So, yesterday, I headed out to help do stuff around Stepping Stone in preparation for "An Evening With Valerie Scott". I wasn't actually in the room for most of the evening, since I was at the table right outside the door, to welcome in people and say goodbye to them (Rene had to tell me that there was no one left but board directors in order to get me to close down).
When Ms. Scott came in, I thought, "wow." She's dressed well. She looks beautiful. She has so many smile lines. In fact, her whole face looks more used to smiling than anything. Rene introduced me, and she laughed a lot throughout the evening. She's a really petite woman too. But these are superficial things. The first non-superficial thing one notices about her? How full of life
she is. Laidback, non-judgemental, and she really follows up on this first impression.
The AGM went really quickly because Rene rocks the agenda, and one of the Board members, Debbie Martin, was really nice to me... while I was sitting up front and the talk was over, she brought me food! It was the first real food I had the whole day... except for the nugget that Rene tossed to Jeff earlier in the afternoon (because they always toss Jeff scraps, lol) which I took, because Jeff's awesome like that.
Valerie Scott was interviewed by CTV at the venue itself, as well as a couple other reporters, and I stood behind her while she was talking. It was kinda neat. She speaks slowly, very very carefully, and you can tell she's done this before, thought out what she was going to say, and doesn't just break out into whatever. Really well-spoken lady, and she doesn't speak too fast nor too slow, but every word she says, she says it with conviction.
Her talk was incredible - she described all the problems that sex workers face, and the way she told us was so earnest, I nearly cried. But she was also so funny - she handed out nickels and said, "and now you're all my pimps" because the Living on the Avails Law (aka procuring or pimping) says that anyone who receives any money from a prostitute, or lives with one, is, basically, a pimp, which is stupid because that means they can't share that money or share living space: can't have roommates, can't have a spouse, or a friend.
I didn't get to talk to her much, because I was working the door (and I wouldn't know what to say to her anyway), but I DID get her to sign my "Sex Workers in the Maritimes Talk Back" book... she didn't write it, but it's about sex workers, and she's one, and what better book in which to get her autograph??
The turnout was AMAZING. Over a hundred people were there! I gave out info booklets that I helped photocopy (and fold) earlier in the day, and we were selling Sex Workers in the Maritimes books (inventory from Outside the Lines on Quinpool; they're the only bookstore in Halifax selling it! and the guy from the bookstore came too. I must tell you about him, he's lovely)... only one person bought it, but lots of people expressed interest in it, which is great, because it's a very solid, biographical book that collected stories from sex workers and keeps most of the quotes in verbatim.
It was a good time, honestly. There was a bit of dialogue when during the Q&A session, someone asked, "how did you get into sex work?" and someone who'd formerly worked with Stepping Stone pointed out, "That's not a relevant question; you'd never ask that of a banker." I had a good chat with the girl who asked the question (journalism student at King's, here's hoping she does more research) and I directed her to a few blogs she could read to get a grasp of other issues that sex workers face (one of them's yours, Ren!!) - hopefully, she'll run with it, and it would be a damned interesting assignment to read!
Here are a bunch of links you guys can read on Valerie Scott!
- The Chronicle Herald's interview with Ms. Scott
- Metro Daily News' article on the talk by Ms Scott, with a picture of Rene Ross, Executive Director of Stepping Stone
- CBC's interview with Ms. Scott (RealPlayer needed, I imagine, since it's in .ram format)
- fab Magazine's article on Scott, which has nothing to do with her Halifax visit, but is still awesome nonetheless, plus with an awesome, 18+ picture of Ms. Scott
Here's the Sex Professionals of Canada
(SPOC) website, and you can imagine my nerdy glee when Ms. Scott pronounced the acronym just like "Spock".
There were also a bunch of TV interviews too, and apparently they were on after the event was over and I just didn't turn on the TV, which I should do more often. I'll keep posting links as they come up over the next few days.