|Posted by sexworkrecovery on November 15, 2014 at 5:40 PM|
Sex Workers Anonymous
6311 Van Nuys Blvd., #108
Van Nuys, CA 91401
(702) 416-5224 Telephone
November 12, 2014
Representative Todd Hunter
Re: Sex Trafficking Victim Movement
Dear Mr. Hunter:
Are you aware of how this movement got started? I read that your “biggest challenge was getting people to believe” that domestic sex trafficking is real. I shared that challenge by myself many years ago. I say that because prior to 1980 I'm sure you remember that no one in this country believed that domestic (American) sex trafficking was in fact “real” in any way, shape or form. You were probably raised as I was that “white slavery” was extinct.
During the 1970's our society had celebrated the book “The Happy Hooker” all the way to the NY Best Sellers' list. In this book Xaviera Hollander described having sex with a German Shepherd. The public liked the book so much – they made a movie out of it and she became a Hollywood celebrity.
It was also during this time period that adult XXX movies were not played in homes nor in main stream theaters. To see them you had to go to “special” adult theaters. To avoid “obscenity” laws these movies had to be called “art” films. For that reason they used to have to be produced on film and were therefore costly. The producers wanted to make more money off their investment than they could off some men who were willing to come to these “adult” theaters – so they came up with the idea of making a movie that would be shown in “mainstream” theaters. This movie was “Deep Throat” with Linda Lovelace as the star.
When this movie came out to main stream theaters it was received even better than when the movie “Titanic” opened. People were literally lined up down two blocks to see the movie – and couples made it an “evening out”. My own parents got a baby sitter for me (I was born in 1960), so they could have an “adult evening” out with two other couples. It was the “in” and “hip” thing to do that year.
So when Linda Lovelace was the first person to ever get onto a media stage and announce that she had been forced to film that movie with a gun pointed at her and threats from her pimp about killing her mother if she didn't comply – she was not well received by the American public. To “prove” her case she would tell people to go back and look at her legs in the movie, especially the bath tub scene, where her legs were covered in bruises from her pimp's cowboy boots kicking her to make her do the scenes.
Despite her bruises being very visible in the film - her reception was about the same as if one got up today and announced they'd been abducted by aliens. No one believed her. Audiences “booed” her off the stage. No one validated her story because her pimp had gone onto manage “Marilyn Chambers”. The porn industry wanted to keep making adult movies which was now playing in mainstream theaters and pornographers were now making millions – so no one was going to risk that gravy train by coming forward to validate her story. She even released a book about it called “Ordeal” in 1980.; But even despite her coming forward to announce that “trafficking was real” in the porn industry – she still didn't do what I did in 1987.
When I was arrested in 1984 – the media dubbed me the “High Tech Madam”. Why? Because when they arrested me they found undercover surveillance cameras in a brothel I had opened two blocks from the Van Nuys police station, and a computer that I'd programmed as a “reverse directory” long before the internet existed, cell phones, or even home computers for that matter.
The reason for all this technology, and my placing this brothel so close to the police station, was because trafficking was rampant in the country at this time – Los Angeles especially. There were five highly publicized serial killers targeting prostitutes back then in the news. The Hillside Strangler, Southside Slayer, the Green River Killer, and others. Two pimps who were cousins had started kidnapping prostitutes, beating them, torturing them, raping them, and then forcing them to stay in hotel rooms while they made money off sending “johns” in to see them for sex. They'd come back to beat them some more, take the money, and then brainwash them into being too afraid to leave their captivity. The victims who survived then said they were literally too terrified of these men to even try the door to see if it was unlocked.
One of these victims escaped after being stabbed 52 times and called me for a ride to the ER because an ambulance wouldn't pick up a “prostitute”. The hospital refused to admit her at first because she was a “prostitute” and therefore a “criminal”. After finally agreeing to stitch her up – they refused to admit her because no nurse would touch this “filthy prostitute”. When she was well enough for me to take her to the Hillside Strangler Task Force (which was these two pimps) to tell them what happened to her, and these guys' name, address, phone number, etc. and to warn them they said they would strike again – we were thrown out of their offices. When I pushed as to why – they said “because we can't get a warrant on the word of a whore”. It was a whole other year before they arrested them – right where we had been telling them all along they were.
