Category Archives: Events

Frankie Mullin on sex work and gentrification – 30th January

Frankie Mullin is one of the most informed and prolific journalists writing about sexuality in the UK today. In her work for Vice, the Independent, and the Guardian, she has challenged media myths around porn addiction and casual sex, and given a voice to sex workers and victims of sexual violence. She has defended the right to family life of asylum seekers and dicussed the lack of qualified psychological support for LGBT people. She was instrumental in raising awareness of the recently defunct ATVOD’s damaging crusade against independent porn producers.

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On 30th January 4pm, Mullin will speak at a panel discussion hosted by the Camden People’s Theatre on gentrification and the crowding out of safe working spaces for sex workers for which she has written a number of cutting-edge reports. The event is highly recommended for those who are in or able to reach London that afternoon.

Cross-posted from Backlash

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London Porn Protest This Saturday

It’s a whole year since the London face-sitting porn protest, organised by sex worker activist Charlotte Rose, made global news. The protest was held in response to a new law, AVMS 2014, which heavily restricted which porn could be legally sold by UK businesses. I explained the implications on this blog,

This Saturday at midday, we will gather outside Parliament again to protest. Last year’s law was the last straw for many of the remnants of the British porn industry, and many people have closed their businesses.

But it was just the beginning. The significant law isn’t the last one, but the next one. The bans introduced last year didn’t prevent providers outside the UK streaming their content to British consumers. The ultimate aim of the censorship machine is to create a mechanism for blocking non-UK sites that breach UK standards of ‘decency’. This won’t just apply to porn, but to many categories of content – as we discovered when the ‘porn filters’ were introduced two years ago.

I expect an attempt to introduce Internet censorship in 2016. In fact, one attempt is currently in the House of Lords: the Online Safety Bill.

This is the year to join the protest – please come along on Saturday if you can.

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Thanks,
Jerry

Appeal: Art of Stripping

Stripper and activist Edie Lamort appeals for funds to support the East London Strippers Collective’s upcoming London exhibition. Please support!

Go on, Put a Pound in the Jug!

Let me introduce the East London Strippers Collective (ELSC), that’s if you haven’t already heard of us, and tell you about our next wildly ambitious but amazing project. We have been together for about a year and a half, putting on talks and parties and generally self-organising. We are part event production team and part political organisation, with a social media following and press interest.

What are we doing? As we are all creative types, we are putting on an exhibition called the Art of Stripping, at the Red Gallery in Shoreditch, from 22nd October to Halloween. We are holding this event to celebrate the art that has been generated by the East London strip scene. The costume, the dance and the visual arts that have been created by dancers from their experiences. There will be photography, film, installations, costume and performances along with events, workshops and a closing party. Artists will include:

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Millie Robson, a dancer who decided to specialise in pole dance photography and has built a flourishing business, travelling all over the world. She also won her category at this year’s Pole Theatre

Bronwen Parker-Rhodes, a photographer and film-maker who will be showing two films and prints from her At Home project.

Vera Rodriguez, a photographer and sex worker activist who is also curating the event. She will be premiering her Performers photography project, bringing it to life with a cabaret on the opening night.

There will also be a program of events during the time we are at the gallery to educate people about our world and celebrate the talents of the dancers. These will include a fashion show, as costume is very important part of our experience, an academic symposium as we are frequently studied, a film night, the life drawing class, an opening night with the artists and pole workshops, a Stripper-wear Fair and a closing party

Why are we doing this? For several reasons; we are visual artists, who also happen to be strippers, and want to show our art, we are creative performers who want a platform to do our thing and we wish to challenge stigma. The striptease industry that we all know and love is unfortunately in a sorry state now. This is for several reasons including recession and a very badly written and punitive law that came about in 2009. This was designed to wreck the industry and is doing exactly that, but was drawn up with no thought given to those working as dancers, our rights and working conditions were ignored. Ultimately we’d like to see this law reviewed however the first thing we have to do is combat the negative narrative around us, a tough call I’m sure you’ll agree! But what better way to do it than to run our own event celebrating our art and performance?

