In February, I’ll be presenting a gallery show that I’m calling Speaking to Las Vegas in the Language of Las Vegas. This is going to be an art installation that combines sculptural elements, performance, audio, video, photo documentation, and illustrated portraits of Las Vegas sex workers. The purpose of this show is to investigate the connections between the Las Vegas economy & the legal & illegal sex work that happens there.
For example, take "hooker cards": These look like porn (except for the cleverly placed stars), but they are freely distributed on the strip, advertising "nude entertainers direct to your room." Everyone knows that these are advertisements for prostitution, however prostitution is illegal in Las Vegas. The cards are passed out by dozens of people hired by escort agencies, printed by local print shops, passed on by valets, taxi drivers and limo drivers who get tipped out by the women depicted on them. There are even trucks that drive around the strip showing the images from these cards, paid for by local escort agencies. In other words, part of the Las Vegas economy depends on money coming in from prostitution, which is, technically, illegal. The project I’m working on is about drawing attention to this underground—though highly visible—economic exchange.
I will be recreating this during a performance that wil take place on the Las Vegas Strip on January 9th, during the AVN awards. I will be creating my own hooker cards, hiring the same people the agencies hire to pass them out, & hiring a truck to drive my art around the strip. I am hoping people interact with the piece by calling the phone number & visiting the website I'm setting up. There, they will be able to hear more from the sex workers that I will be depicting on the cards.
For the gallery show, I will be displaying the photo & video documentation of this performance, as well as pieces involving giant sized hooker cards, custom made hooker shoes, and a burlesque performance.
I am hoping that this show furthers the discussion of sex work as work - It is my aim to allow people in the sex industry to speak in their own voices, and to present unvarnished, unfiltered stories. I’m talking to porn actresses, prostitutes, erotic dancers, dominatrixes, brothel workers, and high-end escorts, covering the broad spectrum of experience that these women have in this invisible economy.
- (35 days)