Friday, March 29, 2013

Nerds Worst Nightmare - BSOD Pretty Serious Review

I'm not going to lie - when I saw that Pretty Serious had a shade of nail polish called BSOD, named after the infamous Blue Screen of Death, I was ALWAYS going to buy it regardless of how good or bad it actually was. I am an enormous sucker for crossover between my nerd half and my beauty obsessed half - but as it turns out, I would have loved this polish no matter what it was called.
It's a deep blue jelly, crammed full of teeeny tiny blue sparkles, and looks absolutely amazing on. Pretty Serious have a great formula for their polishes, and this went on much more smoothly than I was expecting for something crammed full of sparkle. It also dries gloriously smooth and shiny - so much so you could get away without a topcoat on this if you wanted.

I was completely blown away when I took this baby outside - the sparkles just jump right out, and your nails appear to glow from the inside.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Hey Girl...

I’m always scouting around for new places to be published, and a very kind Twitter acquaintance offered me the details of someone looking for same sex attracted female writers to blog for a prominent local queer publication. Exciting right?

Well, yes and no. I am definitely same sex attracted. Women are GREAT. But there is also a great fear I have of being rejected for not being queer ENOUGH – the same fear that stops me from attending local queer events. I’m afraid that I won’t really have anything of relevance to say on the subject, because while I AM queer, I’m not particularly active about that queerness right now. For all the time I spend ogling pretty ladies like a fifteen year old boy, I haven’t actually done anything with a woman for AGES (like a fifteen year old boy), and haven’t ever had a long term relationship with another woman as such (like a fifteen year old boy). I’m failing pretty badly at queer right now. Incidentally, this is largely why I haven’t written more specifically about my queerness here, and generally limit my discussions of sexuality to heterosexual relationships. It’s not that I don’t have squishy feelings about women, and don’t wonder how the things I write about relate to same sex interactions - I just don’t have a great deal of experience with same sex relationships, and so I feel self-conscious talking about it.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Little Things

My eyeshadow came out exactly how I wanted it to today.

Some days this is more important than others. Some days, my brain works like everyone else. It reacts in predictable, acceptable ways. Someone says something funny, and I laugh. Someone annoys me, and I make a little clucking noise under my tounge, but the annoyance slips away in a moment or two. Some days I can hear compliments and take them for exactly what they are. Today is not one of those days.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Ariadne and The Minotaur Nail Art

A little while ago Shades of Phoenix announced they were having a nail art challenge on Instagram. I don't usually take part in nail art challenges because the competition is CRAZY, but since this one had the theme of Greek mythology, I couldn't possibly resist.

Mythology is my jam
I decided to attempt to portray the story of Theseus and the Minotaur - particularly the part where Ariadne saves Theseus from certain death, and gets little to no credit for it. If you haven't heard the story before, here's a quick and dirty version.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Ask A Brothel Receptionist - Part 3

You might remember I did two previous posts here and here, relating the most commonly asked questions I was faced with when I was working brothel reception. At the end, I put a shout out for you all to hit me with the questions you would like answered. I wanted to give you all some time to come up with some questions, but since there wasn't a great rush of them I thought I would just chug on through and answer the ones that have been put to me. In no particular order, here they are!

What is the gender ratio of clients?
I imagine this fluctuates from place to place, and would also be different depending on what services you were offering. I worked in two different types of parlours; massage parlours, where full sex was not allowed by the house rules and hand relief was the primary sexual service on offer, and full service parlours, where full sex is allowed. In the "massage" parlours I worked in, the clients were maybe 95% male. Women did come in, both with partners and solo - not so infrequently that anyone freaked out, but not what I would call frequently. Something I did find curious is that while I did meet a couple of openly queer working girls, the women who came into the parlours never seemed to pick them. In the full service parlours I worked at, the clients were 100% male. I know from the other receptionists there that male clients did bring their female partners in very occasionally, but I never saw it when I happened to be behind the desk.

An appallingly unscientific representation of pure anecdata
What security precautions do brothels take to keep their employees safe?
I don't really want to start off every answer with, "It depends on where you work," but the sex industry really is such a varied place it's a pretty useful caveat no matter what question I'm answering. The security situation in particular was VERY varied at the different places I worked. One place had no security whatsoever, apart from a baseball bat under the desk and a fake security company number pinned to the wall where the clients could see it. It's probably not surprising this was the place I had the most unsafe experiences. This is the place where I had to talk the angry, coked up asshole out the door, and also where a disgruntled client threw a brick through the window after storming out in a huff. Other places had much better security arrangements - one had an arrangement with the bouncer at the pub on the corner of the block, that we could call him if we ever needed someone large and intimidating to sort a situation out. Another one actually had a proper alarm system, complete with personal duress  alarms and code words we had to repeat back to an operator if we were open later than expected. That place also provided a  large, muscular gentleman of indeterminate employment status to walk the workers to their cars or a taxi, and then walk the receptionist to a taxi. That was about as comprehensive as the security ever got at the  places I worked. I did interview for a much higher end place that had a really serious security system including coded locks and full time on site security, but I didn't end up working there.

