Sex Workers Have A Love-Hate Relationship With Their Advertising Platforms

By Annie Temple

When our clients are considered to be breaking the law by using our services, and the laws around advertising are vague and open to interpretation – we are at the mercy of online advertising platforms.

We know we have to use them, and sometimes we love them.

When we’re getting lots of inquiries from potential clients, we know our advertising money is well-spent.

When work is slow, we not only struggle to afford advertising but we are bitterly disappointed when we spend money that seems to get us nowhere. (In some cases, it’s the only money we have.)

So, while advertising is a necessary evil, our relationships with adult classifieds providers can be truly demoralizing.

Take Leolist, for example.

In a very short time, Leolist has:

  • switched owners six times and is now based in Hungary; 
  • raised their prices; 
  • decreased the upgrade benefits (for instance we used to get seven  hours of a highlighted ad and suddenly we now only get 4 hours for the same price)
  • and their payment processor has been a nightmare!

I know sex workers who can literally not advertise on Leolist because they don’t use bitcoin. (Only a select few providers are given the option to use credit cards.)

And honestly, as much as I love hiding money from the government, bitcoin is a laborious process and the currency fluctuates so much that losing money is the norm.

Other frustrating issues with most of the current advertising platforms available:

  • Two-way communication is limited and usually unhelpful.
  • Sex workers’ concerns and questions are considered insignificant.
  • There is a danger every day that the advertising platforms we’re using could be taken down by governments that don’t care about our livelihood or safety.
  • Without advertising platforms we must find clients other, less safe ways, such as through social media, in bars, on the street, and in adult forums that are not designed for sex workers (usually fetish or sugar sites).
  • Prices are ridiculous.
  • We are taken advantage of because they know we have limited options to advertise our services and our profession is stigmatized and criminalized, so we have no recourse either.

This is why we created the Nakedlist.

The Nakedlist offers: 

  • affordable advertising; 
  • respectful two-way communication; 
  • credit card transactions; 
  • crisis credits for struggling sex workers; 
  • and we believe we’ve found a legal loophole so that our services are legal and therefore not vulnerable to outside enforcement agencies.

We are in communication with our local police force about what we’re doing and they support our efforts so far.

We are committed to providing a safe, adult business resource for sex workers.

Interview with “Cop to Call Girl” — Norma Jean Almodovar

By Peter Berton  

If Merriam-Webster’s dictionary ever decided to use a person’s photograph to illustrate the word ‘integrity’, then Norma Jean Almodovar’s face should be the one chosen.   

The same would be true for words such as ‘courageous’, ‘gutsy’, and ‘irrepressible’.  

Back in the 1990s, Almodovar rocked the straight world with her unrepentant autobiography, ‘Cop to Call Girl’. The long yet fascinating story of her journey from law enforcement to lady of the night and sex worker advocate is as compelling as it is incredible – and it unfolds below.  

Peter Berton: Please tell us a bit about yourself.  

Norma Jean Almodovar: Who am I? I am a bi-sexual atheist whore. I identify as a “whore” even though I haven’t practised my chosen profession in years. I am also a wife — and married to a man with whom I fell deeply in love while I was still on the LAPD — and we will be celebrating our 44th anniversary in 2020. We celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary in 2019; having been forced to marry so that he could visit me in prison.  

Peter Berton: You are known for your book, ‘Cop to Call Girl’, which tells about your amazing career path. How did you go from writing tickets for the Los Angeles Police Department to sex work?  

Norma Jean Almodovar: Working in law enforcement, even as a traffic officer, exposed me to the worst elements in human beings. I saw a side of people that most ‘civilians’ never get to see- and that includes a side of police officers that people can’t believe exists.   When I learned just how corrupt and evil that all too many police officers, judges, district attorneys and politicians were, I really got depressed. Cops were once my heroes, and it took a big dose of reality before I would accept that they were made of clay just like everyone else.   (While off work recovering from a car accident) I decided I could no longer tolerate the corruption within the LAPD and the moral hypocrisy that I encountered when the cops arrested prostitutes but maintained a relationship with them as long as they cooperated with the cops and gave them information.   Women who did not cooperate went to jail.  

Peter Berton: So you had to leave the LAPD?  

Norma Jean Almodovar: So I had to leave.   After ten long, hard, miserable years, I decided that I could never go back. My heart was broken by what I knew and the only way to heal my soul was to get away and to do something that was nurturing, loving and the opposite of what I had been doing.  

Peter Berton: So how did you end up becoming a sex worker?  

Norma Jean Almodovar: At the time … I had the same attitude and misinformation about prostitution that most people have; because I did not know any women who did not work off the street who were call girls.   That changed when I met a call girl who stopped me one night while I was driving my patrol car on Hollywood Blvd and she asked me if I would follow her home. She was being tailed by some guys and she was afraid.   I agreed to follow her in my police car. When we arrived at her home up in the Hollywood Hills, she told me what she did and I was quite shocked. She was nothing like I imagined a high class call girl to be; and she certainly didn’t seem to be forced into doing what she was doing. And she seemed to be far more ‘together’ and she wasn’t stressed out the way I was.   After I made the decision to go into sex work, I contacted the call girl I encountered that night when I was driving down Hollywood Blvd. When I told her that I was never going back to work for the LAPD and that I wanted to try doing the work she did, she was not surprised. She called the madam for whom she worked and made the introduction.  

Peter Berton: How did you feel about making such a radical career move?

Norma Jean Almodovar: I was nervous and scared that I would be rejected because of my recent employment with the LAPD, or that I would not measure up to what was expected of a call girl. Maybe I wasn’t young enough; I was just about to turn 32 and maybe that was too old to start in the business. Maybe I wasn’t pretty or sexy enough… I had no idea what a call girl should look like.  

Peter Berton: So what was your first encounter like?  

Norma Jean Almodovar: My first encounter, my hands were cold as ice and I had to run them under hot water until they were warm enough to touch another human being in his privates.   The client was a man who liked to “break in” new working girls, and he understood that I was quite nervous. He calmed me down and complimented me on my choice of lingerie; it wasn’t my lingerie because at the time I didn’t have anything suitable. The madam loaned it to me, so that I could begin working right then, the same day I met with her.   Having successfully provided my first client with pleasure, I decided that I might be cut out for this work after all. And as it turned out, I really was.  

Peter Berton: Did sex work agree with you?  

Norma Jean Almodovar: Whenever I was interviewed for a talk show or spoke at colleges/ universities, I was always asked how I liked doing sex work compared to working for the LAPD. I always say that it was the best job I ever had, and it truly was. I enjoyed meeting the men and women who were my clients; including the celebrities whose names I will never disclose.   There was only one negative encounter that had been arranged by a madam who was not very ethical and for whom I never worked again after that encounter. I worked for a number of different madams — including a male madam- – because each had different clients and I wasn’t the typical call girl that was tall, blonde and large breasted and in her 20s. So I needed a variety of madams to supply me with enough clients to earn a living.  

Peter Berton: You ended up in prison as a set-up to suppress an expose you were writing about the LAPD; which eventually became ‘Cop to Call Girl’.

Norma Jean Almodovar: To make a long story short, I ended up charged with one count of pandering, which is a felony in California with a mandatory three to six year prison term on the first offense with no prior convictions. I tried to help a former friend of mine from the LAPD fulfill her fantasy. The only thing that transpired was a conversation in which money and sex were mentioned.   The conversation was sufficient for the police to come charging into my home and arrest me, confiscating the unfinished manuscript I was writing about my career change, entitled ‘Cop to Call Girl’.   I was convicted of that one count because the attorney I hired decided not to bother to defend me. I did not take the witness stand, which I had fully intended to do. My attorney waived the opening statement and upon cross examination of the “victim” — a 50 year old, 6’2” woman named Penny who admitted she set me up because she wanted to stop me from writing an expose on Los Angeles Police — the defence rested.  

Peter Berton: Yet initially you didn’t go to prison.  

Norma Jean Almodovar: The judge decided to go around the mandatory law and sent me to prison for a 50-day psychiatric evaluation to see if I was a danger to society.   I was held in solitary confinement during that time due to my police background. When I was taken out of my cell for the interviews, which took three and a half hours, I was handcuffed to two guards and my legs were chained. I was clearly a dangerous inmate.   The study showed I wasn’t a danger to anyone, so the judge gave me three years probation.  

Peter Berton: So why did you end up going to jail?  

