Magazine article Herizons

At Home on the Stroll: My Twenty Years as a Prostitute in Canada

Magazine article Herizons

At Home on the Stroll: My Twenty Years as a Prostitute in Canada

Article excerpt

AT HOME ON THE STROLL: MY TWENTY YEARS AS A PROSTITUTE IN CANADA

BY ALEXANDRA HIGHCREST

ALFRED A. KNOPF CANADA,1997

With its provocative title, the depiction of personals ads on its cover, and chapter headings like "Let Your Fingers Do the Walking" and "Tricks of the Trade," Alexandra Highcrest's memoir of her career as a prostitute wastes no opportunity to exploit its sensational subject. However, while the book does detail Highcrest's own adventures, it is not simply an exposé in the style of a bad tabloid TV show. Highcrest, a transgendered former prostitute who has put in time as an escort service madam, a pimp and an activist, is a mediocre writer and a poor autobiographer, but she is a better journalist and a well-versed advocate, the two qualities that give At Home on the Stroll its value as a strong case for the respect of prostitutes and prostitution, and as a convincing political plea for the decriminalization of prostitution.

Using her own story as a narrative backbone (she fell into prostitution as a reliable source of income while working her way through university in the 1970s), Highcrest dissolves many widely-held myths about prostitution. She writes about law and enforcement hypocrisy: for example, anyone who lives off the avails of prostitution is, by Canadian law, a pimp, a definition that ultimately includes prostitutes' children and spouses. The most compelling chapter in the book, "NIMBY," focuses on the wrong-headedness of neighbourhood groups' attempts to rid their streets of prostitution, in what Highcrest says is the mistaken belief that prostitution and drug dealing go hand-in-hand. …

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