Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A few things: Boston, A Semi-Open Thread, Ernest-rant on as it suits you...

So I have been reading and taking to heart a lot of what Ernest has been saying here lately. As y'all know, I respect the work he and Nina have done wrt to AIM and countless other things, the way they've dealt with the Dines/Jensen set...and I also realize they are knee deep in this kind of thing, along with their jobs and other concerns daily.

But I do think he is right in that the APRF set is far more dangerous than most people give them credit for, partially because a lot of folk think they are wingers than no one is going to listen to or take seriously...

Only people are, and they do. And he is right. Tons of these folk are in violation of 2257, people can now get College Credit for attending Wheelock Anti-Porn events, they are writing books, speaking at universities everywhere, and getting a whole lot of press...

Meanwhile, we're sitting here blogging.

I mean yeah, I have a fair amount on my plate sex workers organizations wise here lately, and Atlanta and Chicago coming up, plus daily life and job stuff going on, but this? This is important to me. And I think Ernest is right that we can't really sit around and hope the industry itself does something (aside from Ron Jermey), and making noise and getting heard is not going to be pretty or nice or easy....but I think it should be done. And why yes, I realize that since I am ON the east coast going on up to Wheelock and making noise is easier for me....but...

See, I am a relative nobody. A loud, abrassive nobody, but a nobody. And just one 5'2" female person. On the fringe of the industry. On the East Coast. I have alerted some like minded folk and hopefully they can make time. But yeah...Boston? Wheelock? I think I can do that.

So yeah, any advice you have, Ernest, or ideas for what (should anything happen) should be mentioned, so on, feel free to impart them.

And yes, IACB, I will take my video camera.


  1. That's excellent, Ren!

    I've seriously thought of turning up for one of Melissa Farley's appearances here in San Francisco, but I'm probably the wrong person to do it, since I'm sure the Farley crowd would easily spin that into a story about the "johns" coming after her.

    I might turn up if Jensen comes out this way though – he's always claiming he's trying to speak to men, so its about time more of us spoke back!

  2. Ren, thanks for the great, uplifting post. It really does inspire some hope at a time when that's hard to come by.

    As you probably noticed on the other thread, I've been pretty busy today and I've got a shoot coming up this weekend, so I'll need a minute to think practically about what to advise. But I will be mulling it over and I've already got an idea or two, so you shouldn't have long to wait for my input.

    In the meantime, it's good to be in the struggle with friends again. I'll be of whatever assistance I can.

  3. Okay, I've already seen my first potential action opportunity.

    I've already posted a link to a typical Dines diatribe against the upcoming visit by Vivid Video prexy Steve Hirsch to Yale for a talk during sex week. Here's Dines' rant again, direct from the Harford Courant:,0,2833240.story

    And here is Hirsch, a smart cookie who knows how to avoid making things easy for his enemies, spinning his intentions for the appearance at

    Now, this is a fine opportunity for a couple of reasons. One is that there will certainly be some kind of visible APF protest action that will attract media. Dines has already seen to that. So there will be a photo op.

    Another good thing is that Vivid is about as squeaky-clean as any company in this business - no rude titles, no extreme sex, some alt, no gonzo. Major cable supplier. You get the picture. Even better, they fund both Tristan's sex-ed line and her Chemistry line, which has been praised on this very site. Tristan lives back there and just recently returned from shooting out here, so she might even be induced to appear and say a few kind words about her boss. Whether or not Tristan has critics in our community is irrelevant to her symbolic value and her ease and slickness with the media.

    Now, as they say at the War College, here's the tactical problem between us and the objective. Hirsch's visit is scheduled for Saturday. That's a nearly insurmountable time constraint to put together a large demo. However, could a dozen protesters and one speaker be assembled in time? That's the question others must answer.

    If not, there will be future challenges. But this is a pretty good example of how counter-protests can be effectively targeted.

    More to come when I return to the surface.

  4. I will check out the links with haste...

    audacia ray and I are both hoping (with others) to make it to boston (only problem being that the Chicago sex workers rally is the next week).

  5. ..okay, just read both, I will be, ummm, highlighting a few things about this over at my blog.

    I wish I could make it up there on Saturday, but I have to work!

  6. I also commented on the Dines article.

  7. Well, I'd hardly call Vivid "squeaky clean". Actually, the first phrase that comes to mind when I hear the word Vivid is "General Motors of Porn". We posted here a few months back about an STI that was transmitted by a sex toy on a Vivid set, because they didn't bother with the expense of getting a fresh toy or the time to sterilize the old one. That speaks to me of knocking out porn on a factory production schedule and cutting corners as a result. The "knocked out in a couple hours by busy people" feel really comes through in many of Vivid's movies, too, which is why I tend not to watch them.

