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."
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/.