reality TV

via aetv.com

Kevin Brown (via aetv.com)

UPDATE

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. [READ MORE]

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the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take for yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.”

When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take for yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.”

“Women who sell their bodies” used to be the go-to word combination that triggered my gag reflex right into action. But “hooker-rescuing cop-turned-pastor” was introduced to my life this week and has transformed my once-tranquil apartment into Lane Champagne’s Extreme Vomitorium. The man with this heinous career trajectory is Kevin Brown and he’s starring in a new reality show tentatively titled 8 Minutes after its premise: He has eight minutes to convince sex workers to leave behind their whoring ways. Those who leave sex work are given free training in the second career of their choice and those who decline are sent on their merry way with Brown’s best wishes for a good earning season. HAHA, just kidding, none of that last sentence is true because whorephobia is pernicious and Earth has actually been Hell along!

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. And it certainly shouldn’t exist as a spectacle on cable television. There is a Change.org petition to get A&E to shut that shit down, you should sign it. Let’s also take out a Backpage ad in every possible city warning local sex workers to be prepared for lurking reality show cameras.

Producer Tom Forman (the man behind the legally and ethically challenged Kid Nation) told Entertainment Weekly that the show was inspired by an LA Times article about Brown’s rescue missions. That story opens with another cop-turned-resucuer showing up to a woman’s outcall and doing this:

Reese reaches into the pocket of his tan cargo shorts and pulls out a latex condom. There’s a phone number scribbled on one side in black marker. He hands it to her.

He asks if she sees the phone number.

She examines the packet but ignores the question. She presses him for the money.

“I’m not really here for a date,” Reese says. “I’m here to offer you help.”

They rescue this one woman (on the night the reporter is along!), despite having been on 60 previous missions without anyone taking up their offer. She didn’t get career training; she got a one-way ticket home on a Greyhound. And lo, from this massive service to women a reality show was born, one with a 50/50 success rate according to Forman, who also told EW “Sometimes they turn and leave, but that’s the case when trying to save prostitutes.”

Leaving aside the fact that Brown is sentient diarrhea more than he’s an actual person, I’ve broken down the reasons the very concept of the show is a bad idea for two primary types of sex worker that Brown targets: people who don’t want to leave sex work and people who do. [READ MORE]

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(Screenshot of Association of Club Executives newsletter.)

Mayang Prasetyo, a trans woman sex worker, was killed by her boyfriend in Australia (trigger warning: article describes a brutal, perverse murder).  The Courier Mail used some unconscionably unfeeling headlines in relating the murder, and is being called on it.

Oregon lobbyists are working with strippers and social workers to come up with legislation that will offer protections to strippers, reinforcing their labor rights given that, in Oregon as in so many other places, strippers are illegally classified as independent contractors. Mary Emily O’Hara notes:

Though the panel won’t finalize the bill until later in the year, everyone seemed to agree on one thing: if you’re going to work as a stripper, some sort of basic education that clarifies rules around touching, employee status, and other workplace protections is desperately needed.

The Association of Club Executives was way less than thrilled by O’Hara’s article, as you can see from the screen shot above, taken from their newsletter. “Empowerment Enterprises”! That’s some beautiful cheek.

The Cambodian government is also proposing to enforce the labor rights of workers in entertainment venues, including sex workers.

A recent study of sex workers over 40 in India found their circumstances to be very distressed, often exacerbated by the Devadesi system.

Another sex worker is on reality tv: Former stripper Courtney Lapresi is on Master Chef, and the response to this from contestants and critics has been even more negative than Irish response to sex worker Kate McGrew on Connected. Naysayers theorize that Lapresi might exchange sexual favors in exchange for winning. As Esmerelda Murray reports, Lapresi herself is framing stripping as an embarrassing and regrettable decision she made while she was broke.  What’s embarrassing and regrettable is that, after making it on to a cooking show, she felt she had anything in her past to apologize for. Badly done, Master Chef.

Several cases of male violence after rejection made the news this week, only one involving a sex worker (progress?): An English sex worker was attacked on the outskirts of Manchester after attempting to keep walking and ignore a man who wanted her attention.

