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4 min

Hookers on Davie screening tonight

Vancouver’s iconic documentary Hookers on Davie will be screening tonight at The Fox Cabaret, presented by Arrival Agency and Politica UBC. The 16mm film will play at 8pm; entry is by donation, benefiting WISH.

About Hookers on Davie (from the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre Study Guide): The decision to shoot a film about “the prostitution capital of Canada,” Davie Street, was based on eight months of research by the filmmakers concerning prostitution in major cities throughout Canada and the United States. Davie Street is located in the heart of Vancouver’s residential West End, just minutes from Stanley Park. Hookers have turned the tree-lined streets into a drive-in brothel open for trade from noon until 4am, seven days a week. The prostitutes here have organized themselves by meeting once each week to discuss safety, self-defense, and health controls. Collectively, they print “bad trick sheets,” warning each other of potentially dangerous clients. These prostitutes are independent and through mutual cooperation have maintained a “pimp free” work environment. There are normally up to 150 prostitutes frequenting this area, congregating around neighbourhood churches and lining the alleyways and street corners all day long. After spending two months on Davie Street talking with the hookers, the filmmakers were able to gain their trust and confidence. The subjects agreed to wear radio microphones while being filmed by a hidden camera in a parked van. They worked the corner, openly negotiating with tricks, and spoke candidly about their experiences during breaks at a local restaurant. Hookers on Davie emerges as a fresh insight into the lives of prostitutes working the streets, giving a sensitive and personal portrayal of their world and their lives.

There will be a panel discussion of the film with Velvet Steele, Jamie Lee Hamilton and Becki Ross taking to the stage to share their experiences and firsthand memories of a Davie that has been long extinct. 

About Velvet Steele: Velvet Steele is a woman who is a trans activist and sexual health advocate. She recently finished working with the City of Vancouver Task Force on Sex Work in an advisory position, is currently a sensitivity facilitator with Living in Community, sits on the advisory of the Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform and is an active member of the BCCEC (British Columbia Coalition of Experiential Communities). It’s her life as a Domina that has led her to advocacy and sexual activism helping to assure the rights of individuals directly involved in the sex work community and those associated. It is from this community that she further strives to bring an awareness and understanding to those not familiar, through public speaking engagements and advisory positions within non-profits and government agencies. 

About Jamie Lee Hamilton: Jamie Lee Hamilton (born Sept 20, 1955, in Vancouver, British Columbia) is a Canadian politician and advocate of aboriginal people, residents of the city’s poverty-stricken Downtown Eastside, and sex trade workers. She was an independent candidate for the publicly elected Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation in the city’s 2008 municipal election, after being controversially blocked from running on the Non-Partisan Association ticket. She previously ran for Vancouver City Council in 1996, becoming the first openly transgender person ever to run for political office in Canada. Hamilton is also a writer, entertainer and guest lecturer in women’s and gender studies at the University of British Columbia and in humanities at Capilano College. She is working on a research project at UBC, “The Expulsion of Sex Workers from Vancouver’s West End, 1975–1985,” as she was one of those expelled by the court ruling. She currently serves on the board of directors of the Greater Vancouver Native Cultural Society, which has served the aboriginal two-spirited community since 1978. Hamilton is a lifelong resident of the Downtown Eastside and Strathcona neighbourhoods of Vancouver. 

About Becki Ross: Since 1995, Becki Ross has held a joint appointment in the Institute of Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice and the Department of Sociology. She teaches and researches in the areas of the history of sexuality, “the family,” gender relations, qualitative methods, anti-racist studies, critical sport studies and queer culture. Becki is the recipient of two teaching awards (2005 and 2008). She has supervised/co-supervised graduate students on diverse topics: the history of sexual education in BC, representations of gender and “race” in video games and mainstream advertising, queer spaces on Canadian university campuses, contemporary butch/femme relations, biracial South Asian women’s heterosexuality, interracial white/Asian gay male relationships, and queer courtship and marriage in Vancouver. Becki’s publications appear the Journal of Historical Sociology, Sexualities, Journal of Women’s History, Labour/le travail, Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, and the Journal of the History of Sexuality. With Sharon Lebenkoff she completed a 35-page chapter (online) for McGraw Hill Ryerson on themes of dating, marriage, cohabitation and same-sex relations. With Oralia Gomez-Ramirez, Becki contributed an article on the state regulation of recruiters in the adult entertainment industry (exotic dancing, specifically) for a special issue on “Burlesque” by the Canadian Theatre Review. Becki is completing a manuscript titled Expelled: The Neo-Colonial Rule of Unruly Sexual Subjects in Vancouver, 1975-1985. On the administrative front, Becki was the co-chair of Critical Studies in Sexuality (2004–2007). From 2009 to 2012 she served as the chair of the (then) undergraduate program in women’s and gender Studies. In 2012/2013, Becki was a consultant on the exhibit Sex Talk in the City: The Classroom, The Bedroom, The Street for the Museum of Vancouver (MOV). She coordinated the first “all sex worker” panel at the MOV in April 2013 and co-led, with Jamie Lee Hamilton, “Strolling the Stroll,” a commemorative tour of 10 landmarks along what was once the Davie Street stroll in Vancouver’s West End.