CAROL LEIGH
Noah Berger  /  AP
Carol Leigh, director the San Francisco Sex Worker Film and Arts Festival, speaks to participants in "Whores College," a day of classes for sex workers, May 4.
updated 5/6/2005 6:48:50 PM ET 2005-05-06T22:48:50

It’s higher education of the horizontal variety.

About 25 sex workers went to a college of sorts, sitting through lectures on effective marketing, stress reduction and condom-application skills.

“We are still illegal,” instructor Kimberlee Cline said before her 20-minute demonstration. “If we want to be treated as business professionals, we need to act ethically within the industry.”

Other cities, including Tucson, Ariz., Portland, Ore., Montreal and Taipei, Taiwan, have similar events, said organizer Carol Leigh.

Presented in conjunction with the San Francisco Sex Worker Film and Arts Festival, the class Wednesday at an erotic art gallery was billed as a way for working girls and guys to polish their skills in a supportive atmosphere.

It was the first time the biennial festival, begun in 1999 to showcase films about and by sex workers, included a session devoted to how to maintain a satisfying career.

“My own personal experience has been negative and positive, as with any job,” said Kymberly Cutter, 36, a mother of two from Tucson who returned to prostitution two years ago to boost her income and regards it as part of a journey in “personal self-discovery.” Her children, ages 7 and 9, know what she does for a living, she said.

Participants who stuck it out for the whole day received diplomas certifying them as G.S.W — graduates in sex work.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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