Monday, February 18, 2008

Who's Being Silenced Now?

And here I thought, just because today was a holiday, I might get through a Monday without some kind of bullshit pissing me off, but noooo. As it turns out, today's bullshit is more infuriating than most.

We've already devoted some discussion to the flap surrounding Yales U's annual Sex Week, with more conversation to ensue anon, but in there's a bit of back-story here that merits specific attention.

Back in September a line producer for ABC's Nightline contacted Nina and specifically invited her to participate in one of the Ron-Jeremy-vs-XXX-Church debates,  to be presented at Ohio State University with no less a media mighty than Martin Bashir himself moderating. The discussion was then to air on Nightline.

A ticket was provided (although the promised reimbursement check for lodging has mysteriously never appeared) and Nina flew off to participate in the OSU panel. According to her, it went pretty well. You can see a bit of it on YouTube (  but you will note the conspicuous absence of Bashir. The line producer called at the last minute to inform Nina that "due to a breaking news story" Nighline wouldn't be covering this particular event after all. However, said producer promised, the show would arrange another debate in which Nina would be included and that would play on ABC sometime soon.

So, this morning, I found this on

Now maybe this is just a coincidence, or a matter of scheduling for the busy folks at Nightline, but I've been at this too long, both as a pornographer and as a journalist, to accept that explanation at face value. My own suspicion is that at the time Nightline ditched the OSU gig, the producers already knew of the "debate" planned for the much flashier Yale venue and decided that it would make better TV. After all, we're talking about the whole Sex Week circus at the Ivy's second most famous campus.  As a producer, I might have made that same call myself.

However, I would have made good on my promise to get Nina on that stage one way or another. Why? No knock intended on either Ronnie or Monique Alexander, who I'm sure was perfectly well-spoken and charming, but neither has the years or the chops Nina has when it comes to defending porn. Both are entertainers more than they are advocates or activists and with just the two of them up against the dudes from XXX church, the more serious and significant issues surrounding porn that Nina could have addressed in greater depth were unlikely to get a significant airing. Nonetheless, Bashir did show up to ringmaster that circus and I have no doubt it will run in the near future.

I guess the idea of having a "serious" representative of our community in the mix just didn't fit whatever framework the producers had already erected within which to spin their story. I don't have to strain my imagination much to picture how the final cut will play. I'm sure it will start out on  a light and farcical note, then turn 180 to present the "dark side of porn," with various familiar talking heads from the anti crowd given plenty of airtime to denounce the event itself, the manner in which it demonstrates the "pornification" of the culture, and the general "porn - threat or menace" POV that mainstream coverage of this type always takes in the end. That way, during sweeps week (doubtless when this reportorial gem will show up on our screens), the network can take full advantage of the most sensational aspects of the topic without opening themselves to significant criticism for "advocating" porn by making sure porn's most effective advocates are denied a level playing field on which to confront their opponents. 

This is all just business as usual in infotainment, and I'm undoubtedly especially pissed about it because it slights Nina, but the fact remains, contrary to Gail Dine's loud protestations that she's been "completely silenced ... completely!," those who are really silenced in the MSM are the individuals best equipped to make a fact-based case for porn's right to exist to rebut the lies and distortions routinely circulated as evidence of the porn's innumerable "harms" and "evils."

So far, Nina hasn't had a single significant network appearance since Oprah put her on way back in the Nineties. I can't say I've seen much of any of the other most influential opinion makers from our side - Tristan, Carol, Susie, Violet, Candida (it's not like there's a shortage of brainpower to call upon) on the box anywhere other than in late-night cable puff pieces intended to provide some justification for showing a lot of skin. If you have something serious to say in defense of porn, don't expect to be treated as newsworthy by the decision-makers at any of the major MSM outlets. It's just not going to happen. You might get on with Tyra Banks for 45 seconds, to be followed by the host's expressions of disdain for you and everything you stand for, but that's where your media access will hit the wall. Unlike Gail Dines, you won't get a stand-up on Fox to tell your side of the story, virtually unchallenged by talking-head-in-charge. 

As Bob Dylan says, "I've never gotten used it it, I've just learned to turn it off." But I don't have to like it and I don't. 

