$pread magazine, founded in March 2005, announced recently that they will be closing up shop at the end of this year. If you’re unfamiliar, this may be the perfect time to get to know a little bit more about the quarterly magazine for and by sex workers of all types. The magazine with the tag line “Illuminating the Sex Industry” was incredibly ambitious, and aimed to educate as well as entertain. Each issue was themed (one of the last issues will be themed “Crime and Punishment”), and in a similar fashion to any magazine had regular features.
I appreciate that each issue is mailed in a non-descriptive manila envelope with a subtle return address (clearly taking a nod from many adult toy companies). A feature that I have always enjoyed and will miss is Double Take, which features a sex worker in both their real-life and work clothes. They also answer questions about where they shop for both, what item they think is sexiest, and how their real life and work fashion influence each other. They’ve included rent boys, models, at least one dominatrix, amongst others. The feature gives me great ideas for my own closet, plus I love the photos of these confident, beautiful people. Another great feature I will miss is the consumer reports. Typically three industry insiders review a type of product (there was a really good one that had three dancers reviewing body glitter – which have the best bang for your buck, best staying power, low level of transferring).
I do genuinely think that there is something for almost everyone. The Fall 2009 issue included a great article called “Nina Hartley’s Guide to Great Sex During Pregnancy”, which I’ve actually given to several friends. Every issue brings something about sex work around the world, which has been nice for opening my mind to issues beyond my own back yard. While certain types of sex work are legal in America, they are sometimes given a blind eye in other countries – or, some sex workers are treated atrociously. I know in my own experience, it can be easy to take for granted our own freedoms.
For me, the closing of a magazine like $pread isn’t just one less great magazine that I eagerly look forward to each month, but also making it more difficult to be a sex worker. $pread isn’t just a magazine, but almost a culture. While I have not been able to attend any of their events (they’re mostly in New York City), I know people who have and say that it is great to be able to meet up with others in similar positions. $pread has been outlet for many people, including former sex workers and their friends. It makes sex work less isolating, and also can educate the general public. There have been some amazingly helpful articles on health considerations for sex workers (and all of the advice I can see being applicable for anyone who is sexually active). I think there are many people out there who have this preconceived notion of what sex work is, and what sex workers look like – and they’re sometimes wrong. $pread has showcased sex workers of all ethnicities and sizes (and all of them have been absolutely gorgeous). It has always shown such an honest and better understanding of sex work. I know that the editors have discussed making a book at some point.
If you haven’t read $pread, now is your chance. All of the back issues are still available for sale (I’ll be picking up a few to fill in the few gaps in my collection) and there is some merchandise available for sale. Another fantastic thing is that $pread will be donating any leftover issues to sex worker outreaches. I’m hoping that there will be more literature like $pread – maybe someone can pick up where they left off (perhaps with a blog?). Regardless, thank you, $pread, for all of the great issues and outreach.