Entries from June 2006 ↓

Just to recap

Congress has held hearings to look into steroid use in Major League Baseball. Theyve taken no official action and nothing of substance has changed in baseball.

Bush and Congress trumpeted the need for immigration reform with proposals ranging from worker amnesty programs to building huge fences along the border with Mexico. No great immigration legislation has resulted.

Defense of marriage efforts once again reared their ugly head but laws to change the constitution to ban same sex marriages fell to defeat.

This week a constitutional amendment to make burning the American flag a crime fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto.

Oh, and lets not forget, a week ago or so, members of Congress voted themselves raises.

Theyve done just about everything except deal with the real issues facing the country.

Mid-term elections are this November folks.

Update: Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who noticed.

Hot, Safe Sex

If you are going to be critical when someone has done something wrong, then you must also applaud them when they take corrective actions.

Flava Works Inc., the corporate entity behind CocoDorm, FlavaMen, and other online, video and print media depicting gay men of color in sexually explicit images, is responding to public criticism and governmental investigations into their operations, not with excuses but with a plan to produce more responsible adult entertainment.

They issued this press release today:

Contact: Dekenric Wiley
Flava Works 305-438-9450

Begins with new leadership, new priorities

Flava Works Inc. announces this week several substantial efforts to reaffirm the companys commitment to the highest quality of adult entertainment by and for men of color, as well the promotion of safer sex practices among all models. These efforts include dramatic changes to the leadership of the company; new partnerships with community based activists and organizations dealing with HIV/AIDS; and a brand new safer sex campaign running in all Flava Works publications.

Significant structural changes have been made to the leadership and character of the Flava Works enterprise. Last week, Phillip Bleicher stepped down as the companys president to make way for new leadership, Dekenric Wiley, as a part of the companys commitment to promoting healthy consensual sex practices by and for men of color.

Sexier Sex (is) Safer Sex is a new campaign that will be running in all Flava Works publications which encourages safer sex practices among models as well as viewers. The campaign also includes new safer sex workshops and interventions in the companys online chat rooms and websites. Also, as a part of this new campaign, bareback sex (sex without condoms) will be prohibited in all Flava Works pornographic productions.

Moreover, Flava Works is now consulting and collaborating with several community based organizations that target gay men of color, particularly New York Citys People of Color in Crisis (POCC). As a result of these collaborations, Flava Works will be sponsoring several safer sex events/workshops in the near future that will feature models from both its pornographic and non pornographic publications. The company will also be incorporating safer sex messages in all public appearances made by the companys models at various events across the country.

Flava Works produces the adult gay FlavaMen Magazine and the travel and entertainment guide, FlavaLife Magazine in addition to their numerous websites including PapiCock.com, Thugsforsex.com, Thugboy.com and CocoDorm.com

While others may disagree, to my mind the criticism has never been about silencing Flava Works or putting them out of business. I readily acknowledge being a regular consumer of their products. Pornography has a place in society and adults who want to make it (using adult performers), buy it or view it, should be allowed to.

But in a world where Black and Latin communities bear the brunt of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, irresponsible imagery affects and impacts us all. Raw sex has been made to seem hotter, sexier, more erotic and desirable than protected, safer sex, making it harder for safe sex messages to penetrate the consciousness of impressionable minds. Public health educators, already handcuffed by government funding that comes with very clear restrictions on how explicitly they can talk about human sexuality, have to compete against slickly made DVDs and websites that show more graphically appealing counter messages.

So getting a porn producer to join the education effort is a significant step. Let us hope through hot, safe videos, they can help to reshape the public perception around the use of condoms. Let us also hope that this new enlightenment extends to the treatment of their models, and that more frequent HIV testing is done, health care and counseling is made available should any model test positive, and that no performers are required to engage in risky acts in order to get paid or pay off residence fees, as earlier alleged.

This Week

Gay Pride and community awareness events continue this week as the month of June winds down.

While yours truly passed on the big NYC Pride march on Sunday (weather, lethargy and the lack of a float to ride on were contributing factors), I did attend a reception in town on Saturday for the LGBT Resource Center at my alma mater. The center is just 5 years old (while the university dates back to 1871, you do the math), so needless to say when I was there, things were entirely different. Entirely different. University staff, faculty and alums were in attendance to learn more about the center, as well as a a new program in LGBT studies that will start in the fall. We also heard from a Black lesbian alumnus from the class of 1974 who along with two other students, started the first ever gay student group there back in the early 70s. It was an inspiring story.

More history will be shared on Tuesday as the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture hosts the second of two programs co-sponsored by the Centers Black Gay and Lesbian Archive. Black LGBT/SGL Publishers Speak Out will focus on cultural publications produced by non-heterosexual people of African descent in the United States. A distinguished panel will discuss the complicated history of the Black LGBT/SGL press, and the challenges independent and self-publishing pose historically and currently. Panelists include Lisa C. Moore (RedBone Press), Charlene Cothran (Venus Magazine), Colin Robinson (Other Countries), and others. Steven G. Fullwood, project director for the Black Gay and Lesbian Archive, will moderate the panel.