FYI, I never had to use the bat.
How in practice do sex workers make a decision about whether or not to see a client? Do they get to look at them first?
While this is a great question, unfortunately I can't really answer it, since I've never actually been a sex worker. I can certainly answer the second part though! Every place I worked had a myriad array of security cameras, for a myriad array of reasons. The receptionists used them to keep an eye on the girls, and the clients, and anyone that might be  lurking outside the front and back doors (almost every parlour has a rear entrance, for clients who don't want to be seen going in off the street). The girls used them to get a peek at the clients before they introduced themselves. Three out of the four parlours I worked in had the same introduction system - the client would be shown into the parlour by me, and settled in a private room. I would then go back to the girl's lounge room, and round them all up from whatever they had been doing. They could take a look at the camera before they decided to go in, and more than once I had a girl turn down an introduction because she wasn't absolutely certain she didn't know the client from somewhere. They would also use the camera to identify previous clients - there were times when they would fill me in on something dodgy the client had tried to pull last time he had been there so I could ensure he didn't try it again, and times when they all got excited because the client was notoriously pleasant. Once they'd touched everything up, the girls would then go in one by one to introduce themselves and give a little spiel. Once they had all had a turn, I would go in and see who the client would like to see, take the money, and then the girl would take him to a service room.

One place I worked had a very different system though, because they were selling themselves as a gentlemen's club rather than a parlour as such. You know, somewhere you would go and play some pool, drink some dreadfully watered down complimentary drinks, and maybe HAPPEN to go upstairs and get a handjob in a spa from a girl who might CO-INCIDENTALLY get paid for this. In order to support this illusion, the reception staff were encouraged to let the clients chill in the lounge for as long as they wanted, and the girls were encouraged to "mingle" until the client made up his mind. It was much more similar to the style of parlour shown in US shows like Cathouse than anywhere else I worked in Sydney. Personally, I hated this system for a number of reasons. Firstly, the girls didn't have any way of getting a look at the client's before they went out on the floor, which was at best awkward and at worst downright dangerous should some of the girls have been caught by family members. Secondly, it encouraged the clients to take up as much of the girls time, and of mine, for free, before making a decision, which gets enormously tedious really really quickly. It also encouraged a situation where the girls were forced to directly compete with each other for clients, and often the loudest and pushiest would win out. Introducing the girls one by one is not only more efficient in terms of getting the money out of the client quickly and easily, it's also a hell of a lot fairer - IMHO. I'm by no means an expert, that's just my opinion from the experience I've had.

Will they employ over 50, or do they just want young and pretty faces?
There are exceptions, but generally the managers of parlours are looking for relatively young,well presented receptionists - and they are always, ALWAYS female. The thing is though, you can't be TOO young (I got turned down a number of times for looking too young) or too pretty, as a lot of managers feel this is a sure sign you'll jump the desk. Then they'll have to find and train another receptionist, and the staff turnover at parlours is pretty high at the best of times. I think it is also a little more difficult to keep control of the clients if you look too young - they don't take you as seriously. But too old, and it can apparently turn the clients off. However, there are parlours specifically catering to clients looking for older sex workers, and I imagine those parlours would be quite happy with older receptionists.

MILF's make money too!
What was your favourite thing about your time there?
Honestly, this could probably be an entire post on it's own. There were many, many aspects of the job I loved, even apart from the independence and power that I've spoken about previously. But the short answer to this question is the feeling of co-conspiracy I shared with the sex workers. We were all involved in something that polite society says is icky, and a lot of the time this created a real sense of bonding between us all - it was us against the outside world. It wasn't always like that, of course. Every job has shitty days, where you hate everyone, and those days there was no sense of solidarity whatsoever. But the days where I could feel it, that we were all on the same side? I've never felt that in any other job, ever, and in hindsight it was one of the most rewarding things about it.

All together now...Awwwwwwwww!
How do you put that time down on your resume after you've moved on? 
Ahahaha, oh dear. This is the part where I REALLY hope none of my employers since then have come across my blog yet. How do I put down the time I spent in the sex industry on my resume? In short, I lied. I thought of a job that would entail the same basic skills as I gained working in parlours, gave the cover story to my boss at the last parlour I worked in, and he agreed to give me a fake reference.Well, fake as in it was a reference for a job I technically never held, for a company that technically doesn't exist, but he insisted he wouldn't say I had any skills or experience I didn't, which I was totally fine with. As far as I know, most other former receptionists do the same. I said I was the Office Manager for an import/export business dealing largely in giftware (to account for seasonal fluctuations in profit, which is why I was looking for a new job), and that this job gave me experience with meeting tight deadlines, ordering processes, cash handling, building and maintaining client relationships, creating marketing campaigns, and handling multiple fluctuating priorities - and everyone was impressed. If I had said I was Office Manager for a full service parlour, where I was in charge of rostering both sex workers and receptionists, managing clients, keeping sufficient quantities of all stock on site at all times, placing our advertising, maintaining our website, and making sure the books all balanced at the end of the day, people would have freaked out. So I dressed the skills I gained in a cloak of respectability, and then used what I have to make a living out here in the mainstream world.

I've certainly never put my hand in a puddle of congealed semen while
doing laundry in the middle of the night, no siree!
So that's it for today my dears! I hope you all learned something. If you have a question you're still sitting on, please feel free to pop it through to me, and if I get enough I'll do a follow up soon.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Love Thy Polish - I Sure Do!

This blog has been very thinky this week, so I want to break it up with some pretty pictures before continuing my series.
Today I have yet another marvelous Australian indie polish maker to show you - I don't know what's in the water here, but we really do have some of the most talented creators! Love Thy Polish is run by Em, who blogs about polish over at Nails In The Desert, and she has a wonderful variety of different styles of polish in her Etsy shop - but you guys know me, I went straight for the glitters!

First up is a beautifully delicate white and purple glitter called Miss Bossy Pants - this immediately reminded me of my little sister, since she was the bossiest little child you could possibly imagine. She didn't seem to find this as funny as I did, so I think I'll have to get her a bottle for her birthday.
ANYWAY, the polish is gorgeous. It's quite transparent, so you could layer it over just about any colour you like. Em reccomends layering it over purple, so I put it over my trust Illamasqua Baptise.

