For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"I'm a Cross Between a Clown, a Stripper, and a Streetwalker: Drag Tipping, Sex Work, and a Queer Sociosexual Economy"

by Hankins, Sarah (2015)


This article expands upon ethnographic fieldwork among Boston-area gender performers to explore “straight-ahead” drag, “genderfuck” performance, and burlesque in the context of key sex work debates. While queer and feminist theorists make reference to commercial dynamics in larger projects on drag’s aesthetics and identity politics, there exists no comprehensive discourse around drag and related performance styles as explicitly economic activities. This article positions gender performance’s tipping practice, in which audience members pay performers for bodily displays, sexualized behavior, and erotic interactions, as the center of a distinctly queer sociosexual economy. Materially organized by the tip and conceptually undergirded by a queer constructivist ethos that challenges normative mappings of gender, sex, and social power, this sociosexual economy represents an alternative to hegemonic sociosexuality and, simultaneously, reconfigures gendered power dynamics that are ascribed to sex work in dominant popular and scholarly discourses.


Sex Work, Prostitution, Gendered Labour, Queer, Sexual Economy


Sex Work

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