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Friday, February 22, 2013

Trouble At The Armory: Keeping It In Perspective


Maggie Mayhem modelling at Hogtied.com: her lips may have been sealed in this photoshoot, but they TOTALLY are not sealed in real life. Image source: Hogtied.com.

In an earlier post,
I pointed out that Kink.com has become, essentially, an old-fashioned Hollywood studio, only instead of turning out tepid Hayes Code fare, they turn out hardcore BDSM porn. Well the similarities are getting even more striking of late.

Studio execs snorting illegal white powders up their nose, check.

Studio staff accused of doing stupid things with firearms, check. (See previous link.) (I'm thinking of the various Hollywood actors who have been injured by firearms during the course of shooting various films (pun totally intended) such as those who have been killed or injured by weapons firing blanks.)

Studio execs accused of sexual improprieties, check. (Hell, the casting couch was so commonplace it was a cliche in Hollywood lore.)

Studio accused of monetarily exploiting their talent, check.

Studio accused of unsafe working conditions, check. (See link about sexual improprieties.)

All of this has come about, if you'll read the links, because of a drug bust that occurred because some knuckleheads at Kink.com set up a makeshift firing range in the studio's basement (it is a former actual National Guard Armory, hence you gotta figure would have some great firing range locations). The cops got called in because of all the gunfire, and Somehow (this makes me suspicious) during their investigation the cops found cocaine in the possession of the Peter Acworth, the CEO of Kink.com, i.e, the studio head.

Sorting out the truth of all this is tough. I personally do not find my morality outraged, or even surprised, by the cocaine possession and the firing range, so long as the firing range was safe (and I have not seen any allegations that it was unsafe). The allegations I do care about are the ones involving mistreatment of the talent at Kink.com.

Most of the accusations of those improprieties at Kink.com are coming from one person, Maggie Mayhem. (One of the sources I cite claims that other, unnamed Kink.com staff support her allegations, but frankly I am not at all disposed to lend any credulity to unnamed sources in a case like this. I got some unnamed sources right here for ya! ... if you know what I mean.)

Mayhem is a former Kink.com model/actress/employee who had a background in social work, i.e., conducting health screenings and providing safe materials to sex workers and addicts in San Francisco. I tend to think Mayhem believes what she is saying, she does not strike me as a liar. (We have all heard of the former porn stars who leave the business, turn Christian, report on all the nonstop horrors she was subjected to in the porn industry, and then sometimes leave Christianity and report on how the Christians brainwashed her into saying all those things, generally while flogging a book or video about her misadventures, leaving the objective viewer sure of nothing except that she is a liar to the core.)

I do not think Mayhem is one of those, but I do know that whenever a porn producer gets in serious trouble it's very possible that they will have employed at least one such person, and that such person will turn on them in a heartbeat with whatever allegations they can drum up. So I am skeptical, to say the least.

In Mayhem's case, I note that she admits that she was impelled to leave social work in part because the goody-goody nonprofit social welfare agencies she was working for did not measure up to her high moral standards. This suggests to me that she might be one of those people whose moral standards are so high that basically no organization can live up to them. So I am skeptical on that basis as well. (Saying a fetish porn model has high moral standards might be hard for a social conservative to wrap their head around, but I suspect it's not a rare trait among sex workers, especially BDSM sex workers.)

However, I am not convinced Mayhem is lying or exaggerating, I just don't KNOW what the truth is. My off-the-cuff impression is that Kink.com needs to get a lot sharper at separating the business end of their business from the bondage fantasy end, and to pick up on their worker safety practices, and treat their webcam girls better. There does not seem to be anything actively evil going on, at the moment, just a need to tighten up a bit. Which is more than you can say of Roman Polanski's Hollywood (granted it was 32 years go, but ... that's active evil in spades).

The other thing that makes me suspicious is something I alluded to in my initial story about Kink.com going mainstream ... when you start presenting yourself as a respectable member of the community, you draw attention to yourself, and a LOT of people have it out for sex workers and the sex industry from the get-go -- as Mayhem points out in the beginning of her article. So this kind of smells like the attack I had been fearing when I wrote my piece. Remember, "complaints about the guns" led the cops to Somehow find the cocaine in Acworth's possession. Just offhand, does not pass the sniff test at all. It stinks, in fact.

It would be terrible to see Kink.com's reputation go down the tubes, because they do have a well-established reputation as being a fun, healthy, positive place to do porn work, a reputation established by current and former workers at the place who speak highly of it. There are millions of social conservatives who will accept any allegations about Kink.com at face value because it's part of the sex industry,which they hate. And I mean hate, there's nothing rational going on there. Like any sex industry business, their reputation is damaged in the eyes of all social conservatives and suspect in the eyes of the uninformed. So there's a tendency to want to support Kink.com when they are attacked like this.

But you can't let Kink.com get away with turning into a sleazebag outfit for its workers just because they say the right things in public, like so many non-sex industry corporations do. (At least Kink.com has been spared the shame of most of its workers being forced to go on food stamps and other government assistance because of low wages, as WalMart has.)

That's why my stance on the issues at Kink.com is going to be wait and see. Wait and see what the people who actually work or have worked at Kink.com have to say about the matter. You can't trust what the mainstream media have to say about the matter, that's for damn sure. And keep a sense of perspective. Kink.com would have to get a LOT more evil to match the sleaze that our non-sex industry corporations get up to. Compared to many of them, even with the current allegations, Kink.com is ... saintly.

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