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My Body, My Business: New Zealand sex workers in an era of change

Tuesday 6 November 2018 10:14am

Wilton_cover_thumbnailCaren Wilton with photographs by Madeleine Slavick

The book

In My Body, My Business, 11 former and current New Zealand sex workers speak frankly, in their own voices, about their lives in and out of the sex industry. Their stories are by turns eye-opening, poignant, heartening, disturbing and compelling.
Based on a series of oral history interviews by Caren Wilton, My Body, My Business includes the stories of female, male and transgender workers; Māori and Pākehā; street workers, workers in massage parlours and upmarket brothels, escorts, strippers, private workers and dominatrices, spanning a period from the 1960s to today. Three of the 11 interviewees still work in the industry. Several have been involved with the New Zealand Prostitutes’ Collective, including long-time national co-ordinator Dame Catherine Healy.
Four transgender interviewees tell their stories here, helping to demystify the history of New Zealand’s transgender community, about which little has been published.
Caren Wilton prefaces the book with an introductory essay about the New Zealand sex industry, which in recent times has seen a lot of changes, the most profound being the decriminalisation of prostitution in 2003. Fifteen years on, New Zealand remains the only country in the world to have decriminalised its sex industry. This engaging and highly readable book looks at what the changes have meant for the nation’s sex workers.
Wilton’s interviews are here complemented by 16 luminous, reflective and multi-layered photographs by Madeleine Slavick.
My Body, My Business allows the women, men and transgender workers of New Zealand’s sex industry to speak for themselves, telling vivid, compelling stories in fresh, lively voices.

The author and the photographer

Caren Wilton is an oral historian, writer and editor, and was the recipient of three New Zealand Oral History Awards for her series of interviews with sex workers (on which My Body, My Business is based). An editor at Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand for almost nine years, she is also a freelance book editor. She was the coordinator of an oral history project focusing on Upper Hutt in the 1960s for Upper Hutt City Library in 2015–16, and is the author of short- fiction collection The Heart Sutra (Otago University Press, 2003). She lives in the Wairarapa.

Madeleine Slavick has exhibited her photography internationally and has authored several books of photography, poetry and non-fiction. Round: Poems and photographs of Asia won the Bumbershoot Book Award; delicate access includes a Chinese translation by Luo Hui, My Favourite Thing achieved bestseller status in Beijing; and Fifty Stories Fifty Images accompanied her exhibition Hong Kong Song. Madeleine has lived in North America and Hong Kong, and now lives in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Publication details

Paperback, 215 x 165 mm, 286 pp, ISBN 978-1-98-853132-8, $45
Published 2018