The Art of Sex Workers

San Francisco’s approximately 46 square miles boast the nation’s first and only unionized strip club and the nation’s first occupational health and safety clinic run by sex workers, not to mention COYOTE (Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics), which was founded in 1973 to fight the bigotry encountered by sex workers of all stripes. In 1999, the San Francisco Sex Worker Film, Art, and Music Fest went beyond activism to expose and encourage the artistic talents often latent in this worldwide community, to eye-opening and button-popping effect. This year’s week-long fête, held in tandem with the Queer Arts Festival, concentrates on film documentaries and cinematic portraits of strippers, pro doms, porn stars, and prostitutes from around the world. More reciprocal delights include a stripper karaoke contest at Whore-A-Palooza and discussions such as “Krip Sex! Krip Sex Work!,” which brings the disabled community into erotic focus. As the festival’s centerpiece, the two-night performance blowout "Formerly Known As" by Army of Lovers offers firsthand memories of hustling in Pershing Square during the ´40s, as well as music, dance, performance art, and painting from male sex workers. From the hijras of Kolkata and the taxi boys of Argentina to the chickens of Polk Street, men have been a virile but often silent presence in the sex worker world. Kirk Read, David Henry Sterry, Billy Boy, and many others in Army of Love’s performance lineup hope to change that.

"Formerly Known As" starts at 8 p.m. on June 3 and 4 at the Center for Sex and Culture, 1519 Mission (at 11th St.), S.F.
May 30-June 7, 2009

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