Norma Jean Almodovar: Unfortunately, I was a bad girl and didn’t shut up.   I went on talk shows, did interviews with the media and generally upset the prosecution AND the LAPD. So after a year of my probation, the DA’s office decided to appeal my sentence on the grounds that my “crime” was worse than rape or robbery because I was commercially exploiting my law enforcement past to draw on scandalous escapades that undermine respect for the law.   At the time the appeal of my sentence was announced, I decided I hadn’t been loud enough, so I ran for Lt. Governor of California on the Libertarian ticket.   I received over 100,000 votes but it was not enough to win. Had I won, I could have pardoned myself when the governor was out of state.   Instead, I was re-sentenced to three years in prison after having already served 50 days in solitary, two years and 7 months on violation-free probation. I served 18 months in prison and another 18 months on parole.   While I was at work furlough — a part of my prison sentence — I was sexually molested by one of the corrections officers. I reported the incident when I left the facility, but was told that it was my word against his.   Apparently it is much more criminal to say words to fulfill someone’s sexual fantasy than it is to actually sexually molest someone in your custody. The hypocrisy of the system and society has always angered me.   I guess you could say that was the low point of my career.  

Peter Berton: Did you consider switching sex work careers, to something more ‘legal’?  

Norma Jean Almodovar: Some people ask why didn’t I become a sex therapist or sex surrogate instead of a prostitute, and I say, “What’s the difference?”   I think sex workers ARE therapists and certainly we are sex surrogates. It is just a title and no difference in the work — but why shouldn’t I be honest and say what I am really doing?   I do not have any problems with being called a prostitute; that is a societal title and most people do not have a clue where the name comes from or what it meant originally.   “Whore” once meant “Beloved one”. “Prostitute” once meant “stand-by friend”.   Why are these bad things?  

Peter Berton: And so you decided to become an advocate for sex worker rights.  

Norma Jean Almodovar: When I became a sex worker, I had to consider that the work was illegal and that I should join the fight to decriminalize sex work. One of my clients introduced me to Margo St. James; founder of COYOTE, the premier sex worker rights organization. She invited me to attend a prostitutes’ convention in San Francisco… and I went. I was much impressed with the work she had been doing and decided to join the fight and I have been an activist ever since.    I returned to Los Angeles and founded the LA chapter of COYOTE.   Years later, I was the co-founder of ISWFACE (International Sex Worker Foundation for Art, Culture and Education) which was the first US sex worker nonprofit organization. COYOTE, which is considered political and cannot be a nonprofit, had been run out of my pocket and my pocket was empty by that time since I could no longer engage in sex work.   While I am still the “Executive Director” of COYOTE LA, it is mostly an organization in name only because it has name recognition and students can find me by searching for that name. The research and educational work I do is under the ISWFACE banner, because it pays for the website, printing and mailing of all the material that I mail to activists, allies and legislators.   The website is and contains all my years of work and research. ISWFACE also maintains its library in my home, where the entire first floor is the office and library. We have volunteers and students (sex workers and non sex workers) who assist me in collecting the material that fills the notebooks that are available for use by the media and others who wish to learn about the sex worker rights movement and the laws which allow for so much police abuse and corruption as it relates to sex workers.  

Peter Berton: Let’s go back to your book ‘Cop to Call Girl’, which grabbed lots of media attention in the 1990s. Did this attention help your sex work career, or hinder it?  

Norma Jean Almodovar: I am so glad that I had acquired many long term clients before my book was published, as it did become a hindering block for finding new ones. Having long, flaming red hair, I was easily recognized after being on hundreds and hundreds of talk shows. This made it difficult for me to visit my clients in their homes or at hotels as I had done before becoming ‘notorious’.   While I was able to maintain a working relationship with some of my clients, for the most part, I had to stop seeing them because I put them at risk of being harassed by the LAPD, who could threaten them with arrest or exposure which would cause them to lose their jobs.   The older clients who were retired and who didn’t give a darn about what other people thought of them — or worry about the cops — they remained my loyal clients for many years. Without them, we would have become homeless after prison.

Peter Berton: You art retired now, and taking care of your elderly, disabled husband. What did you learn during your career as a sex worker?

Norma Jean Almodovar: I learned so many things as a sex worker through the years that I was able to practice the profession and interact with fellow sex workers; male, female and trans workers.   I believe prostitutes are the least hypocritical beings as is humanly possible, for which I think they are deeply resented. We tend to strip all silly pretenses and games down to their basic components and call a spade a spade. This is one of the many things I learned about sex workers and myself.   Most people have an image of themselves which they project to others that they want to uphold at all costs, even if the image is not accurate or true. To uphold this image, they must always profess to a certain standard or ‘morality’ in public, and they must condemn anyone who goes outside the societal norm and behaves in a manner which is not approved by ‘society.’   Through the years I spent working both on the LAPD and as a whore, I have found that the greater the contrast between the real person and the image the person wishes to protect, the louder they protest and condemn others who don’t give a twit about what society thinks; like sex workers, for example. Thus you have hypocrisy.   Sex workers, on the other hand, are not trying to protect any image. They know who they are and why they are what they are and there really is no point in discussing it. There certainly isn’t any reason to claim to be other than what they are, and there is no one else they need to denounce to continue the blame chain.   For me, when I discovered that I no longer had to pretend to conform to societal’s image of a ‘good girl,’ it was such a relief and feeling of empowerment. I found that I was totally suited to be a prostitute because I enjoyed bringing pleasure to other people — and getting paid good money for doing so.   I also found that I was very good at what I did. It felt so right doing the work, as if I were born to it.   If murder is the worst thing one can do to their fellow human, then providing them with an orgasm has to be one of the best things one can do to them!

Peter Berton: What else did you learn?  

Norma Jean Almodovar: One thing I learned in my years working as a call girl is that wives often withhold physical contact from their husbands because they are afraid it might lead to sexual intimacy which the wife may not want at that moment. Men without partners (for whatever reason) do not have access to physical contact with anyone, much less with someone whose physical interaction may lead to sexual release.   What these men want and long for is basic human contact. It is what children want and what they usually get until they grow to the age when such non-sexual but very physical touching becomes awkward for the parents, relatives and other adults to continue to give. At that stage in life, they do without it for years until they either find a loving partner or hire a professional to provide it.   I’ve found that most men aren’t able to verbalize what they want when they just want to be touched or held. Sometimes they don’t even know that it is all they want until someone does hold and comfort them.   I am not surprised that wives often get confused by the mixed signals coming from their spouses. Perhaps I never would have discovered this phenomenon if I hadn’t been a working girl myself.   When men are paying for your time and they know there is a time limit on the session, real priorities have a way of surfacing very quickly. Whether that is simply being held and feeling close to another human being, or having someone to talk to (and with) while they hold you and listen, or all of the above AND a sexual release depends upon the man and the particular session.     

Peter Berton: What is the best piece of advice you can offer to a new sex worker?  

Norma Jean Almodovar: If you are going to work as a sex worker, legally or illegally, become an activist and fight for the rights of all your colleagues. Don’t think that because you may work in an area which is currently legal that you are safe.   Challenging societal hang ups about sex work has been an ongoing issue for decades and indeed centuries. What has been accomplished in one decade may be wiped out by some radical feminist or religious conservative group with the money and political influence to once again prohibit all types of sex work.   Learn as much as you can about the sex worker rights activists who have come before you. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Research the legal decisions which have been made and find out how you can challenge those decisions if those decisions did not change laws that regulate sex work.   This is a human rights issue because prostitutes’/sex worker rights are the rights of all human beings. Our lives and our work impact so many people and when we are arrested and jailed, our families suffer. We have siblings, spouses and parents and children whose lives are diminished when we are taken away from them, not to mention the disenfranchisement we experience while being taught a lesson by society that we are victims of a patriarchal system and need to be protected for our own good.   I’ve never understood how going to jail is supposed to make anyone feel less like a victim or increase one’s self-esteem!  

Peter Berton: One last question: if you had it to do over, would you become a sex worker again?’  

