Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Few Words About

This is a companion piece to yesterday's blog about Chairem's shady history

Devotees for some reason, more than other pervs, seem to have latched on to Yahoo! Groups as a way of congregating and sharing materials. I'm not sure who came first or why, but there are plenty of them, in English, Spanish, some German, a few I think were in Czech or Polish but I'm a bit fuzzy on that.

There were attempts at a Google group once as I recall, and for a while in the late 90's, when Geocities web rings were still the hip happening thing, there was a decently successful group run through, I think, the Excite! search engine etc. though I might be getting that wrong. It could have been Lycos or AltaVista or another one nobody remembers or cares about.

Somehow all of them managed to be less embarrassing than this...

In any case, for over a decade now, probably longer, the Yahoo groups have played a pretty big role in supporting the dev community. There have been too many to count that came and went over the years with just as many themes. Some were dedicated to particular athletes and models, or discussion, or picture trading, or a selection of three or four disabilities, and many combinations thereof. Predictably though the most common groups centered around trading pictures.

For a long time small groups would spring up where some guy would post a smattering of his favorites. A few even achieved some slight degree of longevity, eventually though someone else would come along and create a new group with new favorites and so on and so forth. It went like this for a while leading to a very disjointed network of groups hosting clippings from magazines, brochures, encyclopedias, and of course stolen and candid pictures as well. You'll remember, this was before social networking was even a shadow of the beast we know today.

At one point whose date I can't recall, though I'm sure this was at least on or after 2001, things began to change, and a structure emerged amdist the chaos. “Ordo Ab Chao” as they say.

There was, and still is, a group called 'aestheticalparaplegicgirls' or APG for short. The name is kind of silly. Never in my lifetime have I heard someone append an '-al' to the end of 'aesthetic' to render it adjectival. However, the purpose of language is to effectively communicate an idea which that name, despite its quirky interpretation of grammar and overall clunkiness, does just fine.

Most groups prior to this had been open to the public, or merely required you to register so spammers and other undesirables could be screened out. This had a new catch. To join APG you were required to first submit to the group owner via email three new pictures of disabled women. They couldn't be 'old' pictures which had been in circulation before. Additionally the women had to be sufficiently attractive, though this was left to the moderator's discretion.

The group, though drawing smaller membership than others before it, was a success and soon the mod began creating new groups to keep up the flow. APG2 came, and then APG3, and it went on up into at least the 40's as I recall. Most groups containing around twenty or so pictures. What I found most interesting about these was the utter absence of pictures stolen from existing dev porn vendors. Oh sure there were plenty of lifted vacation pics from someone's personal website and other ethically vacuous “prizes”, but these groups, even the clones dedicated to sharing video clips, never seemed to cotton to the idea of stealing from someone who was selling. Though with everyone else it never seemed to matter.

I don't know if they are still making new groups, the format seems largely defunct at this point. I stopped paying attention years ago and finally left once I realized there was something more important than myself, but I gather that devs have moved on to other web 2.0 destinations. However, these groups are still operating.

Now the problems with this are obvious. It continues and encourages a pattern of coercion and exploitation of disabled women by devotees (men and women alike). It does more than that though. In a very literal way it treats them as currency, reducing them to their physical attractiveness. They are treated as an abstraction, a means to an end and not an end in themselves, and thus robbed of their humanity in the service or chasing yet another twinkling of ephemeral bliss.

This same quasi-Kantian horror I have been complaining about since this blog's inception is wrought into something greater than itself not only in terms of its ability to produce content, and thus exploitation, but also in that it exaggerates the negative aspects of the relationship between devotees and disabled women. In a nutshell, APG is a feminist's nightmare. Through it, men become very literal literal hunters, and women, or their representation, very literal prey.

The same way deer are prized for their antlers these women are prized for their bodies (albeit here through a somewhat different set of values than the dominant culture). A whole economy was generated around these women as expressed through various media. Three pictures earned you access to three groups showcasing twenty more pictures apiece. Ten pictures or one sufficiently long video clip earned you access to three groups with a few video clips. It is worth highlighting the fact that candid and stolen material was held in equal regard to others. There was no distinction.

At this point it would be expected of me to point out, as I have before, that there exist plenty of websites where disabled men and women will gladly share of themselves what they care to for a nominal fee. They do, and it is generally agreed upon that these are preferable in terms of ethics, consistency, and quality, to networks which trade all sorts of media including stolen or candid pictures. However, that paints far too rosy a picture of the status quo.
In 2007, not long after Madonna Long made her departure from Chairem official and founded Roll Modelz emails like these began being posted to the first APG's utterly desolate message board, and thus forwarded to anybody who hadn't opted out of receiving emails from the group.

Oct. 22, 2007

Funny story about Rob by the way, he had been posting in dev groups on Yahoo for years and was that rare open minded person with a disability who didn't care what devotees thought. He finally started modeling for Roll Modelz and put out two videos before someone recognized him and told them he was a pretender.

