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NYC Sex Workers Organize During Covid19

Ash Marinaccio | New York City, United States

From the 1970s through the early 90s, Times Square was a hotspot of illicit activity, most notably the sex trade. Now, a tourist trap, the mythology of the "bad old days" of peep shows and porn theatres continue to stir the imagination. Like Times Square, sex work and ideas around sex work have also evolved. This photo essay investigates sex workers during the coronavirus pandemic. Some photos from this essay appeared in the 2021 Indypendent article "Sex Workers & COVID" by Olivia Riggio.

“The threat of starvation is a bit more all-encompassing than the threat of COVID, for many people,” remarks Fera Lorde, a sex worker for 17 years who began working as a homeless teenager in Seattle and is now part of the SWOP (Sex Worker Outreach Program) in Brooklyn. Fera is among the 55 million people in the United States who are gig economy workers and the 1 to 2 million people who are sex workers.

This project documents sex workers in New York City during the coronavirus pandemic. Sex work creates its own complications within an already difficult system. Still illegal in New York, there have been numerous efforts to decriminalize sex work. Regardless, even reforms have caused additional problems for sex workers. While some sex workers have moved to online platforms, others have continued to weigh the risks by meeting regular clients in person.

I began this project as an assignment for The Indypendent, which ran two portraits as part of a larger article about sex work during the pandemic.

These photos were shot for a 2021 story for The Indypendent. 

e-mail: ashmarinaccio@gmail.com

Documentary Photography Website and Portfolio: introublewiththeking.com

Artist website: ashmarinaccio.com

instagram: introublewiththeking


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