But wait, there's more. Even the carefully-chosen "good=guy porn" contingent from Vivid couldn't get through the Yale Sex Week presentation without being chopped off at the knees. Director Paul Thomas brought one of his films to show as part of the program (I can't even figure out which one from ace job of reporting to which I'll link momentarily), but an audience of students, there by choice, weren't even allowed to view the entire production because the content so skeved out the the event organizers they pulled the plug half-way through. Having seen the products Vivid releases, I can't imagine how mild the images must have been that caused such alarm to the supposedly open-minded folks who put this thing together, but I seriously doubt it would have caused much of a stir if those in charge hadn't been so nervous about all the APF "critics" spitting fire at them from the moment the whole thing was first announced.

But I forget, it's the APFs who have been silenced, not us.

So read this and see if you can a) make heads or tails of what it was that caused the aggro,  and b) whether or not college students should be allowed to make their own judgments regarding the content of the film that caused it:

I think I'l got take a long, hot shower now to see if I can wash away the feeling of having been slimed once again.


  1. But of course, the MSM would rather show the debate on porn as a mismatch between pro-porn "entertainers" like "Da Hedgehog" and antiporn "experts" and "analysts" and "activists" like Dines and Jensen and the folks at fits far more into their fundamantal anti-porn biases.

    And it is so much easier to reduce the message and the activism of Nina to "Hey, Nina...nice move along and let the grown-ups debate the issue." Apparantly, hearing sexy women actually show some intellegence brings out the STUPID in some folk; as if intelligence and open sexuality are somehow oxymorons.

    And, of course, it's no surprise that the only time that legit pro-sex and pro-porn activists like Nina can get time on the MSN is when they can be used either as foils and human pinatas for the right-wing antisex gabfests (and I include in that antiporn "feminists", too) or comic relief for off-color jokes.

    BTW...I have to admit that the first time I heard of the "Yale Sex Week" debacle, my initial comment was to the extent of "Nice going, Paul Thomas..way to give Dines and Company exactly the rocket fuel to fire their missiles at your ass." But, after reading a bit further, it's the organizers who pulled the plug on the screening that more deserve the full wrath....are they that scared of the APF that they would deliberately censor one of its effect, do Dines' job for her????

    And what do you think of VIVID head Steve Hirsch's call for Google to censor adult material on their search engines...all for the sake of "protecting the children"?? What's next, Steve....defending 2257?? Why does this sound too much like "Big Studio Covering Their Own Ass By Throwing Smaller Companies Under The Bus????"

    Respecting the fact that Ernest is employed in part by VIVID....I'm just giving my opinion here.


  2. Anthony,

    Quick point of clarification: I haven't worked for Vivid since 1996 but am on friendly terms with the owners.

    And as I've already said, I don't necessarily think that big porno companies are worse than small ones. My experience has been exactly the opposite.

    Why you would initially blame P.T. for screening a picture with controversial content at an event where controversy is unavoidable seems to contradict your view that Steve Hirsch is behaving cynically when he calls for the industry to set the bar higher when it comes to access to its materials. Should P.T. censor his own work to "protect" the industry's image? As an artist, is he obligated to present only his mildest work in a public forum to avoid confronting prejudices against his entire body of work? As we know, Jensen considers a Vivid feature no less "violent" and "degrading" then a gonzo blow-bang. Why try to mollify the antis by showing only that which we think will upset them least. I can assure you if they'd invited me, I'd have chosen whatever I thought would flush out the haters the quickest. Somebody's got to confront them, and P.T. is pretty tough customer. If he deliberately chose something provocative to show that audience, good for him.

    As for Hirsch's call for action by Google to limit direct access to adult sites via search engines, I do see that as PR image burnishing, but it makes a grain of sense. We really don't want kids viewing porn, and the lack of firewalls between big search engines and restricted sites is one of those cards that porn bashers can easily throw to back up their claims that kids are exposed to porn via the Internet on a daily basis. Google and Yahoo make a lot of money off the porn business while taking zero responsibility for hostile attention they send our way. Hirsch is suggesting that if they're going to share in the profits they should assume some of the responsibility. Not a totally indefensible position.

    Oh, and BTW, though the Bush DOJ's "enhancements" of 2257 are clearly prohibitionist, the enabling legislation that created 2257 is not all bad from the industry's POV. It recognizes that we exist as legitimate businesses and, in its essence, requires only that we be able to demonstrate that those who appear in our products are of legal age. All the crap loaded onto it since is absolutely wrong, but no legit company should have a problem with reasonable record-keeping requirements.

    Frankly, I'm at a bit of a loss to understand why Vivid is so unpopular here. They really don't engage in the practices we would all like to see fade away in this business. They treat their people well. They make pictures that, while not interesting to me, are definitely more woman-and-couple-friendly than most. And there is the support they give to Tristan, Eon and other new directing talent that might, in the long run, really change the character of the industry in ways many people here would endorse.

