Sex Work

A&E Cancels Prostitution 'Reality' Series 8 Minutes

Sex workers say both premise of show and promises of help for them were a sham.

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8 Minutes/A&E

On April 2, the television network A&E premiered 8 Minutes, a "reality" show premised on "trying to save prostitutes," as executive producer Tom Forman put it. The network cast Forman, cop-turned-pastor Kevin Brown, and their team as heroes, undertaking "harrowing undercover missions" around Houston, Texas—"the epicenter of human trafficking in the United States," according to A&E. Pastor Brown would pose as a client and lure sex workers to a hotel room, where he revealed that his true aim was rescue. "Brown has determined that eight minutes is the maximum amount of time to safely convince these women to leave with his team—any longer puts everyone's lives at risk," said A&E. 

But women who worked with 8 Minutes tell quite a different story, challenging the show's claims to both reality and altruism. This week, A&E quietly cancelled the program entirely and removed all episodes from the A&E site.  

Even before it aired, 8 Minutes was controversial. In marketing the show, Pastor Brown and producers routinely conflated consensual commercial sex with sex trafficking and portrayed all sex workers as victims of violent pimps. This tone continued in the opening episodes, which were also rife with sensationalist and sexualized imagery

Then, in late April, a woman calling herself Kamylla came forward with even more damning info about the show. A Texas mother facing eviction and no job prospects, she had taken to prostitution secretly and reluctantly. Kamylla was not forced into sex work, but neither did she relish the situation. When 8 Minutes offered her a seeming way out, she was excited about the opportunity. 

No one from the show pretended to be a client, said Kamylla. The caller, a woman, identified herself as an assistant producer with 8 Minutes and after several phone conversations in November 2014 they met in person. On the phone, the producer had promised compensation and help getting out of sex work but been vague about specifics.

In person, she said the show would pay just $150-$200 on the day of filming. But she also promised Kamylla job placement, medical, and housing assistance. When Kamylla agreed to be on the show, the producer told her there was no need "to go back to 'life,'" she says. 

RealScreen.com

On the day of 8 Minutes' "harrowing undercover mission" shoot, producers staged a call between Kamylla and Pastor Brown to arrange a meeting, with Brown acting like a client. At the hotel room, Kamylla was told to act surprised when Brown revealed his true identity and ignore the myriad TV cameras all around. Afterward one of the women drove Kamylla back to a friend who had given her a ride and only paid her $200 when Kamylla brought it up. When she asked about housing assistance, she was told not to worry—and not to go back to sex work—someone from the show would contact her the next day. 

That never happened. When Kamylla called them a week later, they told her there was nothing they could offer by way of eviction or other assistance, save for giving her the number of a counselor. They did get in touch once more—to ask if Kamylla could recommend other women for the show. 

Kamylla found Pastor Brown's number and contacted him directly. "When I said I am being evicted, I need a laywer, I feel like you guys used me, he started to pray," Kamylla told me. 

Buzzfeed's Ariane Lange interviewed several sex workers who had worked with 8 Minutes. One woman, going by the pseudonym "Jazzy," said producers did not honor her request that her face be blurred in the broadcast. Another's husband was filmed posing as her pimp. None of the four women Lange spoke to were given a copy of the contract that they signed.

"8 Minutes also did not keep the sex workers' information particularly discreet," notes Lange. "It took less than an hour for this reporter to find contact information for three women using only the information A&E broadcast on television." 

Gina, featured in 8 Minutes premiere episode, told Lange that she, too, was promised assistance from the show—in her case, getting a car and finding housing—that never materialized. An A&E rep told Lange "This show is no longer on the air, so we will have no comment."

After stopping sex work for a couple weeks waiting for producers' promises of assistance, Kamylla went back to it—and was soon arrested and jailed. Her first "client" turned out to be a sting operation by cops who responded to her online ad. She wonders if using the same phone number she used with 8 Minutes may have led to targeting by police.

To help cover her legal and living expenses right now, prominent sex-worker rights activists like Mistress Matisse and Domina Elle have helped Kamylla start and publicize a crowdfunding campaign via Crowdrise. Initial campaigns through GoFundMe and then Tilt were taken down by site administrators (a common problem for sex workers of all stripes trying to crowdfund anything, from art projects to medical expenses to constitutional challenges). 