Jun. 3, 2008

Even Shannon, from tried advertising like this. 

 Dec. 4, 2007

When Madonna, Zaria, Kim Barreda, and others tried producing 'Chloe' their magazine for disabled women, they used the same account to advertise in the same way.

Feb. 5, 2009

Madonna is an intelligent businesswoman, and took the right step, as practically every other dev vendor has, of setting up a promotional group on Yahoo. Hers was called 'meetdisabledmodels'. It served as a hub for announcements about upcoming Roll Modelz releases, sales, and new models.

It's not uncommon for models and agencies to release promotional material solely through their Yahoo group. ParaPrincess releases exclusive video previews that way, Shannon posts periodic update photos through hers, and Candi used Yahoo and YouTube before settling into Facebook as well. In fact you'll quite often see different vendors advertising on each other's pages.

The problem though comes when you advertise on dev pages like APG.

It makes good sense to advertise to your target demographic where they will see your ads. Most devotees convene in groups centered at least in part around trading pictures etc. However, when these groups are exploitive, mechanistically so in regards to APG it is difficult to justify drawing a profit from groups like these without soiling one's hands. The devotees, whose presence you rely on for effective advertising, have congregated for the sole purpose of consumption, coercive, exploitive, and otherwise. They would not be there if it were not for the given media present, and they draw no distinction between that which was obtained with the model or photographer's consent, and that which wasn't. What does it say of a vendor who refuses to distinguish between groups which make this distinction?

Advertising in these groups has the subtle effect of tacitly condoning their activities. If instead Roll Modelz, Shannon's Den and every other vendor were to publicly decry this coercion
and refuse to advertise in these places it would send a very different message. Moreover, by placing itself alongside these images stolen and otherwise, it embeds itself within the stream of coercive devoteeism. These sites are just another hub for yet more images distinguishable in practical terms only by their price. 

Pay sites are often referred to in arguments over devoteeism as proof that the exotic attraction to non-standard bodies is not inherently coercive. The problem is that, in the case of these two vendors, it isn't. It recalls Foucault's rejected thesis in his History of Sexuality:Vol. 1 speaking of all manner of repressed sexuality in the Victorian era (a large part of which was LGBTQ sexuality), “If it truly was necessary to make room for illegitimate sexualities, it was reasoned, let them take their infernal mischief elsewhere: to a place where they could be reintegrated, if not in the circuits of production, at least in those of profit.”

Devotees have a knack for seeking out their desired content online. I've seen TV shows and movies in over five different languages get passed around; obscure stuff, hidden or forgotten and dredged up again. More to the point, they already have their own networks devised for keeping each other abreast of every new development on the web including those in the Yahoo groups.

Even then these networks still catalog coercive groups. What I think we're missing here is an opportunity to recreate devoteeism, or at least take that which is healthy and respectful, and separate it from that which is not. Individual vendors, and agencies have an opportunity to help change the face of devoteeism in a real way instead of simply offering lip service to notions of change.

It's not likely to put a dent in profits either. One of the best examples of a dev porn agency, and indeed one of the most well known outside of devotee circles, is Gimps Gone Wild (GGW). I don't keep extensive records or anything, I've just been milling through an inbox bloated with nearly a decade of unread emails. However in this meager record and my own naturally flawed memory I can not find evidence of GGW or their now defunct non-nude counterpart Enabling Elegance advertising outside of their own space. Neither can I find evidence of Candi, Leah, or most of the other individual vendors doing it.

So, while it's hard to accept that Roll Modelz may be helping encourage and profiting from coercive devotees, one out of three massive agencies (all disabled owned and operated), plus the majority of individual vendors, do not take advantage of these. Chairem has been exploitive under past management, Roll Modelz hasn't thought through their advertising, but by and large exploitation among vendors is the exception, not the rule. There are problems in the devotee community and we ought to bring them to light and try to find practical solutions, but thankfully most of them seem simple enough. Generating the will to implement them is another story.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Bunch of Words About Chairem

So Chairem is having a sales contest (again). 

7 women, 21 videos, and you get to vote, with your money, for your favorite. Her prize is at least professional videography services, and sexy new lingerie. Maybe one day she can hope to afford a chair as nice as the one in the silhouette. Perhaps she gets a share of the profits too, though the flyer seems reticent to discuss that end of the deal. Mind you, my skepticism is not without warrant. Chairem is a company with a very shady history of abusing not only their models, but their customers as well.

For those of you who don't remember, Chairem originally operated under the moniker “GMRD” which stood for something like “Greenfield Medical Research and Development”. It was a company founded and run by Playboy's own Miss August 1987, Sharry Konopski, the “Broken Bunny” who sustained a career hampering spinal cord injury at the height of her fame.