I also witnessed the Iran Contra scandal first hand. That's where our CIA was smuggling cocaine into this country to raise cash to buy guns for the Contras. They flooded Hollywood parties with the drugs using “madams” like myself so that it would appear “glamorous” and thus be sold in huge quantities. They also wanted movies made about it to increase “demand”. You may not remember this – but back in the 1980's psychiatrists and doctors would appear on national TV and proclaim that “cocaine was not addictive” and “natural” to further promote consumption. It was not until the gangs in Los Angeles they had suckered into being their “beards” started using the drug and mixing it with heroin was the “crack” epidemic born. These CIA men used to use prostitutes to “sweeten” deals and to ensure no one was an undercover police officer.
We were also negotiating with oil men back then. Oil men who liked American women. So madams like myself back then were also offered $25,000 a shot to make women without family's “disappear” onto diplomatic planes never to be heard from again. Again, I know because I tried to stop one of these planes carrying a friend of mine on it. When I told the police she didn't want to be on that plane and to try and stop it from taking off – they laughed and told me that this country would be “better off with one less whore in it” and refused to do anything.
I witnessed sex trafficking on a small scale of the corner pimp to the grand scale of our own CIA using women as “treats” to seal oil deals as well as blackmailing politicians to gain cooperation. I myself couldn't prosecute my own traffickers because I knew I would (1) not be believed if I did talk and (2) that I'd never make it alive to court to testify if I did. I was branded a “criminal” by society when arrested – and that leverage pushed me into silence about domestic sex trafficking. Because my traffickers were afraid I'd “talk” anyway – I had more than one murder attempt against me even when I was in custody by these people. It was only through smart negotiations between my lawyer and these men that I was able to walk away with my life in exchange for assuring them I would not “talk”.
So when “God” told me to start the program of Sex Workers Anonymous (back then it was called Prostitutes Anonymous) I listened. I knew that the only way however we'd save these victims would be to change the American culture and the whole legal system of this country because no one was going to “help” us while they viewed us as “whores” and “criminals” and “deviants”. Nor while police were refusing to respond to my 911 calls for help because they believed that all prostitutes “wanted” to be beaten and kidnapped for sexual pleasure as was the general consensus at the time of cops.
But with God there is always a “way” if there's a “will”. There were no programs for adults back then because again we were viewed strictly as criminals – and not as victims. In fact, prostitution was called a “victim-less crime” back then just to show you how things used to be back when I started our work. So I created the first hot-line ever for us in 1987. I also created our program of “Sex Workers Anonymous” (originally called “Prostitutes Anonymous”) in 1987 to refer our callers to for help.
But I had “perfect timing” in God's world because the HIV epidemic was just hitting the sex industry back in the late 1980's. The guards in the jails did not want to be working with “us” because of the health risk. So for the first time ever – the county of Los Angeles was willing to hear me out because they suddenly didn't want “us” in their jails either right then.
The media had still been calling HIV the “gay plague” - but I knew better. I was the one who drug the CDC and UCLA into doing research within the sex industry to prove to them almost 80 percent of prostitutes were positive for HIV back then and therefore a “health hazard” could be declared. The then Mayor Tom Bradley and Sheriff Block came to me when I said we were victims needing help and not criminals needing incarceration – and gave me the resources to start the first ever “alternative sentencing program” as well as “residential program” for us because no one wanted to take us in – not the jails, not the treatment centers, not the domestic violence shelters, etc. out of fear of the HIV virus.
This allowed me to train the first outreach team into the sex industry to get HIV information and testing out to them, as well as “exit” information on how to quit via our program. We partnered with every HIV testing site. Because when a prostitute is told he or she is HIV positive – now they're out of work. Bam! How is the rent going to be paid? A whole system had to be set up for the sex worker who was found positive through our outreach program. They needed housing, medical care, medications, food, and retraining for another vocation. We set up the first “vocational rehabilitation” programs for sex workers back then in the late 1980's. Many wanted to be counselors or social workers – so we set up the first program through the “Addictions Studies” program headed up by James Crossen, PhD to train counselors how to work with “us”. This included scholarships the school offered select students.
