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8th Biennial San Francisco Sex Worker Film and Arts Festival-May 18-26

Saturday, May 18, 2013
8:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Event Type:
Carol Leigh
PO Box 210256, sf, ca 94121
Location Details:
Locations include Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission St, San Francisco; Faithful Fools, 234 Hyde St, San Francisco; Hospitality House, 290 Turk St., San Francisco; Cal PEP, 2811 Adeline St., Oakland, St. James Infirmary, 1372 Mission St, San Francisco;.

Since 1999 the San Francisco Sex Worker Film and Arts Festival has provided a forum for sex worker film and video makers to screen works about sex workers and sex work, businesses, industries and trades around the world. The Festival has expanded to become a vibrant venue for performances, workshops, visual arts, political organizing, skills sharing and ever expanding events. The Sex Worker Festival recognizes and honors prostitutes, dancers, porn performers and other sex workers from diverse communities, who have been dynamic and integral members of arts communities since time immemorial.

Performance and Parties

TheWhoreCast LIVE! Siouxsie Q brings sex worker stories, art, and voices this time LIVE and in person to kick off the Fest at the Center for Sex & Culture featuring Cinnamon Maxxine, James Darling and Courtney Trouble.The WhoreCast Trivia game and lots of surprises in this interactive live show.

Back by popular demand, San Francisco's "Musical Comedy Cabaret Porn Star" and award-winning lyricist Tom Orr presents Love For $ale redux, "Hooker with a Heart of Gold" featuring music, burlesque, and performance art via hooker showtunes in this a benefit for the St. James Infirmary, the sex worker occupational health clinic in San Francisco.

Performance curator and international multi-media artist Mariko Passion brings her "Whorrific Popcorn Theater Bus and Cabaret," as storytellers and performers including Ckiara Rose, Absinthia Scarlot Harlot and Femme 6 take riders on a magical adventure with a Happy Ending!

The 8th Biennial Sex Worker Fest welcomes Amber Dawn (author of Lambda Award-winning novel Sub Rosa) launching her new work "How Poetry Saved My Life: A Hustlers Memoir" on Thursday, May 23rd at "Oral Sarvices," an evening of spoken word with Brontez Purnell, Juba Kalamka, Rhiannon Argo (2009 Lambda Award winnder), Laure McElroy, Ckiara Rose, Lola Sunshine, Jacques La Femme, Dear Dawn: Aileen Wuornos in Her Own Words and folks from MNRC/POOR Magazine workshop.

Special Events

The Sex Worker Festival again presents "Whores' Bath," a spa and magical healing event for sex workers in San Francisco, "reclaiming our roles as healers." "Whores' Bath," was created by Festival co-producer, Erica Fabulous."Whores' Bath" contributes to the 21st century lexicon with a new entry in the Urban Dictionary. (


In 2013 the Festival launches a 4 day series of workshops, "Privilege, Oppression, and InterseXionality," for sex workers and allies in conjunction with Rhizome Consulting Project. Join us for this "mind and heart opening" workshop series as we deepen our awareness of class/race/gender and how they overlap and intersect.
Amber Dawn will be among those offering workshops at the Institute of Sex Workology on Friday on May 24th at the Center for Sex & Culture. Amber Dawn's workshop "Tough Language and Tender Wisdoms" is sex workers only but most, including Alice in Bondage Land, The Incredible Edible Akynos, Mission SRO Collaborative's "Housing Justice Framework & Sex Worker Rights" are open to all. Please check the schedule TBA re: admission policies for each workshop.

The Festival is proud to welcome activist and artist Emi Koyama. Focusing on the carceral state, Koyama's recent zine, "State Violence, Sex Trade, and the Failure of Anti-Trafficking Policies," was developed from her extensive research, documenting of false premises within the U.S. domestic anti-sex trafficking movement and the alignment with the fundamentalist Christian right. The evening also includes a selection of video clips from "Collateral Damage: Sex Workers and the Anti-Trafficking Campaigns," "Normal- Real Stories from The Sex Industry," " Last Rescue in Siam" by Empower and more.

