Submission call-out! “We Got This: A Zine about Screening, Safe Calls & Buddy systems for safer indoor sex work”

the deadline for this has passed but I will be accepting submissions for the next couple of weeks as I put the zine together!

(Still) Seeking Submissions to “We Got this: A Zine about Screening, Safe Calls & Buddy systems for safer indoor sex work”

As sex workers, escorts, hookers, prostitutes, pro-dommes/subs who have to work without much protection, we use hundreds of little strategies to stay safe. This zine is about collecting and sharing those strategies. This edition focuses on screening clients and safe calls.

Some of us screen our clients pretty extensively, some just use a simple vibe check. Some of us call, text or email a friend (or pretend to) to check in before and after we see a client to let someone know we’re ok–and to let our clients know that someone is watching out for us. In this zine we want to know exactly how you do your client screening and safecalls, and what protocols you have in place to follow through when things go wrong– especially if you plan for what to do in the case of a problem. Also, any other tips you’d wanna share on avoiding bad clients!

This zine is by and for current and former sex workers only. It is open to all genders and anyone who sees clients in escorting/prostitution/dungeon work/street work. In section 2, we’d also like to hear tips from dancers and strippers on ways to ensure your security when doing “extras” in the club.

I am also looking for submissions from communities of sex workers who are disproportionately impacted by policing and all other forms of violence. Trans women, Indigenous people, folks of colour, QTPOC, poor people and people with disabilities are strongly encouraged to submit.


  1. Describe your screening techniques:

For example:

  • What kinds of information do you look and ask for?
  • How do you know your gut is telling you it’s ok or not ok?
  • Do you pay attention to how your clients talk to you?
  • If you ask for references, what do you do if the client doesn’t have any?
  • How do you try to screen out cops posing as clients?
  • Do you use paid bad-date lists and see if anyone else has reported him?
  • Do you use local sex worker org where folks share info on bad/timewaster/abusive clients in their city?
  • Do you have someone else screen your calls? if so, what do they say to your prospective clients?

2. If you use a safe call:

when you call your safe person? (eg before you enter the clients house or they arrive? Or in front of them? After getting the money?)

who you call? (a friend, your manager, other networks you can rely on?) Do you just fake-call your voicemail? or just tell clients that your boyfriend is right next door?

what do you say when you call your safe call person? (eg do you have code words to signal different kinds of trouble? do you give your safe person the client’s name & address?) Feel free to include the exact words you use.

-Do you have any kind of plan for what you want your safe call or buddy to do if you are not ok? What are they supposed to do if you don’t answer your phone? Details please! Are they ever supposed to call the cops? If so, do you have a story ready that you’d tell the cops? Are they supposed to show up at your/client’s house?

-Do you have an experience of using your safe call that worked/helped to keep you out of trouble? (eg you’ve not had a bad experience with a client for x amount of time so you think its working as prevention.)

WHY do you prefer your system? What do you think works about it for you?

eg “i don’t let my clients see me making the call because I want them to only be thinking about good times” or “I know that cops take the client’s side 9 times out of 10 so I don’t ever want to rely on them”.

Keep in mind your relative privilege here and try to reflect on how that makes your system appropriate for you but not everyone. e.g. you may feel like calling 911 is totally necessary and sensible–and know that many workers who face policing violence will not.

Have you considered how your safecall person might face legal risks if they were to call police?

Do you have tips on ways of managing/minimizing danger if a situation starts to turn ugly?


3. Are there other strategies you use for your safety that you wanna share?

some examples:

  • Saying you need to use the washroom to “freshen up” when in fact, you are checking to make sure there aren’t guys hiding in there.
  • Not taking a drink from clients in case it’s been drugged
  • If you are working in exchange for drugs, negotiating to get paid in cash, not the drugs themselves
  • How to spot stealth recording devices (spy pens etc)
  • How to spot sneaky ways clients try to remove the condom.
  • Starting your own sex worker group to share tips and advice

Share your strategies with other workers!

Submissions can as brief as you like–with just your one favourite safety tips or up to 300 words (ish).

Submit whatever format feels comfy to you. Send me a quick email, or an essay, poem, story, list, Q & A, images, collages. Anything that’s about your safety and can be photocopied in black and white is welcome!

Submit to

Deadline: October 31 2012.

Distribution: I am still taking feedback on how to distribute the zine. Some think it should be as widely available as possible, others want me to screen out any non-sex workers from getting access to our secrets. At this point, I am leaning toward screening first and printing paper copies for sex work organizations. Feedback is welcome.

Please include

  • the best way to send you a copy (email? paper?) and contact info
  • YOUR CITY IF ITS RELEVANT. this one is key because laws and law enforcement are so different from place to place. If you feel this might violate your confidentiality, maybe choose a nearby city or suburb that uses the same or similar policing
  • Anonymity is great. No name is necessary or use whatever name you want. I don’t recommend using your working name or legal name.

About me: I am a 2nd generation sex worker and prison/policing abolitionist. I love sex workers and think that we use some of the most creative and effective strategies for taking care of ourselves and each other all the while maintaining whatever fantasy we are selling to our clients. Over my time as a worker and doing advocacy, I’ve seen how much we need to share our working and safety strategies more widely amongst each other so that we can continue to make the money, prevent violence and avoid the criminal legal system. We are badasses at all three! With the safe call in particular, I think many of us could use more support around developing a plan for what to do if a client is sketchy or shit goes really wrong.

This zine came out of my own experience of being educated by more experienced workers about safety, passing that education onto new sex workers, and thinking about how our community-based strategies for safety are a model for transformative justice violence prevention.

With very few exceptions, only sex workers can give each other useful and practical safety advice. So this zine is by us and for us. It is designed to help us stay in charge of our own bodies and work. You make the call on what is right for you. This is a way to share ideas from other whores in the know.

with love,

Juliet November

5 thoughts on “Submission call-out! “We Got This: A Zine about Screening, Safe Calls & Buddy systems for safer indoor sex work”

  1. Thanks so much for the zine! I’m retired but I will certainly pass it along to my network! Great job!

    Barb in Vangroovy =)

  2. Pingback: Submission call-out! “We Got This: A Zine about Screening, Safe Calls & Buddy systems for safer indoor sex work” « Born Whore « John Brown's Booty

    • hey folks, the zine submissions are amazing and it’s coming! I am getting some help with the design from a friend who isn’t yet available. I will let everyone know the minute it’s ready!

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