Second up is one called Drained, a dark vampy red-black jelly with tons of red micro glitter packed in. Out of habit more than anything else, I layered it over black first.

I was really happy with these results, and spent the next two days wiggling my fingers under every available light source to make the red flecks spark in the deep, dark base. When I came back to it later, I thought I'd try a red base just for something different. And WOW, I just fell in love. I haven't loved a red polish this much since I first got OPI I'm Not Really A Waitress, which is incidentally what I layered Drained over this time.

 The dark pigments in the jelly base tone down the brightness of the red, making it a little bit more vampy, and the glitter just GLOWS in this combination. I'm just annoyed I only got a mini bottle of this one!

You can pick yourself up some Miss Bossy Pants, or Drained, or any of the other beautiful colours Love Thy Polish carry at their Etsy store.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ask A Brothel Receptionist - Part 2

After my small broadcast break yesterday to rant about the disgraceful situation in Stuebenville, it's back on the bandwagon for my Ask A Brothel Receptionist series! If you missed Part 1, it's right HERE. Remember, I'm hoping to do a third post for this in which I answer questions from you guys - but in order to this, I'm gonna need questions! Please feel free to leave questions as comments here, or email me. Serious, silly, whatever you want to know I'm happy to answer. (Keep in mind this blog does allow anonymous commenting, if you're feeling weird about a question you want to ask being attached to your name).
ANYWAY, back to the Top 6 questions I used to get asked about my job...

4. Well, I've never seen a sex worker. How pathetic are people who have to pay for sex? Don't you just hate them? 

Okay, so this one isn't so much a question as a statement I heard over and over again. And while admittedly, the clients could drive me nuts sometimes, they were also paying my wage, so they got at least a little bit of my protectiveness as well. Clients aren't assholes - assholes are assholes, whether they see sex workers or not. Some of the clients were also assholes, but some of them weren't. Reception at a brothel is, in the end, customer service, and sometimes customers fucking suck. Sometimes they ask for outrageous things that you can't possibly give them, and then get angry when their whims can't be met. Sometimes customers insist they "never pay full price" and haggle for half an hour to try and get a 5% saving. These are things that happen to anyone in customer service anywhere - it was just the nature of the requests that were different. I'd never been asked before if someone could bring in a bucket of pigs blood before (the answer was no, by the way), but then until my current job I'd never had to source extendable batons before either. The clients were no more or less pathetic than the general public, because they ARE just the general public.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Best We Can Be

Trigger warning - I'll be talking about the Steubenville case and rape culture quite a bit today.

The Steubenville gang rape case was finalised today, with two perpetrators being found guilty on all charges. In case you somehow missed the whole thing, the basic back story is this; a girl gets drunk at a party, and passes out. Some members of the local football team them proceeded to digitally rape her, while taking video and pictures of their boyish larks.

I'll just pause for a moment while we all throw up in our mouths.

The upside of this whole disgusting situation is that the two defendant were found guilty, and almost certainly face time in juvenile detention. Hurrah! Justice for their victim! Punishment for the guilty! All good things, right? Apparently some commentators don't think this is such a great outcome. If you've spent any time on the internet, you'll probably be unsurprised there have been some viciously awful things said about the victim on various social media. This round up of the worst Twitter responses is particularly stomach turning. But the part of the public reaction that really makes my blood boil is that the major news networks are joining in the pity party for the convicted rapists - CNN is particularly guilty of this. Poor boys, lives ruined, mean bloggers (who aren't even REAL journalists) keep talking about how bad they are, BOO fucking HOO, cry me a godammned river! I watched the video that's floating around of one of the convicted rapists crying, and all I could think was, "Good. CRY MOAR, you little shit." Sometimes it can be difficult for victims to prove beyond a doubt that a rape occurred, because there isn't always a lot of evidence that can be pulled out and waved around in court - but this was not a case like that. These boys did it. They admitted they did it. There is video of them doing it. There are text messages talking about how they did it. THEY ARE GUILTY. And yet, there are still people attempting to defend them. "She was drunk," "They were drunk," "They didn't know it wasn't okay," "Girls are liars" etc etc on and on until I want to punch faces. This case really illustrates to me that some people will say ANYTHING to defend these boys. ANYTHING, no matter how little sense it makes, or how appallingly inconsiderate it is to the victim. I mean, really, how could this case have been more clear cut? Are people so unwilling to believe that sometimes people do bad fucking things that they refuse to accept the poor girl was raped unless they actually do it in the courtroom, in front of them? Even then the defenders would probably find an excuse.

What's even more depressing is thinking about how different this case would have been if the victim had been anything other than young, cisgendered, and from a relatively well off background. The only thing she did "wrong" was teenage drinking, and she still gets torn apart. If this is the kind of defensiveness that occurs when someone with almost every privilege a woman can have is attacked, can you imagine if she had been fat, or poor, or an addict, or trans, or a sex worker? Or, heaven forbid, a trans sex worker?! You don't have to have seen Boys Don't Cry to know this whole thing would have gone down very, very differently. The way this girl is being treated? This is an example of how women are treated when they have all the privilege. This is how women are treated when we do everything "right", when we are everything we are told women are supposed to be. This is as good as we can hope for it to be for us. And that just makes me so sad, and so angry, that I have no more words.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Ask A Brothel Receptionist - Part 1

