By Erin Sherbert
By Erin Sherbert
By Leif Haven
By Erin Sherbert
By Chris Roberts
By Kate Conger
By Brian Rinker
By Rachel Swan
During Game Five of the 2010 World Series, my dad and I sat side by side at a sushi bar in my Central Coast hometown. We ordered two scallop hand rolls and two sake bombs. The head rush of the wasabi and the calming heat of the sake dulled the anxiety of a day spent navigating ICU doctors and nursing assistants.
My mom was awaiting brain surgery. She had been diagnosed with a rare cranial bleed that had rapidly claimed her ability to walk, speak, eat, and breathe on her own. I dropped everything I had going on in San Francisco and drove down the Peninsula to be by her side. By the opening pitch of Game Five, I hadn't been to work in more than a week. I had recently quit my horrible retail job at a stationery store in Pacific Heights and started dancing naked full time at the Lusty Lady Theater in North Beach. My dad didn't know that yet, but tonight I was considering telling him. I feared he'd be upset or disappointed, and I'm sure he'd want to know why I'd chosen this new profession.
I've heard that your first year in San Francisco is the hardest, and I had absolutely found that to be true. Even working full time at my retail job, I barely made enough money to make ends meet. The first month I lived here, I didn't have enough to buy groceries, so I rationed myself one piece of pita bread with butter each day. For lunch, I'd go to the La Boulange bakery on Union Street and fill up on free olives and those tiny French pickles.
I also hated my retail job. Hawking rhinestone-covered greeting cards to Danielle Steel and the upper crust of the city took a little piece of my soul each day.
But it wasn't just financial pressures that prompted the leap into sex work. I had read about the Lusty Lady in college. It was a unicorn in the adult industry: a worker-owned unionized peep show where alternative looks and attitudes were celebrated. Sex work had always intrigued me and whenever money got tight post-college I would cruise the Craigslist Adult Services listings and contemplate the option. One of my babysitters when I was little was a retired San Francisco stripper who had danced on Broadway in the early 1980s. She told me stories of Champagne bubble-baths and dancing the night away. It certainly sounded like much more fun than my current position.
I decided to audition. I didn't think they'd hire me; I was chubbier than your average stripper and had always thought that my body would hold me back from doing any kind of sex work. But it didn't. They hired me immediately, and before I knew it I was spinning on a pole in 6-inch heels. As it turns out, I loved dancing naked.
For a while, I was still working my retail job. When I got off work at 5 p.m. each day, I'd hop on Muni with my stripper heels in my purse and transform from frumpy retail girl to powerful goddess of sex and mystery. I felt like I had a delicious secret, and it made the hours at my straight job a little less excruciating. At the end of the shift I'd be tired, and my feet and knees would throb, but I'd also be exhilarated.
My dad had always been supportive of my endeavors in arts and music, but I wasn't sure how he'd react to my recent pivot to the sex industry.
He was also in a union. I grew up going to protests and hearing lectures on the power of the people. Blue-collar values and union pride were an important part of our household. That's partially why I ended up at the Lusty.
We talked baseball instead of feelings, even though baseball makes my dad cry more than any emotional conversation. Then Edgar Renteria hit the three-run homer in the seventh inning and everything shifted. The Giants pulled ahead and it looked like they might actually take the Series for the first time in a half century.
It was a night for miracles, so I just went for it. Made bold by the sake and the magic of baseball, I came out to my father about being a sex worker.
I didn't expect him to be proud, but he was. Without having to explain, my dad understood that sex workers needed labor rights just like any other worker.
Brian Wilson took the mound as the closing pitcher. It was the bottom of the ninth. "Fear the Beard!" my father shouted at the television and ordered another round of sake. We watched the final batters crumble under Wilson's prowess. When Wilson raised his eyes to the heavens in the wake of the historic win, my dad and I stood up and started high-fiving the sushi chefs.
My confession hadn't changed a thing.
I know this is off story, but do you recommend, any good resteraunts, close to Fisherman's Wraf, that are good for birthdays, sorry ?
" I chose sex work for many reasons, but mainly because I enjoyed the work, I excelled at it, and it allowed me to live in the city that I love. I understood that choosing sex work made me vulnerable to criminalization and stigma, but seeing myself as an entrepreneur fulfilled me in a way work never had before."
An excellent collection of delusional rationalizations. I usually find narcissism hilarious, but this is just sad...
Props to Siouxie for injecting some sanity into the mix. Props also on yr column, lk forward to it! Prop 35 definitely uses peoples' proper horror @ a really sick & twisted business (trafficking) to attack an entirely different business: willing sex work. Unfortunately its backers have succeeded in confusing the two for many people.
Wonder how her BF feels knowing he's exposed to all kinds of bugs including HPV (which she certainly carries and spreads) which can cause cancers in womyn and men.
I don't know what's more horrifying. That a young Gen-Y sexworker thinks she discovered "hidden kinks" in San Francisco that have been obvious and popular for decades, or that people are STILL commenting that sex work is somehow not real work, or the work of the emotionally damaged.
Come on world, you're changing much too slowly.
Sorry, long rant. I had a lot of time to think on this. :)
I guarantee the troll is a religious nutjob. If she finds sex working so abhorrent then she should definitely never try sex working. But for religious people to demand their chosen morality should be inflicted upon all Americans is to indoctrinate a FREE society into their own perceived ideal way of life. Separate the church and state. Do not have abortions if you are against them.
