A Public Letter From Dr. Annie Sprinkle

Thanks to Norma Jean at International Sex Work Foundation For Art Culture and Education for reaching out to Dr. Annie Sprinkle. (Norma Jean’s poem, “Who will weep for us?” appears at the close of the page.)

Dec 17 Philly  asked Dr. Annie how feels about us carrying the torch and memorial candle in 2017, and into the future.  She responded with a sweet tongue in cheek colloquialism on “it takes a village“:

“It takes a brothel to end violence against sex workers! Creating the first Dec 17 event was a group effort with Robin Few, Kimberley Klein, Michael Fowley, and myself. I am so very pleased that it is continuing.”

– Annie Sprinkle, Former Prostitute and Porn Star – and originally a Philadelphia native. Photo: Charles Gatewood

Letter from Annie Sprinkle: Green River Killer Gary Ridgeway said: “I picked prostitutes as victims because they were easy to pick up without being noticed. I knew they would not be reported missing right away and might never be reported missing. I thought I could kill as many of them as I wanted without getting caught.” He confessed to having murdered ninety women. Sadly some Seattle prostitutes, their boyfriends or pimps, knew the Green River Killer was Gary Ridgeway for years, but were afraid to come forward for fear of getting arrested, or the police didn’t believe those that did come forward, or the police didn’t seem to care. Ridgeway’s killing spree went on for over twenty years. Violent crimes against sex workers go underreported, unaddressed and unpunished.

There really are people who don’t care when prostitutes are victims of hate crimes, beaten, raped, and murdered.  No matter what you think about sex workers and the politics surrounding them, sex workers are a part of our neighborhoods, communities, and families.

When Ridgeway was finally caught, I felt a need to memorialize my whore sisters that had died so horribly and needlessly. I cared, and I knew other people cared too. So I got together with Robyn Few, Founder of the Sex Worker Outreach Project, and SWOP members Stacey Swimme and Michael Fowley, and we claimed Dec. 17th as the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. We invited people to do memorials, vigils, and their chosen kind of events in their countries and cities. We produced a vigil at San Francisco’s City Hall. To date, hundreds of people around the world have done dozens of memorials, actions, and events of all kinds, and the participation is growing. Won’t you join us?

Here’s how:


  1. Organize a vigil/memorial/gathering in your town. Simply choose a place and time. Invite people to bring their stories, writings, thoughts, related news items, poems, lists of victims, performances, and memories. Take turns sharing.
  2. Organize or attend a candlelight vigil in a public place.
  3. Do something at home alone which has personal meaning, such as a memorial bath, or light a candle.
  4. Call a friend and discuss the topic.
  5. Send a donation to a group that helps sex workers stay safer. Some teach self-defense or host websites that caution workers about bad Johns. Donate to Sex Worker Outreach Project.
  6. Read the Sex Workers Outreach Project http://www.swopusa.org, Let others know about any planned Dec. 17 events by listing them on the site!
  7. Spread the word about the Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers and the issues it raises; blog, email, send a press release, forward this text to others.
  8. Attend a Dec. 17th Day to End Violence event/action/memorial. Everyone is welcome.
  9. Organize a panel discussion about violence towards sex workers. Procure a community space and invite speakers like sex workers, police, and families of victims.
  10. Create your own way to participate. People have done celebrations, Xmas caroling, protests at jails, lobbying at City Halls, naked women reading whore writings, performance art, visual art projects, and other creative, fun and moving things.

Each year when I attend a gathering on Dec. 17 for International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers it is always a deeply moving experience. I take some moments to feel grateful that I worked as a prostitute for twenty years and came out alive and well. I remember those who didn’t survive and I fear for those who won’t until some real changes are made.

In San Francisco, we are in the process of organizing whole events for Dec. 17. A city hall press conference, a memorial ritual at Center for Sex and Culture, and “Naked Women Reading” sex worker writings (Lady Monster’s Event).

Start organizing now! You’ll be glad you did. The fact that sex workers themselves organize the Dec. 17 day creates good press interest (it has been in many papers including NY Times) and helps garner compassion and understanding of how the bad, unfair laws against prostitution hurt so many. But then sex workers of all kinds (legal sex work) can be targets of acts of violence as well.


In whore pride solidarity,
Dr. Annie M. Sprinkle