jiz lee

Bellesa CEO Michelle Shnaidman.

How can you talk about ethics when your company is posting stolen content from producers and sex workers?

A tube site aimed at women did just that this month. Recently launched, Bellesa claimed it created a safe atmosphere for its users, which, unlike other tube sites, was supposedly free of “degrading” porn. However, like all tube sites, their collection of videos was largely acquired through piracy. While boasting “safe space” and “ethical porn for women,” Bellesa perpetuated the same exploitative practices the sleaziest tube sites do.

Their hypocrisy caused a stir in the porn industry. The site claimed to be empowering while simultaneously exploiting people’s sexual labor. At least some other tube sites let performers upload their content and get paid for it—it’s a way to make your money back on already pirated content. Bellesa also perpetuated sex positive feminism’s voyeuristic and conditional obsession with sex work, that is, the idea that it is only valid as long as it’s empowering—a standard other jobs are not held to. What this attitude ultimately demonstrates is a complete disregard for those who work in the sex industry.

To add insult to injury, Bellesa’s marketing campaign used Twitter to blast videos full of this kind of rhetoric, feeding a  liberal sex positive audience hungry for it. Feminist sex writer Suzannah Wess profiled their CEO Michelle Shnaidman at Bustle, opening her piece with, “It’s hard enough to find porn that isn’t totally degrading to women. And then, when you finally come across porn for women, it’s usually behind a paywall. There’s a good reason for this: It’s hard to produce porn ethically without charging customers. But Michelle Shnaidman, founder of Bellesa, has found a way to bring women porn they’ll actually enjoy without draining their bank accounts.”

[READ MORE]

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(Photo by Alexa Vachon)

(Photo by Alexa Vachon)

Coming Out Like A Porn Star is an anthology edited by award winning indie porn talent and author Jiz Lee consisting of essays by porn performers and industry workers on privacy and disclosure. It was featured by Reason’s‘ Elizabeth Nolan Brown as one of the best sex work books of 2015. Foreworded by renowned Black porn scholar Dr. Mireille Young, the book includes pieces by celebrated porn mainstays such as Stoya and Annie Sprinkle, as well as work by Tits and Sass’ own contributors and interviewees such as Kitty Stryker, Conner Habib, Tobi Hill-Meyer, and Cyd Nova. The collection spans a wide array of porn experiences from writers of color, trans and queer authors, and performers from every branch of the industry. With Lee’s permission, we excerpt two exciting essays by authors who are new to us, “Queen Beloved” by Milcah Halili and “Even Someone Like Me: How I Came Out As A Smut Starlet” by Betty Blac. They both feature stories of the authors communicating with their sex worker writer idols, so we were immediately hooked. [READ MORE]

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it's white and gold bitches

Breaking! Sex workers use internet, get sucked into popular memes! And it is unquestionably gold.

Contribute to the fundraiser to help porn performer Cytherea get back on her feet after being the victim of sexual assault during a traumatic home invasion here.

Jiz Lee will be guest editing a future issue of the Porn Studies journal on Porn and Labor. They’re soliciting submissions from now until July.

Wired explored the impact of the MyRedBook raid on Bay Area sex workers.

The Philadelphia murder trial of a woman who gave illicit butt injections continues. Her attorney sounds like a prize:

In questioning Saunders and King, Rudenstein stressed that they sought out Windslowe and the injections.
“What happened to the rope?” Rudenstein asked Saunders.
“What rope?” she replied.
“The rope she tied you down with to do this to you,” he said.

The online market for sex and sexualized services is growing, and it has nothing to do with the Superbowl or any other sporting events, as this Arizona State University study discovers.

Three California massage parlors were raided on suspicion of trafficking and then, though no evidence of trafficking was found, they were shut down anyway because of poor record keeping, especially around workers’ compensation. This incident once again raises the question:  is this about protecting vulnerable people, or shutting down sex businesses?

An assault in the West End of Vancouver has police warning sex workers to be on alert for

Mark Stacy Spelrem, 45…wanted in connection to the assaults. He’s described as a white male, 5-feet-11 with a slim build, with short dyed blond-orange hair “that is spiked at the front and balding at the back.”

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Fees and fines are illegal, kids. (Photo courtesy of Red)

The Willamette Week broke the news that I, Tits and Sass Week In Links editor Red, and my fellow dancer Amy Pitts are suing my former strip club this week after months of tedious and stressful settlement negotiations. Shorter and less informative video clips on the suit can be found here and here, but probably the best coverage so far is this New York Daily News story, which makes more meat puns than I would normally find decent.

Alaskan sex workers are raising money to go to Juneau to lobby the Alaskan legislature. You can support their campaign and learn about their efforts here: Nothing About Us Without Us!

Bengals defensive back Adam Jones was ordered to pay over $12 million for his part in a fight and shooting that broke out at the Vegas strip club, Minxx.  Jones made it rain, dancers started fighting over the money, and eventually shooting broke out, injuring three people, including  one security guard who was paralyzed from the waist down.

New MTA safety ads warn against pole dancing in subway cars: “Poles are for safety, not your latest routine.”

Tits and Sass contributor Naomi Sayers responds brilliantly to an interrogation around C-36 and the assumption that it protects sex workers, while outlining sex work activists’ next steps in a post-C-36 Canada.

Nigerian full service sex workers are offering three days of their services free if General Muhammadu Buhari wins the upcoming presidential elections in February. Clever reverse Lystrata tactic!

Porn actor Jiz Lee writes that people should be as concerned with ethical porn consumption as they are with ethical porn, since illegal distribution not only allows consumers to not pay for workers’ products, it also allows producers to evade the very safety standards set in place to protect performers.

Benjamin Frederickson worked as a HIV positive sex worker in the Midwest and New York for years, documenting his life and his work with Polaroids that are now being shown in an exhibition at Daniel Cooney Fine Art in New York until February 28th. [READ MORE]

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gandalfcondomNow that California’s AB 1576—which would mandate condom use on porn sets—is in committee in the  California State Senate, we wanted to follow up on our earlier coverage of the legislation. We asked two progressive porn performers, Jiz Lee and Conner Habib, about how they felt the proposed law would affect the future of California porn.

Jiz Lee is a genderqueer porn performer known for their genuine pleasure and unique gender expression. In the past nine years, Jiz has worked in over 200 projects spanning six countries within indie and mainstream adult genres, and balances sex work by working behind the scenes at Pink & White Productions, as well as writing and speaking about queer porn as a medium for social change. 

Conner Habib is an author, gay porn star, and lecturer. His book, Remaking Sex, will be released in 2015 by Disinformation. His Twitter handle is @ConnerHabib. 

Do you feel that AB 1576 will be helpful to porn performers?

Jiz Lee: Not at all. In fact, it will only be harmful. It legally controls (“forced consent”) the way performers have sex, eliminating—and criminalizing—their choices. It also creates major legal concerns that would force productions out of the state of California, creating relocation, decreased work opportunities, and other difficulties for performers and people working behind the scenes. Testing and barrier use is great! I should know! I’m a performer who is in the minority; because I perform infrequently and like to use my work to promote pleasure and safer sex practices, I often prefer to use barriers. I value having the choice to use risk-based assessment to practice safer sex, something I do on screen, and off. But this bill would do nothing to actually ensure safer practices and only make the situation worse. Having attended the Appropriations Hearing in Sacramento, it was obvious that the AHF and AB 1576’s sponsor, Isadore Hall, had no interest in listening to performers’ needs, including those of over two dozen industry professionals who traveled to City Hall to testify. It was incredibly disappointing.

Conner Habib: No! [READ MORE]

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