Friday, January 1, 2016
OPEN LETTER TO NEVADA AND PORTLAND CLUB OWNERS
Sex Workers Anonymous (formerly Prostitutes Anonymous)
(702) 468-4529 or (844) 266-4941 Toll Free
January 1, 2015
Re: Cupcake Girls
Attention Gentlemens' Club Owners:
My name is Jody Williams. For those of you who don't know who I am, I'm the founder of Sex Workers Anonymous (formerly Prostitutes Anonymous). We changed our name in 1995 for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons is because we had members coming to us for support in leaving the sex/adult industry who were not prostitutes. You as club owners know that a woman can be an entertainer, dancer, or even bartender, waitress, etc. but not necessarily a “prostitute”. Our membership is open to anyone, male, female or transgender, from any part of the sex industry. That means yes we've had a club owner or two among our members even. Think about it for a moment if it might not be a HUGE adjustment if something happened to you where you realized you just couldn't be in the adult/sex industry any longer and how hard that would be for you.
Is it the industry we're at issue with? Absolutely not. As a matter of fact, the two club owners who came to us did so because they found when they entered into sobriety from alcohol they just couldn't stay sober and run the clubs at the same time. One club owner in Vegas kept opening up the club, getting drunk, and then in the morning saying “I don't think I can do this any more”. One day that's just what he did – he went down to both of the clubs he owned and just chained them shut. But granted now not being in the industry was a huge adjustment for him and he needed to spend some time with us until he got himself settled into his new routine. We're not like Alcoholics Anonymous however in the fact people come to us with a lifelong terminal disease for which they go to meetings for the rest of their lives. Once members get what it is they need from us – they move on. Some look at us like you do the ER you just left after a horrible accident – once you're fine you want to forget about it all.
I'm writing you today for an issue that's just reached a very critical point. Normally as a 12 step group we “don't have opinions on an outside issue”. However, we do have “opinions” on “inside” issues. Since leaving the sex industry is what is mainly what our program is about – this is why I'm writing you today about the Cupcake Girls. Now you'll notice that AA isn't running around your bar looking for recruits and asking for donations because that's not how you get someone sober. Neither too have we ever come into your establishment doing an “outreach” for SWA. Our attitude has always been if “someone needs us – they'll come find us” and that's worked pretty well for us being based out of Nevada since 1996 now. However, we understand that the Cupcake Girl have taken to coming into your clubs, and doing things like offering free make-overs, and also asking for tips.
Now I don't know if your dancers have complained to you about this -but they're sure complained to me about it for sure and that's the fact that when they come into your club to make money they have to work for it. They have to either take their clothes off, wait tables, tend bar, or play music. But somehow somewhat the belief is that no one comes into your club for a “free ride”. I mean how many of your dancers would love to be able to just waltz into the club, sit there and collect tips? Frankly, some of the girls have voiced the opinion that the money that's gone to them is money that should going into their g-strings and they're pretty unhappy about it.
So some of them are wondering why you're even allowing this. Look, I have to tell you if you haven't heard about this already, but this kind of thing already was going on down in California with the Treasures outreach down there. Harmony Dust became HIV positive and she started looking for a new gig. I reached out to her and invited her to do outreach work with us but she declined. Instead she wanted to do it for this church that was connected to Mercy Ministries. Like the Cupcake Girls, she refused to do work like we do across the board to all in the sex industry – instead only focusing on the strippers who were straight females of child bearing age.
As I'm sure you've seen many pimps will get their victims knocked up with their children as soon as possible. Then it's an 18 year leash and chain where if they try and run the pimp will threaten them with a kidnapping charge. Like the Margo Compton case, they'll threaten the woman with harming the children if they don't come home with a certain quota. What we do in those cases is rush them off to Canada where they don't extradite over child custody issues. We've been doing it for 30 years and the trick is we just hit the border before the pimp realizes they're even gone. It's not that hard to throw them in the RV we have for this purpose and take them to our sisters in recovery across the border where we then get them into their own homes in no time at all. That was up until very recently when the PEERS program shut down for a lack of funding. I'm sure we'll find something else -but that's another story.
