Jo Weldon is the Headmistress of the New York School of Burlesque and the author of The Burlesque Handbook, which contains detailed and illustrated instructions for making pasties and twirling tassels in every direction. She is also the author of the upcoming fashion history book FIERCE: The History of Leopard Print, available for pre-order. For more on the history of pasties, see Rosey LaRouge’s The Pastie Project,
You can follow Jo at @joweldon
Tassel-twirling is a revolutionary performing art skill, rarely appreciated outside of burlesque striptease. It involves pasties, which are generally two circular and conical pieces of stiffened and spangled fabric, angled with a 20-45 degree forward from the edge to the tip, with a tassel attached to those tips, which are then glued or taped to the body, most commonly over the nipples. Once affixed, rhythmic movement causes the tassels to move in circular motions, most frequently vertically, through physics similar to those which cause hula hoops to twirl horizontally.
Throughout history, tassels have been attached to pharaohs’ jewellery, kings’ robes, prayer garments, curtain swags, and graduation caps, signifying luxury and accomplishment. Their significance at the tips of women’s breasts seems to have taken them in a new direction: a sign both of compliance with and rebellion against modesty restrictions for stripteasers.
Professor Ilari Kaila is a Finnish-born composer and pianist. He has worked at Columbia University and Stony Brook University (State University of New York), teaching harmony, counterpoint, musicianship, and post-tonal music analysis, and as a teaching artist in composition with the New York Philharmonic. His works have been performed in Australia by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra; in Japan by the Avanti Chamber Orchestra; in Finland by the Joensuu Symphony Orchestra and the Zagros Ensemble; at the Banff Centre Summer Arts Festival in Canada; and at the MATA Festival in New York City; among others. He was also one of six young Composer Fellows featured at HKUST’s Intimacy of Creativity programme in the spring of 2014.
Every now and then, you come across words strung together with such writerly virtuosity that they stick with you for a decade, verbatim, like a catchy tune. Back in 2009, in one of his excellent and scathing blog posts about the new administration’s healthcare reform efforts, Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone employed a characteristically hilarious description of President Obama’s “healthcare czar”:
“In Washington there are whores and there are whores, and then there is Tom Daschle. Tom Daschle would suck off a corpse for a cheeseburger.”
It’s a particularly vivid variation on an established metaphor: whores are evoked to illustrate the depravity of someone in the business of “selling that which should not be sold,” someone so corrupt that they have lost any semblance of shame.
In his famous essay Politics and the English Language, George Orwell advises that, in order to use metaphors effectively, a writer must see the mental image they are conjuring. Clumsy and incompatible metaphors are “a sure sign that the writer is not interested in what he is saying.” We’ve come close to using the epithet “whore” on this blog but decided against it. Here’s the thing: when I follow Orwell’s advice, when I picture someone reduced to performing oral sex on a stranger to get their next meal, I’m unable to see a multi-millionaire healthcare grifter. To call someone like Tom Daschle a whore is an insult to sex workers.
Hannah-Freya is a PhD student and teaches literature at Leeds Trinity University. Her research is in Gothic and sensation fiction of the nineteenth century. Hannah-Freya also writes creative pieces and aspires to be a novelist, with multiple cats. You can follow her at @freya_cw.
Boob celebration. Position hands beneath breasts and look down upon said breasts in sheer wonder at their amazement. Look up to your audience, smile, and then vigorously shake. There you have it: boob celebration.
It’s about the only pose I can do in the beginner’s burlesque class, probably because my boobs are my best asset. I’ve got the tits, my sister has the butt. Now I’ve been eating too much chocolate for too long, I’ve also got the thighs, the belly and the wings to take off with. Bit of a difference to the teenage me, a skinny goth girl with an eating disorder. Still, the boobs were present. C cup tits above a rack of ribs; if I’d shook them then, I probably would’ve rattled.
Dr Kate Brown (University of York); trustee, Basis Sex Work Project, Leeds. Here, Kate discusses the success of the Leeds managed approach to sex work, the tragic murder of Daria Pionko, and the repeated media references to Daria within anti sex work rhetoric.
Ellie spends a great deal of her time ‘fighting corners’ for those she sees as discriminated against no matter their gender, sexuality, colour, creed, age, ability or disability. For her the term “equality” mean not treating everyone the same, but as individuals, all with the same rights. She does not consider herself an activist, preferring to take things on based on individual merits. She likes to try and stand in other’s shoes to get an idea of what is going on for them and is vested in educating herself about those situations she has no idea about. She enjoys learning about other people’s experiences, beliefs, lifestyles, jobs, etc., and says her great gift is in never having lost that childlike quality to ask “why?” You can follow her at @countrymuso
“Education is a major key to bringing about a more understanding society and communities. You will not educate a bigot but you will help those in genuine need of wanting to understand.”
