new dayjob this month and it is in the sexual realm (I can’t say any more than that, unfortunately). It is making me think a lot about the way sex work affects our feelings toward sex in our personal lives (though I should clarify that the work I’m doing probably doesn’t count as sex work, or is at least one of the mildest possible forms of it). It’s strange that I can spend an entire 6-hour shift talking and thinking about other people’s sexual experiences and fantasies, but it isn’t until I’m home with the toys and fantasies that get me off that I actually get turned on. (If you know of any good resources about sex workers’ real-life sex lives and how their work affects it, let me know! I’d love to read about that.)

Femme stuff (fashion + beauty)

• I want to wear MAC Red lipstick every damn day. The satin formula is very comfortable and I love the shade on me. It doesn’t last as long as I would like it to, but it’s so perf that I don’t mind.

• I’ve been wearing my GAP 1969 legging jeans a lot. They’re a faded black color so they go with everything, and they’re stretchy enough to feel good whether I’m working all day, shopping, hanging out, or even doing yoga. Hell yes.

MAC pigments are soooo glittery! I got one in the color “Rose” recently and I just want to rock sparkly copper eyelids all the damn time.

What turned your crank the most this month, my loves?

Porn Review: Crash Pad Series episode 196

I love Crash Pad Series because their porn is obviously made for the non-male gaze, unlike all mainstream porn – but it lacks the frustrating clichés that tend to show up in “female-friendly” porn.

Crash Pad’s founder and director, Shine Louise Houston, understands that just because women may not always like the rough-and-tumble, penetration-focused template of mainstream porn, that doesn’t mean we want our porn to depict only soft, “romantic,” gentle sex. We like rough and kinky sex too – we just want it to be geared toward our gaze.

Crash Pad’s porn is also racially diverse, sexually varied, and features folks from all the way across the gender spectrum. Basically, if you’re tired of mainstream porn’s boring template, by-men-for-men pandering, and racist tropes, you’ll probably dig Crash Pad.

This month I was allowed to review episode 196, which is based on a super interesting premise. Arabelle Raphael and Daisy Ducati are tired and overworked sex workers who have recently spent so much time catering to their clients’ fantasies that they haven’t had much time for the kind of sex they like.

Daisy is wearing the cutest pink sequinned halter dress, while Arabelle’s decked out in leopard print. Their friendship seems very genuine: there’s lots of giggling and finishing each other’s sentences. Arabelle complains about all the cis straight dudes she’s been boning lately, and whines adorably, “I wanna fuck something pretty.” Which, of course, leads to Arabelle and Daisy playfully starting to make out.

The ensuing scene is so much fun, and so unstructured, which is one of the things I love most about Crash Pad scenes. It always seems like the performers are just doing whatever the hell they want, instead of following some pre-ordained schedule of events like so many mainstream scenes do (kissing, BJ, 15 seconds of cunnilingus, then fucking in 3 different positions). Both performers alternate between finger-fucking each other, going down on each other, 69ing, using a goddamn leopard-print Hitachi on each other (!!), sitting on each other’s face, and so on. And they seem to do it in whatever order they feel like, for however long they feel like.

Although this clip is femme-on-femme like most mainstream lesbian scenes, it doesn’t feel like those at all. The performers are clearly actually attracted to each other, obviously have experience fucking other women and know how to do it properly, and they do acts that actually get them off (vocally and repeatedly!) instead of trying to make their scene appealing to a straight male eye.

The one mainstream-girl/girl trope that appears here is super-long fingernails, but Arabelle actually refers to hers and makes sure that she’s not hurting Daisy when she fingers her. This is such a nice touch! I am always terrified of the talons that women subject each other to in so many lesbian scenes.

As per usual for Crash Pad, this scene is shot beautifully. The cinematographic style captures the action without being distracting.

Some highlights for me: Arabelle telling Daisy, pre-cunnilingus, “This is gonna fuck up all your makeup.” Daisy going “Yesyesyesyesyesyes!” as she’s about to come. The aforementioned customized Hitachi. Daisy’s curly red pigtails. Arabelle’s backseam tattoos. The performers telling each other, “Treat yourself!” and “This is better than a spa day!” while they lie in the afterglow.

Episode 196 is damn cute and I think it could entertain and arouse anyone who’s a femme, a sex worker, or both. It’s incredible to see folks on screen who actually represent you and the sex you enjoy having, and that is something Crash Pad Series does exceptionally well.

