5 Things The State Of California Can Do For Sex Workers That Aren’t AB1576

The state of CA claims to be acting for the safety and protection of adult performers with proposed legislation AB1576. CA policy has created dangerous gaps that have put people face to face with health and safety challenges. Here are things that California could do right now to protect its citizens that show the purported motivation behind AB1576 is in question.

5. Put in safeguards that protect the privacy of porn performer privacy

In practice, it is pretty much illegal for porn performers to have reasonable protections for their privacy. Unless most citizens who are not required to register two forms of government identification into unprotected databases. Privacy is a very big concern for all people right now and it is important that legislation to protect the safety of children also have reasonable protection for adults, too.

4. Stop slashing state funds to HIV/AIDS programs.

Budget cuts have been severe and everyone has taken a hit but so many community based organizations that were making strides in HIV prevention have been shuttered due to cuts. These programs did vital outreach to the most marginal of citizens who now have no means of support. $85 Million was cut in 2009. So many agencies serving the most at risk and in the least contact with health care workers are now without resources. At the very least, porn performers are in frequent contact with healthcare workers. Many people are entirely disconnected from any healthcare contacts.

3. Stop the persecution of harm reduction efforts

In many parts of the state, syringe exchange has been targeted for harassment by law enforcement. We know that harm reduction models like these decrease transmission of HIV and Hep C. We know that these programs save lives regularly by teaching overdose prevention thereby reducing dependency on emergency services. What has the state done to prevent harm reduction workers from facing jail time?

2. Ensure equal protection under the law

Sex workers live under a different set of rules. Porn performers, dancers, and street based providers all face a criminal justice that does not put in efforts to find their killers, solve their rapes, or even convict assailants who confess to their crimes and are definitely guilty all based solely on the nature of their occupation. If the state of California is working for the health and safety of adult performers, it should be articulated that crimes against them be pursued by state agents. If criminal complaints by adult performers are routinely dismissed, how then have performers been given an opportunity to challenge workplace violations that they’ve faced?

1. Impose a state wide moratorium for the use of condoms as evidence in criminal cases

If condoms are mandatory for porn performers and condoms can be used as evidence of prostitution, is the state of California thereby putting porn performers at risk for arrest? The state of CA just recently passed on another opportunity to ban the use of condoms as evidence and yet they are simultaneously pushing to mandate the use of condoms by porn performers. The state of California needs to review its process. People push to maintain the use of condoms as evidence as a way to convict traffickers. Opponents point out that then traffickers will force their victims to work without such “evidence” thereby putting the worker at risk. California does not have a good track record with interventions on behalf of sex workers that have been demonstrated to have positive net outcomes. This paradox of policy is a perfect depiction of the ways that the state goes out of its way to ignore the needs of sex workers.

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Sex Workers’ Opera

There are SO many Kickstarter campaigns and as a rule, I don’t usually promote them. In fact I tend to avoid doing reviews of toys, books, or websites or promotion for crowdfunding. (Also, I’m pretty darn bad at promoting my own projects!) I try to keep my blogs pretty free of marketing and publicity because I am far too disorganized and weird to do it in any kind of fair and organized manner.

I am promoting the Sex Workers’ Opera on Kickstarter for a few reasons, least of which is the fact that projects by and for sex workers don’t get much funding at all. You’re lucky if a platform will even allow your project to be posted and a lot of people don’t really care to support sex worker led endeavors. I really do want to see more and more sex worker art and performance that people can see. Sex work is a topic of a lot of heated debate and sex workers deserve to have a voice in it.

The Sex Workers’ Opera folks have been working hard. They sent me an email and I wanted to pass along what they’ve been up to. It would be awesome if you sent a donation their way. It can be small and it can be anonymous. Without further ado, here is their awesome promo. Back them, buy a ticket, or sport a T-Shirt. Let’s get this party started!

If you haven’t got the time to keep reading, key info can be found here:
And you can follow us on social networks to build our presence here:
And all the background and development of the project is found here:

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XBiz Awards & Upcoming Conferences

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Remember when I shot that incredible porn with Pink and White Productions called “Occupied” about a protestor from the Occupy movement who has a romantic interlude with a cop? Well, it won 2014 Feminist Release Of The Year from the XBiz Awards! What a way to start the year! As my usual pedantic self, I rambled on about why I love Crash Pad and why this win is important within the context of porn production over at their website. You can tell it was in post-production for awhile just from the length of my hair which is now mucchhh longer. It was obviously worth the wait!

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This film was an incredible shoot, one of my all time best performances, and a marker of incredible growth for me. I got take on some material that was close to my heart and play a character who was close to me and far, far, far from the image of a glamorous porn star. It was fantastic! When I was making this film, I was excited to do something hardcore that played off the tensions I was seeing and experiencing in Oakland. I wasn’t thinking about feminism so much as I was thinking very broadly about power and my relationship to it. It was great to take on a project where women occupying the traditionally masculine roles of protestor and cop weren’t treated as the punchline or end game. In your standard ‘lesbian’ fare, we wouldn’t be costumed anywhere near authentically. Usually those scenes are about ‘how cute she looks when she’s pretending to be in a position of that much power” which has its own appeal, trust, but gets old when that’s all you’re ever allowed to perform or see. There’s a lot of rich material to play from, we don’t have to get trapped in the same angle.

All my love to the Pink&White crew for always putting together a welcoming set, mad technical skills, a hot vibe, and great working conditions. I also want to encourage you to check out what Pink and White is up to because they’re going to keep getting bigger and better. They’re making waves in the world. I also want to say that I’m honored to have been in this category with other great directors and producers who are also doing cool things in porn. XOXOXO!

