3 June 2015 | 1 Comment
This past week has been a tumultuous one for the porn industry. A week ago today a porn blogger named Zach Sire (see photo to the right and below) did a post where he “outed” a fellow gay blogger – the blogger behind Queer Me Now (who I’ll refer to as QMN for the rest of the article). The whole thing was really petty – QMN had won “best porn blog” two years in a row at the Grabbies and Zach apparently felt he should have won, so he set out to destroy the life of QMN. I don’t use that phrase lightly. QMN is from “a certain Asian country” where porn is illegal and QMN could literally go to jail if the authorities know who he is (a fact Zach knew and mentioned in his attack on QMN). AND it wasn’t just jail – thanks to Zach everyone now knows that QMN has a rather respectable mainstream career as well – one that could get obliterated if people found out he was a gay porn blogger.
But let me stop and give you a little background. QMN and Zach have two very different approaches to porn blogging. QMN is an adoring fan who writes about what he loves. Zach does some porn blogging, but he also has a section that’s basically a gossip column – he just seems to love exposing people’s dirt. Any time a porn star goes to jail, he covers it. Anytime anyone says nasty about someone else in the porn biz, he covers it. Basically he uses that part of his site to kick people when they’re down and revel in other people’s misery. Which is why I think he’s earned the label ‘bitchy queen’ and ‘mean girl’ many times over.
I’ve sat and chatted with QMN at two industry events and he’s one of the sweetest guys you’ll ever meet. Most everyone in the industry knows him and loves him. So when Zach attacked him there was a huge backlash. A guy named Danny brought it to everyone’s attention. Over the years Danny has run a whole bunch of different porn sites for producers (everything from Asian stuff to HDK to Titan). He’s also a really sweet guy who lived in Asia for years and knows what Zach’s post could mean for QMN. Then Dominic Ford picked up the baton. He’s a porn star / producer who started a business a few years back to fight illegal content on tube sites. So he’s used to dealing with “bad players” in the industry and has contacts with just about every medium to large studio in the biz.
Anyway, I won’t bore you with all the little details, but one important detail is that this isn’t the first time Zach’s exposed people’s identity. There’s this really wonderful woman who used to work for Treasure Island (she now works for Titan). Zach did a whole piece on her a year ago saying what her real name was, what sort of work she did before working in porn, what sort of other things she’s posted on the Internet, and he imposed her face onto images of bareback fucking and cummy asses and generally implied that she helps in the transmission of STDs. As a result of Zach’s post on her she’s had to consider a legal name change if she wants to get out of porn. But if she does that she loses everything on her resume before she started working for TIM. She’s active on the webmaster board where all of this was being discussed, but she’s just one of many people Zach has fucked over. I mean you should see the things he says about Michael Lucas. In one recent tweet he said “@MichaelLucasNYC Better get back to your coffin, you vile piece of toxic shit. Sun’s coming up in just a couple hours in NYC…” Clearly Zach is NOT a nice guy. I mean I can’t imagine saying something like that about anyone – no matter how much I hate them. Yet Zach does it on a regular basis.
As the shit hit the fan last week people also found out that Zach has a business partner named Davyd Dixon who is a PR guy for many of the big studios. He conveniently claimed that he didn’t have any editorial control over Zach’s blog, but somehow his PR clients never seem to have the problems other studios have with getting slammed on Zach’s blog. (Hmmm…) And it’s not like Zach is even all that consistent. He slams Treasure Island and Lucas for barebacking – talking about how they’re spreading disease, but then he promotes sites like Sketchy Sex and complains that the Grabbies’ condom-only policy means they’re running out of sites to give awards to. His attacks are so random that it really does seem like negative PR rather than a genuine problem with the site or person he’s attacking. I honestly just don’t get where he’s coming from by promoting one site and slamming another that does more or less the same thing.
But seriously even if there is some difference I don’t understand, has Zach never heard of TasP? All the “toxic” stuff that TIM does, that Zach finds so objectionable, is fantasy. Poz guys on meds are some of the least risky people you can have sex with. In 19 years of guys being on ARVs, and probably millions of serodiscordant fucks, there have been no documented cases of an undetectable poz guy transmitting the virus. As a sex industry blogger Zach should know that. So what’s all the fuss? Let people have their fantasies. I mean the porn business is a business based on fantasy. Zach is hardly the god-appointed arbiter of what guys are allowed to jack off to.