A days-long trafficking investigation/sting across Canada, which interviewed over 300 sex workers, resulted in 9 arrests, although police in Edmonton, for example insist that they got a very guarded feel from many of the women.  You don’t say.

[READ MORE]

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vollmanndoge“If William T. Vollmann ever wins the Nobel Prize in Literature—as many speculate he will—he knows exactly what he will do with the $1.1 million pot the Swedes attach to the award. ‘It will be fun to give some to prostitutes,’ he says, sitting on his futon, chuckling, a half-empty bottle of pretty good bourbon between us.” That’s how Alexander Nazaryan’s profile of William T. Vollman for Newsweek starts. The tagline is “He’s written about prostitutes, crack, and war zones; is it time for a Nobel Prize?” No, but enjoy your rage blackout then get back to work on your book.

Meas Ratha was just a teenager when she was kidnapped and sold into a brothel as a sex slave in Cambodia. She told her tragic story in a documentary made by Somaly Mam, an anti-trafficking activist. Mam went on to win the Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation for her activism. Many agree that Ratha’s story spearheaded Mam’s behemoth campaign against trafficking and sex slavery. Thankfully, Ratha’s story has a happy ending. Oh, just one thing:  Ratha’s story is fabricated.

Business Insider sent a reporter into a legal Nevada brothel, Sherri’s Ranch. The reporter’s “expectations were shattered” (though he never states what his expectations were) and he draws this jaw-dropping conclusion:  “Sheri’s Ranch is a compelling demonstration that legalized and well-regulated prostitution can be safe, functional, and profitable.” Gee, does anybody else smell a Pulitzer?

[READ MORE]

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RIP Lusty Lady (Photo by Thomas Crown in 2005, via flickr)

RIP Lusty Lady (Photo by Thomas Crown in 2005, via flickr)

Veteran activist Emi Koyama writes in Shakesville about how her talk at the 38th National Conference of Men and Masculinities on the problems with anti-trafficking discourse was censored and how she and other women of color were subsequently harassed by a group of so-called “feminist men”, members of a group called the National Organization of Men Against Sexism, who co-sponsored the event.

Writing in In These Times, Melissa Gira Grant relates how the Philadelphia police’s transphobia contributed to the brutal murder of trans sex worker Diamond Phillips, and how Phillips was further violated after her death by the media’s misgendering.

San Francisco’s unionized and worker-owned peep show, the Lusty Lady, will be forced to close in less than two weeks, signalling the end of an important era in sex worker history. Does anyone “have a miracle up their butt” to save the place? The New Yorker gives us the real estate details behind this sad development.

Cameryn Moore tells everyone to “Shut Up About How I Should Talk About My Sex Work” in Thought Catalog.

It’s about time for Meghan Murphy to shut up about sex work, too. Porn is universally horrible, no matter what the lived experience of porn performers proves, but despite the carceral feminist lobby for laws that imprison millions of sex workers, there’s no feminist war against us? Oh, and rabble.ca can stop providing her with a venue for her vileness any time now.

On the other hand, rabble.ca did post a great summation by Joyce Arthur of the fifth national sex workers’ rights conference Desiree Alliance held in July in Las Vegas.

Malawi human rights organizations oppose a government decision to force suspected sex workers, pregnant women, and other groups to undergo forced HIV testing.

The Sunday Times, The  Guardian and the Daily Mail, aptly and none too affectionately nicknamed the Daily Fail by many, all want to know if your manicurist is a sex slave. Hurray for the promotion of more trafficking hysteria and all, but what we’d really like to see is a sober and substantive inquiry into the rights of migrant Vietnamese sex workers and other laborers. Forbes writer Tim Worstall comes to the rescue, taking issue with the Guardian’s blown up trafficking stats. (Now, if only he’d stop using words like “tarts.”) Indeed, the Guardian, after being questioned by its own Reality Check blog, sheepishly included a postscript to the article amending some of their claims.

[READ MORE]

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