Norma Jean Almodovar: Sex work was the best job I ever had. I loved providing pleasure to others, and I loved the clients I had. Many became friends in addition to being clients, and some even came to dinner with me and my husband.   One of my long time clients drove my husband to visit me in prison when our car broke down. I don’t believe in jealousy and neither does Victor, so extending a work relationship to a friendship and having them cross over into other parts of my life was an easy decision.   I would absolutely choose sex work again, if I had it to do over. However, I would refrain from trying to re-establish a relationship with anyone from the LAPD for any reason. I know that as long as someone works for law enforcement in any capacity, they are not to be trusted.   “Whore Poem”:   “Who Will Weep For Us”:

About the Author
Winner of the award for Favourite Adult Journalist, Peter Berton has written for Adult Video News, Klixxx, XBIZ, Xtra, and He likes to interview sex workers to tap into their vast knowledge about human nature, business marketing, work/life balance and succeeding as entrepreneurs.

Terri-Jean Bedford, Champion of Canadian Sex Worker Rights

By Peter Berton  

If the Marvel Universe ever created a super-hero dedicated to fighting for the rights of Canadian sex workers, it would have to be based upon Terri-Jean Bedford.  

Now retired, this indomitable dominatrix spearheaded a two-decade fight to overturn Canada’s unconstitutional prostitution law – which Bedford and her allies succeeded in doing in 2013.  

(The overturned law was subsequently replaced by regulations making it legal to sell sexual services, but not to buy them.)  

Terri-Jean Bedford has documented her struggle in her book, Dominatrix on Trial. The Naked Truth contacted her recently, to learn more about her and her victory.  

Peter Berton: Please tell us a bit about yourself.  

Terri-Jean Bedford: I am in my mid-fifties. I am a black woman. I am a mother of one daughter and grandmother to her son.    I am Canada’s most famous dominatrix by virtue of running two premiere facilities, one in the suburbs just north of Toronto (The “Bondage Bungalow”) and one in downtown Toronto (The Bondage Hotel). The former was raided and resulted in a spectacular two week trial where I was convicted and the judge refused to say what the crime was. The second was heavily publicized and not raided, despite being almost identical to the first. I have published my memoirs and written a play about my life. Both will soon be appearing in the United States.  

Peter Berton: How and why did you enter the sex industry?  

Terri-Jean Bedford: As a young girl out of necessity. I knew other women who turned tricks and I did so.    I was dominatrix part-time as part of that. I followed the money as a desperate youth and then desperate single mother. Later on I was able to be a dominatrix under good conditions.  

Peter Berton: How did you find yourself fighting the Canadian government about prostitution laws — and winning?  

Terri-Jean Bedford: I was raided in 1994. I fought the charges against me mainly, but in the process I sought publicly to get clarification of exactly what under the law was not legal between consenting adults in private.    About a decade later Professor Young of Osgoode Hall asked me to be part of a constitutional challenge to Canada’s prostitution laws. I was a plaintiff and worked on the challenge in a supportive administrative role. Of course I did interviews.  

Peter Berton: Did the law that replaced the one you defeated make things any better, or is it just as bad for sex workers?  

Terri-Jean Bedford: It depends on what you mean by better or bad.    Since law-abiding people are discouraged from advertising for or renting to sex workers, organized crime has moved in. Human trafficking has followed. The current law means sellers of sex cannot be charged, so that encourages more to enter and bad pimps know this.    If the new law had not been brought in clients of sex workers could go to licensed and inspected establishments with security, and avoid going into places where girls are exploited.  

Peter Berton: What would you like to see done to Canada’s sex work laws?  

Terri-Jean Bedford: Bill C-36, which penalizes clients and enablers, should be repealed. Judge Himel said no new laws were needed. The laws against assault, confinement and illegal immigration, if enforced, were more than adequate in dealing with the worst aspects of the sex trade.    The trade should be licensed and regulated. Then rewards should be offered for turning in traffickers and sellers without a licence.  

Peter Berton: Why have the Liberals been unwilling to tackle this topic?  

Terri-Jean Bedford: In opposition they voted against C-36 and said laws concerning the sex trade should be evidence-based. As a feminist-oriented government they are faced with the awkward prospect of alienating half of feminists who do not believe that government should sanction women selling sex.  

Peter Berton: Are you still in the business?  

Terri-Jean Bedford: No. I am too sick, and no longer young. I have concentrated on archiving my memoirs, my papers and writing the stories of some clients and doms I have had over the years. I have also wrote a play about my life and battles. I still make speeches and give interviews from time to time.  

Peter Berton: If you had it to do over again, would you fight Ottawa?  

Terri-Jean Bedford: Yes. But only if I had the supporters around me that I had.  

Peter Berton: What advice would you have for today’s sex workers, when it comes to trying to get a fair law in Canada?  

Terri-Jean Bedford: I do not want to interfere with approaches now under way by the new wave of activists. As for sex workers who are not activists, I would say get in touch with the activists.    Right now the trade is booming so much, there is hardly time or appetite for activism. The problem is the more vulnerable are being victimized under the current law.  

About the Author

Winner of the award for Favourite Adult Journalist, Peter Berton has written for Adult Video News, Klixxx, XBIZ, Xtra, and He likes to interview sex workers to tap into their vast knowledge about human nature, business marketing, work/life balance and succeeding as entrepreneurs.

Sex Workers Are Preventing AIDS, Not Spreading It (VIDEO)


To commemorate International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers on December 17, Triple-X Workers’ Solidarity Association in partnership with University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health will premiere Our Bodies Our Business, a video made from historic footage of prostitutes’ rights activists at the 5th International Conference on AIDS, in Montreal, 1989.

About Our Bodies Our Business

Our Bodies Our Business was produced as part of a recent national consultation on PrEP and sex work held in Toronto, funded by Elton John AIDS Foundation.   Created by George Stamos with video shot by ACT UP New York filmmaker Catherine Gund, Our Bodies Our Business showcases activists, Danny Cockerline and Valerie Scott from the Canadian Organization for the Rights of Prostitutes (CORP), as well as Cheryl Overs from the Australian Prostitutes Collective (APC), Carol Leigh – The Scarlot Harlot – from COYOTE, San Francisco and Toronto activist Tracey Tief.

Our Bodies Our Business documents the resilience, artistry and power of prostitutes’ rights activists as they confront stigma and prejudice head on in actions throughout the conference, including conference sessions full of HIV researchers who study prostitutes. They challenge dangerous myths that fuel violence about sex workers spreading AIDS.

Since the emergence of AIDS in the early 1980s, prostitutes, like gay men, were scapegoated for the spread of AIDS. By 1989, public hysteria regarding HIV-positive prostitutes erupted in several places, sparking calls by government officials for mandatory HIV testing and even quarantine, despite the fact that such legislation would contradict national AIDS strategies.

In 1987, B.C. Minister of Health introduced amendments to the Health Act which enabled Medical Officers of Health to order HIV-positive individuals, whose sexual practices were considered “unsafe,” into “isolation, modified isolation, or complete quarantine.”

In 1988, Ontario Minister of Health, Richard Shabas called for legislation to quarantine HIV-positive people who continue to have sex – even with condoms – or who share needles.

In 1989, a study by the BC Civil Liberties Association documented AIDS discrimination which including human rights complaints that involved solitary confinement for HIV-positive prisoners, and quarantine of an HIV-positive sex worker in an emergency shelter in Vancouver. In Australia, Health Minister Peter Collins called for HIV-positive persons to be banned from working in the sex industry. This moral panic fueled increased stigma and violence against people working as prostitutes.

About International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

December 17, 2003, Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP-USA) held a vigil in Seattle, Washington for the victims of convicted Green River killer, Gary Ridgway, who murdered at least 71 women most of whom worked as prostitutes.   

International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers was started by SWOP founder Robyn Few and Dr. Annie Sprinkle to spotlight the epidemic of violence against sex workers happening globally. Today, International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers is observed by organizations all over the world. For more information visit:

Our Bodies Our Business can be viewed at:

High resolution still photo:

For more information contact Triple-X at: or call (604) 488-0710.

Busting Sex Work Stigma: You Can’t Catch HIV from Money

By Andrew Sorfleet

How do you determine who is at high risk for HIV infection?
According to Health Canada’s July 2016 safety brief on Truvada for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis, “exchange of sex for commodities (e.g. money, food, shelter, drugs)” is a factor that “may help identify a person at high risk of HIV infection.”1

In October 2016, funded by a grant from Elton John AIDS Foundation, Triple-X in partnership with the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, organized and hosted a national consultation and invited 23 organizations from 10 provinces and territories who provide advocacy or services for sex workers.

Fifty women, men and trans people from across Canada that work with sex workers met in Toronto. The purpose of this national consultation was to give participants the opportunity to educate themselves, explore and grapple as a group with the implications of PrEP on the sex industry. PrEP (HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis) is the idea that a person could take a pill once a day and be protected from catching HIV, not unlike the birth-control pill which protects from unwanted pregnancy.

