I live a block off 82nd Avenue in Portland, Oregon. It's not the part of town you see on the Portlandia TV show. Instead of a trendy, free-range hipster paradise, 82nd—the ironically named "Avenue of Roses"—is a miles-long cement stretch of by-the-hour motels, B-grade strip clubs, and peeling houses that advertise "lingerie modeling" and "exotic massage." Streetwalkers are discreet, since the cops have been cracking down as of late. They stand at the edge of the streetlights late on the weekends, wary.
It all makes me a little uncomfortable. You see, 82nd is the margins of my society—but it's that place I always talk about Jesus going.
'The Stripper Whisperer'
They call Joy Hoover "The Stripper Whisperer." A girl from small-town Michigan, she has no personal past with the sex industry (even though she chuckles in a TEDx video that her stylish hair might make people confuse her with a stripper). It's a fitting nickname.
She's the founder and president of The Cupcake Girls, a non-profit support system for women in the adult entertainment industry. The group is made up of volunteer women who make friends at strip clubs, brothels, porn conventions, and anywhere else they can connect with women in sex work. They have around 100 volunteers, from 18-year-olds to women in their 50s, and from a wide variety of backgrounds: chefs, marketing directors, fundraisers, counselors, stylists, massage therapists, and more.
Underneath its playful veneer, the organization has a robust network to support the many girls in need. They connect sex workers with therapists, financial advisors, lawyers, and any other practical resources they might need. ...