(Update: Previously non-working links have been repaired, and Episode 2 expanded by the filmmaker)
LOS ANGELES—Now that the 2011 AVN Awards are over, it's time to start thinking about 2012... and one of the early favorites for next year's Reuben Sturman Award might just be documentary makers Michael Whiteacre and Lydia Lee (who performed in adult movies under the name Julie Meadows).
The reason for considering such an honor? The pair have just released on YouTube the first two parts of their upcoming feature-length documentary, The Devil and Shelley Lubben—and it's a blockbuster!
Anyone who's been reading AVN for the past few years knows who Shelley Lubben is. She runs the non-profit (though likely not non-profit for her personally) Pink Cross Foundation, whose mission is to "save" porn stars from themselves; that is, from their occupation of making sexually explicit videos.
Lubben, who's most recently been outspoken on the subject of requiring porn stars to wear condoms and other "barrier protection" while filming—she's for it, of course—is herself a former performer, in that she made 17 movies in 1993 and 1994 (she claims more but has yet to provide any proof). But part of her schtick is that she claims to have contracted both herpes and human papilloma virus (HPV) during her brief stint in front of the cameras—and that's where Whiteacre and Lee begin their dissection of Lubben's web of lies.
"As a survivor of the porn industry, I contracted human papilloma virus and herpes, a non-curable disease which later led to my battle with cervical cancer, where I had to have half of my cervix removed," Lubben is seen announcing from a rostrum in Episode 1. "I also battled with severe anemia due to hemorrhaging I experienced for 12 years—in fact, I am still battling with damages to my reproductive organs. I have suffered much at the hands of the porn industry, but after eight long, hard years of recovery, and by the grace of God almighty, I escaped that hell and stand here, a mom with three beautiful daughters, thanks to a wonderful man, a godly man who stood by me in my horrible recovery. I have the perfect life."
"I want you all to know that the last thing I want to do, people, is talk about porn," she continues, "but my compassion for those people who are in modern-day slavery right now—I was overwhelmed, and so I went back to the industry and I began to reach out to them, and of course, I've been called every name in the book, you can imagine, but that didn't stop me, and I founded Pink Cross Foundation, a non-profit organization that reaches out to adult industry workers, offering help, a way out, education, friendship. We go to porn conventions; we go to nightclubs, and heck, I even sing porn star karaoke to them."
There's just one problem with those statements: They're likely a pack of lies—and Whiteacre and Lee detail just how false her words are, usually by using... her own words!
But that comes a bit later. The beginning of Episode 1 traces Lubben's origins, from her birth in Pasadena to her eventual move to nearby Glendora... and her mental move to Cloud Cuckooland.
"Shelley began hearing voices at age 7, when Jesus told her one day she'd be famous," narrator Sam Phillips intones, followed on-screen with a title card quoting Lubben from her self-published book, The Truth Behind the Fantasy of Porn: "I loved Jesus very much. He used to talk to me all the time. And so I always knew that I was special but it seemed that no-one else saw that about me."
According to the episode, Lubben's parents stopped taking her to church at around age 9, and so of course it wasn't long before she began misbehaving.
"Shelley began making up wild stories about men trying to kidnap her, but she would eventually come clean and nothing would change," Phillips says over images of family life in the '60s. "Her mother still called her 'peculiar' rather than 'talented,' and her father still spent his spare time working in the garage. By turns lazy and hyperactive, and unhappy competing with her baby brother for mom's attention, Shelley was a difficult child to manage."
But by Lubben's own admission, she was a cheat and a liar.
"I cheated my way through high school," she admits in her book, which is quoted on-screen. "I officially do not deserve my high school diploma, but I was so smart, I was able to cheat my way through. I was a nightmare as a teenager, so I began having sex, smoking pot, drinking alcohol, just partying, and my dad basically said, 'Listen, if you don't get your act together, I'm going to kick you out.' I was about 18 years old, almost 18."
But sure enough, after losing her driver's license and being caught stealing from a local store, her dad did just what he promised. But that's okay, because Lubben had already learned the lessons she'd need for later life.
"I learned to become a hustler in high school, so imagine what I learned on the street," Lubben is seen telling an audience. "Now I'm a con-artist, now I'm learning how to rip men off, how to get their money, how to manipulate con-men out of every last dollar; how to get exactly what I wanted from a man. And I loved it because I got all the attention I ever wanted."
"The attention was like a drug for me. I was desperate for attention. Of course, the fast money was a major attraction," title cards quote her as having written. "I became a professional liar and could literally lie my way out of anything," she wrote on a Christian blog.
It's a point that Whiteacre and Lee make several times during the course of the episode: One of Lubben's primary motivations is her insatiable need to be noticed—a desire that easily led her into porn... by way of six years as a prostitute—a part of her history that she quickly forgets whenever it's convenient to do so.
