Tuesday, March 22, 2005

This is a little rant, because I read a journal post yesterday and it made me mad. The author is Ali Davis, who wrote the True Porn Clerk Stories blog, which is a great piece of writing and was one of the blogs I read that made me think, "I should do this." (Meaning, keep a blog.)

True Porn Clerk Stories is no longer being updated, as Ms. Davis is no longer a porn clerk. But while she doesn't say a lot, Ms. Davis does still post on her LiveJournal from time to time, and I've been reading and quietly hoping she would achieve her career goal of being a screenwriter in LA. Apparently things are not moving so speedily in that department, leading to her to the hell that is applying for low-paying service jobs that you are way overqualified for.

All the pseudo-feminists who go around saying that sex work is degrading to women need to read this. I've waited tables and tended bar, and this is exactly the kind of condescending, power-tripping asshole of a boss I often had to deal with. They take advantage of having a tiny bit of power over other people because they totally get off on jerking them around.

The last straight job I had waiting tables was at one of those corporate chain restaurants where the dishes have slight wacky names, the walls are decorated with quaint old signs, and the wait staff are strongly encouraged (read: required) to wear hats and suspenders and funny buttons and such with their uniform. I was doing sex work stuff here and there on the side, since, of course, this job didn't pay enough to enable me to live in even modest comfort. One day, my boss took me aside and said, "Well, honey, your basic performance is all right. But you know, you just don't seem to be having enough fun."
I looked at him. "Enough fun?"
"Yeah, you know – you just don't seem like you're enjoying yourself." I remember how he stared at me with an almost religious fervor. "Here at (BLANK) it's not just about food - we're about creating a sense of fun and excitement. So we have to get you more excited about being here."

So what this puffy little man with his synthetic dress shirt and his televangelist hair and his junior-college business degree was telling me was that not only did I have to fulfill the function I was hired for – convey orders to the kitchen and food to the tables – I also had to feel a certain way about it. The company wanted not only to command my labor, but they wanted me to be delirious with pleasure about it. They wanted me to rejoice in my corporate servitude, and to convey my rapture to the customers, in the hopes that my intoxication would somehow impel them to spend more money. And he wanted me to understand that if I did not display adequate transports of happiness while carrying heavy trays of food and wiping up toddler-smashed saltines, there would be…a problem.

All this, for a soulless corporation that paid me only the tiniest of wages, the rest of my slender earnings being supplied by the aforementioned customers, who frankly didn't seem to care how euphoric I might (or might not) be, as long as I was pleasant and prompt with their dinners.
I quit that job and took up sex work full time, and while I've had some ups and downs in the industry, I have never again had to put up with some mediocre white boy expecting me to prostrate myself in humble gratitude before he granted me the privilege of slaving away for him at poverty-level wages. Sex workers rights activist Margo St. James said it best when she observed, "In this prostituting society, we ALL have to hustle, and I'd rather suck cock than kiss ass!"

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