Believe it or not, you can buy a pair of used underwear for a good cause.
Maggie’s Toronto Sex Workers Action Project, a local advocacy group, has enlisted some famous names from the porn world to help it raise $10,000 by the end of June. The organization is approaching the end of a two-month Indiegogo campaign to raise funds to help expand and support its services.
Among the donated items up for auction: a pair of underwear worn by pornstar Belle Knox. “I think that selling my panties for charity is perfect because it gives you this altruistic reason to be a perv,” she says.
Her involvement has boosted the campaign, putting Maggie’s close to its goal. “It has picked up a lot of speed in the last day,” Amy Saunders, who designed the Indiegogo campaign for Maggie’s, told Xtra June 5. “Quite a few pornstars are contacting me to get onto the campaign like Belle Knox had done.”
While Knox’s underwear has now sold out, other items up for bid include a ride on the most powerful sex toy in the world, the Sybian, for $150 and a dinner date with pornstar Tasha Reign for $1,500.
For Knox, who is an outspoken advocate for sex workers’ rights, helping Maggie’s is a chance to use her popularity for a good cause.
“What is so special about Maggie’s is that it is run by sex workers,” Knox says. “It really gets people involved with the activism side of it.”
According to board member and sex worker Jeff Kingsley, the Indiegogo campaign has become “1,000 more times” important in the wake of new sex work legislation proposed by federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay June 4.
“We find it deplorable and disgusting what the Conservative government is recommending,” Kingsley says.
Bill C-36 doesn’t address any of the concerns raised by sex workers during the court case that led to Canada’s prostitution laws being struck down in December 2013, Kingsley says. Nor does the bill address concerns raised during public consultations held earlier this year, he adds.
The proposed statute would criminalize the purchase as well as some aspects of the sale of sexual acts, such as communicating with a client in a public place where anyone under 18 might be present. It would also ban advertising for sexual services.
Kingsley worries that this model will make it harder for sex workers to screen potential clients. Currently, sex workers who work primarily online can post reviews of clients on some websites, making it easier for them to weed out problematic or dangerous customers.
Maggie’s, along with a coalition of sex worker advocacy organizations, has already planned a protest against the proposed legislation on June 14 at the northwest corner of Sherbourne and Gerrard streets as part of a national day of action.
Though Kingsley is not sure what further action Maggie’s might take against the proposed legislation, he says the $10,000 the organization hopes to raise will go toward expanding its political lobbying efforts.
While Maggie’s traditionally focuses on street-based sex work, the $10,000 would also go toward outreach to a broader range of sex workers, including those who sell their services online or use escort services.