Leather-clad sex workers lead a kinky resistance against puritanical fascism in Tina Horn’s technicolor tale of queer revolution.
Horn’s brilliant graphic novel catapults the reader into a not-too-distant dystopian future. We meet beautiful pro domme Avory (aka Simona Salicious) as she gives herself over to a mind-blowing orgasm in a kink sex party, surrounded by supportive, equally perverted peers. The orgy is raided however, by the jack-booted soldiers of The Party. Fast forward three years, and America is a terrifying puritanical police state, where extramarital sex is illegal and a culture war against perceived moral corruption is all but won, save for an underground resistance of disenfranchised sex workers.
It’s a familiar concept, most recently brought to life in The Handmaid’s Tale series. But, what makes SFSX (Safe Sex) so enthralling is its focus on the all too familiar discrimination and criminalization of sex work as the first step of a right-wing cultural cleansing. This isn’t worlds away; this isn’t entirely science fiction. This is happening right now.
Recent bills like SESTA/FOSTA and the EARNIT act are actively stripping away sex workers’ freedoms and the resources they use to protect themselves. These oppressive laws are targeting sex workers’ online liberties now. Horn shows us what happens next.
Avory and her peers are faced with impossible choices: resist and lose their rights and safety or conform and lose all liberty and joy. Her diverse cast of queer and BIPOC characters have a common belief—that sex and freedom are interlinked and worth fighting for. As madam Sylvia says: “get your leathers on—we’ve got a revolution to make”.
Their story is as inspiring as it is worrying. The kinky resistance screams out in bisexual technicolour from the page—beautifully presented in all its fisting, flogging glory. Image comics have excelled in recent years in this kind of bright, brazen art-with-a-message, and SFSX sits well alongside similarly queer titles like Bitch Planet and The Wicked and Divine; its horrifying home truths told through a pink and purple-soaked sci fi adventure.
Extreme though Horn’s fascist regime is, what makes this book so amazing is the inclusion of conservative elements that show us where today’s far-right culture is heading. In one chilling panel, a Party news banner claims “transgender reaches obsolescence as genetic testing immutable biological traits clarifies dispute about citizens” echoing the recent arguments of TERFs such as JK Rowling. A non-binary character reveals the horrific conversion “therapy” they endured at the hands of the state—a practice that is still legal today in many places.
Perhaps most scary is the Party’s leader herself—a militant white woman who professes that The Party’s hardline stance on sex is as feminist one—saving women and children from the dangers of horny men in the name of a more equal society.
We can feel just how close these not-so-fictions are and become enraptured in Avory and the sex workers’ fight against it, because it’s our fight they’re fighting, and they’ll damn well fight it in style. Sex workers have always been on the front lines and will be in the fight to come. This is a beautiful tribute to their struggle, camaraderie, and constant strength against ever-changing societal odds. Sexual freedom is at the heart of liberty, and we need to protect it. “In hookers we trust.”
Buy your copy of SFSX direct from Image Comics.