The “PrEP in the Context of Sex Work” meeting was held in response to the intention to make PrEP accessible to sex workers, because sex workers are considered at high risk for HIV infection. But, where did this idea come from?

Safe Sex Professionals

For 30 years now, sex worker activists have stated that: “Prostitutes are Safe Sex Professionals.” Sex workers are best placed in society to provide hands-on HIV prevention education and demonstration, with the very large and invisible portion of the public who are clients. What is annoying about this “key population” approach is that sex workers are not given any professional respect by HIV research that targets prostitution. It ignores the fact that sex workers should be a priority for HIV and STI prevention education and funding, not because sex work is a risk factor for HIV transmission, but because, to quote Valerie Scott in 1989:

Whores are safe sex pros. We’re the ones who put the condoms on the guys. We’re the ones who do the education. And what do we get for it? At conferences like this all we get is shit on. ‘Prostitutes are spreading AIDS.’ That’s bullshit! As I said the other day, if that were true, half the government would be dead already.

Valerie Scott, Canadian Organization for the Rights of
Prostitutes at the 5th International Conference
on AIDS, Montreal, July 1989.

(Our Bodies Our Business video c. 2016 George Stamos)

Sex work is most often defined in HIV research to include ambiguous transactions, such as trading sex for commodities, a place to sleep, meals, etc. What can’t be distinguished with this definition is whether perhaps the risks for HIV are poverty and desperation, and not sex work as an occupation at all. Sex workers after all, need to protect their sexual health to be able to work. Like this 1990 education poster from Prostitutes Association of South Australia says:

It’s in his interests to protect his assets. You can’t catch the virus from a credit card.

Prostitutes Association of South Australia
(PASA), c.1990. 

Courtesy of Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives

Truvada PrEP Approved

On July 16, 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced their approval of Truvada for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Truvada was already approved for many years as an HIV treatment medication. Now, it could also be used as a prevention medication. Truvada’s safety and efficacy for PrEP were demonstrated in two large, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials, according to U.S. FDA press release:

The iPrEx trial evaluated Truvada in 2,499 HIV-negative men or transgender women who have sex with men and with evidence of high risk behavior for HIV infection, such as inconsistent or no condom use during sex with a partner of positive or unknown HIV status, a high number of sex partners, and exchange of sex for commodities.”2

February 2015, Health Canada approved Truvada for HIV PrEP in Canada. Once approved, regional health authorities and national advocacy groups began drafting guidelines for prescribing Truvada as PrEP, an important step towards having it listed for public access — free for those at high risk of HIV infection, paid for by government.3

“High Risk” = Sex Work Stigma

The B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS research had already released guidelines for Truvada PrEP in 2014:

Before starting PrEP, confirm that the patient is at ongoing high risk for acquiring HIV infection. …this will usually consist of having one or more of the following.

Among the list was “involvement in commercial sex work,” and “having sexual partners who are MSM (men who have sex with men) or use injection drugs or who are involved in commercial sex work.”4

In the United States, state governments also released guidelines for prescribing PrEP and assessing high risk of HIV infection. The New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for example (Summary Statement on Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis to Prevent HIV Infection, October 2015):

Providers need to obtain a thorough sexual and drug use history and regularly discuss risk-taking behaviors with their patients to assess candidacy for PrEP, encourage safer-sex practices and safer injection techniques (if applicable), and assist in the decision of when to use PrEP and when to discontinue use.

In a table labelled “Potential Candidates for PrEP,” “Individuals engaging in transactional sex, such as sex for money, drugs, or housing,” are listed. However, all other candidates such as MSM and IDU (people who inject drugs) must ALSO be engaged in “high-risk behaviour.” This requirement, however is not listed for sex-worker candidates.5

At the 2016 Canadian Association of HIV Researchers (CAHR) conference in Winnipeg, CANPrEP — an ad hoc committee of HIV prevention professionals, doctors and researchers, supported by the Canadian HIV Trials Network funded by the federal government through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research — presented draft guidelines for prescribing Truvada as PrEP. These guidelines also mentioned “sex trade workers” as one of the groups with a “significant risk of having transmissible HIV.”6

Triple-Xers Andy Sorfleet and Kerry Porth
at The Forks in Winnipeg for the 2016
annual CAHR conference.
 Photo: Shawna Ferris

Sex Workers Push Back

During their presentation at CAHR, it became apparent that CANPrEP researchers had failed to consult sex workers when drafting their proposed guidelines. In response to this, delegates from seven organizations from across Canada who work with sex workers drafted an eight-page letter:

To suggest that sex workers are a population at higher risk for HIV infection and transmission assumes that professional sexual services are not performed safely in an occupational setting. This is a gross generalization. You have provided no evidence or references for this.

The letter goes on to say:

To focus guidelines for assessing risk on populations rather than activity is in its own way stigmatizing. To quote the ‘Principles and Beliefs,’ Maggie’s Constitution, Toronto Prostitutes’ Community Service Project, 1993:

There are no high risk groups, only high risk practices. AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are not spread by sex work; they are spread by unsafe sex and needle sharing.”7

According to the Ontario HIV Treatment Network (OHTN), in a July 2012 brief titled “Sex Worker HIV Risk:”

Establishing the prevalence of HIV among sex workers is challenging because they are a hard-to-reach population. Estimates range from 1% to 60%.

Of 11 studies reviewed, only two addressed women working in indoor settings. Four studies assessed street youth specifically (“involved in survival sex”), three included only female drug users, one recruited Aboriginal women. OHTN were involved in developing the CanPreP guidelines. Their Rapid Response brief postulates:

There are three main categories of risk for HIV infection among commercial sex workers in Canada: high risk sex or sex with high risk partners, illicit drug use, and unstable living and working environments. Other risk factors include young age, tattooing or body piercing, and a history of sexual abuse.

The OHTN “Sex Worker HIV Risk” brief then states:

Little is known about these issues in Canada and other high-income countries. In the Canadian context, injection drug use among sex workers and heterosexual transmission to clients and then to their sexual networks is contributing to the HIV epidemic.”8

“High Risk?” Or “Key Population?”

The UNAIDS Key Population Atlas is divided into five categories: Sex Workers, Men Who Have Sex With Men, People Who Inject Drugs, Transgender People, and Prisoners. This website/app gives you UNAIDS statistics on HIV prevalence by country for each “key population.” One of which is “sex workers.” There’s a drop-down menu where you can choose statistics for population size estimate, condom use, knowledge of HIV status, and more. “Condom use” is defined as “Percentage of sex workers reporting the use of condom with their most recent client.”

UNAIDS Key Population Atlas for HIV Statistics

How intrusive would public health research need to be to collect that data from sex workers?

Currently, this data is mined from pre-existing research and numbers are calculated using meta-analysis software. There is a wealth of data from decades of concentration of HIV research in high HIV prevalence countries such as in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia Pacific. However, in countries where HIV prevalence rates are low, there is little HIV prevalence research on sex workers, which includes knowing the size of the sex-worker population in a given region. And where prostitution is illegal, operating clandestinely, estimating population sizes is challenging.

The UNAIDS Key Population Atlas legend uses grey to indicate “no data.” When you select “sex workers” and “HIV prevalence” you will see there is no data for most of North America, as well as most of Europe and the Middle East.

Lack of Research = Flawed Statistics

In July 2014, in conjunction with the 20th International AIDS Conference held in Melbourne, the Lancet published a special issue on Sex Work and HIV. The second page is an infographic that states that 0.8% of the global general population has HIV. In comparison, 11.8% of female sex workers, 14% of male sex workers, and 27.3% of transgender women sex workers globally have HIV.

“Fake Stats”?

It’s curious how these global statistics were calculated given that there are not even population size estimates for sex workers in almost half of the world. What is also misleading, is that countries where sex workers have a high HIV prevalence rate tend to be countries with a very high rate overall. In a region where HIV is very low, you are much less likely to ever be exposed. Comparing an average rate for sex workers in high HIV prevalence countries to a global average is completely out of context.

