Monday, July 26, 2010

Belle de Jour Travels West

The always fabulous Belle de Jour has crossed the pond to our neck of the woods to participate in several conferences that will no doubt increase her ever-burgeoning popularity in the U.S.

Her website describes her as: “Belle de Jour is the pen name of Brooke Magnanti, a UK-based writer and science researcher. Interests: whisky, taphonomy, PGP encryption.”

Today, she is in Sin City (Las Vegas, Nevada to the uninitiated. Nevada is the only state in the U.S. where prostitution is legal) participating on a Privacy and Security panel at an important conference sponsored by the Desiree Aliance.

[The above photograph, which appeared in the Expresso, Portugal, on June 26, is a great shot of Brooke in her trademark high heels, with an empty glass of a favorite single-malt in the foreground.]

Brooke, of Bristol, England, is a noted scientist whose specialist areas are developmental neurotoxicology and cancer epidemiology. She has a PhD in informatics, epidemiology and forensic science and is now working at the Bristol Initiative for Research of Child Health. She recently completed a project researching the potential effects on babies of their mothers' exposure to toxic chemicals.

But from 2003 to late 2004, Brooke worked as a prostitute via a London escort agency; she started blogging as Belle de Jour — after the Buñuel film starring Catherine Deneuve as a well-to-do housewife who has sex for money because she’s bored — shortly into her career as a call girl, after an incident she thought funny enough to write down.

She charged £300 an hour for her services, of which she got £200. The average appointment lasted two hours; she saw clients two or three times a week, “sometimes less, sometimes a great deal more,” she has said.

Brooke has been keeping a low profile on the Internet recently, but has kept a very busy schedule traveling to Portugal to promote the publication of her books in translation, then onto the West Coast of the U.S., and then to Nevada.

I have been a fan of Brooke’s since her award-winning and now iconic blog hit the Internet in 2003. I have remained a steadfast friend and supporter since, and eagerly await any and everything she chooses to write in the future - even if it's about science!

Earlier this month, Brooke gave a presentation at Femina Potens, (which was “tickled pink to introduce you to the multi-dimensional world of Sex Workers,) held in San Francisco. The following promotional article appeared in the San Francisco Bay Guardian on July 14:

Hot sexy events July 14-20

By Caitlin Donohue

[Ex sex worker-blogger Belle De Jour teaches the tricks of the (latter) trade at Femina Potens gallery.]

Brooke Magnanti didn't always appreciate the transformative power of writing about sex. As “the most famous call girl in the world,” she wrote an infamous blog in the UK about her life and times as a prostitute. She got famous – although she kept her true identity concealed – and a hit TV show was made of her life. Her frank sex talk kept everyone intrigued, titillated, and humanized sex workers for an online audience. And then the tabloids found out who she was.

And she was poked, prodded, harassed via email, her parents were interrogated, her ex boyfriend started getting all threaten-y. Her other career as a research scientist was called into question. Sucks. But she's better now, happy she voiced her sexual reality, and as found her relationships deepen on account of it. She's looking to teach you how to seize the power of the pen (and Ipad) for the same means this weekend, in a talk (Sat/17) and writing workshop (Sun/18) at Femina Potens gallery. She's ex-hooker, hear her roar.

~~~

Today, Brooke will participate in her panel after Dr. Joycelyn Elders, former U.S. Surgeon General, kicked off the conference as the keynote speaker.

"The Desiree Alliance is a coalition of sex workers, health professionals, social scientists, professional sex educators, and their supporting networks working together for an improved understanding of the sex industry and its human, social and political impacts. Our focus is on building local and regional leadership and constructive activism in the sex worker population to advocate for sex workers' human, labor and civil rights," according to its website.

This year’s conference, "Working Sex: Power, Practice, and Politics," continues until July 30.

Among the participants of the week are Furry Girl, and Nina Hartley, Adult entertainer, sex educator, and author.

(Note: Furry Girl, a fascinating sex worker with a not-to-be-missed blog that is also a favorite of mine, will be participating in a panel and also presenting Solo Girl.)

Fear not, oh U.K. readers, Brooke will be back home, soon. She is scheduled to speak on “Chance and Luck” appropriately on Friday, 13 Aug., with Science for All Brainwaves, part of the British Science Association, to be held at St George's Lecture Theatre, Sheffield.
Here’s the description:

Held on the apt Friday 13th, Dr. Brooke Magnanti will give a public lecture on chance and luck.

"What is luck, and what is chance? While these two terms are almost interchangeable in everyday usage, the meaning can be unclear.

Chance, odds, and other such ideas relate to the probability of occurrence – simple notions of discrete mathematics that, if the 65% of people who consider the lottery as a likely source of their retirement income indicates, are poorly understood. Using a few simple examples the statistical concepts will be illustrated.

But in the more philosophical sense, what is the meaning of luck? The finding of a lucky penny is determined by chance. Its discovery is imbued with the assumption that a semi-random action can subtly influence the events which occur after it. In other words, the universe is not a predetermined, closed system.

Both the ideas that the universe is predictable, but that it is also not determinable feed not only into popular understanding – and misunderstanding – of luck and chance, but also more sophisticated notions such as cosmic uncertainty, dark energy, whether the cyclic model of the fate of the universe is correct, and when, exactly, we can expect the singularity (hint: probably not on Friday the 13th).

~~~~

Her most recent books include Belle de Jour’s Guide to Men, 2009; Belle’s Bits, 2009; and Playing the Game, June 2009. Earlier books are The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl, September 2005; and The Further Adventures of a London Call Girl, May 2007.

All of her books are well-worth reading and widely available across the pond at Amazon's UK division.

Her writing has been so popular that it became the basis for the international hit TV series, Secret Diary of a Call Girl, starring Billie Piper. It can be seen on Showtime in the U.S., and the first two seasons are available on DVD. The third season was previewed by a special 30-minute interview of Brooke by Billie.

As always: Cheers, m’dear!

— The Curator

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