You probably won't be surprised to hear I've gotten into quite a few heated arguments with people over my acceptance of the sex industry and the people who work in it. It's an issue that can set people off very very quickly, and I've seen people go from zero to Hitler with appalling speed as soon as sex work is mentioned. But I've learned that head on arguments take more out of me than they chip away at the opposition's position. Some people are great at confrontational arguing, and I definitely think there is a place for it, and an enormous need for it. I see sex workers who dare to be vocal in the media attacked every day, with everything from revolting taunts about them being "a hole", to totally baseless statistics "proving" that all sex workers are coerced. Personally, I can't take these people on directly. I have nothing but admiration for the people who do, but I simply find it too draining and upsetting. One heated argument with one asshole can ruin my day, while making precisely no difference to their opinion whatsoever. So these days I leave the arguing to the people who are good at it, and my way of contributing to the growing sex workers rights movement is offering information, things I've learned and observed about the industry, in the hopes of chipping away at the ignorance in wider society.
I never had any particular problem with sex workers, even before I got involved in the industry. But I do admit that I went into it with some preconceived ideas, which in time turned out to be completely wrong.  It was getting to know the people in the industry that was the biggest force in opening my eyes - it's much harder to categorise sex workers as some homogenous, oppressed mass when you really get to know some. While there are more and more sex workers being vocal in the media (especially through outlets like Twitter) about their experiences, there is still a large proportion of wider society who might be curious to know more about sex workers, but are too challenged by speaking to an actual real life sex worker. I found working in an admin position made me an interesting "in between" point between the sex industry and this segment of curious but trepadatious onlookers. This "in between" status unfortunately led some people to say awful things about sex workers to me, like insinuating they were all worthless junkies, or desperate women with no other discernible skills who had to resort to sex work. When I looked horrified, people seemed surprised when I pointed out that I actually didn't care for them speaking like that about my CO-WORKERS. But sometimes people were simply curious, but not sure how to proceed with getting answers to their questions. I would always encourage them to speak to actual sex workers if they had questions about the industry, because I can only speak for my own experience, and I feel like data from the other side of the desk is actually a lot more valuable in the end. But because I was in the industry but not "one of them" as some people charmingly put it, people seemed more comfortable asking me questions. While I got SUPER tired of my job dominating every conversation I had with anyone, I also realised that I had a responsibility to use this "in between" status to create as much positive change as I could. With this in mind, I thought I would share my answers to some of the questions I got asked over and over and over again when I was doing reception in the sex industry. Since once I started writing, I apparently couldn’t stop, this will be a two part series. Today we have the first three questions I got asked most frequently, in rough order of popularity, with another three tomorrow. I'm also hoping you guys can come up with some new questions, which I can answer in a proposed Part 3, so put your thinking caps on!

1. Wow, working at a brothel sounds sexy. Is it sexy?

The short answer, is no. The long answer is nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo well maybe a teeny bit sometimes. I can't speak for the sex workers, but admin at a brothel is only sexier than normal admin on tiny, rare occasions. The vast majority of my time was spent answering the same questions over and over, putting laundry in the washing machine, taking washing out of the machine, and juggling three phones while trying to keep track of ten workers at once. Even the teeny, fleeting moments that were sexy were actually more awkward than sexy as such. I would be lying if I said I didn't enjoy flirting with the clients, knowing that I was totally off limits for them. That was pretty fun, and nicely straight forward. I jiggled, they looked appreciatively, everyone came away feeling nice. However, when a client I found attractive walked in, it quickly became quite awkward and not sexy at all. See, the flipside of the clients never being allowed to touch me is that I was also not allowed to touch THEM. Dating clients is a) a stupid idea and b) totally taboo for both sex workers and support staff - PARTICULARLY support staff, because if we saw clients for free we were essentially stealing from our co-workers. So if a client I thought was a bit hot came in, and it did happen, it was much more of a high school crush, sigh from afar situation than anything anyone would write into Playboy about. I remember one guy who had a Muse tattoo who used to come into the last place I worked - he was sweet, and friendly, and never haggled, and always picked the bigger girls so he might have been into someone my size, and he had big brown puppy dog eyes and he was also totally out of my reach. It wasn't sexy - it was actually a tiny bit depressing after a while.

LoveSick by Yukiba on DeviantArt
I mostly got asked about the supposed sexiness of my work by men wanting to know about my interactions with the other girls though. Once I told them I was queer and worked in the sex industry, these two pieces apparently magically fit together to create a wonderland in their heads full of pillow fights in ridiculous lingerie and practicing making out on each other. I'm sorry guys, gals, everyone else, but it was NEVER like that. Not ever. In five years I did not have a single pillow fight with another girl, nor did I witness any pillow fights between any other girls.  Maybe they happened and I just didn't see them - but I somehow doubt that. I never practiced making out with my co-workers, nor did I ever see them practicing on each other. The closest I ever came to any kind of sexy practice time was showing a girl how to use a suede flogger more effectively, and that wasn't actually very sexy because I was trying to teach her BDSM 101 in ten minutes so she could bluff her way through a booking. I did appreciate the very nice looking girls wandering around in lingerie every now and then - but it came back to the whole no dating in the workplace rule again, and was just as awkward as eying off the clients.

