BY Hugh Ryan
October 14 2009 10:35 AM ET
Name: William Rockwell, editor of $pread; Mistress Veronica, distribution director of $pread
What is $pread? $pread is a magazine that is completely run, written, edited, and distributed by sex workers for sex workers. It was founded about four years ago by a group of women, sex workers, strippers, and escorts in response to seeing how Hollywood and mass media project what sex workers are. They wanted to have a voice where we said who we are, not some third party who wants to stigmatize us.
How did you get involved? I became a pro domme and was looking for other people who were proud of being pro domme. People who were out there purposefully, proudly. I looked online and I found $pread just from searching for “sex worker empowerment,” and I immediately contacted the people involved and they were very happy to have me contribute because we all do it for free and in our spare time.
Do you think it’s important to be out as sex workers? I think that’s a personal decision that people need to make. I think the magazine is important in terms of humanizing the industry, having different perspectives, and bashing preconceived notions about the drug-addicted street hustler person who is so oppressed -- that definitely exists and is part of the industry, which we take very seriously, but that’s one aspect of a much broader spectrum of people.
Would you say the economy has affected the sex-work industry in New York? I have experienced a little bit of a dip in my own work, but I haven’t noticed more people coming into the industry. That’s all over the news now --you see, like, “women who were executives at a high-powered company are now becoming pro dommes,” but I haven’t experienced that too much. But yeah, it’s definitely affecting me.
How long have you worked with $pread? For about two years now.
Does $pread have a perspective? As long as you’re a sex worker who has experienced whatever portion of the industry you’ve experienced, your opinion is valid to us. Our aim is to legitimize people’s actual experiences, whether it’s in the classroom or the courtroom or the Senate. Whenever someone is talking about a prostitute or a pro domme or a stripper, they should be there to be able to speak for themselves, and that’s the bottom line.
How did you get involved in sex work?: When I was 15, I was kicked out of my parents’ home and living out of friends’ and tricks' houses. A lot of the hooking up I did is what I would now consider informal sex work. Down the street there was a Human Rights Campaign building being rebuilt for a $3 million addition, and there wasn’t one LGBTQ-sponsored place prepared for me could go to sleep as a youth in need. Never once did the HRC open their doors to me.