They had more to do with developing photographs than medical research, a ruse they perpetuate to this day, though most devs didn't care. The name was weird, but others will use names like “Tropical Productions” so devs can keep their credit card statements relatively presentable. Theirs though proved to be more of a sham than others.

As an aside I do want to note that Chairem has never claimed to provide pornography to anyone. To quote from their front page, “THE MATERIALS PROVIDED HERE ARE FOR MEDICAL OR EDUCATIONAL USE ONLY AND CONTAINS NOTHING PORNOGRAPHIC.” The emphasis is all theirs, as are the logical inconsistencies. Officially pornography is defined as, “Pictures and/or writings of sexual activity intended solely to excite lascivious feelings of a particularly blatant and aberrational kind, such as acts involving children, animals, orgies, and all types of sexual intercourse”, or, “Material that depicts erotic behavior and is intended to cause sexual excitement”. How they can reliably claim this while selling videos like “Simone's Personal Foot Fetish” and “Delicia's Brace Erotica” or holding contests where the winner gets to record themselves wearing sexy lingerie for you is beyond me, but that's America for you.

Caveat: I don't have anything official to back this next part up. It's all rumor.

According to some people in my community, GMRD was run in Canada, on paper at least while it was primarily operated in the U.S. The Canadian birthright lit the way for legal chicanery which effectively held their models in more or less permanent and unnegotiable contracts. They weren't allowed to market themselves any way except for through GMRD, or with GMRD's prior approval.

It was in 2007, around the time all of this was rumored to have ended, that Madonna Long a.k.a. Venus left them and eventually launched Roll Modelz. Chairem was more than happy to “wish her well” with this email they sent April 4th of 2007.

Hey everyone, I hope you'll join me in wishing Venus good luck and good
health. She has agreed its time to venture out on her own.

If you have purchased a Venus video from Chairem INTERNATIONAL before
April 4th, please be sure to download your order before May 4th when
all Venus materials will be removed from our server.

As is the case with any model who leaves Chairem INTERNATIONAL, we do
not offer their materials for sale. Anything produced by Chairem
INTERNATIONAL has been destroyed and all original model materials
provided by the model has now been returned to them. Also, please
remember that any future purchases with any model, once they depart,
are no longer secured by Chairem INTERNATIONAL, the name you have come
to trust for over 7 years.

Best regrds Venus! [sic]

Best regards indeed. Her agency quickly absorbed a few of their other models, and eventually began recruiting some of their own. This was the first time Chairem had any competition from another agency outside from Gimps Gone Wild (GGW) which didn't have quite the same history of poaching their talent. At some point around this time they decided the best thing to do was rebrand their product, thus the name “Chairem INTERNATIONAL” (presumably a portmanteau of “Wheelchair” and “Harem”[and yes they always spell it like that with all caps, don't ask me why]).

Again, I can't confirm the validity of this part of the story about Chairem, it's just rumor. If someone wants to correct me on this then I am more than willing to listen.

Overtime, Chairem seemed to shift to providing more and more models from the third world, or at least those where it's still not uncommon to find people with polio (a disease which has been nearly eradicated across the globe). There was even one hilariously awkward point soon after Roll Modelz began poaching their talent and all the rumors about unfair, if not overtly exploitive labor practices, that Chairem produced a ridiculous group video with their entire stable of models south of the border which was titled something like “We're family and stick together.” Given the circumstance and what was flying through the air at the time it seemed less like a genuine statement from the models, and more like a veiled threat from the producers.

Ahh, the failings of the studio system again rear their head. Though thankfully it was much more hilarious this time round.

Really though, when you get past all of the ridiculous titles and poorly written emails, it's not very funny at all. In the U.S. Being disabled comes with a serious set of disadvantages, and being female comes with its own as well. The intersection of these two categories combine to create something much worse. Furthermore, most of Chairem's models these days come from Central or South America. The brightest lights on that content are the up-and-coming Brazil whose gap between the rich and poor would make the U.S.'s 1% blush, the laughable Venezuela, and the once hopeful Mexico whose combined drug violence and lingering effects of NAFTA have done a lot to reduce the faith of investors hoping to make a quick buck off of strawberry yields. In short you have people who would be economically disadvantaged wherever they lived in the world, hailing from economically disadvantaged countries. Countries which may even be further behind in first world basics like accessibility and fair hiring practices.

For Chairem this makes good business sense. If they can reliably pull a profitable amount of capital from any given, marginally successful model, then they ought to take advantage of that in any way they can. It will maximize profits which will, with any luck, help them stay ahead of their competition.

It even seems sort of philanthropic in a way. Disabled women, an already doubly disadvantaged class are given the opportunity to make a tidy a profit considering the actual filming for each video or photoset might take an hour or two. This small amount of labor can, in theory at least, provide a stream of capital which though it surely winnows over time will be worth more than a full day's labor would have been otherwise.