Not an accurate depiction of a brothel.
I'm sorry, I'm sure this is disappointing news to some of you. I know pretty much every guy I told this looked like I'd killed his childhood pet in front of him. I get that the fantasy is all part of the experience of seeing a sex worker - you imagine she's really into you, and that money is just a thing that happens co-incidentally. Some people imagine a brothel is a house full of workers heaving and panting and desperately waiting for some lucky client to come in and satisfy them. But in reality, it's work. It's just work. Just as working in a video game store does not actually involve sitting around playing Halo all day, sex work is not what some people imagine it to be. It’s not always an endless array of sexy, fun, light-hearted encounters, but it’s not always an endless oppressive regime of misery either. It’s not always anything – like any other work, sex work is sometimes good and sometimes bad. I think it's really important to make that clear to as many people as possible, because then we might start getting rid of some of the wrongheaded perceptions about sex work – if people could get rid of this ridiculous fantasy version of sex work they have in their heads, they might be able to pay attention to the very real concerns of sex workers, and give their voices the respect they deserve. If people understood more clearly that sex workers are just people too, just doing a job, I hope that it might encourage them to treat sex workers with a lot more respect and decency. One example of the wrongheaded ridiculousness that can spring from this kind of fantasy view of the sex industry is the idea that a woman can be bought and sold. It hinges on the fantasy notion that sex work is somehow totally different to every other kind of work. If someone told you that working as a receptionist meant you were selling yourself, you'd laugh at them. But sex workers are told that by selling their time and skills, they are selling themselves on a daily basis. They're not. It's exactly the same as me charging my company for my ability to make flights work at the last second - I have skills they require, they pay me money for those skills. My soul remains intact, and so do those of sex workers, because it is, in the end, just work. So there is it – sex industry reception is not actually that sexy, and I think the world would be a better place if people were more interested in finding out what the sex industry is actually really like for the people who work in it. I wish there has been more lingerie clad pillow fights, I really do, but 90% of the time, my part in the sex industry was simply dealing with an endless pile of towels.   

2. But brothels are illegal, right?

This one very much depends on where you are. In New South Wales, where I worked, all forms of sex work are legal apart from street work. Legally, provided you have the appropriate licensing and council approval, you can run a brothel, you can work from your house, you can work for an agency - you just can't work from the street because that's viewed as soliciting. I never cared for this caveat, because it's quite classist and exclusionary when you get right down to it. There are some people who prefer working on the streets, and some who don't have the option of working from an apartment or a brothel available to them, and I think it's complete bullshit they're not offered the same protections as indoor workers. But, it could be much worse. As for the rest of the country, I honestly don't know all the details of legality in other states, apart from a few tidbits. I know in Queensland it's illegal to offer services without a condom, and I know in Victoria you are supposed to have a license to work in the sex industry, a registration system of sorts. But in New South Wales, it's all relatively straightforward from a legal point of view. If you stay off the streets, everything else is technically fine.


Because sex work is largely legalised here, there is much less of the industry controlled by organised crime than places where it is all totally illegal. I wouldn’t be so naive as to say it doesn’t still happen – but it’s a much less valuable investment when a business has to have a paper trail. Legality requires paperwork, and paperwork requires your business practices meet at least an absolute minimum standard of legitimacy. I’m sure the accountants for the places I worked were still up to some dodgy stuff in terms of taxation, and I did always get paid in cash. But I worked for non sex industry small businesses with similar practices – some of them were much dodgier than that even. Legalisation means the owners of brothels technically have to adhere to certain standards in terms of how they treat their employees too. 

Of course, legal protection is one thing, and the way that protection is (or isn't) enforced is another thing. Just because owners of brothels are legally required to give their workers certain rights, doesn’t mean they always do. And just because it was legal for my co-workers to be doing what they were doing didn't mean they were free to do so without persecution. I remember one worker who had to get all the receptionists to field calls from her ex-husband, because he was trying to "prove" she was working for us in order to take custody of her children. If I ran into co-workers in the street or at a club, there was always a little game of trying to figure out on the fly a cover story for how we knew each other. I would usually let them take the lead, and then just go with whatever they introduced me as, or keep walking if they made it clear they didn't want to acknowledge me outside of work. Some of the sex workers I met were out to everyone in their social circle, but the majority weren't, simply because the social stigma was too great. I hope that by emphasising to everyone that asked me that sex work is indeed legal in this state, I managed to do a tiny little bit to normalise the industry. It's ridiculous that a section of the economy that is actually legal is still so stigmatised - I actually can't think of any other equivalent industries, where the workers have legal rights but are unable to exercise them so frequently because of societal perception. It’s unfortunate that while there are many parts of Australia where sex work is legally protected, it’s actually only in the ACT that they are specifically legally protected from discrimination. Legalisation is only half the battle in terms of allowing sex workers to go about their lives and careers without interference, but I’m glad that for all our backwards thinking on other subjects, at least NSW has gotten the process this far. It’s not everything, by a long shot – but it’s something

3. I bet the girls are all junkies/diseased/stupid/desperate 

Oh man, this question used to drive me NUTS. This was the question that would get me from zero to frothing at the mouth in under ten seconds because it's just so, SO not true, and even if it was, SO WHAT!? Yes, I did meet sex workers who used all sorts of different drugs. Yes, I met injecting drug users, some of whom were addicts. And you know when it bothered me? When they couldn't do their job, or they put other people in danger. That's it. Other than that, I couldn't give a shit what they chose to spend their money on. It was none of my damn business, unless their drug usage got in the way of their work.  An interesting statistic to consider before we dismiss all sex workers as “junkies” is that according to the US Department of Health, 77% of ALL illegal drug users either hold full or part time jobs. Since this is a statistic from the US where sex work is largely illegal, I think it's pretty safe to say the jobs they are including here are all mainstream jobs. This would suggest to me that there are an awful lot of drug users out there in the mainstream workforce - but it's sex workers that get painted as all being junkies? Interesting. And by interesting, I mean utterly infuriating. 

