P is for Prostitution: A Modern Primer by Charlotte Rodgers and Ruth Ramsden

I like autobiographies out of chronological order: it’s quicker to get to the juicy bits. This has an alphabetical structure, each subject illustrated by a unique disturbing vision from Ruth Ramsden, (some relation, hello dear, xxx).

Already familiar with bulimia, drugs and madness Charlotte came of age before feminism made an impact on the free love culture, when women were expected to have sex with more or less anyone.

It wasn’t much of a step to get involved in sex work, especially while consuming vast quantities of an astonishing variety of drugs.

Charlotte writes with honesty and empathy on this process, inevitably immersing her in crime, her clear eyed approach much better than William Burroughs’ Junky, a pulp fiction pastiche scrawled by a cold-hearted Trustifarian, (which also had some inaccurate bullshit about heroin ‘colonising cells’ which had to be countered in a Doctor’s footnote.) More importantly, this is written free of opiate addiction and with a positive mindset. Having said that the Grim Reaper is never far away. Jaw dropping sentences abound. A lover with whom she was about to start a new clean life. ‘Found dead in a toilet with his pants round his ankles, a needle in his groin’. Then there was the Christmas where a criminally neglient doctor cut numerous junkies off their maintenance methadone. 2O of them died, having gone back to illegal drugs.

The upside is some charming memories of Hong Kong and Mainland China, a fascinating journey through the New Zealand’s hard drug culture and the sleazier parts of Alternative London.

Charlotte’s visual art, not covered here, is forged from roadkill and blood magick, best to read her previous Mandrake books to experience the power. I would guess this memoir is a rite of passage, an exorcism of some very dark material, an enlightening trip that will also reward the reader.

P is For Prostitution
A modern primer
Charlotte Rodgers (Illustrated by Ruth Ramsden)
158pp (12 picaresque illustrations) – Trade paperback original
£9.99/$18 (includes postage unless otherwise stated)


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