Hello, friends. We interrupt this regularly scheduled program (my initial plan to write a second piece on porn shoots that go wrong) to speak on the topic of the recent Rentboy scandal that we were all buzzing about at the end of August.
If you somehow hadn’t heard the news, the Rentboy offices were raided and several employees were sent to jail. The feds treated it like a Homeland Security issue, the website was shut down, and the entire industry was sent flailing, as escorts and clients alike were plagued with worries of what this meant for their future. Would the sting go beyond the offices and would the feds raid actual account holders? Would well known escorts go down with the lead employees, and how should this be addressed in their widely popular social media accounts, which had become an increased means of elevating business revenue? And, most importantly, how are these boys going to pay their rents?
The story broke in a big way, making it to national news, on TV and in print, and there began a mad dash for all escorts to delete any mention of Rentboy, or any business conducted through it, anywhere in all social media. I happened to be on the Kink.com set with none other than Rocco Steele (also known as Rentboy’s Mr. International) the morning the news broke. Rocco was nervous the entire day, constantly checking his phone for any updates as more of them appeared. There were not many, it seemed to me.
At that point on my end, as the sub in another elaborate Bound Gods situation as plotted by the devious Sebastian Keys, I was worried as to how this would affect Rocco’s performance as well as the general feel on set. Keeping in the sub headspace when there’s this sort of turmoil clouding the set can be tricky.
You may have heard before, but not only is Rocco one of the sexiest men in the universe, he’s also incredibly sweet and professional on set. As distracted as he was throughout the arduous day, he always took the time to check in on me and make sure I was alright. As the tiny bits of news rolled in, he was able to relax a bit more and we had a fairly decent shoot. That said, there was no publicity that day about the shoot as it was happening, as per usual Kink.com protocol, and we decided to keep quiet about Rocco’s whereabouts, in case there would be any searching for the big names in the industry.
Not much news has surfaced since the 26th when this all went down — the only thing I could find is a Wall Street Journal piece that talks about the 50 or so protestors who marched outside the courthouse in Brooklyn where the initial charges were held, as well as a fantastic statement made by Mx. Justin Vivian Bond. Why is there not more happening in the social media forum about this? Is our sex panic and sex shame still so prevalent that we are not discussing the fact that the federal government decided to make this a fucking Homeland Security issue, using taxpayer dollars to raid a company that was hurting no one?
I have high hopes for what this raid could do for the general discussion about prostitution and escorting. Similarly to how gay marriage was brought up years ago as a “gateway” to other debaucheries, and how PrEP has been discussed as a “party drug,” fear-inducing language around the evolving thought processes on these once very scary ideas also has the potential to lead to very progressive discourse that gets people thinking.
Prostitution, or whatever word you use to describe the exchange of money for sex or intimacy, once held with it a very scary and dangerous connotation. But on the flipside, it is an often therapeutic practice that has been around a long time, and has been given a bad name by the conservative forces that contribute to the fear-based rhetoric that has plagued our collective opinion about sex and sexuality.
Bottom line: THESE ARRESTS WERE COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY. I hope if this post does anything it encourages readers to contribute to this evolving discussion, and that when you hear someone speak negatively about the services that sites like Rentboy provide that you can offer alternative perspectives. About the lonely travelers, businessmen, and social outcasts who benefit greatly from the company of beautiful men who are paid to give them intimate attention. About the young men who may not have had the financial means to support themselves through college, so they use their bodies to put food on the table.
There are so many more ways to look at this than “whores and johns.” I hope this disparaging language around escort work slowly goes away, and we can look back on this raid as a gross misuse of government resources.
P.S. Since people may be wondering whether or not I was affected in any way by the Rentboy raid, the truth is despite my curiosity, I never delved into the world of escorting. I’ve been approached multiple times, and always wondered if it was for me, but I never quite pulled the trigger. I think it takes balls of steel to open that door, and for now the world of porn is enough for me. Side note: The dialogue that occurs at the beginning of the upcoming scene I share with the adorable Colt Rivers in Naked Sword’s latest Hooker Stories 3 is entirely truth-based – the set-up of the scene is that I would hire an escort to help me make the decision of whether it’d be something I’d like to try some time. The only thing that scene did for me was get a scene under my belt with my weird, grey hair. Not to mention getting to bang Colt Rivers.