Not an accurate depiction of drug use
As for sex workers all being diseased, local sex worker rights organisation Scarlet Alliance has done some excellent work in gathering relevant statistics in this area. According to their sexual health briefing paper, “Sex workers have consistently low rates of HIV (less than 1%), low rates of sexually transmissible infections, and very high rates of prophylactic use, including condoms."  A recent study conducted by Melbourne University that measured rates of STI infections in a wide range of participants, concluded that "of 2896 female sex workers tested for STIs over three years, only 3 per cent were positive." THREE PER CENT. The most recent set of statistics I could find relating to the sexual health of the general population put the percentage of women who've been infected with an STI is currently around 16.9%. That's a pretty fucking big difference right there. I can also tell you from experience that the sex workers I have known have taught me WAY more about safer sexual practices than anyone else. I have never come across a group of people so well versed in the details of safer sex, EVER. I tried to be patient when people asked me questions and the sex industry, I really did, but once they started with the "diseased junkie" crap I would have to walk away. It's SO completely untrue, and it makes me SO angry.

And on that cheerful note, I'm going to leave it there. Join me tomorrow for part two!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Fairy Princess Awareness Day

You might recall from my persistent spamming all over social media that I was taking part in Dare to Wear Day this year, in aid of an Australian charity called Fitted For Work. Fitted For Work aim to hep disadvantaged women back into the workforce by supplying them with appropriate interview clothes, as well as help building their confidence and interview skills.

I think this sort of work is really important - the interview process is often the most challenging thing about getting a job, far more so than keeping the job if you're offered the chance. If you're at a point in your life where you're out of practice answering the ridiculous arbitrary questions that recruiters throw at you, the last thing you need is to feel like you're dressed like shit. A nice skirt suit really can make the difference between answering confidently and getting the job, and mumbling into your chest and being immediately dismissed regardless of how skilled you actually are. The women Fitted For Work work see also often have big gaps in their resume from time in prison, or raising a family, or all the other things that get in the way of a career, and I really feel for people in that sort of situation. My own work history hasn't exactly been a smooth path from Point A to Point B - no matter how you spin it, a three year break from the workforce because I had a mental breakdown so severe I couldn't leave the house never looks good on a resume. Gaps in your resume shouldn't be an automatic disqualification from the interview process, but unfortunately, they often are. So if you're out of practice, out of decent outfits, and have a gap in your resume, the odds are definitely stacked against you when you're going up for a job. Charities like Fitted For Work try to tilt the odds a bit more in the interviewee's favour.

Dare To Wear Day is held once a year, and works in a similar way to World's Greatest Shave  in that people sponsor you to do something challenging. In this case, I only had to wear something ridiculous to work for one day, so I decided to go as a Fairy Princess. I figure any excuse to wear a tiara is a good enough excuse.

Since some of you lovely people who helped out by donating, I promised pictures of my femmetacular outfit - so without further ado, here is what I wore to work on Friday. This was the Fanciest of all Fancy Fridays.

I would be totally lying if I said this didn't get pretty challenging to go the whole day in. While it was great fun dressing up, and I do love floofy skirts, I'm also the kind of person who has a very fine emotional line between enough attention and TOO MUCH attention, and this outfit definitely pushed the amount of attention I got firmly into the TOO MUCH category. I had a bit of a freak out about three quarters of the way through the day and tried to figure out a way to wriggle out of it, but then a couple of new donations came through, and I realised I would be letting people down if I let my self consciousness get the better of me. 

I'm sure you're all STUNNED to hear doing my nails so sparkly they could be seen from space was my favourite part of the whole outfit. This is Alanna Renee Mardi, with a layer of Femme Fatale Ebon Roses over the top, with a smattering of Hello Kitty holographic glitter over the top for good measure. This manicure was shiny enough that it was legitimately distracting.

I also took the opportunity to really go nuts with my Femme Fatale loose eyeshadows. If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know I've been obsessed with these things since a wise Twitter follower gave me the marvelous advice to use Napoleon Perdis Cake Eyeliner Sealer to keep them in place. I'll be doing up a How To on this at a future date, once I'm a little more confident.

I made it through the whole work day, and even heading out into the city for lunch with minimal panic! When my boy came to pick me  up from work I was so pleased with myself we stopped for an impromptu photoshoot in the park.

But the most exciting part of the whole day was realising the donations had hit $500 - a completely arbitrary target I had set up when I initially hoped some of my workmates would join me. I didn't think I had a chance in hell of reaching it by myself, so I just want to say a great big THANK YOU to each and every one of you who donated. And don't worry, I don't do charity things often, so it will probably be a while before I'm hassling you again!

Catch Me If You Can!

This has been a super busy week for me, so I thought I would catch you all up on the things I've been doing intead of posting here.

Firstly, Autumn from The Beheld invited me to do a guest post - I was enormously flattered, given the standard of writing she puts up, and was of course delighted to oblige. It's similar to one of my previous posts about how the sex industry shaped my perceptions of presentation, and femininity, and all that good thinky stuff, so you should head on over and check it out.

I was also invited by The Peach to start a series of articles on nail polish for absolute beginners, and the first part went up on Tuesday. Those of you who missed my How To Do Nails posts way back in the way back times will probably appreciate this series, especially because I have a bunch of extra knowledge that I didn't have back then. The first post is a shopping list of sorts for what you need to start messing around with nail polish, and you can check it out here. The upcoming posts will be covering how to put polish on for best results, how to get it off, and a roundup of all my favourite Australian indie brands of polish, so keep an eye out for those.