Sex workers are central to African HIV epidemics,” the opening editorial states, “more than 50% of sex workers living with HIV are all in sub-Saharan Africa. 92% of all HIV/AIDS deaths attributed to sex work occur among African women.” The editorial goes on to speculate that:

With heightened risks of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, sex workers face substantial barriers in accessing prevention, treatment, and care services. Why? Because of stigma, discrimination, and criminalisation in the societies in which they live. These social, legal, and economic injustices contribute to their high risk of acquiring HIV. Often driven underground by fear, sex workers encounter or face the direct risk of violence and abuse daily. They remain underserved by the global HIV response.”9

Another article in the special issue on HIV and Sex Work titled “Global epidemiology of HIV among female sex workers,” explains more the origins of the global sex worker statistic:

Worldwide, sex workers are disproportionately affected by the HIV pandemic. … a review of HIV burden in female sex workers (FSWs) in 50 low-income and middle-income countries reported an overall HIV prevalence of 11·8% with a pooled odds of HIV infection of 13·5 compared with the general population of women of reproductive age.
In many high-income countries and regions, such as Canada, the USA, and Europe, epidemics that initially escalated in people who inject drugs in the mid-1990s shifted to FSWs. In settings such as Russia and central and eastern Europe, the scarce data available suggests emerging or established epidemics among FSWs who inject drugs.”10

These conclusions from that review, published in the Lancet March 2012, were drawn from:

102 selected articles and surveillance reports from 2007 to 2011 … representing 99,878 female sex workers in 50 countries. In 26 countries with medium and high background HIV prevalence, 30·7% of sex workers were HIV-positive and the odds ratio for infection was 11·6.”11

This statistic still has currency today. According to the World Health Organisation webpage on HIV and Sex Workers (January 28, 2018):

Globally female sex workers are 13.5% more likely to be living with HIV.

HIV Research? Or Invasion of Privacy?

This 2017 slideshow from AIDS Data Hub, “Review in Slides: Female Sex Workers,” shows HIV statistics for sex workers for the WHO global region, Asia-Pacific. UNAIDS statistics includes research data not only on population size estimations and HIV prevalence rates for sex workers but also:

  • sexually transmitted infection prevalence
  • proportion of FSW who reported condom use at last sex
  • proportion of sex workers under 25 years of age
  • average duration in the profession of selling sex
  • average number of clients (last week, last month)
  • proportion of FSW who reported consistent condom use with their clients
  • proportion of FSW who inject drugs
  • proportion of female sex workers who have been forced to have sex in the last year
  • proportion of FSW with comprehensive HIV knowledge.12

Meanwhile in Canada

Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) and other national and international research foundations will prioritize funds for research that can provide data for UNAIDS Key Population HIV statistics. This data is necessary to measure progress on the 90-90-90 Goal to End AIDS by 2030 (Global AIDS Response Progress and Global AIDS Monitoring). Organizations that provide support services for sex workers will be pressured through funding to participate in research on their clients. These numbers will set priorities for HIV programming in the provinces/territories.

Attempts to gather sex-worker data on HIV prevalence are underway in Canada. In 2015 here in British Columbia, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) partnered with the Pacific AIDS Network (PAN), the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BCCfE) and other key provincial stakeholders and contracted the Centre for Global Public Health (University of Manitoba) to develop size estimates for priority populations in B.C.:

It is well understood that a few key populations in British Columbia bear a disproportionately high burden of HIV and hepatitis C compared to the general population. These key populations include gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM), people who use injection drugs (PWID), and heterosexuals who engage in high-risk behaviours (i.e., sex work).

In order for HCV and HIV services to determine if their programs are adequately serving these key populations, they need reliable estimates of key population sizes, ideally in their local jurisdiction. However, these estimates are difficult to get because many of these populations are hard to reach or hidden due to stigma, or occur too infrequently to be measured through the usual methods (i.e. censuses).”13

Triple-X was asked to participate in this population estimate project, but we politely declined, stating that involvement in a project with the provincial health authority at this time would undermine our efforts to gain trust and recruit members. Which is absolutely true.

In the final report, this “Cautionary Note” was my contribution, during our correspondence:

A key informant remarked that ‘counting’ SW may perpetuate the stigma and discrimination faced by SW as being more impacted by HIV than the general population. It was noted that risk for HIV infection is not inherent in sex work. Sex work is different from other social-sexual behaviours, because for the most part, sex work is performed in the context of employment for income generation.

The section goes on to state:

In fact, a SW study conducted in Victoria (n=201 adult SW aged ≥ 18 years, including 160 female, 36 male and 5 transgender individuals) has shown that condom use with clients among SW exceeds 90%, indicating that professional sexual services are performed safely in an occupational setting. However, there are individuals engaging in survival sex work or transactional sex in informal settings who may not identify as sex workers. These individuals may be faced with other issues such as poverty, violence (including intimate partner violence) and drug addiction that increase their risk for HIV/HCV acquisition. Therefore, for the purpose of HIV/HCV programming, a clear definition of a priority population based on behaviour and context that impose risk, rather than a general identification with a group, is needed.

In the following section however, “Supplementary Information on Sex Work as a Potential Risk Factor for HIV Acquisition,” there are sex work statistics gathered by the BCCDC on people who have tested positive for HIV. It states:

Historically, it has been assumed that sex work plays an important role in the heterosexual and same-sex transmission of HIV. …the project team requested the BCCDC Surveillance Team to perform an analysis on new HIV diagnoses among men and women in BC from 2006-2015 to determine what proportion of these cases reported sex work as a potential risk factor. We found that the number of women diagnosed with HIV and who reported sex work declined from 22 and 26 individuals in 2006 and 2007 to only 2 and 1 individual in 2014 and 2015. Injection drug use was also reported by 33% — 100% of these women over the same period.”14

The BCCDC (the provincial health authority) questions people who test HIV-positive about whether sex work was a risk factor in their infection. The report also notes that 100% of those who reported sex work also reported injection drug use.

#SWPrEP 2016 Report

To report back on the national consultation in Toronto, Triple-X and DLSPH produced a book: #SWPrEP: HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis and Sex Work in Canada 2016. The book was launched at the annual CAHR conference in Montreal, April 4, 2017. The book contains the transcripts of all the presentations, as well as the discussions that ensued between sex workers and those who provide services for sex workers. #SWPrEP participants were clear about some things they wanted to see in the report, and the Facilitator’s Summary (p. 135) highlights the top-ten concerns coming out of the consultation.

Among those concerns, participants did not want PrEP side effects played down. They wanted PrEP to be presented within the spectrum of HIV prevention and for more and equal promotion of condom use. They wanted educational presentations from healthcare professionals as well as from PrEP critics.

Furthermore, sex workers and sex work advocates were concerned that this new HIV prevention drug could result in elevated risks for sex workers, including new pressures from market competition to provide services without condoms if there is an expectation that sex workers should be on PrEP.

In addition, “#SWPrEP,” a seven-minute video that teases out the issues discussed at the consultation was released.

On June 11, 2017, as part of the 5th Annual Red Umbrella March, Triple-X and PACE hosted an afternoon discussion to present the #SWPrEP report and screen the #SWPrEP video for the consultation participants from Vancouver as well as for anyone else who was interested in the topic of sex work and PrEP.

The results of the national consultation were widely well received. By the end of November 2017, the website recorded 51,000 downloads of the #SWPrEP book since the time of its release in March. The Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange (CATIE) reported that “Conversations That Matter — Sex Workers & PrEP” (posted May 16, 2017) was the 8th most read blog post of 2017.

#SWPrEP: Why Does It Matter?

Truvada will not be the only HIV prevention product being sold to governments for people at high risk. There new ARV pills, injectables, and vaginal rings and gels.

There are also HIV vaccines going into clinical trial phase. The drug company Johnson & Johnson has designed a vaccine to treat all strains of HIV, which has already proven to be 100% effective at achieving immunity against the virus after a trial of 350 volunteers.

For this first large trial, the most at-risk people in the population will receive the vaccination and will include 2,600 young women (18-35 years) from five different African nations.”15

There are also new ultra-sensitive HIV spit-testing technologies being developed for on-the-spot testing. In a research study released January 22, 2018, this new HIV Oral Fluids (OF) Test:

could be broadly deployed to screen at-risk populations using OF in many settings, including those … where needles are inconvenient (pediatrics) or unsafe (prisons).”16

Such broad deployment could include on-the-spot testing of sex workers in the workplace.

Sex Workers’ Rights are Labour Rights

There is a history of governments and employers trying to force medical treatments on workers in the name of public health and safety. One notable and relevant dispute is here in B.C. between the provincial health authority and the B.C. Nurses Union.