Interview: Tina Horn of “Best Sex Writing”

The two things I love most in the world are sex and writing. So, obviously, Best Sex Writing is the kind of book title that gets my attention.

This year’s edition is edited by Jon Pressick, self-described sexuality media mogul (who has actually interviewed me before, you might recall!), and it’s fabulous. The essays range from academic analyses of racial politics in porn, to journalistic examinations of sex education, to deeply personal stories about sexual adventures. It’s a total treat to read, entertaining and compelling all the way through, and I’m confident that anyone who digs my blog would also dig this book!

I was invited to be part of the book’s blog tour, and when I saw that interviewing an author was an option, and one of the authors was Tina Horn, I knew she was the one I wanted to talk to.

You might remember Tina Horn as one of my favorite porn performers, or as a presenter at the first Feminist Porn Conference. Or you might know her from her podcast, writing, or teaching. In addition to Best Sex Writing, Tina’s also got a new book out called Love Not Given Lightly, which features profiles of various people working in sexuality.

Her piece in Best Sex Writing is called “The Gates” and it’s about her time working at a women-owned BDSM house in the Bay Area. It’s simultaneously a journalistic profile of the women there and the place itself, and a personal look into Tina’s own time as a switch there. I loved reading it and was excited to chat with her about it!

Girly Juice: What was your goal when researching and writing this piece?

Tina Horn: I wanted to write about the period of my life when I was working at The Gates as a professional switch. But I didn’t think the world needed another memoir of a middle class white girl with some literature degrees finding empowerment through professional BDSM. I made it my project to look outward. What was the story of the woman who started her own underground business? What were the social dynamics between the women who worked there? What objects were in the rooms, and how were they designed? How were things organized and regulated? I wanted my consciousness, my experience, to come through the concrete details, and I wanted to get some closure since moving on from that work by honoring it in journalism form.

GJ: As both a journalist and a sex worker, you have plenty of experience with interviewing as well as being interviewed. Do you have any tips or strategies for making a source feel comfortable and able to open up when interviewing them about a sensitive topic like sex?

TH: There is always an ethical question for a journalist or nonfiction writer: at what point are you exploiting your subject? Exploitation comes from false pretense.You work to make someone comfortable and trust you so you can get your story out of them: that’s the job, the craft of reporting. I do my best to negotiate with my subjects when I’m reporting on them just as I would for a kink scene. I ask them what’s off-limits, what THEY want to talk about, how much time they have to talk.

For example, I interviewed Sage Travigne, the owner of The Gates, for my piece. I told her the interview was for my thesis, which it was. Before the final version was published for my Masters I sent it to her for review: not only fact-checking but to give her the chance to take out anything that made her uncomfortable. Before it was going to be in Best Sex Writing, I sent it to her again to get her permission. So, transparency in process is key, especially when you’re dealing with a part of someone’s life that is highly misunderstood and stigmatized such as sex work and kink.

As for getting people comfortable talking about sex: frankly, I’ve made it my work to interview people who are already comfortable and have trustworthy boundaries with subjects of sex, kink, gender, and relationships. Because then we can skip the awkwardness and go deep.

GJ: One thing that struck me about your story on the Gates is the camaraderie and companionship between the employees there. Is that a common experience when doing sex work in shared spaces, or is the Gates exceptional in that way?

TH: Well, I can only speak from my experience, or anecdotally from the many sex workers I know. If you read an article by a service industry person who worked at an amazing woman-run restaurant that transformed her life, you would never assume that all restaurants were like that.

I do think the Gates was an exceptional place for community, humor, creativity, ethics, and female camaraderie. But it’s important to point out that not everyone who has worked there over the course of twenty years has found it to their liking. I happened to find that place when it fit really well into my life. That’s what I love about nonfiction writing: the specificity of a story helps people to realize NOT that all places are like that, but that places like that are POSSIBLE.

GJ: A lot of your work (including your podcast, which I love!) focuses on unusual kinks. Do you have any advice for someone who is uncomfortable or apprehensive about their kink(s)? How about for someone who thinks they don’t have any kinks but wants to explore and find out?

TH: Thanks, I’m glad you love “Why Are People Into That?!” If you have a desire and you’ve internalized some shame about it, remember not to police your own imagination. What goes on between your ears when you’re masturbating is your business. And if you want to live out your fantasy, you just need to focus on communication, compatibility, negotiation, and consent.

