Tag Archives: sex work

Retrolicious–Mad Men 6.7: “For Immediate Release”

Hosted by Tami Winfrey Harris and Andrea Plaid

A Judas kiss, if we've ever seen one.

A Judas kiss, if we’ve ever seen one.

It’s a minute after Dr. King’s assassination, and the Sterling Cooper Draper Price gang are back to business as usual: Don does his usual dick-swinging; Pete fails in coming for folks far more grown than he; Roger Sterling goes after a woman young enough to be his daughter. And Joan and Peggy…well, check out what Tami and I, along with Renee Martin from Womanist Musings and Fangs For The Fantasy, said about those two, complete with spoilers.

Tami: Oh, Pete…naw! He was totally creeping on Joan. I think we all realize that Don Draper is a horribly broken human being, but what is it that makes Pete feel so much more objectionable? Is it just that he is soooo bad at being the alpha? Is it that his privileged disdain for most everyone seeps through in every interaction? You can just feel him feeling he is better than you. Is it that he rarely–save the occasional monologue on racial equality–shows a shred of human decency? The bank guy compliments Joan on being an effective CFO; Pete makes it about the man “wanting” her. Ugh.

Renee: For me part of it is that Pete is a rapist.  As bankrupt as Don is, he has never raped anyone.  Like Pete, Don has had his moments of basic human decency as well.  For me it comes down to how low each individual man is willing to sink.

Andrea: Renee, Don did use sexual coercion to make an ex-lover, Bobbie, get in line. So there’s that.

As for Pete…I think his leering is more along the lines of his always angling for a moment to lord something over someone than creeping on Joan specifically. Coming for Joan was his latest lording attempt. And, as you and I have discussed before, Tami, Vincent Kartheiser possesses that physical trait that creeps you the hell out: the baby head on a man’s body. (Cf: Leonardo DiCaprio.) So, Pete looks like a 12-year-old trying to get shitty with grown-ass Joan. As always, my reaction to Pete’s attempts is, “Really?”

An object lesson of what happens when you try to come for grown folks.

An object lesson of what happens when you try to come for grown folks.

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Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Essence Revealed

By Andrea Plaid

Photo: Frederick V. Nielson II. Courtesy: Essence Revealed

When I saw my very first Brown Girls Burlesque show two years ago, my mouth was agape at BGB dancer Essence Revealed’s piece celebrating the life of Josephine Baker. To the sounds of the consummate performer’s live performance, Essence saunters onto the stage–really, her Josephine is strolling into her dressing room after a performance–in black tux, ‘tails, and top hat, with a newspaper in hand. Essence opens the paper to the audience, which shows factoids about Baker’s incredible life and takes off a part of her garb, as if undressing to go to sleep for the night. But this is burlesque, and Essence’s every move is all about the tease and that all-knowing smile as she also conveys the power Baker herself held over her adopted home of France and the world-outside-the-US through the power of her self-loving work expressed through her brown body. When Essence-Josephine lays her head down on the floor to exit this world, I, too, understood that Baker’s transition was of a woman of color who lived a gloriously full life. I slow-clapped–then shouted–my deep appreciation for what Essence brought to the audience through her sinewy, sublime performance, thankful for bringing Baker back to life just one more time to receive her just due.

Essence herself is all about living a gloriously full life. I asked her, via email, to discuss her life in burlesque and stripping, the larger discussions about race in both professions, and getting paid in both professions. Between her running-to-the-next-gig days she graciously answered them.

Of course, the basics: where did you go to school? What was your major? Have you always been so fabulous?

I studied burlesque at the Brown Girls Burlesque’s Broad Squad Institute.  I have a master’s degree in educational theater from NYU.  Fabulous, no–and I have the elementary through high school pics to prove it!  And even now anyone can look fabulous with good makeup and lighting. :-)  Being fabulous is an ongoing self-improvement job with new projects that show themselves daily. But thanks!

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Mr. Cee, Brooke-Lynn Pinklady, and Transphobia

By Sexual Correspondent Andrea (AJ) Plaid

On March 30 hip-hop producer Calvin “Mr.Cee” Lebrun—he of Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die fame–was busted by New York City police allegedly receiving oral sex from a sex worker. Reports said Lebrun supposedly received the sexual favors from “a man” .  This got some people feeling some kind of homophobic way, complete with saying that “we all should have seen this coming” because of his alleged “golden showers” kink.  As Sister Toldja wrote earlier this week :

To be totally fair, this isn’t the average gay rumor; not only was the other person in the case allegedly paid for the act, the writer who dropped this gossip also claimed that Mister Cee has a thing for urinating on female strippers. So while much of the chatter is about Mister Cee being (allegedly) infected with The Gay, folks are aghast by this pee thing, too. Considering our attitudes about sexuality, that’s no surprise.

With homophobia and anti-kink sentiments roiling—and Lebrun and his supporters doing the NYPD Hip-Hop Conspiracy Step hip-hop artist and critic dream hampton provided some level-headed analysis about the situation:

While highly regarded in the hip hop industry and in New York, Mister Cee is not necessarily famous. Still, his arrest gave opportunity to talk about the persistent poking around hip hop’s “closet,” where speculation about sexual orientation is practically a sport. Charlamagne actually elevated the conversation by asking why a married 44-year-old man was seeking sexual favors from a 20-year-old, professional or otherwise, and if that, then why in a parked car? I argue that none of this would be a discussion, viral or anywhere else, had Cee been arrested with a 20-year-old woman, be she prostitute or not. I also don’t believe, 2011 or not, that hip hop is a safe space for anything other than aggressively heterosexual public behavior or affirmation. While obviously lesbian women MCs and personalities remain silent if not closeted about their sexuality, there is even less space for men to appear bisexual or homosexual.

I believe that Mister Cee’s sexuality is a personal matter, one he must reckon with himself and his wife. But Charlamagne’s co-host Angela Yee took the position widely held by heterosexual women—that closeted bisexual men are a health hazard, exposing trusting women to AIDS and more. While I’m not dismissive of those concerns, particularly in a marriage, where condom use is expected to be abandoned, I do know that we heterosexual Black women don’t exactly offer safe spaces for bisexual men to express their desires.

I’m also far more concerned that the transgendered 20-year-old who allegedly serviced him be safe, particularly if he is a sex worker. I wished aloud on my own Twitter feed that the discussion about Mister Cee would be one about decriminalizing sex work and focusing on harm reduction rather than speculating if Mister Cee is closeted.

Hampton is right in this respect.

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