Sex Worker Sinema at the 8th Biennial San Francisco Sex Worker Film and Arts Festival, curated by Laure McElroy


The San Francisco Sex Worker Film and Art Festival, as always, focuses on the lives, the art, and the struggle for workers' and human rights of people employed in sex work industries. The festival strives to maintain a forum for diverse voices, including youth, sex workers of color, migrant sex workers; sex workers' rights organizations around the world, queer and trans sex workers, sex worker artists, saints, heros and she-ros, and sex workers both within and outside the borders of the United States. Films and topics address the impact of trafficking policy and discourse on sex workers; sex work as a labor issue on the international agenda; sex work and gender identities, sex education, sex art, porn, fetish culture and erotica, as well as portraits of strippers, prostitutes, doms, madams and much more.

Lot Lizard

The festival lens has always ranged far and wide around the world; this year two of our dearest feature films draw the viewer back to the gritty strolls of these United States.

Director Alexander Perlman brings us "Lot Lizard" (for those who are unfamiliar with the term, a lot lizard is a prostitute who works primarily at truckstops serving drivers). Inspired by a conversation Perlman had in 2009 with a woman working out of the same truckstop he happened to be hitchhiking, Perlman and his two person crew put together 200 hours of documentary footage over eight weeks of filming in 2010, following a selection of sex workers as they ply their trade in a uniquely American setting, including: Monica and Frank, the boyfriend with whom she shares a room bordering the lot; Jennifer, a single mom who struggles to walk away from sex work as a livelihood because it has become bound up for her with drug addiction; Betty, who says, "I don't have to date if I don't want to… but sometimes you have to," and makes no apologies about her life on the lot. The street workers of "Lot Lizard" are by-and-large working class and poor women who are engaged in what sex worker rights movement terms "survival' sex work, that is, sex work that is performed as a way to meet very basic needs of the worker, such as shelter or food or medicating; these workers, in addition to dealing with the general stigmatization of sex work, are arguably prone to more intense criminalization due to the exposed (outdoors) nature of their work. Along with criminalizing policies, agendas of "rescue" that silence the actual voices of workers trying to communicate their own needs are heavily slanted toward people engaged in survival sex work. "Lot Lizard" does not take any easy ways out by simplifying the stories of the featured or making them pithy; and although poverty and even desperation may at times inform their work and their choices, there is in every story a clear element of strength, of will and independence that transcends victimhood.

American Courtesans

Some people envision catty strippers trash-talking each others' weight and ratting out co-workers to management for crimes imagined or real for the prime stage time or just for bitchy kicks; mainstream media throws up stereotypes of hookers pulling out each others' weaves over status in the eyes of a pimp or "dibs" on a john; what people do not see is the great affection and support that can exist between workers in this oldest and arguably hardest of professions. "American Courtesans", a feature film that is the culmination of a dream project for filmmaker and escort Kristen DiAngelo, watches like a love and acceptance letter from a sex worker to her sisterhood of fellow whores. In line with a trend in sex worker cinema that festival producer Carol Leigh identifies as arising out of the contemporary, ubiquitous genre of intensely personal reality shows, the stories of the women featured in "American Courtesans" begin at the beginning, where many of the women featured relate a past of family or professional victimization, and pull the viewer through the trauma and catharsis stories to bear witness to eventual claiming of spaces of radical empowerment as whores.

"Scarlet Road" documents the specialized practice of Rachel Wotton, as she works with differently abled clients , campaigning for both sex worker rights and to increase awareness and access to sexual expression for people of varying abilities. "Pay it no Mind: The Life and Times of Marsha P. Johnson," memorializes the woman who thew "the shotglass that was heard around the world" in this tribute to sex worker and LGBT history, screening with "Remembering The Living: Monica Forrester on Sister in Spirit and Indigenous Sex Workers." "Ticket to Paradise" portrays the details of women's choices in a small village in Thailand, to marry a foreigner or do sex work in Pattaya.