In November 2017, health authorities started to remind members of their obligation to receive the flu vaccine. As per the policy, health care workers must be vaccinated against seasonal influenza or wear a mask at all times during the declared flu season. The policy has been under dispute since it was introduced in 2012. BCNU has always opposed mandatory flu vaccinations:

Nurses and other healthcare workers should have the right to decide whether to be vaccinated against influenza, based on their understanding of the current evidence and in discussion with their own family physician or other care provider.”17

BCNU filed an industry-wide application dispute (IWAD) last fall that has since been referred to arbitration.

In another recent labour decision in B.C., United Steel Workers (USW) won an arbitration January 29, 2018 that puts an end to random drug testing by Teck Resources at its unionized coal mines in the Elk Valley. Teck began random testing employees in December 2012. The arbitrator completely rejected the idea that some theoretical, but non-existent safety risk justifies the intrusion of random testing when there is no evidence of workplace problems.

USW District 3 Director Stephen Hunt lauded the decision as a “significant victory for not only Steelworkers, but all workers.

The safety of workers is paramount and we fight for it every day,” says Hunt. “Random testing is a distraction that invades privacy and does nothing to keep workers and communities safe.”18
#SWPrEP: Policy Outcomes

On November 27, 2017, the Canadian Medical Association Journal published “The Canadian Guidelines on HIV Pre-exposure Prophylaxis and Non-Occupational Post Exposure Prophylaxis.”

In Table 1: “Categories of risk that a person has transmissible HIV infection,” substantial risk is assigned to “HIV status unknown, but from a population with high HIV prevalence compared with the general population (e.g., men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs).

The guidelines go on to say:

National data on HIV incidence among sex workers and their clients are scarce, perhaps in part because sex work is criminalized in Canada; as such, this guideline should be applied to these individuals based on the presence of other risk factors.”19

In a December 28, 2017 press release, the B.C. Government Ministry of Health announced new free access to PrEP and expanded PEP for people at risk as of January 1, 2018.

Effective Jan. 1, 2018, British Columbians at high risk of HIV infection will be able to receive pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a daily oral antiretroviral medication that prevents new HIV infection, at no cost. …People at risk include men and transwomen who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, and people who have sex with individuals living with HIV.”20 

No mention of involvement in commercial sex.

PrEP will be made available through the B.C. Centre for Excellence’s HIV Drug Treatment research program, which is funded by the Ministry of Health through the B.C. PharmaCare program. People interested in accessing PrEP should discuss their personal risks with their health-care provider. PrEP is not to be confused with PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) where anti-retroviral therapy is given immediately after a possible exposure to HIV to prevent becoming infected. The B.C. Ministry of Health is also expanding the existing free PEP program to include coverage for non-occupational exposure.
Conclusions: Sex Workers and HIV Risks

Making the universal claim that “sex workers are more likely to catch HIV” perpetuates the “sex worker as disease vector” stigma. Sex workers are safe sex professionals!

A recently published study (November 2017), shows that HIV risk is associated with poverty not sex work. “Risk factors for HIV infection among female sex workers in Bangui, Central African Republic” (a country with high overall HIV prevalence of 4.9%) recruited 345 women to examine HIV risk factors for six different categories of female sex workers. “Two groups were the ‘official’ professional FSW” working in hotels and night clubs and “four groups of ‘clandestine’ non-professional FSW” including street and market vendors, girls, students and housewives involved in occasional transactional sex. The study concluded:

Our observations highlight the high level of vulnerability for HIV acquisition of both poor professional and non-professional ‘street vendor’ FSW categories. These categories should be particularly taken into account when designing specific prevention programs for STIs/HIV control purposes.”21

Every community where ever, and whatever circumstances deserves HIV prevention health care that is distinct and tailored to its individual needs. Sex workers are best placed in society to provide hands-on HIV prevention education and demonstration with the very large and invisible portion of the public who are clients.

Give sex workers the respect we deserve as Safe Sex Professionals.


  1. “Safety Brief: Truvada for pre-exposure prophylaxis to reduce the risk of HIV-1 infection in adults at high risk — recommendations to support the appropriate use.” Health Product Infowatch, July 2016 p.4-5 http://triple-
  2. “FDA approves first drug for reducing the risk of sexually acquired HIV infection,” News Release, July 16, 2012
  3. “Did Health Canada just approve Truvada as PrEP?,” Xtra!, February 27, 2015
  4. “Guidance for the use of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for the prevention of HIV acquisition in British Columbia,” B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS research, 2015
  5. “New York State Summary Statement on Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis to Prevent HIV Infection,” New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, October 14, 2015
  6. Canadian HIV Pre-exposure Prophylaxis and Non-Occupational Post Exposure Prophylaxis DRAFT Guidelines – Executive Summary, May 12, 2016
  7. Letter to Kevin Pendergraft, Ad Hoc Committee on Canadian Guidelines for HIV PrEP and nPEP c/o CIHR Canadian HIV Trials Network, Re: Canadian Guidelines for HIV PrEP and nPEP Draft Guidelines, May 31, 2016.
  8. “Sex Worker HIV Risk” Rapid Review #58: July 2012, Ontario HIV Treatment Network
  9. “Bringing sex workers to the centre of the HIV response,” the Lancet, July 22, 2014
  10. “Global epidemiology of HIV among female sex workers: influence of structural determinants,” the Lancet, July 22, 2014
  11. Baral S, Beyrer C, Muessig K, et al. “Burden of HIV among female sex workers in low-income and middle-income countries: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Lancet Infect Dis 2012; 12: 538–49.
  12. “Review in Slides: Female Sex Workers,” AIDS Data Hub for Asia-Pacific, December 2017
  13. “Estimated sizes of key populations for HIV and HCV in BC,” Smart Sex Resource, B.C. Centre for Disease Control, April 4, 2017
  14. Estimation of Key Population Size of People who Use Injection Drugs (PWID), Men who Have Sex with Men (MSM) and Sex Workers (SW) who are At Risk of Acquiring HIV and Hepatitis C in the Five Health Regions of the Province of British Columbia: Final Report, October 5, 2016. Submitted to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and the Pacific AIDS Network by The Centre for Global Public Health, University of Manitoba.
  15. “The fight against HIV/AIDS just made a monumental breakthrough with this vaccine,” Gay Times, September 27, 2017
  16. “Antibody detection by agglutination–PCR (ADAP) enables early diagnosis of HIV infection by oral fluid analysis,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, January 22, 2018
  17. “Position Statement: Influenza Control Policy,” B.C. Nurses Union, March 2015
  18. Steelworkers Arbitration Victory Ends Random Drug and Alcohol Testing At Teck’s Elk Valley Unionized Mines, Media Release, January 29, 2018, United Steel Workers
  19. “The Canadian Guidelines on HIV Pre-exposure Prophylaxis and Non-Occupational Post Exposure Prophylaxis,” Canadian Medical Association Journal, November 27, 2017
  20. “Preventative medication will protect people at risk of HIV,” BC Gov News, December 28, 2017
  21. “Risk factors for HIV infection among female sex workers in Bangui, Central African Republic,” PLOS One, November 6, 2017

15 Signs Your Neighbour is a Stripper

By Annie Temple

15. She carries a large, heavy bag and a blanket out of the house every Monday

14. It seems like every song she hears, she says, “I’ve danced to this!”

13. When she tidies the yard, she bends at her waist and flips her hair as she rises.

12. She wears sweat pants most of the time.

11. She leaves the house with no make-up on and comes home fully done up.   

10. She sometimes wears a wig. 

9. Her Halloween costumes are sexy and all the pieces match.

8. She has multiple men mowing her lawn, fixing her car, taking out her garbage but doesn’t appear to be romantically involved with any of them.

7. She arches her back when she’s gardening and it looks completely natural.

6. You’re not sure but you think some of her friends may have breast implants.

5. She’s the only resident in the neighbourhood who tells the asshole neighbour to “fuck off.” 

4. She pays most of her rent in five dollar bills. 

3. The bush in her front yard is suspiciously shaped like a penis.

2. She has a perfect tan year-round.

1. She occasionally has random sequins stuck to her body and doesn’t seem to notice.

Canada v. Bedford – The decision in 705 words

Katrina Pacey of PIVOT Legal Society is blazing a trail of legal eloquence. Her ability to articulate with passion the impacts of criminalization of sex workers is a huge asset for our movement. Bravo, Katrina!

The following synopsis of the Canada v. Bedford decision is taken entirely from the PIVOT Legal Society website’s blog.

