Tuesday, November 17, 2015
MARKETING IN TODAY'S INTERNET WORLD
The group COYOTE (Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics) was founded by Margo St. James in 1973. https://bitchmedia.org/article/forty-years-in-the-hustle-sex-work-margo-st-james-interview-activism-coyote I was 13 years old at the time. Unlike what some younger women seem to say today about "not wanting to be a hooker when they grow up" I did.
I grew up watching Mae West slink around telling Cary Grant to "come up and see me sometime". I watched Xavier Hollender hit the NY Best Seller list in the 1970's with the "Happy Hooker" which became a movie, and she became a celebrity in her own right. No small feat considering one story was about her and a German Shephard. http://www.amazon.com/The-Happy-Hooker-Xaviera-Hollander/dp/1568492472
Take look at Dolly Pardon playing a madam in the "Best Little Whorehouse in Texas". https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whIlbxheKu0 Take a look at these beautiful sexy women who had money, power, fame, beautiful homes, lovely things, and most of all FREEDOM. Contrast that with the images of women I was seeing in my home of women being tied down to husbands either because of financial necessity or to be a "father to the children". At one point my mother was making more money than my father - but it wasn't considered "respectable" to be a single mom back even in the 1970's.
I'm being abused and dominated by my father so the idea of this kind of financial freedom, as well as freedom from a man, and even freedom to have as much sex as I wanted without being tied to a relationship - all were "selling" this to me.
Mind you back in the 1970's when I was a teenager - there was no internet. There was also censorship heavy at play then. Meaning it was really ground breaking with the XXX film "Deep Throat" actually played in a mainstream theater. It didn't have to pretend to be "art" like the Swedish films were doing back then. Now slip in a pretty girl in daisy dukes inbetween country singers like they would do with the show "Hee Haw". Nor glam it up like Hugh Hefner did with his Playboy mansion, and his Gold Key nightclubs.
This is a BUSINESS. One the pharmaceutical companies have a stake in. There is no coincidence that hookers were being made out to be "happy" at the same time the birth control pill was invented, and then even more once it's marketing wasn't restricted to only married women. Which that was related to press also. Because at first, the birth control pill could only be marketed to married women. Now how do you change that? You convince the people at the FDA that it's "ridiculous" to continue this restriction through what? The general press.
Because you can't have it both ways. The people running the strip clubs, and the legal brothels in Nevada, and the porn companies, and the lingerie companies, and the adult toy manufacturers, and even the bunnys at Playboy and the beavers at Hustler are running a BUSINESS. You take money out of the equation and then you show me they continue to do these things and then I'll call it "what two consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedroom".
The minute you charge - is the minute it becomes a business. Now do this business run on truth? Tell me does big tobacco market with the truth? They lie through their teeth or am I the only one who remembers when they lied at Congress, or when they bought fake medical studies that claimed they weren't "addictive" and didn't cause cancer and a whole lot of other bogus claims they made until people who opposed them took the time to track down those studies, and then expose them for what they were. Which we still didn't really know the truth about tobacco until we had an "insider" come forward.
Now what happened to this "insider"? There was a movie made with Al Pacino and Russell Crowe about what that poor man went through -but death threats were the least of it. Another point besides being fired from the tobacco company he worked for - but he sure as hell wasn't going to get another job in the tobacco field that's for sure. Why? Because he betrayed them when he told the truth.
I'm old enough to remember all of this first hand. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0140352/ I remembered when 60 Minutes was going through the whole "will we air?" or "won't we air?". The real man who had once worked for Brown & Williamson whose crime was to try and bring us the truth - was to find himself threatened, smeared and he even faced threats of incarceration. http://www.jeffreywigand.com/theinsider.php
Before he stepped up, I remember people used to joke around about cigarettes being addictive, and causing cancer, but there was also the people who would hold to the "official" research. What tipped the scale however was when the tobacco companies were lying about the strength of the nicotine in the cigarettes. It's one thing to lie about the effects. It's another when you're lying about the actual contents. Now how did the tobacco companies hold such power the truth almost didn't make it out on major media?
