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Whore Next Door: The Real Halloween Horror - By - October 28, 2015 - SF Weekly
SF Weekly

Whore Next Door: The Real Halloween Horror

As someone who regularly wears ridiculous and occasionally sexy costumes in order to take candy — in the form of $100 bills — from strangers, I feel a strange sense of ownership over Halloween.

Advice columnist Dan Savage is fond of referring to Halloween as “Straight Pride.” It's a day for heteros, normies, and muggles to fly their freak flags, get dressed up in slutty versions of their favorite superheroes, and end up walking home without their shoes. But for San Franciscans, the holiday comes at the tail end of our festival-heavy summer, only weeks after the Folsom Street Fair, so Halloween can feel like that third after-party you eventually realize you shouldn't have gone to.

For me, Halloween isn't really a time to ensure that I'm seen at the most epic party in town. Like Christians during Advent and the 12 days of Christmas, freaks like me keep the spirit close in our hearts for the entire month of October, celebrating shorter days and spookier nights.

In keeping with Halloween's spirit, I've been watching one Halloween-themed movie or television show every night this month: It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!, Kubrick's The Shining, Fox's new series Scream Queens, and Children of the Corn. I love horror films, even gruesome slasher flicks, but I always cover my eyes when I see a sex worker onscreen, as in the movie Maniac. Sex workers' chances of survival on screen — especially in scary movies — make their already devastating murder rates in real life pale by comparison. The reality of sex worker stigma is basically a horror film of its own: Think of “characters” like Canadian pig farmer Robert Pickton, convicted in 2007 of slaughtering dozens of prostitutes and feeding them to his pigs.

People are capable of terrible things.

Serial killers target prostitutes in real life for the same reason they do in movies: Society sees sex workers as disposable. Hookers and strippers are the equivalent of a red-shirted ensign on Star Trek — often killed early and never given a full storyline. When horror writers do this, they perpetuate the notion that sex workers' lives don't matter. Because so many sex workers have been, and continue to be targets of serial killers, I'm just not a fan of seeing sex workers murdered on film — it scares me too much, and not in the fun way.

And yet, if I'm being honest, my favorite horror movie of all time showcases the murder of a prostitute in its most iconic scene. American Psycho stars Christian Bale as an anti-Batman, nearly a decade before he played the role of the Caped Crusader. Bale's Patrick Bateman is, as far as I am concerned, what Bruce Wayne would have grown up to be had his parents survived: a sociopath with entirely too much wealth and privilege — and a taste for blood.

(This is a largely unsupported fan theory, but at least a couple of people on Reddit agree with me.)

Bateman murders his coworker, then fills that coworker's apartment with the corpses of other women he kills, sometimes using a chainsaw and wearing only a pair of tighty-whities (while listening to Huey Lewis and the News).

In spite of this, I give American Psycho a pass because the story serves as a potent — some might even say feminist — allegory about how white men with money and power can, and do, get away with murder. It's a chilling reminder for the rest of us.

As with the BDSM porn I perform in, some critics are quick to say that horror movies promote violence against women, Satanism in teens, and other farfetched moral ills. But porn is just porn, and movies are just movies. They're stories — some are sexy, some are scary, some are boring. But the best ones teach us something about ourselves.

This month of Halloween movie madness has taught me that the best horror flicks are the ones that shine a light into the darkest part of the imagined human condition, the part that is most monstrous, and forces us to look at it and fear it. We need horror, so that we remain afraid of ourselves, because real evil is truly just a heartbeat away.

People are capable of terrible things.