Known For: Acting · Gender: Female
Also Known As: Scarlot Harlot
Leigh was born in New York and grew up in Jackson Heights, Queens. She later attended Binghamton University (1968-70), Empire State College (1972-74), where she obtained a BA in creative writing, and Boston University (1974-75).In 1977 Leigh moved to San Francisco and started working as a prostitute. Two years later she was raped by two men at the establishment she worked at. She did not report this to the police for fear of the establishment being shut down. Leigh describes the rape as a defining moment in her life and prompted her activism for sex worker's rights.Leigh joined COYOTE and became involved in its activities, and through the Coalition on Prostitution coordinated a street outreach project for street workers in San Francisco.In 1983, Leigh wrote her one-woman satirical play The Scarlet Harlot, which she performed at that year's National Festival of Women's Theater in Santa Cruz. She has since performed the play in at clubs, theaters, rallies and as part of the Sex Workers Art Show tour.During the AIDS crisis in the early 1980s, Leigh was an advocate for safe sex but opposed mandatory HIV testing. Leigh decided to leave San Francisco, where HIV was dominating everybody's thoughts and headed to Texas where she intended to form an organisation: T.W.A.T. ("Texas Whores And Tricks"). During the journey to Texas her car broke down in Tucson, Arizona. Whilst in Tucson she answered a classified small-ad from media-life-artist Dennis Williams, who had a weekly 2 hour live comedy programme on Tucson Western International Television. Leigh joined the show and created and developed several characters for it. After two years Leigh decided she needed a more bohemian setting to develop her individuality and returned to San Francisco.On her return to San Francisco, Leigh joined the AIDS activist organisation Citizens For Medical Justice and organised demos and press conferences. She also collaborated with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.Leigh has been making videos since 1985, and has received awards from the American Film Institute for Yes Means Yes, No Means No; Outlaw Poverty, Not Prostitutes and Mother's Mink. The San Francisco Sex Worker Film and Arts Festival was founded by Leigh in 1999, which she also co-produces with Erica Elena and Jovelyn Richards.From 1993, Leigh was one of the main contributors to the San Francisco Task Force on Prostitution, who's report calling for the decriminalization of prostitution was published in 1996.In 2006 Leigh received a grant from the Creative Work Fund to establish, in collaboration with the Center for Sex & Culture, the Sex Worker Media Library.Leigh currently lives in San Francisco and is bisexual.