Tag Archive: topless women

Lusty Lady Links

Hey all,
Just a quick fly-by post to commemorate the passing of a sex-positivity icon: SF’s Lusty Lady.
Most of the experience-based sex-work anthologies I’ve read have included at least one essay by someone who worked at the Lusty Lady. For a long time, I understood the Lusty purely as a place that sex-positive feminists went to work (for however long) in order to prove that they were serious about this sex-poisitivity stuff. The possibility that you could be a sexworker who was also a sex-positive feminist, or a sex-positive feminist who did sexwork for reasons like paying the rent (rather than to prove you were SRS BZNZ on campus), hadn’t quite sunk in yet. :-\
In any case. Here we go:
A Brief History of The Lusty Lady (SF Lusty Lady’s official site)
Coolest Strip Club Ever, Closes With Fun Funeral (photo-essay chez Jezebel)
The Language of the Lusty Lady (accademic paper, posted by Peepshow Princess)
What It Was Like to Work at the Lusty Lady (article in The Atlantic)
Enjoy! 😀

Art vs Porn – A Response

So. My friend, Nadine, wrote a post discussing the theoretical difference between “art” and “porn”. And I decided to write a response (that got just long enough that it’s going here instead of in her comments section).

Now, you all know that, once upon a time, I was an anti-porn-feminist, the kind who was all for “possitive expressions of sexuality” but who drew a line between “erotica” (which fit my personal, and fairly narrow, definitions of “possivie expressions of sexuality”) and “porn” (which was evil, exploitive, and generally had to be stricken from the earth). Now, since that time, everything has changed and I tend not to make much of a distinction between “erotica” and “porn”. However I find the (theoretical) distinctions drawan between “art” and “porn” is very much like the ones that get drawn between “erotica” and “porn”. E.G.: semantics and ideas about “legitimacy” (there’s going to be a LOT of quotation marks in this post, by the way).

I find that trying to draw a (real) distinction between porn and art is an exercise in futility and frustration. I can get turned on looking at Fabulous Shoes. Someone else might look at the same pair of stillettos (the kind that come with a “do not chew” warning on the label), though, and just see a danger to their ankles. Likewise, I can look at pictures of Big Gay Bears – fucking, even – and think “ew, chest hair”, while others will get totally hot over the same images.

Look. I do a lot of nude modeling. Some of it is officially erotic (stuff that plays with fetish themes, for eg). Some of it is officially not (gesture modeling for an animation class). A lot of it is in a blurry place between the two.
In those case, the “difference” between what’s an “art” shoot and what’s a “porn” shoot is, more often than not, in how much I’m getting paid to do it — what you said about there being assumptions that “porn” is less valuable/worth than “art” is true, but there are also assumptions (big ones) about how a porn model is less valuable/worthy as a person than an “art” model… with the result being that “porn models” (whether the porn is “erotic art nudes” or “hard core fisting”) tend to get paid better than “art models” (because, y’know, clearly a model would be ashamed to being doing porn, and so would need the deal to be sweetened a little before she’d agree to do it).
It’s stupid.
But it happens.
Consequently, I think my definition of “porn” – from a photography modeling perspective – is, more than anything: “Does it appear that the photographer find this imagery titillating? If yes, then Porn”.
So I’ve done “porn” that involved me brushing my hair, fully clothed. I’ve done “porn” that was shot only from the ankles down. I’ve done “porn” that involved fake blood and real biting. I’ve done “porn” that involved me standing next to a woman 18″ shorter than me, with both of us in business clothing (yes, really). I’ve done “porn” that involved close-ups of my genitals…. And I’ve done “art” that involves being nude but for stillettos, or nude but for leather boots[1]. I’ve done “art” that involved visible pubic hair and erect nipples.

Gods know that, if you work in the Porn Mines (as a writer friend of mine calls them), you can end up writing explicitly sexual stuff that isn’t actually explicitly sexual for you (like, I dunno, writing a hero with a really hair chest. I might go “ick” at that thought, but it doesn’t mean I couldn’t put such a character in a story and have the Love Interest totally go nuts over him).

