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February 26, 2008

The power of the pole: Sex Workers Art Show draws a crowd

I knew we had freaks in Louisville, so I was glad to see them out and about Monday night at the last stop of the touring Sex Workers Art Show. Hell, I was one of them (a freak, not a sex worker, unfortunately). Most admitted it was curiosity that brought them to the cabaret-style show; others blamed their friends for dragging them to Fuzion, the nearly year-old gay bar housed in the old Butchertown Pub on Story Avenue. What happened? Complete debauchery? Dirty shenanigans? Nudity? Orgies? Perhaps. I’ll never tell. Let’s just say the two-hour show accomplished its mission — to dispel the myth that sex workers can’t be artists, innovators and geniuses — in myriad forms of performance. First up was “The World Famous Bob,” a busty broad who humorously and candidly discussed her years of exotic dancing, stripping and dominatrix. “I was never good at dom,” she said. “I’d spank them hard, like they asked, then I’d run around and make sure they were OK.” As a small-town girl low on cash in L.A., she said she got her start taxi-dancing at seedy clubs. Her stage name came from her obsession with The Cure’s Robert Smith.Next up was bombastic burlesque dancing by Miss Dirty Martini, who recently toured with comedian Margaret Cho. Her “fan dancing,” as she called it, was truly something to behold. Let’s just say twirling tassels and strategically placed dollar bills were a big part of this plus-sized performer’s routine. Porn star and author Lorelei Lee came out next to recite her poem on the day-to-day experiences of working in the porn industry. She was dressed conservatively in jeans and an over-sized sweater. Looking more like a lead high school cheerleader than a Jenna Jameson, Lee’s poem was touching and poignant at times, and graphic and shocking at others. She talked of being nervous for one shoot involving a man with “three arms,” so to speak. Her friend quipped: “Don’t worry, it only goes in as far as it goes in, you know?”A few more acts took the stage. One was the scantily-clad dominatrix diva Keva I. Lee, who pulled up a willing audience member to torture, spank and … well, tweak. I learned the Japanese word for faster is fi-dee. (Don’t think I’ll ever forget that now.)Last up was tour founder, director, road manager, emcee and den mother Annie Oakley. She read an excerpt from her anthology “Working Sex: Sex Workers Write About a Changing Industry” that tied up the themes and experiences of the show, while Keva I. Lee and pole-dancer-turned-performing-artist/writer/musician Erin Markey teased the woman’s neon read hair into a heaping pile of ’80s nest. As Oakley read seriously about the hypocrisy and negative stereotypes heaped on the billion-dollar sex business, she pretty much summed up the message and the success of the Sex Workers Art Show: “No one gets in to the sex industry because they like to have sex, just as a janitor doesn’t become a janitor because he likes to clean.” Contact the writer at shavens@leoweekly.com