Local blogs fumble story of sex worker activist named legislative aide

From the looks of the photo, it'd appear she's done other stuff since stripping at the Lusty six years ago...

We were thrilled to bits at the Guardian when St. James Infirmary's longtime program director and former Harvey Milk Club president Stephany Joy Ashley was named Supervisor David Campos' new legislative aide. Ashley was a speaker on our "Feminism in the Bay Area Today" panel discussion and worked on a number of political campaigns, from John Avalos' bid for mayor to Rafael Mandleman's 2010 run for District 8 supervisor. 

However, local blogs read her primarily as a former stripper. "Lusty Activist is the New Campos Aide," read Misson Loc@l's headline. "David Campos' New Aide Is a Former Lusty Lady Dancer," read the headline on SFist. Way to focus on the important stuff, guys.

Of course, Ashley was a stripper at SF's amazing worker-owned strip club -- six years ago. And we think it's awesome that we live in a town that doesn't separate sex workers from the political world. And actually, the Mission Loc@l headline isn't really indicative of the article's content, which does focus on Ashley's impressive qualifications.

But, the fact of the matter is that "Lusty activist" and "former Lusty Lady dancer" are really insufficient descriptors for someone who has continued to play really important roles in the community since her days at the Lusty. It's hardly the most unique thing about Ashley either, given her achievements since. 

We get it local bloggers, we're all looking for clicks. But let's not sensationalize sex work -- not to mention completly legal sex work -- anymore. This story was already awesome without it.


caitlin donohue hits another home run! #sayitlikeitis

Posted by sailorsoiree on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 1:02 am

you don't spend your younger, prettier days selling your ass.

Even in San Francisco.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 6:43 am

If you read the articles (in lieu of feigning outrage), you'd see that both pieces focused on Stephany Joy Ashley's amazing sex worker past AND her many amazing accomplishments. Your issue seems to be with headlines, not content.

Way to fumble your own story and headline, Caitlin.


Posted by Brock Keeling on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 8:10 am

The headline is the first part of the story. You fucked up your headline. Ergo, you fucked up the story.

Posted by L_Mariachi on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 8:56 am

making her piece about Stephany's sordid past rather than just ignoring the scandal and focusing instead on her achievements.

She was so keen to take a shot at other media that she shot herself in the foot.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 9:19 am

Sorry, Guest. Unless you personally know Donohue or Ashley, your using their first names strikes me as obvious sexism. But your describing Ashley's work with The Lusty Lady as a "sordid past" should have made your bias obvious.

Posted by Peter on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 9:55 am

about "shaking her ass."

Posted by Eddie on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 10:40 am

They don't call it "rough trade" because it is safe and nice.


Posted by marcos on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 10:53 am

Even though it's what you call yourself?

Wow, that's a new form of political correctness, and just when I thought it had gone as far as it could.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 11:49 am

Dear dummy, calling me Peter is not sexist because Peter is the only name you're getting. However, when the choices for referring to Caitlin Donohue are "Caitlin" or "Donohue," go with the surname if you're only disagreeing with her. However, you come across as belittling her.

Posted by Peter on Dec. 14, 2012 @ 9:30 am

If someone uses their first name here, I will typically use that back at them. And in fact only SFBG writers use their real surnames here.

Your original point was also that I am anonymous. Well, so are you. So that argument smakes you as anonymous and irrelevant as you lamely claim that I am.

Let your message speak, not whatever name you elect to use here.

Bo belittleing going on here, except where flase arguments are being employed.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 14, 2012 @ 9:54 am

Like I said in this post, my issue is totally with the headlines and not the content.

Well, except for the last line of the piece on your site. Ashley's entry into City Hall makes it "far grittier than we ever imagined."? Yeesh.

Posted by caitlin on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 10:08 am

Does stripping behind a glass partition really qualify as sex work?

Posted by marcos on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 9:08 am

workers and, indeed, they are part of it. Sex work isn't just sex - it runs the entire gamut from coitus to stripping to pole dancing to phone sex to porn movies to being a dominatrix to making or selling sex toys. If you make your living from sex, you're a sex worker.

And just so you know, many Lusty Lady girls will also have sessions with their LL clients outside LL, and it's not discouraged by the management, which of course is themselves anyway.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 9:22 am

More like foreplay workers.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 9:32 am

"sex worker" label. It just doesn't help with a political career later in life when your tits sag around your ankles and guys won't stuff dollar bills in your garter belt any more.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 9:48 am
Posted by marke on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 10:02 am

Marke, I did not notice that your tits were sagging down to your ankles, nice binding job.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 10:20 am

in the plastic platform heels.