    Again, I sense that GM-of-porn-big-is-bad meme at work, and I just don't buy it. Vivid has its vices, but those little shops of horrors who make the kinds of videos that result in things like what happened in 2004 are much worse citizens of the porn community than Vivid.

    I have no connection with Vivid, other than my personal affection for some of the people who work there, but I think they're getting a bum rap on some of this stuff.

    Getting back the beginning of your post, no, I'm not surprised by Nina's experience with Nightline. It's typical. But I'll never stop calling these jokers out on it. It's infuriating that they call both of us for "background information" and "contacts" but when whatever it is goes to air, we both just magically vanish. So it's not like they don't know who's got the 411, or that they don't want it for themselves. They just ration out to the public what suits their own objectives.

    None of it is news, but it still sucks and I want them to know, as I'll bet they read this kind of material, that we know the game.

    I had something very similar happen with the New York Times. A very nice, young freelancer wrote up a surprisingly positive account of his experiences at Predictably, since I'm in everybody's rolodex as the go-to guy on BDSM, he called me to fact-check what he got up there.

    In the Sunday Magazine piece that finally ran, I was quoted correctly, which I expect from the NYT, but the quote was pasted into a paragraph on sexual violence that yanked it totally out of context. I calmly sat down and wrote a short, civil, clarifying letter to the editor explaining why the conflation of these things was wrong and harmful. They ran several other letters regarding the piece, predictably hostile of course, but not mine, even though I was a quoted source.

    In my follow-up to the author, I told him I thought it peculiarly typical that even a mafioso, if quoted in the original piece, would have been given the chance to respond the manner in which his words were used, but that pornographers couldn't expect even that much from such a pillar of journalistic integrity. He agreed that my letter should have run, but quickly distanced himself from the decision-making process.

    My advice to other porn people, who are less familiar with the manipulations of these honorable defenders of the public's right to know, is to refuse all interview requests from mainstream media, period. They can never afford to be seen as giving any of us a fair shake, lest they come under suspicion themselves.

    Anybody who wonders how The Blacklist was able to destroy so many lives and careers need only look at how stories such as ours are handled. Though media big-shots of today are eager to revise the history of that period, those of us whose families suffered back then know that the real suffering was inflicted not by Joe McCarthy or HUAC, but rather by media executives and lawyers who marginalized talented, articulate leftists right out of their careers rather than risk the dreaded red taint.

  3. Ernest:

    I stand corrected per your relationship with Vivid.

    Perhaps my view of Steve Hirsch is colored by my own particular bias based on stories I have seen about him and his business practices at Vivid: his personal and financial relationship with Ginger Lynn (which was his first successful "Vivid Girl"); as well his concept of putting all sort of financial and contractual restrictions on his talent. In any event, I can cede to him his points about having effective firewalls built to block child access to adult talent. I only wish that it didn't sound like he was attempting to throw others under the bus to protect his profits.

    On PT and "Yale Sex Week": like I said, Ernest, that was only my initial gut reaction to hearing the story; once I got to read up on the story firsthand, my opinion was much improved by the facts discovered. I no more think that Thomas should be forced to censor his message than anyone else should....and the real fault, as you said, lies with the numbskull chickenhearts at YSW who just couldn't stand a little bit of BDSM variety. (Funny, but the audience didn't to seem to mind the show....and it was largely evenly mixed in much for the Dines/Jensen theory of women being innately opposed to "degrading" porn.) In my view, fear of the APF's was just a ruse for the more personal fear of kinky sex.

    And on the New York Times and their antisex attitudes showing themselves in their refusal to grant you the common decency of a rebuttal: What else can you expect from a paper where the most "progressive " voice politically happens to be Bob Herbert, who spouts Fairley-isms and MacDworkinisms so freely?? Such is the limit of so-called "mainstream media" that I tend to avoid them at all times. Even Fixed Noise, for all its right-wing myopia, at least is honest in its biases (the "fair and balanced" meme notwithstanding).


  4. Anthony,

    Thanks for the clarifications. As usual, after some discussion, we agree more than we disagree.

    I can understand why, based on a number of factors, Steve Hirsch wouldn't be your favorite person. This is one of those situations where my friends simply aren't compatible and it's best not to get in between them. And I don't necessarily think anybody's entirely right or wrong here.