This wasn't anything to do with me, but the news came through this week that Google will be shutting down Google Reader in June, which I am seriously uninpressed about. The official reason given is that there has been a "decline in usage" but given that there is already a petition attempting to get them to reverse their decision makes me think that perhaps it was actually more about the fact it's hard to monetise an RSS reader. For those of you who don't use them, an RSS reader is a site that saves feeds from all your favourite blogs and puts them all together in the one place, so you don't have to worry about going back to check them on a regular basis - you just open up your RSS reader, and it will tell you if there are new posts on any of the blogs you feed it.  Google Reader is the most popular of these, so I'm a bit concerned about losing readers who don't have the time or enthusiasm to switch their RSS feeds over to another reader. I decided it might be worthwhile to go through a few of the other ways you can follow this blog.

Firstly, you see the little orange box up in the top right hand corner? That's the button to get the RSS feed for this blog. Clicking on it will take you through to a page where you can choose where you want the feed to go, and from there it's pretty straightforward. However, if you don't use an RSS reader, you can also get the RSS feed for this blog into your email. If you pop your email address into the box, you'll get an email every time I put up a new post.

Alternatively, if you scroll down a little bit further you'll see a button to follow this blog on BlogLovin'. It's an RSS reader, but it's aimed at the fashion and design crowd so it's a lot prettier and easier to use than a lot of the others I've seen. At the moment, because a lot of people are attempting to find an alternative to Google Reader, some of the alternatives are incredibly slow, and some it's not even possible to join right now because they're being inundated with new users. I've had a Bloglovin account for a while now, but I managed to get my Google Reader feeds all switched over to it in one click last night, so that's where I will be reading my blogs for the foreseeable future. Anyway, if YOU want to use Bloglovin to follow this blog, just click on the big button, and it will take you through from there.

If you use Twitter, you can also follow me there - my username is @anwyn and you'll have to deal with all my ramblings in between, but I do tweet links to all my new posts here, as well as The Peach and Lacquerheads of Oz, and anyone else who will have me. 

I hope that helps you all keep track of where I've wandered off to this time a little better, and I'll be back with a more substantial post soon.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Edward Furlong comes to Sydney...or not.

For those of you outside Australia, Supanova is about the closest equivalent we have to the San Diego ComicCon. It's nowhere near as big, and has nowhere near as many stars, but we're essentially an island in the middle of nowhere, so we take what we can get. I personally LOVE going to Supanova - I've been faithfully every time it hit Sydney for about four years now, and have had a ton of fun every time, especially with the cosplayers.

Every year I promise myself I'll get organised earlier, and every year I fail miserably. I realise the con is on the weekend before, and have to scramble to get my crap together. But not this year! THIS year I managed to remember to not only get my cosplay planned out ahead of time (I haven't started on it yet - let's be serious) but also check the guests and the date for the Sydney show MONTHS ahead of time.

While doing this research, I discovered that Edward Furlong was among the guests for the Sydney leg of  Supanova. I remember thinking, "Hunh, I didn't know he was still around," and promptly forgetting about it until the organisers announced this week that he wouldn't be able to make it "given the news of recent times." I had no idea what this recent news was, so I did a quick Google. Turns out Edward Furlong can't make the con because he's going to jail. For violating his probation. For domestic violence. And despite the judge taking into account his long standing issues with addiction to drugs and alcohol and offering him a stint in rehab, he chose jail instead.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Aussie Nails Monday - Stripes!

My relationship with striping tape is much like my past romantic relationships - it's beautiful, but it can wind me up so fast I go from mellow to Medea in ten seconds flat. If you haven't heard of it before, striping tape is really really fine tape, usually metallic, that you can use in nail art by either sticking it down and using it as part of the design, or painting over it and taking it up again to make beautiful crisp straight lines.

In theory anyway. In reality, this latest attempt is the closest I've been able to get to any sort of success with the stuff, and usually my face ends up much like this;

@lilyandjinks on Instagram put this up a week ago, and it still makes me giggle

Friday, March 8, 2013

More Than Meets The Eye

I spent most of my twenties wondering what the big deal about feminism was – the people I associated with all agreed with it's basic principles so firmly that even discussing it felt like a waste of time. I felt like I had plenty of power – but looking back there were so many things that I took for granted as just part of being a woman. If I was out in the city by myself late at night, I would wear spiked collars and big boots, just in case. When a taxi driver refused to let me out of his cab until I gave him my phone number, I laughed it off as just a weird thing that happened. When my partners pushed the boundaries of my consent, I assumed it was my fault for leading them on, and just something that happened to women. But it was working reception in the sex industry that showed me what it's like to have tangible, real power, and now I've left the industry, I don't know how to deal without it.

Because of the social circles I was hanging out in at the time, when I was once again out of a job and someone suggested I try reception at a massage parlor, it didn't seem like a big deal – just another job. I could answer a phone, and take money. Why not? There was no stigma attached to the industry in my little bubble. A bunch of people I knew were either current or former sex workers in various capacities, and others had done the reception thing. I was intrigued by the idea of getting a glimpse into such a “secret” side of my city. I'm the kind of person that can't help peering into open windows when I'm out walking at night, so the idea of being PAID to peer into people's private lives was too good to pass up. While I thought I knew what I was getting in to, I would be lying if I said there weren't challenging moments. I remember the first time I sent a girl upstairs with a client, and the horrible confusion that gripped me about whether I was doing the right thing or not. I remember having to tell a client to put his flaccid cock away THREE times while I was trying to talk to him, because apparently he couldn't listen without one hand on it. I remember going into the introduction room to fill up the tissues, and discovering someone had vomited into a glass bowl of mints and then put the lid back on. I remember the first time I put my hand in a puddle of a strangers cold semen while doing the laundry, and how hard I scrubbed down my entire arm afterwards. But most of all, I remember the feeling of power.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

I'm Gonna Be A Fairy Princess!

