'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Friday, May 23, 2008

Liberation or Commodification? (Part 1) 

All of you aspiring left sociologists, feminists, postmodernists . . . read this column by Violet Blue and decide:

I asked established escort and professional dominatrix Giselle Reid — who has worked in many regions of the country as well as internationally — what makes San Francisco clients different from clients from anywhere else.

Reid tells me, "My clients here, as anywhere I've ever worked, are primarily white, middle aged, upper middle class to upper class men. In my experience, and in general, the men of San Francisco make delightful clients. They tend to be politically liberal, with at least a rudimentary social/ecological consciousness."

Violet Blue: How does this translate in an everyday sense?

Giselle Reid: They have good and expansive taste in cuisine. They are less obsessed with orgasm than men who, in other parts of the world, cussed at themselves or me if they came too quickly or not at all. Often they are with me to have a good time, not to prove themselves. They are eager to have their asses played with. They are less likely to smoke. They are generally more informed and supportive of sex workers' rights issues and more willing to talk openly and objectively about sex work. They know and use the term "sex work." They are less likely to be homophobic and more open with their sexual curiosity about other men. They are more likely to bring their girlfriend, wife or other favorite sex worker with them. They are less likely to speak ill of their wives. Some of them call or write me on holidays and my birthday. And of course, they, like everyone in this great city, are generally better looking.

Violet Blue: Is there an experience you've had that characterizes the San Francisco client?

Giselle Reid: Here are four experiences that I feel characterize the San Francisco client: I once had a client ask me if it was OK to say hi to me if he ran into me at Pride. One client, as a sweet gesture of perversity, gave me the underwear her Craigslist date had removed in the bathroom and traded with her own over lunch earlier that day. I once asked a client if I could take the sample toiletries from his hotel room for the homeless and he assembled a little baggie for me and praised the act heavily. A first-time client who gave me his ass virginity looked at me meaningfully between moans of pleasure and said, "You have really beautiful eyes."

I'll give you a hint as to my perspective: the ability of a capitalist society to market sexuality and fantasy appears to be boundless. But, of course, as Brecht and Weill demonstrated in the opera The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, an opera centered around the theme of the marketization of human needs and desire, one has to be able to pay the price of admission or face the consequences.

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