The tobacco companies bought a lot of advertising in those days. If you went to any NASCAR events - you saw either an ad for booze or cigarettes. Because I remember in the 60's and 70's - just about any major advertising ran on the ad dollars of the booze and tobacco companies. Now if a station wanted to lose over 1/2 of it's ad dollars - then it would run the stories about the truth. So the only way they were going to risk losing those advertisers was if it truly had something dangerous in the product - which is what Jeffrey Wigand's testimony did. Now this man was a well respected scientist at the time. He was also a well respected teacher - one of the top 51 teachers in the whole country when he stepped up. http://www.jeffreywigand.com/bio.php The lawsuit he was the focal point of, and helped win, for 246 BILLION DOLLARS which is now being used to help educate the public about the true health risks of tobacco products.
Now I ask you - with as big as tobacco was/is back then - do you honestly think that the "business of sex" is really any different? Business is business. Many of the tactics and practices for one work the same for any other. If you can sell a car, then you can sell a house, or you can sell $10 beers served by a topless waitress, or you can sell photos of a naked woman for top dollar, or even time alone with the woman herself.
Now do you sell cigarettes by telling people the truth? Hell no. Now when you go into a strip bar does the stripper tell you that you look like Woody Allen and she finds you as sexy as him? Or does she smile and invite you to "buy a girl a drink?" Does that woman tell you while you're banging her that she's wondering if she put the stock pot button on or she thinks your breath smells like beer, cigarettes and cheese balls? Hell no. Because the sex industry is based on the provider convincing you that you're just the hottest thing in the universe. Look if sex work was about just providing an orgasm -anyone can do that for themselves. They don't need to buy your product nor even your service to do this.
Look everyone knows now that rape isn't about sex - it's about power. Well sex work isn't about prostitution. It's about the customer thinking you "like" them. Does the customer in the strip bar spend all of his money on the hottest girl there - or does he spend it on the one who acts like she likes him the most? Think about it - if the hottest girl in the club turns up her nose at some loser if he going to tip her? Hell no. He's going to tip the girl who is talking to him, flirting with him, and that he thinks genuinely likes him. That same goes for the women - the principle is the same. The "Happiness Place" is where the men have female "regulars". http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0493420/
Now imagine we're back in the late 1970's and early 1980's. Prostitution is illegal. So can you go out advertising you're a prostitute for customers? Nope. There were/are many ways to do this "on the down lo". You can open a massage parlor for one. You might even sell sex. I know one massage parlor owner who says he only makes the customer think he's getting laid until he's paid his "membership fee" which is non-refundable. He then pops on them that "sex is illegal" and uses the threat of calling the cops to get rid of a now very angry customer who isn't getting laid. Now I don't know if I'd call him being in the sex industry as much as a con artist - but then again most are con artists also so the line blurs a lot.
There are strip clubs that charge $150 to go into the "Champagne Room" where the men think they're going to be able to have sex with the dancer. Then again there's dancers that I've seen will perform oral sex on a customer right on the stage if the tips are right. Again every provider and establishment is different. But not knowing what one is getting is some of the reasoning behind the sites that appeared to offer reviews like when a "hobbyist" set up the "Erotic Review" to rate hookers. This was so that a customer could sort out who was offering what in reality. It was hard to tell because a working girl couldn't just admit "yeah I'll screw you for $50" because if you were a cop then she'd get arrested. Some were more open - like the sex clubs in Vegas and also in Los Angeles. You'd pay a "membership fee" at the door to join this private club and then be told you would get "sex for free" on the inside by the other patrons.
Where even that could be fake. I was offered money by a sex club owner in N. Hollywood to pay me a certain amount of money to come in and basically make sure everyone within physical range got laid somehow. Your job was the club owner would pay you by the hour and then you went in acting like a raging nympho who enjoyed screwing everything that moved. Then the men would go home thinking there were "real" women who acting in such a manner. Most of it was all marketing.
Like even when Linda Lovelace spoke about how Chuck Traynor, her pimp slash husband marketed her. This was again pre-1980 so there was no internet and everything had to be on the "down lo". So she talks about how she'd be instructed to go into a bar, dance around like a stripper all over the bar, and then just start screwing 1/2 of the bar without asking for money. Her "role" or "persona" was that of a nympho who just "loved sex". That made what? The men want to see her movies. Back then you had to either rent the movies, pay a very high admission at adult theaters, or buy a copy. Porn used to be expensive. The harder it was to get or the more banned or in demand something was - the more it cost. I remember trying to get videos of females doing the bondage to men back then and it had to be special ordered from Germany at $180 a tape. Something had to make you really want to see that film.