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Shibari Dojo Vienna

Shibari Dojo Vienna

 

I’ve also been accepted as a speaker for the 2014 Feminist Porn Conference in Toronto, April 5-6. I’ll be talking about the advent of moving picture pornography. We think of feminist-indie-queer porn as being an alternative to mainstream porn, but how did those norms become established and just how alternative is alternative porn anyway? This year I didn’t submit any projects for the awards because 2013 was the year I felt properly christened into my name “Mayhem.” I’m happy to come in and be the nerd I am and share some of the smut from great-grandma and grandpa’s attic.

You can also come see me at Theorizing The Web 2014 in Brooklyn, April 25-26. This conference is pay-what-you-can so please come out to see some fantastic presentations out in Brooklyn. I’m really happy to be on the lineup because this conference went out of its way to solicit presentations from sex workers and is being accessible in every way it can. It’s going to be hosted in a Brooklyn warehouse and I am always SO THRILLED when I get to speak in non-conventional environments.

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I’m interested in other speaking opportunities so please let me know if I should send an abstract to YOUR favorite conference. Let people know you want to see MAYHEM on the stage. I love challenging topics and I want to come to your local anarchist info shop, sex toy boutique, avante garde porn screening, death salon, sci fi panel, or dungeon discussion. If you get enough people together in your living room and feed me vegan eats, I’ll even come talk in your living room. True fact.

Shibari Dojo Vienna

Shibari Dojo Vienna

 

 

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Farewell, 2013

2013 was the name of the truck that hit and dragged me down a road. We’re not going to dwell on the downsides. We’re going to focus on the good parts because it’s New Year’s Eve and regardless of what we tweet or experience or capture on our iPhones, time moves forward. This too shall pass, whatever it is.

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Radical Sex Communities As Cult Institutions

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When it comes to sex and sexuality, the word ‘community’ is very popular. For example, I considered myself a part of the BDSM community for a very long time because it provided a place, structure, and group of people with whom I could seek revelatory experiences with sex. Over time I’ve come to question the word ‘community’ and how it’s used. It’s often disputed in an all or nothing way which I think fails to capture the situation. Human behavior is not black and white. It never has been, it never will be. There are a confluence of factors that go into the way that people lead their lives and it is not my place to say that someone will or will not experience a sense of community, nor can I speak to the impetus that brought them there. Some people will come and go, others will come and go and come back again.

I’ve been doing an extensive study of religion lately and a lot of it has been very illuminating for the structure of sex communities. Sex is a state of altered consciousness and as such, it has a lot in common with religious communities. Emile Durkheim, for instance, speaks of religion as a “manifestation of social solidarity and collective beliefs.” In their estimation, members of a society create sacred objects, rituals, beliefs, and special symbols to integrate their culture. Even this can be too simple because there is so much diversity in cognitive and phenomenal displayed in any given religious experience.

Some define religion as something that necessitates communion with the supernatural, others do not. The reliance of symbol and rite as a means to organize abstract concepts in terms of concrete symbols to make speculation possible is a key component but may not always be seen. Again, the diversity of religion and its expression makes a definition hard to pin down. There are the ideas and beliefs we hold deep in our hearts and there are our ways of relating them to others around us. As I continued reading, I realized that in many ways the BDSM subculture is very much a ‘religious institution’ by the more broad definitions that highlight their social and cultural implications. This is no surprise: sexuality and sexual rites have been parts of religion since ancient ages. I think also of how common it is to hear someone describe good sex as, “seeing God” whether or not they were believers in an extra-corporeal entity.

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Sex Work & Serenity

Right off the bat, I’m going to say that I am not a member of the Joss Whedon fan club.

“But he’s soooooo feminist and has complex female characters and he totally wrote a really positive sex worker character! Come on, you have to love Firefly.”

Well, no, actually, I don’t. You know what I would love? Diversity in the production and leadership of the entertainment industry. It’s well and good that Joss Whedon has a hard on for sexy looking ladies who can enact violence but you’re not a feminist just because you wrote a female character who can handle a sword. The Whedon canon is problematic on many levels but Whedon himself gets lots and lots of cookies for being a good liberal. When it comes to Firefly, you can’t ignore the omnipresent racism. I don’t hate Joss Whedon but I’m really not a fan of his work. He may have good intentions but they amount to sophomoric manifestations.

I’m not saying this as though I’ve got it all down myself. As I look back on my own body of work, I’m horrified by the ways that white supremacy has informed it. It’s embarrassing to look back on things I’ve written or said and I have very much needed some of the stern kicks to the ass I’ve gotten on my path to becoming a better writer, activist, and person.

No, I don’t care for Buffy. I’m sorry if I have disappointed my readership. I don’t really care for Firefly either but I did watch the entire (short) series. I am both a sex worker and something of a nerd and as such I get a lot of people who make the assumption that I genuinely must love (or, perhaps, be grateful for) the cult television show Firefly because it has an esteemed character whose profession is sex work. In many ways, the character Inara Serra has helped people re-conceive some of their notions of sex work and I do have friends and colleagues who enjoy the show and have a lot of good things to say about it.

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All About Latex Allergies

The other day I was at the dentist when I started to notice that my lips were beginning to itch and my nostrils were burning. I took a deep breath and the smell of rubber was unmistakeable. I raised my hand to get my doctor’s attention and asked, “Are those gloves latex?” He paused briefly and looked at the chart remarking, “Oh, you did check the latex allergy box.”

I was more than a little annoyed and my clinic professional voice came out, “It really is fundamental that you consult a patient’s chart before beginning any procedure.” He issued a rather disturbing response:

“Well, most people aren’t *that* allergic.”

That was the wrong thing for any medical professional to say. But why is that?

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No more gas masks for me! An early modeling shot from 2008, photo by Sleek Images

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