Meanwhile, Wednesday night in Brooklyn, the public is invited to come talk face to face with sex party promoters and adult entertainment producers about raw sex, and its influence on a Black gay community already hard hit by HIV/AIDS. The forum is in direct response to recent cases involving a Harlem sex party and a Chicago-based Internet porn site both of which have caused quite a stir. The forum may allow folks to have a meeting of the minds. (Click on the image for more information.)

Then Friday I leave work for good.

FBI Spied on Playwright Arthur Miller

A year after his death, new information has surfaced detailing the extent to which the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) under long-time Director J. Edgar Hoover, spied on noted playwright Arthur Miller in an effort to link him to Communist groups in the United States. This type of surveillance, carried out against countless American citizens during the post-World War II era through the Nixon Administration in the 1970s, commonly targeted anyone openly critical of U.S. policies in such areas as civil rights, the war in Vietnam or the Cold War.

In the summer of 1956, Miller married screen idol Marilyn Monroe in a Jewish ceremony, an event of high-level gossip for much of the world and of high-level curiosity for the U.S. government.

“An anonymous telephone call” has been placed to the New York Daily News, an FBI report notes at the time. The caller stated that the “religious” wedding — Miller was Jewish and Monroe had converted — was an obvious “cover up” for Miller, who “had been and still was a member of the CP (Communist Party) and was their cultural front man.” Monroe also “had drifted into the Communist Party orbit.”

The memo is one of many included in Miller’s FBI files, obtained by The Associated Press through the Freedom of Information Act. Miller, who died last year at age 89 at his home in Roxbury, Conn., was a longtime liberal who opposed the Vietnam War, supported civil rights and, in one play, The Crucible, linked the Cold War pursuit of communists to the Salem witch trials of the 17th century.

His files only became available after his death, but the government’s interest in Miller was well established in his lifetime. In 1956, the House Un-American Activities Committee asked him to give names of alleged communist writers with whom he had attended some meetings in the 1940s. Miller refused and was convicted of contempt of Congress, a decision eventually overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

For a decade before his congressional testimony, the FBI kept track of the playwright, but ended up making a more convincing case that Miller was a dissenter from the Communist Party rather than a sympathizer.

“Miller became disillusioned with the party because the party did not stimulate in him the ability and inspiration to do creative writing as he had expected when he joined the Party,” one informant told the FBI.

According to a 34-page FBI report, compiled in 1951, Miller was identified by an informant as being “under Communist Party discipline” in the 1930s and, as of the mid-1940s, a member.

According to Miller, he had never been “under Communist discipline,” although “there were two short periods — one in 1940 and one in 1947 — when I was sufficiently close to Communist Party activities so that someone might honestly have thought that I had become a member.”

In an essay published in 1999, Miller recalled that “practically everyone I knew stood within the conventions of the political left of center; one or two were Communist party members … and most had had a brush with Marxist ideas or organizations.

“I have never been able to believe in the reality of these people being actual or putative traitors any more than I could be,” he wrote.

Miller’s first Broadway play, The Man Who Had All the Luck, came out in 1944, around the same time that the earliest FBI files are dated. His professional and personal life were closely watched, usually through newspaper clippings, but also from informants (whose names have been blacked out in the records) and public documents.

The FBI not only kept records of Miller’s political statements, from his opposition to nuclear weapons to his attacks against the anti-communist blacklist, but of his affiliation with such organizations as the American Labor Party (“a communist front”) and the “communist infiltrated” American Civil Liberties Union.

In vain, the FBI probed for communist influence in the content and in the productions of his plays. One memo cites an “informant” who reported that “several communists” have been turned down for roles in various “Arthur Miller playlets.”

Miller’s plays, the informant concludes, “although occasionally supported by the Communist Party, do not follow Marxist ideology.” A separate file states that “Miller was not looked on with favor by the Communist Party,” which regarded him as “`just a civil rights guy.”‘

Miller’s fame made him a target of the government, but also protected him. For example, a memo from 1955 noted an admiring article by Holiday magazine and concluded that “because of Miller’s “limited activity with the CP (Communist Party) and his position in the business world, it is felt that an interview would result in embarrassment for the Bureau.”

His files essentially end in 1956, except for a brief reprise in 1993, when a background check was submitted to Bernard Nussbaum, the White House counsel to President Clinton. The occasion was not subversive activity, but the imminent presentation of a National Medal of the Arts.

Although his alleged communist ties were reviewed and he was identified as a “participant in activities calling for an end to the war in Vietnam,” no other “pertinent information” turned up and he received his medal.

At the ceremony, Clinton praised Miller as a major playwright of the 20th century, and cited “The Crucible” for its admirable focus on “issues of conscience.”

Another Anniversary

Eight years ago today, I moved to New York City.

I was living upstate prior to that and actually enjoying life except for the fact that the economy had gone south and I couldnt find enough work to sustain me. So I took off for the Big Apple without a job but with a lot of optimism.

Eight years later, Im being laid off. The more things change, the more things stay the same.

Update: Ok, did that come off sounding too negative? I thought so too. And I’m actually having a good day today. Just finished the latest revisions to the resumes, which was an accomplishment in itself. I’ve been networking and getting new leads. Even getting invites to do other fun stuff I haven’t done in ages, like film production work which I used to do long time ago.

I was merely noting how this anniversary was coincidentally occurring around a time when I find myself in similar straits. I’m doing fine. Thank you for your concern.