by D.K. Holm
WHORES AND OTHER FEMINISTS
edited by Jill Nagle (Routledge)
Writing is like prostitution, said Moliere. First we do it for love. Then we do it for a few friends. The we do it for money.
Or, like the fem-rad sex workers in this book, you can write out of love and bring in the money with your boa. And write they do, some articulate, others tossing off their personal experiences in chatty, bad girl style.
The voices of strippers, hookers, porn writers, sexual performance artists, phone sex workers and dominas in this book see themselves as feminists in exile, shut out from the debate in the womens movement, ostracized by their sisters as...well, whores.
Fittingly, Sodom by the Bay is well represented in this anthology. Of the 34 contributors, half have or are currently sex working on both sides of the Golden Gate. Jill Nagle, the editor, lives in San Francisco and has written extensively on the sex industry. She notes in her introduction a compelling reason the stories of these women need to be told. At a roundtable discussion on pornography published in 1994 in Ms. magazine, none of the participants had been involved in producing porno or any other aspect of the sex industry. To Nagles credit, she was not surprised. It only confirmed her belief that too many of the leaders in the feminist movement dont get it.
These dispatches from the front line give a vivid picture of how the women feel about their work, about men, about the people they work for. The strippers are especially insightful on their profession. Vicky Funeri, who worked at the Lusty Lady, says men come to see naked girls, then adds slyly, it is a carefully dictated nakedness.
Funeri alternates her diary entries of direct experience working behind a glass window in a peep show with reflective passages where she struggles and analyzes what she is doing. At work she concedes her body is a product, yet away from work her body has continuity, integrity.
Although she is critical of the Lusty Lady, she acknowledges it gave a boost to her self-esteem. Funeri has a lot of body hair and was deeply hurt when the first guy she slept with, after eating her out, joked it was like licking roadkill.
At the Lusty Lady, some customers felt otherwise tDo I owe any thanks to a message scribbled on a napkin on my first night
of work: I love your hair?
On the prostitution front Veronica Monet, an SF call girl who has made numerous appearances on the talk show circuit, argues it is almost impossible to put a dent in the stereotype of the prostitute as a victim doomed to a life of Hell. Even when she tries to get a well-rounded vision of her profession across on the tube, it doesnt always work. On an episode of Hard Copy, the producers sliced and diced her words so that all the positive statements I made about my work and my life were simply edited out.
While prudish feminists, mainstream media outlets and the authorities in the criminal justice system have been slow to recognize the whoring fems have legitimate grievances in the political arena, one institution has opened its doors to these babes: the academy. As they say in the classroom, this is a new discourse, and this book goes right to the heart of the matter. So too...
SUSIE BRIGHTS SEXUAL STATE OF THE UNION
by Susie Bright (Simon & Schuster)
A nice romp through polymorphous possibilities by a woman who has spent the last twenty years as a crusader for uninhibited good times in the bedroom and doing it in the road. Bright has written a number of books for small publishers and jumps into the mainstream with her usual good humor and up-withthe-dildo style. She is currently Professor Bright teaching The Politics of Sexual representationor Porn 101, as she calls it-at the University of CaliforniaSanta Cruz.