(Art by Reiko Rasch)
Content Warning: This article contains mentions of sexual violence and the death of sex workers.
Last Friday, the usually-bombastic cabaret-rock band Copyslut released an intimate and somber video honoring the sex workers who lost their lives this year. Beginning with a cover of Eartha Kitt’s “Santa Baby,” the band juxtaposes the heteropatriarchal nature of the Christian holiday with their own queerness and existence in the margins of cultural hegemony. Surrounded by friends and allies, the video radiates earnestness and reminds viewers that mainstream holiday tradition is of secondary importance to your own celebration.
This video project was released in anticipation of December 17, the International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers. Following the song, the band and their allies lead a ritual remembering the lives of the sex workers who are no longer with us, inviting viewers to pause and participate along with them. As the band and their allies sit, subdued yet resolute, the names of deceased sex workers slowly slide up the screen. The list, rendered more powerful by the fact that it is incomplete, offers only a glimpse into the suffering felt by sex workers in the last year. Emphasizing the intersection of sex work with queer, trans, and POC identities, the video provides a space for reflection and compassion.
Chatz and Ray’s cover of “Santa Baby” will be available on streaming platforms on December 17th. The video comes in the wake FOSTA and SESTA being passed, two laws which further criminalize online sex work. Copyslut has spoken at length about whorephobia in their Zine “Don’t Hate My Heels,” described as “an educational weapon and tool for sex workers to connect, defend themselves, and educate loved ones.” More information about the Sex Worker Outreach Project’s efforts surrounding D17 can be found on their website.
Copyslut also recently released a new single entitled “The Offering,” available now on all streaming platforms.