MENTAL FLOSS: Analyzing Religious Fanatic Shelley Lubben

PORN VALLEY—As might be expected, Christian anti-sex fanatic Shelley Lubben took issue with our coverage of the seventh annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers—“expected” because Lubben's whole schtick is dependent on convincing her contributors and supporters that adult actresses as a group are exploited and preyed upon by unscrupulous producers and directors, and that if they gave it some thought, they'd quit the business in a heartbeat. It's bullshit, of course: I know it, she knows it, but if she admitted it, her book sales (already, I'm guessing, none too high) would plummet and her appearances at anti-porn events would dry up, and maybe the rest of the anti-porn movement would ignore her like intelligent folks everywhere currently do.

So let's examine her latest screed, eh? (I'll put my comments in bold italics.)

"I am honored to be a favorite of AVN (Adult Video News)," Lubben wrote. "Must be the blonde hair. I don’t know but porn reporter Mark Kernes seems to have a thing for me lately, especially when yesterday he promoted my name and Pink Cross in his very first sentence! I love stuff like this! Thank you Mark and AVN for the constant promotion. You’re making me and my cause famous!"

Sadly, Sparky, it's tough to comment on what a crap-artist you are without occasionally quoting you or referring to the bile you vomit forth on your web page. Wish I didn't have to, but for some reason, there are people out there in the real world (the world you don't have a lot of contact with) who are willing to give you a forum without even trying to find out what underlies the lies that are your bread and butter. Plus, I wouldn't have thought that my referring to your organization as a "religiously based hate group" would be considered an “honor”—but as I said, your contact with the real world seems to be tenuous at best.

"About the whole sex worker rights crap; first of all you don’t have a vagina for sale."

Neither do you. Short of organ donation, the best you can do is rent yours out, as do millions of other women around the world, a fair portion of whom (including all the actresses in the American adult video industry) do so voluntarily and with full knowledge of what they're doing—hell, many even enjoy it!

"Secondly, to address your 12th issue of the journal 'Research for Sex Work' in both English and Russian, (not a big deal considering my story and articles are in German, French, Spanish, English, Greek, Hungarian and Slovak), I’ll simply expose your lies and tell the truth and we’ll see who’s more convincing. You, a porn-addicted reporter with a “virgin” blessed assurance or me, the former Great Whore who fornicated herself in anals, facials and gangbang interracials with the world’s most sexually diseased people: porn stars."

I guess you don't read too well, either. "Research for Sex Work" isn't "[my] 12th issue" of anything; I have nothing to do with its publication. "Research for Sex Work" is published by the Global Network of Sex Work Projects, a sexually oriented human rights organization whose work is to promote health and human rights around the globe. And considering that you have no idea how much porn I watch in the course of a day/week/month, branding me as "porn-addicted" simply shows that you have no trouble making assumptions about people and things of which you're relatively (or completely) ignorant. And guess what, toots? You're still a whore (not a term I commonly use, but in your case, I'll make an exception), except now, instead of renting your body on the street or through in-call or out-call, you're whoring for religious fundamentalists everywhere. Finally, as Dr. Aronow recently demonstrated at the Cal/OSHA meeting in Oakland, STD infection among porn stars averages about 1.8 percent, rising to maybe 2.4 percent in a bad month—a far cry from the bullshit figures put out by the L.A. County Department of Public Health, and much closer to the population one could find in one's neighborhood bar.

"Not to mention I caught TWO sexually transmitted diseases from porn: Herpes and HPV, which led to early cervical cancer where I had half of my cervix removed."

Well, you made exactly 14 porn movies between 1993 and '95—five of which were all-girl movies—and there don't seem to be any figures available on the web regarding how long you were a prostitute and how many men (and possibly women) you serviced during that time, nor what your personal sex life has been like from your first fuck. So I think everyone can be forgiven for wondering whether you may have caught your STDs from sources other than your fellow performers. Your claim that you caught herpes and HPV in porn—both very common STDs that folks who've never been near a porn set nonetheless suffer from; in fact, the CDC has said that just about everyone who's had more than two or three sexual encounters has been exposed to HPV—is more likely part of your "sales pitch for Jesus" than having a basis in reality.

"Mark, have you had half of your penis removed?"

Funny you should mention that! As a matter of fact, I had my prostate removed four years ago after it was discovered that I was in the early stages of prostate cancer, a disease my dad died from—a fate I didn't wish to share.

"Yes, I know more about the greatest illusion on earth than you do Mark. Read my book, 'Truth Behind the Fantasy of Porn: The Greatest Illusion on Earth' to learn about the sex industry and the circus world of porn."

Thanks for offering me a review copy, but I have better things to do with my time than read your tripe.

"Sex Industry Facts that no true whore would argue with:

  • Women are objects who sell any part of their physical, spiritual or emotional body to fulfill the sexual desire or lust of another."

