05 Mar 2014 22:00
Sex work is often just work. Some do it out of economic necessity -- for survival. For others, sex work offers a path to empowerment and independence. Yet because sexuality is typically hidden in the darkest corners of our culture, sex workers are marginalized, harassed, and put in danger -- not just by the people that use their services, but by the police whose "protect and serve" motto doesn't always extend to sex workers.
In this series of portraits and interviews, we go deep into the underbelly of sex work in New Orleans, Louisiana -- the Big Easy. Sexuality is on display in every doorway and street sign on Bourbon Street, but the day-to-day lives of strippers, escorts, and other sex workers is not what you'd expect. The woman sipping coffee and tapping at her laptop in the cafe? You'd never know she was a sex worker.
There is a persistent myth about sex trafficking during large events in the United States -- the same story about an increase in trafficking before the Super Bowl is trotted out every year, but the numbers don't add up. In this story, we explode myths around sex trafficking and take you inside an average day in the life of several New Orleans sex workers, during and after the street bacchanal that is Mardi Gras.