Alex Blaze

FlavaWorks is trying to shut down Black LGBT bloggers with a lawsuit

Filed By Alex Blaze | July 18, 2007 4:16 PM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: Bernard Tarver, internet porn, Jasmyne Cannick, porn, racial fetishes, racism

This news comes from Jasmyne Cannick:

A couple of weeks ago I was notified by mail that Flavaworks owner Phillip Bleicher was suing mwah for libel to the tune of $250,000. Good luck. I have a hard time getting $2.50 together much less $250,000 and you can quote me on it.

FlavaWorks is an internet porn company devoted to Black/Latino porn The Chicago Department of Health made quite a statement about their working conditions in 2006, accusing them of encouraging the actors to bareback even though many of them had STD's. The report also included reports that the company was practicing what bordered on illegal servitude:

There are also allegations that the business used unusual labor contracts with its models, which, according to one source, “at least bordered on illegal servitude.” The 30-day contracts allegedly required the models to perform a certain number of sexual acts in exchange for a stipend. But, when the models tried to collect the stipends, they were told they were being charged for such things as food and bed linens, leaving them, in some cases, in debt rather than collecting money. They were then pressured to sign new contracts.

So Phillip Bleicher, owner of FlavaWorks, packed up shop and moved to Miami after that Chicago Dept. of Health report came out, and now he's been handed five zoning violation citations by the city because he's operating his business in a residential area.

OK, so onto the blogosphere's involvement. Blogger Bernard Tarver posted the health report on his blog several months ago. FlavaWorks got his server to shut him down for a few hours to try to silence him. Well, he got back on after that didn't work and now they've threatened the bloggers that have been writing about this with a lawsuit (I only know that Jasmyne Cannick and Bernard Tarver have been named in it). Well, good luck with that. Bernard only posted a part of the Department of Health report verbatim, and Jasmyne's involvement has stuck pretty much just with the facts.

But I'll depart from them and just let you know that this isn't right what the company was doing, getting Black and Latino men to perform unsafe sex acts without pay for the pleasure of what's probably a largely white audience for the profit of a white man (Bleicher is white), if the Health Department report is true. If someone wants to have a racial fetish, that's none of my business. Hell, I've been seeing a self-described "Latino chaser" for a bit of time now (Hi, R.!), although there is a difference between a racial fetish and chaserism.

But this story just makes me mad because even though I'm sure that there are white male models who have to go through similar or worse conditions in the porn industry in this country, I'm 100% sure that, in general, it's not so bad for the white boys. Not only to white porn sites never call themselves white porn sites (because that would be so reductive, and gosh, those models are more than their race!), I can't think of a respectable and profitable "non-racial" gay male porn site that has hired a Black or Latino model in the past year. Black and Latino men get thrown into the doldrums of "fetish" because of our race or ethnicity, and these sites recognize that and make a profit off of it, and then they turn around and replicate the same racism that these models have to face in day-to-day life in the very venue that's marketing that race. In the end, it's just a way for a lot of white gays to live out their racial fantasies based on whatever stereotypes of Latino or Black men that they have and to continue to ignore and continue to fund racism.

I know that there are probably a large number of African American and Latino men who visit FlavaWorks's sites, and maybe this rant is just my hope that if that were true then they wouldn't put up with a business that treats its Black and Latino workers like that for the profit of a white man. Maybe I'm completely wrong - I haven't surveyed their audience and FlavaWorks contends that the Chicago Department of Health and the city of Miami are both wrong. But what I do know is true is that sex workers of color are treated worse than their white counterparts and that just isn't right.

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One problem is that many gay men feel compelled to emulate the things they see depicted in porn. This is one reason that many gay men have negative body images or feel sexually inedquate. Many gay men engage in barebacking, likely due (in part at least) to it's prevalent depiction in porn-- so much of gay sexual life is about indulging in our fantasies and our fantasies are fed (if not entirely constructed) by what we see depicted in media (including porn).

As a self-described "latino chaser" I have to say that it is a 2-way street: Most of the Latin men I have been with said they only dated white guys; or were only attracted to white guys. Many (well, not THAT many...*blush*) told me that they NEVER date other Latin men; one told me that he felt that sleeping with another Latino would be like sleeping with himself (and we all know what happened to poor Narcissus). And many of them play up to the sexual stereotypes. When the asked me what I liked about Latinos and I responded that I was attracted to dark-haired, dark-eyed men, that loved the language, the culture; that I've always loved foreign accents (speak to me in Spanish or French and I MELT..always have) and that there was just something about Latin men that I respond to instinctually and don't quite understand myself, THEY responded, "Yeah, and we're hot in bed too."

As for myself it is not simply a sexual fetish; perhaps it is the love of the "exotic" or a distaste for the white, middle-class bourgoise Will Truman-type male. But as with any relationship, no matter how deep or how casual, how we react to and treat others is always a direct reflection of how we feel about ourselves. And I don't think theirs a single man who can say that I treated him with disrespect.

First, my apologies...I went to previeew the post (knowing that I was getting off-topic a bit) and "posted" it instead...I'm not sure why it posted 3 times!!!

My closing point was this: that one of the dangers of what happened at FlavaWorks (I've never seen the site; personally I don't get into porn very much) aside from the exploitation itself, is that the phenomena becomes circular in effect: men of color are expolited, stereotypes are perpetuated and then those men often feel compelled to self-perpetuate or live up to the stereotypes and behaviors. The exploitation of these men by Flavaworks is relatively easy to solve: you make people aware it is happening and you shut them down. But the psychic/soul imprint they leave on men of color who feel compelled to live up to the images potrayed is far more insidious and hurts us all.

Jeffrey Fichtelberg | October 30, 2010 12:12 PM

One of the biggest problems with the Pornography industry is that they do not expose problems like Phillip Bleicher. The industry is vulnerable to attack from the outside. Phillip Bleicher when presented with a concern about models possiblyy being HIV positive in Miami responded "I have no legal liability" Things have not changed much from Chicago. His History in Chicago regarding Aids along with this comment indicate that to Bleicher Black and Latino Men are disposable. His exploitation of youth prior at Student Leadership is documented. The case ended not because he was innocent but rather that guilt could not be proven. His mother Elizabeth Bruen stated when the case came to the surface again "They want me to testify against my son so they can put him in jail. I will not do it". Elizabeth Bruen was an officer in the company and this statement indicates she knows he is guilty but will not testify against him

Your comments about Black and Latino Models not being treated well at Flava is well founded.
The verbalm abuse I witnessed by Bleicher on many occasions made me think of slavery minus the whip. What is very sad about the clientele of Flava is that so many are Black. The fact that African Americans purchase this product that financially benefits a White man that exploits Blacks is sad. His Black customers by this support are the new version of the KKK.

I being White and Jewish would never support Nazis abusing Jews or exposing them to HIV/Aids.
Black Men it seem for the sake of Masturbation seem not to care and will pay a white man for it that considers them as Blacks disposable. SAD!!!