See full blog post at PIVOT Legal Society
Written by Darcie Bennett on December 20, 2013

Today the Supreme Court of Canada delivered a landmark unanimous decision in the case of Attorney General of Canada v. Terri Jean Bedford, Amy Lebovitch and Valerie Scott. Canada’s highest court has ruled that three provisions of Canada’s Criminal Code, s. 210 (keeping or being found in a bawdy house), s. 212(1)(j) (living on the avails of prostitution), and s. 213(1)(c) (communicating in public for the purpose of prostitution) violate the s. 7 right to security of the person protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. All three laws have been struck down.

This case was initiated in 2007 by three Ontario sex workers: Terri Jean Bedford, Amy Lebovitch and Valerie Scott. The applicants asked the court to strike down the three provisions of the Criminal Code because they violate sex workers’ constitutional right to security of the person.

In a decision written by the Chief Justice, the court said: 

“The prohibitions at issue do not merely impose conditions on how prostitutes operate. They go a critical step further, by imposing dangerous conditions on prostitution; they prevent people engaged in a risky – but legal – activity from taking steps to protect themselves from the risk.” (para 60)

Pivot, Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence and PACE Society intervened in this case and took the position that all three provisions should be struck down. 

Given the limited time given to interveners for legal argument, we focused our submissions on the communication law, which creates serious dangers for street-based sex workers and prevents them from taking basic safety measures. We argued that a law that has the stated purpose of preventing public nuisance cannot be justified when it results in a risk of serious harm and death to marginalized women. The Supreme Court agreed.

Here is a summary of the judgment:

s. 210 (keeping or being found in a common bawdy house)
The SCC held that the bawdy house law violates sex workers’ constitutionally protected right to security of the person and is struck down. The Court found that this law prevents sex workers from working a fixed location that is safer than working on the street or meeting clients at different locations. (para 64)

Specifically, the Court stated that “the harms identified by the courts below are grossly disproportionate to the deterrence of community disruption that is the object of the law. Parliament has the power to regulate against nuisances, but not at the cost of the health safety and lives of prostitutes. A law that prevents street-prostitutes from resorting to a safe haven such as Grandma’s House while a suspected serial killer prowls the streets, is a law that has lost sight of its purpose.” (para 136)

s. 212(1)(j) (living on the avails of prostitution)
The SCC held that the living on the avails provision violates sex workers’ constitutionally protected right to security of the person and is struck down.

The SCC writes that the law is overbroad in that:

“The law punishes everyone who lives on the avails of prostitution without distinguishing between those who exploit prostitutes (such as controlling and abusive pimps) and those who could increase the safety and security of prostitutes (for example, legitimate drivers, managers, or bodyguards.” (para 142)

s. 213(1)(c) (communicating in public for the purpose of prostitution)
The SCC held that the communication law violates sex workers’ constitutionally protected right to security of the person and is struck down.

In the decision the court writes:

“By prohibiting communication in public for the purpose of prostitution, the law prevents prostitutes from screening clients and setting terms for the use of condoms or safe houses. In these ways, it significantly increases the risk they face.” (para 71)

In this way, the harms caused by the law is grossly disproportional to intended objective of the law. The court writes:

“If screening could have prevented one woman from jumping into Robert Pickton’s car, the severity of the harmful effects is established” (para 158)

This decision marks a huge step forward for sex workers’ rights and human rights in Canada. 

The declaration of invalidity suspended for one year, during which time the federal government can consider whether to design new laws that comply with the Charter of Rights of Freedoms.
The full decision is available at:

Pubic Hair Trends in Pornography and Mainstream Culture

By Amalie De Maistre Guest Blogger  

This blog analysis is based on a retweet from @FeministPornArchive, originally tweeted by @Fleshbot; “Shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen! Take a look at hair in porn in this week’s Encyclopedia of Smut (Massimo).”   This retweet links to a blog written about the history of pubic hair trends, going back from thousands of years ago in various art-forms, but specifically focused on the ‘porn eras’ between the 1960’s and 2012 (Massimo).

The topic of pubic hair is an important one, especially for those in the adult entertainment industry. Annie Temple, an exotic dancer, sheds light on this in her poem:

T’was my first time up on stage
No one showed me how to shave
Mullet Pussy
I was trim all up in front
But my bush covered my cunt
Mullet Pussy…

Vast amounts of money and time get invested into pubic hair; trends have ranged from wearing merkins, getting electrolysis, to modern-day Brazilian waxing rituals with “vagacial” aftercare procedures (Hartmann).    There are many people who grew up in the 1980’s who have been removing their pubic, leg, and armpit hair since puberty without actually knowing that this trend was created by porn culture.

I have heard people state that pubic hair removal promotes pedophilia to make genitalia look pre-pubescent, and have also seen people cringe when they observe ‘too much’ body hair, deeming it to be unhygienic or unappealing.    This practice of observing and imposing ideals with respect to body hair affects those working within the adult entertainment industry and also those in mainstream society, as people are faced with these culturally constructed norms around ‘proper’ grooming of their nether-regions.

Massimo has a refreshing blog writing style with high-spirited banter, making light of topic matter that is often considered crude or embarrassing. The comical writing style in Massimo’s blog-post provides context to the trends around body hair because although pubic hair is something people invest time and money into, it’s often not talked about.    Pubic hair concerns are kept within the private domestic sphere or within the back rooms of salons; however, porn culture influences trends in the public mainstream sphere. Once trends are visible to the public, cultural expectations follow suit.

The “Pubic Wars” is a term Massimo used to describe major porn companies competitively pushing the envelope, to start showing “bush” in the 1960’s and even more-so in the 1970’s. As genital imagery became the prevalent focus for the 1980’s and 1990’s porn consumer, the pubic hair got shorter and eventually removed altogether in order to provide the consumer with easier visual access to the genitals (Massimo).

Body hair removal was a technical industry strategy to see the genitals better as well as a response to shrinking bathing suits (Massimo). The popular term ‘manscaping’ indicates that pube-removal is a norm that is non gender-specific (Massimo).    Hair removal also benefits performers as it prevents hair from getting in mouths during oral sex scenes (Massimo). In Massimo’s humorous yet down-to-earth way, he questions whether ‘manscaping’ is done to make the penis look larger, which in my opinion is the case.

History repeats itself as porn’s focus on genitals in the 1980’s and 1990’s revisited the previous porn trends from the mid to late 1800’s. Why didn’t Massimo explain the disappearance of the genitals and pubic hair in porn between the Victorian era and the 1960’s?    Perhaps a more complete historical analysis starting from the mid-nineteenth century would have provided a better overview of the discourse pertaining to the appearance, disappearance, and reappearance of genitals and hair in porn (Fenton 1999, Williams 31).

Massimo stated that shaved genitals look more youthful, but in contrast described “pubephiles,” as those who love the variety of pubic hair, which apparently is making a comeback in porn.    Massimo attributed ‘smut conscious feminists’ as another reasons for pubic hair making a return to the screen. Massimo’s argument about ‘smut conscious feminist’s’ refusing to partake in porn culture’s pubic hair removal connects feminists to the anti-pubic hair removal side of the “war.”    Many feminist porn producers, performers, and consumers benefit from the technical aspects of showing the genitals, and would disagree with Massimo’s sweeping generalization.

Massimo also mentions that the fallen economy has impacted hair removal trends, and this is unbelievable with the many advertisements for vagazzling and male grooming products like the Braun cruZer (XX).    During economic recessions porn and sex consumers seek more entertainment and companionship to deal with the stress, therefore adult entertainment workers have more business (Reporter).    There is a market for everything in the industry, and accommodations need to be made for consumers who desire hair. Will the mainstream public follow suit with the new hairy trend?

Braun, “How to get a perfectly groomed groin with the cruZer body genital hair remover.” Braun-The Perfectly Groomed Groin. N.p.. Web. 13 Feb 2015. <>.

Fenton, Bailey, prod. Pornography: A Secret History of Civilisation. Prod. Randy Barbato, and . IMDb, 1999. Film. 2 Feb 2015. <>.

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Emma Alexandra’s Insights on Sex Work

By Peter Berton

There are those who do sex work for a few months, and then there are those who enjoy a profitable long-term career as a high-end service provider (SP).

Emma Alexandra ( definitely fits into the second category. 

Although she started escorting to make ends meet, Emma soon found that she had a knack for the profession and stuck with it as a money-making venture. (The fact that she loves sex didn’t hurt.)

