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Naked Witness: How FOSTA/SESTA Is Killing Sex Workers & Spells to Help Survive

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“Our political and social scheme cannot afford to tolerate the individual and his constant quest for innovation. In ‘self-defense’ the State therefore suppresses, persecutes, punishes and even deprives the individual of life. It is aided in this by every institution that stands for the preservation of the existing order. It resorts to every form of violence and force, and its efforts are supported by the ‘moral indignation’ of the majority against the heretic, the social dissenter and the political rebel–the majority for centuries drilled in State worship, trained in discipline and obedience and subdued by the awe of authority in the home, the school, the church and the press.

The strongest bulwark of authority is uniformity; the least divergence from it is the greatest crime.”
— Emma Goldman, “The Individual, Society and the State.”

“The society leaves it to the individual’s decision whether he will draw upon himself evil consequences and inconveniences by his mode of action, and hereby recognizes his free decision; the State behaves in exactly the reverse way, denying all right to the individual’s decision and, instead, ascribing the sole right to its own decision, the law of the State, so that he who transgresses the State’s commandment is looked upon as if he were acting against God’s commandment — a view which likewise was once maintained by the Church. Here God is the Holy in and of himself, and the commandments of the Church, as of the State, are the commandments of this Holy One, which he transmits to the world through his anointed and Lords-by-the-Grace-of-God. If the Church had deadly sins, the State has capital crimes; if the one had heretics, the other has traitors; the one ecclesiastical penalties, the other criminal penalties…”
—Max Stirner, The Ego and Its Own

You cannot imagine how much I spit on the concept of Society, of morality, of cattle-bred humans pent-up in national cages. I see little promise in crowds, in the huddled mass kneeling before Vampires who talk of “sin” while robots in the sky vaporize brown children. These unconscious slaves man the borders, the execution chambers, the firing squads; they kill, torture, and rape safe in the knowledge it’s all for some “greater good.” Obedient to the hive, all are just following orders or enforcing the law, codified violence handed down from leaders who insure their uniformed killers they’re doing “the right thing.”

Today the “right thing” is to destroy the lives of Sex Workers and our overseers in Washington assure us it’s all for their “own good.”

Real human beings are being thrown to the wolves, torn from self-sufficiency and safety; sex workers aren’t only being denied the ability to be economically independent, they are being made invisible. Like one gigantic book burning the United States is erasing any evidence sex work could be something more than beatings, pimps, and danger.

And that’s fine with most people. Hell, they called these new laws the “Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act” and theAllow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act” for a reason. Society and the State assure us sex work is evil, a corruption of our nature they must ward off. Nobody wants to do it because it’s just THAT bad. We are implored to ignore the voices of those that protest decisions made without them, warned they “don’t know what’s best.”

It is this same compulsion, “good people” doing “what’s best,” that leads to witch burnings, lynchings, and new laws making butt-fucking illegal. Much better to kill the sinner, to starve them, beat them, throw them in a cage, then to allow them to wallow in sin! Purge the heretic of moral failures and, though their body writhe in pain, surely the soul will be cleansed!

What foul and putrid horseshit. If I am ever counted among that detestable, blind, mouth-breathing mass of mediocrity we call “good people” I have a simple favor to ask: please put a Smith & Wesson .500 Magnum right against my skull and reduce my mortal coil to a fine red mist.

Sex Workers are allies and cousins to Conjurers, Occultists, Witches; we are all members of the same shadowy world daylight society would rather ignore; often, as you shall read, our professions overlap. “The Left,” the supposed opponents of all that enslaves the species, seems unsure if our world is peopled with allies or deadly foes. Where does the Cartomancer pulling apart the strings of fate fit in Marx’s vision? Where does the submissive satisfying the sexual urge for domination fit in Bookchin’s municipalities? Where do the thieves, stick-up men, and drug dealers of North Memphis fit in the “One Big Union?”

Yet again the Ruling Class is harming the most vulnerable and most “radicals” look away. The Left wrings its hands and shrugs incessantly. Can’t something else be talked about? Isn’t there a textbook we can argue about?

Perhaps they are uncomfortable because these victims of capitalism don’t “fit” the narrative of the proud socialist factory worker, the sexless Kurdish soldier, the noble and upstanding rebel who knows “anarchy is order” and aspires to own a collectively managed craft brewery.

We outliers make lives on our own terms, in our own way, in a world that offers us nothing. We have done so for generations. There is an entire magical practice devoted to staying alive in what was once called The Sporting Life and it is needed now more than ever.