Which is why at first when Linda first started claiming she was forced to film "Deep Throat" a lot of people thought it was just marketing - a way to get you to watch the film to see if you thought she was forced or not. One thing was clear though - when she told her story about the truth behind her being forced to be in those adult films, and forced to turn those tricks and act that way in bars - she was treated just like Jeffrey Wigand was treated.
Back then domestic violence, child abuse, rape, spousal abuse, all of that sort of thing was viewed as something you "addressed in the hole" and "not in public". The sex industry itself was one that made it's "bread and butter" on discretion. Prior to Heidi Fleiss - a madam never revealed names in her "Black Book". The mafia kept things within the "family" with their code of silence as to did the sex industry. Prior to Joseph Valachi in the 1970's - many people didn't even believe the mafia existed. So again you can imagine how the sex industry closed ranks on Linda when she started revealing the truth to the public about being forced to do what she did. She bravely said on many interviews "if you look at the bathtub scene where I'm killing myself - you'll see bruises on my legs from where he had been kicking me with his boots". Which I did go and look and yes there were bruises clearly visible on her legs in that scene.
There are people to this day who say she wasn't forced and she was just "jealous" of Marilyn Chambers, his next "client" who he also made as famous as Linda, if not more. They say she was just "trying to sell a book" of her memoir "Ordeal" and maybe she was. The only people who really know are her and him and they're both dead now.
But I do know this - I know how the sex industry markets itself. I remembered joining COYOTE in the late 1970's when I entered the sex industry. I drank the koolaid at first and I remember going to the events, organizing marches, putting together luncheons for the Rotary Clubs, and the NOW chapters, and all that stuff that was done to try and push for sex work to be treated like any other type of work. If a woman went missing for example I don't think it mattered if that woman was a wife and mother or a prostitute - both were women and they deserved the police's full attention on finding and protecting her.
I also knew this - when I got arrested in 1984 the so called "brothel" in that warehouse was the first "safe house" for adults in this country. I know I was still in the sex industry myself when I got tired of there not being anywhere for those types of victims to go for help. I had tried putting a woman up escaping a pimp at my home. I wound up with a shoot out between the pimp and a man I was using for security. So I had to stop using my own house because it simply brought down too much "heat" on me. I had tried using a separate apartment for them - but then I found myself having a pimp come up behind me at my home and he put a gun in my ribs. He demanded to know where his victim was. So wanting to keep anyone from being shot where children could be around - I decided to put the safe house in an industrial district.
When this one woman called me, Cheryl I think her name was, she told me the pimp had broken her nose and arm when she told him she wanted to quit. I picked her up from his house in Lancaster while he was on a run and put her up in the warehouse. She needed to rest and heal because her nose being broken - she also had a popped blood vessel in her eye and a lot of bruising. So when I left her there - it was with the TV on and a lot of chicken soup in the fridge. We had a doctor and a therapist who looked in on her I'd hired. When the pimp found out where the warehouse was by asking other women we'd put up there and he realized couldn't get inside nor make her come out - he then called the police and reported that I was running a brothel.
When the cops knocked on the door of the warehouse at midnight - she was in her nightgown. Thinking how cops think - they charged at first she answered the door to "do business". It was not easy trying to explain to the cops why she was there because again the general society view then was no such thing existed. While my attorney was hashing this out with the cops and the prosecutor - one thing was clear. That was that I couldn't continue to work within the sex industry while helping women to escape trafficking anymore than Wigand could have kept working within the tobacco industry after his case came out in the media. Word was spreading within the streets too that this was where I'd been stashing women we'd helped to leave there pimp. Calls started coming in before I even got the case dismissed from women asking me for help.