I think we've dealt with the "sell" part of that already, but perhaps you don't realize that pretty much all normal people have sexual desires, and that to some extent, most (hetero) people objectify members of the opposite sex to whom they're attracted. (Probably the same with gays.) There's nothing wrong with that unless that's all there is to the relationship—and if that's the case, that would be very sad (in my opinion). But many if not most relationships start with a physical attraction; we don't find our (eventual) lovers by groping around in the dark. Beyond that, the human condition consists of body and mind, and the relationship between them. "Spiritual" or "emotional" bodies are just part of your (religious) fantasy.

  • "The sex industry lures in women and men, coerces them into doing sex acts they wouldn’t normally raise their hands to do, and forces them through pressure and threats to perform sex acts they never agreed to. Any prostitute or porn star cannot deny this and if they do, I am sure we can find proof otherwise. I love the internet."

Well, the problem with the internet is that any asshole can post pretty much anything he/she wants, from the loftiest philosophical and scientific principles to the lowliest misinformation, bullshit and lies. Yours, of course, is the latter, as would be any websites you find that claim that adult producers "coerce [performers] into doing sex acts they wouldn't normally raise their hands to do"—what does that even mean, anyway?—or "force them through pressure and threats to perform sex acts they never agreed to." Have producers ever tried to convince porn stars, once they're on the set, to perform acts they hadn't originally contracted to do? Sure, and the AIM "Porn 101" productions, made by working porn stars, make it very clear that the performers NEVER have to perform uncontracted-for work. Have producers FORCED them to do it? No; any performer can walk out on a production at any time if the contract has been broken. As a general rule, adult performers know what they're getting into when they accept a job, and on set, try to do the best job they can—and they discuss the sex acts they'll be performing in the movie with their co-star(s) and the director pretty much all the time, so everyone knows up-front what's going to happen.

  • "Yes, sex workers get paid for rape. Definitions of rape:


1. the unlawful compelling of a woman through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse.

2. any act of sexual intercourse that is forced upon a person."

As noted earlier, performers AGREE to the acts they'll perform in the movies, so neither of these definitions apply. I have no doubt that some of your acolytes, now that they've got religion, have convinced themselves they were "compelled" to do this or that—not that you've ever investigated their claims by, for instance, speaking to the director or other performers on the set(s) where this is supposed to have occurred—but that's the equivalent of taking someone home one night, fucking him/her and regretting it in the morning: Perhaps a bad choice but not a crime. Porn stars know (or should know, if they've done ANY research whatsoever) what they're getting into in the adult industry. Many find, once they've tried it, that it's not for them; others revel in the sexual freedom it gives them. YMMV.

"3. an act of plunder, violent seizure, or abuse; despoliation; violation: the rape of the countryside.

4. Archaic . the act of seizing and carrying off by force."

Neither of these apply to adult performers.

"–verb (used with object)

5. to force to have sexual intercourse."

Porn stars aren't "force[d] to have sexual intercourse"; it's part of the job.

"6. to plunder (a place); despoil.

7. to seize, take, or carry off by force.

Synonyms of rape: assault, force, outrage, ravish, violate.

Sounds like porn and prostitution to me."

Of course it does—to you. You have an agenda, largely because of your religious beliefs and the fact that you earn your income from it, to destroy the porn industry and convince performers not to take part in it. And of course, being an "anti-porn activist" fulfills the exhibitionistic part of your personality that likely drew you to the porn industry in the first place.

"Interesting to note the search term, 'rape porn' leads to 1,780,000 porn site results. Go look. Yes, porn and rape are connected."

Yeah, kind of like how "Shelley Lubben" and "bullshit" are connected. Guess you never learned in science class the maxim that "correlation is not causation."

"Yes, sex workers are physically forced and violated, abused and despoiled during the sexual act in prostitution and porn. And we want to be paid for it. Denial is our greatest defense mechanism and alcohol and drugs makes the whole sex shebang possible."

Obviously, it's beyond your understanding that a person might enjoy sex, might enjoy having sex with multiple partners and in multiple situations, might enjoy the idea that millions of people—men AND women—are masturbating while watching them enjoy having sex with their partners; that all of that gives them a thrill—and yes, it generally pays pretty well. Are there a small number of performers who have trouble with alcohol and/or drugs? Probably. Are there a number of Wall Street hedge fund managers, housewives, doctors, McDonald's employees, secretaries, Hollywood actors, etc. who have trouble with alcohol and/or drugs. Undoubtedly. Should those folks receive treatment for their problems? Probably, if they want it. Fortunately, YOU don't get to decide who has to go into "forced porn rehab"!

"Denial is so common in fact, that sex workers unconsciously become emotionally attached to their abusers and defend their 'craft.'"

Wow! I had no idea you'd had extensive psychotherapy sessions with even a representative portion of the sex worker/porn performer population! Heck, I didn't even know you'd gotten your Ph.D. in psychology yet! 

"This is why porn stars sit on pornographers' laps and call them 'Daddy'."

Possibly—but of course, the vast majority of porn stars don't do that. Then again, some performers do have "daddy fantasies" that they can't act on in real life, so porn gives them the freedom to indulge those fantasies with older guys they can fantasize as "father figures." That's pretty healthy, actually—but I'm guessing you religious folks don't have sexual fantasies ... except maybe preachers like Jim Bakker, Ted Haggard, Jimmy Swaggart (twice!), etc.

