Home Activism Did 8 Minutes Lie to Sex Workers?

Did 8 Minutes Lie to Sex Workers?

via aetv.com
Kevin Brown (via aetv.com)


5/1/15 Kamylla’s GoFundMe was taken offline and replaced with a Tilt fundraiser, which has also now been closed down. We will update if we hear news of another fundraising effort.

5/3/15 Here’s an updated fundraiser link.

There’s been no shortage of coverage of A&E’s 8 Minutes, the ostensible reality show in which cop-turned-pastor Kevin Brown makes appointments with sex workers and then has the titular amount of time to make a case for them to stop their work. Lane Champagne wrote here in December that

Of all the professions to produce potential sex work interventionists, law enforcement and clergy are at the very top of the Unsuitable list. Behind those two are literally every single other profession, because sex work interventions are vile exercises in the hatred and shaming of sex working individuals and shouldn’t exist.

Supposedly, women who want to leave sex work will be given help. From A&E’s website: “8 Minutes follows Pastor Kevin Brown and his Lives Worth Saving team as they help sex workers and victims of sex trafficking leave their dangerous situations behind to start over.” And how do they do that?

Last week, one woman, who goes by Kamylla, came forward on Twitter to hold the show’s producers accountable for promising her assistance in exchange for her appearance on the show, then leaving her twisting in the wind when she was arrested soon after, having returned to work from economic necessity when they didn’t provide the promised help in exiting the industry.

Kamylla received a call on her work number from the producers of the show, who immediately identified themselves as such (this is in contrast to the premise of the show, which implies that the women believe they are coming to a normal appointment, only to be met by Brown). She agreed to tape a segment for the show, in which she said she wanted help getting out of the business, and after the taping was told she’d soon hear back with more information and assistance.

She never heard back from them, and instead reached out herself, but no meaningful help was to come. Kamylla found herself broke and needing to work again. She posted an ad, using the same number the 8 Minutes producers had contacted her on, and was arrested in a sting. Now she was broke, frightened, and facing criminal charges, and when she reached out for help from 8 Minutes, Brown offered to pray for her.

In search of more practical support, she began to contact writers who had been critical of the show. Kamylla wrote to Dan Savage after seeing a mention of the program on The Stranger’s blog, and Savage put her in touch with prominent Seattle sex worker activist Mistress Matisse. Matisse leapt into action and began soliciting donations from trusted friends to help Kamylla with her immediate crisis. Other members of the community soon followed: Domina Elle and Tara Burns helped create a website to tell her story. It’s heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time: where she was ill-used by television producers, the sex worker community stepped in to help her. Once Kamylla was ready to talk, her fundraiser went public.

Kamylla’s own description of her experience in this Storify and the following excerpt from her website make it clear how little help she received in exchange for being fodder for reality TV:

The next day, no one called.
Days are passing, a week later still no call.
Now it’s two weeks later and rent is way passed due, she trusted their word and therefore had not posted an ad. Now she’s even deeper in the red. She decided to call the advocates to see what was going on. “No one has called you yet?” They said.

Let the buck passing begin. She is given a list of local resources that have nothing to do with the show or anyone participating in it. The resources turn out to be the same old exhausted resources and some were even discontinued all together! Some resources she couldn’t access for one stipulation or another. The usual story- because services are few to none despite the many millions being given to various anti trafficking organizations. The money apparently goes towards ‘raising awareness’ rather than programs and services.
Frustrated and desperate she goes back online with an ad.
What happens next?

What happened next is that she was arrested. Kamylla speculates that using the same number the show’s producers had might have endangered her, and reports have surfaced of at least one other arrest of a woman who had dealings with the show. She has warned other women who may have been in contact with 8 Minutes to change the phone numbers and photos in their ads.

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 2.57.19 PMFollowing Kamylla’s timeline on Twitter from the beginning is at once heartbreaking in revealing the damage that rescue missions do to sex workers facing hardship and instructive of how sex workers come to identify with our rights movement. While looking for help after appearing on 8 Minutes, she came into contact with current and former sex workers who, despite coming from very different sex work experiences, immediately understood the dual burdens of stigma and financial need that Kamylla faced and sprung into action with a fundraiser and the creation of a social media campaign to highlight both her personal story and her immediate needs. She has since come out in enthusiastic praise of sex workers’ rights within only a few weeks of encountering the movement.

