When I began writing almost five years ago, I wrote about sex. In fact, I took a year of my sex life and blogged about every sexual encounter I had; I was even voted San Francisco’s Sluttiest Blogger in 2010. One of the things I chose to do during my year-long project and after was sex work. From 2011 to 2012, I was a phone sex operator and an erotic service provider in Northern California. My history and values are why I take it personally when I hear of anyone in the adult industry treated poorly or if manipulation to further an agenda that has nothing to with helping them takes place (for example, Pink Cross).
Over the Summer, I came to terms with my own relationship with God; I consider myself a person of faith; it’s another empowered choice I have made as an adult. Seeing people who profess to represent God and yet act with disrespect towards people they work(ed) alongside of and claim to help is far from acceptable.
Most people have preconceived notions about anyone who works in the adult industry. A good friend of mine after reading Part I of this series, who also works within the sex industry said, “I can genuinely say that I’ve never met as amazing of a group of people as I have in the adult industry as a whole. And the longer I’m in it the more I realize that it may be a result of the outside world’s perception of “US” and what we do. We’re a family and there are days where it’s us against the world.”
People who work in the sex industry have to constantly defend themselves and their choices; society has deemed any form of sex work less desirable than other jobs. Upon reading Jessica Drake’s Blog about what happened to her on that plane, I found it utterly offensive; mainly because the person who was responsible for that transgression, identified herself as a person of faith who was volunteering with a Christian ministry leading up to the incident. When that young woman said that she was surrounded by “sketchy” porn stars – suggesting that three days with them left her soiled – filled me with outrage and disappointment.
Because this young woman was representing XXXChurch, I held them responsible for her behavior. After two years of having an interest in ministries and organizations who claim to help those who are within the industry, this incident made me want to finally give my attention to Craig Gross, XXXChurch and organizations like it. When a volunteer of a well-known faith-based organization, makes a mistake of that grandeur, it makes me wonder about the leadership of that organization. That is why I have spent the last six weeks, looking into these organizations, to see who are charlatans and who are shepherds. No one is more surprised about my discoveries than me. The following is what I have come to learn about Craig Gross and XXXChurch.
For the record, I do not believe Gross tells his volunteers that porn stars are sketchy; I believe he doesn’t invest time reminding volunteers that they are people, just like everyone else. Gross told me in our first conversation that he, “...really [doesn’t] have a screening process for his volunteers.”
Why isn’t there a screening process? To hear Gross explain it, XXXChurch is in such high demand at adult expos and events, he relies on people in the cities holding the events to find volunteers for each show: “I think this year will be 11 shows that we’re in, from Australia to Canada. We don’t have a team, I mean we need help. We will normally work with a great key contact in that city and have them rally some like-minded folks, that will join our team. So, it’s a blend of people we just met and people from our staff, or people that have been on previous trips.”
What that means is that almost anyone can be a volunteer for XXXChurch at adult industry events, with no formal training, based on someones opinion of them being acceptable. Is Gross potentially more interested with XXXChurch being present at adult expos and receiving media coverage than on how volunteers representing the organization he leads are trained or how they should treat the people they claim to serve? Many believe so. First, a little background:
The idea for XXXChurch can be credited to a man named Mike Foster. Foster and Gross felt called to start a ministry helping people get off of porn because they saw it destroying some of the younger boys and men within there church. After two years with XXXChurch, Foster left it in the hands of Craig Gross; the direction that Gross took Foster’s initial vision allegedly didn’t seem to fit into the ministry Foster had in mind. In a documentary about XXXChurch, Missionary Positions, you see Foster remove himself in this clip because he didn’t feel XXXChurch was about helping people curb their porn addiction, but about XXXChurch getting attention.
Foster now leads his own non-profit, People of The Second Chance. Foster just released his book, Freeway, which is receiving rave reviews, now in it’s 2nd printing within 90 days and is in high demand as a respected speaker. When I contacted Foster for a comment about XXXChurch and Gross, I received no reply; no reply is something I experienced frequently. I attempted to contact Foster as well as several performers who had a history of interactions with Gross and XXX Church. From AEE, eXXXotica, Hookers for Jesus and more, I received an abundance of no comments, a few that were not responsive and also those who contacted me after being interviewed to say that they did not want to say anything after all out of concern for themselves or others.
There were dozens who used to work for Gross, who either politely declined to talk about that time in their life or asked what they shared to be kept anonymous due to fear of retaliation from Gross. Retaliation in the form of bullying and verbal abuse and Craig Gross unfortunately have gone hand in hand and still does situationally, as you’ll discover.