One thing was clear - I was getting a lot of press as the "High Tech Madam". Press that was up to me how I was going to use it. I could have gone the way Alex had just gone - promoting herself off as the "Beverly Hills Madam". I watched as she made a movie glamorizing her service, working the sex industry angle for all it was worth. Because prior to her arrest and her press about the arrest - a woman was charging about $350 an hour working for her. After the press came out - she was able to charge $1000 an hour for any girl that worked for her by clients who wanted the "cache" of saying they had used her services and had "the best be. She picked up $50,000 for the rights to her story. http://articles.latimes.com/1995-07-11/local/me-22546_1_beverly-hills-madam
Sydney Biddle Barrows had done her one better - she came out with a whole line of adult products she was able to market on her book tour where she went around the country teaching housewives how to "please their husbands like a top of the line call girl". http://observer.com/2013/02/the-mayflower-marketer-sydney-biddle-barrows-is-up-to-new-tricks/ So Sydney found a way to translate her skills into doing "marketing consulting".
After Heidi Fleiss' arrest - she went into making a clothing line that featured condom pockets. http://articles.latimes.com/1994-07-21/local/me-18222_1_madam-heidi-fleiss Cute idea - but after a while people got bored with the $100 pair of boxer shorts with the tiny condom pocket. From there she went on to raise money for an all male brothel she couldn't open because of being a felon, and the last news that came out revealed she had 100's of pot plants growing out in Pahrump to support her something like 200 parrots she now owned.
My point being that after all the press we each were getting for our arrests - we each had to then make a decision as to who we were going to go down in history from there.
I too had to figure out what I was going to do. I was also getting book and movie offers right and left because the typical pattern for the "single white female madam" that seemed to hit the news once a year back then was to come out with the book and movie promoting us - and then we'd move on to some bright idea we had. Either that or we'd go back to madaming and wind up re-arrested like even our male counter-part such as Jazon Itzler had happen to him. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/14/nyregion/jason-itzler-self-described-king-pimp-drops-names-in-court.html?_r=0
The big difference between myself and the others I think was the press had even more people calling me for help at a time in the world when I knew no one would believe them, let alone care, let alone help. I knew what it was like to be in the middle of something that not only no one believed was "real" but even if you tried to reach out for help you were risking being arrested as a criminal or locked up as a looney tune. The pimp's intention was clear - he wanted us arrested and shut down. He'd found out where the warehouse was by asking around and learning we had helped others escape through there as the stop where victims would lay up and heal while we made arrangements to send them home, or whatever else they wanted to do in order to transition out of the sex industry.
I didn't have any ideological conflicts about this. I felt that if you were in the business by free choice you should be able to leave by free choice. How can one say they're there by choice if you had no other options? No - I felt if you were there you should be there by choice. Not by anyone forcing a gun down your throat, nor threatening to kill anyone in your family. It made no sense to me to help them leave a pimp if I was going to force them to go back to sex work. I would ask them "what do you want to do now?" and then we'd do it.
I remember in Cheryl's case she wanted to become a vet. But there was a point where she didn't know who she was going to turn on. The DA would have been just as happy arresting me for supposedly pimping her as he was with going after the pimp for drug charges. Because that's what they offered her - she needed to testify against someone. The DA would have taken her pointing a finger at me and claiming I had been pimping her. The pimp was threatening to kill her if she testified against him - but I wasn't. Actually she would have been safer lying and claiming falsely I had been pimping her. She told me later she didn't think it would be fair after I had saved her to then throw me under the bus that way - so she went ahead and told them the truth about the pimp and got him locked up.
But that brief period where I was worried she was going to claim I had pimped her because she was scared of the pimp made me realize I never ever ever wanted to run a residential program like that again. It's one reason why I opted instead for the hotline, and 12 step meetings that were "outpatient".
As the press was roaring around me and my mother for weeks after the arrest though - I did have to think long an hard what I needed to do. Andy Warhol speaks about us each having our "15 minutes of fame". This was mine and mine to decide how I was going to be remembered as. Trust me, the lure of taking the $50,000 for the movie rights and the $50,000 for the book rights, and to go down as another "happy madam" was sure tempting - but it wouldn't be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. It would have been "marketing" for the sex industry. The film industry couldn't show "happy endings" with our stories - it's one of the reasons why the film with Helen Mirren and Joe Pesco about Joe Conforte's Mustang Ranch had a very dark ending that had nothing to do with the reality of what happened.
I had asked the producers if they would show the "whole truth and nothing but the truth" in my story. They all said "it's too dark" and "too depressing" and "no one wants to see that stuff". Which I find ironic now when I see how many tickets sold to films like "Taken" and "Eden". Two films which supposedly were the truth- but went the way of "Reefer Madness". No one believed "Reefer Madness" was real enough to quit smoking pot because it's just too extreme the other way.
