MIAMI — Skyrocketing momentum shot XBIZ Miami into the stratosphere after an epic opening day of leisurely fun and the business/pleasure combo of Day 1 that followed, as XBIZ Miami entered Day 2 with serious legal, financial and cyberbullying panels … amidst exquisite poolside debauchery!
On the dockside docket for the XBIZ event series, presented by Chaturbate, were a host of legal eagles and an ace accountant, not to mention model magic ready to dish on the latest issues facing talent.
Alternating between the spaciously luxurious Sunset Ballroom and the South Studio on the second floor, which was wreathed in a sunlit balcony overlooking the beauties outside, each gathering of great minds and entranced audiences promised as many chuckles as sagely pearls of professional know-how.
And while these sultry salons of sophistication exchanged brilliance and hard-won kernels of truth, a steady stream of stars from the camming, clips and porn markets flowed throughout the Mondrian’s many bars, hotel lobby and aquatic delights.
Up first in the ballroom was the well-attended ImLive-sponsored Legal Toolkit: Basics for Today’s Talent, featuring attorneys Maxine Lynn and Larry Walters, with Corey Silverstein as moderator. Inspired in part by Lynn’s XBIZ World magazine article of the same name, which delved into a few of the legal considerations models should be tuned into, the panel explored topics such as 2257 record-keeping.
Under 18 U.S. Code § 2257, producers of a visual depiction of an actual human being engaged in actual sexually explicit conduct must keep records showing the ages of the models, to ensure they are legally old enough.
“Records need to be kept in a certain way, so they’re retrievable by the title of the work, the model stage name or the model’s actual name,” advised the professorial Walters, whose measured tone and articulate delivery carried the gravitas of a well-heeled yet eminently approachable barrister. “And they need to be kept separately from anything else. The reason for that is, if the government comes and knocks on your door to look at your records, they don’t want to have to sift through a bunch of model releases, payment information or contracts.”
He noted that they would typically want a computer, hard drive or file that has all the 2257 records neatly together, even if there’s debate in the industry as to whether or not such a search and seizure is enforceable without a warrant or subpoena.
Walters said that the Free Speech Coalition has been litigating this matter for years, and much has been thrown out as far as what needs to be kept “given the kind of Byzantine requirements” involved, but for now “it is a statute, it is a federal law, it’s mandatory, there’s penalties and prison penalties, so it’s important to comply with it.”
He added the importance of knowing “what you’re doing and if you’re a records-keeper, to know what information needs to be disclosed on the media involved and to display the address of where the records are kept.”
There are only certain locations that are available to keep records, he elucidated, such as “your place of business, or you can potentially contract with a third party to keep records,” and choosing which way to handle records is an important decision. “The bottom line is, you keep these records accessible,” he said. “The date of production needs to be in the 2257 records, also, and the reason for that is we need to know whether the person’s ID shows they were 18 on the day of the shoot.”
An audience member asked about shooting outside the U.S. and what is needed for 2257 considerations, to which Walters said, “In terms of 2257, you still need to get a government-issued photo ID. We recommend you rely on passports, because it can be hard to determine what is considered a valid ID card while in a foreign country, for porn productions. And if you’re shooting a foreign performer here in the U.S., you’re not allowed to use a foreign ID card, they have to get a U.S. government-issued one.”
Pivoting to another topic in which Lynn specializes, given her intellectual property background, the bespectacled and impish Silverstein asked, “A lot of new models get in the industry and don’t realize the importance of getting a trademark for their stage name, so could you tell the audience about why this is so important?”
The affable blonde smiled broadly, sitting up and leaning forward to address the room. “When you first get into the business and are choosing your stage name, you want to check, first of all, if it’s available. Make sure somebody else is not using it, as that could create confusion. Otherwise, they will come to you and say, ‘Hey, you’re using my name!’ On the flip side, you don’t want to put a ton of effort into building your brand with lots of name recognition, and then have somebody else come in and start using a name that is yours.”