An array of brilliant shorts include a new video from Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers, "Global Sex Workers on the March!," "A Kiss for Gabriela" by Laura Murray, "Whore Logic" by PJ Starr featuring The Incredible Edible Akynos, "Stripper Damage" by Gina Gold, "Sex Worker Open University 2011," "Transitioning Through Sex Work" by Jay Very, "Nada" by Nada Felini and Christian Vega, "Creative Trafficking" by Operation Snatch and many more.
Festival founder, Carol Leigh AKA Scarlot Harlot says, "Sex workers have an excellent vantage point from which to view social hypocrisy, expressed in many contexts--by the lawmakers who use their services, then sponsor policies which further criminalize them, to the wanna-be saviors who claim to 'rescue' but only increase our vulnerability. This whores-eye-view of society is reflected in this body of work by sex workers."
Added to the calendar on Thu, May 16, 2013 3:34PM
§San Francisco Sex Worker Film & Arts Festival by Finley Coyl
by Carol Leigh
Illustration by Finley Coyl
§from Dance Against Violence
by Carol Leigh
Tánc az erőszak ellen, a video screening at 9 PM, saturday May 25th at the Roxie
The San Francisco Sex Worker Film and Arts Festival has screened close to 300 movies, challenged stereotypes, resurrected archetypes and provided a forum for the accomplishments of sex worker performers, artists and filmmakers from San Francisco and around the world. The Festival runs from May 18th-26th at various locations.

“The many films that deal with prostitution reflect a culture’s unease and obsession with sexuality. They are the realization of the fantasies that surround the act of exchanging money for sex.”
--Encyclopedia of Prostitution and Sex Work

The San Francisco Sex Worker Film and Arts Festival (, presented at San Francisco’s Roxie Theater for well over a decade, recognizes and honors diverse prostitutes, dancers, porn performers and other sex workers who have been integral members of arts communities throughout history. The San Francisco Sex Worker Film and Arts Festival has screened close to 300 movies, challenged stereotypes, resurrected archetypes and provided a forum for the accomplishments of sex worker performers, artists and filmmakers from San Francisco and around the world.

An affirmation of this community’s strength and creativity, the Festival highlights work such as “Global Sex Workers on the March!” the latest from the extensive body of videos by Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers ( Michael Kasino’s “Pay It No Mind’” memorializes co-founder of Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (S.T.A.R.). Marsha P. Johnson, activist, sex worker and Stonewall instigator, who “threw the shot glass heard around the world.”

While recognizing the courage of these artists and activists, much of work addresses repression, stigma and violence. In Kristen DiAngelo’s “American Courtesans,” many of the women featured relate a past of family or professional victimization, and pull the viewer through the trauma and catharsis stories to bear witness to eventual claiming of spaces of radical empowerment as whores, writes festival curator, Laure McElroy. “American Courtesans” debuted at Women International Film & Arts Festival and is heralded as a passionate film as well as a game-changing tool for therapists to “educate our community about sex and sex work in order to abate and abolish the misunderstandings and violence against sex workers.” (Natalie Mills, LMFT) (

Victims, survivors, workers, Alex Perlman’s "Lot Lizard" does not take any easy ways out by simplifying the stories of the featured or making them pithy. “A brilliant and moving documentary, Lot Lizard looks closely at figures in the shadows of the nighttime truck lots, and allows the participants in this hidden economy to speak for themselves,” writes Southern Methodist University Film Professor Kevin Heffernan, “...over the course of the film, we come to see them in their fully complex humanity and as participants in an equally complex and interlocking economy of which we all are a part.” (

When it gets too tough, these artists revert to satire ala former stripper Gina Golds’ hilarious “Stripper Damage,” ( as well as Festival favorites “Whore Logic” with The incredible Edible Akynos by PJ Starr and “Last Rescue in Siam” by EMPower in Thailand. (
Other highlights include events and performances such as Oral Services (a spoken word event) with Amber Dawn, Brontez Purnell, Laure McElroy, Juba Kalamka, Rhiannon Argo, Ckiara Rose, Lola Sunshine, Jacques La Femme, editors of Dear Dawn and Doug Upp.