We made the Trafficking Act of 2000 pass because for 13 years from 1987 until 2000 - we went on TV telling our stories. Pure and simple. We didn't speak for anyone else - just told our stories. One can't argue that one didn't live one's live. That's how we got the NV legislature to vote against the brothel's expansion in 2013 - we had a woman who had been working within the legal brothels get up and simply tell her story. No embellishments. Just as Bill Wilson told his story to Dr. Bob.
There is power in the truth.
Sure I was tempted to keep working in the sex industry after my arrest. Margo St. James, founder of COYOTE brought this up to me at lunch one day prior to opening our program. I had about a year clean so I think it was 1986. I was formulating what I was going to do with respect to the launch of our program in 1987. I was working a day job and then having to answer our hotline when I got home from work. She had pointed out the obvious - that I could instead turn a couple of days and then be home to answer the phone full-time. I felt like that would be like advertising a hotline for alcoholics to call to an addict answering the phone.
When Margo asked me why I was knocking myself out working a "square" job while also wanting to do this - she assured me that there was a way to keep working without being arrested. This is when she told me of how she got her "regulars" using COYOTE. How easy it was to go and speak at some business function she'd never be invited to speak at otherwise, and then after getting to know someone, check them out, she could then see them when she felt comfortable. She told me a few of the other members of COYOTE also worked this way and then shared "regulars" with each other to avoid arrest.
Look - I speak to people within the sex industry every day. I know the latest "trends" and how the market is going. I spoke to one man who publishes a fetish magazine just a few weeks ago. He's told me that basically porn online is now all free and to get anyone to buy content anymore isn't like the old days. In the old days - you'd pay more for something that was "banned" in the USA. You also would pay more to get fetish films that there wasn't a lot of demand for. While Debby does Dallas you could get cheap - when it comes to fetish stuff you'd hve to pay more. Anyway, this publisher told me that the only thing people are willing to pay any decent amount of money for these days is the "weirder" the better.
He told me "gone are the days where the taboo" sold. The days of it being unusual to have MILF's, and granny porn and fat porn and even bestiality. He told me that whole "families are doing it these days" where everyone from grandma and the even the family dog are being photographed - and yet still aren't making enough money to pay the rent. Not when he told me that a model being "gonzo'd" by five different guys is only paying the model $50 a shot (no pun intended here).
This publisher took one look at Belle and went "eh". She's a pretty girl - but pretty girls are literally a "dime a dozen" within the porn world right now. A world where you can find photos of a real Swedish school teacher whipping one of her students in two seconds on the internet - for free.
This is a very competitive world right now in porn. The drive to "niche" marketing is so strong that I know of one porn model who now markets herself as "Christian" porn. http://monicaf.com/site/ So he remarked the only way this girl would make a living right now at porn would be what she's doing. In fact, many in marketing of all sorts realize that one has to put a "face" on their marketing. If you watch even one episode of "Catfish" you'll know that many con artists are using totally fake profiles.
One of the largest porn/webcam companies in the world is IMLIVE. They have a marketing campaign where they hire American's on this end of the pond speaking to American customers thiking they're talking to American's. So a guy will get an IM from what appears to be a pretty girl. As he starts talking to her, she entices him into her webcam room for a "private show". Only the person on the other end is a 30 year old guy sitting in a marketing room in Las Vegas. The actual model is a woman who was being kept in a house in Russia who doesn't speak English. The mike is kept off on her camera and the "marketer" speaks for her while the customer doesn't know the difference.
Would it sell any other way? Nope.
Marketing companies in every genre are learning they have to create "personal connection". Belle is out there promoting her views on college campuses, and on major media shows, and now even "Liberty Fests" where she's putting herself out there now as an advocate for "libertarian" views.
When I first heard Belle had become depressed because of bullying and shaming she was receiving once the other students found out about her doing porn - I reached out to her as I do everyone I hear about. I was worried about what she was going to do once she got this degree. Especially since many of the companies I'm speaking to right now would hire someone from porn who has become a "known" face in porn. When Christy Mack had announced she wasn't leaving porn - I asked myself "what else can she do?" I mean who would hire them?