She recommended models check to see if their name is available in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which they can do by searching online at USPTO.gov in their trademarks section.
“Then, get a trademark application, as it’s a relatively simple process — but you can get an attorney to help if you need — and send the information to the trademark office, with your stage name and everything required,” she continued. “It will stay on file and the overall approval can take nine months, but in the meanwhile you can start using your name. And if someone comes into the business with a similar name, causing confusion or taking clients from you, you would be able to enforce your trademark.”
This enforcement, however, would have to come in the form of a civil lawsuit, she elaborated, as “the government is not going to do it for you.”
“It’s a civil law system, so you’d have to hire a lawyer to file a letter to them — you can do it yourself, but when a letter comes with a lawyer’s letterhead it’s taken more seriously,” she said. “Then, you can negotiate from there or go to litigation — hopefully not, but trademark registration gives you all those rights at least. If you’re going to put time, energy and effort into building your name, you might as well trademark it. And if you don’t do it from the outset, it’s never too late. Go ahead and file it now to begin the process.”
Silverstein interjected briefly to underline that it’s never too late to go through the process and Lynn concurred, suggesting everyone get their stage name trademarked even if they’ve been talent for a while.
Walters then delved into fictitious name registration. “Unlike trademarks, which are voluntary, fictitious name registration is required by most states,” he cautioned. “So, if you’re doing business as a name other than your legal name — that goes for any stage name — you’re required by most states to identify yourself as the owner of that fictitious name. It’s actually a criminal offense sometimes not to register it. So, if you’re concerned about privacy and maintaining anonymity, which is why lots of people use stage names, that’s fine, but this need to register holds true even if you’re operating as a corporation.”
After fielding several more questions, the room cleared out for a star-studded panel on Protecting Yourself: How to Counter Cyberbullies and Social Stigma, sponsored by ImLive and moderated by Dr. Chauntelle Tibbals, a sociologist and noted expert in adult industry issues.
The XBIZ events veteran introduced the panelists, all of whom had extensive experience in the camming world, such as Alaska’s own AkGingerSnaps, German-American model Veronika Rose, the ubiquitous (a very good thing) Ginger Banks, cam girl-porn star-entrepreneur-director multi-hyphenate Lena Paul, svelte adult actress and cam model Casey Kisses and the one and only Romi Rain, a true porn queen, a hard-working cam broadcaster, a content creator and the 2018 XBIZ Female Performer of the Year.
The introduction pointed out the challenges for cam performers in today’s contradictory landscape regarding sex work. “In the last 15 years I’ve seen a change in the world,” said Dr. Tibbals, “with things becoming more sex-positive, pro-sex workers and sex worker rights.”
However, she added, “We are also living in a world where they systematically discriminate for payment systems, housing, you name it.” Dr. Tibbals admitted that running panels about cyberbullying and stigma in places like the fun-filled Mondrian makes her the Debbie Downer of these kinds of industry events, but she stressed how important it was to help models understand these issues.
As a general tip for beginners, Veronika Rose, who has been a cam model for six years, advised against putting “anything too personal in social media, like your real name, where you live or where you’re at.”
“You have to even be careful about sharing with your room when you’re having a really bad day,” she added, as some people stoop down to extreme psychological abuse. “All they know about my real life is that I’m married, I’m a mom and that’s it.”
Lena Paul, a popular adult performer and cam girl for three-and-a-half years who has also been directing for six months, has been outspoken about mental health issues as they relate to sex work. During the panel, Paul focused on how to fight back against online abuse.
“There’s something I do that you should do too, but only when you’re in a good headspace,” revealed Paul. “Spend some time looking at sites like Porn Wikileaks (not The Real Porn Wikileaks, an industry gossip site), especially their disgusting ‘Whore Hunting’ forum, where you’ll find a dedicated community of trolls who want to terrorize us. You can learn a lot from the way they go about stalking us.”
Paul said she has watched these creeps go through models’ birth records, arrange “raids” on their families (“my mom gets calls”), engage in life-threatening doxxing and worse.
