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Schlesinger Library / Collections

Margo St. James and COYOTE

Margo St. James (1937–2021) was the founder of COYOTE, a sex worker’s rights organization that advocates for decriminalization of prostitution.

Poster for Margo St. James's 1979 San Francisco Masquerade Hookers Ball
Margo St. James' 1979 San Francisco Masquerade Hookers Ball. Coyote Records. Hollis #: 8001349567

COYOTE (Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics), founded in San Francisco in 1973, provided legal and medical services for sex workers; offered employment, health, and financial counseling; and worked to educate the public about prostitution. St. James threw annual Hookers Balls, which raised money for COYOTE’s work, including bail funds. In the 1980s, COYOTE raised awareness about AIDS among sex workers and the public. 

In addition to her work with COYOTE, Margo St. James promoted a sex-positive feminism and was active in efforts to decriminalize prostitution internationally.

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