Fortunately, Lubben has appeared in videos from several seminars at which she spoke after she was "saved" from the horrors of porn, and some of the early ones tell quite a different story than what she related in the clip that begins this episode.
"Working as a prostitute, giving blowjobs—that's right; did I say that word?—giving blowjobs on the street with men ejaculating on my face, getting blood on my face... I didn't take care of myself," she admits to various audiences. "I hadn't even been to a doctor since I had a baby. That was the only time I ever went [to] doctors. From age 18 to 26, I went to the doctor's one time... I got pregnant by tricks three times. Two out of the three times I had miscarriages because my reproductive system was messed up from all the multiple partners I was having, and how many times did clients break condoms on me? Too many times. Two of the times ended in miscarriages because I was so physically unhealthy because we don't go to the doctor and we don't go to the dentist; there's no time for that. It's all about the money."
Helpfully, the filmmakers remind us that the Centers for Disease Control have some idea of how easily sexually transmitted diseases—like the ones Lubben claims to have contracted while performing—are acquired.
"HPV is so common that at least 50% of sexually active men and women get it at some point in their lives," a title card reads. "Condoms may lower the risk of developing HPV-related diseases, but HPV can infect areas that are not covered by a condom."
"And the number one reason for getting HPV, the doctor told me, is from having multiple sex partners," Lubben then tellssome unidentified videographer... and us.
"So according to Shelley," Lee summarizes, "she was a prostitute for six years before getting into porn, she was a prostitute as a porn star, and she was a prostitute shortly thereafter in 1994, and that's not multiple partners?"
The end of Episode 1 features Lubben relating some of her memories of her days as a prostitute, when, for instance, she and a madam she was living with would "pull 10, 15 tricks a day." She also told of a Chinese man who picked her up at a strip club by offering her $200 to spend the night—but once they got to their hotel room, his cock turned out to be so small the condom kept slipping off.
"He ejaculated on me and in me," Lubben says on tape, then a title card continues with a quote from her book: "I jumped off the bed and ran to the bathroom to try and clean myself out. Tagi asked me in his rough Chinese accent, 'What's wong?'[sic] What's wrong? Was he kidding? Everything was wrong! I didn't want to get pregnant again from a prostitution act and give birth to some ugly Asian baby."
Pregnant again? Yep—and as title cards elaborate, "Shelley's third pregnancy resulted in the birth of her daughter, Tiffany Ann Moore, on June 29, 1988. That means Shelley had two of her three miscarriages prior to 1988. That's five and a half years before she walked onto a porn set. However, the story Shelley likes to tell conveniently shifts all the blame from herself—and onto the porn industry."
And sure enough: "I've had several miscarriages due to the trauma in the industry," Lubben claims on videotape. "I had hemorrhaging for 12 years and severe anemia. I have suffered much at the hands of the porn industry."
Episode 2, titled "Roxy's Rape," deals with another set of Shelley "Roxy" Lubben lies: Her claim that at least some of the sex she had on camera was non-consensual.
"I was in the industry for the years of 1993 to 1994 where I was forced to have unprotected sex," Lubben tells various audiences in a compiled segment. "I was brutally raped on the set when I contracted herpes in a six-man gangbang, on a dirty ranch, unsupervised, on a dirty picnic table.... I was forced and was coerced to do sex acts that I did not agree with... I was also a drug addict alcoholic, much like many of the other people working in the industry. I also was jaded, mentally ill, and traumatized from all the pornography and sex I was subjected to, all the brutality."
As Whiteacre points out, her choice of words is interesting, considering that the California Penal Code defines rape in part as, "force, violence, coercion, duress, menace, or the threat of immediate unlawful bodily injury," as well as if the victim is intoxicated, drugged, mentally ill or mentally deficient.
"Here's where Mrs. Lubben has a problem: She has to get around the fact that she actively, willingly sought employment in the porn industry, which by and large does not use condoms; booked the shoot, showed up, shot the scene, signed a contract and model release in the presence of others, acknowledging that she did not have diminished capacity, and that she was giving all necessary consent and waiving all liability," Whiteacre analyzes. "She did the scene, she was paid, she cashed the check, and then she didn't file a police report. So how to get around that? Here's where Shelley goes all in. Short of being a minor, which obviously she wasn't, she now claims that virtually every other element which might possibly negate her consent was present. She was forced, threatened, drugged, drunk, mentally ill, with no evidence of anything; just her word 15, 16, 17 years later."
Also weighing in against Lubben's version is one actor who participated in the "six-man gangbang" (Filmco's Roxy A Gang Bang Fantasy) which Lubben references, actor Guy DaSilva.