“You should all click on all the public record websites and de-register from them one by one,” explained Paul. “It’s a lot of work but it makes a huge difference. Social media is not inside the machine anymore — now it follows you around in the real world.”
The other panelists, and also audience members like Vicky Vette, shared disturbing stories of their online predators, trolls and other tech-weaponized vermin.
Romi Rain, whose massive fan base makes her the target of more than a few unpleasant individuals, recommends feeding people false information. “You should lie about where you are all the time,” she advised. “Keep confusing them. Never post a picture of yourself by your real car or your real home.”
Paul recommended removing the EXIF data (exchangeable image file format) from photos and to shut off all kinds of location-based functionalities that geotag pics.
“It’s smart to avoid posting things like ‘Here I am, at the Mondrian!’” added Dr. Tibbals. “Save it and maybe post it tomorrow from the airport.”
Ginger Banks, who considers fighting anti-sex-worker stigma her passion, pointed audience members towards the Reddit.com legal advice forum, where they can get useful free information about how to use the law to fight back against trolls.
“And try not to be reactive,” Banks added. “They thrive on that reaction. Every time you freak out publicly, you’re increasing the problem. But do react privately, because it’s fucked up what people do to us.”
“Block and ban!” encouraged Romi Rain.
“I scare people,” laughed Lena Paul. “Somebody found my personal cell phone number and I was having a bad day, so I doxxed them.”
For Casey Kisses, another important issue that needs to be acknowledged is being bullied or harassed during a live show. “Verbal harassment in front of an audience is a real problem,” said Kisses, who told XBIZ that Rain and Banks are “two models I’ve always looked up to and I really valued listening to their views on social stigmas and how they deal with them.”
The panelists wondered about the psychology of people who enter chat rooms to torment the models.
“We’re masturbating to make money, what the hell are you doing?” wondered Kisses. “They’re still masturbating to us!” answered Rain, to uproarious audience reaction.
Switching from cyberbullying to the issue of social stigma, an audience member wanted to know how to respond specifically to religious family members who disapproved of sex workers’ career choices.
“My dad is a baptist deacon,” revealed Paul, “and I was homeschooled, so you can imagine. My response to them is this: God loves sex workers! Yahweh kicks it with sex workers! In the Bible, God even tells a prophet to marry an escort.”
Paul suggested those in a similar situation try to engage positively if at all possible. A good approach, she said, is to tell loved ones, “You may not like the choices that I’m making, but you have to trust that you raised me well and that I’m making my own choices” and point out that it is on them if they want to reject her for something God doesn’t reject her for.
An ecumenical Romi Rain explained that, although she was not raised religious, she likes to share with fans and critics that “the good parts of all religions are pretty much the same — if you believe in love.”
This is a message that everyone agreed should also extend within the industry. Social media, the panelists pointed out, highlights the fact that industry people don’t always say eye to eye, which leads to what they called “peer-to-peer bullying.”
“We have to be able to disagree with each other without disrespecting each other,” suggested Rain. “Peer-on-peer hate goes against everything we’re trying to do in the industry right now.”
The answer to models and performers who (perhaps influenced by the toxic “friendships” that make up much of reality TV) like to build their brand by being obnoxious and causing constant drama (a.k.a., “I have no filter,” “I’m being ‘honest,’” etc.) is not to respond in anger, said Banks.
“All the mistakes I’ve made in the industry were from doing that,” she added. “Learn the difference between just being reactive vs. actually responding thoughtfully.”
“As a person that has been cyberbullied by her peers, it was nice to hear how they cope with cyberbullying every day,” attendee Lauren Phillips, a stunning redhead with a flourishing adult, cam and fetish model career, later told XBIZ. “I definitely learned specific techniques on what to do when I get overwhelmed by cyberbullying by my peers and how to make peace with it.”
Dr. Tibbals was impressed by how interactive and eager to learn the XBIZ Miami audience was. “It’s always great to facilitate these discussions and cull wider patterns and strategies from the generous insights shared — all things that the community at large may utilize in general,” she said.
