The Washington Post offered an introductory story on the International AIDS Conference coming to town, but Tara Bahrampour’s story grew spicier when it turned to protests – not just the Al Sharpton one, which they somehow claim is not a protest.
Late in the story come the sex workers and their “psychedelic hookers’ ball” at a D.C. drag-queen nightclub:
A “Psychedelic Hookers Ball” at Ziegfeld’s Secrets, one of a handful of places in the country where men may legally dance nude, is meant to draw attention to the situation of sex workers and intravenous drug users — two populations that have a high incidence of HIV transmission and who still face restrictions on entering the United States.
Some at the conference will be carrying red umbrellas, an international sex workers’ symbol. [As much as this might upset The Travelers insurance company, which also uses the red umbrella, it's a logo for the Global Network of Sex Work Projects.]
Mariko Passion, a singer and sex worker in her 30s from Los Angeles, has solicited online donations from other sex workers so she can attend the conference and perform at the Global Village, but has fallen far short of her $2,500 goal. “I’m looking to decriminalize prostitution at the policy level,” she said, adding that if she makes it to the conference she will subsidize her trip by taking clients in the Washington area for $250 to $300 an hour. She said she is not HIV-positive.