Years later, Emma Alexandra remains an extremely popular SP. Although she is based in Montreal, Emma’s client base encompasses the world.

The Naked Truth’s Peter Berton caught up with Emma recently, to learn what she’s learned over a long, successful career.

Peter Berton: Why did you decide to become an escort?

Emma Alexander: I mostly got into escorting because I had one of those deadbeat ex-husbands.  Really I didn’t know much about it.

I saw an ad in the paper looking for ladies. I thought, “why not try it?” After all, I love sex and meeting new people. Why not get paid to do what you love? We all want a job we love, don’t we?

Peter Berton: So what was your first experience with a client like?

Emma Alexander:
I was lucky: It was also the guy’s first experience, so we just made out like old lovers. I will admit I was as nervous as hell, but in the end, it was great.

Peter Berton: How has your career as an escort evolved over time?

Emma Alexander:  I went from working for an agency to an independent in a matter of months. Once I learned the ropes, I jumped right into being an indy.

I travelled a lot. Really it was for other things, but someone suggested working in their city. I thought, “what the hell! Let’s do this!” So off I went on an exciting adventure to a new city and country and city. These days, I tour lots of places.

Peter Berton: How do you market yourself, to stand out among the competition?

Emma Alexander: Marketing myself was and is easy – just being myself and being good at what I do.

Peter Berton: You have raised a family while being an SP. How have you balanced kids and career?

Emma Alexander: My sons have always been great. Once they were old enough, I told them what I do; not the acts, of course, but being a companion.

I think they’ve learned a lot from me about how to treat a lady. They’re very nice young men. I’m a proud mother.

Peter Berton: What is your funniest SP story?

Emma Alexander: On a date with a fireman, I had my place set out to be all romantic; candles lit, music, the whole thing.

He decided to do a striptease for me. Well, his shirt hit the candles and all hell broke loose!

Thank God we saw the smoke. It was funny watching him — naked – putting out the fire and shutting off the fire detector!

Peter Berton: Wow! So what are your thoughts on current client attitudes and trends; including the impact of cybersex on client behaviours?

Emma Alexander: Men nowadays aren’t like they used to be. There used to be so many gentlemen. Now there’s a lot of “hey, what’s up? You available?”
I can’t be bothered with that bullshit, You want to spend quality time with me? Form a complete sentence!

Peter Berton: To finish off, would you have words of wisdom for other SPs  –  especially newbies?

Emma Alexander: Save, save, save. You’re only young once!

About the Author

Winner of the award for Favourite Adult Journalist, Peter Berton has written for Adult Video News, Klixxx, XBIZ, Xtra, and He likes to interview sex workers to tap into their vast knowledge about human nature, business marketing, work/life balance and succeeding as entrepreneurs.

Meet Madison Winter: Girl-Next-Door

By Peter Berton

Toronto premium escort Madison Winter ( is renowned for her beauty, brains, and business sense. 

She is a success story (my words, not hers) who is willing to share her story and personal experiences with the Naked Truth’s blog.

Peter Berton: How did you get in escorting, and why?

Madison Winter: As many people know, before escorting I worked full time in corporate asset management. At the time, while I loved aspects of what I did such as creating relationships, networking, and sales, I didn’t love other aspects; like the long hours, fluorescent lights/cubicle environment, and everyone’s favourite — office politics.
It didn’t even occur to me that escorting, or the world of companionship, even existed until stumbling across movies and TV programs including Sugar Babies and Secret Diary of a Call Girl.
I’ve always lived alone and, for the most part, enjoyed the single girl lifestyle. While most of the media portrayals of escorts are sad and relatively dark, that wasn’t how I perceived it. Watching these shows all I saw was financial freedom, independence, and sexy adventures.
As it turns out, I was correct.
Almost immediately upon dabbling in the industry, I quit my job, built a professional website, hired a stellar accountant, and never looked back. 

Peter Berton: What your first escort experience was like?

Madison Winter: I still know and keep in contact with my very first client! He is a soft-spoken, quite good looking (in my opinion), mid-forties gent with an Australian accent. The physical and emotional attraction was mutual, and it didn’t feel like “work” in any sense.
This particular client was familiar with seeing escorts — he was always conscious of the time, my boundaries, and made an effort to be considerate and respectful. We both immediately clicked and spent numerous wonderful dates together.
I’m extremely lucky in the sense that he set a standard. I had no idea men could be so lovely.

Peter Berton: How has your career evolved over time?

Madison Winter: Evolve it has! In numerous ways, I’ve had to adapt to the varying supply/demand of my time. I’ve learned of peak and not-so-peak calendar periods, and make an attempt to structure time off around that.
Additionally, altering my rate structure and fees relatively regularly has helped me to mitigate demand and balance it with my own personal burnout.
When I began my career, I met with most clientele for short durations; an hour here, an hour there. Often at times, I saw numerous clients a day.
As I get older, I’m learning that I can’t accept every request, and have to structurally organize downtime in my calendar. Now, I strategically promote dates of longer durations and focus on the quality of our interaction, rather than the quantity of clientele. 

Peter Berton: What you have learned about marketing/protecting yourself in the escort industry?

Madison Winter: I take a relatively unusual approach to marketing in the sense that I’m completely transparent online.
I utilize social media almost to an extreme and post almost everything that occurs in my daily life, on numerous platforms. I’m always conscious not to reveal details that would put my safety at risk, but still maintain a relatively open-book marketing policy.
It’s time-consuming, but it’s free, and I believe brings in a more suitable  client for me.
When I first began my career, I truly believed that respect from my peers and clients would come if I appeared to be a “luxury” provider. The jury’s still out on what that means, but essentially, I’d organize photoshoots wearing beautiful dresses, designer shoes, and try to appear more ethereal and feminine.
Over time, and after many mismatched dates where I couldn’t meet the expectations I’d set about myself, I learned to market myself more truthfully.
Now, I refer to myself as the “girl next door.” I’m into rock music. I’m into ripped jeans. I’m probably going to curse.
I became unapologetic and honest about the kind of girl you’d be meeting, and it worked.

Peter Berton: What are your thoughts on current client attitudes and trends; including the impact of cybersex on client behaviours?

Madison Winter: You know, I have mixed feelings about this one.
On one hand, I see trends towards longer engagements, more social interaction and relationship-based dates, and on the other, I see a rise in porn’s influence in PSE style requests, particularly from the younger clientele.
Over the course of my career, and my friends’ careers, we’ve seen a shift from single hour bookings to multi-day bookings where we truly connect with our date and establish this long term relationship. I can’t help but wonder if that’s due to our branding and the growth that’s occurred within it over the years — or because client attitudes are shifting.
Simultaneously, sexual content is everywhere. It’s in our media, and for free on just about any platform imaginable.
I find that some clients — in my experience the men under 35 — seem to visit with a preconceived screenplay for specifically how the date’s going to go down. They’ll arrive with a checklist, and it’s more about the sexual act and agenda than the entirety of the experience.
I don’t believe one is good and the other is inherently bad, or vice-versa;  but it seems to come at both extremes. I suppose as a provider, it’s our job to either become a chameleon and cater to both, or choose whichever niche you enjoy most.

Peter Berton: What are your words of wisdom for other SPs (especially newbies),  and your plans for the future?

Madison Winter: This is going to sound cliche, and super bumper-stickeresque, but please — BE YOURSELF.
That is the single most valuable piece of advice I could give any fellow provider. It’s the thing that revamped and revitalized my business.
Too often, we compare ourselves with others; especially given the rise of marketing and interaction on social media. However, it’s easy to forget that we all have different strengths, weaknesses, things that we enjoy and don’t enjoy.
There is no ‘right’ way to escort. The industry is vast and complex. So market yourself AS yourself (to the extent of your comfort, of course) and choose a clientele and business plan that suits your personality.
It’s the easiest way, I’ve found, to enjoy your work more and reduce emotional burnout. 

About the Author

Winner of the award for Favourite Adult Journalist, Peter Berton has written for Adult Video News, Klixxx, XBIZ, Xtra, and He likes to interview sex workers to tap into their vast knowledge about human nature, business marketing, work/life balance and succeeding as entrepreneurs.


The Naked Truth

The Naked Truth provides sex-worker-driven, accessible resources, tools, and supports that prioritize health, safety, ethical business practices, and training for sex workers and our clients; and promotes a voluntary system of self-regulation in the Canadian sex industry.

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