Imagine if A&E had given even a fraction of the production costs to crowdfunding campaigns for sex workers, sex worker-run organizations, or even job training programs that would enable sex workers to enter the formal economy. Now imagine if state and local governments gave that kind of funding instead of supporting diversion programs and law enforcement imperatives that fail sex workers over and over again. Then imagine State Department funding research that addressed the problems of poverty, access, and discrimination that sex workers have repeatedly told government officials are at the root of many negative experiences of the sex industry. Kamylla’s story is one that sits at the messy intersection of failed rescue ideologies, misguided and often violent law enforcement, the reality of profoundly unhappy sex work experiences, and a sex worker rights’ community that is at times removed from the realities of criminalization and survival sex work. But this community that anti sex work activists love to shriek about being “not representative!!!!” was there to support Kamylla when others discarded or ignored her reality.

What the story has demonstrated in real time to those outside the industry and the movement is something that sex workers and a handful of woefully under-reported studies about leaving sex work have said for years: sex workers themselves are most capable of helping a fellow sex worker leave sex work under financially secure and physically safe conditions. We cannot trust rescue organizations to believe us. We cannot trust law enforcement to help us. We cannot hope for a sympathetic media to amplify this message. We can only rely on each other.

Stories like Kamylla’s can find their way into mainstream consciousness as indicators not of our brokenness but of our resilience, courage, and wholeness. Despite pathological determination by many to dehumanize us, these are the stories where we reveal the remarkable generosity, grace, and empathy that are the precious currency of our community. They are regrettably undervalued elsewhere, but they mean the world to us in a world where we still mean so little.

This post was coauthored by Lane Champagne and Bubbles


  1. Thus pisses me off to no end. Mainly because this is exactly what I expected to happen. Don’t give them your ratings. Its a shitty show anyhow. Only in one show did they even pay for the women’s time.

  2. Wow. Cop-turned-pastor not practicing what he preaches. Who would have thought? Surely not all the critics informed, educated, and more sympathetic…

    I hope someone sues him. I really, really do. A verbal contract is still a contract.

  3. Now can the #prostitutenation finally run not walk away from engaging this ‘trafficking’ BS and get on with the serious business of educating ourselves with actual trainings that will further our right?

  4. We are now discovering that numerous people did NOT agree to have their faces shown, but their faces were shown anyway. Contracts were not voluntarily given to the ladies either from what has been found out, and sadly they did not insist upon getting copies (shouldn’t have had to!) which in my mind is another clear indication that the 8 Minutes team was not sincerely advocating for those women!

  5. ” Since when does persecuting and abusing sex workers stop human trafficking. ”

    Services to prevent? Services which are voluntary? ZERO. Services to help people get back on their feet after arrest? When you find them, let us know.

    #8minutes should have to have a disclaimer that says “We have no housing, no jobs that pay a living wage, and no higher education without debt, but what we do have is some shame based bullshit that will help introduce you to the justice system so you can be stamped whore.

    “….When you say that you “rescued” someone, that statement is about empowering and aggrandizing yourself while disempowering the person you think you rescued. This is because “rescuing” creates an uneven power dynamic where the “rescuer” (read: hero) has all of the power in the relationship and the “rescuee” (read: helpless victim) has no agency or role in the exit of his or her abusive.”

    Here is how you can help sex workers fight for their rights, Please help support this expansion of sexual privacy rights.

  6. “Kamylla’s story is one that sits at the messy intersection of failed rescue ideologies, misguided and often violent law enforcement, the reality of profoundly unhappy sex work experiences, and a sex worker rights’ community that is at times removed from the realities of criminalization and survival sex work.”

    Amen. Really well written post. Thank you for it.

  7. I suspected there were problems from the very beginning and called out the producer Tom Forman on it. He was very sketchy (no surprise) with his answers. He even turned around and had catty remarks to say about the sex workers and regular folks asking him questions. I’m extremely upset that something like this has happened and that it’s being eaten up by regular audiences at home (check the hashtag … warning it’s a bit nauseating) who watch this tragedy-porn.

