‘No Condom as Evidence’ Legislation Up for Debate in Albany
It’s the first Thursday of the month, and as per tradition, a cadre of affable, semirowdy hos have filled every seat in the Lower East Side’s Happy Ending Lounge.
Shivering from the residual cold, the crowd—pretty, riot grrrl types in Daria bangs and Doc Martens—lets out a collective giggle as Fiona Apple’s “Criminal” floats through the loudspeakers. “Tonight, we’re playing ho anthems,” the host explains, drowning out Fiona’s molasses admission that she’s been a bad, baaad girl.
The evening’s theme is “Pretty Woman Redux,” part of a monthly storytelling series from the sex-workers’ rights group, the Red Umbrella Project. For two hours, a handful of New York’s most articulate “hos” (as they endearingly call themselves), share intimate, industry tales.
As in past sessions, donations from the event will benefit a cause vital to every sex worker in the city: banning the New York Police Department’s well-documented practice of using condom possession as evidence of prostitution.
It’s a battle health rights advocates have fought for years. In every legislative session since 1999, proponents of a “No Condoms as Evidence” bill have asked state lawmakers to squelch the practice, citing evidence that it’s forced sex workers to stop carrying and using condoms all together. In every session, the bill has died on the committee floor.
In recent months, however, efforts to engage lawmakers have accelerated, thanks to studies released in 2012 by the Pros Network and Human Rights Watch—two Manhattan-based organizations that say the policy has led to a serious public-health crisis.
In the Human Rights study, among a slew of other anecdotes, a sex worker named Anastasia L., claims she had unprotected sex “many times” to avoid the risk of arrest.
How Would Sex Workers Design the Perfect Condom?
It’s very hard to deal with condoms. I imagine it would be very hard to deal with anything that asphyxiates your dick, adds a layer of rubber between a couples’ fun bits, destroys any semblance of sexual spontaneity, and generally makes sex a lot less enjoyable than it should be. All that stuff is still better than risking an STD or a pregnancy, but condoms are undeniably awful.
Hurrah, then, for Bill Gates, who—as you may have heard—is dangling a proportionally paltry $100,000 carrot in front of anyone who can inject a bit more pleasure into rubbering up. Despite the fact that many large medical corporations have ploughed far more than $100,000 into developing more pleasurable protection throughout the past century, Gates is hoping that his prize money will uncover the Popov of prophylactics who’s able to make condoms feel better than unprotected sex.
I’m neither a scientist nor an inventor, so my ideas of how to improve condoms are currently falling pretty short (somewhere around the implausible “make mini ones just for the tip” region). But I am a dreamer, and I dream of one day actually enjoying protected sex. So I thought I’d call up some sex workers—people who use condoms practically every day of their professional lives—and see if they could come up with a design that would make mine and Bill’s dream come true.
Rio Lee, porn star and dominatrix.
VICE: Do you like condoms?
Rio Lee: Obviously I like them because they protect me from scabby diseases, but I don’t like them when a guy gets floppy. I’m a selfish bitch in bed—it’s all about me, me, me—so it’s a problem if a floppy interrupts the sex flow. If you could develop a condom that allows a man to have a continuous Viagra erection that would be amazing.
What about pickling it in Viagra solution so it somehow works its way in there?
That sounds kind of painful, but I am a slight dominatrix, so that might work. Mind you, I want to be able to fuck it afterwards so I don’t want it to scald the skin off or anything.
Could a condom ever be better than unprotected sex?
Well, with modern technology they must be able to make them better. But where the fuck is the extra pleasure with those ribbed condoms? I genuinely want to know. You’d be much better off putting some frozen peas under the condom skin.
So apart from peas and Viagra coating, what ideas have you got to make condoms better?
First off, if you’re reading this, Bill Gates, this is copyrighted and trademarked under the Miss Rio Lee brand. But I’d say you’d need one of those contraptions like a Fleshlight. When a guy’s got a nice hard-on, you slip his cock in and, as it pulls out, it transfers some sort of micro space-age latex film directly on to the cock so it’s super thin and ready to go.
So do you think the whole condom thing is a way for Gates to market himself as a sex symbol and draw some of the youth market away from Apple?
Bill Gates? Sexy? Maybe that’s the reason, but I’d say a new condom is going to appeal more to the health-conscious and professionals—young people just want to have sex regardless of [whether they have a] condom. But whatever his motivation, if he’s going to do something to improve mine and millions of other people’s sex lives and help sexual health throughout society, then good on him.
