How many times have we watched in old westerns the scene in which the judge informs the cowpoke jailed for cattle rustling, “We’re gonna give you a fair trial before we hang ya.”
Which is now the case of Peter Acworth, owner of Kink.com aka Cybernet Entertainment. No sooner did Acworth get busted on a cocaine possession charge [he’s got a hearing next week], that we’re discovering in dribs and drabs that the Kink armory in San Francisco isn’t the land of Oz it purports to be.
Informants and stoolies are coming out of the woodwork with their horror stories for Gawker.com, and Maggie Mayhem who’s also worked for Kink tells tales out of school in a 4,700 word essay she wrote recently for her blog page, www.missmaggiemayhem.com
“Kink.Com negotiates in bad faith and does not treat its staff ethically or fairly,” charges Mayhem, who worked at Kink from 2009 to 2011.
“It’s time they’re held accountable and make change beyond press releases and promotional copy.”
Mayhem, an HIV counselor, writes compellingly, if not extravagantly, but you soon realize this is no bimbo with an axe to grind.
I’ll do my best to summarize and give justice to what Mayhem describes is life in the fast lane at Kink. Her revelations are like a plot of some Italian horror movie from the Seventies where scantily clad buxom maidens are shackled to dungeon walls.
Yet what Mayhem says doesn’t surprise me at all. After all, this is porn, and porn is shadier than an Elm tree on Main Street USA. Porn execs get laid by talent looking for work and willing to compromise. Porn execs like to dodge invoices, a fact proven over and over by pay ‘em later Nick Steele at Bluebird. And porn execs, some not all, indulge in drugs except they usually don’t get nailed for it.
Acworth, a member of the Free Speech Board of Directors, just so happened to get his hands caught in the cookie jar. Acworth’s lawyer is describing it as a cheap $60 dollar bust. Even so, it’s the most expensive $60 Acworth will ever spend in terms of the negative fall out.
Just a quick look at some of Kink.com’s scenes on the free tube sites will tell you that what they say versus what they do are two different things.
Like an updated version of agent Regan Senter’s old sex compliance videos, performers vow before the camera that they were of sound mind and body before someone puts a burlap sack over their heads before gang raping them.
Mayhem talks about how when she was a college freshmen she attended a party at Kink.com and saw some truly strange sights including “zipped up gimps” and guys who begged her to fuck them in the ass. Mayhem says she had a sense that she had crossed over to another realm. Later, she appeared in a video for the company.
“I look back now and say that I committed social suicide at age 24 when I walked into the Armory to exchange a short nude, bondage, orgasm, and masturbation video for a few hundred bucks and a lifetime of stigma,” she writes.
Mayhem describes how she showed up at the Armory with sweaty palms to do her paperwork.
“Before I did the shoot itself, though, I was told that there was a writer who was interviewing people for a potential reality show about Kink.Com and it was a great opportunity to sit down with someone before they actually went through with it for the first time. There’s all kinds of energy around a first time, it seems.
“I was led into a small and relatively dark office where ‘this writer guy, Stephen’ was waiting for me. He was mild mannered, shook my hand, and introduced himself.
“I played like I did the first time I was on Kink.Com property – cool, calm, and collected. What did I say about my motivation? I said I wanted to immortalize my youth. I should have said ‘I want to commit social suicide,’ but people take that kind of stuff seriously.”
After that interview, Mayhem was asked to conduct yet another about her work as an HIV test counselor. She now looks back on that experience with many regrets.
“I’ve long since been ashamed of myself for what I haven’t spoken up about inside those walls,” Mayhem continues.
“I remember back in the earliest days of Kink Live, they would attach a locking collar that needed an allen wrench to unlock it from the back to 200-300 feet of chain to depict how we were ‘slaves’ of the castle.
“We were handed off camera buckets to pee in because it was a nuisance to unlock us.
“I was asked for 6 hour shifts with nothing more than a quick smoke break and maybe one off camera piss I saved up. There was a time when an executive came into one of my shows under his own official login at 4AM asking me to describe a fantasy and perform for him, for free, and describe a fantasy about a threesome with his wife.
“There are at least two occasions in which the larger caliber equipment on the cams alone exploded in flames. Some of the staff had to be reminded that it wasn’t OK to wash the company buttplugs in the same exact sinks they filled the work water bottles up with for while we were performing.
“Everyone acts and tells you that it’s normal and you know you’re being disrespected.”
According to Mayhem, she and two other models had a meeting with an executive producer to air their grievances.
“I articulated my problems to people at multiple levels. All it ever got me was less work. This producer was later fired. The chains did go away and the form and structure of Kink Live has changed. There were still major problems, though. I never sued anyone, I never threatened anything.
“I only spoke on my defense and moved myself out when it was apparent that no one respected me or my body or labor. Maybe I should have, but then I would have signed a contract agreeing to be silent. Them’s the terms of the games.”
Mayhem, likewise, describes an incident involving performer Nikki Blue in which Blue allegedly had to have her hymen injected with a numbing agent to complete a shoot.
“There was a medical professional hired to do it and the crowd agreed not to talk about it.”
“Legal contracts designed to protect companies from industrial espionage and trade secrets are utilized a lot to bully people into being silent about their experiences out of fears that they’ll be sued and unable to afford the ability to fight back even if the legal threats were bullshit.
“I have never signed any of these. Still, it’s hard to speak freely and this is still the surface of my persistent ethical problems with the great porn castle in San Francisco,” Mayhem continues.
“I’ve never asked to be treated like a diva but I do ask that porn directors not ask me to fuck them off hours so they can fuck me again on camera as though it were some kind of gift to do my job and make them money.”
One also gets the impression that Kink.com’s policy was to get performers either to work for free or as cheaply as possible.
As Mayhem states: “Show me another porn company that has someone running a website based around non-compensated people who get drunk and fuck for free, where the leadership and primary active recruiter also helps run private youth focused parties at community venues.
“You get a check if a model they shoot for the first time lists you as a referral but since The Upper Floor doesn’t pay ‘extras’, those checks probably weren’t as frequent as recruiters for other sites, but may have been pretty close in size to some of the checks cut to local models for the paid work they did.
“There’s a job for someone willing to coax people into having sex on camera for free so that Kink.Com can make more money.”
Mayhem has a lot more to say on the subject at www.missmaggiemayhem.com/2013/02/12/tales-of-kink-com/#more-2515
But I think you get the drift.