One of those students was a woman who had been in porn previously. Her name was Sharon Mitchell and she wanted to become a doctor so she could help sex workers. When she got her medical degree and license – she set up the AIM Clinic that tested solely those in the porn industry. Up until a few years ago she was the exclusive testing site for those in the porn industry. The reason is because they felt “safe” with their doctor having also been in porn in the past herself. She single handed stopped more than one HIV outbreak within the porn industry while AIM was operating.
When news of our work spread – I got a call from Allentown, Pennsylvania. They wanted to convert their system over also from criminalizing these victims to offering them help. I needed to test whether or not the program I'd developed would really work, and be something others could duplicate. So I quit my job, left my family, and went back to Allentown to set up the first “Program for Female Offenders”. It was quite successful. So much so that they were able to delay the building of a new jail until a whole year after our program shut down after I relocated back to California when I got pregnant.
But all these programs had to have “public” support. Which is why I started doing every talk show, TV show, morning show, drive time show, tabloid TV, etc. to raise awareness that some of us were in fact “victims” who were being forced to engage in the sex industry and therefore we needed help to not only free these victims – but also to provide them with “rescue and restore” services and programs.
Even I wasn't believed at first when I came on stage with these outrageous claims about our government even being involved in wide scale trafficking, or nightclubs having pimps lined up against the walls and turning out women in relay teams on bets who could “turn them out” in the fastest time. I too was “boo'd” off the stage and told that “we don't believe you”. So I used my news clippings for one thing to prove I had in fact been in the highest levels of the sex industry to thus “see it all”.
Still I wasn't being believed. The accusations came of “oh you're just trying to sell a book” - so I didn't. I did not come out with my memoirs despite being offered six figures at one point. Then it was “oh she's just trying to make a movie” with my claims. So I turned down all the movies studios that offered me contracts – over 10 movies studios. I then showed off my turned down offers of publishing and movie deals – and what could be my motivation then?
STILL I was not being believed until Joe Conforte, the owner of the Mustang Ranch Brothel at the time, decided he wanted to legalize prostitution in California so he could expand his brothels. He put up a $1,000,000 into a PR firm to get his wish. Then he bought fake studies from UC Berkeley to make claims that “no brothel prostitute had HIV”. No one would dare oppose the man and his claims that there was no such thing as “trafficking” and that all of his women were “protected” from such things happening as I was claiming. He would then bring on three and four women singing the praises of “consensual sex between adults” and a “womans's right to use her body as she wishes” to appeal to the feminists in the audiences. Of course they tried to attack me personally to discredit my claims.
So I came onto the stage with members of our program to also tell their story – including one pimp we'd helped to get clean and recover. We stuck to our own personal stories and provided “proof” these were not false claims. We refused to make a movie or sell a book or charge a dime for our appearances so no one would claim we were looking for anything but getting the “truth out” to the public. We brought on more people we'd rescued who talked about how no one even believed them before we came along – let alone rescued them and helped them heal.
That worked. Especially when Joe offered me $120,000 a year to “come out retirement” to manage the Mustang Ranch with a $100,000 sign on bonus. I was on welfare at the time having just left my husband – so when the world saw me turn that down to live on a welfare check – that's when we turned a corner in this movement in 1989. That's when Joe's bid to have prostitution legalized was voted down – because people started believing us that prostitution was NOT a “victimless crime” anymore.
We couldn't get claims of “trafficking” against Joe for what he had been doing because the brothels are legal in Nevada. So I remembered how they got Al Capone and “dropped a dime” on Joe with the IRS. That eventually led to him being chased out of the country to escape incarceration himself.
Then we had people like John Quinones from ABC, Geraldo, Rosanne, and Bob Herbert from the NY Times physically come to see me, check out our work, and make glowing reports back to the world about me and our work. John even devoted a chapter to us in his book “Heroes Among Us”. Of course the public and the traffickers and the sex industry tore me apart trying to find something they could use to discredit what we were saying – but they couldn't. Finally the American public believed.
To make sure our program was as effective as possible because we didn't have any mentors or role models to work from when I created the first program for adults in this country I have studied every program I've heard about with respect to those helping these male and female victims of trafficking that came out as we were growing.