    For all Hirsch's good opinions of both Nina and me, I hardly think it a coincidence that the woman who replaced Nina in the Nightline debate at Yale was a Vivid girl. No doubt, given that Vivid was using the whole Sex Week thing as a major PR opportunity, they granted preferential access to the Nightline producers that paid off by getting Monique Alexander what should have been Nina's time at the podium. That's the way it works in the big media world, and Vivid is better equipped to operate in that environment than just about anyone from our business. It's nothing personal, I'm sure, just an opening to be exploited.

    Just about our only consolation in this is that the actual debate probably won't get a whole lot of airtime and that all kinds of backstage stuff, which is more useful ratings-wise, will fill up much of what will probably be a fairly short segment; In other words, Nina's nuanced message would have been lost amid the tits and static to a great extent anyway.

    As for Hirsch's private life, I doubt it's exemplary, but you can throw a rock from where he parks his car and hit a dozen producers who have done worse. This justifies nothing, but it does offer a certain perspective. Producers of his generation were notoriously predatory, and his sins, such as they are, hardly register compared to some stories I could tell you.

    I'm not altogether sympathetic to the complaints about the nature of Vivid talent contracts either. Unlike most of the people doing the complaining, I've read them, and they're not so bad. They're not ultra-rich, but they're not ultra-restrictive either. I'd compare them very favorably to, say, Digital Playground's in terms of what they take for the company and what they leave for the performer. As I recall, they even offer some modest back end, which is quite a rarity.

    Jenna was smart enough to create her own deal with what was then an upstart company called Wicked, and it was a better contract to be sure, but she assumed more risk by going with a relative unknown. If you're a performer and you want some security and to be free of the necessity of dealing with different people and different rules on each set. the Vivid contract isn't a bad way to go.

    I suspect, and please don't take this personally, because I know you have plenty of company, that some of the animus toward Vivid may be related to its less-than-enlightened attitude regarding interracial sex. That has changed to a great extent, but more in their B lines than in their features. And they were the first feature company to contract an African-American player, Heather Hunter. Again, it''s no excuse, but cable is the driving force behind that bullshit, and cable is wrong about it too. If cable sales are a big part of your mix and cable providers say they want no more than whatever percentage of IR scenes per picture, it's very expensive to buck them. With DVD sales flat, licensing is a more important revenue stream than ever, and that has to figure into the arithmetic.

    However, it doesn't at Adam&Eve, which is another big cable supplier that encourages IR, so I'm not making or taking any excuses about this. I think the cable outlets need the content and, if the producers stand up to them, they'll take what's available.

    On the firewalls thing, yes, Hirsch is right, and whether it operates in his interest to say so or not, he should be taken seriously.

    If, for instance, you google the name of an X-rated performer or video, the link will often take you straight to an adult Web page, bypassing the front door where the over 18 warning and the compliance are located. That's both wrong and dangerous for all of us. For Google, which has no issue with restricting access for its pals in China, to avert their eyes from this lucrative but irresponsible dodge hardly fits with their "don't be evil" corporate mantra. I'm glad Hirsch called them out on it, especially as his own sites are among the most popular on the adult Internet and he actually stands to lose a few bucks for taking this stand. If those bucks come from minors, he's smart enough not to want them.

    That's what I mean when I say the bigger entities sometimes behave more responsibly than their smaller competitors. They can afford to. Companies desperately hustling to make payroll each month are less picky about how traffic is funneled to company sites, and that's truly inexcusable. If you can't afford to stay in business without cutting corners of that kind, I say, go the fuck out of business and do the rest of us a favor.

    I don't know if the Yale dopes who pulled the plug on P.T.'s movie were acting out of anti-kink prejudice or fear of reprisals, but it sucks either way. Either they've internalized APF thinking regarding BDSM, which is all wrong for a group of people claiming to have open minds about sex, or they're just gutless wonders who acted preemptively to head off criticism that had already rained down on them for going as far as they did and would continue to do so in any case. Talk about getting thrown under the bus, BDSM is always the first preference to wear the tire-tracks when some form of sexual expression becomes expendable to the greater cause of freedom for vanilla folks to see and make what turns them on.

    As for the NYT, like I said, I expect nothing good from any MSM outlet. My experiences with all of them as a pornographer are pretty sorry, with one odd exception. When Susan Faludi, who is very different in real life from the way people on our side of the fence tend to imagine her, was working on her story about male porn performers, she spent a lot of time with me and when I read the final piece in the New Yorker, I didn't feel my comments had been distorted or de-contextualized in any way. Strange the way a genuinely honorable and decent person can resist the so-called "inevitable" biases of the system.