Though those helping Kamylla are themselves happily engaged in sex work, they have not pressured her to stay with it or publicly profess enjoyment for it. Rather, they've mobilized to help highlight her story and immediate finanacial needs, as Tits & Sass bloggers Lane Champagne and Bubbles pointed out recently. "Imagine if A&E had given even a fraction of the production costs to crowdfunding campaigns for sex workers, sex worker-run organizations, or even job training programs that would enable sex workers to enter the formal economy." 

"Kamylla's story is one that sits at the messy intersection of failed rescue ideologies, misguided and often violent law enforcement, the reality of profoundly unhappy sex work experiences, and a sex worker rights' community that is at times removed from the realities of criminalization and survival sex," Champagne and Bubbles continued. "But [the sex work] community … was there to support Kamylla when others discarded or ignored her reality." 

A&E/Screenshot

Domina Elle, a Denver-based dominatrix, artist, and sex-worker rights advocate, suggests that "8 Minutes is a perfect allegory for the rescue industry." By rescue industry, Elle refers to the myriad organizations, from nonprofits to religious groups to government-funded task forces, that have sprung up around the alleged epidemic of U.S. sex trafficking. 

"Many of the stories told by rescuers have proven to be completely false," notes Tara Burns at Alternet. "High-profile trafficking activists like Somaly Mam (one of Time's 100 Most Influential People of 2009) and Chong Kim have built careers and raised millions of dollars with their own fabricated stories." 

"There's a great deal of rhetoric around 'rescue' 'restoration' and 'help' but we aren't finding much in the way of actual services for people, despite the millions some of these organizations receive," writes Elle.

Many people working in the rescue industry know that most sex workers don't want their 'rescue.' This doesn't stop them from applying for federal grants or accepting donations. The money is predominantly used for hotlines and raising awareness.

Watching a person like Kamylla fall through the cracks, being a person you'd assume the rescue industry would love to assist, is very telling. [It] exposes the narrative for what it is, a ruse to be able to generate more funding for the rescue industry that never seems to manifest into tangible services.

The U.S. Senate recently passed a major package of anti-human-trafficking legislation that has bipartisan support in the House also. It's packed with funding for "rescue"-mission type organizations, be they police or private, as well as "awareness raising" efforts— like posting trafficking-hotline numbers at truck stops and strip clubs or training school principles and TSA agents on how to spot the signs of trafficking. In other words, the kinds of things that keep law enforcement agents, government paper-pushers, and the nonprofits touting this legislation in things to do and money to spend on it. But the bill contains little in the way of impact on the immediate needs of those it claims to help. 

Like the producers of 8 Minutes, state and federal lawmakers talk a good game about how they're planning to help victims of sexual violence, trafficking, and coercion. But in focusing so exclusively on the victim/evildoer/savior paradigm, their version of "reality" bears little resemblance to people's actual lives, experiences, or needs. And this ultimately doesn't matter, because the "victims" are just props in the perpetuation of this rescue charade. Lights, camera, action, roll call. 

"I do not have a job. I see my arrest like a criminal in my mind all the time," Kamylla says. "I am a person before the show who needed a chance. Now it's after the hurricane." But the online sex-work community is "little by little doing what the TV should have done" in terms of helping her get her life and finances back together, she says. 

A&E has not publicly commented on the women's allegations or the show's cancellation. 

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  1. Now if only we could get HBO to cancel Game of Thrones before they manage to spoil the book series or find other innovative ways of ruining ASOIAF.

    1. Better idea – 8 Minutes set in various brothels all over Westeros (and Essos). With Tyrion and Varys as hosts, and Littlefinger as the villain they thwart.

      1. Ya gotta have Bron in there too

        1. Lean and mean, man! Lean and mean! Bron can come on as a guest, as can Loras (this time, we investigate male whores) and, of course, Oberyn (let me teach you guys, you don’t need whores, you can get any woman if you follow my simple Game Plan).

      2. Oh, they’re halfway there already. What with the Bron and Jaime Show, the Brienne and Podrick Show, the now-canceled Arya and The Hound Show, the Sansa and Littlefinger Show…it’s all there.

