Whores on Tour

The Sex Worker Arts Festival bumps and grinds its way to Tucson.

Prostitutes, exotic dancers, hustlers and ho's from the world over are descending on Tucson for a four-day long blend of politics, party-hopping, live music, film, video, poetry, dance and photography by sex workers and workshops on erotic technique taught by dancers, dommes and others. The second annual Sex Worker Arts Festival celebrates the obvious and not so obvious talents of the men and women employed in adult entertainment.

The infamously wild traveling Sex Workers' Art Show Tour pulls into the Rialto Theatre at 8 p.m. Thursday, November 14. This outrageous burlesque variety show with a troupe of a dozen artists features author Carol Queen (Live Nude Girls, Exhibitionism for the Shy), Chicago dominatrix, musician and performance artist Mistress Carmen Li, porn actor, writer and outreach worker Jaysen Marsten and many others.

The Truth about Trafficking, a panel discussion at the University of Arizona on Thursday, November 14, will explore the relationship between trafficking, racism and immigration. Activist Carol Leigh, aka the Scarlot Harlot, scholars Charleen Tuchovsky and Penelope Saunders and Dawn Passar, an immigrant from Thailand who works with Asia immigrants in San Francisco will be present.

Candye Kane will be on deck deviating from her raucous blues routine. Kane will show video clips from her many porn films, tell the story of her sex work and sing a few solo songs. "The alleged sleaziness of the sex business could never have prepared me for the hypocrisy of the music business," Kane stated in response to stereotypes about adult entertainment.

Porsche Lynn, star of more than 500 XXX films and winner of numerous adult entertainment awards, will speak as part of the Sacred Prostitute panel about the spiritual aspect of her work as a professional dominatrix.

"The purpose of the festival is to showcase the enormous talents of these women and men who have historically contributed enormously to the arts while suffering intense shaming, stigma and alienation for their work," said Jeanne Dusseault, co-chair of the event and former phone sex actress.

Sex worker literati like David Henry Sterry, a former teen hustler and author of the best-seller Chicken, will read, as will Shawna Kenney, author of I was a Teenage Dominatrix, and Michelle Tea, author of the Chelsea Whistle.

The sex industry has long surpassed both the movie and music industries combined in retail sales, amounting to billions in gross revenues each year. Yet, Dusseault notes, it remains a taboo topic.

"It's time to take the gag off and start talking about adult entertainment," Dusseault said. "People buy it and people sell it. We ought to be able to come out of the closet and talk openly about that."

The event is sponsored by Pan Left Productions with funding from the Tucson Pima Arts Council. Other sponsors and supporters include Planned Parenthood and COPE, Stormy Leather, Good Vibrations, Fascinations and Continental Adult Shop, Secret Garden Publishing, On our Backs Magazine, Vixen Creations and Deviant, makers of Liquid Latex. For more information visit sexworkerartsfestival.com or call 792-9171.

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