33 charged in the massive raids of the Sedona Temple and the Phoenix Goddess Temple

Dear BnG community.  These raids have hit us hard in Arizona, and we are devastated for the loss of the Temples.  Please stay with us as we will be putting out much more information, calls to action, and ways that you can get involved.  To begin, won’t you please go to http://goddessbless.org and sign their petition?  And will you or your organization consider signing on to this letter of support?
love and rage,
Surgeon
For Immediate Release9/17/2011, Tucson AZ

September 7th, 2011 Yavapai County and Maricopa County Sherrifs raided the Sedona and Phoenix Goddess Temples and arrested eighteen people.  A SWAT Team descended on the two temples detaining practitioners at gunpoint.  To date thirty-three  people have been charged, and the temples are being investigated as brothels.  Temple practitioners were paraded in front of the waiting media, and their mug shots and legal names publicized.

Both Temples hold legal status as churches, and no minors, weapons, or drugs were found on the premises of either Temple.  Tracy Elise, the founder and High Priestess of both Temples is still in jail along with 7 other people and her bail is set at an astonishingly high half a million dollars.

These arrests came after six months of undercover operations by the Yavapai County and Maricopa County Police Departments.  It is the largest sex work related bust in Arizona since 2008, when the Desert Divas prostitution ring was busted, with over 100 people charged, including phone operators and photographers.  There were no minors found in that investigation either.

We believe that these arrests, and all other arrests of consenting adults engaged in healing or sexual practices equate to a modern day witch hunt.   In many cases, the money being spent by the police force to arrest, intimidate, and establish undercover sting operations is coming from large scale anti-trafficking campaigns intended to target child prostitution.  Instead, the money donated by a public horrified by images of young children in cages, and sensationalized stories of sexual slavery is diverted into operations like the so called “Operation Goddess Temple.”

In press conferences, Police spokesmen say that Temple practitioners were engaging in acts of prostitution under the guise of religion.  We say that the Arizona Police are using valuable funds, and unnecessary force to arrest consenting adults under the guise of protecting citizens and saving children.

Whether one believes in the validity of Tantra or sexual healing practices as a religion, it is not the charge of the government to legislate morality.  Sex is legal in this society.  Criminalizing prostitution, massage, and healing sexual practices bears all the injustice and inefficacy of prohibition, sodomy laws, and religious intolerance.

We demand the immediate release of all those arrested in affiliation with the Phoenix and Sedona Temples.  We demand an end to police raids for non-violent crimes.  We demand an end to the persecution of practitioners of sexual healing, and the decriminalization of prostitution.

To support the Goddess Temple directly, please visit http://goddessbless.org
To take action and support decriminalization, please visit http://swop-tucson.org

Sincerely,
SWOP-Tucson (Sex Workers’ Outreach Project, Tucson chapter)

For further information, or to speak directly to a spokesperson from SWOP-Tucson for press or media, please email info@swop-tucson.org

Two Goddess Temples Raided in Arizona

Two Goddess temples were raided in Arizona, and some people were arrested on prostitution charges. More arrests may be coming: http://veganvixen1.wordpress.com/2011/09/10/phoenix-goddess-temple-raided/  .

Legislators Urge Ban on Media Shown to Reduce Rape

Women’s groups have been in a state of hysteria lately over Republican efforts to restrict abortion rights, but they’ve been curiously silent about the efforts from BOTH sides of the aisle to restrict women’s other sexual rights.  For example, they’ve said nothing about the recent attempt by over 100 senators and congressmen to “crack down” on certain widely-available materials which have been demonstrated to decrease rape rates, namely porn.