"That’s why hot twenty year old strippers hug and kiss sixty year old strip club owners;"

Yep, I guess strippers can have "daddy fantasies" as well. As do, I'm guessing, the "sweet young things" who are attracted to Donald Trump, Fred Dalton Thompson (hell, politicians in general!), Harrison Ford—the list of mainstream "trophy wives" and "trophy girlfriends" is pretty long and distinguished. Plenty of books have been written about the psychology of "May/December romances," but if you're really interested, you can do your own research.

"eighteen year old prostitutes are attached to their older male pimps and so on. That’s why a group of sex workers gets together and writes a journal about 'Research for Sex Work'."

No, they write the journal because prostitution (and sex performing) has been around since time immemorial, and because jackasses like you think (or your income avarice and piety require you to think) that prostitutes (and porn stars) are second- or third-class human beings, so in self-defense, those who CHOOSE to make their livings by performing sex acts need to know how to keep you "Holy Roller" and moralistically motivated types (lots of them in law enforcement!) off their collective backs.

"Are you getting it yet Mark?"

Oh, I "got it" pretty much the first time I heard you speak.

"Okay, enough with the sex worker rights crap, I mean 'craft'. Violence against sex workers happens every day in every paid sex act and in every porn video."

That's a lie, of course, but the truth is, violence against sex workers happens every day because fake moralists LIKE YOURSELF, who claim to know what your alleged "God" has in mind for human beings' sexual behavior, believe that if you can simply propagandize, arrest, imprison and/or torture enough sex workers (porn stars included), everybody will stop fucking around and only have sex in the manner prescribed by you and your ilk: Married (heterosexually), in bed, in missionary position, with the lights off and nobody watching.

"All sex workers know how to do is survive the violence. We know how to survive the rape of porn and prostitution. We know how to smile through our gritted teeth when filthy men ejaculate on our faces. We know how to breathe through our noses when our asses are being stretched more than our pair of true religions."

Jeez, even I had to look up that last phrase! Beyond that, that's one hell of a view you have of paid sex. To be fair, for prostitutes there's a lot of truth in it (but see below for further comment). On the other hand, for porn stars, the so-called "filthy men" all come to the set showered and shaved because they know that if the woman they're working with doesn't like their personal hygiene, they'll tell their friends on blogs and Twitter, and before you know it, the guy is on everybody's "won't work with" list. In a sexually sane society, these things are self-correcting. Which brings me to...

"Even your so-called journal’s advice admits sex workers survive by 'staying calm':

'Lisa, Sonia, and Beth said that "staying calm" is an important strategy against forms of immediate harm and danger. Sonia emphasised the importance of "trusting your gut" and "not being naïve and trusting" with clients. If a client gives clear signs of being dangerous or makes her feel otherwise uncomfortable, Sonia does not let on to her fear or concern because "that could make him mad or lash out." Instead, she appears either unaware of or indifferent towards the client's threatening behaviour until it becomes possible to see a way out of the bad situation.'"

Of course, in a world where sex is dealt with in a sane manner, prostitutes would be allowed to practice their trade like any other professional—and have the same recourse to law enforcement protection from rapists and thieves as any other citizen. But thanks to people LIKE YOURSELF, who would deny a woman's right to have consensual sex in any manner she chose—even to get paid for it—the normal protections afforded by police don't apply to sex workers because, after all, what they do is ILLEGAL (in most states in the U.S.) because it violates the Eleventh Commandment: Whatever some fundamentalist preacher says God requires is Eternal Law and lesser mortals have no right to question it.

"I also hope it’s possible to help porn stars and prostitutes see their way out of a bad situation in sex work through my non-profit organization, Pink Cross, who genuinely loves and reaches out to sex workers all over the world."

No, you don't. I well recall seeing a blog post on your site—which I think you've since removed—that talked about how creepy and "unclean" you feel when talking to performers and other sex workers. You're a hypocrite, just like so many of your fellow religionists who claim to "care" about the "sinners" they're preaching to. Your interest is in conversion to the faith, not love—and, of course, making a buck by talking and writing about it.

"And yes, we care about your health and even defend your rights as workers and human beings. Men like Mark Kernes don’t care about your safety and health, they care about their porn."

Well, I can't speak for other men "like" me, but I care about human rights, about the rights of Americans under our Constitution, and as applies to this case, about the right for sex workers to practice their sexual performance ambitions and desires without being treated as second- or third-class citizens by people who claim to have some direct line to "the Almighty," the alleged "all-powerful creator of the universe" who nonetheless personally cares who's fucking whom, how and why.

"But I'm not sure if Mark Kernes is more interested in porn or Shelley Lubben per his recent written articles for AVN."

It's you, babe; it's ALL about you. After all, you're a legend in your own mind.

"But I genuinely appreciate the special attention and look forward to seeing you at the next 'porn' meeting at Calosha or maybe our State's Capitol.

You smell that Mark? Smells like legislation."

Nope. Just smells like more of your bullshit to me.