People talk about things being ’empowering’ and the ELSC is exactly that. We have all stepped up to the mark as producers, filmmakers, marketers, photographers, costume designers and all round businesswomen

What can you do to help? In short, donate to our Indiegogo fund and then share it far and wide. We have 1780 plus Facebook followers and if they put a pound in the jug we’d be laughing however they don’t all get to see our posts. We are on the Facebook naughty step after having been reported for side-boob and banned twice therefore we are not allowed to advertise as we have been classified as ‘adult’. In reality our photos and shows are no more risqué than burlesque but misinformation and prejudice abounds.

You may have just read this with interest, you may click on the links (I hope you do, click away!) but whatever you do don’t just ‘like’. If you think this is a good idea contribute some money, we have a pound in the jug option if you are skint or a £1000 option if you are a fancy pants high roller, and share all over to help us beat our advertising ban.

Thank you darlings! X 

 

Vid: The London Porn Protest

Here is a 20 minute video covering the highlights of last Friday’s porn protest outside the UK Parliament. With thanks to Terry Stephens (aka The Naked Truth Guy), who shot and edited it (follow him on Twitter).

The video includes my speech on behalf of Sex & Censorship, along with speeches by organiser Charlotte Rose, lawyer Myles Jackman and CAAN representative Jane Fae.

Coming Soon: The UK Sexual Freedom Awards 2014

If you are a sexual freedom activist, or a supporter of sexual freedom, the place to be is west London on Monday 17th November, for this year’s Sexual Freedom Awards. Coming at a time of increased conservatism and attacks on sexual liberty, these awards are more important than ever.

Come and mingle with the cream of sexual society and witness the naughtiest live acts you can see anywhere!

The awards will celebrate the best in striptease, sex work, and sexual activism. Attractions will include:

… performances by Charlotte Rose, Empress Stah, the Sex Workers Opera, Miss Carios as Jessica Rabbit, with a finale live on stage by international Hip Hop artist and BBC3 TV reality star from “Boom Town” Cream, pole dancing, a wild sexy area for networking and chatting with side shows including a striptease on a piano, erotic strip auction with Kaz B and Charlotte Rose, dj by Chris Tofu, a huge bar, a restaurant, and not forgetting visual displays of our nominees and much, much more! .

For more information, join the Facebook event page, or order your tickets here.

Coming Up: S&C in Debate

I will be involved in the following events over the next month, both close to London:

  • On 22nd October, I will meet the journalist and radical feminist Julie Bindel to debate the question: “Does Pornography Degrade Women, and If So, Should It Be Banned?” This will take place at the University of Essex in Colchester, at 2pm.
  • On 13th November, I will be taking part in a discussion on pornography at Royal Holloway University of London, at 6pm.

Neither are public events, but outside attendees may be admitted by request. Please let me know if you would like to attend.

I don’t get paid (other than expenses) to take part in these events, but consider it essential that moral panic and misinformation are countered with evidence-based argument. The alternative is to see sexual freedom and free speech continually eroded based on fear and ignorance.

If you would like to support the campaign and help us grow, please make a donation, large or small!

Debate vs Object

Object, the anti-sex morality group posing as a human rights organisation, generally refuse to engage with the porn industry, and certainly refuse to meet with the women they claim to be “rescuing” from their work as pornstars, strippers, sex workers or models.

Occasionally though, we get a rare moment to meet them face to face on TV or at university debates. Today I had one such opportunity to meet them in a (sadly short) televised debate on London Live. Here’s what happened…

 

Calling Anti-Porn Feminists!

On July 22nd, the female-run site Sssh.com will host a live debate titled “Women in porn: shattering the myths”.

