LOS ANGELES—In yet another chapter of "Corporations Fucking With Porn Stars," the Daily Dot reported last week that online retail giant Amazon has been deleting the wish lists of adult performers and other sex workers, and that the victims think it's for the same reason many believe Chase Bank has been closing accounts—because of the stigma of porn.
“What we’re doing is not illegal. [Amazon] just frowns on it,” adult performer Jenna J. Ross, whose Amazon wish list was deleted last year, told the Dot. “It’s just annoying that I constantly have to change what I’m doing just because someone has a problem with it.”
Another notable adult performer interviewed by the Daily Dot, Tanya Tate, also had her wish list deleted last year ... twice. The first time it happened, she was told it was for "bartering," a T&C violation. After reposting the wish list minus any potentially incriminating text, it was deleted again along with her entire account, and she also lost the balance on her Amazon gift cards. The British performer-director-producer decided to make a stink.
"Furious, Tate sent an e-mail to customer service and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, demanding to know why her account had been taken down when she had adhered to Amazon’s terms of service," reported EJ Dickson for the Daily Dot. "She received a reply from a staffer, telling her once again that she had violated Amazon’s terms of service by creating a wish list for 'bartering' purposes, that the wish list was intended 'for family and friends only,' and that Amazon reserved the right to take down her account without notice."
Tate eventually got her account reinstated and her vouchers returned, and now hosts her wish list on a private website, but she told Dickson, “In my opinion, they were just refusing to allow to me have a wish list because I’m an adult star. There’s no reason for it other than discrimination ... if the wish list is intended for family and friends, my fans are my friends. And if they wish to treat me to something, they should have that right.”
The "bartering" excuse used by Amazon appears to be just one explanation for why wish lists are being deleted. "Inappropriate use" is another, but there Amazon seems to be on somewhat thin ice for purportedly punishing adult performers for including the same types of items on their wish lists that can be bought on Amazon.com, including sex toys and adult DVDs.
According to cam model Emma Ink, whose Amazon wish list was deleted last year, "These adult items are for sale on Amazon and one does not need to be logged in or provide any information to be able to view them. If Amazon finds sexuality or pornography objectionable, perhaps they should stop selling sex toys and pornographic DVDs.”
Ink also posted to her Tumblr account a copy of the letter she received from Amazon explaining why her wish list went away. It read, in part, "We don't condone the usage of Wish List for inappropriate purposes or for inappropriate content and for this reason we've deleted your Wish List."
Needless to say, a vague explanation like that leaves more questions than answers, and makes Amazon, which sells plenty of NC-17 fare, look more than a little hypocritical for denying performers the same opportunities it reserves for itself. But maybe that's the point.
As far as any PR fallout goes, while the scope of the Wish List takedowns is unknown, if more victims come forward, Amazon may find itself the latest target of innumerable mainstream media queries asking it to explain why it is blocking sex workers from trying to interact with their fans in a mutually beneficial way that has a long pedigree.
Calling it a common practice among performers, Dickson notes, "Many adult fans view wish lists as a way to interact with their favorite performer, and will often ask them to put a specific item on a wish list up so they can purchase it for them."
Of course, Amazon could always just stick to its guns if the pressure increases, and continue to offer responses like the one Julie Law, a PR rep for the company, gave the Daily Dot in a email in which she explained, "Typically the real issue may be objectionable content in the profile of the wish list including an obscene photo or a wish list that violates community terms."
But considering Amazon's own profitable embrace of adult products, justifications like that may fall on deaf ears as the national conversation on the right of sex workers to engage the products and services of large corporations without being harassed ramps up.
Image: Screen shot of current Amazon adult DVD offerings.