Moving on… About 24 hours after the blog post on QMN went up “a hacker” brought down the site, took down the post on QMN, and redirected Zach’s blog to QMN. I don’t think QMN is technically capable of doing such a thing (IMHO, his site is a rather big mess technically). Instead, some people in the industry postulated that Zach just made it appear like he was hacked so he could then claim to be the victim. Which he promptly did in another blog post where he tried to justify his actions and say how horrible everyone was who opposed him. I was even quoted for having suggested on a private webmaster forum that he be permanently banned from getting awards at the Grabbies.
Then he did a video on YouTube where he goes into whether people like me and QMN deserve privacy. He tries to say that bloggers should be transparent and have their identities public (see timecode 1:27). But that’s not how the industry works. It’s a well-established rule in the industry is that no one reveals anyone else’s legal name. Yet despite that, there is still accountability. All my sponsors know my legal name, as do people I meet face-to-face at industry events (at least they know my first name – not always my last name – depends on how well I know them). If I do something it can get back to me – but it goes through a filter of people in the industry who understand my situation because they’re in the same situation themselves.
He then goes on to say that there is no expectation of privacy when you show up to public events (2:30). The thing is at those public events QMN’s legal name was never used. And I would bet the fact that he was from “a certain Asian country” and his mainstream profession were never mentioned either (at least not publicly). To say that, just because he showed his face publicly, EVERYTHING about him is now open for dissemination goes against the well-established rules our industry has lived by for decades. We have those rules because of the stigma mainstream society places on anything related to sex work. We don’t have an issue with what we do, but lots of other people do. Why Zach doesn’t get that, I don’t know.
He gets very specific about this point (3:00) “If you’re writing in a professional sense and you’re a blogger and a conveyor of information you are 100% open to being exposed in terms of what your name is and who you are”. That statement goes against everything our industry has lived by for 40+ years. It’s wrong. It’s dangerous. It hurts real people.
But then he goes on to say (4:00) that pornstars, on the other hand, “have an expectation of privacy … They don’t want their real names to get out because there are a lot of people who are stalkers. Porn stars are sex objects. They will literally stalk them and they will find out extremely personal information about them, their families, where they live… Scary stuff… And that’s why porn stars use porn names.” All I can say to that is “Dude, don’t you get it? YOU are QMN’s stalker. All those ‘scary things’ your talking about – you’re the one doing them!”
Then he goes on again to reiterate the point even more (4:36) “Porn bloggers are not porn stars, they’re bloggers. Just because they have the luxury of being behind a computer and never having to really show their face or their name… They’re not entitled to the same protections as pornstars who are putting their face and everything out on camera and who are objectified.” All I can say to that is I’m a blogger AND I’ve been in porn. Sure, I was only in one commercial porn video, but some consider it to be “the most important gay porn video ever made”. So some of us are both pornstars and bloggers. (Though I’m not sure I’d consider myself to be a porn STAR, but presumably he doesn’t mean that smaller porn stars don’t deserve the same protections as bigger porn stars.) And hell, privacy is clearly important to me – I even wore a mask when I was in porn. How much more clearly do I need to make the point about privacy?
But my having been in porn is irrelevant to whether I’m deserving of privacy. Sexually-based stalkers are not the only legitimate reason why someone would have a right to privacy. That’s basically saying that bloggers are too ugly to deserve privacy. All I can say to that is speak for yourself – just because you don’t think you’re sexually attractive enough to deserve privacy doesn’t mean I don’t deserve it, or QMN, or any of the other bloggers out there. Hell, if the United Nations thinks encryption is a human right, then we all have a fundamental right to privacy.
He tries to justify his actions by saying (5:25) “If you are publishing information online you are open to being exposed 100%. Sorry, that’s just the way it is. This is 2015.” But what he fails to ask is “is that a good thing?” And, “do I really want to be one of the mean girls who expose people?” Or maybe has asked those questions and he’s got so little going on in his life and so few prospects for the future that he doesn’t care about being exposed, and he knows he just is a mean girl, so he sees no problem with it.