I've also let others research us. One researcher, Sharon Oselin, a professor at USC, just completed a study of the three top programs in this country that help trafficking victims. In each case, the women counted “Prostitutes Anonymous” (our original name) as the reason why “this” time their recovery clicked in for them when it hadn't before. I also have testimonials from our members up in their words at www.blogtalkradio.com/stopsextrafficktalk
The trafficking within our system and the sex workers rights and advocates groups are desperately trying to change back what we've started. So as the opportunists entered the field seeing all the money I had been turning down and wanting that for themselves – this is when the “fakes” started entering into the arena about 2009 – and they've been pounced upon by the sex workers rights groups and advocates in a desperate attempt to try and claim trafficking doesn't exist at all again. I even saw a movie yesterday by Woody Allen trying to bring back the “glamorization” of the sex worker called “Fading Gigolo”. The reason why the “fakes” started appearing in 2009 is because for the first time in 2008 our federal government was now issuing federal grants to set up programs to work with trafficking victims.
So all those people who aligned themselves with the people I had tried to warn them about with the Samoly Mam's and the Chong Kim's and even that completely bogus story that Bill Hillel was putting out that inspired “Taken” - are now beginning to see why I've been stressing so hard that “credibility” is everything. I say that not only standing here in 2014 and never having had any scandal like this coming at me for “fraud” about any of my story, or taking money for said false stories, but also because I watched how the “satanic panic” was created to dismiss the legitimate stories of ritual abuse survivors. Which worries me.
Now if a person tells a police officer he was a victim of “satanic abuse” he is automatically lumped in with the looneybin crowd. Which is what is going to happen very shortly with this trafficking movement if it's advocates don't start aligning themselves with people who can withstand harsh scrutiny and even “set ups”. I bring that up because I also watched how starting in 2009 a lot of people, including myself, were approached by many people offering us money to make false claims
about trafficking. I refused. Each one of the others who didn't have been brought to light as fakes and cons – just as again Chong and Samoly were exposed.
I myself have been offered large sums of money to make false claims about trafficking – which I've also refused. But I'm still standing here. My tapes of my story don't change over the years either as one hears when listening to people such as Shelley Lubben or Annie Lombert. Two women who also have “shilled” for fraudulent money raising schemes in connection with setting up “safe houses” and “outreach”. It's not just some survivors or “rescuers” either being exposed as “fraudulent”. Melissa Farley's reports have been attacked and are being re-reviewed, as well as complaints made against her license even for her outrageous statements.
Now I applaud individual survivors of domestic trafficking who stand up and confirm for the public they were in fact “trafficked”. But I also know first hand that when one does that – you often come home to being evicted, fired, losing friends, and even threatened. After I've made public appearances about my story – I've had a bomb put in our outreach RV, my brand new outreach car totally demolished, my daughter was run over by an SUV in broad daylight breaking her back, she was sexually assaulted, I've received more than one death threat, and I've had to move so many times I'm not living in an RV permanently. While you may applaud these speakers for speaking out – other people are not so supportive when these survivors go back to their daily lives.
Look in the 1980's and 1990's – it was important to have more than one “survivor” speaking out that trafficking is real. But right now it's not only been done – but these sex workers' rights groups and advocates have now started targeting and attacking them. I've heard stories of threats, conspiracies, being stalked, evicted, etc. These attacks on survivors now by the sex workers' rights people are not unlike the stories one hears about that some fanatics are doing to attack abortion doctors and chase them out of the field. Because that's their goal – to silence the trafficking survivors from speaking. Which is why I don't think one should be having “new” survivors speaking out in this field publicly unless they've been fully advised prior about the risks they're about to undertake. I'm hearing too often from them that they had no idea they would be targeted and attacked in such a manner for speaking out – but by then it's too late and the damage is being done. But frankly it's why you're now seeing a survivor maybe speak out once or twice – and then disappear into obscurity again.
Besides, most individual survivors have not seen the wide variety of stories I've seen. I've witnessed not only the pimp standing on the corner with his “bottom bitch” on his arm, but I've also seen trafficking done by the highest levels of our government. I've witnessed how the Triad brings women into this country promising them jobs at nail salons in the USA – and once they're here they're shuttled over to the massage parlors right next door and then their families back home in China are being threatened if they don't cooperate. I've personally witnessed how the Russian mob has been dominating the strip club industry and how they've been connecting the strip clubs, porn and prostitution all together with the massage parlors in areas that are being “policed” by biker gangs that are straight out of some horror movie. I know because when the victims are brought into “safe houses” these guy are showing up with guns and the shelters workers are completely unprepared for this – having no choice but to surrender these victims back to them. Or course keeping it all out of the papers because they don't want the “donors” to hear they couldn't protect these women.