        1. The Benioff and Weiss Do a Horrible Job Show and the GRRM Cashes Gigantic Checks Show are both doing great, though.

          1. The We Think We’re Better Writers Than the Guy Who Created The Story that Inspired Us To Make a Show Show seems to be going off the rails, though.

            1. No kidding. Having read the books, each subsequent episode this year has me going “what the fucking shit?!”.

              1. I haven’t even bothered to watch this year, and what I’ve heard makes me more sure I made the right choice. Having Sansa marry Ramsay? Killing Barristan Selmy? Retarded.

                1. There’s no evidence they killed Barristan Selmy. He very easily could survive.

                  1. He looked pretty fucking dead to me.

              2. No kidding. Having read the books, each subsequent episode this year has me going “what the fucking shit?!”.

                I’m currently almost at the point where I’m solely hatewatching. Oh well. At least I have Silicon Valley right afterward.

              3. I agree 100% it just pisses me off when they change things in the show for LITERALLY NO FUCKING REASON.

                case and point: Robb’s wife
                it literally made MORE sense in the books when she was the daughter of a lannister bannerman

                but no, they changed it, and if someone can give me one real reason for the change, i’ll give them a well deserved high-five

                1. Only explanation I can come up with: in the books, the backstory on the Westerlings establishes a familial relation between Jeyne’s mom and Maggy the Frog, which had led the the conspiracy theory that Sybell Westerling has magical training and Rob Stark was drugged with a love potion by the Westerlings under Tywin Lannisters orders to break up the alliance with the Freys.

                  If this is 1) true and 2) planned to become a significant plot point later on, the show has to figure out how to do this without having to dump a bunch of exposition on characters that never showed up in the show. Their solution: replace Jeyne with a woman from Volantis with mysterious ties to Valyria who can be revealed to have magic training herself at the right momment.

                  1. Unfortunately you are heavily speculating based on a conspiracy theory that is highly speculative (and i also dont believe), so i can’t grant you that high five

                    you see the thing is that it really doesn’t even matter whether robb was drugged or not at this point, so why would they even bother going back and explaining something like that? It will never come up i’m sure

    2. It’s already ruined. An episode of HBO show gets five times the audience of one of the books. Now that’s it’s clear they don’t really care about what’s in the books and are just going to do whatever they like with the characters, we have to accept that GRRM has lost creative control of his series. He’s now just the guy hired to do the novelizations of HBO’s show.

      Either GRRM will toss out his vision and copy what the show does from now on, or his version will end up mostly forgotten and the show will be considered the “real” ending.

      1. Not true. People who watch the show but have no interest in the books were never, ever going to read them anyway. And people who read the books could never, ever think that the show was the “master” version or whatever. Martin’s writing is light years beyond the show’s writing.

        He won’t change his shit to be like the show, he’ll just keep doing what he planned on doing. Which is what we all want anyway, amirite?

        1. People who watch the show but have no interest in the books were never, ever going to read them anyway.

          This is exactly my point. The problem is that the “show people” is a much larger set than the “book people”. It doesn’t matter how much better GRRM’s writing, if the book and the shows diverge substantially, the show version is going to be the one that ends up permeating via cultural osmosis.

          It sucks, but by any meaningful sense, the show is going to end up being the “real” version in terms of impact on society.

          1. As I said to you below, that can only be true if the number of people who have never read the books but watched the show are greater than those who have done both plus those who have only read the books.

            I am extremely doubtful that there are more of the former. Unfortunately, we have no numbers on that.

          2. the show is going to end up being the “real” version in terms of impact on society

            The plot is so convoluted that I don’t think any of the details are sticking. Just the overall arc. I read the first 3.5 books and then watched the 1st season on HBO and now I can barely remember any of the details. I loved season 1 but I was hesitant to continue – instead I’ll probably just go back and start over with the books.

      2. An episode of Game of Thrones gets like 8 million viewers and the books have sold something like 65 million copies worldwide.

        Given that there are people like me who have let family members read my copies, far more than 65 million people have access to the books. I don’t think it’s accurate at all to say the HBO show is far more popular than the books given their ludicrous readership.

        Furthermore, why on Earth would you think GRRM would change where the books are headed based on different changes in the T.V. show? That makes no sense.