    At first, the Times guy seemed like he might be that type. And his piece was, as I said, not a hatchet-job. But he didn't have either the clout or the inclination or both to stand up to his editor on the letters thing, and that was all wrong. As a reporter myself, I'd have insisted on the printing of any letter from a source challenging my credibility, if for no other reason than to have my say in reply.

    Anyway, it was business as usual and that's one reason I suggest that porn supporters, if they don't want to lose the coming battle, need to start putting some heat on big media for treating porn as they do. If you want to see Nina on Nightline, let the producers of Nightline hear about it. One thing I can tell you as journalist is that letters and emails, which are rarer than you think, especially from our side, are taken seriously. Editors and producers multiply every one they get by a factor of 1000 when they make their assumptions about how many readers or viewers agree but didn't give enough of a shit to write.

    One thing I would certainly suggest here is pretty obvious. Bob Herbert is no hero in these parts, and well-written letters to The Times citing evidence contrary to what Farley is feeding him might very well see daylight. In fact, op-ed pieces taking on his nonsense, if not him directly, would have some shot at publication. Remember that this is an uncomfortable subject for the self-styled liberal press and it tends to tack with the wind on it. So start blowing already.

  5. The whole dustup at Yale apparently had to do with the fact that Paul Thomas showed a film with BDSM in it and at least one of the Sex Week at Yale organizers had a fundamental problem with that. (There's more discussion of this over on Ren's blog.) The fact that a self-proclaimed group of sex educators has a fundamental problem with BDSM is seriously fucked-up. I hope they hear plenty from the BDSM community about this, because they really need to.

    "Unlike Gail Dines, you won't get a stand-up on Fox to tell your side of the story, virtually unchallenged by talking-head-in-charge. "

    In fairness to Fox (yeah, you read that right), they actually did have Joanna Angel on Red Eye, their overnight program, about a year ago almost. It was a friendly though insubstantial interview. Here's the YouTube link (skip forward to 4:07).

    I also agree that Ron Jeremy and Shelly Lubin are probably not the most substantial debaters, but than neither is XXX Church. Probably a more substantial debate would be between Nina (who's an absolutely fantastic public speaker, BTW) along with one of the other people you mention (Belladonna would also be a good choice) going up against Dines or Jensen and, say, Shelly Lubin or some other right-winger. I seriously doubt Dines or Jensen would even debate in a face-to-face format where they're on even footing – ambush-style confrontations seem to be their MO.

    As for Vivid, yeah, I do have problems with them, both from management/employee relations point of view and a "killing the art form" point of view, but I'll go into that later. (And maybe take a swipe at the AVN Awards, another porn world pet peeve of mine.)

  6. IACB,

    I'd still love to know which P.T. movie caused all the fuss. The Masseuse maybe? There was a bit of BDSM-lite in that one. And as far as I'm concerned, knee-jerk prejudice against BDSM is no better than homophobia. Obviously, somebody at Yale needs to get the message that sexual-orientation bigotry just isn't cool.

    As for Vivid, trust me, there's only so far I'll go in defending any company. They've all got problems. I'd like to hear your specific complaints about their employment policies, but as to their movies, well, like I said, I don't watch them unless I'm having trouble sleeping.

    Now then, if you want to take on the AVN awards, where do I sign up? That's a real grudge-match with me. I've been making X-rated pictures since before the awards began and have racked up half a hundred nominations. In all that time, I've been onstage at the awards exactly once. What does that tell you?

  7. Oh, BTW, it was Monique Alexander, a Vivid contract girl, on the panel, not the unbearable Shelley Lubben, who is of the XXX Church persuasion, but much more hostile.

  8. It really is just typical, isn't it? I mean really, WHO is being silenced here? Dateline ran a hack job on Belladonna, they were also rather brutal to Sascha Grey if I recall correctly, and various other porn performers in the past...and truthfully, I suspect they are terrified of Nina. She's wicked smart, articulate, and not easily intimidated.

    I think it was Christi Lake who said "nobody wants to hear about happy porn stars" and I think she is right. Its bad for ratings and all.

  9. I reposted your youtube Nina Hartley gem on Bound Not Gagged. Seemed bloggers over there got a taste of an older interview with Nina and wanted more. Hope it was cool to do.
    I retired from a different area of the sex industry. I get lost as an outsider to all your insider porn industry information. I do my best to follow because it is important but hey, I was just a hooker.
    I know the legal parts of the sex industry have been supportive of us in many ways but from a distance and I get why but it seems like the time is now for sex industry on camera to join forces with sex industry off camera.
    I can see M. Farley's face when we all show up to confront her-together.
    Seems like you are due for some direct action there, Ernest. You know it will make you feel so much better.