And, yes, “art nude” tends to involve more “bodyscaping” – heavier use of light and shadow, basically – while “erotic nude” tends to, um, not… But I’ve done “art nudes” that are based on (and, occasionally, recreations of) the photographer’s favourite fetish shots by a different artist, and I’ve modeled for student photographers who are practicing portraiture lighting… and just happen to want to shoot portraits of hot girls in lingerie.
See what I mean?
I raised my rates for photographers’ modeling (environmental portraiture) about six months ago because the lines between “art nude”, “erotic art nude”, and “erotic nude” are not wide at all and, before, when I charged different rates for “art nude” and “erotic nude”, I often found myself basically getting shortchanged. Now I charge everybody the same rate, and I’m a whole lot happier (and feel less like I need to by hyper-vigilant) about it all. 🙂

There are a lot of ways that you can define porn – or define art (is there a plinth involved? What about cherubs?) for that matter – but I think it pretty-much comes down to the eye of the beholder.

Ms Syren.

[1] That one actually won a local figure-drawing competition, believe it or not.

Working It from Every Angle

Hey. So this weekend, at the University of Ottawa, there’s a sexworkers’ forum, presented by POWER and Students for Sexworkers’ Rights, that looks at the trade from a bunch of different angles (thense the title of the event and this post).

Friday Night (tomorrow) opens the event with a panel discussion, moderated by Chris Bruckert, and including panelists who are, or have been, involved in various aspects of the sex industry including: agency managers, indoor and outdoor workers, male and female workers, outreach representitives, and clients of sexworkers.
Their event page says: Don’t miss this rare opportunity to hear the stories of five extraordinary people who will discuss their involvement in the sex industry, and who courageously speak out for the labour and human rights of sex workers. We hope you will participate in this dynamic exchange of ideas and experiences.
The panel discussion begins at 7pm on Friday, January 20th 2012 and goes until 9:00pm. Doors open at 6:30.
We’ll be in room 218 in Morisset Hall (65 University ave).

Saturday (link goes to full schedule and locations of workshops) is when the bulk of the forum takes place. Starting at 11am, there are a series of discussions, presentations, and workshops including “Transforming the prostitution narrative” (on sex, gender, and sexual orientation as they relate to working in the sex industry); “Regulating sex work: From criminalization to labour organizing”; “Aboriginal communities, allyship and sex work”; “Sex Work and Disability” (clients with disabilities, providers with disabilities); and “Sizing up the Sex Industry: Body Size in the Sex Trade”.

There will also be free food, FYI. 😀

Sunday night there will be a showing of “”La Putain de compile”, followed by a discussion at Raw Sugar Cafe (692 Somerset St. W) from 7:00 to 9:00pm.
The event page for the screening tells us: “La Putain de compile” is a video-project by the Pink Panthers in collaboration with the video-activist collective Les Lucioles and with Stella, a Montreal by-and-for sex workers organization. It’s a project that aims at giving another discourse on sex work than its mainstream representation.
A selection of short films from this project will be shown in French and English with opposite language subtitles.

Here. Have an interview with members of POWER and SPOC (actual interview starts around 3:40, before that there is some relevant preamble that you may wish to hear as well):

(As a side-note: Here are a couple of links to further posts about what went down at the Women’s Worlds conference at U of O last summer, when the above interview took place).

Ms Syren.

Figure Modeling Kit List

So, as you know bob, I work as a figure model with some degree of frequency. As I do this more and more often, I’m developing a sense of what one should have available while on the job — Bootblacks have their creme brulee torches and spritzer bottles of champagne; Strippers have their theatre foundation and packages of Wet Ones; so, too, a figure model benefits from having certain things on hand.

So, here we go:

1) A sarong.
This is primarily to be used in place of a robe or other easily-removable garment that you wear when not actually posing (trust me – frequently, the private studios, community centres, and class-rooms you’ll be working in are kept at a temperature that is good for people who are clothed and moving. You will be neither. You are going to want a way of warming yourself up again when you don’t have to be naked). I’m suggesting a sarong, rather than a robe, because you can also use a sarong as a prop, if you need one, and – more to the point – it can double as a surface-cover if you forget:

