Monday, July 13, 2009

The Kink.com vs. Matt Smith Saga Continues: Mz Berlin Gets Forcebly Outed

You will recall all of the controversy a while back over an online dustup between the BDSM website Kink.com and the San Francisco-based "alternative" paper SF Weekly over an article by reporter Matt Smith which claimed that Kink.com was receiving California "taxpayers' money" to fund "torture-based violent pornography". The fact that the funds were actually used to train cinematographers and photographers in general and was provided through a third party did not dampen the enthusiasm of Smith's attempted moral sex panic....and it did have the desired results, since the state program did pull its funding for the training.

You will also recall that several porn performers and models who did work for Kink.com also came forth to defend their particular craft and themselves as more than just "torture victims" and to explain the difference to Mr. Smith between nonconsensual torture and consensual ritualized sex.

One such performer -- Mz Berlin -- is now feeling directly the effects of being targeted for her sexuality and sexual choices...personally.

I wrote a much more extended piece with supporting linkage over at my own SmackDog Chronicles blog, due to time constraints I will simply cut and paste the highlights from there.

One performer whom spoke the loudest in defense of her work for Kink.com was Miz Berlin (warning, link NSFW), who is a specialist in the BDSM genre on her own behalf; she used the pages of her blog (NSFW) to rip new orfices on both Farley and Smith for conflating nonconsensual abuse and consensual desire.

Well…Matt Smith didn’t take such insults lightly…he issued a smarmy and snarky rebuttal (in two parts) basically restating his ideology and calling out his critics as irrational, thin-skinned perverts who were misconstruing his motives and distorting him into a “censor”. Along the way, he misattributed a quote to Violet Blue that was actually written by performer Lorelei Lee (remember, this is Violet the Sex Columnist, in case you haven’t noticed); and managed to mangle a phone conversation he recalled with Miz Berlin into a “shouting match” (which she denied in a subsequent comment to Part 2 of Smith’s article.)

But that wasn’t nearly the worst of it…not even close. Turns out that in his zeal to smear Miz Berlin, Matt Smith crossed that proverbial line that is supposed to respect autonomy and human decency. In the rebuttal article posted to the SF Weekly, Smith had revealed Miz Berlin’s real name and hometown.

The name was taken down after Miz Berlin protested….but the reprocussions of the unwanted outing has now come back to haunt her.

You see, Miz Berlin has a family who resides in Shreveport, Louisiana, and a young daughter who lives with her father (Miz Berlin’s husband) there.You can guess what happened when her real name was plastered online…and when her husband discovered her occupation. That’s right, Clones…he’s now seeking to use the child to punish her for her sexuality.

Quoting directly from an article posted in Salon.com’s Broadstreet describing the whole saga:

Smith wound up (NSFW) interviewing Mz Berlin for a follow-up story. In which — despite her express wishes to the contrary — he evidently tracked down and printed her real name. (That version of the story has since been taken down.) When he asked why she didn’t want her name used, Mz Berlin told Broadsheet today, she said, “Because I get naked for a living.” Having her name out there, she said, would make her feel unsafe.

In more ways than one, as it turned out. (Okay, now this is the story.) Mz Berlin’s ex-husband in Louisiana, she says, used the SF Weekly story to make the case — successfully — for erasing her right to visit their 8-year-old son.

Before now, she had unlimited access — and a much more amicable relationship with her ex. His stated concern: her safety, and their son’s. Sure enough, Mz Berlin was in London when the story with her name ran. “I’m in a foreign country, and all of a sudden people are calling me telling me they’re in my yard,” she told Broadsheet. (Fortunately, she had just moved; the yard callers were actually at her old address.) He also says that he thinks what she does is immoral, and that he plans to use that in court if necessary. (She was not doing this work when they were married. He since learned of it but, she speculates, hadn’t realized the scope or extent until now.)

“This is not a pity party. I realize that I put myself out there. I chose to do the interview. I choose to do porn,” Mz Berlin told Broadsheet. ”But I meet people a lot who have seen my asshole before looking in my eyes, and the exposure of my name truly made me feel scared. It’s the most violated I’ve ever felt.” She adds: ”The whole custody thing just makes me so angry. It should never have been questioned.” In that regard, she feels her ex is overreacting.

Her ex says the only way he’ll allow custody rights again is if she moves back to where he lives in Louisiana. Meanwhile, Mz Berlin intends to change her legal name in order to re-protect her identity.
Just another case of how sex performers are treated as third-class citizens, I'd say.

Mz Berlin is fighting the charges, but faces the usual mountain of legal fees; so she has set up a fund for her supporters to donate....you can find it here.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting about this. In a nutshell, this shows *exactly* what's wrong with the kind of commonplace porn-bashing represented by the Matt Smith piece a few weeks back. Although superficially targeting "porn lords", real people who are far from rich and powerful are hurt by that kind of shaming.

    If the story that Mz Berlin tells about her custodial problems sounds familiar, its because Mz Berlin is far from the first woman who this has happened to. A lot of people might remember the subplot about Amber Waves in "Boogie Nights". That was based on Veronica Hart's real-life custodial problems based on her early porn career and subsequent involvement with the industry.

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