Bryan Saunders and a few of his friends recently decided to beautify their city’s local Fuck Mattress; Turning a dilapidated mattress in a remote area, usually surrounded by trash and discarded clothing into what they termed a “love palace” by using new sheets, a comforter, and even providing an array of condoms, new panties, and a trash can for people who would be using the location. With the attention it has received, finding photos might prove difficult, but the DailyDot, in a spotlight post, and Saunders’ own website have photos readily available for viewing.
In the available photos online, Saunders, who is an accomplished artist, and friends Joey Tucciarone and Todd Burris show some pretty amazing before and after images of Extreme Makeover: Fuck Mattress Edition. Saunders has given an update of information about how the Fuck Mattress project began: His friend CJ complained about the noise made by “prostitutes and their customers [at night].”(1)
News of the Extreme Makeover by the group of friends has made its way to Reddit and Gawker on the journey to internet infamy and, among the usual banter like Reddit user LadyJbla’s “… MOVE THE BUS!” quip; the often seen classism and whorephobia that comes with such a topic; giggle-inducing one liners like Reddit user Alijah_Billington’s cute response, “You’re doing God’s work, son,” and, as is customary with Reddit, the rape jokes, there’s one very important point being missed: it seems no one has yet seen what a gift this must have been to the street based sex workers who were the catalyst for this project in the first place.
Many street based workers, depending on locale, clientele, and other variables, may not have the luxury of working on a bed or in a semi-private area. Luxury? Yes! Beds offer padding, comfort, stretching out, and more. Saunders’ efforts were most likely extremely appreciated by workers who use or have used the “Fuck Mattress”. To have condoms and clean panties available while also having soft bedding to work on would be lovely, especially in contrast to the previous stark incarnation of the mattress spot. Rather than choose to laugh and leave as most who read about the Love Palace will do, it would be truly amazing if we could, together, find a way to make the Fuck Mattress travel…Figuratively speaking, of course.
It’s funny and some of the comments on these articles have been cute, but the truth is less of a laughing matter and more of an emergency need for those who may not have access to the few street worker-friendly organizations that exist to help them or to find free condoms, dental dams, and toiletries offline or in their area. Many workers don’t have access to comfort, safety, and a clean work environment with which they could more easily provide for themselves and their families.
There hasn’t been much conversation about the need for something like this and why street workers are, to put it bluntly, forced to work in conditions such as these. With sex workers being turned away from hotels, facing violence and murder at the hands of customers and clients, or law enforcement organizing “stings” and “crackdowns” in order to keep street based workers, well… on the street, there is a real and true need for them to have even a safe space where they can work.
Think of your office, cubicle, or retail job: Wouldn’t you prefer a well organized space with clean tools and machines? Would you much rather have a step stool or ladder that is safe and isn’t in danger of falling apart or the opposite? Of course we would all choose to have a safe, healthy, clean environment where we spend our five, ten, or twelve hour shifts. The same goes for street based full service workers; they deserve cleanliness and safety, too. While there is no indication the artist and his friends took this project on in order to benefit sex workers or make their lives any easier or safer, that is exactly what they have done with Extreme Makeover: Fuck Mattress Edition.
By taking obvious care in making condoms of various brands and types easily accessible, providing clean underpants, organizing and labeling the items for ease of use, and even going so far as to plant flowers, Saunders gave workers a little gift — one whose effects are sure to last much longer than the seven days it was reportedly in its updated and cleaned condition.