I don't often get involved in charity events - sometimes it seems like there is a new one every week, and it can get really exhausting trying to keep up with them. But when I saw advertising for Dare To Wear Day on March 15, I couldn't pass it up. An opportunity to dress up at work AND contribute to a feminist cause? I'm all over that.

Fitted for Work is an Australian charity organisation that aims to help disadvantaged women back into the workforce. As someone who has been in and out of work for a great deal of my career so far, I understand a little of just how hard it can be to face up to an interview when you don't have the right clothes or mental state. I think what they do is an awesome thing, and I'd like to help them do more of it. 

The basic premise of Dare To Wear Day is that you, my kind and wonderful readers, as well as hopefully my colleagues, donate whatever you can afford to spare to Fitted For Work; in return, you will get a post full of pictures of me going to work and attempting to do my job while dressed as a Fairy Princess. Tutu, tiara, the whole bit. If the team total gets up to $300, I promise I will even wear wings. Sparkly, glittery, wings.

If you can, please Donate Here

An early attempt at a Fairy Princess costume. I promise
to do better this time.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

I Wanna Be Where The People Are - Loony Lacquer and Peitas Polish Reviews

I freaking LOVE The Little Mermaid. I know, I know, changing yourself to suit a man you've seen once is a HORRIBLE message, and I don't really care for the original Hans Christian Anderson story. But I looooove the Disney movie, possibly largely because it contains one of my favourite Disney songs of all time, Part Of Your World. When it comes on my headphones while I'm on the train, I find it EXTREMELY difficult not to wave my arms and mouth along, and it's a staple of my "Home Alone Karaoke" playlist, along with most of the soundtrack for Wicket. It's been in my head all morning while putting this together, so here, you can have it in your head too.

Now that's off my chest, let's talk polish. I have two lovely mermaid themed polishes for you today, so let's start with Ariel's Ocean from Loony Lacquer, an Australian indie maker. It's from her Disney Princess collection - yes, she has done an entire Disney Princess collection. I bet you can all guess how I came across her work!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Don't Be That Guy

A friend linked me over this most fascinating blog, Radio Liberty Earth. In between the usual ramblings of every Men's Rights Activist Blog I've come across so far was this little gem, entitled; Is This Rape. The post is in response to a snippet from a newspaper where a 16 year old girl writes in and explains that despite telling her 19 year old boyfriend she didn't want to "go all the way", after they had been making out for a while they "ended up" having sex. The girl then asks the advice columnist if this is rape.Unsurprisingly, in the opinion of the self proclaimed Men's Rights Activist behind Radio Liberty Earth this is not rape. Of course, reading his defense of the rapist in this case makes it  pretty clear his definition of rape is a great deal narrower than mine, or indeed the laws.

The advice column in question

Aussie Nails Monday - Galaxy

I've been pretty slack with these lately, and this only just qualifies, but what the hell. The theme for Aussie Nails Monday this week was "galaxy", a really neat type of nail art where people use sponging and sparkles to create the impression of outer space on their nails. When done well, it looks absolutely breathtaking, so be sure to check out the other bloggers contributions to this theme - there are some talented artists in this challenge!
I however, am not nearly so talented and have also been rather busy, so my contribution is instead two polishes that remind me of galaxy nails.
First up is an absolutely adorable polish from indie maker Pieta's Polish, called Shooting Stars. While it is admittedly quite tricky to use (the stars need to be placed pretty carefully) , I was so delighted with the results I declare it totally worth the effort. Unfortunately, my photos don't capture the delightful little holo specks in the base, or the blue to purple shimmery colour shift. These photos are all one and a bit coats over Bourjois 1 Seconde Blue.


Friday, March 1, 2013

The Teenage Guide To Popularity

Popularity has been the Holy Grail of teenagers everywhere for as long as there have been teenagers. While we like to think the world has moved on socially (at least a little bit) since the time of bobby socks and poodle skirts for all, I personally think that when it comes to social interaction teenagers are being sold the same garbage they were 70 years ago. It can more or less be summarised like so;

Above all, dress “nicely” and be visually appealing.
Be confident, but don’t draw attention to yourself.
Be nice, be pleasant, all the time. Boys don't like "moody" girls.
Never, never do anything anyone could interpret as slutty or scandalous.

Any of this sound familiar? I’d be shocked if you’d never heard any of this advice before.

I want to use this topic to introduce you to one of my favourite underrated sites on the net - The Prelinger Archives – there is hours and hours of fascinating (largely hilarious) footage to be found within it’s poorly coded shell. It’s part of the broader Internet Archive, a project that is attempting to archive as much media as possible in one location, presumably for future generations. The Prelinger Archives are specifically “educational” films that date from the early 30’s to the early 70’s, and cover an astonishing variety of topics. There is one that shows an actual unsimulated birth that I am particularly fond of (it’s called “Sudden Birth!” and the birth sure is sudden) but the one I want to talk about today is simply titled. “Are You Popular?” Because all the material on the Prelinger Archives is public domain (or creative commons licensed) a lot of the videos have been copied over to YouTube and the likes. However I'm going to link you to the original source because I think it's an awesome project. Before we go on with our discussion of teenage popularity through the ages, take five minutes or so to sit down and let this gem soak right in.