What Treasures was doing, and why they shunned our help, was putting these women in homes they were telling them were “safe houses”. They would then be kept from any drugs or alcohol they were used to – so of course they'd be going into withdrawal. Then they were kept from any therapists, doctors, or even our members. After being ganged up on by a bunch of nuns and told that as “nothing but whores you'd make a horrible mother” they'd convince them to adopt our their babies. Then the minute the baby was born – they'd shove them into homeless shelter. You can google this church online to find out more – but by the time we'd get them cast off in the shelter they'd be pretty fried.
It appears that a lot of the same is happening here in Nevada – same song different dance. Then came the stunt at the Nevada legislature. The Cupcake Girls got up and were saying that they wanted this law passed because “strippers with prostitution records can't get jobs”. If you walk into any employment agency in Vegas – they'll give you a list of employers and who hires for what charge so that just isn't true. We've not had one problem placing ex-sex workers in jobs in Vegas in all the many years we've been doing this. In fact, we often get calls from marketing and sales departments looking for someone who used to be a 'working girl”. In 2007, we used to get a lot of calls from mortgage companies before the bottom fell out. Right now, time share companies have been calling and offering $25 an hour to start. What we couldn't understand is why would they want to promote such a lie?
Then we noticed that their lobbyist is also the lobbyist for the Nevada Defense Attorney's Association. That's when it made more sense. Look it's a known fact that because of existing laws from AA and NA that all anyone has to do with convicted of prostitution is ask to go to our meetings instead of jail. Why ask? Why wouldn't the public defender just do it? Because the jails get $75 to $150 a day per inmate that's why. If they don't ask – they're going to put them in jail and collect that per diem. The system wants these women thinking they have to get an attorney to get out of jail. Why? How about a minimum $2500 retainer plus hours plus fees to start?
Now you and I both know most of these women if they're hooking don't have that kind of money laying around. So guess what? Every criminal lawyer in Vegas has offered these women “that's okay – I'll take payments and you can pay my interest in blow jobs”. I wasn't even sure I believed these women telling me this until I MYSELF had a criminal lawyer offering to waive his $2000 fee for my traffic ticket that went into warrant because I didn't have the money if I'd sleep with him. I reminded him I'm retired and his response was “I know and that's what makes it even more exciting”. I've gone down the list and from what I can tell every criminal lawyer in Clark County anyway has asked for sex on top of money for defending a prostitute client and one afraid of jail is especially “cooperative”. The last thing these guys want them to know is all they have to do is ASK the judge “Can I be court ordered to SWA?” Look I've even had a judge take them right out of jail and waive bail to let them come to us.
As well for record expungment. What we've done is put together a packet showing they've paid their rent for a year on time, worked the same job for a year on time, gone to school or church or both, gone to our meetings, done volunteer work, stayed clean, and one of our members has gone in to vouch for them and the court has expunged their records for them. The ONLY thing that a prostitution arrest blocks you from in Nevada is from getting a brothel license. The law doesn't state what it takes to prove you “weren't trafficked” but I'd be wiling to bet we'll see those cleared of their past charges coming out of Bonaventura's court.
I'd be willing to bet we'll be seeing them get brothel licenses to work shortly after that record expungment. I mean who wants to spend a year doing a little thing like actually quitting that we have them do when with this law all you need is a judge's signature and you're done! Look I once had a judge sign a warrant that I was “impersonating myself” when I bought a burger with my debit card – so trust me I know that in Nevada you can get the right judge to sign just about anything for the right “campaign contribution” or in this case a contribution to the “trafficking fund”.