NYC Cops Will Arrest You for Carrying Condoms
The woman asked Officer Hill why he was stopping her.
She wore jean shorts and a tight red shirt and had stood outdoors for half an hour. She’d had a conversation with a passing man. When Officer Hill searched her bag, he found a condom and $1.25.
He arrested her for “loitering for the purpose of prostitution.” On the supporting deposition, he filled in the blanks for what she was wearing and how many condoms she had.
When I read over the deposition in the PROS Network’s Public Health Crisis (PDF), a study of how the NYPD arrests folks for carrying condoms, I thought of all the tight shirts I’d worn while idling outside on delicious spring days. I thought, She sounds like me. She sounds like my friends.
The NYPD will arrest you for carrying condoms, but that depends entirely on who you are. If you’re a middle-class white girl like me, you’re probably safe. But say you’re a sex worker or a queer kid kicked out of your home. Say you’re a trans woman out for dinner with your boyfriend. Maybe you’ve been arrested as a sex worker before. Maybe some quota-filling cop thinks you look like a whore.
Then you’re not safe at all.
Like most laughably cruel tricks of the justice system, you probably wouldn’t know that you could be arrested for carrying condoms until it happened to you. Monica Gonzalez is a nurse and a grandmother. In 2008, Officer Sean Spencer arrested her for prostitution while she was on the way to the ER with an asthma attack. The condom he found on her turned out to be imaginary. Gonzalez sued the city after the charges were dropped. But if the condom were real, why should she have even been arrested at all?
Let’s say you are a sex worker. You’re carrying condoms to protect your health and that of your clients. You may have gotten the condoms from the city itself. New York distributes 40 million condoms a year. The city has its own condom brand, it’s logo spelled out in the bright letters they use to mark subway lines. So you’re arrested. The proof needed to lock you up is that you’re carrying one of these city-branded, city-distributed devices. If the cops don’t arrest you, they have a habit of confiscating your condoms.
— Molly Crabapple (via ericmortensen)
Is Poking Holes in Condoms Sexual Assault?
I’m not sure if most of you remember Craig Jaret Hutchinson? He is the 42-year-old Canadian man (and by man, I mean psycho) from Clyde River, Nunavut, who poked holes in an entire pack of condoms in hopes of knocking up his girlfriend so that she would be forced to stay in a relationship with him.
Hutchinson and his girlfriend (who, for obvious reasons, has kept her name private during this long, complicated trial) began dating in 2008 and when things got rocky, Hutchinson executed his genius plan to sabotage condoms so she would get pregnant. It worked. His girlfriend got pregnant and they struggled through the relationship for the sake of the unborn child, but (big shocker) it eventually fell apart. When the couple split, Hutchinson broke down, called his girlfriend and admitted what he had done to the condoms because he was afraid she might contract an STD from another partner if she used the ruined condoms. The girlfriend called the police and scheduled an abortion.
Hutchinson was charged and went to trial in 2009, but the Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge found him not guilty of aggravated sexual assault.
Not guilty of aggravated sexual assault.
I’m going to stop right here. By definition, aggravated sexual assault means that the victim’s life was put at risk. Somehow, a judge found that this was not true. Excuse me? The woman had to have an abortion (which left her with an infection in her uterus and two weeks of “painful complications”). She had to endure the beginning stages of pregnancy without consent on her behalf, plus she had to deal with the emotional, mental and physical trauma of not only this very public case, but the abortion and severed relationship to this pathetic low life. Yes, there was no gun held to her head. Yes, there was no gag rope strangled around her mouth. Yes, the actual sex was consensual, but the absence of valid contraception was not. So was this an assault?
VICE Meets Sue Johanson
In the third and final part of the Sue Johanson interview, she talks with Kara Crabb about important things like dick sizes, vagina sizes, and the female orgasm. She also teaches Kara a valuable lesson about safe sex: how to put on a condom with your mouth.
In part one of our three-parter with Sue Johanson of Sunday Night Sex Show fame, Kara Crabb chats with Sue about her origins as a nurse, being a pioneer of sexual education in a time when abortion was illegal, and the priests who told her to poke holes in condoms.
The Best Places to Stash Used Condoms
All human activities produce waste. When one drives an automobile, carbon monoxide is expelled. After eating a meal, a person tends to create what most reputable scientists refer to as “shit.” Sexual relations are not exempt from this rule. A male orgasm produces semen, which for a large swath of the population is a sticky afterthought of the encounter.