Delicia Hermosa, is the shining example of this. She's produced a great body of work with marketing and delivery handled for her by Chairem for a share of her earnings. She's produced just shy of thirty videos, the most of anyone in the site's current stable of models, which ranges from polio and paraplegia, to amputations and birth defects. In fact she ended up gaining control of the company after a few catastrophes.

The problems with the philanthropic view are manifold and varied. The idea of behind this philanthro-pornography or “non-erotic educational materials featuring beautiful women in sexy lingerie” is that it looks to an imperfect world, and sees capitalism, a system which necessarily produces poverty, exploitation, and inequality, as the solution to issues of poverty, exploitation, and inequality. This more general notion of philanthropic capitalism has been debunked, and this isn't a blog about politico-economic systems so I'll continue past this diversion. However, everyone should pay attention to Slavoj Žižek.

In my opinion Chairem has always been the industry leader in tacky bullshit and promotional gags nobody really cares about unless they're giving something away, and even then it feels too contrived. They have a proud legacy of unforgivable typos and awkward phrasing littering everything they produce in writing. I do not exaggerate when I say everything. Some of the more recent silliness can be forgiven because I'm positive it's written by Delicia herself, and I'm pretty sure English is her second language. You be the judge.


It is March 31 and this year I chose to use the full leather and the legbraces with a short skirt and white stockings then I stepped outside for a walk.

This is a hilarious legacy that stretches back well beyond Delicia though. This is an email that was sent out to a devotee group in 2005.

Hello everyone. GMRD, Inc. is the only legitimate, incorporated
company that assists model in marketing materials to the devotee
community. We presently represent 12 models ( see attached web
adresses) and house a library of over 25 hours of devotee DVD's.

If your thinking about making the move to becoming a model, contact
us and we'll share with you the benifits of going with a Modelling
company that protects the content of our models materials, provides
documented records of all sales transaction that occure in your
behalf and most of all, we treat out models with the greatest

We have a customer base of over 2200 and growing and can provide you
with a positive cash flow.
Somehow upon my first reading I managed to quash the automatic reflex to delete this, and there it sat in my inbox for seven years until I dug it up a few weeks ago and had a laugh. I'm not going to name the guy who wrote all these but if you've followed Chairem at all in the past few years you're probably used to his flagrant abuse of text sizes and colors.

It was like that, but never ending.

Chairem INTERNATIONAL doesn't have to beg you to tell us what to
film... we know what you're looking for and continue to strive to make
it happen! We also know that our customers are gentlemen and dont
spend a lot of time talking about their attraction and that's what
truly makes Chairem INTERNATIONAL customers unique and respectable
” May 8th, 2007

They've always been unique and respectable what with their contests and trash talking that made them come across as little more than desperate, but the fun doesn't stop there. In January of 2008, they went for the big one.

When Rick contacted me about his idea for a devotee community he called www.NEWGENDEV. ORG He shared his vision for his forum. The forum was to be a community where people can share their (non commercial) material, open dialogues on different topics and could do so without being bombarded by SPAM. To achieve this he needed  sponsorship support. I wasn't quick to respond.

Once we agreed that no commercial material from any active vendor would be shared and that our sponsorship would give Chairem exclusive rights to be the sole sponsor, We agreed to fund his community for three months.

This is why we agreed to sponsor it...

Your yahoo groups were once yours to share in. Chairem found them a great way to promote ourselves. Then as others vendors began posting promotions in the same fashion, it soon got out of control. Now your groups are nothing but billboards on the Internet highway. That's one of the reasons we ended our use of Yahoo groups for promotions. [Note: Every email transcript I've posted was received through a Yahoo group

So the end results are this, Chairem INTERNATIONAL is happy to provide basic funding for NEWGENDEV.ORG to allow you to return to having a community free of constant advertising.  Chairem INTERNATIONAL has no control over the content of NEWGENDEV.ORG and takes no responsibility for it's content.

The membership has grown to over 1005 members, you have been communicating with each other and posting. NEWGENDEV.ORG is fast becoming the most active group I have yet to see. Rick has done a good job of keeping most issues to a minimum and I have yet to see any of our material posted without our approval. Everything has growing pains and only mature business people look beyond small obstacles towards a positive future. You as active members have proven there is a need and demand for such a community.

We have agreed to fund NEWGENDEV.ORG for an additional 6 months. We will continue to be active sponsors and offer promotions and specials to www.NEWGENDEV. ORG members.

I want to congratulate everyone in creating a community for yourselves on the Internet.

www.NEWGENDEV. ORG , your devotee community on line.”

If ever the argument was to be made that devotees are inherently socially inept, one would have to look no farther devotee groups for proof. With the sole exception of the ParaDevo Boards, dev groups that aren't centered around sharing pictures etc. never last, and even the ones based around sharing don't always fare too well. NEWGENDEV.ORG was unique not in that it failed, but rather how.
Hello everyone.

