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July 12, 2018

Free Speech Coalition Comments on Stormy Arrest, LA Direct Claims

CANOGA PARK, Calif.—Many look to the Free Speech Coalition, as the adult industry trade association, for help with their businesses, such as helping find banks and lending institutions that are willing to work with adult companies, or finding insurance companies willing to take on the sometimes complex needs of adult industry businesses and their workers. But FSC members sometimes forget that it's also Free Speech's mandate to take stands on social issues affecting adult industry personnel—and just today, the organization has released comments on two such issues. Many in the industry are already aware that four adult actresses identified only as Jane Does 1-4 have filed a complaint with the California Department of Industrial Relations against prominent agent Derek Hay and his agency, LA Direct Models, charging that he and the agency have failed to live up to the terms of contracts signed by the actresses, and that Hay "coerces some of his performers into 'escorting' and then, should they seek to terminate their (illegal) contracts, threatens to ‘out’ them for performing illegal sex-work." The full story on the actresses' complaint can be found here, and AVN has since become aware of at least one other similar complaint which has previously been filed against Hay and LA Direct. Today, Free Speech Coalition issued the following statement regarding the allegations against Hay and LA Direct: "We were disturbed to read the complaint filed last week by four adult performers against LA Direct Models and Derek Hay. While we cannot speak to the validity of any specifics of the complaint, we can say that wage theft, illegal fee schedules, retaliatory booking practices, abuse of ‘no’ lists and requiring or forcing anyone to perform sex acts are an anathema to the legal adult entertainment industry. No adult worker should be subjected to such requirements or conditions. "The complaint further alleges that adult performers working for LA Direct were pressured into working as escorts. We strongly believe in, and have been supportive of, the decriminalization of consensual sex work. Pressuring, forcing or otherwise coercing someone into sex work is unethical, reprehensible and rightfully illegal. "Sex work is real work, and sex workers deserve the same professionalism, respect, honesty and consent as any other worker. Regardless of the outcome of this complaint, Free Speech Coalition will continue to fight aggressively for the rights of all sex workers." Even more recently, media across the United States reported on the bust of actress/director/Trump plaintiff Stormy Daniels by undercover vice officers at an Ohio cabaret where she was feature dancing. AVN reported on the situation late last night, which report can be read here. Though the charges were later dropped, in part because the bust appeared to be politically motivated, it was nonetheless a stain on Daniels' reputation, and a statement released this afternoon by Free Speech Coalition delves into the motivations for the bust and its implications for sex workers countrywide: "For members of the adult industry, last night’s arrest of Stormy Daniels and two other dancers in an Ohio nightclub was appalling, but not shocking. Unfortunately, those who work in our industry, particularly those who are sex workers, are all too familiar with selective prosecution, entrapment, censorship and morality campaigns. "That the arrest would happen in Ohio—a state with a history of political prosecutions of sexual speech, from Flynt to Mapplethorpe—is also unfortunately not shocking. "These arrests were not about any particulars of the act. Stormy Daniels’ touring show hasn’t changed much from city to city, as evidenced by the journalists and fans who have witnessed it. And her act—what Reason magazine recently described as 'more vintage va-va-voom than vulgar'—is arguably tamer than thousands of performances that happen each night across the country. "No, these arrests were meant to send a message. They were meant to intimidate and to shame. They were meant, like so many thousands of similar arrests on so many unwinnable prosecutions across time and geography, to make life more difficult for sex workers. To use mugshots like heads on sticks to warn those who might speak out against sexual shame and political repression. "While politically minded prosecutors may not understand it, the basis of everything we do is consent. Consent to enjoy adult entertainment and consent from the workers who make it. It strikes us as the ultimate in hypocrisy to attend a performance and actively engage the performer—and then to arrest her. "Unfortunately, that’s what happens to sex workers across the country, who routinely find themselves entrapped through consensual contact, and sometimes extorted or assaulted as a way of enforcing a moral crusade. "We’re glad that Stormy is free, and that the charges have been dismissed. But what about the other dancers who were arrested last night in that sting? And what about the thousands of sex workers who are routinely approached, groped and arrested for performing consensual labor? We want freedom for them, as well. "Sex work is real work, and sexual speech is real speech. Last night’s arrests show once again that sex work prosecution is political repression, and that if we hope to stop the latter, we must stand up against the former as well." For more information on the Free Speech Coalition, visit its website here.

 
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