Harlots Parlour

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“Are they bad girls or brilliant?”A Harlots review of a brilliant book by Aphrodite Phoenix.

I was delighted to be congratulated by Aphrodite Phoenix on a paper that I recently presented at the Brunel university sexual cultures conference.

Aphrodite asked me if I would be interested in reading and possible reviewing her book “Are they bad girls or brilliant?” I was delighted to be asked and agreed at once.

The book is actually two books in one. The first is entitled “A personal journey” and book two is called “18 audacious essays”.

The first book primarily details her experiences working as an escort in the USA. Aphrodite tells us about her reasons for joining the business, her family life, illness and tragedies and joys and also about her intellectual journey and her spiritual awakening through her work as an escort. In book two Aphrodite gives us her thoughts about feminism and sex worker activism through a series of essays. She includes an idealised manifesto for a sex worker future where sex work is once again revered and understood as a positive force within society.

I found myself agreeing with so much in this book which reaches out both to the public and academics. It is an easy and enjoyable read that is also insightful and positive.

Aphrodite’s experiences as an escort in many ways resembled my own experiences. Her thoughts about her work, her views on activism and about feminism also mirrored in many instances my own thoughts.

Her book intriguingly is titled “Are they bad girls or brilliant?”. She used the question mark because she wants her book to answer the questions that an outsider to the sex industry may want to ask in order to understand why someone like her would enter the sex trade. She leaves the answer to the question posed in the title however, to the reader.

This is a journey that we can all empathise with in so many ways. Aphrodite, for example, describes in an early chapter; entitled, “Just an afternoon of terror and joy”, the mixture of excitement and terror that escorts in the USA, where prostitution is a criminal offense, feel when meeting a new client. That excitement is however tinged with a real sense of danger. The fear is not that the client may be dangerous but rather that the meeting may be a police sting. The danger, the fear felt by the escort is also experienced by the client who is equally fearful of a police sting on him, because in the USA the client also is criminalised. The sense of relief felt by both the escort and the client as they hug and discreetly frisk each other for hidden wires is palpable. It is a story of two people in danger, not of criminals.
At the end of that chapter Aphrodite gives an early explanation for why she is prepared to risk arrest. She writes:

“I walk back through the bustling housekeepers. We resume all those sweet wordless greetings. My heart goes out to them now. I think of all the cleanings they have to do, and how, as with me, their work is performed for strangers. They purge away dust, lint, litter, loose hairs. Used sheets, semen-streaked towels like the one I’ve just left behind, tub scum, toilet filth…I consider their low pay. I consider how awful some people think my work is. How much “worse” it must be for the maid’s.
I think of the pleasure I give. I think of the stress I relieve. I think of how I do it all-naturally. Not Toxically. Not pharmaceutically.
And I think of the money I make.
I feel so good I could shout.”

I think this just about sums up how most sex workers feel about their work when criticised for their choices. I am sure the public will also sympathise with the fear and ask; where is the crime?

I also felt a personal resonance when Aphrodite describes how sex work has had a positive effect upon both her physical health and mental well being. She understands this as part of her personal awakening to an awareness of Goddess worship. She describes (with many references) the fact that healing once was the preserve of women and that part of that healing process was sexual healing. The sacredness of sex as practiced by priestesses who were also sacred prostitutes resonates through out the book.

Aphrodite describes her life as an escort as a learning experience, a journey of discovery. It is an experience in which she learns not only about herself but also about the human condition. She writes:


Aphrodite goes on to say:

“I was a mother, homemaker, gardener, exerciser, healer, writer and whore. All were seamlessly, wholly, my path”.

“Are they bad girls or brilliant?” is a revelatory vision of a woman’s journey of discovery. It is the story not of a “Happy hooker”, and many will try and dismiss her as such, but of a real woman who falls in love, is arrested, brings up children, is a mother, who copes with illness and loss and does all of this while also being a sex worker.
This is a story of an intelligent and well read woman whose intellectual and emotional journey has resulted in the writing of a book that will become a classic.

This book is available exclusively as an ebook from Aphrodite’s web site “HERE”.

The book will also be available in good old fashioned print very soon. Details will be available on Aphrodite’s web site and also from Harlots Parlour.

I genuinely recommend this book….enjoy and please write and leave reviews.

Both myself and Aphrodite will be speaking on the Charlie Spice show tonight at 8pm UK time. We will be discussing the book and coming out as a sex worker activist.

Please join us: “HERE”

About Douglas Fox

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