To close out our first year, we decided that we are going to begin an annual tradition in which we will name three individuals Our Persons of the Year. Similar to Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, it is not so much of an honor as it is about acknowledging how much they have managed to shape the adult industry in the past year. We will include a short explanation as to why we named this individual as a Person of the Year. However, we will keep with a pattern (usually) of naming two people that have had a positive impact on the adult industry and one person that has had a negative impact.
Our inaugural Persons of the Year are Stoya, Kelly Shibari, and Michael Weinstein of the AIDS Foundation.
Stoya (on Twitter @Stoya, on the web at TRENCHCOATx.com)
In late November, Stoya went public on Twitter about the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her ex-boyfriend James Deen. Stoya and Deen, who were porn’s preeminent power couple until their split, were thrust into the spotlight, with Stoya being labelled as a heroine for opening up about it and Deen arguably becoming porn’s biggest pariah.
To be clear, we are not naming Stoya one of our Persons of the Year out of sympathy. That would be shortchanging the impact that she has made on the industry with her revelation. With her tweet, Stoya revealed a human side to this industry, one that is often concealed by many performers because of fear of backlash, both public and private. As Chelsea Summers told The Guardian, it shouldn’t take a rape accusation to prove that sex workers can be raped.
And so Stoya stepped forward. It was a brave, novel thing to do. And it is our sincere hope that she continues to be successful in the future. And furthermore, we hope that people — both fans and critics of porn — have a new understanding of this industry. Sex workers are human beings. They are entitled to the same rights, liberties, and legal protections as anyone else. While it may take years for this disgusting stigma against sex workers and adult entertainers to decline and for respect to improve, Stoya’s 55 word message from late November will stand as a watershed moment.
Kelly Shibari (on Twitter @kellyshibari, on the web at about.me/kellyshibari)
A photo posted by Kelly Shibari (@kellyshibari) on
Kelly has always been a trailblazer in BBW porn and one of the few plus-size models to achieve a degree of mainstream attention, especially with her 2014 appearance in Penthouse Forum. For the January 2016 issue, she appears in Penthouse’s flagship magazine, the first plus-size model to ever be featured.
In the past year, the publicist and marketer has proven that plus-size adult entertainers can be very, very marketable and a lucrative part of any adult entertainment portfolio. More over, she is proving to be a symbol that porn is ever so slowly moving away from living and dying by the stereotypical hardbody. Physical diversity is now becoming a thing in porn, and Shibari’s appearance in Penthouse and her continued work as an ambassador for plus-size entertainers will only continue this positive change.
Michael Weinstein (on Twitter at @AIDSHealthcare, on the web at AIDSHealth.org)
Michael Weinstein founded the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in 1986. And while he might claim that he is fighting in the best interest of the industry by pushing a state ballot initiative to mandate the use of condoms on all hardcore pornography sets in California and attempting to force the porn industry to adopt OSHA guidelines, he’s proving to hurt the industry more than anything.
His push is a blatant attempt to position himself as a “porn czar” out of a sort of “father knows best” mentality. Numerous health professionals, HIV activists, industry professionals, and trade organizations, such as the Free Speech Coalition, have all said the same thing — there’s better turfs to fight HIV and AIDS on. The adult industry has not seen an on-set transmission of HIV in over ten years, a testament to the incredible level of self-regulation by the industry, highlighted by the rigorous every 2 weeks testing standard.
Weinstein, in our opinion, is further intensifying the stigma that has dogged this industry enough through this latest political push. His actions are not constructive, and it is putting an incredible blemish on an organization that should be doing anything and everything to improve the lives of those affected by HIV and AIDS. Combating HIV and AIDS takes education and prevention, self-aggrandizing stances that perpetuates misconceptions about a complex industry.