        1. An episode of Game of Thrones gets like 8 million viewers

          8 million is the people who watch it live when it first airs. When you count in DVR, streaming, etc. its 20 million per episode:

          ‘Game of Thrones’ viewership grows to nearly 20 million

          the books have sold something like 65 million copies worldwide.

          60 million, but that’s spread across all five books, not 60 million each. So more people are getting GoT through the show than through the books.

          1. Uh, no. Your supposition would only work if more people were watching the show without reading the books than people who both watch the show and read the books, or people who have only read the books. Unfortunately we don’t have numbers on that, but anecdotally, I know so many people who read the books because of seeing the show, and very few who *only* watch the show.

            1. I refuse to read the books and still find this season confusing. Why do we have 5 or 6 different sub-shows now? There’s nothing to engage me in some larger story. Maybe this serial stuff just isn’t for me. True Detective, was fantastic storytelling. This, ehhh, it’s run off the rails. I wanted the big war to bring all the elements together. Now it’s just fatiguing.

          2. You said 5 times more and your numbers still wouldn’t even have it at twice the number watching the show. Secondly, you’re ignoring a) library rentals (admittedly a small number in modern times) and b) people who read the books because a family member did. I bought every book but my whole family has read them because I lent them copies. The 65 million also wouldn’t count resale of used books, and given that the first book came out in the mid-90’s there have probably been millions of resales by now.

            When everything evens out, you’re probably talking about a nearly identical number of people watching the show as are reading the book and there’s a huge overlap between book readers and show watchers.

            1. I said 5 times because the last time I looked (last year), the total books sales were only being reported as 25 million.

    3. My brother’s convinced Martin is holding off publishing the next book until the series is over because the HBO junket has been so much more lucrative than publishing.

      1. Then your brother’s crazy because the next A Song of Ice and Fire book is going to sell millions of copies. The next time he publishes a book he’s probably going to make several million dollars the year he does so off of that book alone. That’s not even counting the fact that when he publishes a new book, there are going to be people who go back and buy earlier books so they’re caught up.

        All these theories about book vs. show are bizarre. If the show had never existed, Martin would still be making several million dollars annually off his book royalties alone, especially given that he doesn’t only have the Game of Thrones books but has tons of earlier books which I’m sure sell alright given the GRRM name being attached.

      2. His publishers would kill him if he took any longer to come out with the books than he already does. He has almost no involvement with the show at this point. He’s just taking a long time, like he always does.

        1. They would want to kill him but what are they going to do? There are so few authors who actually make big money, that someone like him is irreplaceable. He could ask to fuck the publisher’s CEO’s high school age daughter and they would likely let him do it. They have no leverage over someone like that.

          1. They have no leverage whatsoever. And besides, they know that he’ll make them hundreds of millions of dollars when he comes out with the damn thing. So it’s in everyone’s best interests to not antagonize the fat man too much and hope that he finishes his stories before he keels over from a piece of sausage lodging in a heart valve.

          2. Yeah but you’re acting like he wants to take forever and never finish. Remember that this is a guy who loves his characters and his story. Of course he wants to finish it; he just wants to do it right.

            I’ve seen him talk about this stuff in person. He absolutely loves his world that he’s created. He just wants to make sure the story is as good as people have come to expect. And that takes time.

            1. Robert Jordan loved his world too, I’m sure. I’m just saying.

              1. Even if Jordan loved his world (which I doubt), he certainly didn’t love his readers. In fact I’m pretty sure he hated them or at least held them in great contempt.

                1. “I know! I’ll write four books in a row where nothing happens and the characters are looking for a fucking bowl or some shit. Then everyone will stop reading this fucking series and I won’t have to write these shitty fucking books until the day I die.”

                  Several years later…

                  “Goddammit.”

            2. That’s the thing, once you fall in love with characters and (moreso) the world, you don’t want to finish. You want to sit there and explore every nook and cranny and figure out weird side stuff, and come up with cool concepts. Kinda like Tolkien with middle earth, except Tolkien published a finished product first, then explored the world further.
              I’m quite sure that as far as money goes, travel to cons and junkets and count HBO royalties is far more $/effort than actually writing, so I don’t blame the guy. I just wish he’d stop blue balling his audience.