I've also witnessed the long term effects – and some effects most haven't bargained for with respect to this movement. For example, you increase the penalties against the traffickers and you will wind up with a lot more dead victims. Why? Because if they get more scared than they are now about doing long stretches of “time” in prison – they'll just kill the victim, hack them up, and sell the organs on the black market. A few phone calls and a person's body can go for $25,000 when pieced out for organs. That's how pimps are disposing of many victims right now in this country so the bodies are never found – and they're never prosecuted.
If you criminalize demand – guess what? You are now allowing a new crime to grow and expand that I've been hearing about more and more the last couple of years. That of a whole new high-tech modern form of “john rolling”. These men are walking into corner friendly neighborhood massage parlors thinking they're going to get a $20 table shower, or into a small little strip club thinking they're going to get a $10 lap dance – and they are walking out with their lives destroyed.
Rick Rizzolo, who used to own the Crazy Horse strip club used to drug his patrons with GHB. Then he'd max out their credit cards for $1,000's of dollars. The bouncers would then take these men back to their cars and dump them. If the customer would “wake up” half way through this new type of robbery – they would be beaten and threatened. One man was beaten so badly he is now paralyzed for life and Rick keep finding ways to avoid paying his fine for that crime to pay for his medical care. When they'd get home and realized their cards had been maxed out and go to complain – they'd be further threatened about what would happen to their careers or their marriages if word got out about what “happened at the club”. That's when pictures they've taken of these men in compromising positions are then sent to them on their phones or computers they have taken of them while drugged or passed out.
The massage parlors are even worse because many pay for their visits with credit cards. Some will even use their insurance to pay for the massage – which gives them access to the “johns” social security number, drivers license number, etc. I know of one ring connected with the Triad where the massage parlor owner relays the information on the john to her sister who is a licensed real estate agent. She then pulls the man's credit to know where he lives, works, and what credit cards he has as well as what money he has in the bank. Then the hackers begin on the guys bank accounts, credit cards, and even lines of equity. One john told me they took $50,000 off his American Express before he'd even gotten home from the massage parlor. When they've gone back to threaten to file charges if the money is not returned – they are then threatening the men with “exposing” why they were there in the first place and ruining their careers and marriages.
Now if you “criminalize” demand – you will only be giving people like this more leverage to stop the victims to come forward to press charges. So too will you stop their witnesses from coming forward to validate their charges if they're worried about what will happen to them if they try and help them prosecute. I know because that's exactly what they tell me – gee I'd like to help her prosecute for what happened but I'm not willing to lose my career, family, status, friends, etc. by having them find out how I saw this woman in the process. Which is even 10 times worse if the prostitute is a male.
Besides, for the “johns” it's sexual addiction pure and simple. Sexaholics Anonymous is full of these men who literally can't stop themselves. Any “john” programs I've researched and they'd told me about that don't refer them to SA for help and simply try to get them exert “will power” - are about as effective as prohibition was at stopping the alcoholic from drinking.
Which is why prostitutes, sex workers, and trafficking victims need to be in Sex Workers Anonymous. I've stood by and already seen the previous programs prove that you can get them off drugs, and teach them a trade – and they will still go back to the sex industry – maybe even their very same traffickers – unless the core issues are addressed among other survivors from an “emphatic” point of view. Much how Alcoholics Anonymous was the first program to ever be successful at truly stopping alcoholics from drinking themselves literally to death.
The “johns” need to be referred to Sexaholics Anonymous. It's the only program I've ever seen actually take a man who has been buying sex since his teens in almost every case, and then actually putting them into remission. These men are sick and have a disease. Education doesn't stop a disease from progressing – and neither does fear.
