In his book, The Trouble with Normal, the queer theorist Michael Warner describes the ways that diverse “sex publics” became endangered by the Giuliani administration in late 1990s New York City. Focusing primarily on the demonization of gay sex venues, Warner reminds us that it was not the moralizing agenda of the Christian Right but a broad-sweeping and multifaceted “politics of privatization” that cast the initial pall over class- and race-integrated cultures of public sex.61 Yet the neoliberal policies which systematically eliminated “public sex” in postindustrial cities did not eliminate commercial sexuality altogether—far from it. Ultimately, these policies were even less successful (and arguably, less interested) than their Progressive Era counterparts in eliminating sexual commerce in its entirety. Whereas Progressive Era social activists drew on the language of moral critique to shut down the organized brothel system and to drive prostitutes outdoors, neoliberal “broken windows” policing in the 1990s drove the sex industry back inside. Commercial sexual encounters were thus relocated to spatially dispersed interior venues where they could be marketed to class- and race-segregated customers, while the marginalized populations left behind bore the burden of the heightened police presence associated with gentrification.62
Following Warner’s analysis of the sexual transformations that transpired in Giulianiera New York, one can similarly note the ways in which postindustrial economic transformations led to a privatization of sexual commerce in San Francisco, impacting the world of public streetwalking (and thus, the social institution of modern prostitution) in at least three key ways: spatially, privatization occurred through prostitutes’ retreat back indoors after the prohibition of brothels nearly a century earlier; socially, privatization represented a shift away from a street-based social milieu to one-on-one, technologically mediated encounters with clients through cell phones and the Internet; and, as I shall discuss in the next chapter, privatization also had a significant impact at an emotional level for sex workers by altering the nature of sexual labor itself, propelling women to provide their clients with ever more profound and more intimate forms of erotic connection—what I term “bounded authenticity.”

Elizabeth Bernstein, Temporarily Yours, Intimacy, Authenticity and the Commerce of Sex, The University of Chicago, 2007, p.  68-69

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