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Alice: Memoirs of A Barbary Coast Prostitute
February 24 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Join us Saturday, February 24 for readings from Alice: Memoirs of a Barbary Coast Prostitute, edited by Devon Angus and Ivy Anderson, published by Heyday Books, and winner of the California Historical Society Book Award.
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. We have recently uncovered that much of the memoir in fact takes place in the Pacific Northwest, making this Northwest tour particularly timely.