I went to 10 large corporations who set aside scholarships for trafficking victims and asked if they would hire someone like Christy Mack or Belle Knox with a "known" face and they said "no" in a roundabout way but it was still a no. I also remembered the way the people within the sex industry turned on Linda when she quit, they turned on me when I quit, and the way I saw the adult industry turn on "Jenna Jameson" when she announced she was quitting at the AVN. I saw the audience literally "boo" her announcement about retiring.
Worried that the porn industry might pull the social shunning on her once she graduated - I reached out to Belle. Only to then see her get threatened for the horrible crime of "friending" me. Did she stand her ground? I saw her tell a few people that I was "very nice" to her and she did defend the position for a short time. Then I found myself removed. I don't blame her - I was clearly "bad for business" on her social media. Sure enough, shortly after my name was removed from her social media I saw her making public appearances with the very people who had bullied her into taking my name down off her social media.
I will say this - no one told me who I could talk to and who I couldn't. To be otherwise is still being bullied. True "liberty" is when you can be friends with, or talk to, anyone and respect differing opinions. I have Jewish friends as well as Christian friends. I then saw an article about her new career as a "libertarian activist" on a website that actually blocked my IP address from commenting on the article.
When something is blocking out any other voice or opinion or fact or information other than the message being crafted by the speaker, it becomes "marketing" or outright "propaganda". To me if a woman is "speaking her mind" but then she's also being blocked from hearing all sides of a subject - she's still being controlled, manipulated and bullied. Can I blame Belle?
Again, what else can she do if she walks out on this industry? The writer of this article spoke about Nina Hartley and Maggie McNeil. Two women who also have been unable to break away from the sex industry on a long term basis. I have watched both Nina and Maggie announce their "retirement" from sex work - but I have not seen them really break. I can't go into any personal conversations I've had either either, or neither, of those two women but I can say this - you won't find one scathing full-on expose about the sex industry by either of these women.
When Linda told the WHOLE story about how not only her pimp forced her to make Deep Throat but also how others on the set did nothing to step up to help her or intervene in any way she spoke about how hurt she was that NO ONE on that set stepped up to help her. How everyone contributed to her captivity by not saying one word to stop the filming. That's when Linda was done - she told the WHOLE truth about the industry.
When Mr. Wigand told the truth about the nicotine industry - his career working with other tobacco companies was also over. He also set about helping others to quit smoking once he was "done". Addicts don't keep phone numbers of their dealers in their phone books. In fact, when they're really "done" they either tear up their phone book or certainly dump the phone number for their dealers out of their contact list. Maggie had said she had quit being an escort in her blog but her blog still spoke about the industry https://maggiemcneill.wordpress.com/author/maggiemcneill/
When addicts would come into an NA meeting I used to belong to as a home group in Allentown, PA, one of the first things we'd do was a "clean up" session. This meant all jewelry related to drugs had to go. T-shirts with green leafs on them had to go. Blacklights and glow in the dark posters had to go. I remember we used to show up at the addict's house with a big trash can. In the trash can we'd put albums' clothing, jewelry, etc. Everything that one wore to communicate with another huma being "I use drugs" was released. Clothing was changed, hair styles were changed, make-up was changed even. Alcoholics are told to "stay out of bars". For a social outlet, Alano clubs were created where one can go grab coffee and shoot the breeze there for a few hours instea of at th car.
In Sex Workers Anonymous, we do the same. Just last month i had an argument with a new member. I told her we had to clean out her wardrobe of any clothing she used to hook in. She insisted that because she had "$1,000's of dollars invested in designer clothing" there was no way she was going to trash or donate her clothing. I had told her to donate the clothing. Not just the clothing that was sexually advertising she was a prostitute - but that she had worn on dates. The body remembers everything - including clothing you wear. I had even read a study with these bunnies where they gave the bunnies a mixture of sugar water before exposing them to a traumatic event - and that once their body associated trauma with the sugar water - they could then give the rabbit the sugar water and their bodies would literally go into the traumatic response. That's how sensitive our bodies are to cues like this. So I told her "fine - sell the clothing then". She wouldn't sell it either.
Am I surprised to hear she went back to escorting month later? It's not as easy as one might think - especially when people within the sex industry deliver the message to you that if you quit not only are they going to shun and abandon you - but they are going to go after you with a vengeance like they do with attacking me.
