I woke up this morning to an e-mail from Anna Smith in Vancouver. She is this blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent. It said:
“For some reason I have been surrounded by police for the last few weeks.”
She attached a photograph of herself flanked by two policemen.
“It was a couple of weeks ago,” she told me. “They reprimanded me for wearing socks with sandals and being seen in public with terrible hair. Other than that I get along fine with the local cops. It’s the Swedish ones that annoy me. It’s strange. Lately it seems that I’ve been more interested in the police than they have ever been with me.”
“I’ve been battling Swedish policemen and The University Women’s Club.”
The article carried a picture of Anna with a lady called Poison Pompadour and reported:
“They wanted to hear a visiting Swedish cop who has busted more than a thousand guys for going out on dates with prostitutes.
“Detective Simon Haggstrom was in Vancouver to deliver a lecture, and so Anna Smith and Poison Pompadour were eager to attend.
“Smith is a director with the Triple-X Workers’ Solidarity Association of British Columbia, a group that seeks to legalize prostitution, while Pompadour is a French sex worker.
“As Smith recalled, the two of them came with placards, one of which was critical of the so-called Nordic model of prostitution, which criminalizes the purchase of sexual services.”
Two years ago, a law was passed which made the buying of sexual services illegal in Canada. Apparently because of their placard which read MAKE COOKIES NOT ARRESTS, Anna and Poison Pompadour were barred from entering the Orpheum Annex. That was where the niftily named ‘International Approaches to Prostitution: Sweden, Germany and Canada’ was being held.
Anna also sent me a copy of a letter she wrote to her mother in 1999.
“It includes,” she told me, “two interesting photos of my last comedy performance, seventeen years ago. I seem to do a comedy show about once decade, unless you count the sex education lectures I do twice a year.
“These are hour-long autobiographical streams of consciousness that are pure comedy. The students pay hundreds of dollars for a weekend workshop with me and a variable dozen other sex specialists. At the end of the hour the students are allowed to ask questions, but only for a few minutes. I get sad at the ending because there are always a few students left disappointed with their hands held up. At the end, the students all clap warmly, their faces beaming. The lady in charge then whisks me and the other speaker out of the room as if we are stars… then the whole room sighs sadly… knowing they will be lucky if they ever see us again.”
And the photos from 1999?
“It was a benefit show at the University of Victoria, to send a Russian prostitute and her cat home to St Petersburg. She was trapped in northern British Columbia.
“I was supposed to be doing the show as half of a double bill, with a punk band. But, at the last minute, the punk band cancelled because their mothers wouldn’t let them do a show with/for sex workers. So I had to do the show alone, and I was thinking, Those little chickenshits… Some punk band you are…”
Her letter to her mother reads:
“Here I am making a triumphant return to comedy after an eleven year interlude! I’m doing the character of the 10,000 year old hooker who has crawled out of a dumpster in Vancouver. I used the name Simone de Boudoir.
“The top picture shows the start of my show. I was very full of stage fright before I went on and then the students put my music in backwards, so it’s lucky I’m an experienced performer and got through the rough start.
“I’m wearing an onion bag belted on a veil (white blob) under my hat and a green suede fringed skirt under my dress and a boa made of fishing line and fruits.
“(In the bottom picture) Here I am waving goodbye to 200 cheering people at the end of my show. The lady beside me is called Danya – she organised the event. With the money raised, they sent home a woman from Russia called Irina, who was brought here on false hopes by a man she thought was her ‘pen-pal’. (She thought it was a romance but afterwards she found out she’d been advertised in the Buy & Sell.)
“Anyway, the GAATW (Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women) raised the money for her to go home.”
So that rounds things off nicely.
Though I would like to know more about Anna’s line: “Lately it seems that I’ve been more interested in the police.”