Today, I regret announcing that I am retiring as President of Chairem

In the last 6 months, I have lost 2 friends, a family member and faced
difficult health issues with a member of our family. On Wednesday, 30th
of January I experienced a minor heart attack that took me to the
hospital. This coming week I will be undergoing major tests and all the
pleasures that anyone who experiences this encounters. I am releaving
myself of everything stressful in my life.

Over the last 2 years I have been fortunate to know a wonderful person
who is responsible and honest who I feel confident handing the
operations to. She has been involved with the operation of Chairem since
Dec 6, 2006.

Delicia stepped forward and has taken over all operations of Chairem
INTERNATIONAL as of Thursday Jan 31st. I will remain to assist in the
transition period and will continue to provide service maintaining our

All our models have been notified of what has happened and they remain
committed to working with Chairem INTERNATIONAL. The first model I
contacted was Sharry Konopski who assured me her commitment to our
goals and to Chairem INTERNATIONAL no matter how many times she is
contacted by others.

In closing, I want to thank all Chairem INTERNATIONAL fans and friends
for your support over the past nine years. I assure you that the legacy
of Chairem INTERNATIONAL, our original goals, our dedication to
individuals with disabilities and their loyal friends will continue
under the leadership of Delicia Hermosa.

My best regards,
” Feb. 3rd , 2008

This was continued...

To all members of this group.
I'd like to make a formal and public apology to the President of
Chairem INTERNATIONAL, Delicia Hermosa, all the models of Chairem
INTERNATIONAL and to you the general public.

In October 2007, I started a community called NEWGENDEV.Org under
the ownership name of Rick Shannon. The idea was for a community
for individuals to share their collections without having promotions
from commercial vendors.

It was my intent to create this community and be the sole sponsor of
the site in an attempt to block any other vendor from marketing in
the site. My goal was to have an exclusive location for the
community to share and also, to be able to post promotions on behalf
of Chairem where no other media outlets could respond.

I created the site without the support of Delicia or the models of
Chairem and hid that I was in fact the owner of the site. I
apologize deeply to Delicia, my friend and all those who have known
me over these many years. Those who know me best, know this is much
out of character.

Recently NEWGENDEV encountered a "suspect member" who used the site
to offer some of our legitimate members a "private file of his
favourite pictures." Those who accepted the file were asked for
their email address to send it to. The "suspect member" then started
sending thousands of spam messages. In turn, The same person has
gone into yahoo groups and gained access to other persons email
addresses and done the same. Be warned: When you post a message in
yahoo groups ( and a member has their account set to receive emails)
they can see your full email address. This person has used this
information to spam members in many groups.

I do not know where this person began this campaign of spamming or
why. I have since closed NEWGENDEV. Even Delicia Hermosa has been
effected by these email spams.

As many of you know, I experienced a heart attack in January and I
have retired from Chairem INTERNATIONAL. I have given full control
to Delicia Hermosa and I have no direction in the operation of the
organization. I ask for the forgiveness of my friends, for
compassion from vendors who I showed none too and that the devotee
community can heal from the damage I have caused. I have not been
active on the internet to be aware of the goings on, nore do I spend
time in groups any longer. This, like many things I have felt
passionate about I have set aside with no plans to return.

Please understand that this reflects on my poor judgement and should
no way be attributed to Delicia or any of the Chairem Models.

” Feb. 20th, 2008

So, in a ludicrous attempt to corner the "lucrative" disabled fetishist market, they accidentally dropped an a-bomb on the community they were trying to foster, in addition to any associated groups. I'm not sure how connected his heart attack was to all of this, but I felt like he included way more personal detail than was necessary for someone who was simply announcing his retirement.

Despite all of this I cannot fully shame Chairem. They've done some outright shady if not illegal stuff in their time. Yes they are annoying, but that's really just being competitive, and when they sell more the models do benefit; this is undeniable. More than that though we do share a common dream.

Sharry Konopski, Deeyana and myself are very pleased to share with
you this special announcement that comes with a short history lesion.

In Dec 1999, Deeyana, Sharry and I set forth to develop a modeling
group, that would allow a model the ability to create media for
individuals with a unique attraction in a fashion that was safe for
the model and dignified.

We established a Mission Statement which remains unchanged to this
day ( you may view out mission statement in our file section. Our key
objective was to eliminate the demand or desire to view media deemed
covert, "candid" or stalking. We three believed that if quality
material was made available by models with consent to being filmed,
that media collected by using a hidden camera would be of less
interest and would no longer be in vouge.

The internet is filled with shared clips of unsuspecting women,
transferring from their wheelchair to their cars, women with
disabilities walking through malls unaware they are being followed
and video taped. Mothers and daughters enjoying themselves with
family at Disneyland and other public locations became targets for
hidden video that was then sold and shared on the internet.