2) A towel.
Ideally, a large grey or black towel, although anything will work.
You need this because you will, almost definitely, not be the only person to ever set your naked ass and/or genitals on the stage/square of carpet/throw-pillow/chair/etc that the life-drawing class/club provides for your use. Be kind to your fellow models (and look out for yourself) by bringing a surface cover from home.
The reason I suggest a large towel is because you’ll be doing a wide variety of poses, some of which will probably be “reclining”. Having something soft and clean to put between the length of your body and the linoleum/wood/foam/etc is never a bad thing. The reason I suggest grey or black is because – in addition to their being neutral colours that can provide a good contrast to your skin – art studios (particularly in schools) tend to be covered in charcoal dust. It’s going to get all over everything, particularly your feet. Using a towel that won’t get stained by the heaps of black dust it comes into contact with is a good idea. It’s also a good idea to bring:

3) Baby Wipes.
Due to the aforementioned charcoal dust. No, really. It won’t get it all off. But it’ll get the worst of it off, and your feet will thank you.

Beyond that, you may want to invest in:

4) Masking Tape.
This is less of an issue if you are doing short poses. If, however, you’re doing hour+ poses with breaks in the middle, it’s a good idea to have a roll of masking tape on hand so that you can have somebody mark the angles and major lines of your pose. This way, it’s much easier to find your way back to the original pose after having a stretch (which you will definitely need to have, believe me).

5) A Timer.
The cheap, battery-operated kind from the dollar-store, or an app on your phone. Either way. They should be as uncomplicated and easy-to-deal-with as possible. Without one, you may (sometimes) find yourself counting to sixty over and over again in order to keep that five-minute pose.

6) Flip-Flops.
Or some other kind of easy-to-pack, slip-on, bare-feet-appropriate shoe that you can toss on if you’re working in a studio where the bathroom is down the hall. It saves a little bit of time and it means you get less charcoal dust in your socks. Handy!

I have… most of this stuff. But not all of it. Next on my list: Masking tape and a timer.


Ms Syren

So, my young lady and I passed a gloriously wonderful weekend, spending it all on walks to the market, new hot-weather clothes (a t-dress for me, a sarong for her), attending neighbourhood parties and poetry shows, eating fresh strawberries with cream, hooping in local parks, fooling around, and going to the beach.

I know.  Our lives are just achingly difficult.  (Next week: Naked camping with bonus bug repellant!  Huzzah!)

But there was one sour spot in what was otherwise a totally spectacular weekend.  We went to lunch in the Market, and some unknown individual talked to the management about my state of dress.

Reader, I was wearing a bandeau top.  I suspect if I’d been wearing a cropped tank OR, like the gal at the next table over, a strapless tube-top, the Unknown Complainer (who was on a different floor of the restaurant than we were) wouldn’t have had a problem.  But, since I was wearing the t-shirt equivalent of a strapless bra, Someone – someone who’d clapped eyes on me for all of, what, twelve seconds? – felt a need to freak out about it.

So the manager – a lovely young woman with good taste in earrings – came and talked to me.

Now, in fact, I had a second shirt available.  I knew we were going to be spending some time in The Mall That Ate Downtown Ottawa, which is air-conditioned like woah, so I’d brought something that would provide a little more coverage because, hello, cold.

So, since I could do it, and since I really didn’t want to wreck my otherwise phenomenal day by getting into a confrontation, I pulled on my other shirt over my bandeau and got on with eating my lunch.

What bugged me about this wasn’t exactly that I’d been asked to change my shirt.

It was that (a) I’d been asked to change my shirt for the benefit of someone who (i) couldn’t even see me anymore, and, (ii) didn’t have the guts to complain about it to me, personally.  But also, and equally to the point,  (b) that my level of nudity (wearing a minimal, but definitely present-and-accounted-for opaque shirt) had been equated by the manager with a man who was wearing no shirt at all.

Can you see a difference? I thought so. Do you have a problem with either of these images? I thought not.

I hate that.

It’s been legal for ten years in Ontario for women, such as myself, to swan about actually in no shirts at all, but still we are met with this utter stupidity where, if you can even see where a woman’s breasts are, she is clearly half-naked and an offence to the well-mannered eye.

I am not actually behaving lewdly just because YOU are sexualizing my body.

And that’s my rant for today.

– Cheers,

– Ms. Syren