Now 60, with more than 30 years of advocating for sex workers' rights behind her, Leigh says the festival's relevance has expanded to respond to the community's current needs. The back-to-back workshops at SomArts Cultural Center on May 27 most accurately reflects this year's current list of hot topics: self-care and eco-sex, building bonds between male sex workers, and love advice for partners and pals of sex workers.
Although parts of the city's sex worker community are tight-knit, festival organizer Erica Fabulous admits that closeness can depend on where you work and whom you work with. Getting politically active sex workers to attend is a snap, but festival organizers hope to reach past clubs and into the streets, pulling in workers from every corner of the industry.
"Sex work is raced and classed just like anything else — that's why I'm so proud of the diversity of viewpoints that will be represented during the festival," says Laure McElroy, the festival's film curator.
Nearly 40 sex-worker-themed flicks will play at this year's festival during a one-day marathon. Stories from Canada, Holland, Germany, Cambodia, and the U.S. will lay bare the work and lives of strippers, whores, masseuses, peep show gals, erotic performance artists, survival street workers, and escorts.
The diverse viewpoints echo another of the festival's underlying missions: "These films are a glimpse of what's happening out there — the people who are out there," McElroy says. "I want people to walk away from this festival knowing that there isn't just one way to think or talk about sex work."