In May of this year, I was approached by the person who has spent
nearly 50 years collecting this material who told me he was no longer
interested in selling it (because it had stopped selling). He
approached me with the cost to buy his complete collection ( 640
hours worth approx) that spans from home movie 8mm taken in the
1950's to the high quality DVD video of today. Many of you own his

On April 1, 2007 I received a legal and binding agreement from Bob
Edmonds to sell to me the rights and all materials he has collected
that has become known as the Crutchman collection. In return for
payment, Mr Edmonds released all materials including the
original "Sharry Konopski devotee video" and a multitude of other
known models materials was presented to Chairem INTERNATIONAL.

Mr Edmonds as you have seen in many yahoo groups has retired from
selling video. The materials he sold in the Crutchman catalog has sat
in a large box beside my desk since early April. With over 60 video
tapes purchased at a premium, there was no question as to what I
would do with them.

I am happy to announce that all materials purchased from Bob Edmonds
have been received in good faith and have now been destroyed. They
will never be seen again and as agreed in our legal agreement, Mr
Edmonds will no longer be selling his collection on the internet or
any other marketing means. Let me be clear, these materials bought
from Mr. Edmonds have been destroyed by Chairem INTERNATIONAL.

While portions of this material is still being sold by Kroespage and
others, Chairem INTERNATIONAL and myself, NAME WITHELD remain
committed to ending the demand for covert video that robs a person of
their privacy and dignity.

I want to thank Bob Edmonds for discharging this material and ending
a long career marketing and covertly video taping in this fashion.
” May 26
th, 2007
Of the two of us, I'd say they've done more to combat candid filming than I have with my little blog.

Friday, March 9, 2012

All Devotees Are Rapists

Is it true?

The notion itself is ridiculous, and somehow it is still able to mutate into a question or a statement of fact. Still we must reply, no. Devoteeism is so often linked with coercive behaviors that it becomes easy for the uninitiated to fall prey to such a ridiculous argument. I've seen it happen before, and argued against it, but it never really matters.

The mere concept of devoteeism, apart from its actual practice, is enough to light many tempers aflame, and it is here that most of the detractors to devoteeism lose their rationality. It is ridiculous to propose that all devotees are rapists for a number of reasons.

To begin with, it is generally unwise to speak in absolutes. This is just a general principle of theory. It is rare indeed to find a rule to which there exists no exception. This is even more problematic when we attempt to explain human behavior. 
Take cross-dressing for example. Looking at cross dressing only as it applies to men (or those born into male bodies), we can find a number of reasons for this behavior which have wildly different origins.

In gay culture there is drag, once called 'camp', which has a historical legacy of crossdressing as a method of parodying straight culture and normative gender and sexual roles.

Next we have transsexuals. Generally speaking, Transsexuals, who have been diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder, have the brains of women, or at least with many typically female traits, within a male body. In technical terms it has been argued that their behavior is not actually cross dressing because they dress to match their true selves. This is to be distinguished though from transgender people, who simply enjoy taking on the role of the opposite sex but do not feel as though they were born into the wrong body.

Then there are Transvestites, which generally fits what many would think of as the “typical” cross dresser. However, even this isn't complete. There are Transvestites who simply enjoy dressing in and of itself, and then there are Transvestic Fetishists, who find they are aroused by cross dressing. In a technical sense this can be distinguished from Autogynophilia wherein a man is sexually aroused by thinking of himself as a woman.

This is nowhere near where it ends. There are hijras, two-spirits, androgynes, intersexed, bigender, genderqueer, genderfluid, pangender, metagender, and many other labels for describing the feelings and motivations leading to behaviors like cross-dressing. Further complicating this is that the above categories are imposed on humans by humans. They are attempts to organize and distinguish human behavior, and yet they are imperfect. Humans don't always stick to or within just one of these at a time or over their lifetime.

It would be ignorant to say all cross-dressers are like Wild Bill and it is equally ignorant to say all devotees are rapists. However that isn't to say that there aren't some links between a violent sexuality and a fixation on the disabled. There definitely are.

I've seen amputee groups where pictures have been traded of girls, and it more often seems to be girls than guys, tied up with one or more of their limbs chopped off, blood streaming out from the stump(s), usually accompanied by fearful, teary eyed looks of terror. While some devs clearly gravitate toward this it actually occupies a separate fetish entirely, called "guro". The one caveat I can offer, though sadly without any tangible proof, is that in my experience over the years it has been more common to find dev groups which openly and vocally prohibit such violent imagery. It may be disturbing, but this is the truth of human sexuality. Some people, as they mature, find themselves sexually excited at scenes of violence and suffering.

The same thing happens with rape.

There does exist the sub-genre of “rape porn” which involves simulated rape filmed with the explicit intent of causing arousal. Within this sub-genre of film it is possible to find material which features the abuse of disabled women. Of course this sadly has its real life counterpart as well. I have also met self identified wannabes who enjoy, non-sexually, the notion of having a spinal cord injury, and, sexually, the idea of being raped. Ideally, for this person it was both at once.

