I’d like to commend Dennis Romero for tackling the story of Shelley Lubben, and for not only reaching out to a wide variety of sources, but also accurately representing the positions of her critics. However, in a story like this involving so much disingenuousness, so many people, and hot-button issues such as religion and pornography, it is inevitable that certain facts and context get lost in the mix.
Case in point: the Porn Stars For Puppies event. The slogan on the anti-Lubben t-shirts was more than a mere reference to the fact that Lubben was using an animal adoption event to “raise awareness” about her hysteria-laden claims about pornography – it was a response to a particularly repellent argument of Lubben’s.
In April of this year, Lubben used a Porn Harms webcast to defend herself against criticisms leveled at her by several ex-performers who had been associated with Pink Cross Foundation. Once again she refused to refute any specific charges, but instead relied on a simple logical fallacy: that her accusers should not be believed because they are all faithless, mentally ill liars, and porn has made them “sick.” She went on to compare adult performers as a class to “wild animals” who will bite you when you try to ‘help’ them (and thus you have to keep the food/help out of reach to slowly lure hem in). A video on YouTube entitled ‘Shelley Lubben: Blaming the Victims’ features Lubben making those claims and comparisons. Blaming The Victims
The t-shirt slogan was a reference to the irony of having someone who dehumanizes sex workers use an animal adoption event to promote agenda. In this light, my exclamation to Garrett Lubben (reported here), that it is Shelley who is the “sick animal” takes on deeper meaning than a simple rude remark.
Yes, I do sometimes use foul language, as people who know me can confirm, however Mrs. Lubben’s recent complaint that I used “vulgar pornographic language” when speaking to Garrett is hilarious. Shelley is renowned for peppering her speech with bad language, and I urge readers to seek out the YouTube video, ‘Shelley Lubben: Potty Mouth’ for a small sampler of her public outbursts – particularly from her crash-and-burn appearance at Cambridge.
Another video, on Anthony Kennerson’s ‘anthonyjkenn’ YouTube Channel, features the initial exchange between Garrett Lubben and myself, and sheds some light on the context in which I made those statements at the Porn Stars For Puppies event.
Our protest, if you want to call it that, had been entirely passive. Performers showed up, were photographed wearing their t-shirts, were photographed standing against the media wall, and spoke to the press. None shouted epithets or tried to prevent Mrs. Lubben from doing her thing (we supports of free speech don’t prevent others from speaking, we place our argument out there alongside theirs, in the marketplace of ideas).
I, as an organizer of the counter-event, did not venture onto the red carpet to be photographed (that was for the adult performers who oppose her for very personal reasons), nor did I promote my own video efforts, nor did I approach anyone from Pink Cross. I stood on the sidelines and took photographs. It was Garrett – with whom I had never before spoken – who initiated a dialogue with me. He bragged that Shelley is a confidential informant for the FBI’s Obscenity Task Force, and that it now has “a file” on me because of my stance against Shelley. The fact that the OTF was disbanded in the spring of 2011 did not seem to faze him.
The second half of that conversation is captured in the video on YouTube. Garrett lied and distorted and deflected over and over again – but I got him to admit that Shelley had been a source for a libelous video about me (since removed) that is the subject of a forthcoming defamation lawsuit against its creators. I turned away in disgust, saying, ”That’s all I have to say to you.” It had been contentious, but not vicious – and the two of us even posed for photographs together.
But, Garrett was later dispatched with Shelley’s assistant/”servant” Melanie Dzierba, who wielded a camera (yes, Lubben never travels without an entourage and someone to record her every move – including her prayers) to re-engage me with great hostility.
Rather than using the “restraint” with which Mr. Romero credits him, 6’ 5” Garrett began by demanding, in a loud voice, that I speak out my home address for his camera. I refused. Garrett pushed and pushed the issue, made ridiculous false accusations, and subsequently dragged the reputation of one of Shelley’s critics, Michelle Avanti, through the mud. By that point I’d had enough of Garrett Lubben; I called him “a piece of sh–” and I stand by that characterization. Mr. Romero writes, “If you count her own experience as a porn star, she’s a credible critic,” however that’s a pretty big “if.”
Shelley Lubben (then Shelley Moore) was six years into an eight-year career as an illegal prostitute when she wandered into the adult industry in 1993. By 1994 she was gone with between 14 and 17 low-end porn titles to her name. Not once did she work for a major producer, and in fact, the vast majority of the people with and for whom she worked are no longer active in adult production.
Moreover, 1993-94 was before the AIM Healthcare clinic even existed. There were no standardized testing protocols in porn production — chlamydia and gonorrhea testing was not even required.