Research online, read books, watch porn, find media about your kink. There’s no one way to do any kink: figure out your style. Ask yourself the central question of my podcast: why am I into this? And finally, to quote the great Funkadelic: Free your mind and your ass will follow.

GJ: Lastly, since sex toys are an area of personal interest for me, I have to ask: what are your favorite toys and other sex products to use, either with clients or in your personal life?

TH: NJoy toys are simply the best. Greg, the owner and designer, is so supportive of sex positive community that I feel great about endorsing his products all the damn time. The weight of stainless steel toys creates the most delicious pressure in my cunt and my butt, one of my favorite sexual feelings. They’re non-porous and easy to disinfect and sturdy which is great for brutes like me.

The Aslan Jaguar is like a second skin to me. I have a brown one and a black one with brass hardware.

I love Hathor Lube, which is fancy organic water-based lube with the supposed aphrodisiac “horny goat weed” in it. Funny story. I once sold this lube, among other things, to Beyoncé and Jay-Z. First of all – they said they didn’t have lube at home. Can you imagine how good Bey’s next record is gonna be now that she has lube?! Anyway when I told Jay-Z that this lube contained horny goat weed, he asked me if he could smoke it. I told him if he did, he should definitely write an online review.

Thank you so, so much to Tina Horn and the folks at Best Sex Writing! Make sure to buy the book; I bet you’ll love it as much as I did!

Escorts, Strippers & Porn Stars, Oh My!: My Top 5 Favorite Fictional Sex Workers

 

Sex workers’ rights movements have come a long way in the past century, but they still have a long way to go.

There are places in the world where sex work is legal – certain kinds are allowed here in Canada, and it’s legal throughout Australia, where they even have sites like Escorts & Babes to help clients find what they’re looking for. But despite all this, we still live in a world where sex work is stigmatized and belittled.

An important step in the destigmatization of any group is good media representation. (We’ve seen that in the past couple years with Laverne Cox, for example, who is a television trailblazer for the trans community.) Lots of sex workers in movies and TV are still just reductive caricatures, but some of them are less so. Here, then, is a list of my top 5 favorite sex workers in films and television. Who are yours?

1. Vivian Ward from Pretty Woman. Setting aside the whole “rich dude rescues damsel in distress” motif of this film (ew), it’s hard not to love Julia Roberts as this plucky, goofy, lovable sex worker. She also rocks some truly wild and wonderful costumes over the course of the film. And that HAIR! Oh, that hair.

2. Irene Adler from Sherlock. Referred to fondly by Sherlock Holmes as “The Woman,” Irene Adler is a foxy dominatrix with a penchant for perfect 1940s hairstyles and impeccable red lipstick. She’s seemingly a lesbian but sorta falls in love with Sherlock, who seems to return her admiration despite probably being gay or asexual himself. I mean, who wouldn’t? She’s not only gorgeous but incredibly smart and shrewd, too. And she knows her way around a riding crop.

3. Satine from Moulin Rouge. Okay, Satine’s not exactly the most empowered character. Her entire life, as an escort and can-can dancer in a Parisian nightclub, is directed and ruled over by men, and (spoiler alert!) at the end she dies of consumption. But she’s strong-willed, seems to genuinely enjoy her work as a performer, and is damn good at it.

4. Gigolo Joe from Artificial Intelligence. Not enough people have seen this movie. It’s fantastic for so many reasons, one of which is definitely Jude Law’s performance as a cyborg designed to pleasure women. It’s a delight to watch him transform his hair color, accent, background music (which plays out of a radio in his wrist!), and entire approach to lovemaking depending on what his client-du-jour wants from him. He also proves himself to be a sweet, caring robot in non-sexual arenas, despite sex being his sole intended purpose in life.

5. John from Love Actually. I don’t know if this dude strictly counts as a sex worker, because he’s just a body double/stand-in on a porn set. But I had to include him because he’s completely adorable. Shy and nervous despite his explicit line of work, his entire plotline centers on trying to pluck up the courage to ask out his co-star, Judy, even though he’s already seen (and touched) most of her naked body. Aw, what a babe.

Do you have any favorite sex workers in fiction? I’d particularly be interested to hear from people who are, themselves, sex workers!

Heads up: this post was sponsored!