But which is the devotee? The rape fetishist who enjoys the enhanced power dynamic (physically at least) of a disabled partner, or the wannabe who enjoys being raped? The wannabe I knew did not identify as a devotee. Of course, I can not be absolutely sure, but she never seemed intimately familiar with any of the common devotee locales, and as such I'm inclined to believe her.

What though of the rape fetishist? A quick jaunt into any of the numerous books about BDSM culture will show you people who enjoy the act of rape and/or being raped in a fantastic or fetishistic sense, and yet do not engage in actual rape. I have often read that rape is more concerned with power and control than anything explicitly sexual. I think most of this argument has grown from a desire to quash the fallacy that women invite these attacks by dressing or acting provocatively. While it is true that women do not invite rape upon themselves, and that fault lies entirely on the sexual offender, I have never been able to find a case of a gay man who raped women. Though to counter that there are definitely cases of ostensibly straight men raping and otherwise sexually assaulting other men.

In attempting to define the rape fetishist as either a devotee or not a devotee, we must first examine how we define a devotee. If our definition is a simple one such as, “A person who is, at least in part, attracted to people with disabilities, or a certain type of disability.”, then the answer would appear to be a murky, “Maybe.”

As we have seen with cross-dressing it is difficult to make broad assumptions about what motivates a given behavior. I think it is certainly possible for the rape fetishist to be a devotee, and for devotees to be rapists, and for rape fetishists to be simply fetishists and not sexual predators. You don't need to explore BDSM culture very long before you find people talking at length about the ethics behind “rape scenes” and “consensual non-consent”.

The fact is that sometimes the rape fetishists mentioned above will meet the wannabe and they will find their mutually reinforcing weirdness makes for a wonderful and satisfying relationship. Sometimes that happens and that is as far as it ever goes. In fact, noted dev blogger ParaGirl has written before about playing scenes integrating both disability and consensual non-consent with her girlfriend, Heather.

So we know there are some connections between rape fetishists, and devotees, but there isn't really any empirical evidence about the overlap between the two. Though this may be true I think it is at least possible to infer some trends.

To begin with, I do have my biases. I'm generally unacquainted with “rape porn” save for a single unhappy accident while searching through poorly labeled torrents once upon a midnight dreary. And, yes, I crowed, “Nevermore.” I am, quite predictably, far more acquainted with devotee porn.

There is some slight overlap. Candi, of, did make a movie, as far as I know, at the request of her fans called “The Intruder”. I've never seen it, but here is how it is described on her site,

This one is so scary. My cameraman has been watching me and breaks in to have his way with me. He takes my chair and I have to crawl and drag myself across the floor and through the house to find a phone. Was it only a dream?

All 35 minutes of it can be yours for just $199. Dev porn is certainly rare, and most people involved in its production know this and take full advantage of its inflated demand. It normally trades at premium prices compared to virtually everything else “normal” (normal here can refer to anything you'd commonly find in a sex shop, which actually gets quite bizarre). Still though, a quick browsing of Candi's store will show you that she routinely offers videos 1/3 longer than “The Intruder” for ¼ of the price.

Generally the average price I've seen for dev porn hovers somewhere around $1 per minute of video. If this price is derived due to its rarity on the market, then we can infer that, within the dev network at least, rape porn or anything suggestive of it, is even more rare. Indeed, this is the only video of its kind of which I am aware.

The caveat here, is that, as far as I know, “The Intruder” was made based on the requests of her fan club. Candi, and many of the other Dev agencies will allow devs to make very specific special requests for a price which often varies, though I do seem to recall often falling somewhere in the neighborhood of $1000. It could be that there exists an army of dev rapists who also enjoy rape porn, but are economically oppressed and rarely able to finance multiple ventures. 

Indeed, Candi has no qualms about keeping special requests private if you prefer. It is entirely possible that there is a mountain of secretly recorded and distributed rape and non-con dev porn floating around out there. Still though, when I have looked at devotee fan art and fiction, both of which involve a time cost and little more, there is still a startlingly low incidence of rape and related incidents.

So, are devotees rapists? Maybe some of them are, but the bulk appear to be normal people with an exotic kink who are simply interested in seeing and enjoying what turns them on. Rarely does that include scenes of rape or other forms of coercion. So, while many devotees may engage in coercive behavior, it appears to rarely be rape, and more often as a means to an end, and rarely an end in itself.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Problem of Presence

Devotees, like everyone, have an obligation not to bring harm or needless suffering upon others. There are a lot of ways the argument can evolve from this premise, but I feel that an imperative starting point, especially given the state of relations between devotees and the disabled in the information age, is to examine how we violate this obligation as it regards the disabled. In the past I've talked about both the explicit ways in which devotees impair and harm the disabled. Though there is still more to consider.