Radley Balko of The Agitator isn’t a sex worker rights activist, but he’s a staunch defender of the rights of people to do what they like with their own bodies, including sex work.  In this article from April 7th, he demolishes the congressmen’s false claims about the “dangers” of porn with statistical proof of the social problems which have decreased as porn has become more widespread:

And in fact, every single one of these problems are trending in the opposite direction. And it isn’t even close:

  • Sex crimes against children: Down 53 percent between 1992 and 2006.
  • Abortion: The abortion rate has dropped by about 25 percent since 1993.
  • Teen pregnancy: In 2009, teen pregnancy hit its lowest rate in the 70 years that the federal government has been tracking the statistic.
  • Divorce: The U.S. divorce rate is at its lowest level since 1970.
  • Domestic violence: The rate of reported domestic violence in the U.S. dropped by more than half between 1993 and 2004.
  • Rape: The forcible rape rate in the U.S. has dropped from 41.1 per 100,000 people in 1990 to 28.7 in 2009. That latter figure is also an all-time low.

These numbers are overwhelming. What’s more, there are at least a couple of studies suggesting that the widespread availability of pornography is partially responsible for some of these trends, especially the drop in reported rapes.

Balko has recently been hired by Huffington Post, which means his eloquent voice for decriminalization will soon be heard by many more listeners than ever before.  I urge sex workers to read his column often; he’s definitely an ally.

Anthony Comstock Would Be Proud

I’m posting this on behalf of Lailah. She recently commented on my personal blog, telling me about her arrest. I encouraged her to write her story and submit it to be posted here. Since the general public looks at this blog, I would like them to see what an arrest feels like from the perspective of a consenting adult sex worker — the most common kind of sex worker, BTW. I’m very proud she took me up on my offer.

Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Lailah (not my real name). I’m a single mama, a business owner (businesses NOT adult oriented), and a professional escort. I spend my spare time cleaning house, tending children, and being a soccer mom, just like every other mother across the country. I started escorting in early May, 2010. And I stopped in June, 2010. I loved it. I absolutely loved escorting. I couldn’t see a downside to it. I like sex and money. My clients liked sex and money. They were willing to give me money to spend time with me (admittedly, we spent that time having sex), so we both got what we wanted and went away happy.

Continue reading

A shout of support for Tiffany Shepherd

Talk about whore shaming! This poor woman merely posed for some sexy photos and was fired.

Bikini-clad teacher Tiffany Shepherd, aka Leah Lust, turns to porn after being fired from school
BY Eitan Gavish
DAILY NEWS WRITER

Updated Tuesday, September 1st 2009, 12:05 AM

Tiffany Sheppard lost her job after racy photos of her in a bikini surfaced.
A Florida biology teacher fired after posing for racy pictures has landed a new career – in pornography.

Tiffany Shepherd, 31, made headlines in April after bikini-clad pictures of her on a fishing charter got her canned from Port St. Lucie High School. She turned to doing porn, she told a Florida news outlet, after losing custody of two of her three kids to her ex-husband and sending out 2,500 resumes – some even to prisons – without landing a new teaching job.

“I’m not particularly proud of it. To be honest, I hate it,” Shepherd told Page2live.com. “I’m an educated woman, but I never thought it would come to this. No one gets brought up thinking they’ll be a floozy.”

On screen, Shepherd goes by the name Leah Lust and has filmed five feature films, including one titled ‘My first sex teacher,’ where Shepherd portrays the very job she’s been trying to get back.

“It’s very professional,” says Shepherd on the Web site. “Everyone’s tested — for venereal diseases and AIDS — and I’m carrying around my little piece of paper that says I’m fine. They love me because I take care of myself and I don’t run out to party with my money.”

Shepherd got into the business after the captain of the fishing charter that got her into trouble in the first place recommended it as a way to make good money. Captain Gil Coombes, of the boat ‘Smokin ‘Em,’ owns a porn Web cam studio with his wife, Kat, called KLC productions.

