Legalization Sucks! The Movie.
A film by Maxine Doogan

View Legalization Sucks Trailer (Quicktime Version)


Legalization Sucks, Decriminalize Now, a film by Maxine Doogan, premiered at LaborFest 2005. The film features interviews with four sex workers who share their experiences and discuss the labor, economic, human and civil rights that are denied them as erotic laborers.

Topics covered

  • Political corruption and selective law enforcement
  • Exploitation by dance club managers.
  • Mandatory testing doesn’t lead to healthy work environments for workers
  • Stigma and discrimination experienced by brothel workers

About Doogan, Filmmaker:

Being a Frameline member for many years has always been a source of inspiration for Maxine so when she became disillusioned with the law’s intent to act, Maxine decided to take the story to the public by making the movie, "Legalization Sucks". She wants the public to know how their tax dollars are being used to support violence and extortion through selective law enforcement. She wants to expose bad working conditions in the clubs, in hope of cleaning them up, for the sake of the health and safety of the workers and the general public.

Most of all Maxine hopes her audience will come away with a better understanding of how legalization of the prostitution industry has failed in the past. She wants to encourage decriminalization as an alternative, better solution and she wants to encourage society to protect all women against violence.

Women's Issues:

Talking to prostitutes and exotic dancers, Maxine heard a lot of complaints about discrimination, exploitation, and unhealthy dangerous work environments set up by management in the legal sex clubs. Most women were denied health insurance, and were afraid to complain about harassment and abuse to the authorities for fear of retaliation.

Through interviews and her own investigations, Maxine discovered how the political machine works in consort with law enforcement to protect managers and, in some cases, control the workers, through selective enforcement of the laws.

Making “Legalization Sucks

Maxine and her friends decided to make “Legalization Sucks” as a means of speaking out about the lack of democracy in the United States. They wanted to expose the unfair business practices that perpetuate discrimination against marginal women here at home. They feel that until America provides equal rights and protection to all it’s own citizens at home, it won’t be able to install democracy and bring peace in Iraq. They want to stop the violence here and decriminalize prostitution.

Casting the film

Only a few women interviewed prior to casting were aware, articulate, and felt comfortable talking about their experiences as prostitutes. Most women struggle with a feeling of rejection by a society that both condones and criminalizes their work. We found some women who understood their situation, and were able to communicate their concerns. Some made suggestions on how to improve things.

The Cast:

  • Nevada Brothel Worker # 1
  • Burka Brothel Worker
  • Masseuse to Exotic Dancer
  • Stripper Spice

Crew/Technical staff

Maxine filmed all of the interviews. Some sound problems due to a microphone buzz, were corrected at Studio Quapo. The descriptive cartoons designed in an amusing western motif, to expound on some of the details were drawn by Arron Farmer. Ed Jones did the music and the editing and Kelly Doyle gave creative suggestions.

More about Maxine Doogan, Bio

Maxine established the Erotic Services Providers Union as an organizing committee with the San Francisco Labor Council in order to work on labor and employment issues.

In addition, Maxine started her media career producing radio programs with the KPFA Labor Collective, that involved issues surrounding the real life of sex industry workers and the problems that concern them. She wanted to dispel the rumors, myths and lies perpetuated by Hollywood and the media about the lifestyle and sex industry workers just as the myths about the GLBT community continue to be dispelled in the media.

She interviews women from all areas of the sex industry – street walkers, strippers, high-priced American call girls, legal brothel workers in Nevada, bar girls in Thailand, and picture-window belles in Amsterdam. Some women work under better conditions than others, some are legal or quasi-legal, some are under constant fear of being caught; but, all voice similar concerns and a desire for respect and protection from violence. Most would like a better relationship with the law.

Maxine's radio programs are featured on "Special Days of Programming" through the Labor Collective on KPFA.

Future Efforts

Maxine has become a spokesperson for the industry. She is booking the DVD of “Legalization Sucks”, and is available for live speaking engagements. She will begin work soon on her first book, as her expertise on prostitution and the sex industry has landed her a book deal. She plans to produce two other documentaries on the subject.

Maxine continues to encourage women in the sex industry to work within organized labor organizations as a means to work for our right to negotiate for our wages work conditions.

She also wants to document the history of the struggle to decriminalize prostitution, and produce an exhibition on the history of erotic laborers in America, from the early pioneers who helped tame the lawless wilderness, to today’s working women who are still struggling outside the law.

For more information, e-mail DecrimSucks!