Now the basic premise I've set up in the past is one which says that you do not take what is not freely given. Unless you have consent, it is not right to copy and trade someone's pictures, videos, etc. This does even extend into the issue of piracy, and the byzantine network of groups at Yahoo are no stranger to leaked photosets, however I would argue that it is OK to set speculation on piracy aside for the time being. There are much more pertinent issues to consider.

Prior to the internet we did not see the same kind of widespread networks for fetishists, whereby a man in Sweden could form a directory that would connect thousands of people from the U.K. and Germany to the U.S. and Australia in an instant. Devoteeism as we know it today is a thoroughly modern phenomenon. Indeed while it still relies on old methods, it has expanded with the internet, for better, or worse, into Facebook, and MySpace, Flickr and most obviously YouTube.

These are fantastic tools for sharing and allow devotees, and really every other fetish group to do the same. Fetishists have become so ubiquitous that they have created their own social networks
. For those of you who remember how the dev webrings and IRC chats ran in the 90's, it seems like things have definitely come a long way since then. The problem is that everyone else has come along too, including the disabled.

I like to believe that devotees and the disabled can peacefully coexist without hurting each other, though realistically I know this won't be possible without a bit of work.

The fact is that where YouTube and every other Web 2.0 success story have done wonders for devs, they have done wonders for everyone. Now we're all existing in much closer proximity. Devs and the disabled are no longer cordoned off into our own separate islands of webspace, but for once we're all sharing certain areas, like YouTube. The problem, as always, is that some devs don't know, or don't care, when they might be hurting or interfering with the disabled.

There are a lot of obvious ways this occurs. There are plenty of devs who will contact disabled women on YouTube pretending to be disabled and hoping to make contact. It's a long heart breaking story, which anyone familiar enough with the issue has no doubt heard or participated in more times than they'd care to admit. While this is one of the more explosive consequences of the presence of coercive devs, and perhaps even a byproduct of devs in general, it is not where the negative effects end.

The Psychology of Disability, Carolyn Vash recounts how, while initially acquiring a disability may be a traumatizing experience leading many down a long path of depression, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. People who acquire disabilities do learn to adapt and overcome their setbacks and blossom into a happy and fulfilling life. One of the key difficulties she identifies in this process is that of convincing the newly disabled to accept that this is a possibility, though she points out one of the best tools in helping them adapt and overcome is being in contact with others who have endured similar setbacks and emerged fulfilled, sometimes even more than before.

It does not take any magnificent stroke of the imagination to realize how YouTube, Facebook, or Flickr could play a significant role in helping people who have acquired disabilities adapt and overcome by allowing them to connect with others and work toward healing and self acceptance. Yet we can also understand just how much damage devotees can cause in this delicate process by poisoning the well. Perhaps at this time, more than any other, our presence alone is most damaging.

There have been plenty of cases of people in rehab for spinal cord injuries and amputations who have uploaded a video of themselves on an FES bike, or parallel bars, or just recuperating in the hospital who have found themselves the unwitting objects of the devoted gaze. Devotees already earn a bad name for impairing the lives of the disabled online, but as some have pointed out, as our society becomes increasingly integrated with the internet, and embraces public sharing, what we mean by “life online” grows less and less distinguishable from “life offline”. When I was growing up we used to measure our amount of time spent “on the computer”, though with the advent of smart phones it is easier to speak of our time “away from a computer”.

Our presence and its effect has the potential to expand greatly in the next few decades depending on the supply of rare earth metals amongst other things. Whatever the case, we have an obligation to ensure that we do not negatively impact the lives of the disabled through our actions, which at some points may extend to include our presence alone.

When you see videos posted from rehab, do not favorite them, do not 'like' them, do not save them, do not share them, do not post comments to them. Keep them out of the dev network entirely. These are people who are in the midst of an oftentimes painful and jarring transition, one of the more vulnerable periods in someone's life, and it is to be left alone that they and others enduring such a trial may learn and prosper from this. Your presence serves only to pollute the process and bring harm to those you would love.


There is a very common argument that devotees use when they are berated by the disabled for having their feelings at all. It has been stated many ways in many different languages but generally runs as follows, “The disabled dislike devotees because they cannot accept their disability.” The belief here is that if, and only if, the disabled could come to understand that their bodies are ultimately no different in value from those of the able bodied, that there is no shame to be had in crutches or a leg bag, that they possess equal capacity for love, discovery, style, grace, power, and yes even sexiness, that they would come to realize that there is nothing wrong with someone appreciating what they have to offer.

Some disabled people have come around to the idea, though I find it ultimately too reductive and simplistic to apply to everyone. After all, there are many other terrible reasons why a disabled person may dislike devotees which has nothing to do with how they view their bodies. However, if you accept the common dev argument, then does it not follow that you ought not interfere with the very delicate process of adjustment to one's new body which can lead to such negative opinions of devs?

Harassing the disabled in rehab only works against your own interests.