Or at least, they would like to. The problem being that they can’t find anybody to put the anti-porn case. It’s not as if there’s any lack of anti-porn women. There are plenty of campaigners prepared to write endless column inches or countless books about the evils of pornography; numerous (lucrative) speaking tours take place to spread the word that porn is a serious threat to women and children.

But debates, it seems, are a different matter. So here is a shout out to anti-porn feminists. Hey Object! Yo UK Feminista! Ahem Gail Dines! Please mail Mindbrowse if you would like to take part.

The debate (or cordial discussion) will take place at MindBrowse.com on 22nd July at 3pm EST (8pm UK time), and will be live-tweeted using the hashtag #WomenInPorn. It will feature Cindy Gallop, Kelly Holland and Ashley Fires.

The Sex Workers’ Opera

One of things that took me by surprise when I launched my porn website a decade ago was the amount of hatred thrown at pornstars. As I got to know the sex industries better, I discovered that strippers and prostitutes are the targets of similar abuse – or worse. But the biggest surprise was the source of much of the hatred: not from a religious-minded “patriarchy”, as I’d expected, but in large part from other women, and especially from feminists.

This was bizarre, given that feminist morality campaigners were claiming they were out to rescue these women. When “rescuing” entails spitting on strippers as they go to work, supporting immigration and drug squad raids on brothels, and calling for well-paid women to be made unemployed, one has to suspect the true motivations of the rescuer.

Pornstars are public performers, and tend not to be particularly shy or retiring. But most prostitutes, out of necessity (partly thanks to the bigotry of the rescue industry), seek privacy. In my campaigning work, I’ve often encountered women who have had their livelihoods attacked, but have chosen to stay silent because of the fear of stigma, should they choose to defend themselves. The video-on-demand regulator ATVOD, for example, chooses to publish the real names and addresses of sex workers who run video websites. It is, of course, purely coincidental that a number of such women have chosen to close down their sites rather than be forced to publicly defend their right to run them.

Anti-sex campaigners rely on sex workers’ fear of publicity, knowing that few will openly challenge their campaigns of misinformation. So when I watched the excellent Sex Workers’ Opera at a packed theatre in East London last night, I was deeply impressed by (among other things) the bravery of the performers, many of whom were sex workers.

The performance opened with a rant from a “member of the audience”, who jumped on stage and began shouting about “objectification” and “trafficking”, while screaming SHUT UP! at anybody who dared look in her direction. This rapidly set the scene: in this war of morality-dressed-as-concern, even those sex workers who dare to speak for themselves must be denied a voice. They must be saved, and if they don’t want to be saved, it just shows how badly sex work has fucked them up psychologically, thus reinforcing the need to save them.

The performances were based on sex workers’ own stories, and so were poignant as well as frequently funny; they often struck a chord with sex workers who were present in the audience. The police raid in which women were taken from their workplaces and locked in cells “for their protection”; the women forced to work alone, and made more vulnerable to attack, by laws against brothels; the prostitute who found herself giving marriage guidance counselling to her client; the dominatrix; the submissive. A section of the performance was by webcam workers, and was projected onto a screen rather than performed live on stage. There was an excellent performance by a pole dancer.

Having expected a fairly amateur affair (after all, none of these were professional singers or actors), I was surprised by the quality of the writing, production and performances. For sure, there were some rough edges – but for a two-day play staged by non-professionals, the quality was easily good enough for me to enjoy the entire show.

The overall message was a simple one, which was laid bare in the finale: Listen To Me. How dare outsiders deign to speak on behalf of those whose voices they refuse to hear? How dare moralists insist to know more about sex work than the sex workers themselves?

Want to see it? Sadly, you’ve probably missed it. Tonight’s is the final performance, and it’s almost certainly sold out, as yesterday’s was. But the show was strong enough that, with professional production, it could be revived as something bigger and better in future. Let’s hope this happens, and that these voices reach an ever wider audience. You can join their Facebook page or follow on Twitter to keep in touch.