Last October Karen Eng wrote an amazing piece on myself and my colleague Kristina Sheryl Wong in BITCH magazine. I had no idea that it would be the single best career move for me to date. As a result of our 7 page feature in the magazine I was discovered by Jeff Redd who was soon to give me my first major fine art sale, and soon after produce my short film 1-900-asianprincess.
Jeff had picked up a magazine in a bookstore on a break and decided to look up my site later. From a tiny jpg on my fledgling website of last year he decided to purchase on of my oil paintings for $1800. We struck up a great (platonic) relationship and soon he was flying up with his camera man Danny to shoot some documentary footage on me. Later that year, I was contacted by AKA Gallery in Saskatoon, Canada who would contract a paid invitation to perform new asianprincess work in May of 2004. So many people have read the article! I am still amazed and happy when people come up to me after performances (this just happened in Minneapolis) and they say that they read about me in BITCH magazine. And I'm sure adding the piece to my press kit didn't hurt my acceptance to get to go to Minneapolis either. Thanks Karen Eng, you're the best and thanks, BITCH!
a more interesting comment from Lara Ayad:
"..Not to burst anyone's Annie Sprinkle bubble, but you can't take something originally considered misogyist (such as porn or burlesque) and make it feminist by either claiming that women enjoy it or adding women of different ethnicities or body shapes to the stage."
God, I both really agree and totally disagree to this statement. Porn and Burlesque are different. Burlesque and Stripping for work are different. (One being a form of entertainment and art and another for profit and/or survival) Porn and Stripping are different. Burlesque, as it has recently been associated with the burlesque revival ala Tease-o- Rama conventions in San Fracisco, New Orleans etc. is most definitely not only about objectification nor is it geared towards straight men only. Stripclubs still have those same undeniable qualities that have changed very little since they evolved (some would say changed for the worse) from the original form of tassle twirling burlesque in the 30's. I think that feminism and mysogyny are subjective to the viewer in many cases of consenting adult sexual expression like burlesque, porn and stripping. It is problematic, however to point your finger at a porn star and say "you are doing a bad thing for womankind, what you are doing is NOT feminism (that is empowering or uplifting to any woman any where) which in a lot of cases is not true. But I won't go on an anti-anti-porn feminist tyrade here. It is also problematic to not be able to look at certain images or movies and notice when their is obvious power imbalances, racist type casting or unhappiness on the faces of the 'talent." Annabelle calls the gang bang art and as an artist I accept that. Whether I think she had predetermined any artistic significance or if it was my kind of art is another thing. Porn has gone totally over the edge like George Bush in HIS War on Terrorism. They are both ridiculous exploding juicy exploitative jack off sessions for the white man in charge. Jenna Jameson and bombing "terrorist" regimes in the name of freedom have become as American as sticking the American flag on your bumper.
Lara is just not giving sisters enough credit. I don't like everything Annie Sprinkle does either but I respect and appreciate her for the work that she has done for pro-sex worker/artists daring to branch off and do their own things, whatever those things end up being. And i feel the same way about Annabelle. I refer to her act of art all the time. It is a valid happening in the same way Chris Burden shooting himself in the hand at a gallery exhibition was. Would I do it myself? Would I like to be there when these happenings were happening? I don't think so.
a different quote from A.E. Berkowitz,Oakland Ca.
"the fact that a woman decides to take dirty pictures and is in charge of her styling doesn't have any bearing on whether or not the photos are a rehash of boring, boycentric porn. As more and more women produce their own porn, what emerges as the most relevant question is not who's behind the camera but what the results are.
and again this hits home for me because she is actually talking about the asianprincess concept here. The key element that I think that is missing in her statement is the idea of not only being in charge of your styling, but your boundaries AND most importantly your intellectual property rights which should lead to YOUR PROFITS. Your body, your profits. (Believe me this is a relatively new concept and one that the powers that be make it quite hard to guarantee unless you work for yourself). And this leads me to my latest sentiment about struggling in the sex industry which I think are actually more in line with some of the letters in these Bitch letters. Patriarchy has been exploiting and capitalizing off of our pussys for centuries, why don't we just do it ourselves, lapdance the middleman and laugh all the way to the bank? It seem like it might work until you realize that until we change the paradigm and the institution that we are working with we are really just aiding the man in destroying ourselves and keeping our own bodies down AND giving the middleman a free lapdance at the same time! Lara Ayad mentions African Americans and their desire to own Ebonics with pride.
This is synonymous to Gangsta/Studio Gangsta mythologies like 50 cent being promoted as the crack hero of the ghetto, king of the "Bling Bling", arch enemy of the NYPD. But it's all mythology (like the Rock from WWF or The Godfather, or Madonna, even) and if you can see it through a postmodern viewpoint which most high school teenagers cannot then it may be safe to elevate to real heroics in an oppressive world. Similar is the mythology of Lil Kim. I see her as sacred prostitute, counterpart to 50 cent. She is the superwoman ghetto superstar success story who proudly made her money using/manipulating men and toting guns and/or drugs. But seeing this as a possibility for mobility rather than a postmodern mythology is where things go deathly wrong. (Like the idea that porn stars don't don't get tired or feel pain, nor do they need to ever wear condoms because they can't die of AIDS) Lil Kim talks about sex sex sex sex sex on all 3 of her albums. I think when anyone limits themselves to one dimension they are doing their souls a disservice. I know that sex industry workers do not and can not always want to have sex or perform sex. It is a performance and we are acting. Whether we enjoy our jobs is personal. But, nevetheless it is what it is: a "sex act." It's just simply impossible for any woman truly listening to her heart, body, mind and soul whose love for sex is not biased by addictions to deny that fact. So, I have evolved and hopefully we'll see some other figures in the sex industry evolve who have more influential power than myself as an independent artist and writer in San Francisco. The sex industry as a whole needs a new face. Annie Sprinkle, Nina Hartley, Asia Carrera and Annabelle gave us new things to think about, now I think we are definitely in need of the next stage. So we're in charge of our own bodies within the industry. Our sex postive, whore positive politics do not change the fact that the industry is still racist, sexist, exploitative and ruthless and one of the main reasons women LOVE IT so much is because society does not give us the same kind of money, power, career success, gratification, early retirement and time for our children. It's more likely that you've met a sex worker/law student, sex worker/teacher, sex worker/mother of 2. It is this fact that should make it harder for men and women to look down upon sex workers of this generation not only has brains and body. You would not be able to tell her by just looking. She does not come out to everyone because it is not safe. She could be your attorney, she could be the person who sits next to you in class, she could even be the person that teaches your child in school. If we try to understand that these dichotomies exist because of sexism, patriarchy, economics and capitalism then some women might not be so content with riding the short end of the stick in exchange for a $20 bill.
"I want the industry to be feminist, wage fair and safe for the women who want to work in it and to have options and opportunities available for those who do not want to work in it so they could get out if and when they want to. As long as this remains an outrageous concept, many of us will always be singing and dancing like caged birds...so far from free."