Good evening ladies and gentlemen, it’s a pleasure and an honour to be speaking to you at the launch of the Leicester Red Film Festival – Who do You Think We Are.
My name is Miranda, and I am currently a stand-up comedian. However, I was a sex-worker for 7 years – and by that, I do mean Sex. Worker. I think it’s important to make that point as recognising sex work as work is an integral part of what we’re fighting for within sex-worker right’s organisations.
But I don’t want to get too stuck on the politics right now, because I think it’s important to remember that we do have fun with our jobs. After all sex remains one of the funniest thing anyone can do with their clothes off.
The reason I went from one rather unique career into another certainly has it’s foundations in the representation of sex-workers on film, and TV. Whilst I worked from a one bedroom rented flat in Finchley, I saw Belle De Jour buying a four bedroom house on the Southbank. I watched the Irene Adler in Sherlock caning members of the royal family in her Westminster mansion. Belle went for coffee with coiffured hair and designer clothes, Adler looked pristine even when she was about to get her head shopped off in Afghanistan…
Or there was the other side – drug addicts, criminals, victims of violence and trafficking.
There was no sex worker being portrayed as I knew them to be. Which is distinctly average.
None of us own mansions in SW1, and drugs just haven’t been on my radar.
Instead, my experience as a sex worker and of those women who I have the pleasure of calling friends is that we are…well…dull.
You wouldn’t know we were sex workers as we shop for cat food in Tesco.
We dress the same as everyone else, we have the same problems as everyone else, we eat, we drink, we realise that drugs are pretty shit – the same as everyone else.
I want to see sex workers on film show the mundane, frustrating things that we have to put up with on a daily basis – the timewasters who don’t show up, the 15 calls in a row from withheld numbers, the men who think that you’ll meet for free, just because they’ve sent you a picture of their penis. I want Belle Du Jour to get pissed off when a client doesn’t turn up, I want Irene Adler to tell someone to eff off when they try to haggle. I even want the drug addicts and trafficking victims to side-eye the idiot who says ‘Oh, I can’t afford to pay you, but I’d love to take you out for a drink….’
And what about the supporting cast? High end escorts appear to be single and desolate, with friends being just other working girls, madams, or personal assistants. Those in more unfortunate circumstances are victims of domestic abuse...lost at the hands of an abusive boyfriend or husband. Where does my best friend come into play? Or my sister? Or the friends I have known since school and college…who may have been a little surprised about what I’ve been up to since graduation, but still find time to hang out in wetherspoons. I want to see more of my supporting characters.
I want sex-workers to be the one you were least expecting. To be shopping in Sainsburys, crying at R.S.P.C.A adverts, to have boyfriends, husbands, wives….partners, family and friends who don’t mind what we do, because they love us for who we are.
And how about looking the part? As you can see from myself, Sex Workers come in many shapes and sizes. We have a wide range of colours and cultures to suit anyone’s taste, and personally, I think it would be nice to lose the assumption that any sex-worker with a foreign accent is the victim of trafficking.
So because I wasn’t seeing Sex Work represented in films as the way I knew it, I decided to represent myself.
I realised from a young age that humour was a fantastic way to humanise someone. It stopped me getting bullied at school, it helped me to make friends, connect with my family, and work in the outside world.
It helped me form relationships with my clients before they even met me. They could see from my blog and twitter that I was a normal, funny human being – it’s hard to objectify someone who makes you laugh.
So I retired from Sex Work, and I now use humour as a tool to humanise us to the press, religion and the general public. And I’m hoping it’ll catch on!
Love it or loathe it, the representation of Sex Workers on film has a massive impact on what the general public assume of us, which in turn effects our status both in society and in parliament.
So film festivals like this are a wonderful way of seeing new representations, different ones than what might be in mainstream cinema. Personally, I have completely fallen in love with ‘Personal Services’ because I found it represented Sex Workers in the average way I was looking for all along…and it’s bloody funny too!
So I’m really looking forward to seeing more, and I really hope you are too.