As a young woman in Atlanta, I enjoyed the benefit of an organization called Garters and Brains. GAB. Operated by local nude dancers and sex workers, the organization was a de facto co-op for anyone in the sex industry. Atlanta is the mecca for young women who prefer risking their safety as a nude dancer to getting shot in the face working at the local Popeye’s Fried Chicken Drive Thru somewhere in their tiny Southern town. Yes, men & LGBTQ-Plus people are sex workers too, but no one is in demand more than women. Period. One of the best reasons we should agree on equal access for all, including men & LGBTQ-Plus people, is to prevent them from being consigned to a life of sex work. It’s hardly anyone’s dream to be in that industry forever. You might not judge people who have shared this experience so harshly if you actually walked in our shoes, or were actually raised down South, which remains America’s most violent region.
In 23 years of living in Washington State, I have never been able to gain traction with Déjà Vu, State Line Idaho, or Bikini Baristas to offer their workers an exit strategy. This is not a judgment of their profession, it is a community resource for when they make a choice, make a change, and make a difference. Management of these local establishments isolate their workers from these resources. Shame on them. Atlanta establishments Gold Rush, Hot Spot, Ladies Galore, and Magic City welcomed said resources, given they were presented in a proper way according to the law and house rules. Shame on Spokane for being behind the times to Atlanta.
An exit strategy is not a harsh judgment. It is an acknowledgement that such professions as sex work have a specific time line before they become tragedy. Every business is offered a tax deduction for tuition reimbursement to its employees. It is the hallmark of a great employer that they invest in their workers’ future, even when it means training them away from their current employment:
The trouble is that nude dancers and sex workers are independent contractors, subject to 1099, and often in trouble with the IRS, amongst other legal entities. These benefits are not available to them, and local management doesn’t need to speak to their indifference. Their actions speak volumes. Shame on them. What has Spokane done for these workers lately?
I would put Atlanta’s management of nude dancing establishments ahead of corporate titans any day. I know they actually care about their workers.
This may explain the loyalty of Atlanta’s most famous nude dancer, Blondie. Blondie at Atlanta’s Clermont Lounge still has that same job, the same as she did when I lived at the Clermont Hotel in 1990. Kudos to Blondie for being so steady. Blondie is the Queen of the Atlanta Scene, and she has likely done more to help workers from all industries than any state agency. Blondie is a success story in terms of living a life of value. She cares more about Atlanta’s sex workers than it seems anyone in Spokane does. Spokane lacks what Atlanta has, which is a better support network for sex workers.
Sex workers are not disposable trash. They are workers with rights and responsibilities. They have dreams, goals, ambitions, and trauma that led them there. Kudos to Washington State for protecting them with Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5258:
Shame on Spokane for not being in concert with the spirit of this new law. Spokane is still not up to global standards on protecting sex workers. Whether or not you approve of their legally regulated profession, we should all care that every worker is able to retrain and re-enter the work force. We should all care that every worker is treated with dignity. Workers don’t deserve to be groped, grabbed, harassed, or abused, even when they are sex workers. Atlanta had this right back in the day, and I suspect they are ahead of us now. I visited these establishments again recently, and found the Déjà Vu closed. While I am concerned about these displaced workers, I am not sorry to see this ratty establishment closed. The other establishments stonewall anyone offering resources to their workers. Shame on them.
We live on the right side of Washington State, and we prefer its slower pace of life. You may be a Right Wing Maniac like me. However, from a libertarian point of view, refusing to offer sex workers protection and an exit strategy is just plain wrong. Retraining sex workers and reforming health care just might solve the severe Caregiver labor shortage America sees now. It may help to eliminate Veteran suicide.
Garters and Brains. GAB. It all starts right here and right now. Thanks for listening.
#Spokane #sexworkersmatter #WashingtonState #ATL #moveforward