Which frankly has me wondering if that's why some of you are tolerating these women sitting around your bars collecting tips? I mean this AB67 sure looks like a “shake down” law if I ever saw one. If you've ever read it – it says that you can be 'triple fined” even “without a trial pending”. I'm scratching my head reading this going – according to who? There's nothing to outline what constitutes “probable cause” for “sex trafficking” nor do I even see who makes that determination – but I sure do see fines can be paid into the “trafficking fund”. The one set up by John Hambrick who his own people are saying “strong armed” and “bullied” them into making him Speaker of the House. I already know he's been doing fund raising with Congo Justice, whose director is also the head of the Nigerian Association for God's sake. Who keeps talking about trafficking in other countries while asking people to vote on a Nevada law. Probably wanting to make real sure people aren't aware that 16 year olds who aren't old enough to drink, smoke, vote or drive – are allowed to get licenses to work in Nevada brothels. Oh and let's not forget that when they show up for their first day on the job if they try and leave in the first 48 hours – they can be arrested. Who does this to a 16 year old girl? Anyway, she's got women convinced they can't get jobs outside of stripping – so some aren't even trying. That's a problem.
I know that many of our members now own salons. Many are hair stylists, make-up artists, and even sell make-up. For years, I sold make-up to women in the strip clubs. Make-up that would stay on for hours and not melt as well as light up under the lights. Some of us make our living by doing free make-overs especially for the AVN. That's where we get referrals and new business. Only now I'm getting calls that they can't compete with Joy sweeping in offering everyone free stuff over at HER salon. Now she's doing free make-overs at the AVN – well how are they supposed to get paid for that work when Joy's doing it free? Not without looking like a smuck now? Now she's competing with women who are trying to make a living outside of the industry directly.
The last thing is we got women all over the country reporting in record numbers again things like HIV, Hep C, HPV, TB, and even chronic fatigue syndrome (which can be passed by kissing). I already know that these women don't want to get tested on their insurance and have something show up on their records on their name. I also know there's like one testing site in Nevada that does free anonymous testing and they're only open until like 5:00 p.m. Meaning many dancers have a hard time getting down to them without also a bunch of people asking about the results. When AIM used to do the testing – most of the sex workers were there voluntarily. They were shut down by sabotage about 10 years ago – and well I'm getting record numbers of calls again I haven't seen since the 1980's. I couldn't say anything before publicly but now that Charlie has – now I can.
I'd like to therefore talk to you about setting up some kind of testing for the dancers connected to their licensing if possible. Those girls working at the brothels are required to be tested weekly. People who work with food are required to also be tested. If you cut up vegetables at the local fast food joint – you have to get tested for Hep C. These women are “professionals” meaning they need to act like it. They're coming into close contact with men daily who have not been tested who may not be the most clean in the world. These men probably most likely frequent prostitutes which means they might be infecting the dancers.
I know a doctor that I could arrange to come by the club even and test the dancers on a random anonymous basis for their own peace of mind as well as yours. Not just the dancers, but the bartenders and the waitresses. Again, I'm hearing about things like HPV, Hep C, TB, and even chronic fatigue syndrome passing through the adult industry in general. I'd certainly like to open up a dialogue with you about it.
If you've heard about the case where a woman named Heather shot a man who was targeting prostitutes who tried to kill her, or the three men who targeted a porn star who lived in Vegas, and of course what happened to Christy Mack – I would like to talk to you about a day when I could come in and introduce your dancers to some self-defense instructors, maybe teach them how to use a tazer or gun, we could bring down someone to do some anonymous health screening, and also we could teach them what to do if they spot signs of human trafficking in the industry. I would also like to discuss their “second” careers with them. Most of these women aren't going to keep dancing until they're grandmothers as you know. They need to start thinking about their retirement now.
I could even bring down a financial adviser I know who works with women in the industry who sets up portfolios for them they can retire upon to advise them how to set up retirement plans. I call these days my “triple whammy days” where we talk about defense of our health, defense towards our old age, and defense against predators. Unlike the Cupcake Girls, I have absolutely no problem at all with the industry, the women in the industry, etc. Our program is strictly again something that's set up as an alternative to sentencing alternative, and as a network for those who use it to help them go through the exit and recovery process for whatever their reasons are for leaving.
I'm writing you this letter because I don't believe in disturbing someone during business hours. You can read this when you get a chance, consider what I'm asking you, and get back to me if you wish. Thank you for your time and consideration. In the meantime, if you do see anyone with signs of anyone pimping or trafficking them, we do not work with law enforcement, and we can help. Thank you again for your time.