In short, Shelley Lubben has not been on a porn production set in 18 years, and her anecdotes – even if true – are not relevant to today’s industry.
In Mr. Romero’s article, he repeats Lubben’s debunked assertion that “contracting herpes and HPV on-set … led to serious medical complications, including miscarriage.” Setting aside the facts that 1) HPV is so common that the CDC claims 50% of sexually active people will contract in their lifetimes, 2) that condoms are not all that effective against it because it can effect areas that are nor covered by a condom, and 3) that Lubben claims God has miraculously cured her herpes – there are other problems with her story.
Lubben’s reproductive health issues actually long pre-date her time in porn. She had her first miscarriage at age 17 while still living in her parents’ house, and two more before she gave birth to a daughter from a prostitution client at age 20.
Which brings us to Mrs. Lubben’s claim that she’s ‘sure’ she caught herpes and HPV during her handful of porn scenes and not during her eight years as a prostitute. Lubben told LA Weekly, “I never had unprotected sex in prostitution unless a condom broke,” however that does not jibe with her other statements – and moreover it misses the point.
Shelley’s supposed INTENT to wear condoms is not the issue – the issue is that, in fact, she did NOT always have “protected” sex with those hundreds or thousands of untested men. The fact that she was impregnated at least THREE TIMES by prostitution clients speaks volumes.
Short of her having seen a herpes sore on one of her co-stars’ or clients’ members and then allowing it to penetrate her (and whose fault would that be?) there is simply no way she could ‘know’ when and where she became (allegedly) infected – remember, Lubben now claims God has healed her of herpes. However, Lubben has never offered proof that she was ever infected, or that she is the first human in recorded history to be cured of it.
The claims of a miracle cure are an essential part of the Shelley Lubben myth. Her entire myth — and her livelihood — relies on donors believing that she is indeed who and what she says she is.
Pink Cross Foundation is essentially a cult of celebrity, and the personality at its center is Shelley Lubben. Her personal story establishes her standing, her validity, and the validity of her personal mission.
Pink Cross, being a religious group first and foremost, has at its heart what she calls her “awesome story of redemption.” Shelley talks about being a prophet, has confided that she believes she is in fact the prophet Elijah, and she posted a video online of herself praying with an 8-foot staff.
The quotes from AHF’s Michael Weinstein are particularly amusing, in a greasy kind of way: Weinstein admits he hasn’t asked Lubben to join an AHF event for a year, because the fact that she is a lightening rod for criticism “is not something we’re interested in being a part of.”
Yes, Weinstein has indeed criticized Lubben’s public antics – such as getting her chest signed by Ron Jeremy outside the toilet of a bar during a booze-soaked Porn Star Karaoke event, and then later successfully bidding $600 for a “date” with him – and stated that it isn’t in AHF’s best interests to be too closely associated with her, but he has another reason to shy away from Lubben: she failed in her task.
Lubben, desperate to raise the PR profile of Pink Cross, volunteered herself for AHF’s campaign in 2009 with a promise to deliver CURRENT adult performers who would stand in support of AHF’s agenda. She never produced a single one — and time and again fell back on her squadron of disgruntled industry wash-outs and those who had left performing for reasons unrelated to the industry’s production practices.
Weinstein also told Romero, “I’m not disavowing her involvement. … I think her voice, in terms of her personal situation, having contracted STDs, and her concerns for performers, is 100 percent valid.” Well of course – what is he supposed to say? “I endorsed and underwrote testimony before public bodies such as Cal/OSHA and the LA County Board of Supervisors that was actually BS”?
It is in terms of that political agenda that I think Mr. Romero’s article gives her too much of a pass:
“Lubben says she wants the industry shut down, at least until it complies with state and federal health rules banning the exchange of bodily fluids at a workplace.”
This statement is extremely misleading. Yes indeed she does “say” that, but she also says (and has said for years) that her goal is to ”end porn” and to “bring porn down.” Her “concerns” about health and safety issues are, quite simply, a sham. She will support any move or measure (such as increased taxation) that she sees as damaging to the porn industry, because her stated strategy is to “stab the beast in seven places.”
If she were truly concerned with performer health and safety, why did she announce that she “danced” when the performers’ preferred health clinic was forced into bankruptcy by AHF-inspired administrative actions and lawsuits? And why does she encourage performers to get free HIV anti-body testing from LA County, rather than the far-shorter eclipse period (and more accurate) testing that the industry utilizes?
Finally, a word on the Lubbens coming across as “likeable” and “nice” – of course they do; have you ever heard of a con artist that doesn’t? As Shakespeare wrote in hamlet, “one may smile, and smile, and be a villain.”