Margo St. James, founder of COYOTE, second from left and participants at the First World Meeting of Prostitutes.
Meeting becomes "media event"
By Katherine Davenport
The First World Meeting of
Prostitutes, held in Washington
recently, was a media event
which quickly drew more reporters than participants. The timing and location were perfect.
The meeting hit the capital June
23—27, during a fairly slow news
period. And after Wayne Hays-
Elizabeth Ray had become the
second recent "Congressional
sex scandal," the press corps was
hungry for stories about illicit
The meeting was originally
set for the Sheraton-Park but
was moved to the Wellington
Apartment Hotel in Georgetown
at the last minute. Margo St.
James, founder of COYOTE
(Call Off Your Old Tired
Ethics), said the Sheraton-Park
cancelled because a group of
judges had met there a week
The more pleasant but
smaller Wellington was overwhelmed. "I can't take care of
the regular guests for all this
junk," a front desk employee
was overheard saying.
Several excellent shorts and
documentaries about women
were shown. Most dealt with
prostitution and women in prison. COYOTE'S stated intention
was to bring "to the general
public a clearer picture of prostitution in America-providing
information, real life situations,
human sensitivity stories-that
will lead all who see these films
to the conclusion that prostitution in America should be de-
criminalized-that the present
laws on prostitution are unjust,
discriminatory and oppressive."
Among the more outstanding documentaries were Woman
To Woman, an award winner
about hookers, housewives and
"other mothers," directed bv
Bonna Deitch (rental: Donne
Deitch, 17 Ironside, Venice, CA
90291); Mustang: The House
That Joe Built, a portrait of the
inner workings of a legal brothel
in Nevada, directed by Robert
Guralnick; and Self-Health, a
film made by the San Fransisco
Health Center "which provides
clear and enlightened instruction
on methods of examination of
On Thursday evening a
"Congressional Reception" was
held at the Wellington. Senators
and Representatives were invited
to attend this combination
cocktail party and press conference; few of them appeared, but
the place was packed with the
press and on-lookers.
The big day was Saturday
which started with a "Luncheon
with the Lewd and Loyal" given
by Margo St. James. Guest
speakers included Florynce
Kennedy, Ti-Grace Atkinson, Fr.
DePaul Genska and economist
George W. Hilton. Margo and
Flo played the "lewd," Ti-Grace,
Fr. Genska and George the
Atkinson, an early supporter of prostitutes in the movement, spoke first. "Identifying
people by what they do is dangerous. The broader our movement, the more women we have
in it with different experiences.
Prostitution is the one institution that is connected, without
question, to class and economics."
New York's welfare office
recently revealed Atkinson's files
to the press (reportedly for
money) and the word rapidly
spread around the world that she
was on welfare.
"Welfare makes you think
about prostitution, the state,
etc.," she said. "There is no way
to deal with prostitution without taking on the state. Prostitution rips away the veil of benevolence."
After this talk, St. James
announced that COYOTE is
starting a legal defense fund, the
Virginia Woodhull Legal Defense
Fund, named after Virginia
Woodhull, who ran for President
in 1868. She then introduced
George W. Hilton, Professor of
Economics at UCLA, who delivered an address from his paper,
'The Prohibition of Prostitution: An Economic Analysis."
The final speaker was Fr.
DePaul Genska, a Franciscan
priest who works New York
streets from 1-7 a.m., talking
with prostitutes and paying
them for their time. He works
with Scapegoat, an organization
started by former prostitute and
madam, Marie Maggu. One
Scapegoat project is providing
child care for prostitutes.
"I have been obliged to
remain a whore since my
arrest and official labeling in 1962."
The next event was billed as
the Afternoon Caucus, a "discussion of a model law, de-crimina-
lization, a Woman's Slate and
resolutions to be taken to the
Democratic and Republican
conventions." The Oxford Universal Dictionary defines a caucus as a "private or preliminary
meeting of members of a political party, to select candidates
for office, or to concert measures for furthering party interests..." What actually happened
was more like a confrontation/
encounter group, perhaps the
first of its kind. The group included prostitutes and vice
squad representatives, feminists,
porno stars, assorted radicals
and, of course, the ever-present
The first person to address
the group was Dr. Janus of the
New York Medical Center. He
and Dr. Bess, also present, recently released the results of
their study detailing personal investments lawmakers have in
prostitution. According to their
findings, 60% of politicians
"habitually" patronize prostitutes. Dr. Janus defined a habitual "John" as one who uses the
services of a prostitute once,
twice or three times a week. Unfortunately the two doctors
rushed away, so there wasn't
much time for discussion.
St. James revealed that she
had been a domestic servant for
seven years, and that she had
been radicalized by Florynce
"I have been obliged to remain a whore since my arrest
and official labeling in 1962 (although I won an appeal the next
year)," St. James wrote in an
editorial in Coyote Howls. "As
late as 1973, I had been refused
other kinds of employment. I
was fired from a volunteer fire
lookout job in the National Park
Service two days before I was to
report for duty due to the publicity in California about my
whorganizing...even though Sen.
Jackson and the bureaucrats
knew of my shady past beforehand. It's these kinds of experiences that radicalize people."
Awards were presented
for Trick of the Year.
Two local vice squad officers introduced themselves,
and two streetwalkers they'd
brought along came to the front
to answer questions. Hostility
was building between the men
and the women in the room, between the feminists and the officers. Some of the press were
angry because they were asked
not to photograph or tape
people who were speaking*
"Nobody needs pimps," an
"Nobody needs pigs," some
women shouted. The officer
looked genuinely hurt.
To conclude, St. James read
Dr. Jennifer James' U.S. resolution passed at the Brussels
Crimes Against Women Conference last March.
Three hours later the "Bicentennial Ball" got underway at
Bixby's Warehouse on Connecticut Ave. Once again, the media
dominated the scene. A show
was put on for them which included a presentation of awards
for Trick of the Year. The nominees were JFK ("posthumorless-
ly"), Howard Hughes, Jack
Nicholson, Frank Sinatra and
Rep. Wilbur Mills. The Winner-
Jack Nicholson, "and all the
boys in blue and men of the
cloth engaged in equal enforcement dragnets."
For Pig of the Year, the
nominees were Ed Davis, (Chief
of Police, L.A.), Hustler magazine, the U.S. Supreme Court
(for the Virginia decision that
practically allows cops to peer
into your home and arrest you if
you are not in the missionary
position), and Rep. Wayne Hays.
And the Winner-Ed Davis.
For Pimp of the Year, the
nominees were Joe Conforte
(Nevada brothel owner), Hugh
Hefner, Rev. Moon, and Werner
Erhard. This award was given to
all of the nominees until St.
James gave in to the audience
and awarded it to Rev. Moon.
For Hooker of the Year, the
nominees were Jackie Onassis,
Elizabeth Ray..."award for
courage," Barbara Walters,
Xaviera Hollander and Sally
Stanford, an ex-madam elected
Mayor of Sausalito. And the
Winner was Barbara Walters.
The award for Closet Queen
of the Year went to Pope Paul
VI, and the Clap Award of the
Year went to Margaret Housen
"for winning the suit against the
man who gave her VD, which
rendered her sterile-mixed blessings."
A Sunrise Parade around the
White House was scheduled for
5:30 a.m. Sunday. What happened there is anybody's guess.