    Also, Hirsch has a really bad reputation for pressuring his actresses to get implants, and a few years ago, it simply wasn't possible to be a "Vivid Girl" without major implants.

    On the other hand, he has funded Tristan Taormino's Vivid-Edu and Eon McKai's Vivid-Alt and given them basically free reign, which I think is generally a positive.

    So Hirsch is far from the worst person in the business, but no hero, either. Basically, he's a "respected businessman", with the mix of surface responsibility and ruthless pursuit of the bottom line that that implies.

    I would certainly defend Vivid and Hirsch against the obviously-stupid and boilerplate criticisms that Dines will trot out, but I wouldn't defend their whole record either.

  8. Just to set the record straight, as I used to work for Vivid, it does not provide an ideal working environment, its corporate culture certainly has some negative aspects and Hirsch, though a casual friend, is not a hero by the standards of this board. If any producer ever fit that description, it would have been Video Team's Christian Mann, who basically put himself out of business in the attempt to sell condom-only products in the notoriously condom-phobic "ethnic" market.

    And the Kira Kiner affair certainly doesn't speak well of the practices used on the particular set over which she is litigating, although I will tell you that back in the day when I shot for Vivid and dinosaurs walked the earth, there was a single-use policy regarding sex toys. They came out of the box new, were used once on one girl and then discarded. So either that rule has been dropped, which would be altogether wrong, or some director violated it, in which case responsibility is divided among those who hired him and those actually working on the set.

    As for Vivid's products, most are not to my taste for various reasons, though some are better than expected. I wouldn't characterize the overall output as "knocked out in a couple of hours by busy people." If it looks that way, the company certainly isn't getting what it pays for, as its budgets are generally better and its shooting schedules longer than those of most porn production companies.

    As for the implants question, I don't know if the word "pressuring" applies here, or where Hirsch's "bad reputation" comes from at a personal level (source please?), but it's certainly true that for years Vivid girls were pretty much all augmented. Somewhere, however, the company got a clue that not all viewers liked that and in recent years the contract player lineup has a more varied mix, including unmodified bodies and various ethnicities.

    There is an overall belief, correct in some cases and not in others, that implants increase earning power for both companies and performers. Many non-contract players end up getting them, some after proclaiming they never would, in the belief it will bring them more work. To the extent that many producers give preferential treatment to girls with bigger tits, the "pressure" is industry-wide.

    Like the pressure on runway models to be thin, it is subject to discussion and critique, but I'm not sure it differs greatly from the various pressures of other performance oriented professions, such as professional sports, to make physical modifications for the sake of greater marketability. That's a legitimate issue to address in the larger context of a market economy, but it's used as yet another stick with which to beat porn as if porn were the only place where such pressures existed.

    When it comes to Vivid there is also the good side you mention of the company's willingness to commit resources to new ideas and new talent. These decisions, like all corporate decisions, are bottom-line driven, but constructive nonetheless.

    In short, when I characterize Vivid as squeaky clean, I'm describing its products more than its internal practices. It's certainly one of the better places to work in porn, with some sound worker protections other companies would do well to emulate, but it's no more perfect than, say, General Motors.

    However, it's products do not contain any of the acts Dines loves to lip-smackingly describe in detail when it comes to porn. Vivid may not be squeaky clean in terms of business practices, but like Wicked, Naughty America and Adam&Eve (whose corporate culture itself actually qualifies by almost any measure) its products are indeed squeaky clean.

    And that was my real point. It's not Vivid the company I sought to characterize with that term, but rather Vivid's image, which has been carefully buffed to give that impression.

    It's still a profit-driven business, with all that implies. It's just not a stupid, mindless or deliberately irresponsible one.

    And a thing worth noting here is that not every business that gets sued by a former employee is automatically guilty of widespread worker abuses. Given the way many companies treat performers, there may be a deep-pockets aspect at work in the choice to litigate against a large, rich, image-conscious firm like Vivid as opposed to smaller, less sensitive operations against whom a judgment would be of little worth, as they wouldn't pay it and wouldn't care what people thought about it.

    And that's the limit of my defense of how I chose to describe Vivid. It stacks up well by contrast to what is admittedly a field full of very primitive capitalist enterprises.

