by Curtis Isom, Founder/Editor-In-Chief
We all do the “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” bit.
This cooperation is sometimes referred to “Playing Politics” and my past experiences as a Theatrical Producer/Director, Technical Director for a local dinner theater, and dealing with entertainers on a local level have all taught me well in the art of “playing politics”.
When I started covering the Adult Entertainment Industry, I knew it has it’s own politics. I have no problem with this because cooperation means usually coming out a little ahead in the end. And this industry is really no more different from dealing with those in theatre and the mainstream entertainment business.
There’s just a lot more nudity.
When “playing politics” in this industry, you eventually meet people who are considered to have “stroke” – the ability to dictate with a guarantee what goes on. I’ve heard this term over the years and know not everyone who claims to have “stroke” really does. Sometimes you find you have more “stroke” than the person claiming to have it.
In the adult entertainment industry, people with true “stroke” are those who are running the production companies, the public relation firms promoting this industry, and club owners. They are the top of the pyramid and true power players.
Now they’re others who can get things done, but not with the degree of certainty those with “stroke” can. They have nothing more than “influence”. Knowing the difference between having “stroke” and “influence” is important when “playing politics”. Remember, “stroke” is the ability to guarantee and dictate how things will happen. “Influence” is the ability to try and get things done, with little or no guarantee or certainty. “Influence” is therefore a very lesser degree of “Stroke”.
Those with “influence” include talent agencies, most actors/actresses, and some club managers. Some of them believe and act like they are indispensable when in reality they’re just another minor player. They are people who took an opportunity and ran with it to the point they see themselves as more than they are. Again they have “influence”, but not “stroke”.
To think otherwise is fooling yourself. The litmus test is asking yourself, “Can they guarantee on what they say?”
Those with “influence” but believe they have “stroke” in my opinion can be — dangerous. One reason is in “playing politics” with these people, once you figure out their “stoke” is actually “influence”, the question you face is, “Do I call them on it?” Some people don’t like being found out.
The answer depends on the situation. Usually, I’ve found those with just “influence” find out they can’t deliver on what they promise, lose favor, and eventually disappear. A perfect example of this is those who touted that the Y2K threat was real, but after January 1, 2000 came and went without the disasters claimed, these people simply “vanished”. They duped people and took millions of dollars in consulting and other fees.
It’s the old adage of don’t believe everything you read or hear. I’ve learn to investigate for myself and/or talk to others who might have the insight and knowledge needed. As a member of the media, I always have multiple sources to draw from and verify the facts of anything I’m told or write about.
Speaking from experience, my advice in determining when to confront someone whose “stroke” is just “influence”, is usually leave them alone. They will eventually lose face with more and more people because they can’t deliver on what they promise. Or constantly give excuses why what they told you didn’t come out according to plan.
To paraphrase an old saying, their alligator mouth overloads their hummingbird ass.
But there are situations created where people are being misled or mistreated by those who do and don’t have “stroke”. Do you stand by and let the wrongs continue, or do you step up to the plate and take action? I’m going to present a couple of scenarios from the strip club side of the industry, and ask you how you would handle each:
1) You learn a former porn-actor turned deejay/emcee solicits sex from women working at the clubs where he’s hosting events. He goes so far as to enlist the help of his fellow club deejays in obtaining women. You hear firsthand stories about some of the mental abuse the women endured. You know this is believable because this
particular emcee has told you personally about the time after sex with a club’s event promoter, he thinks it’s funny to get a group of people to surround the bed and awaken the sleeping woman. Some tell of physical abuse. You’re also told about the intimidation tactics used to keep them quite if they ever decide to complain about
what happened to them.
2) You hear people talk about how a long running, well-established industry contest is rigged. You take a look at everything you can, ask questions where possible, and notice that things aren’t exactly on the up and up. he more you look into how this contest is done, the more and more you can tell some women are promised the chance at something they will probably never obtain.
These are REAL scenarios happening NOW in the strip club part of our industry.
In learning about these scenarios, the question you have to ask yourself is, “How far down the “rabbit hole” are you willing to go?” Where is your limit of allowing bullshit to happen and not say anything? Is “playing politics” worth compromising your integrity and personal values?
Now some would say, “Who cares? Things will never change and there’s nothing anyone can do.” You gotta love apathy. The great killer of innovation, change, and common sense.
Remember in the examples presented, you have a man who preys on women in this industry and a contest that dupes women into thinking they have a chance to win something that’s already awarded behind the scenes in advance. In other words, a sexual predator and a con game both taking advantage of women. If you don’t care about the women in this industry, which is the main reason this industry exist, then you don’t need to be in this industry. Without the women where would this industry be?
Think about it.
So my response to the apathetic is “Why not care” and I’m willing to go far down the “rabbit hole” because predators and con games are no more than criminal actions and injustices needing to be dealt with. Plain and simple. So if your idea of “playing politics” is turning a blind eye to these injustices/criminal actions in order to better yourself in the industry, then you’re no better than those doing these injustices/criminal actions.
In the almost eight years I’ve been covering the adult industry, I’ve been told to keep my mouth shut when I see things like the scenarios I presented. If I didn’t, I’d “pay the price” from those with “stroke”. Well as I stated before, not everyone has “stroke”, just “influence”, and I’m pretty good at knowing the difference based on my experience. And I’ve a couple have tried to make me pay, but failed. I’m still here, still calling it as I see it. But this isn’t about me, it’s about the idea of standing up for what is right and in doing so the possibility of “playing politics”.
Now I admit don’t mind “playing politics” when necessary, but when it comes to abusive behavior and standing up for for people, you better believe I won’t stop speaking up.
So in conclusion, ask yourself if you want to be part of the solution, or part of the problem? I hear too many people in the strip club side of the industry complain about how bad things have gotten. Change never happens overnight and the march to better things starts with people coming together.
Are you in?