    "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in."

  10. One point of correction, Ren:

    It was ABC's Primetime Live, not NBC's Dateline, who maligned and ambushed Belladonna.

    Diane Saywer does have a way of making people cry, doesn't she??


  11. And to Ernest's points:

    It wasn't so much their policies on interracial sex that bothered me (though it would be nice if Vivid or other porn companies did at least make an attempt to promote stars of color more as individuals rather than "niche markets") as it was their more restrictions on the girls. But no one put a gun to their heads and forced them to sign the contract, and there are plenty of other options available.

    And of course, Dines or any other antiporn activist won't allow themselves to get in an even-handed debate with Nina...knowing that Nina would absolutely kick their asses intellectually. So much easier to dismiss her as simply a paid agent,and a "privileged tool of the pornographers".

    I have another theory as to why Nina is basically blacked out of the MSM discussion: her unabashed left-of-center politics on matters other than sexuality. I find it interesting that most of the "pro-porn" spokespeople who are allowed mainstream space happen to be generally either execs of porn companies or performers with a more conservative or libertarian Right point of view that fits more into the dominant political spectrum. Likewise, it is no accident that some of the only putative "left-wing" spokespeople who are allowed such leeway in the MSM happen to be those who take repressive sexual positions, such as APF's like Jensen and Dines. Could it be that this is yet another attempt by the dominant cultural media to frame the discussion in a way that legit liberal and leftist voices are left out, giving the illusion of "consensus" behind a restricted spectrum?? It wouldn't be the first time, and it doesn't just work on the subject of sex, either.

    Just freeballing it here....


  12. For the record, here's a link to the article that Ernest referenced: Yale's 'Great Porn Debate' To Air On Nightline


  13. Maybe it is time to organize for an offense. Make a call demanding a forum. Every sex worker rights group will not only welcome and support it but will mobilize to show up to it.
    Who thinks the haters would show up to debate and would MSM be interested? So far we can all agree that we have been shut out but what can we agree to do about it.

  14. Wow! With all the responses to this thread - and all of them worthwhile - it's hard to know where to start. So I'll just pick up where we left off.


    What you say is so sad but so true. MSM likes its porn stars laughable and pathetic. And Christi is absolutely right. They most definitely don't want them happy. I remember one previous interview with Nina in which the reporter confronted her with Traci Lords' claim (as if Traci had had any direct contact with this business in years) that she'd never met a happy porn star. Nina, in her typically disarming manner, just threw back her head and laughed out loud, suggesting that Traci should have lunch with her sometime.

    I'm sure that's just the kind smart, unpredictable response that makes Nina a scary interview prospect. You don't know what she's going to say, but whatever it is, it will be intelligent and it won't fit the cardboard cut-out template they've already created for porn stars.


    That idea is just plain brilliant. While there is some reluctance on the part of porn people to embrace other forms of sex work in public (as a result of having to fight, both legally and rhetorically) the charge that porn is just another form of prostitution and therefore illicit, more and more performers acknowledge that what we do is sex work of its own kind and shares common concerns with other sex workers.

    I think getting together some of the best and brightest from both worlds to discuss those concerns and plan action to address them would be fantastic. A Bay Area venue seems perfect, as there is a large sex-poz community up there that includes many potential participants who could add much to the conversation.

    If we do get this thing together, we can also expect the antis to show up and make their presence known, which is terrific opportunity to confront them with equal numbers on level ground for a change.

    I want to talk this over with Nina, Carol and others up there and see if we can't start planning some kind of gathering, perhaps during the summer.

    Love the whole concept. And there's no doubt it would make me feel better. Just thinking about it gets those old organizing juices flowing.


    Well, we could go on and on about Vivid, but I'm not affiliated with them, as I've already said, and they can stick up for themselves, as they've already proved.

    I completely agree that APFs aren't at all interested in meeting Nina or anyone like her on an equal footing. They claim it's because they don't want to help "legitimatize" the notion of voluntary sex work in any way, but I think the are, as you suggest, just plain cowardly. They'd rather jump Nina or Bella when they're busy and can't take time off to slap back all the mud-ball slurs tossed at them. It's much easier and safer than affording them the respect and decency than an honest debate in which the APFs could actually lose.