It was left to the ever-eloquent Lena Paul to close this healing session with a reminder to accept moments of sadness, anger and low self-esteem and “have a set of people — friends, a support system — who know who you are when you forget.”
“Ask yourself: am I hiding from my own emotional issues when I throw myself wholeheartedly into cam work?” concluded Paul. “If your answer is ‘yes’ — that’s when you know it’s time to unplug.”
And while talent is the driving force behind traffic in the modern digital media landscape, there are still ad networks and data-powered algorithm wizards casting the shadows of that star power on a massive scale.
For this reason, the Segpay-sponsored Traffic Acquisition Today: Latest Insights for Advertisers and Publishers panel brought together Daniel from AdultAdWorld, Mark Bauman of Traffichaus, Brad Estes of Flirt4Free, Gunner Taylor of AdultFriendFinder, Michael Reul of TrafficPartner and Brad Mitchell of MojoHost as moderator, to share insights.
The value of sufficiently lengthy and robust test periods, amassing lots of data to determine how conversions are paying off before making a determination on whether a campaign is working, as well as the boundless opportunities for more specific sources of targeted traffic were among the topics explored. They also let the models in the audience know that very often, the not-yet-a-member viewers in their chatrooms were sent there by traffic companies, and that with the right encouragement, they can be coaxed into becoming paying members.
Then, it was time for another lawyer-filled panel with the Segpay-sponsored Legal 2019: A Mid-Year Report, featuring the returning Larry Walters, Maxine Lynn and Corey Silverstein, as well as Paul Cambria, JD Odenberger and Eric Paul Leue of the FSC as moderator.
Walters gave an overview of the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), and how it makes platforms liable for anything that can even be remotely construed as sex facilitating sex trafficking, causing them to be overly cautious with content and user interactions to avoid prosecution.
Odenberger praised the courage and resolve of talent for “going into the public sphere and putting your name out there, changing the trajectory of your life so that you’ll never be like the people you went to high school with that didn’t do this.” He lauded talent for being “the real patriots” and then delved into the various legal loopholes of FOSTA, and how it will be contested eventually in the courts.
When Leue asked Silverstein to explain FOSTA more fully, the renowned biz attorney replied, “Ultimately, when the government was coming up with this wonderful piece of legislation, they talked about how it would help stop sex trafficking, that it would protect women, curbing crime against them and sex workers.
“Because so many online platforms have shut down and social media platforms have cracked down, whereas sex workers used to have the means to go online and communicate with someone, that go-between is gone,” he lamented. “And so, sex workers aren’t going to stop having sex or leave the sex business. They’re going to continue proceeding with their trade. That leaves them vulnerable.”
He also touched upon the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe, which Silverstein has covered in a recent article for XBIZ World magazine and at past events.
“Once again, France has proven they are actively fining companies like Google, and they presently have investigations against Facebook and Apple,” he said. “I don’t think we have the owners of these companies in the room, though maybe you have stock or you’re sleeping with Jeff Bezos, but the bottom line is … they go after the big companies first. They do this every time. And while Google has the money to appeal this, when they’re done screwing around with these companies, they’re going to start going after adult companies.”
He prophesied, “I am telling you that within the next few years, adult companies are going to get hit by GDPR and you need to understand what kinds of data rights Europeans have … and that when you have data coming from the U.S. to Europe and back, know what your responsibilities are. This is not a joke anymore. The era of stealing people’s private data, however innocently, is over. Make sure you’re compliant.”
Panelists also delved into ownership of content between the talent and those filming them, how how intellectual property issues should be all sorted and hashed out contractually, in case of future disagreements. Lynn chimed in with some of the copyright issues she covered in the first panel of the day, and when the discussion circled back to FOSTA, Cambria spoke generally about his legal defense work with the ongoing Backpage.com saga — though he couldn’t get too specific, given the ongoing nature of his efforts.
