Sex Workers Lift Veil on Their Experiences With Collection of Memoirs

By Janet Upadhye on January 30, 2014 12:36pm 

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Her every step was excruciating. She walked with a cane and her body was so wracked with chronic pain it sometimes forced her to spend a night in the hospital.

But when Dynasty went to work, she slipped on a pair of stilletto heels, short shorts and a tube top and stepped onto the stage at a Sunset Park strip club where she put her pain to the side for a brief moment.

"My set ended and I walked around for tips. Not a single customer mentioned my sweet little limp, even though it was very exaggerated by the addition of 6-inch-heels," said Dynasty (W) Rex, one of the authors in the third edition of the journal "Prose & Lore," a collection of firsthand accounts recently released by Downtown Brooklyn-based advocacy group the Red Umbrella Project

Journal editor Audacia Ray, the director of the Red Umbrella Project director who released two earlier editions of the journal last year, said the goal is to reveal the nuance of sex work and to let those in the industry speak for themselves.

"I often get asked if people in the industry are exploited or empowered and I don't think there is one answer to that question," said Ray. "This journal shows that there are many different truths."

Ray's latest journal includes topics like police raids, violence within the industry and the reasons why the authors got involved in sex work.

It includes a piece called "Choke a Horse," written by a one-time rent boy named Dominick who has since retired from the industry.

"My only regret is that I didn't charge more," said Dominick, 50, who spent 11 years as a paid companion to a wealthy designer when he was in his 20s.

Dominick said he smoked weed and drank a lot to make his work more tolerable, eventually developing an addiction. But he said he was convinced to stay in the industry by a hefty weekly salary, a jet-setting world travel lifestyle and the promise of a hefty inheritance when his "sugar daddy" died.

Like the majority of "Prose & Lore" contributors, Dominick uses a pseudonym to write because his current job in sales might be compromised if his employers knew his past.

Still, he plans to be among the five authors who will get up in front of an audience and read his piece on February 10 at 7 p.m. at Brooklyn Community Pride Center at 4 Metrotech in Downtown Brooklyn. The event is free and open to the public.

Ray said the feedback has been incredibly positive since she launched the journals last year.

"People who have read previous journals are surprised about the quality of writing," she said.

The journal is available online for $7.99. For more information about the reading or about the organization, go to the Red Umbrella Project website.

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