This article isn’t a call for mercy. It isn’t merely trying to make Leftists aware of comrades in need. It is the testimony of actual sex-workers about the harm society has wrought. It is how new laws meant to save people will end up killing them. It is about what the future might bring and what magic can be wielded to twist the laws of fate and the dice rolls of probability.

Above all I ask you listen and seek to understand. This might be the last chance you get…

“I wonder how long it’s going to be before the state comes to rescue me away to a cage…”

Kit Snicket is an illegalist and insurrectionist anarchist who sums her politics up thusly: “be gay, do crimes, kill your boss, eat the rich, bash the fash, and smash the state.” She has been involved with sex work for over a decade.

“I started doing sex work, or at least sex work-adjacent, stuff when I was 16, back in Craigslist erotic services days. I had a lot of friends who were older than me, and a lot of the women and femmes would make extra money on Craigslist by responding to ads that guys with cameras would post, wanting to take pictures of naked girls for a couple hundred bucks. It seemed like an easy way to make money and definitely less miserable than the shitty minimum wage jobs available to a grimy punk kid who had dropped out of high school a couple months ago and had no GED or really even plans to get one any time soon.” The pictures turned into fetish work which resulted in her eventually signing up with a professional escort service. “I still think it was better than anything else I could’ve done.”

Kit herself is also a practicing witch. “My mother comes from a very magical family and so taught me a lot of stuff that I didn’t really even think of as magic for years and years,” she said. “I was never presented to me as magic, just stuff you did to manipulate things to the way you want them.”

“Most of the magic I do around my work is extremely general, because it’s usually wide-net stuff. I don’t like focusing on single clients, even big money guys because the more they love you, the more of your real self they want and it gets exhausting always trying to swat them away from that part of you. So I do very generalized attraction work and control work aimed at men specifically, protection stuff, both from predators and specifically against the state, things like that. I mainly fuck with various love and fertility goddesses as far as work goes, for me specifically Ishtar is my main girl.”

Sex workers, rather than mere victims as the State and Society would have us to believe, are often independent spirits struggling to survive, no different from the hustler on the street corner, the sorceress reading palms, or an actor becoming a character for a little extra cash.

Kit’s precarious existence, a small corner of autonomy in a world in short supply, is the most recent target of patriarchal and capitalist violence in the name of morality. Under the new SESTA/FOSTA legislation any website, and by extension its owners, can be prosecuted if they engage in the “promotion or facilitation of prostitution” or “facilitate traffickers in advertising the sale of unlawful sex acts with sex trafficking victims.”

What’s that mean? If sex work, or even a discussion of it, happens on any platform the platforms owners can be held criminally liable. In response online personals like Craigslist(who’s been shown to have REDUCED female homicides by 17%) as well as entire websites dealing with sex work have already disappeared; forums focusing on sex work knowledge and safety have been pulled from places like Reddit. Even major services including Google and Microsoft have taken new steps to ban legal but “unwanted” content.

“The loss of our ad platforms makes it harder for clients to find us, which leads to a loss of business that’s fucking devastating in general, but especially right now since winter in most places is very slow and we all rely on the gradual increase in bookings that starts in the spring and peaks in the summer.”

“What a lot of people don’t realize,” Kit says, “is that most sex workers are poor and working class people, lower middle class at best. Even the people who work in more ‘high end’ areas of the industry are mostly just performing wealth as part of their work personas and live fairly modestly in real life.”

Having lived in this world, seen it through the lens of raw experience, Kit knows these new laws have zero intention of keeping her or her fellow workers safe.

“The thing about laws targeting sex workers is that since we, as a group, are pretty much reviled by both sides of the political establishment, legislation that is meant to hurt us is, on some level, a test of how badly the poor treatment that marginalized groups face can be written into law. A very clear-cut example of this is the way sex workers were among the first groups to be hauled off to camps by the Nazis, even before Jewish, Roma, and Sinti people. You can trace this bill back to Tom Dart here in Cook County, when he started his campaign against the supposed den of iniquity that was Backpage by trying to force visa and MasterCard to not allow payments for ads, or before him when sex work started to become more acceptable within the mainstream and the political establishment created the sex trafficking panic we’re in the middle of today as a response to that.”

This panic is widespread. When a group of sex workers, in response to the passing of FOSTA/SESTA, attempted to set up their own social network called Switter they were immediately shut down by the server host out of fear of prosecution. Since FOSTA/SESTA is retroactive, even people who have left the sex industry could find themselves banned from any platform if they openly discussed their work years prior. This has lead some workers to create threads on how to clean up their social media to stay online and avoid prison time.