I've watched how badly thought out projects to try and “force” things within the sex industry just back-fire. I remember when we thought that maybe we could get the johns to start wanting “safe sex” and would stop hounding us prostitutes not to use condoms if we got the porn industry to start showing “safe sex” in porn. The industry agreed to shoot these scenes – but then the johns/customers revolted. We had a HUGE backlash of buyers demanding on “amateur” porn using massive amounts of body fluids without any protection whatsoever. Now back in the 80's when this happened – it was mostly married couples who started producing the “amateur gonzo” adult movies to fulfill the backlashed demand for this type of “non” safe sex films. Because this was before the internet and because almost all porn was produced within Los Angeles county back then – we were able to get a “handle” on those people doing it. We also were able to talk to the porn industry about “easing up” on the “safe sex” in adult movies – and thus get performers back on licensed sets with permits so we could make sure everyone was getting tested. By having porn performers voluntarily getting tested by Dr. Mitchell, an ex-porn star herself turned doctor – the was more than one HIV outreach within the industry thwarted.
However, AIM was shut down after corruption took over. This scattered testing back into the sites where workers didn't want to suffer that type of embarrassment just to get free testing done. Then California started REQUIRING condoms to be used on porn sets. They didn't listen to letters I wrote explaining this would just make the outbreak we're seeing now get worse and spread because most performers now travel a “circuit” for one thing now because of the internet. Also, porn models used to just do porn back in the 1980's. Now the porn models do porn, stripping, webcaming selling of products, and even run up to the legal brothels on the weekends to see “regulars”. I've even seen porn models now licensing their images to have stickers put on skateboards. I mean a “sex worker” today is truly a small multi-national corporation these days. They are not the image of the “prostitute” that you and I remember from our youth. I'm aware of this change within the industry because our hot-line still rings every day from someone wanting help that they can't go to the police for because of one reason or another.
But I assure you that if you continue to move towards criminalizing the johns, or if you stiffen penalties against the traffickers even harder, or if these “round ups” where women are told to choose between jail and some “classes” where the classes aren't even designed around their needs (do you have any idea how many of these “classes” being used right now by the courts as “alternative sentencing” are not designed for the women who have ADD and dyslexia or who are illiterate – and then they're being told if they don't “pass” they'll still be thrown into jail?? I've spoken to some of the teachers in this “classes” and they do not have classes where they have special teachers nor has the programs been adapted for those with learning disabilities. Which out of our program I'd say 80 percent of our members, including myself, suffer from. If I had not have a tutor when I was in computer school to
help me through it with my ADD and dyslexia – I would have flunked also and probably still wouldn't have gotten a decent job. Yet none of these classes are teaching them about “self-employment” either.
Look our hot-line has answered over 500,000 calls to date. Polaris has answered 70,000. We founded our program in 1987. Polaris founded their program in 2002. I assure you our program is the oldest, largest, survivor led, effective program that has stood the test of time and attacks. My recovery is stable so no one is going to find ramblings from me on my twitter about “flushing my drugs and booze” down the toilet that I've been on for five years while trying to advocate and speak for trafficking victims as was the case recently with Shelley Lubben.
Any campaigns I'm associated with and a part of are going to be well thought out also. I say that because I watched how AHF put porn stars who had contracted HIV onto the press using their “porn names” when they made the announcement. Anyone who understands the sex industry will know that this is just going to make the buyers “curious” and go out and buyer their tapes! Sure enough I checked with some production companies and found that each time they did this – sales went up 30 % of their porn products! I would have advocated them to come out “anonymously” so this wouldn't have happened if I'd been on any advisory committee of that project.
So hopefully I've relayed some of my hard won experience in this field to you Mr. Hunter. I hope it will help to advise you on any future decisions with respect to what you're doing to do with respect to the trafficking movement. When Bill Wilson founded Alcoholics Anonymous – he knew the need to offer such “advisory” services. This is why both he and Marty Fox founded the National Council on Alcoholism for that purpose – to separate out his ability to advise on alcohol issues and alcoholism from the program that was providing recovery to the addict.
For this reason, I created the American Trafficking Institute. So if ATI or Sex Workers Anonymous, can be any resource at all to you in the future, please don't hesitate to call upon me. I also am the “creator” of this modern trafficking movement. Which means I do know how to start a movement – and I can also help steer this better hopefully all the way home to where all those who want to leave the industry can leave, and also so the “johns” don't wind being victims as well of either the traffickers or the legal system.
There's a saying of “we're all just sick people trying to get well – not bad people who need to go to jail”. I think that fits here for most of “us”. Thank you for your time in listening to me talk about what I feel this movement needs right now. If I can help at all – please keep me in mind.