Fiercely intelligent, fantastically transgressive, Working It is an intimate portrait of the lives of sex workers.
A polyphonic story of triumph, survival, and solidarity this collection showcases the vastly different experiences and interests of those who have traded sex; among them a brothel worker in Australia, First Nation survivors of the Canadian child welfare system, and an afro-latina single parent raising a radicalized child. Packed with first-person essays, interviews, poetry, drawings, mixed-media collage, and photographs Working It honors the complexity of lived experience. Sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes hardboiled, these dazzling pieces will go straight to the heart.
“If you ever want to know what is really up, talk to a sex worker. Working It is chock full of harsh realities, hopeful activism, hot takes, sharp writing, electric intellects, dark humor—everything you could want, all from the culture heroes making their dollars at the intersection of all our country's worst problems. This is true outlaw writing, and the stories inside are of crucial importance for us all.”
—Michelle Tea, author of over a dozen books, including Rent Girl, Valencia, and Against Memoir
“A serious, eclectic collection that takes a critical eye to the tricky questions surrounding care and work within our society. The thinkers in the pages of Working It have a lot to teach us about both.”
—Rax King, author of Tacky, and co-host of the podcast Low Culture Boil
“Under neoliberal late capitalism—where wage growth fails to meet the ever-growing cost of living, and the already-frayed social safety net is ever-receding—laborers in many sectors of the economy struggle to provide for themselves, their families, and their communities. Sex workers are among these laborers, and Working It offers what the editors rightly refer to as a ‘kaleidoscope’ of thought-provoking historical commentaries, academic examinations, personal narratives, and interviews. Interspersed with beautiful poems and creative images, the pieces in this collection, written by contributors representing a wide range of identities and experiences, offer readers an expansive view of sex work, while also highlighting sex workers’ broader struggles, triumphs, and collective efforts. Variously confronting issues including but not limited to racism, classism, sexism, police brutality, consent, and respectability politics, Working It indicates the challenges—but also the hope and radical imagination—of workers striving to meet their own needs and support each other in a broader socio-cultural, political, and economic climate that is often hostile to their interests.”
—Sam Majic, author Sex Work Politics: From Protest to Service Provision, co-editor of Negotiating Sex Work: Unintended Consequences of Policy and Activism, and co-author of Youth Who Trade Sex in the US: Agency, Intersectionality, and Vulnerability
Table of Contents:
Foreword - Molly Smith
Introduction - Matilda
Life at the Margins - Leila Raven
The Monotony of Sex Work - Janis
Waiting to Be Rescued from My Office Job - Emily Dall'Ora Warfield
The High Cost of Cheap Labor - Melissa
Interview - Jelena
Cyntoia Brown and My Black Body - Naomi
Do You Ever Like It? - Stephanie
What Would You Say to Other Girls Who Are Considering It? - Stephanie
How I Ended Up Being a Social Worker at the Veteran's Administration - a conversation with Eden
What Did Sex Work Take from You and How Can You Get it Back? - Tansy Breshears
First, Last, My Only - Xaxum
Respectability Politics by Any Other Name - Janis Luna
El Cerrito - Nicole
6 gifts you can ask your sugar daddy... - Cisqo Thyme
I Don't Consent to Enthusiastic Consent - Phoenix Calida
When My Mom Found My Craigslist Ad - Alyssa Pariah
Letter from a Social Worker -Aubrey
Intimate Labor - Matilda
Labor Rights: How Do They Work? - Susan Elizabeth Shepherd
Metopia - Dee Lucas
About the Editors:
Matilda Bickers is an artist and writer originally from Boston's South End. Her experience in sex work, which she entered at age 18, has enabled her to focus on art and activism and the vital intersection of the two. She has performed her written work at the Radar Reading Series in San Francisco, and with Sister Spit in Portland, OR. Witnessing the experiences of other people faced with only terrible options in a world uninterested in their success or even survival, Bickers has worked to create spaces to amplify and showcase their creative work, from Working It, a quarterly zine of sex worker art and writing, to the annual Portland Sex Worker Art Show. Bickers is currently writing and illustrating Aspiration Risk, a graphic novel about her ongoing attempt to leave the sex trades for a career in healthcare, and the painful parallels between the two industries.
peech breshears is a writer living in Kansas. She is married and leases her home from one Havanese dog named Wallace who takes his rent in kibble and biscuits. She loves Jesus and people. Currently pursuing a master's in English at Wichita State University, she'll be glad to meet you and you can reach out to her for friendships, jobs, and writing opportunities by following her @_peech on Instagram.
Janis Luna (she/they) is a stripper forced into early retirement by COVID-19. She now works as a freelance writer and sex-worker-affirming therapist, and she misses the club (but mostly the dressing room) every day. She can be found at @janis_therapy on IG and www.janistherapy.com .