  9. You might want to have a look at the speakers list for this conference on trafficking and "demand" (read, Swedish model propaganda). Several of the usual suspects – Jensen, Farley, and Norma Hotaling – plus several media figures, notably Victor Malarek (author of The Natashas) and Mimi Chakarova (a photojournalist and one of the people behind last years Frontline story on trafficking in Eastern Europe).

    It looks like more of the media coverage of human trafficking is going to take on a radfem/anti-prostitution and possibly anti-porn propaganda spin in the future.

  10. Which lines up very nicely with the Bush administration's drum-beating on the subject. Hardly surprising when you consider that the federal government put up much of the funding for Farley's so-called "research" on prostitution in Nevada. This is yet another suspicious area of overlap between self-proclaimed leftist feminism and the most reactionary elements of the hard right. Bob Herbert has swallowed the porn/prostitution/trafficking conflation whole, as have many other liberals who should look at the sources of these claims with at least a tad bit of skepticism.

    The Bush administration, under the guise of combatting trafficking, denies AIDS funding to nations that permit legal prostitution, thus putting real women at greater risk and causing greater suffering to women and children by way of protecting them from the evils of prostitution. Oddly, this seems to inspire little outrage among APFs, which is one reason why I don't include the "R" in my abbreviation for them. Those who suck from the teat of the most right-wing government in this country's history hardly deserve to be considered leftists, progressives, radicals or anything else but the reactionary collaborators they are.

    And while on the topic of public money and public health, here's an informative link from today's LA Times that rather points up the misallocation of resources represented by County Health's noisy campaign against the great menace of porn-related STDs.,1,3482630.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

    So while the county diverts financial and staff assets to hammering on AIM and the porn biz, there will be fewer places for the thousands of uninsured sick kids in this town to go for urgent care.

    Nothing political about that. Yeah, right.

  11. So, one more question before I go. Can anyone make it down to that South Texas conference to which IACB links to carry a sign or two? I can't because I'm shooting that week, but the conference looks like just the kind of propaganda-fest that warrants some direct action.

    And BTW, the colleges and universities that shelter these shindigs are also tax-supported, at least in part, as are private institutions including Wheelock, which gets direct federal funding under a variety of programs.

    One of the favorite criticisms porn-bashers trot out when Larry Flynt or Ron Jeremy speaks on college campuses is that public money should not be used to provide them with such forums.

    I guess the public money argument only washes in one direction.

  12. Shit, I will be in Atlanta at Sex2.0

    Ernest...would you like to blog here? I can set you up as a author if you want.

  13. Thanks for the invite, Ren. I would be greatly obliged. This is the first place I've felt like having my say in a long time - besides your blog, that is.

  14. Thanks to you also for the welcome, IACB.

    Looking forward to signing on.

  15. ernest- will do, I need your email, which you can send to me at mizevoltion(at)

  16. Ren,

    I feel like such a dope! I keep pasting in your email addy and getting failure notices from those yahoos at Yahoo.

    I'm sure I'm doing something wrong in the address field, but here's mine just to simplify the process.

    Hope that helps.

    Many thanks.

  17. Also, this appearance by Gail Dines in Kentucky, March 11, if anybody is interested.

  18. My, Dines picks her venues carefully, doesn't she? I'm sure she'll find a receptive audience and few dissenters down in Kentucky. Not that she'd ever deliberately play to a conservative audience. That's just a red herring ... or something.

    Wonder how well she'd put her smack across at UCLA? There are APFs there for sure, but there are also plenty of others who might be just a bit skeptical.

    And out here there would be the possibility of encountering some kind of organized resistance. Can't risk that, now can we?

  19. I just looked at the presenters for the "sex trafficking" conference. I wish I could be there to call Norma out on her sham SAGE Project, Inc. I was a "client" at the SAGE Project, Inc. and I can tell you that aside from their shame based sex negative program, they offer none of the services they recieve close to three million dollars a year to provide. Of course their funding comes from their collaboration with not only local law enforcement but from Department of Justice as well.
    Tuesday, there will be a hearing in front of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, to call out the SAGE Project corruption. I look forward to giving my testimony.
    I have a special place of hatred in my heart for Norma, who gets paid allot of money to travel to save women and girls but never bothered to show up to her own program not even once the entire time I was in that sham program.
    Norma and Melissa should be run out of San Francisco and get a stay away order and stay away at least one thousand feet from all women and girls (as if women and girls are the same thing).
    I hope something can be organized to confront this conference.

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