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SEX INDUSTRY
Art and prostitution
BY CAMILLE DODERO




The Bible-thumping, "Dixie"-whistling state of Alabama would be the last place in America one would expect to welcome with open arms a traveling band of professional whores. But the members of a community collective in Huntsville were downright jubilant to host the Sex Workers’ Art Show, the second national tour of creative sex laborers channeling their compensated-coitus memories into art. "Oh God, Alabama was actually one of our most amazing shows," laughs Annie Oakley, founder and director of the paid-fornicator floor show that hits Boston this Sunday. "The place had like a 200-something capacity, and it was sold out. And the audience just loved us because nothing like this comes there." It was almost like a Tupperware party for ’ho’s. "Those ladies made us homemade fudge and burritos. They were the friendliest, most wonderful people — they took us out dancing afterwards."

Although the Sex Workers’ Art Show — a collection of carnal spoken-word, burlesque, hip-hop, and performance-art pieces based on turning tricks, telephonic moaning, and acting as a peepshow centerpiece — is all about selling your body, but it’s also more a dialogue about the industry than a celebration of it. "There’re a million different perspectives in the show," explains Oakley, who says that half the artists on the bill still work in the business. "There’re people who’re really celebratory and feel like it’s this great, healing profession. And there’re people that hated it." But what unites them all is a sense of empowerment. "We all feel like people have a right to choose the sex industry, have a right to be treated with the same respect, and to have access to safety like you would any other industry."

The show is about defying smutty stereotypes as well as creating a community, Oakley says. "By presenting people who are proud of what they do and who are obviously intelligent, capable people and talented artists and sets an example it’s not a shameful thing that’s stupid and inarticulate people do." She adds, "Sometimes people even pass out WHORE POWER stickers."

The Sex Workers’ Art Show will take place on Sunday, February 8, at 7:30 p.m., at Hollywood KTV, 41 Essex Street, in Boston. Performers include Michelle Tea, Ducky Doolittle, David Henry Sterry, Leslie Bull, and Tre Vasquez. Cover is $10. Visit http://www.sexworkersartshow.com/.


Issue Date: February 6 - 12, 2004
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