    As to Nighline sandbagging Nina over her non-porn-related political views, it's a nice fantasy, but I doubt that was a factor. For one thing, I don't think they researched Nina's history that deeply and for another, as they were certain to pursue the sensationalistic, lurid porn angle at the expense of all else, had Nina made the cut, her broader political views would never have seen air. The bookers just don't think that broadly. They wouldn't have cared if Nina was a Green, a Republican or a Libertarian. They already had her in the porn star box and since she didn't fit too well, they went looking for someone who did.

    And speaking of the Yale flap, it continues unto today and gets even more repellent to behold. Check this out:

    Everything about this piece is infuriating, not least that it gets major play with no opposing point of view presented, and therefore, especially given the Yale paper's previous unbelievably biased "news" account of the event itself, suggests that the editorial staff there has swallowed the APF line wholly without a drop of reportorial skepticism. It's pretty clear here that the author speaks for the publication, and that has very bad implications beyond its immediate obnoxiousness.

    If this is the way a generation of future leaders is being educated at what are supposed to be our best institutions of higher learning, the prospects for the kind of pluralistic, diverse and tolerant society we all seek look grim indeed.

    I thought Yale was supposed to be for smart people capable of critical thinking. I see no evidence of that in this venomous screed. To say that "We need to talk honestly about it: It hurts women." is both oxymoronic in its self-contradictory conclusion that any honest talk about porn must necessarily end in at a single destination and just plain moronic in the unsupported sloganeering with which it wraps.

    What's most alarming here is that places like Yale produce everything from media execs to political leaders like our current president. Someday, the author is likely to be influential somewhere, and that is a sorry thing to contemplate.

  15. "if we can't start planning some kind of gathering, perhaps during the summer."

    gah, just don't do it in July...July is a packed month already!

  16. "When they've got rid of me, they're coming for you next."

    Nina's great quote... and you know, they already got us. That is why they are coming after you.
    I know you did not mean to slam the hookers and I write this as totally light hearted. Nobody wants to write the invitation to raids, arrests and police abuse. I get it. You guys don't want what we have and we sure as hell want to do what we can to make sure it don't happen to you. I will watch the blog and see what perculates. Carol can call me if anything developes. I would love to help organize what could be a very important event. Nina maybe the best spokesperson the movement could ever have but soldiers are surely needed as well.
    We have a porn free house here. Everyone is free to love and watch porn and nobody is allowed to feel guilt or shame about what kind they watch or how much. Isn't it hard enough to just be human without people trying to make you feel bad about pornography?
    Thanks for letting me share here.

  17. Ren, thank you for the warm welcome. I feel at home here but will try not to take up too much space. I have recently stepped out of the sex worker movement and am now no longer with a sex worker organization. Right now this is the outlet for the anger I feel at the treatment of the sex industry and sex industry workers. I just can't seem to shake it, I get so mad.
    I did want to comment on the "lockout" of Nina from MSM. I agree with Ernest on this one, Anthony. I do not believe it is Nina's left politics. I believe that the MSM has always had their anti-pornography agenda and they are clear on who is going to further their agenda and who is not. I have a couple of good examples.
    MSM coverage of the anti-war movement. Only once in the last five years has the leader of the largest and most organized anti-war group been invited to one of the major networks for debate. Once. The leadership with the only real anti-imperialist position in regard to the war on Iraq was given a few minutes. Instead, the MSM to further their pro-war agenda features the dog and pony show of the anti-war movement or the "white man's burden" version of it. You know, against the war but can't withdrawel the troops because the Iraqi people can't handle their own affairs without our troops and bombs.
    I recieved a copy of a letter written by a member of Veterans For Peace this morning that he had written to MSM demanding that the Vets For Peace not be left out of anti-war coverage. Of course MSM is all over the pro-war vets. Nothing more threatening to the war machine agenda than a veteran for peace. Same goes for the anti-pornography agenda of MSM. Nothing more threatening to the anti-pornography agenda than Nina Hartley.
    I sent an email to Robyn Few this morning and asked her to check out the suggestions being made here as to the united front and proposed action. I will do the same with Carol Leigh. I wasn't sure which Carol you were refering to because we have quite a few very active Carols up here but I assume you meant Carol Queen. Looks like we have at least two of them covered.
    Sometimes I get the feeling that the legal industry gets worried when the outlaws show up but you know Ernest, we are total soldiers.

  18. Check out Traveling Sex Workers' Art Show Director Annie O in her articulated response to FOX News about their campus tour. Talk about pose... these clips are great -- it's so amazing to watch her calm response.

