This news comes from Jasmyne Cannick:
A couple of weeks ago I was notified by mail that Flavaworks owner Phillip Bleicher was suing mwah for libel to the tune of $250,000. Good luck. I have a hard time getting $2.50 together much less $250,000 and you can quote me on it.
FlavaWorks is an internet porn company devoted to Black/Latino porn The Chicago Department of Health made quite a statement about their working conditions in 2006, accusing them of encouraging the actors to bareback even though many of them had STD's. The report also included reports that the company was practicing what bordered on illegal servitude:
There are also allegations that the business used unusual labor contracts with its models, which, according to one source, “at least bordered on illegal servitude.” The 30-day contracts allegedly required the models to perform a certain number of sexual acts in exchange for a stipend. But, when the models tried to collect the stipends, they were told they were being charged for such things as food and bed linens, leaving them, in some cases, in debt rather than collecting money. They were then pressured to sign new contracts.
So Phillip Bleicher, owner of FlavaWorks, packed up shop and moved to Miami after that Chicago Dept. of Health report came out, and now he's been handed five zoning violation citations by the city because he's operating his business in a residential area.
OK, so onto the blogosphere's involvement. Blogger Bernard Tarver posted the health report on his blog several months ago. FlavaWorks got his server to shut him down for a few hours to try to silence him. Well, he got back on after that didn't work and now they've threatened the bloggers that have been writing about this with a lawsuit (I only know that Jasmyne Cannick and Bernard Tarver have been named in it). Well, good luck with that. Bernard only posted a part of the Department of Health report verbatim, and Jasmyne's involvement has stuck pretty much just with the facts.
But I'll depart from them and just let you know that this isn't right what the company was doing, getting Black and Latino men to perform unsafe sex acts without pay for the pleasure of what's probably a largely white audience for the profit of a white man (Bleicher is white), if the Health Department report is true. If someone wants to have a racial fetish, that's none of my business. Hell, I've been seeing a self-described "Latino chaser" for a bit of time now (Hi, R.!), although there is a difference between a racial fetish and chaserism.
But this story just makes me mad because even though I'm sure that there are white male models who have to go through similar or worse conditions in the porn industry in this country, I'm 100% sure that, in general, it's not so bad for the white boys. Not only to white porn sites never call themselves white porn sites (because that would be so reductive, and gosh, those models are more than their race!), I can't think of a respectable and profitable "non-racial" gay male porn site that has hired a Black or Latino model in the past year. Black and Latino men get thrown into the doldrums of "fetish" because of our race or ethnicity, and these sites recognize that and make a profit off of it, and then they turn around and replicate the same racism that these models have to face in day-to-day life in the very venue that's marketing that race. In the end, it's just a way for a lot of white gays to live out their racial fantasies based on whatever stereotypes of Latino or Black men that they have and to continue to ignore and continue to fund racism.
I know that there are probably a large number of African American and Latino men who visit FlavaWorks's sites, and maybe this rant is just my hope that if that were true then they wouldn't put up with a business that treats its Black and Latino workers like that for the profit of a white man. Maybe I'm completely wrong - I haven't surveyed their audience and FlavaWorks contends that the Chicago Department of Health and the city of Miami are both wrong. But what I do know is true is that sex workers of color are treated worse than their white counterparts and that just isn't right.