Lap Dances, Sexy Performances, More at Fundraiser for Speak Up!

NEW YORK—Melissa Petro, an art teacher at P.S. 70 in the Bronx, whose writings about having had sex for money dared to challenge the tired old adage “once a prostitute, always a whore,” resigned from her job on Jan. 21. That today, in 2011, a tenured teacher who had clearly demonstrated competence at her job should have had to choose between resignation or the likely turmoil of a hearing that could result in her dismissal is one reason Tied Up Events has chosen to join the Sex Work Awareness (SWA) and the Red Umbrella Project in supporting a fundraiser for the Speak Up! Media Training Program. The event takes place Feb. 4 at Madame X, 94 West Houston St., between Thompson and LaGuardia Place, New York, from 6:30 to 10 p.m.

Speak Up! is led by Audacia Ray and Eliyanna Kaiser, two former executive editors of $pread magazine who have worked with mainstream and independent media as part of the sex worker rights movement for many years. Speak Up! is the result of a need expressed by members of that community for more resources and training on how to strategically respond to and interact with media. In 2009 and 2010 Speak Up! was run by SWA, a public education project that evolved out of work with $pread magazine. This year the training is co-organized by SWA and the Red Umbrella Project.

SWA and the Red Umbrella Project are also pleased to announce the opening of the application period for the third annual Speak Up! Media Training for current and former sex workers, held in New York City at the Urban Justice Center. The 2011 training kicks off with an evening seminar on Friday, April 8, and consists of two full days of workshop on April 9 and 10. Speak Up! is able to train 10 people and is accepting applications through Thursday, Feb. 17.

The event at Madame X will be emceed by the only letter in burlesque, N, and feature performances by Reid Mihalko, Graydancer, Luna, Brandon B, and Miss Mary Cyn. Tickets will be available for purchase for lap dances by the Luscious Lifestyle Diva, Ms. Yolanda Shoshana, the one and only lifestyle Passionista (who will also appear as a teen dating coach on the Jan. 31 episode of MTV’s Made), Ms. Abiola Abrams, burlesque sensation Sweet N’ Lo, and the sultry Ms. Savannah Darling. Luna will also provide foot rubs for those who purchase a ticket.

Admittance is $15 pre-paid via Eventbrite or $20 at the door and includes a 2011 NYC SexBlogger Calendar, with sex educator and adult film legend Nina Hartley vamping it up on the cover and lots of steamy bloggers heating things up from the inside cover to the very back page; Wet safe sex kits; and a $10 gift certificate to The Pleasure Chest for the first hundred people to register and/or arrive. To avoid the line, pre-purchase lap dance or foot rub tickets for $15 at Eventbrite (remember to print out and bring your confirmation with you) or pay $20 at the event.

Thanks to a donor who prefers to remain anonymous, your money will be doubly well spent, since funds will be matched up to $1,500.

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