              Caveat: I’m not a big fan of books because I didn’t like his writing style, so HBO shows suits me fine.

        2. GRRM gets a bum wrap for being a slow writer. If you look at pages written per year, he’s one of the most prolific authors around to day. It’s just the his pages are gathered up into a handful of massive books instead of dozens of shorter ones so it’s a long time between publishings.

          1. Not to mention that he edits at least one anthology a year. I do hope HBO picks up the Wild Cards universe next.

        3. He’ll get around to it when he’s done with the epic ’89 tour.

    4. So, did the dragons ever arrive?

  2. I remember when I spent eight minutes trying to save a prostitute.

    1. I’ll bet she still made you pay for the full hour

      1. It was so bad she made me pay for the night.

        1. So I take it your name isn’t Podrick

      2. Did you see the documentary “whores glory”?
        I was watching it and my wife came in and asked what I was watching. I said a documentary about whores, but don’t worry they don’t show anything. About that time they showed the “full transaction” in a Mexican brothel.

        1. That was gross. Some of the Thai whores were pretty hot, though.

          1. Yeah they were!

          2. That’s redundant; all Thai whores are hot. Yes, even the ones with dicks.

    2. Is that when you went to the corner store to get some condoms?

      1. Gator’s bitches better be using jimmies!

  3. I hate reality TV. Except Jeremy wade. That dude fails way too much for it to be rigged.

  4. Something on TV was fake? Better bust out the ol fainting couch.

    1. Err the other couch is the fainting couch

  5. You mean “reality” TV is totally staged bullshit? Shocked, I am.

    1. Well, at least we still have pro wrestling…

  6. God, please save us from people who want to ‘save us’.

    Amen

  7. so it’s scripted like every other reality show. but it’s probably closer to bum fights.

  8. Pastor Brown would pose as a client and lure sex workers to a hotel room, where he revealed that his true aim was rescue.

    Pastor Brown sounds a bit like one of those creepy cult leaders that says, “I have to be all things to all people, baby!”

  9. “8 Minutes also did not keep the sex workers’ information particularly discreet,” notes Lange. “It took less than an hour for this reporter to find contact information for three women using only the information A&E broadcast on television.”

    Information voluntarily handed over to a third party.

    1. OH SNAP! Well played.

    2. I’m forming a class action lawsuit against the show – could you pass that information onto us or let them know about me? Thank you – http://www.sexworkersanonymous.com

  10. I don’t get it, You aren’t filled with empathy for “Pastor Brown”?

    1. If by empathy you mean supreme disdain, then yes.

  11. But those rednecks really became rich by selling duck calls, right?

    1. I know I’ve got DD branded toilet paper. It’s going to be worth more than beanie babies.

  12. Cop turned tv show Pastor. Well that just screams asshole now doesn’t it?

    1. it certainly screams low FICO scores.

      1. Ha! Would you give him credit?

        1. give is pretty much the operative word with the 3 Ps. cuz you ain’t getting it back.

          1. 3 Ps? Pastors, police, and pederasts?

            No, that can’t be it…pederast would be redundant….

  13. “”Brown has determined that eight minutes is the maximum amount of time to safely convince these women to leave with his team?any longer puts everyone’s lives at risk,” said A&E. ”

    IF WE WAIT ANY LONGER THAN EIGHT MINUTES, THE PIMPS WILL BURST IN GUNS BLAZING

    1. Oh noes! Here come the pimps!

      1. FACT: The average pimp has a finely tuned internal clock and can tell if you go so much as a single second longer than 8 minutes.

        1. I hear they hide stopwatches in the heels of their platform shoes.

    2. Why does the pimp wait 8 minutes after he watches a camera crew go into a hotel room? People who think reality TV is real are really dumb. The people they surprise are already wearing a mic. It’s not a fucking surprise!

      1. At least pro wrestling is still real.

  14. From that Domina Elle woman’s twitter page:

    “Fun consultant – adult play facilitator – Lover of LIBERTY! Artist. Working for Social Justice!”

    I…I’m so conflicted. It’s like she set up the most awesome first half of a profile imaginable just to screw with me with that second half.

