Montreal Palimpsex is a project devoted to uncovering and engaging with palimpsestic vestiges of the sex trade in Montréal, specifically from the late 1960s to the late 1990s. Montreal Palimpsex is overseen by Alex Tigchelaar, a former stripper and sex columnist known as Sasha (RIP, the Chateau du Sexe and the Montréal Mirror). Alex is now a PhD candidate at Concordia. Her doctoral thesis focuses on sex work and the built environment in Montréal.
Currently, Montreal Palimpsex's primary site of investigation is 9695 Saint Laurent, which once housed "the best cabaret of 1982", Nick's Palace, also known as Nick's Sex Aquarium. It now includes 972 Saint Catherine W, the former site of the Château du Sexe.
As a Montréaler herself, Alex knows how her fellow citizens love their city's salacious past. She believes that while it is important to keep this history alive, it is also imperative to acknowledge that sex workers exist in the living present, and that sex work remains criminalized and stigmatized. Sex work is real work. It is not simply a synecdochic device for artists, scholars, filmmakers and the tourism industry to exploit. As we engage with our city's sex working past, we must also consider what life is like for sex workers in the present. How does criminalization impact sex workers' access to and visibility in the built environment? How are access and visibility impacted by creative representations of sex work?