Margo was different. She saw that I was a valuable asset to a sex worker. She saw I could go places that as a sex worker rights advocate women like her couldn't go. For example, we were able to set up the first alternative to sentencing program in Los Angeles that allowed the court to deliver the prostitutes into our program rather than jail. She saw how 400 transgender prostitutes were being forced to sleep on the cafeteria floor because the mens' jail just didn't know where to put them. Margo saw the jail allowed me to come in and get them off blankets on the floor of the cafeteria where they were also being denied their basic medication needs - and instead into a residential house we had donated where all their medical needs were met - including monitoring so their hormones didn't get all out of whack and into an environment where they were treated with basic dignity and respect. There was no way they would have let in a sex workers' rights group to do the same work.
By not having a "vested interest" in going back to the sex industry, but having just come from that world - we were able to set up kick ass outreach programs that got vitally needed information into a very isolated community. One that was trying to protect itself from pimps and arrest mutually but that sometimes shut out important information in the process. For example, when we found out marijuana was increasing the rate upon which HIV was spreading to three times faster, and we learned that someone exposed to HIV was three times more likely to contract the virus if one had previously had Ebstein Barr or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - these were all studies we were able to get done through a cooperative relationship with active sex workers in a way those otherwise out of the industry couldn't have achieved.
Much like how Marty Mann was able to found the National Council on Alcoholism once she got sober. Allowing her to get all kinds of research done designed to help an alcoholic which couldn't have been achieved before. Especially the way people used to hide having an alcoholic as a "family secret".
I don't know if Nina or Maggie might have increased the odds of them staying out of the sex industry had they been allowed to continue speaking to SWA members more without fear of others within the sex industry basically revolting on them. Because that is a measure of control used - I mean how many people sitting around the bar do you think they're gong to tolerate talking about what a great guy Bill Wilson is? It doesn't fly. People hanging around bars bash AA and bash Bill Wilson. The point is to convey the message - you bring that "sobriety shit" around here and you're going to be laughed at. Why? They got booze to sell that's why.
It's understanding this as to why the big tobacco companies have had money awarded to "truth" campaigns to get the truth out bout smoking. They sure won't do it willingly and by threatening to pull ad dollars - it also serves to silence the truth. It's why Gamblers Anonymous had to file suit to get a law passed requiring ads for their 12 step program installed in casinos every 500 feet or so. They sure aren't going to put up signs for GA in the casinos willingly.
It's also why Polaris has been pushing to get the laws passed requiring the signs with the National Trafficking Hotline posted in certain establishments as well. Not a surprise to me that it failed to get passed in Nevada. I already know that Dennis won't post our hotline for his employees at his brothels for good reason. The other brothels who did post our hotline number where the girls could see our phone number - not only got us phone calls from women who we came and got who now are out of the business today -but those same brothels which posted our phone number are out of business today.
But Dennis told me he wouldn't give his women our phone number for the SWA hotline when they said they wanted to leave even after what happened to to one of his women who left when she found out she was pregnant - only to get herself murdered because she was hanging out with the wrong crowd - because to quote him he "spends too much money recruiting them to just let them go that easy". http://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/brooke-phillips-cathouse-star-murdered/
He had a point. He wanted it hard for them to leave so they'd come back like Amy did. He let Airforce Amy storm out once she found out Bernie Madoff had walked off with all of her retirement porfolio. She was over 50 then and spent the next two years, by her own blog's admission, drinking and being depressed, and "not finding the real help" to help her transition out of sex work - so the inevitable - she comes on back.
I don't call blocking the way out for someone to be really allowing them "freedom". To me - I'm not giving someone a choice whether to drink or not if I'm not giving them the phone number to the local AA meeting. That is why they created "Alanon" you know. To do something to help the people who were actively contributing to the alcoholic to stay drinking. They call it the "codependent" or the "enabler" and if you think it doesn't exist within the sex industry also you're very wrong.
