Mariko Passion has quite a story to tell. Some of her tale may surprise you. I invite you in to take a look at her life from her perspective.
“I grew up in the San Francisco bay area and attended UC Berkeley. I actually started my sex work there as a stripper for three years, lived in a swank live/work loft to do art and performances and then lost all that and decided to apply to grad schools for an MFA but did not get accepted. I was already teaching in San Francisco while I was doing out calls to strip and living with my Mom after I lost my loft. I went through a period where I desperately wanted out of all sex work before I met Carol Leigh and Robyn Few and joined the sex worker rights movement. This gave me a new purpose, mission and lots of love and support that I needed and had not gotten in the strip clubs.”
“I moved to LA to get my Masters of Education which culminated in a full time teaching job in LA Unified but I still ached to pursue my art and music. After I got my Masters degree I thought maybe I would quit the sex industry and become a teacher but I also knew that I might not because I was looking for a good excuse to leave San Francisco and start anew. I was suddenly profitable as a sex worker again, which is something I hadn’t been since my strip club days. Now I was making hundreds in cash a night so it was exciting again. Exploring prostitution was also an exciting transition. I had a lot of inner shame about doing it as a stripper before aligning with the prostitutes rights movement. This “whoreaphobia” is very common among strippers and non-sex work feminists because it is deeply engrained in the sexist contradictions we exist in in the U.S.”
“I learned again and again that having sex for money could actuallybe totally okay. Remember also that I am a sexual assault survivor and have a lot of issues with men, power, and sex that I had learned to overcome as a stripper and even more so with prostitution work. Men’s sexuality does not have the same weight as it did before; I am usually the one in power and the men I see are more vulnerable than you’d think. I’ve learned so much that you couldn’t experience dating or giving free sex. This is my field of expertise, I see and hear it all in all it’s extremes and it doesn’t shock me anymore. I have taken the punch out of being called a whore, because I have succeeded as one. Being paid for sex is not degrading, not being paid for sex that you felt was work is. Being robbed or ripped off and having sex stolen from you is traumatizing, doing sex work in itself is anything but traumatizing but has been mostly liberating, healing and full of rich experiences with many men I would never have access to in my regular bohemian queer artist activist life although it hasn’t been perfect. I have learned a lot and become better with each client. I am not the same prostitute I was 6, 3 or even 1 year ago.”
You can find out more about Mariko Passion’s music and art at:
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