Working Girls

Regarding our mothers, there are certain thoughts we block out -- both as kids and as adults. For instance, mom's most intimate moments with dad. (Even putting it delicately gives us the willies.) And then there's, frankly, the most frightening and unthinkable -- until now, that is:

Mom sticks a light bulb up her vagina in front of a few hundred paying customers.

Be thankful you're not Kelly St. Germaine's teenage son, Jordan.

"He knows what I do for a living. But for the most part, we have a 'don't ask, don't tell' policy," says St. Germaine, one of 13 performers and artists slated to appear in the Sex Workers' Art Show at the Alwun House on Friday, February 25.

Considering mom's colorful résumé -- which includes stints in more than a dozen different areas of the gazillion-dollar sex industry -- those must be some pretty quiet evenings in the St. Germaine house.

Her career began in Phoenix about 10 years ago, when, while attending both Arizona State University and Phoenix College, St. Germaine did counter duty at Castle Boutique adult stores. Since then, she's relocated to L.A. and worked for the Playboy Channel interviewing performers; as a phone sex operator serving "some heavy-hitting clients"; appeared as a "fully clothed" juror in a Ron Jeremy porn; and set up "appointments" for an escort agency.

Combined with her writing and artistic talents (she moonlighted at the escort service while working in stop-animation for family-friendly Nickelodeon and PBS' Sesame Street by day, and has a piece titled "Hooker Booker" featured in an upcoming book, Best American Sex Essays), St. Germaine's most successful endeavor is a perfect fit for the Sex Workers' Art Show, in which she performs a "burlesque circus sideshow" as "Miss Satanica."

"I never thought about being a performer until I learned to play with fire," says St. Germaine, who recently scored a guest spot on, fittingly, HBO's Carnivale. "I quit my job that I had for two years, and, by chance, met somebody who taught me how to play with fire. Three days later, I did my first show for 300 people, and I haven't stopped working since. I've done more than 400 shows -- everything from Hollywood swingers' parties to bar mitzvahs to kids' parties.

"But the Phoenix show is definitely going to be the over-18 version."

The touring SWAS, now in its third year and founded by "Annie Oakley" (who reveals neither her birth name nor whether she still works as an "escort, dancer, in a brothel and in peep shows"), features sex workers turned artists -- Oakley would say they're one and the same -- such as Nomy Lamm, "a badass, fatass Jew dyke amputee"; Shawna Kenney, author of I Was a Teenage Dominatrix; Chelsea Starr, a writer, DJ, and part-owner of San Francisco's The Lusty Lady, "America's only worker-owned peep show"; and other burlesque, drag, music, video and spoken-word performers selected by Oakley's "small curatorial committee."

"I don't want an all burlesque show, or heavy-handed spoken word," says Oakley from her home outside Seattle. "As the show continues touring, I'm always looking for something maybe a little bit heavier, a little sexier."

And, in St. Germaine's case, a little, uh, shocking.

While she won't divulge the exact nature of her light-bulb-up-the-vagina feat, St. Germaine promises this:

"I'm gonna show you what real 'pussy power' is!"

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Joe Watson