Last week, to mark the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, I went out Christmas caroling in the streets of London’s Soho district with a bunch of hookers and their friends from the International Union of Sex Workers. The weather forecast had been promising “heavy snow” for days (in England that means maybe half an inch, if you’re lucky) and, sure enough, as we hit the streets with Silent Night, big fluffy flakes started falling. Magic!

It was a funny crew that I couldn’t quite figure out. The usuals were there – crusty punks with hip flasks, goth trannies, old AIDS fags who were first infected in 1921, lean rent boys in track pants and trainers, true blue ladies of the night – but they’d also teamed up with some phenomenal singers from a church choir and the vicar of the local Church of England outfit, who I guess is a pretty progressive guy, out singing with the whores and all. At one point he was organizing the choir while wearing his black robes and purple collar and along came a leather daddy in his motorcycle boots and cap, red bandana flagging from his left pocket — you couldn’t tell which one was in fetish gear and which one was for real.

So that was fun and, of course, once we hit Soho it got funner. The novelty of the snow paired with the novelty of old school, roving Christmas carolers got the drunkards in the pubs all rowdy and when they caught sight of the banner proclaiming SEX WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE that I was carrying aloft with the cute boy from Paris, that really got them in the mood. Girls tarted up for their tacky office Christmas parties were running out onto the street and into the cold to shout “FIIIIIVE GOOOOLDEN RIIIIIINGS!!!” with us before darting back inside. The gaylords at the homo bars seemed at first to think they were being preached to (and, admittedly, I didn’t totally get why we were singing songs about some gaylord’s birth), but they seemed to cheer up considerably when they realized it was just a bunch of crackpot ho’s doing their yuletide activist schtick. At one point the vicar led us to what seemed to me to be just a boring back lane with no one around to sing to. He stopped us there and assembled us under a neon sign that read BRITISH SEX SHOP and, when the carolers began to sing, windows on the floors above opened up and women’s heads poked out from rooms bathed in red light. How lovely!

All in all, it was a great time and, when we returned to the church for mulled wine, the IUSW plus others said some good words about the women murdered in Ipswich and how Dr. Annie Sprinkle originally started the Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers as a response to the Green River Killer in Seattle, Washington, who confessed to murdering 71 women and said he chose sex workers as his victims because they were disposable and no one would miss them. Though they didn’t mention it, that of course made me think of Canada’s Robert Pickton and the dozens of women he killed in Vancouver, offering essentially the same rationale for why he targeted sex workers.

I found it interesting that the London event seemed quite festive, while the 2006-2008 events I’d participated in in Ottawa were fuelled by anger at the Pickton case, the federal government’s failure to do anything to increase workers’ safety in the face of it and the recent creation of a local Ottawa street crimes unit targeting street-based workers on a monthly basis and throwing them in jail.

Unfortunately I don’t have any photos or video from the evening so instead I’m bringing you the next best thing (possibly better): Dolly Parton and a bunch of hookers Christmas caroling to you live from Youtube!


Happy Holidays!


Nico Little updates his personal blog regularly. You can follow it at

[Dolly video via OMG]


Nico Little

Nico Little is an Anglo-Albertan who decamped to Montreal sometime in the late nineties “to learn French and be gay.” He then moved to Ottawa, Ontario, where he worked as an HIV outreach...