Rape victims, women who cannot support themselves or are just teens, women who have done drugs during their pregnancies need to have this option. Why are the conservatives
trying to close abortion clinics and force women into having babies they cannot care for or ones who put out their babies in danger by living a reckless life or birth a baby with horrible health trauma and deformities? But they refuse to teach REAL sex ed, they refuse to make birth control pills an OTC drug though it's safer than Tylenol and they'll die before they make condoms free and available. So, have those babies, girls. We won't give you an ounce of help except we will pray for you. Prayers don't feed babies.
We enjoy our free society and the right to pursue happiness. Do not make your religious beliefs my American law. Do not begin 1.31 lives in a manner that they maybe cannot survive in.
You are a group of people who deny sex for fun. If sex is only for procreation, should infertile couples be required to get divorced? Are you a failure if you only have one or two kids? No. That's insane. We are a free nation. Sex workers may not be your cup of tea - personally, I couldn't do it - but you should allow them the freedom of choosing what to do with their own bodies. WE OWN OURSELVES. I don't believe in your god and refuse to worship him. I don't fear his wrath if some women support themselves this way and maybe support a few children they didn't abort but might have done so without the income that sex work provides.
You religious beliefs cannot become my national law.
Let's begin to make sex work a legitimate industry with health and safety standards, a database or licensing system that treats workers as employees and clients as, well, tax-paying clients. Instead of banishing women to the dark alley or making them fear bullshit trafficking laws, let's bring it out into the open and make it better.
Oh, and lazy? I think that's probably the last thing this writer is. She is aware of her sexual side, embraces it, gains pleasure from her work and makes a good income that would otherwise make her a retail worker needing food stamps. It's HER choice. Her clients are exercising THEIR choice. YOU can go and pray for them. The rest of us are trying to take away the stigma of this "oldest profession".
And if you think your god is against this and our nation must stand firm against this industry, how will you feel when Allah is the god in charge?
We don't have to personally be involved in their world but we do need to make sure that they can pursue whatever they want. It's a basic citizen right. And we are all citizens.
More power to the sex worker, it's a thankless occupation, a good article.
It's odd that Susie consulted Courtney/Trouble, as Courtney/Trouble is an unpleasant nut job.
If the strip clubs didn't take so much money from the girls, especially house keys.. Girls wouldn't feel the need to do extras. The term independent contractor means you can walk into work and leave whenever you want you are your own boss. The San Francisco strip clubs have some nerve telling you that you cannot leave. That is illegal. You are paying to work at their dirty ass venue: and yeah yeah so many people have them sacks work now it's just so cool. I'm a former sex worker except I was doing it legally in porn films as well as the ranches in Nevada. I pay taxes on that. I could write a book too but I figured it would all sound the same. The guys are come by are all overweight and have either too big of a penis or too small of a penis. Most of them smell that's why they come to the prostitute. Most of them are cheap. And a whole lot of celebrities. There's my book
It's not a profession. Medicine, Science, business are professions. You were showing your cootchie for cash. There is a big difference.
^^^ To judge another, is to judge yourself. Unconditional love means to accept another fully without judgement. Stand in front of a mirror, look into your eyes, and say to yourself everything you wrote. Then experience what you feel fully.
Fantastic article! As someone who loves a sexworker and who has nearly been arrested for being a "pimp" because of it, it feels good to know that there are people like you out there actively working to make things better. You are awesome keep it up!
go to school and go put your energy a real career.you are lazy.and stop dragging or keeping ostage fragile /co- depend boyfriend in your desease. and BTW:you are not selling intimacy to the married johns you provide your services to ,no ...you are just sexing them up.The men you serve are sick very sick.You need therapie ,you need to heal,go to "SAGE" it's an community that will provide you with the help you need. .you are worth more then the self inflicted abuse you put yourself through.this paper is well written but the content is pure sex traffic propaganda.she knows and we know it.you are a sad girl.
What's delusional. Everyone with a job is being used, I'm not saying that from a moronic SF progressive angle, just as a statement of fact. If a person does sex work what's that to you.
Do you do Valley speak as well?
@downtownbrown But venereal diseases are empowering to this "professional"! You know you've become a real SF entrepreneur when you contract herpes...
@Kestrel I am an atheist and have been since a child. I am pro abortion and OTC birth control. I am also the parent of 3 and having an industry that clothes itself as a profession when it consists of hourly hole rental is not the role model for children. It teaches girls that bodies are not for enjoying in athletics but for sexualizing and monetizing. It teaches boys to pay for the rent a hole dopamine rush. Giving people "choice" to sell flesh and condone this as benign freedom is, at the same time, denying them the freedom to see the other side: a hotbed of low self esteem riddled with essays like this to convince you they are grand entrepreneurs saving sad men, and a body with viruses that spread like wildfire and cause compromised immune systems overwhelmed with so many pathogens. The rent a hole industry is not freedom no matter how many sex workers would love to seduce with words as well as shaved genitals.
@ExecuteTamayoNow Medicine, science and business are industries IN which you can have a profession-like by being a nurse, researcher or accountant. Sex is also an industry, with publications, products, venues and tourism. Even if you reduce the author's work to "showing cootchie for cash" the longevity of her commitment and the skills required classifies it as a profession. And that is discounting her achievements as a sex-work author and sex-work podcast host.
@ExecuteTamayoNow business can mean almost anything. For example an account execs main tasks include entertaining clients, sealing deals over drinks, making someone feel like the most important person of the room. basically sales. think about it for a second.
@whorelover Enjoy your venereal diseases! They're empowering!
Not everyone feels the way or experiences life the way you do. Not every sex worker is "damaged" and many non sex workers are. As long as a person is doing it out of choice and not coercion then there should be no problem.