Activist and educational highlights include “Anti-Trafficking and The Carceral State” with Emi Koyama; “Privilege, Oppression and InterseXionality,” an innovative four day social justice training for sex workers and allies; and “The Institute of Sexworkology with classes with Lambda Award winning author Amber Dawn, Alice in Bondage Land, The Incredible Edible Akynos and Mission SRO Collaborative exploring “how Housing Justice can be used as a powerful framework for building solidarity with street-based sex workers.”

On Friday, May 24th Mariko Passion presents the “Whorrific Cabaret and Popcorn Theatre Bus Tour,” a long running San Francisco tradition, encouraging audience participation, costumes and performances at mystery locations around San Francisco. “This sex worker 'show and tell' edition visits the haunts and landmarks of SF whoredom (like City Hall) where sex workers dish the dirt about what really goes on in ‘the city that knows how.’ ”

The culmination of the festival is back by popular demand, Whores’ Bath, a day of pampering and “magical healing” by and for sex workers as newly defined in the Urban Dictionary. (

Sex work had never lacked for social stigma. The names pinned on us, like the images and ideas of us in the scholarly and popular media, are rarely created by us and our opinions are not sought. But we know who we are, we will TELL YOU who we are: whores of color making our money and flashing our titties in a sea of stereotypes; females-to-males-to-females-to pro/dommes; punk-rock trans*brats; drug addicts who do not deign to repent using OR whoring; workaday prostitutes out there in the lot trying to function under a police state that criminalizes our livelihoods and shames the lives that we have, sometimes out of necessity of poverty and sometimes out of a vocation to provide pleasure...

--Laure McElroy, Film Curator

The San Francisco Sex Worker Film and Arts Festival will be presented at locations in San Francisco and the Bay Area including the Roxie Theater, the Center for Sex & Culture, Faithful Fools, Hospitality House, the St. James Infirmary and CAL-PEP. from May 18th-26th. Co-directors/producers: Carol Leigh & Erica Fabulous; Sponsors include The San Francisco Bay Guardian, Media Alliance, Good Vibrations, Vixen Creations, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Inc., Rainbow Grocery and many more. (
§The Incredible Edible Akynos
by Carol Leigh
The Incredible Edible Akynos appears throughout the week, on May 24th at the Institute for Sexworkology and at Mariko Passion's Whorrific Popcorn Theatre Bus and Cabaret; on May 25th in Whore Logic by PJ Starr at 10:30 PM at the Roxie.
§Mariko Passio in personna as Ana May Tong
by Carol Leigh
More about Ana May Tong by Mariko Passion

Anna May Tong is a character inspired by the Chinese American actress Anna May Wong, but with a Chinese Tong gangstress edge. The Tongs were notorious for running gambling and prostitution houses in San Francisco and other parts of the U.S in the 1800s and were the feared power in charge of trafficking Chinese girls into sex slavery during that time in history. Many Chinese girls paid off their debts and married Chinese men who were former railroad workers opening Chinese laundries or went on to continue life in the sex trade as independent and voluntary sex workers. Anna May Wong spoke Chinese but did not have an accent and was born in Los Angeles. She was known for playing stereotypical Asian characters in Hollywood in the 1920-30s such as the villainess, the prostitute (Shanghai Express with Marlene Deitrich) or girl who does not get the guy (because he is white and anti-misegenation was iLLEGAL til the 1960s). As an actress, she earned respect by film studios like Paramount. She was a trailblazer in Hollywood, enjoying a life of privilege beyond the imaginations of most Asian-Americans at the time and is one of the few American born Asians that has a star on the Hollywood walk of fame.

§Pay It No Mind
by Carol Leigh
“All of us are created equal-- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall...”

As President Obama followed that star of justice in his 2013 inauguration speech, so we continue on that path. Our festival proudly presents “Pay it no Mind:The Life and Times of Marsha P. Johnson,” memorializing Marsha, Stonewall instigator, the woman who threw "the shot glass that was heard around the world"
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