It's so real that's why we had to create our "co" addict program - or SWAN for the parents, spouses, children, etc., of those in the sex industry who have someone who cries to the public face of how much they want their "victim" of choice to leave the sex industry - but then undermine their recovery in 100 other ways. It's honestly why I refer mothers to SWAN. It is so classic that I don't even deal with the mothers - I leave that to the other members of SWAN to deal with because you can literally tell the mother of a sex worker "oh yes I want her to quit so badly it's all I pray about" but if you were to give her one bit of direction to go left - I can assure you that woman would go right! It's so bad I know I had to stop speaking to my own mother for TWO YEARS to stop her from undermining my recovery. My mom wanted me to "relapse" until the day she died.
So yes there is "marketing" of the sex industry in the same identical manner as the tobacco industry. Yes there is also very clever ways of marketing these products and services that you wouldn't know is marketing because well that just fools the surprise. I mean what cereal box is going to be honest that the $0.05 toy they put in that box is strictly to get you to buy their box over their competitors? Children only see the toy - not the crappy cereal. Plus blocking the door to the way out is a part of the sex industry's tricks to keep people working for them. "Enabler's" or "co-addicts" exist within the sex industry just as anything else - for alcoholics they have Alanon, for addicts they have Naranon and for sex addicts they have S-Anon. These aren't what you would call "pimps" in the classic sense of taking the money from a sex worker - but still have an emotional need to control, manipulate and otherwise coerce the sex worker into "relapsing" or "staying".
Just as the man I'd been involved with for five years kept pushing on me not to quit. When he got really drunk one night he confessed to me why he was afraid to have me leave the sex industry, and get clean because then I'd become a "good girl". One worthy of being treated like a "normal" girl.
Well I realized I didn't need someone around pulling me down into anything that wasn't the best for me. I'm not going to convince you to leave or stay or anything. Now if you have reached the point where you want to explore your options with respect to leaving the sex industry - give us a call. I've got someone I'm sure on the phone list who has been doing something like you were doing that you can speak to who is now out of the sex industry entirely for some length of time. You are welcome to speak to them about what their life is like now. Come to a meeting. Check out our Recovery Guide. Talk to some members. Explore your options. Rarely is the decision quickly made that's kept in the long term. I know I skirted around this for years before I even realized I didn't want to go back. There's no such thing as "only one way". But we do have the highest rates of success with respect to our members leaving, and not returning, for now anyway.
We're not "selling" you anything. Am I perfect? Hell no. Am I a work in progress? Absolutely. What I do know I am however is someone who is out of the sex industry and clean from non-prescribed street drugs since 1985. I've also been free from all crime (except for maybe speeding) since 1985 as well. That I know. I've also lived through two divorces, the death of my mother and grandmother, surgery on my daughter, her being run over by an SUV that broke her back, a stroke, the 1994 Sherman Oaks Earthquake and 100 other disasters that would have sent most people back into a relapse of some kind. Again, am I a "perfect" person? No one is and I'm not going to pretend to be. Besides, this program isn't about me. It's about us. I might not even meet you in our program - after you're referred to a local meeting you will have the members there working with you. I just basically answer the phone around here sometimes. The program is the 12 steps, the 12 traditions, our Recovery Guide, your sponsor, your home group, and a whole process you'll go through that has absolutely nothing to do with me.
You don't go in AA to become friends with Bill Wilson. The program is set up however to help you get, and stay, sober. SWA is no different - it's not about me. It's a program set up to help you get out, and stay out, of the sex industry. Our 7th tradition speaks about becoming "fully self supporting" so no we aren't going to put you somewhere to take care of you for a year while we promote you around to raise money. Honestly, I don't much difference between that and the pimp running his brothel - parading around the whores and then appealing to you to spend money. Doesn't set well with me. So we don't do that here. You're taught how to make it out there in the "real world" out side of the sex industry just like everyone else has to figure out.
The beauty of being "anonymous" is that we all are the same around here. We're equals working together to help each other get out, and stay out, of the sex industry and to find recovery today. Think of it kind of like how in the Matrix movie you're promising only the "truth" with the red pill. Which is the "truth". We're not going to promise you we're going to take you in and take care of you for a year like these other programs. That's not teaching you how to survive out there.
Our 11th step speaks about "learning what God's will is for you" and having the "power to carry it out". Now your path is going to be different than "ours". Meaning I'm not going to bring you in here to have you support "my" dream or vision.
You're coming in here to find and follow yours. Scary huh? It is. So come and check it out www.sexworkersanonymous.com