    I remember reading/watching Violet Blue's reaction to her appearance on the Tyra Bank show, and also Sasha Grey's experience. Fucking cruel.

  19. Thank you for posting the link to the fox "news" piece. Annie O. does a beautiful job handling the hostile interviewer. I hope you all catch the follow up video posted along with the interview with Annie. In the follow up piece students show up to protest the sex workers art show and again we have the evidence of what we already know to be true, the anti- pornography/anti-prostitution/anti-sex agenda of MSM. But there is more bad news. While everyone in the industry has been working hard doing their job, the anti's have been quietly organizing students at college campuses across the country and of course we all know where they get their funding from.
    At USF, ehtics professor and author of "Not For Sale" actually has his ethics department students filming Asian massage parlor workers, without their permission under the guise of raising the awareness of sex slavery and rescue (raids, arrests and deportation of immigrant sex industry workers). Students now think they are part of some modern day abolishionist movement. UC Berkeley has SAFEHS (Students And Artists Fighting to End Human Slavery) founded by Annie Fukushima, who is ally to Melissa Farley and Norma Hotaling. This is no small problem for industry workers. This is a crisis.

  20. Lisa

    I just have a minute to post right now, but I wanted to say that how much I appreciate, once again, your willingness to line up with porn people on these issues. And it saddens me no end that many are unwilling to line up with you.

    I do understand some of the reasons. Porn companies fought a long and expensive battle, finally resulting in the Freeman decision, to stop local authorities here in LA from classifying porn production as a form of prostitution, shutting down sets as "disorderly houses" and charging producers with felony pandering. When the California supreme court ruled that porn production is not prostitution because the paying party derives no direct gratification from the sex acts commissioned, it became legal to shoot porn in Los Angeles again and the industry as we know it was able to establish itself here. Thus direct links between porn and other forms of sex work are seen by some as weakening the firewall between porn and prostitution that makes one legal at the other's expense.

    I think this is foolish thinking in the long run, as porn is sex work and all sex work should be legal. The fact that a technicality was used to exempt porn from the local prohibition against prostitution has not deterred critics form linking the two, or the federal government from treating both as scourges to be stamped out. Having our whole right to exist as an industry rest on this single, somewhat shaky pillar is much less secure than the situation in Europe, where sex work is legal overall and therefore pornography production is licit whether or not some consider it prostitution.

    Furthermore, the unwillingness of most porn performers to identify themselves as sex workers (the wonderful Lorelei Lee, who is part of the traveling sex worker troupe you mention on this thread is a lovely exception, as is Nina), needlessly marginalizes other sex workers and denies us their solidarity and support.

    Part of this reticence undoubtedly springs from the fact that many porn performers moonlight as providers and worry about both legal consequences arising out of going public about it and the unspoken understanding between performers and producers that nothing will be said or done in public that might compromise the Freeman standard certainly plays a role here.

    Nevertheless, the public is not fooled and sex work is sex work. I oppose anyone or anything that shames sex workers, including the actions of other sex workers.

    Speaking for both Nina and myself, we welcome the
    camaraderie of members of all branches of sex work and are eager to build bridges between us in the face of common opposition.

    There is indeed a crisis, just as you say and as I've been shouting about in my own industry for the past several years, and we need all the help we can get to address it.

  21. Ernest & Lisa:

    this might deserve its own post, i dunno...

    but follow me here for a second...

    You know whom I've always might figured might be a "natural bridge" between porn performers and prostitutes? Er, well, those other sex workers: Strippers, pro Dommes & Subs...because often, both will occassionally dabble in both other professions. I mean, this is just my observation, but I know a lot of strippers/pro BDSMers who have done some porn on the side, or some prostitution, and correct me if I'm wrong Ernest, but a lot of porn performers also feature dance?

    Now granted, a lot of strippers (like porn performers) don't like the association with prostitution due to their legal status, and don't even consider themselves sex workers (because, ahem, they aren't actually having sex) and sure enough, some of 'em are just flakes...but others, not so much. I don't know, I'm optomistic, and having done all of the things listed above at one time or another, I just feel like....well...

    Imagine if the anti's had to face down a pannel composed of the likes of Nina, the women of Bound, Not Gagged, and gals like the woman who does the "Dive bar Dancer" blog....not to mention present company?

    I mean, the anti's bash ALL forms of sex not necessarily claim kinship with all forms in order to dispute the accusations levelled at each strata of "the sex industry"...

  22. Thank you for the history and the solidarity, Ernest. I get it.
    Ren, very good suggestions. Alright, it looks like the door has finally been open.