Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pieta Woolley

Sex workers' advocate Jamie Lee Hamilton blasts city on potential porn theatre closure

The City of Vancouver's licences department "doesn't get" that the city's full of straight-laced folks looking for a kinky good time, according to sex workers' advocate Jamie Lee Hamilton.

She said the potential closure of the Fox Theatre at 2321 Main Street — through the revoking of its business licence—would be a big loss for the city.

"Why the Puritanism?" she told the Straight in a phone interview today (March 19). "I suspect that they probably didn't want it across from the community centre."

The new community centre, 1 Kingsway, is set to open in the fall. It will include a child-care centre, a library, rental housing, and other amenities kitty-corner to the Fox.

The theatre is a popular site for sexual hook-ups, and includes a "jerk-off pit", according to Hamilton.

She argued that adult theatres "play a role in the cultural fabric of our city". The users of the Fox, she said, are a community. Many of them are men who are exploring their sexuality, and wouldn't be comfortable in a more public place, such as a Davie Street bar.

But the range of clientele, Hamilton said, is broad. There's relatively little professional activity in comparison to the Venus Theatre, which closed in 2007. At the Fox, she claimed, any professional services that are present are not exploitative.

Indeed, Hamilton has both visited the Fox and worked the Fox. She said she's been paid to accompany men to the "royal box" upstairs, and tease other visitors for their enjoyment. Hamilton has not turned tricks at the Fox, though she said she did at the Venus.

If residents are complaining about sexual expression in their city, she argued, they should wake up.

"It's just part of the human fabric," she said. "If you're going to live in an urban setting, there's going to be these spaces, adult theatres, peep shows, et cetera. They're doing this thing at licensing which is creating a potential of where no kink is allowed in the city."

So, where's the kink going?

Hamilton said the Fraser Valley. While the kink scene is shrinking downtown, she noted, a rest stop just outside of Abbotsford is thriving. On a recent visit one evening, she counted 40 people getting off in the dark.

"A lot of married people like to dabble," she said. "I don't think [chief licence inspector] Barb Windsor gets that. But I think some city councillors do."

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Created: March 25, 2009
Last modified: June 20, 2009
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