The Red Umbrella Diaries


The Red Umbrella Diaries is a feature documentary that tells the personal stories of seven diverse New Yorkers who work in different sectors of the sex trade and come together to tell their tales on stage at Joe’s Pub. Using the performances as a framing device, the film digs deep into the personal experiences of people who trade sex for a living, and illuminates the complexities and contradictions that sex workers face as they try to do right by themselves and people they care about. The storylines weave in threads that many Americans struggle with: work, family, religion, health, and community. The film explores the question: what happens when people whose voices are never heard in mainstream media take control of their own stories and how they are presented to the world?

pdxff15 officialselection2015_smallWORLD PREMIERE: Portland Film Festival, Tuesday, September 2nd at 11:45 am PST, the Living Room Theaters (341 SW 10th Ave, Portland, OR). Buy tickets for $5 each here. Filmmakers and some cast members will be present.

Encore screening at Portland Film Festival, Saturday, September 5th at 2:15 pm PST, the Living Room Theaters (341 SW 10th Ave, Portland, OR). Buy tickets for $5 each here. Some cast members will be present.


Members of the cast will lead two FREE workshops for sex workers in Portland:

Writing Workshop for Sex Workers Thursday, September 3 from 5 to 7 pm at Pivot (209 SW 4th Ave). RSVP and info on Facebook.

Join Red Umbrella Project members and generate stories for the next issues of the Working It zine and Prose & Lore journal.  Feeling stuck on what to write? Hang with us and get some writing done in a supportive environment in a free workshop led by sex workers.

Speak Up! Media Tactics and Tools for Sex Workers Friday, September 4 from 4 to 7 pm at Pivot (209 SW 4th Ave). RSVP and info on Facebook.

The Speak Up! Media Spokesperson Workshop is a FREE training for people with experience in the sex trades who want to speak publicly – in mainstream and community produced media – about their experiences and offer their political perspective on issues that affect our communities. The workshop is designed to support each participant to speak up from their own perspective while considering the wider implications of doing so. The workshop will teach participants to create strategic responses to media and public events and builds skills as media spokespeeople.

Email with questions!

Check out the website for the film, which also includes stories from Prose & Lore and Red Umbrella Diaries podcasts.

Since 2009, the Red Umbrella Project (RedUP) has created a safe space for sex workers from diverse backgrounds and experiences to share their stories, their frustrations, their triumphs and tragedies at a monthly storytelling event, the Red Umbrella Diaries, at Happy Ending Lounge (a former massage parlor turned cocktail lounge) in New York City’s Lower East Side. More than 100 sex workers have told their stories at the Diaries over the years, and now its time for a bigger venue and a celebration of some of the series’ brightest stars. On November 14, 2013 seven Diaries performers took the stage at Joe’s Pub – and we’ve documented the performers on their journey.

A note on the Red Umbrella Diaries monthly events: We had the honor of producing monthly events at Happy Ending on the Lower East Side from July 2009 through September 2013. At our show on September 5, 2013 we learned that the bar would be closing. We decided not to seek another venue for a monthly event. Instead, we will be producing events several times a year (at least quarterly, probably more often) at bars, bookstores, and community centers around NYC to celebrate new issues of our literary journal Prose & Lore, and other events too. For more info on this decision, read our Tumblr post.