    Thank you for writing this!

  8. I feel like I am the star of a horror show.
    Everything is burning. From my soul..through my emotions…moral…and life.
    I thank Matisse, Elle, Tara, i thank all good media… Alana .. I thank this tits and ass lol people. This pretty much described my story
    I have other details… Now i can say too much but . When i went to jail. Handcuffed… Like a trash… SW who just got arresred…came to talk to me…all…black..white…latina…all…
    They were figuring out how to get the money they have inside their locks…BECAUSE THEY KNEW I WAS POOR… i did not had the bound money…and they started organizing there… It was not possible to open the locks.. Procedures.
    I was released 1 day later
    SW people learn very early…WE ARE ALL THE SAME
    Much love sisters

      • It was attacked by a certain person who cannot be named. I don’t want to feed her algorithm. She is well known for not adhering to boundaries, she outs people to forward her agenda. She records conversations to use for her agenda. She is CRAZY. She got both funds taken down and we are just waiting for the current one to go down. Kamylla refused her help after she proved herself to be a whacko. Now she is harassing me and other people in addition to Kamylla. sending emails and text after text after text. She must be sitting there behind her device in a frenzy! We have bigger fish to fry for now, but when the dust settles……

        she can choose to crawl back under the rock she slithered out from if she knows what’s good for her. Thing is- she is CRAZY, not using rational thought process as it is, therefore I doubt she will act in her best interest.

  9. I to appeared on the show the assured me my face would be blurred NOT TRUE and had a fake pimp n car claiming to be mine THEY RUINED A LIFE I WAS HAPPY WITH.. !!!!! Do we deserve compensation yes cuz Kevin ain’t gunna pay my rent

  10. Always was 100% misleading title for show as NO trafficking is/was involved. In every episode, the “Pastor” uses exact same lines & makes promises that aren’t being kept. A&E & the entire cast should hang their heads in shame! Ideal promised for “story”, jeopardizing lives, making up a tagline for ratings, lying to viewers, etc. Worst of all is DECEIT given to these females & families & making a ” joke” of why trafficking really is. I stopped watching since I started disliking Pasted & the women who were allegedly ” victims. If any women WERE trafficked, they could NEVER in a million years be out in public. You’ve made this MAJOR issue a joke & won’t provide what you told them. Never believed the 2 women who came to “help” them ” out of the life”. A&E stooped to a real low (after all the great shows they have). Whose stupid idea was this?! I hope the women are safe & you keep your promises- they ARE on tape!!

  11. That man, Brown, is despicable. I can only assume from some exposure to the production process than many more of the production team were fully aware of what they were doing. As Brown, or production proxy, contacted women and made promises they had no intention of keeping; under the guise that this was a legitimate A&E show. Generally scope and bounds are set in how subs(contractors) or employees may invoke the name of a company in order to pose as, or speak on behalf of the company. This likely puts A&E into risk as a defendant in a civil case. I can only hope that someone with experience and strong legal credentials gets these ladies some compensation while teaching A&E an important lesson.

    I do not believe any amount of compensation would make this right, but it’s completely appropriate.

    Hearts and thoughts with you, sincerely.

    -just a guy.

    • It is going away! But the JVTA and the SAVE ACT are as of today NOT going away and all sex workers are greatly threatened by these laws. Much more than 8 minutes was a threat. A small battle has been won, but the war rages on! Unless decriminalization is established through the courts- sex workers live and work with bounties on their heads. No cause for celebration unless we use the momentum of this moment to pull the sex worker nation TOGETHER to fight the laws which keep us criminalized for doing what we do to SURVIVE. Let’s do it! A case has been filed in California federal court to do just this! NINE STATES would get relief! For more info go to
      http://esplerp.org Thanks!

  12. I’m glad the show was pulled so quickly, but I never got to watch it so now I’m curious: what the hell did this guy intend to say in the 8 minutes to convince women to leave the industry? If the organization isn’t able to offer them any kind of real support in finding different work or higher education or better opportunities, what the fuck was the plan?


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