Posted by marke on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 10:29 am

Wait, those platform heels would make your tits still sag down to your ankles but might keep them just high enough off of the ground to keep kittens from batting them about:


What you want is cha-cha heels, black ones, as it is just about that time of the year!


Posted by marcos on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 10:42 am

It may have sounded colorful to mention Ashley's past with The Lusty Lady. Legislative aides usually don't sport such off the beaten track political experience.

Yet I see Ashley's achievements as giving her first-hand experience with the effects of social policies on the powerless among us. SFist and Mission Loc@l's headlines unfortunately attract reader attention by making it sound as if her past sex work played a role in her landing the City Hall job.

Posted by Peter on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 9:51 am

I understand the current fashion away from essentialism of any kind so that anyone gets to be everything that they see themselves as.

Sex generally requires human to human contact of some sort, preferably genital.

Stripping behind the safety of a pane of glass objectifies the process from all sides so that you have two objects objectifying each other's images, not two subjects connecting as human beings in any way that resembles sex.

"If you make your living from sex, you're a sex worker."

Dildomongers are sales people or manufacturing workers, not sex workers. This would have made Theresa Sparks a sex worker when the only major dildo action she delivered was to a SOMA sex toy emporium.

Also, it is not like most people who get paid to do sex are able to support themselves by doing sex work. A few are, for a few years, but most are not. Most, but not all, have day jobs too.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 9:52 am

union, I doubt that they would discriminate against dildo makers and dominatrices and strippers, just because they don't actually sell their ass. In a manner of speaking they do, just in a different form.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 11:59 am

When Robert Barnes was on his death bed, a Catholic Priest came in to issue last rights. Barnes' response: "how can you think about sex at a time like this."

Most strippers have some sort of physical contact with their voyeurs. The Lusty Lady has an impermeable barrier between the strippers and voyeurs. That steps down the sexuality a few notches to the point where it is pre-foreplay.

By your logic, anyone who goes to work to put a roof over their beds so that they can have a warm place to fuck is a sex worker.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 12:26 pm

They frequently meet with their clients outside of LL for more intimate encounters. That is not official, of course, but everyone who isn't gay knows it anyway.

The line you imagine isn't so bright.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 12:43 pm

Imagine that, a stripper or someone who's done a magazine spread escorting after hours!

It is as if the first act was done in order to drum up business for another enterprise, these crafty sex workers!

Writhing naked behind a glass barrier, not so much sex work, turning a trick afterwards, sex work.

And, seriously, women strippers can just phone it in and fake it, there is no need for any sexual response.

Male strippers, on the other hand, have to actually become sexually excited or take a pill or shot. It is kinda difficult to fake a money shot, no? The two are barely in the same league.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 14, 2012 @ 7:45 am

I am delighted to see that you don't.

Stick to what you know, whatever that is.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 14, 2012 @ 8:20 am

So only het sex work is sex work even when it is not sex work?

Posted by marcos on Dec. 14, 2012 @ 8:40 am

you can't swing a cat without hitting a sex worker in SF. i'd be troubled to NOT find some in the local politics. kind of non-news to point it out like a twelve year old fo sho

Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 9:58 am

There is plenty of prurience, particularly amongst those who pretend to be comfortable with sexuality, here in Mayberry By The Bay.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 10:16 am

Anybody here ever read "Two Years Before the Mast?" Every local interested in deep historical perspective ought to read it.

Posted by lillipublicans on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 10:23 am

C'mon do you expect serious coverage from Brock Keeling? Really, SFIST is our own Weekly World News, and we love it for its scandal-mongering ways. And really, Ms. Ashley's former profession is the only thing that sets her off from any number of dogged progressive activists, so if you've got it, flaunt it!

Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 11:32 am

I've only met her through campaign work, so I never knew that Stephany was also a stripper... that is until Caitlin mentioned it. All Caitlin did was draw attention to a magazine and a blog that nobody ever reads, which I think is kind of counterproductive from her standpoint. Or not. You got to find things to write about to keep your job, so from that standpoint this article was productive, I suppose.

For what it's worth, I think it's pretty cool, because in addition to being a political activist on the right side of the issues, she's totally hot. Good for her. Can we move on now?

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