      1. Baitin’ and switchin’!

        1. Even here. Even the fund raiser got switched. There’s more to the story at http://www.hightechmadam.blogspot.com

    1. Comments about Domina Elle show a history of stalking and unstable dangerous behavior. http://badboyreport.kr/2013/06…..denver-co/ These are comments posted in 2014. In this blog ? it says that she “stalked the competition”. So I typed in “stalking” and found this gem. http://www.bardotsmith.com/blo…..-obsession

  15. I once tried to convince a prostitute to leave that life, but unfortunately it took 8 minutes and 17 seconds so a pimp hit squad murdered my whole family and mailed their body parts to my house.

    1. On the plus side, you didn’t have to explain that mysterious charge on the next month’s credit card statement.

    2. Ha, look, Irish is pretending he lasted more than 30 seconds with a woman. That’s funny.

  16. Kamylla found Pastor Brown’s number and contacted him directly. “When I said I am being evicted, I need a laywer, I feel like you guys used me, he started to pray,” Kamylla told me.

    This is the sort of thing that makes people hate Evangelical Christians.

    1. You don’t hate the player; you hate the game.

    2. *starts to pray for Stormy’s poor, besotted soul*

      1. I hope you’re praying to ?????. He’s the only one who truly cares about the people.

        Also: thunder gods are just more fun.

        1. Jesus promised an end to all evil, Thor promised an end to all frost giants.

          I have not seen a frost giant for quite some time now.

          1. Way to deny the existence of Ann Coulter, buddy.

            1. She’s frost giant? I always thought that she was fey tranny.

    3. Only his number isn’t listed anywhere. There’s no way to have “found” his private number in California. “Kamylla” can’t produce paperwork for anything – not a contract for the show. Not a police report. Not eviction papers. What’s even more interesting is that none of these reporters are asking for it – yet they’re printing her story like it’s gospel. He fakes the show – but the reporters don’t check out these women’s stories like this might not be part of the con? More to the story at http://www.hightechmadam.blogspot.com

  17. I spent 8 minutes trying to save a prostitute once. Then I gave up and buried her in the desert.

    1. Bitches aint shit, yo

  18. 8 minutes? For me, more like 8 seconds! Amirite?

  19. So how many of the hookers do you suppose this creep banged off-camera?

    1. That depends. How many male hookers did they have on set?

  20. Oh…”8 Minutes” was italicized as a title, not for emphasis. You should’ve used quotation marks. I really thought 8 minutes was the length of time it took them to cancel after word got out. Or:

    A&E Cancels 8 Minutes, A Prostitution “Reality” Series, After…

  21. Btw, are people out there in the suburban American world, away from all the sordid aspects of life, really so oblivious to the fact that almost no hookers have pimps these days? It’s all done through internet ads these days, and pretty much everyone is freelance, a lot safer for customers and courtesans alike. At least until the government shuts down the sites and sends everyone back to the streets at least, supposedly for beneficent reasons.

    But that’s just me thinking that in order to have a valid opinion on something you should know what the fuck you’re talking about first.

    1. Agreed. They are pissing on our legs, telling us it’s rain and then selling us an umbrella! There’s way more to this story that no one is checking out – yet the producer is the producer of “catfish”? Come on. http://www.hightechmadam.blogspot.com

  22. No one is who they say they are in this. “Kamylla” doesn’t have a contract to even prove she was on the show. Yet the media is writing about her like she is without even verifying anything at all – like her arrest. No police report. Her eviction? No paperwork. Her arrest story is bogus because if she wasn’t a citizen – they would have held her at least 72 hours to verify her status – and even then might not process her because they get paid for every day she’s in jail. Yet she didn’t know anything about this. She doesn’t want the press to find out who she is – but she’s calling every reporter in the book clear up to Dan Rather? Her fund raiser wasn’t “taken down” – it was moved to a completely different cause. Go see for yourself. Oh wait – no one is verifying anything when the producer is also the producer of “Catfish”? Are you kidding me? No wonder Hitler got away with burning people for years and no one believed the truth. There’s more if you’re interested however at http://www.hightechmadam.blogspot.com

    1. You know who else got away with burning people for years?

  23. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ?????? http://www.netjob80.com

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