Society and it’s laws demand they erase all evidence of their sins. Chased offline and from the comfort of their homes some sex workers are turning to the street, the exact behavior FOSTA/SESTA was supposed to eradicate. Instead of sex workers controlling their means of production, vetting clients, and staying safe they must risk life and limb just to pay the bills.

The results are what you expect.

“What I do know is that there are at least 13 sex workers from various places who had to turn to street work since Backpage was shut down and never checked in with their safety calls after they got in a tricks car,” says Kit. “Two of them are confirmed dead, and those are just the ones we know about. It’s also impossible to say how many sex workers have been attacked by cops or predators posing as clients, and it’s only been two weeks since backpage was seized.”

While Kit considers herself very fortunate, working for a well-established agency that insulates her from most the new dangers, she has no illusions about how she’s viewed by society or what her own future might bring.

“You can blame all the so-called feminists who call sex work degrading and exploitative as if it is somehow moreso than any other labor under capitalism, or you can blame republican ‘family values’ politicians who rail against our undermining of traditional patriarchal norms out of one side of their mouths while they hire us with the other. You can blame the misogyny that infects every part of our society and seeks to punish women (and it’s always women and femmes who bear the brunt of these punishing laws) who manage to achieve a level of self-determination that otherwise is not readily accessible to them under capitalism.”

“I wonder how long it’s going to be,” she said, “before the state comes to rescue me away to a cage…”

yep

“More street work, more arrests, more assault…”

Lillian Fiona is a non-binary and trans worker of the Left Hand Path. “I was raised by a cultish, extreme Christianity abusive family who basically thought all of the qualities that made me the cool ass bitch I am were actually demonic signs of the antichrist.” Lillian doesn’t identify strictly with a system or tradition but “would definitely argue that I’m on the left hand path, somewhere between Satan and Baphomet.”

Lillian has been in sex-work since they were 16 and is solidly working class, having done everything from landscaping, carpentry, and even furniture repair in an effort to survive. “I got ignored or laughed out of trying to do those jobs once I started presenting femme.” Lillian’s experience is quite common. More than one in four transgender people have lost a job due to bias, and more than three-fourths have experienced some form of workplace discrimination. These extreme levels of unemployment and poverty lead one in eight to become involved in the capitalist “underground”—such as sex and drug work—in order to survive.

“I’d go out looking for jobs and get nothing but transphobic snickers from employers,” they said, “and then random guys in hush tones on the side streets offering me pitiful amounts of money for sex.” Far from being exploited, Lillian found power in sex work. “I went hard at it, gave it my all, learned how to do it safely, how to charge appropriately.” Fueled by the “newfound confidence, self-love, and pursuit of truth that my transition gave me,” Lillian began “organizing trans sex workers” and “offering safety advice and mentoring to the online trans SWer community.”

“Everyone is forced into one type of labor or another in this life,” they said, “and for many people, sex work IS empowering. It changed me for the better, no doubt, in a lot of ways.”

And the State could not abide that.

“SESTA/FOSTA is class warfare against sex workers,” says Lillian. “Here’s a break down: most of forced labor in the US is immigrant farm work, sex work. They lump all sex workers in with trafficking victims, because they can’t imagine someone actually wanting to fuck for money without clutching their pearls and fainting on the couch.”

“When we publicly speak out against this, they accuse us of being ‘russian bots’ which is literally dehumanizing the people they claim to save, if you think about it. So for them, we are all trafficked. There are even laws being worked on (or possibly that have already passed) where a single escort seeing a client can get busted for ‘sex trafficking’ i.e., they trafficked themself. Again dehumanizing, infantilizing. Refusing to acknowledge that the majority of us choose this, at least as much as they chose to work for AT&T.”

SESTA/FOSTA, while uniquely terrifying, is nothing new. “There’s a history of puritanical assholes trying to ‘save us’, and it usually involves taking away our source of income, putting us in shelters for victims of abuse, and getting us jobs in little factories making jewelry or some other job that keeps us out of public view, away from people, and making somewhere around minimum wage. This saves us from nothing, it only reinforces their belief that we are victims.”

Even the lawmakers largest victory, the complete dismantling of Backpage, has proven to be a load of bullshit. “Backpage’s founders knew the difference between a victim and an escort,” says Lillian, “and was essentially a honey pot for lower level sex traffickers, that caught a lot of them and indeed, freed a lot of people. Now that BP is gone, those traffickers are scattered, their victims are hidden, and we have no real way to catch them. And of course, none of these heroic rescuers of trafficking victims give a shit about the largely immigrant forced labor of agriculture workers, or largely PoC forced labor of prisoners.”