"She was very aggressive in the scene; very aggressive, and so were the guys, but in no kind of dangerous kind of way, in any kind of threatening way, or harmful, where anyone was hurt or forced to do something they didn't want to do," DaSilva told Whiteacre and Lee. "That absolutely did not take place. She called the shots and then the guys including myself were just going through what we were told to do, and there was a director involved who was basically shooting it and 'letting it fly.' He wasn't really even 'directing' the scene. For the most part, he just let it go and she carried it. She was not drunk or anything. She was capable of knowing what she was doing. Coherent."
But, according to Lubben, not only was she personally assaulted on the set, but so is everyone who participates in making adult movies—and they all salve the pain by using drugs.
"On the movie set, it's absolutely horrible and degrading for women," Lubben claims. "In the background you can hear women throwing up, you can hear them crying—because it hurts... You know what women do before they do a scene? We go outside with other porn actors, we lay down lines of meth, we take big bottles and chug that down, and we're ready. They beat the girls, they feed them—force-feed them drugs. Drugs are always provided. You can get Vicodin, that's a huge drug. Xanax, alcohol, meth, cocaine—heroin is very big, and after a day of working with nothing but filth, bodily fluids, an unclean set—because all of the movies are done on private mansions, so there's nothing regulated about this industry."
Most of the rest of the episode consists of current and former performers—Melissa Monet, Nina Hartley, Danny Wylde, Monica Foster, Kayden Kross—putting the lie to Lubben's claims, with Hartley being one of the most eloquent and logical.
"I've been on about 700 sets; I've done about a thousand scenes, 1200 scenes, give or take, and honestly, in all that, I've had ten experiences where I actually went, 'Ew, never again with that person, that director'," she tells the filmmakers. "And even then I would never call them rape; I would just call them, 'Ew, that guy's a jerk; I just won't work with him again.'"
"No one ever kept me on a set," she continues. "It's not possible to hold somebody on a set against their will, and nowadays, with cell phones, the LAPD would love to have a phone call from some young woman in a closet on a set saying, 'Please, please, come get me now, please!' Oh, my God; what a field day they would have with that! It doesn't happen. We don't need to force anybody to be on a set; they come every day from the bus station going, 'Please, please pick me; no, pick me!'"
Equally logical is Kayden Kross's explanation of why there aren't rapists in porn.
"She makes it sound like we don't have a say in the matter; she turns it into rape," Kross sardonically analyzes. "She says that she was raped, that we're all being raped every time you show up to set. And I'm just saying, I mean, there would be a lot more rapists, I think, if that were the case, because look how easy we make it: You know, we drive ourselves there; we give you notice when we're going to be there; we sit down in the makeup chair so you can make us look exactly how you want us to look—it's really a good gig for rapists, I think. But then, you know, there's the whole object of having to pay for it and there's the whole thing where she can just say, 'No, I'm not showing up.' It kind of gets in the way if you really want to be a hardcore rapist, but definitely, if you just want to rape on the side, that's easy."
Hartley, however, gets to one of the core issues that separates the sexually normal world from the whacky religious one when it comes to sex.
"We're still battling upstream," Hartley asserts, "against the idea that women are delicate flowers who need protection from men, that sex is still something men want and women have, or it's something that men do and women are, and still we are fighting the battle that women have sexual agency of their own; they have their own desires, their own needs, their own wants and their own ways of getting them."
The religious aspect of this is something that greatly interests Whiteacre.
"What Shelley doesn't get is that if Satan does exist in this world, he exists in the idea that the world somehow owes you a living," Whiteacre told AVN. "That's the philosophy that drives thieves and grifters and other criminals... The key to this 'new improved' Shelley Lubben is that her time in exile was spent sojourning at the Champions Centre in Tacoma, Washington. It's a church and ministry training facility that spits out little clones who all recite the same mantra: 'I'm a Champion'; 'Jesus will help me lead a Champion life!', etc. Shelley learned how to be a convincing public speaker, how to use logical fallacies like proof by assertion and appeal to authority, and how to get people to pass the plate.
"At the core of this kind of religious conversion is the need to make your old life look as as terrible and evil and sinful as possible, so that your salvation appears that much more miraculous," he continued. "Now that Lubben looks back on her life with these new-found religious perspectives, all the little stray pieces from her old life fit neatly into new packages: The voices she's been hearing since childhood are actually God and Jesus; Satan entered her body to give her the strength to get through a gang bang; hearing the moon tell her to 'fuck off' proves that she was demon-possessed, etc.
"Pornography is Lubben's dragon, which is a convenient one to tilt at because that sentiment provides enormous job security," he assessed. " There will always be a natural human desire to explore sexuality. But, in a Lubben-centric world, her enemy is the enemy of the true church, because Lubben and the true church are one and the same."
Um... All hail St. Shelley?
In any case, Whiteacre's and Lee's documentary promises the best analysis of a vocal enemy of the adult industry than has been produced in many years, and can be enjoyed by adult industry members and fans alike.