Emery Draven was born and raised in Iowa where she was the last of four children and only girl In her family. During her early, she suffered severe abuses resulting in mental disorders including Morbid Non-functional Depression, Chameleon disorder, and PTSD among others. She now lives in Colorado with her husband and three children. You can follow Emery at @EmeryDraven
TW. Emery's article contains reference to childhood sexual abuse.
I have long believed that the only way to protect the health and safety of sex workers is to decriminalise and regulate the industry. In this article I am not just discussing pornography, but prostitution as well. The idea that all sex workers are abused by virtue of their profession, is to say any act of sex is an act of abuse. If we were to regulate (as some other countries have) we could guarantee job related health care, and the confidence to report abuses without fear of repercussion. In addition, this is the only real way to prevent the type of abuse I suffered, from happening to other girls, boys, men, and women around our nation, if not our world.
Nora E. Derrington holds degrees from Boston University and the University of New Mexico. She currently teaches English, and does a lot of thinking and talking about popular culture, at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. Her stories and essays have appeared in North Dakota Quarterly, The Future Fire, the anthology Poems for the Queer Revolution, and elsewhere, and she reviews fantasy, horror, romance, and science fiction titles for Publishers Weekly.
“You don’t think of them as human”: Strippers in (Somewhat) Recent Film
As has been noted elsewhere on Whores of Yore (e.g. http://www.thewhoresofyore.com/history-of-burlesque.html), stripping—in various forms—has been around for centuries. Understandably, then, strippers and strip clubs have been featured in film in a variety of ways, from featured roles to bit parts, almost since the medium was formed. Unfortunately, while there are certainly exceptions, depictions of strippers and strip clubs in film often serve primarily negative purposes: they might establish the seediness of a town, perhaps, or the depths to which a character has sunk or from which they’ll need to rise. Strippers are treated as disposable in films like 1998’s Very Bad Things, in which a stripper is accidentally killed at a bachelor party, and—based on the film’s trailers—in the forthcoming Rough Night, in which a stripper is accidentally killed at a bachelorette party. Like all too many depictions of sex workers in popular culture, those depictions serve more often than not to reinforce the status quo that sex workers are pitiable at best, and often simply less than human.
On 28/02/17, the Huffington Post ran a blog piece by Heather Brunskell-Evans on "The contemporary 'cult of the 'sex-worker''". The article adopts an anti-sex worker stance, and broadly criticises changes in public opinion towards sex work as 'fashionable'. Brunskell-Evans also makes several aggressive attacks on a 2014 conference on feminism and sex work, organised by Erin Sanders-McDonagh and Lucy Neville and held at Middlesex University (Feminist Whores? Exploring Feminist Debates Around Violence, Sex Work and Pornography).
Here, Lucy Neville and Erin Sanders-McDonagh address the accusations made in Brunskell-Evans' article.
Dr Lucy Neville is Senior Lecturer-Criminology: Criminology Theory at Middlesex University (@blue_stocking ). Dr Erin Sanders-McDonagh is the Director of Studies for the Criminology Undergraduate Programmes in the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research.at the University of Kent (@erinsandersmcd ).
Dimmie is a queer Kiwi-Australian artist, writer, feminist, and says "fight me" a lot. Has more opinions than she knows what to do with, and writes them down sometimes. You can follow her at @_dimmie_
I can’t remember when I first began identifying as a feminist, but needless to say that it has been quite some time since I began to learn about feminism and social justice. My politics have changed as time has worn on and I’m proud to say that I’ve learned and grown, and no doubt will continue to do so throughout my life. I have always been proud to be a feminist, and been proud to call other feminists my sisters, but in recent years I’ve had experiences that have made me approach other feminists with caution.
"On our own terms: the working conditions of internet-based sex workers in the UK" by Teela Sanders, Laura Connelly, Laura Jarvis-King,
The sex industry is increasingly operated through online technologies, whether this is selling services online through webcam or advertising, marketing and organising sex work through the Internet. Using data from a survey of 240 internet-based sex workers (taken from a specific sample of members of the National Ugly Mugs reporting scheme in the UK), we discuss the working conditions of this type of work experienced by this specific sample of mainly white British female who work as independent escorts. We look at their basic working patterns, trajectories and everyday experiences of doing sex work via an online medium and the impact this has on the lives of sex workers. For instance, we look at levels of control individuals have over their working conditions, prices, clientele and services sold and job satisfaction. The second key finding is the experience of different forms of crimes individuals are exposed to such as harassment and blackmail via the new technologies. We explore the relationship internet-based sex workers have with the police and discuss how current laws in the UK have detrimental effects in terms of safety and access to justice. These findings are placed in the context of the changing landscape of sex markets as the ‘digital turn’ determines the nature of the majority of commercial sex encounters. Although the sample informing this paper is a specific group of people with a set of common characteristics these findings contribute significantly to the populist coercion/choice political debates by demonstrating levels and types of agency and autonomy experienced by some sex workers despite working in a criminalized, precarious and sometimes dangerous context.