Jo Weldon’s fascination with the sex industry was aroused long before she started working in it. As an adolescent queer in an oppressively conservative environment, she was drawn to images and lore of erotic laborers. Even though these stories were often intended to discourage impressionable young women from entering the industry, Jo was attracted to their independence, outlaw energy, resistance to sexual shame and, above all, their style. In What I Wore to Work, An Illustrated Memoir of Dressing to Undress, find out what happened when this self-described “Fashion Whore-storian” followed the stiletto footsteps of her heroes into an underworld both more mundane and intriguing than expected and discovered that the costumes and clothing worn in the industry—by strippers, escorts, streetwalkers and dominatrices—were informed by conflicting desires: their own, their employers’, their clients’ and the law’s.
Jo’s histories of her “work clothes”—and the vivid and insightful dressing room conversations she shared with her peers about the why of what they wore—explore not only her own life in the sex industry, but the lineage of the items themselves and their influence on the larger world. Her stories about learning how to keep her costumes in line with local blue laws or the tan line craze of the 80s or shopping for thigh-high boots pre-internet reveal as much about how women are expected to present themselves as they do about the realities of sex work. Part illustrated lecture, part memoir, this show touches upon sex worker style iconography in literature, film and news media and reveals how sex workers have co-opted oppressive symbols as symbols of identity and resistance. Ultimately, Jo uncovers how sex workers are at the root of fashion itself.
Show Notes: Please note that there is also a $25 food/drink minimum at all performances at this venue.
THURSDAY @ 7 PM