Alice: Memoirs of a Barbary Coast Prostitute at Mother Foucault’s Bookshop

Saturday Feb 24 2018   7:00 PM
Mother Foucault's Bookshop  523 SE Morrison St, Portland, OR  map

Join Ivy Anderson and Devon Angus, coeditors of Alice: Memoirs of a Barbary Coast Prostitutefor a talk on sex workers’ rights during the Progressive Era and how Alice’s story is relevant to the modern day sex workers’ rights movement.

Alice brings together for the first time in over 100 years the memoirs of Alice Smith, a sex worker from the Pacific Northwest who told her story to a San Francisco newspaper in 1913 amidst the national call for the closure of the brothel system throughout the United States. The publication of her memoirs was a rare event; unlike the vast bulk of fake and manipulated “memoirs” that were released by anti-vice crusaders during the years surrounding 1913, Alice Smith’s story broke many popular taboos of the day by addressing the question of sex worker rights alongside the burgeoning women’s rights movement. Her memoir in fact directly inspired the first sex worker rights protest in modern U.S. history, in 1917. This book brings her lost classic of feminist and labor history back to the light at a time when women and sex worker voices still struggle to be heard.

Due to her obfuscating place names in order to protect her identity, Alice Smith’s memoir is implied to take place mostly in California. The authors have recently uncovered that much of the memoir in fact takes place in the Pacific Northwest, making this Northwest tour particularly timely.

Free and open to the public; more information here.

Devon Angus is an artist, activist, and historian based in San Francisco. He composed and performed a conceptual folk operetta based on San Francisco history, The Ghosts of Barbary, throughout the Bay Area, Switzerland, and Italy. He organized and published a series of oral histories of immigrants in the Catskills region, and was the recipient of an arts grant through the New York State Council on the Arts for his show Songs and Stories of Old New York. Angus is currently pursuing a history M.A. at San Francisco State University.

Ivy Anderson is a San Francisco–based writer who focuses on issues of ecology and radical history. Her reportage on water management issues was published in Water Efficiency Magazine and and her poetry in Poecology. She holds a B.A. in environmental studies with a minor in geography, runs a community garden, and is on the board of a bookstore collective in San Francisco.