What will the new laws mean for sex workers? Lillian paints a grim picture.

“Escorts, especially those who don’t have regulars, will be hit hardest, but even online sex workers will be hurt by this. We can no longer discuss business practices with each other. Its become illegal to talk about. This isn’t just about sharing information, but legal sites we’ve come to depend on are failing now, and they aren’t stopping with escorting. Its going to spread. Even webcamming is going to be much more competitive, with thousands of new sex workers joining up….Now that it’s not only illegal for sites to advertise us, but *simply by sharing information* about safe places to work, methods, and exchanging client information, people are going to fall through the cracks, isolated and ignorant. What we’re already seeing is people moving to street work, which is always more dangerous, and less paying. Especially for those who struggle the most: trans people, PoC, houseless, disabled and neurodivergent sex workers.”

For Lillian the effects of these new laws are clear: “More street work, more arrests, more assaults, more missing sex workers (accompanied by the ever-present dead hooker jokes), less safe sex, more lives ruined.”

yep

“No one is ever coming to save you…”

The same society that allows its overseers to regularly rape immigrants has spoken: sex work is taboo. While potential challenges to SESTA/FOSTA worm their way through the courts, sex workers will be forced to adapt or die. No revolution, no vanguard, waits on the horizon. Violent pimps will make entire livelihoods from offering “protection” to the same people they routinely brutalize. Blood and tears will fill the shadows while society carries on, “good people” all too happy to ignore the dismembered corpses wearing fishnets and thigh-highs.

Lillian looks to the past for tactics to stay alive. “There were some small instances of people teaming up, little crews of sex workers who would share information and back each other up, even paying streetkids for protection and stuff, but it wasn’t enough. If we want to get serious about surviving the incoming years, we’re going to have to actually team up to help each other, even if it’s just in small regional gangs.”

Getting serious might involve going back even further for ideas.

For as long as sex work, thievery, and other “underground” professions have existed the occult has been apart of them, a tradition still ongoing today. “I know lots of sex workers with deep connections to Lillith, Ishtar, Baba Yaga, or other entities especially sympathetic to sex work,” says Lillian. As the situation continues to get riskier for sex workers those entities will become all the more important.

The spirit world has always been a friend to the oppressed, a loaded pistol for the unarmed. When people are left with no other option the whispers of swamps and graveyards seem to grow louder. Gods took part in the Haitian Revolution; in Zimbabwe the spirits of ancestral rulers, speaking through mediums, authorized armed resistance to the colonial regime.

There is real fucking power here, and Kit and Lillian agree its time for sex workers to up their weaponry.

Kit suggests worried sex workers begin developing relationships with “deities that they feel a pull towards. I think that older is better here, though. Hookers have been around longer than agriculture and the same goddesses have been taking care of us for that long and probably know best what the hell they’re doing.”

Lillian agrees, noting the new legal atmosphere will also make more “chaotic, rebellious, warlike, and criminal” spirits much more sympathetic to the sex worker cause.

But where to start? I have a few ideas…

It is this journalist’s opinion that alongside any good repertoire with the spirit world should come a solid basis in practical sorcery. Lillian and Kit both use spellwork as an added edge to street smarts, intuition, and a relationship with otherworldly powers. This is a model to follow, one that has proven successful now and in the past.

Sometimes we cannot wait for the gods to answer, or for the laws to change, and by hook or crook we must rally the very cosmos to our aid. What follows is a small selection from a gigantic field waiting for the sex worker community to utilize, designed with cheap ingredients in mind available from any grocery store or herb shop. The god or goddess of your choice can be called into any of these works, or even simply asked to help guide your movements and prayers; a sincere belief in a higher power and faith in the process will also work in a pinch.

Charm to Make A Client Generous With Money

To make a client ready to pay and eager to keep you funded get a two-dollar bill. Write the following across the bill:

“[Name of Client] bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. [Name of Client] be generous with me, shower me with money. [Name of Client] I am a lamp to your feet and the path for your money.”

Acquire some of the sexual fluids of your client and put it on the bill in a “five-spot pattern,” the same pattern seen on dice, playing cards, or dominoes. With the bill still wet add Cinnamon chips, Cloves, and dried Patchouli. Read Psalm 23 over it three times and fold the bill towards you. Keep it in your bra or underwear and continue to feed it the client’s sexual fluids to keep it working.