In theory, semen is the nectar of life, but sex is routinely enjoyed for reasons outside of procreation. Loneliness, fear of mortality, and boredom are the real impetuses for copulating. That renders “cum” the sad, moist leftover that reminds someone that they have to go back to being depressed after 15 minutes of escape.
Condoms allow for folks to not only avoid pregnancy and disease, but also to have a great place to store semen. Unfortunately, that’s not the end of the problem. The condom then has to be stashed somewhere. There are a variety of options for ditching the evidence of a sexual dalliance, but each and every one of them carries a myriad of other unforeseen complications.
Throwing It in the Trash
One would assume that once a condom is in the garbage, it is taken care of. No one has to see it, touch it or interact with it in any way. That ignores the simple truth that a trashcan has to be opened in order for moregarbage to be thrown out. Unless one lives alone, which is becoming more and more rare in today’s shoddy economy, it’s highly likely that a non-participant or neutral party will have a gander at the filthy leavings of a torrid fuck session. If throwing a condom in the wastebasket is the only option at a person’s disposal, then I advise wrapping said rubber in a wad of toilet paper or placing it inside a cereal box. Please be aware that the cereal box should be empty and in the trash. A full cereal box inside the pantry is not a proper place to put one’s semen. On the other hand, if there is unspoken tension between roommates, then putting semen in a cereal box is a great, passive-aggressive way to get a point across.
Flinging It Out the Window
The benefit of the Window Method is that the condom no longer resides in one’s domicile. It could end up in a tree, on the sidewalk, or on the head of a passer-by. It is truly “out of sight, out of mind.” A child could hypothetically discover the condom and think it is some sort of toy, which could be great if the child is from a poor family and can’t afford Furbys or whatever is popular with youngsters these days. Conversely, the child could be rich and it could end up being the first step toward a deviant, Patrick Bateman-style lifestyle. There’s a 50/50 chance here, so use discretion.
Under the Bed
It’s not uncommon for people to refrain from ever looking under a bed. The space under a bed is a circus of dust mites, pubic hair, Taco Bell receipts, and old shoes. Why not add used jimmy hats to the mix? Bear in mind that this only works if one’s mother never comes over. The first place a mother looks in her child’s house is under the bed, because she is eager to judge just how filthy her child is. As such, this is a great solution if you are an orphan.
Measure B Is a Pain in the Dick
Let’s not bullshit ourselves, condoms flat out suck—both in one’s private life and in pornos. They’re uncomfortable boner-ruiners and girls are always trying to put holes in them to get my babies. In porn, from a fan’s perspective, it’s just not stimulating to see a plastic bag going in and out of a girl’s mouth/butthole. I understand the need for them, but I just don’t like them and I am thankful I’m married and no longer forced to use them. Recently, a law was passed in Los Angeles that is so preposterous it could send porn stars and porn industry people to jail if they don’t use condoms, dental dams, and all sorts of other forms of safe sex in their films. The law is called Measure B (or Measure Bullshit to the folks who will be pummeled by its iron fist).
Measure B, which is really just a witch hunt and a means to run pornographers out of LA County, was proposed by the well-financed AIDS Healthcare Foundation President, Michael Weinstein. The language on the ballot was so deceptive it led voters to believe it was a law to protect the performers in the porn industry. The reality is that Measure B calls for pornographers to purchase health permits and it opens their shoots up to random inspections from the Health Department to make sure they are complying with the law. This goes for everyone, even the lowly cam girls who are in the safety of their own homes doing solo shows to help put themselves through college.
Many of my friends are both up in arms and fearful of what is to come. Director Kimberly Kane, who you know from my recent episodes of Skinema and her VICE magazine feature on Zak Smith and Mandy Morbid, is now a criminal under Measure B. She was uncharacteristically speechless when I asked her for a quote about the law. She didn’t know what to say for days. She finally told me, “Technically they’ll penalize you for breaking the law even if you’re married and performing with your spouse without a condom. Everything I do now is illegal without a permit, a condom, and probably someone on set from the Heath Department making sure that everything is up to code. I don’t know what we’re going to do. They say it’s a First Amendment violation and it could be litigation for a long time. But no one knows. Everyone is very worried. Measure B basically runs us out of town on a moral stance. They say Vegas or Nevada is an option [for relocating the industry]…”