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Bill O'Reilly Slanders Me

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For all of February, and part of January, I toured the country with the Sex Workers Art Show. The show was made up of current and former sex workers (I used to be a stripper). Three of us were writers and we read about our experiences as dancers and prostitutes. There was a performance artist from Japan and another from Olympia, two burlesque dancers, a musician. Basically, this was about people getting to know sex workers as human beings. People with talent who participate in the American economy and who deserve health care, labor rights.

It was one hell of a show.

We did thirty-three shows in thirty-one cities in thirty-five days. Most of our performances were at colleges, like Reed, University of California, Haverford, Bard, and William And Mary where we got caught in a controversy we never saw coming.

The short version is Wren Cross was recently removed from the chapel because some people felt it was offensive. I have nothing to say on this particular controversy, but it was a big one, especially in the conservative trades. We showed up at the school not much later and so the story ran, "William And Mary Bans Cross, Invites Sex Workers." There was even a cartoon in the Washington Times. Of course, the two stories have nothing to do with each other.

I wasn't going to get involved in this controversy until Bill O'Reilly, in his characteristic way, decided to deliberately lie about us on his program (video link here - click on the picture of Jo Weldon in the red dress). He claims we were soliciting students and offering sexual services for pay on campus. This is an out right lie. There were twelve of us on this tour. We traveled in two vans and slept four to a room at night. If someone was soliciting business we would have known about it. I would have known about it.

The goal of the Sex Workers Art Show is noble. It's about education and empowerment. It's not about turning tricks on college campuses. No one has more integrity or a purer heart than the show's founder, Annie Oakley. Bill O'Reilly could learn a lot from her, about honesty, about doing what's right. Instead he libels and slanders, clawing through the mud in search of any attention at all. If Bill has any integrity, and there's no evidence he does, he'll issue an apology to the twelve of us. It's no wonder the Democrats refused to debate on Fox. This is not a news channel at all.

- Stephen Elliott

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