Diary of a Darklady
Darklady Goes to Sacramento
I arrived in Sacramento, California a little after 11:00 pm on Sunday. It was my first visit to the city, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from it. Although a mere two hours from San Francisco – which to some Californians is nothing more than a daily work commute – it’s also the state capital. State capitals tend to be somewhat conservative, perhaps of necessity. But California is a big state with a diverse population, so I reasoned that its brand of conservative was probably different from, say, that found in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania or Columbus, Ohio. I’ve never been to either of these cities, of course, so I could be wrong about them.
I was in town to attend the <a href=http://www.freespeechcoalition.org>Free Speech Coalition’s</a> Lobbying Days, an annual event wherein members and advocates of the adult entertainment industry receive intensive education about legal and legislative matters of importance and then visit a variety of state Representatives, Senators, and their assistants to discuss them. The goal is to put a human face on this often misunderstood industry that attracts millions of dollars and thousands of jobs to the area, while promoting laws that are effective and fair. Since this is one of my perverse ideas of fun, I’d rearranged my work schedule to accommodate a few days away from watching and writing about porn and sex. I was attending the event officially as the liaison between the <a href=http://www.woodhullfoundation.org>Woodhull Foundation</a> and the adult industry, but needed to wait until Monday afternoon before I would have a hotel room.
Fortunately for my budget, Jay Wiseman, author of SM 101 and a variety of other useful “how to” books, had a local friend with a comfortable couch who was willing to let me sleep on it – and then drop me off at the hotel in the morning. All this and a moonlight dip in the hot tub, a glass of chilled chardonnay, and an engaging discussion about kinky relationships. Such a deal. Not bad for my first night in a strange state capital.
Bright and early the next morning we piled into her car and enjoyed the hospitality of the city’s freeway system. I hadn’t eaten since the previous morning, so once inside the hotel, I checked my luggage and splurged on a delicious and nutritious breakfast buffet before stuffing my brain with details about lobbying basics; house bills; health and safety issues; and obscenity cases past, present, and future. My waiter was an import from New York, a man escaping the noise and confusion of Manhattan, where he’d worked as a butler to a household with a story of excess that reminded me again that there are things more obscene than a pretty girl having her mouth filled with cock on camera.
My mind filled with perspective and my belly filled with hot and creamy oatmeal, scrambled eggs, bacon, and chilled fresh fruit, I joined my compadres in commercial sex and got down to the business of making the world a better place to live, love, and frolic naked.
Kat Sunlove is probably one of the most driven and overworked people in the adult industry. Of course, it seems that some of the most effective people in the adult industry are also the most driven and overworked. Wonder if there’s a correlation there. Sunlove is currently not only the Free Speech Coalition’s chief lobbyist, but also its chief cheerleader and temporary executive director. With able assistance from other attending members of the FSC’s board of directors, she explained the history and significance of Assembly Bill 1894, a piece of previously proposed legislation dealing with seized records that is so obviously fair and effective that it makes your head hurt to realize it not only isn’t law yet, but was vetoed last year by recalled governor Gray Davis within hours of his leaving office – in spite of it having unanimously passed through both state houses. Welcome to politics, folks. It was our job to explain why everyone should vote for it again this year.
Now, on its surface this may seem like dull work. But this particular dull work was being conducted by porn stars and their pals, who are not among the most boring people that I have ever met. Experienced lobbyists and sex performers including Nina Hartley, Dave Cummings, and Taliesin, as well as <a href=http://www.avn.com>AVN’s</a> politically minded senior editor, Mark Kernes, helped keep things lively with stories of previous Lobbying Days’ experiences and insights into the business. None of us expected things to be dull once we were in the Capital building, since there was already plenty of excitement within the industry due to recent HIV diagnoses related to a performer who’d apparently brought the virus back with him after working in Brazil. Given that the California health department had proposed enacting a mandatory condom policy for the industry, we expected that there might be some pointed questions about the subject.
Getting a group of porn stars to talk about condoms is an interesting enough experience on its own. Developing speaking points on the subject is even more interesting. Ultimately, we all agreed that as tempting as mandatory condom use might be – and as much as many of us would like to see more of them being used – such a policy would only drive some production companies out of the state and others underground, making it nearly impossible to promote STD testing, find out who was infected, might have been exposed, or determine what to do in case of an outbreak. Most performers in gay porn use condoms – but they also don’t get tested for STDs, primarily since so many of them are already HIV positive. Demographically, that’s not particularly surprising, but it’s also not a problem that we’d like to deal with in straight porn if we can avoid it. Thanks to Dr. Sharon Mitchell’s work with <a href=http://www.aim-med.org>Adult Industry Medicine</a>, the chances of that happening are greatly reduced – but we need to make sure that the government doesn’t unintentionally interfere with that. Fortunately, once the initial hysterical panic subsided, the state health department agreed with AIM that such a policy would likely backfire. Score one for the good guys.
Since all work and no play makes for cranky lobbyists, we retired to the Virga’s Courtyard restaurants for drinks, dancing, and snacks. Our hope was that some of the legislators we hoped to chat with on the morrow might join us. A few staffers did, including a strongly supportive state museum curator who congratulated me on being from Portland, Oregon, where the 3000 plus gay marriages performed had been declared legally binding. The dapper gent danced with Kick Ass Pictures’ contract girl and 2003 gubernatorial candidate Mary Carey, while her husband glowered quietly nearby. Her company pal Scott Broadhurst begged me to let him watch me blow a chorus line of older men, Alexis Fyre and her stylish man chatted while enjoying the setting sunlight, and LaSara Firefox held a bit of court, although nothing compared to that inspired by Nina Hartley and her gloriously snug sailor style dress. An exhausted but determined Sharon Mitchell arrived in time to social with us, and looked radiant in a flaming orange sundress and matching gossamer scarf.
Once things got dark, the older folks packed up their toys and headed back to the hotel for nightcaps and snacks, while the younger folk hustled over to a nearby bar for the same. Being the wild sex maverick that I am, I opted for some smoking and joking with a super cute porn positive couple and then a walk back to the hotel, where I joined Sunlove and her shutterbug husband Layne Winklebleck for some late night personal story telling. Then it was back to my hotel room, where I found that Kathy Sisson, my roommate and Woodhull Foundation Regional Coordinator for the area, has a far more sensible approach to sleeping than I ever hope to achieve.
After battling my customary insomnia, I arose the next morning presumably refreshed and walked to the Capital building with the rest of the group to smile for the cameras during our press conference – and then take those California legislators by storm. Other than constant requests for photos and autographs from Carey – and a demand of Sisson by a receptionist for an explanation about why she would affiliate with the porn industry, things went off without a hitch. Sisson, chairman of the FSC board and attorney Jeffrey J. Douglas, and I worked the floors from 10:00 am until 4:00 am, at which point everyone except for me prepared themselves for some decompression time at Virga’s Courtyard. Instead, I caught a ride to the airport with gay interracial porn director <a href=http://www.altomarmen.com>Thor Johnson</a> and reflected upon two day’s work well done.
I was surprisingly wiped out when I got home. Perhaps hanging out with people whose diversity ranged from the petite and exotic sensuality of Kaylani Lei to the reassuring practicality of <a href=http://www.asacp.org>Adult Sites Against Child Porn</a> director Joan Irvine was just too much for my brain to process without at least a day to sort, file, collate, fold, staple, and mutilate all that I’d seen and heard.
Whatever caused it, I can’t wait to do it all again.