Keep the Pigs Away

This can be done for any location you work out of, whether it be a house, massage parlor, or the like. Get a good amount of Poppy Seeds, Oregano, and Fennel Seeds. When the moon is waning pour some of the herbs in a bottle of high-alcohol rum. Take a black candle and rub it AWAY FROM YOU in olive oil. Make a pile of the herbs and roll the candle in it AWAY FROM YOU. As you do so say the following words:

“Go away Police, go away.
Where this rum is you can not be.
Where this rum goes you cannot go
Where this rum lives you cannot live.”

Burn the candle for three nights, pinching the candle out each night. On the third night get a Jack of Diamonds and light the candle as before. Get a permanent marker and draw a big X across the Jack, being sure not to cover up the eyes. Flip the card over and on the back write:

“Go away Police, go away
Where I am you cannot be
Where I go you cannot go
Where I live you cannot live.”

Sprinkle the card with the rum, and sprinkle the herbs across the card. Let the candle burn down. Before the sun rises nail the card above the front door, right through the middle of the card. Throw the remaining herbs in the front yard while repeating the second prayer, and sprinkle the rum on the front doorstep.

Once a week sprinkle the rum on the Jack and your doorstep; the same night throw a mix of Poppy Seeds, Oregano, and Fennel Seeds in the yard. Keep poppy seeds in your pocket when you are on the street. If you’re arrested it’ll keep the cops confused.

Cam Girl/Clip Girl Magic

Get a 4 of Diamonds from any playing card deck. Write the words “Want Me Always” between the top two diamonds and “I’m Your Favorite” between the bottom two diamonds. Write “Keep Me Well” across the middle of the card. Write your name from one corner of the card to the other, forming an X with your name across the card. Sprinkle Lovage Root, Cinnamon, and Rose Petals across the card.

Place the card under a red bowl. On top of the bowl burn a red candle rolled TOWARDS YOU in powdered sugar. Burn the candle for nine nights praying to whatever deity you like to draw customers to you “like ants to sugar.” When the candle burns out bury the wax and remaining herbs near your front door and facing east. Take the card and hide it within camera shot but not anywhere noticeable. Once a month(full moon is ideal) repeat the candle ritual with the same card.

Getting Rid of Shitty Clients

If a client has been violent, rude, or is generally just a hazard gather Red Pepper flakes, Cayenne, and Ginger. Make a line of it in front of your door commanding the client can never again cross that line without being burnt by the fires of hell.

If you have a picture of the client you can rub a red candle AWAY FROM YOU in the same mix, switching out the Ginger for Black Pepper. Burn the candle on top of the picture. As it burns get angry, scream and yell and tell that candle EXACTLY what you want to happen. Make clear this person will never attempt to contact you again. Take the remains and leave them at a crossroads, imploring the Devil to keep them forever wandering away from you, tortured by the fires of hell. Leave some fireball whiskey for him as payment.

Be sure to cleanse yourself afterwards.

***

SESTA/FOSTA may have changed the rules of the game but the struggle is as old as time. The world has decided that sex workers have no right to live on their terms, and would rather them die than fly in the face of social edicts. The law, the courts, they conspire together to bring sex work back into the darkness.

For Lillian the path forward is perfectly clear:

“Fuck SESTA/FOSTA, gang up, sell ass, stay safe, do crimes, get high, make money, beat asses, never believe the hype or forget the lube, be the fiercest, most powerful gods you can be and know in your deepest of hearts that no one is ever coming to save you or do it for you. It’s you and the people with you from here on in.”

Kit and Lillian aren’t waiting for the Left to save them. They aren’t waiting for society to have a change of heart and they certainly aren’t waiting for the laws to run in the favor of the poor. They, and so many like them, are doing everything in their power to make it in a world that’s denied them everything. They refuse to be anything other than themselves. Real people, not drones or living vessels for class divisions, coming together under terrible circumstances to preserve what little freedom they have in defiance of the law.

Radicals everywhere should take some goddamn notes.


DR. BONES

20171014_152252Dr. Bones is a Hoodoo-slingin’ Florida native and Egoist-Communist spitting pure vitriol and sorcerous wisdom at a world gone mad. He lives with his loving wife, a herd of cats, and a house full of spirits.

His poltergasmic politics and gonzo journalism can be found at Gods & Radicals and The Conjure House. He can be reached by emailtwitter, or facebook. Want to do him a favor? Help keep him alive for as little as $4.99 a month.


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