“We sat down with her and told her she’d never get a teaching job again,” Coombes told Page2live.com

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2009/08/31/2009-08-31_bikiniclad_teacher_tiffany_shepherd__aka_turns_to_porn_after_being_fired_.html?print=1&page=all#ixzz0Q09KVsNj

Support sex worker rights in Providence, Rhode Island May 21, 2009 by phone!!:

Forwarded on behalf of Maxine Doogan
Support sex worker rights in Providence, Rhode Island TOMORROW by phone!!:

Tara Hurley from Providence Rhode Island made a documentary about the sex workers there and legislation that is being proposed to make sex work illegal. She interviewed many sex workers in the area and has honestly represented their views and situations in her film. Because this film contains the truth about the issue, Tara is being slammed in the press by academic Donna Hughes, Chair of Women’s Studies at University of Rhode Island. Hughes has ties to right wing anti-choice Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey (who promoted the anti-prostitution pledge, which denied HIV funding and treatment to sex workers worldwide). Hughes called George Bush the “first feminist president.” Hughes is reputed to be in the pocket of the US anti-abortion religious right. This is the stuff that will speak far more to listeners than her anti-prostitution stance. We need to discredit Hughes.

Donna Hughes will be on Dan Locke’s radio show tomorrow at 4pm. Please call in to the show to question Hughes’ credentials and affiliations:
1-800-321-9776

You can listen to the the show live online at:
http://www.630wpro.com/

WSWM ranch, Heidi’s stud ranch and male priviledge

I started my day by day blog of Bellas and will continue it on my personal blog: marikopassion.wordpress.com so i’m not going to talk about how my first day went here, but I just have to comment about male priviledge in not only the old boy network of brothel owners and in sex work in general.  What Heidi Fleiss is and has been doing is really really phenomenal even though I’ve not met her and she could be a rotten bitch but on the whole “The Stud Ranch” is a groundbreaking concept.  As it has so far been explained to me, the Nevada brothel system is NOT ever due to expand to other brothels in Nevada state legislature any time in the future and all but 2 of them (Bellas and one other) are owned by old boys.  If you were at Desiree 1 you got an idea of what kind of men owned these places and what their blatantly unfeminist views were.  According to conversations I’ve had with Rachel Whotton from Scarlet Alliance, the same is true for brothel owners in Australia.  In Oz, they have become a political lobby and are speaking out against any non brothel sex worker, trying to convince parliament that if a girl were to not work in a brothel there would be no way that she could keep herself safe or clean. This is the overall belief from many people in the general public, and it is the legacy of male priviledge in all its ugliness.

However, in talking with Aunt Deb who helps run Bellas, the woman/family owned and run brothel and she talks about her frustration with working with so many girls whos minds are stuck at the age of 14 and who need so much repetetive direction around basic things.  Anyone who has ever tried to manage an escort or stripping agency probably knows what she is talking about.  I opted to convert my energies from a dying escort agency in LA in to SWOP-LA because I could never possibly profit babysitting the women that I was trying to have on my staff and keep my sanity.  They neeeded guidance and outreach and that was what a sex worker advocate does willingly, not a business person who wants or needs to profit.  These are the women that unfortunately find themselves in the “stables” of abusive pimps either on the streets or in brothels.  It is a continuation of a pattern of abuse many of these women have become accustomed to, perhaps since childhood and it would take serious mentorship and time to guide someone out of that, which is not only not a profit model, but often is draining to even non profits doing advocacy.

An MSM ranch? There is an MSM ranch of sorts in every major city of the world.  They are called bathhouses, public parks or gay.com.  MEN as a whole, do not need any help seeking sex–either for pay or for free.  But because of the legacy of male priviledge (for MSW escorts)  and the decriminalization of homosexuality, male escorts do not get to charge as much as females.  Male strippers doing bachelorette parties is totally socially acceptable, but only in the context of marriage. I have had sex with female clients, but only in the context of when a husband or boyfriend pays for my services.  I can find casual hot sex with women in a sex spaces, but only in a BDSM play party (which may not be the sexual experience I was seeking) or a swingers party where I would either have to fend off all the client types from trying to fuck me for free or put on a show for the husband or sometimes convince him to go away, although in swinger spaces like Hedonism and such bisexuality with women is fine, but NEVER between the men.  Men who want to have sex with men can open any newspaper and find a public outlet do a google search and find what they are looking for or at least go to a venue where they might be able to find it and women either hetero or queer do not.  You see what I’m getting at?