His other point (5:55) seems to be that he’s free to violate the industry’s code of ethics because he thinks other people are doing things he thinks are unethical. That is completely the opposite of how people should act. It reminds me of the saying that “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth leaves everyone blind and toothless”. The only way we’ll have a better world is if each of us does our part to make the world better.
So what can you do to make a difference? It’s pretty simple – never click the links on “mean girl” blogs. That’s how Zach and Davyd (and bloggers in general) make their money. You can also make note of who his major sponsors are and simply not buy memberships at those sites. OR at least buy them only via clicking a link on a “good” site. (And by that I don’t mean one of the major tube sites – they’re the topic for a whole other blog post – but suffice it to say they’re a bigger problem than even Zach & Davyd).
And if you’re a porn star who has influence over some of Zach & Davyd’s major sponsors – say something! This is a privacy issue. And while it might not be your privacy that’s threatened today. That may not be the case tomorrow. And when your privacy is threatened in the future you’ll need people like porn bloggers coming to your rescue.
Unfortunately a week after all this inane drama started, not much has changed. Davyd took down two tweets that mentioned QMN’s real name. The hacker took down the post about QMN, and they’ve edited the article on the woman who worked at Treasure Island so it no longer contains her legal name. But it will continue to rank for her name since it once ranked for it in the past. And Zach continues to say he did nothing wrong. He’s even threatened to take a camera to industry-only events to continue to out QMN (and presumably people like me).
Unfortunately the eco-system in porn is so fragile that we can’t deal effectively with the bad players in our industry. The sponsors could end this quickly by dropping him, and a few have, but they’re probably ones that didn’t do much business with Zach/Davyd in the first place. His bigger sponsors won’t drop him because they have a responsibility to their producers to make money and dropping him means less money. And there are so few other big affiliates out there that it’s hard for other affiliates to force the sponsors to do much of anything. We might be able to get a sponsor or two to drop Zach, but I’m not sure that would change much of anything. And it sets a dangerous precedent that might makes right. Sponsors should just do the right thing because it’s right.
So the bottom line is where you click links matters. Clicking a link to a porn site means that site will get a cut of the revenue. You’re helping fund the site when you click the link. So don’t click if you don’t like the site. Don’t give the mean girls money to support their bad habits.
Kudos to Banana Guide and The Sword (where Zach used to work) for doing blog posts that stood up to Zach & Davyd. I think a lot of folks in porn are scared to speak their mind because they don’t want what happened to QMN & the woman from TIM, happening to them.
In the event Zach thinks he needs to out me so everyone “understands my motivations”… Let me just save him the effort and state them clearly…
I run this site and number of others (the two biggest of which are Breeding Zone and Raunchy Fuckers). I support myself entirely on income from the sites, so yes, making money is most definitely a goal of mine. Though, in all honesty, I probably make more money (on paper at least) through some smart real estate investments my husband and I have made over the years (starting before I got into porn), so these sites help, but they’re not solely responsible for everything I have.
And yes, there’s some “controversial” stuff on my sites – stuff like bug chasing. But it’s all consistent with my somewhat libertine belief that people should be able to do with their bodies as they please. I provide places like Breeding Zone where people can safely express their sexual fantasies. Talking about sex is a good thing. For example being able to safely admit to being a bug chaser provides the opportunity for others in the community to say “That’s fine, but are you sure? Maybe you should consider PrEP…” Where I draw the line is things that hurt others – especially non-consensual and/or permanent harm. So, I’m fine with someone being a gift giver, but not when the neg guy has stated he wants to stay neg and takes steps to try to stay that way. Or a guy can fantasize about stealthing all he wants, but my moderators and I try to keep real-life stealthing off Breeding Zone.
And yes, I have other things going on in my life to the point that I value my privacy. I wish the world didn’t stigmatize porn, other forms of sex work, being HIV+, etc. – and I literally work to break down those stigmas all the time, but there’s still plenty of stigma out there. So no, it’s not OK to “out” me just because you don’t approve of every little thing I do. That’s not what this industry stands for, and doing so doesn’t make the world a better place. Discuss my ideas, not my mother’s maiden name.