Afterwards, before everyone started the lengthy grooming rituals for that evening’s much-anticipated XBIZ Cam Awards, presented by MyFreeCams, there was another sobering panel, and a highlight at that! Moderated by should-have-her-own-talkshow powerhouse Vicky Vette, the Personal Finance: Managing Your Dollars Wisely — sponsored by ImLive — presentation featured only one speaker: Brian Sanders, accountant and financial planner for several prominent industry figures and a city-hopping partner at Sanders & Associates.
Sanders, a genial, avuncular speaker (that is, if your uncle was a financial wiz with a superb, self-deprecating “plain-talk” spiel and the twinkling eyes of your favorite “Cheers” patron), held the audience’s attention for a whole hour with folksy (but 100 percent accurate) financial advice. His tips, “hacks” and suggestions had everyone pulling out their laptops and notepads and scribbling every morsel of financial wisdom, applicable not only to adult industry professionals, but to everyone who wants to stay afloat money- and assets-wise.
“The two most important things a person should learn — sex education and managing your personal finances — are not taught in school,” was Sanders’ opening salvo, and the audience was with him from that moment until he stepped off the stage an hour later, with many attendees crowding him with specific questions.
And the commonsense (famously the least common of the senses) quips kept coming:
“Everyone needs two things: a good lawyer and a good accountant.”
“Three things that you have to take care of: your body, your mind and your finances. If your finances are not in order, it creates a lot of anxiety and ruins your relationships.”
“Accept that you have to live within your means and: 1. Be current on your taxes. 2. Pay your bills on time. 3. Create budgets.”
“Every day you’re behind on your taxes it perpetuates the situation.”
“Get your financial house in order. Figure out what is costing you (and your significant other) to live, every day. Sit down and have that talk. Take a look at what you owe. Make those lists.”
“Make your budgeting psychologically work for you. Trick your mind into working for you.”
“Weekly budgets are easier to manage than a monthly budget.”
“If there are any of you who are in a lot of financial stress, bite the bullet, hire a bankruptcy attorney and get it done.”
“The one savings goal I generally tell people to save for: Shoot to have in savings a minimum of 12 months of mortgage or rent.”
“I highly recommend that everybody in the industry become a small business (that way you can deduct hair, makeup, costumes, etc. as expenses).”
“Industry ladies: Be wary of the gentlemen you let into your life. Don’t get in the position where you have to rely on a man for your livelihood.”
“Every man in this audience: Get a vasectomy.”
These are all home “truths,” of course, and Sanders delivered them with the bedside manner of a trusted accountant who has pretty much seen it all in a sometimes bewildering industry when it comes to money. He even peppered his talk with multiple references to his ruinous “second wife” who left him “without two nickels to rub together.”
In a sense, Sanders’ speech was religious in nature (capitalism, after all, is largely based on faith) — he can minister because he has fallen (he spoke about his own financial meltdown), and he can empathize with the financial sinners (there might be one or two in adult) because he’s been to hell and back.
And let’s be frank — who doesn’t need a little bit of good ole testifyin’, even if it is about how to live within your means, between all the excess and debauchery of a world-class South Beach porn convention?
For the rest of the afternoon and evening, several hours of rest and relaxation were afforded, to ensure attendees could get all dolled up and decked out for the biggest camming and clips awards show in the biz.
That’s not to say there wasn’t a healthy dose of Poolside Networking (sponsored by Streamate), a raucous round of BongaCams Presents: Bonga Bingo! and lots of pre-gaming with the XBIZ Cam Awards Warm-Up Happy Hour going on.
And in that lagoon of love and lust filled with inflatable animals, the likes of 2019 XBIZ Female Performer of the Year Abigail Mac, Romi Rain and Dani Daniels pawed at each other, looking every inch the superstars they are with their bikinis.
The spectacle drew the attention of several photographers, as well as a certain XBIZ managing editor who the award-winning royalty happily coaxed into the shallow end — forcing him to submerge those fancy black loafers. It should be noted in that moment, he did not give a damn about the loafers, because when Mac and Rain tell you to pull the big floating dragon they’re riding, giggling and posing like the devilish little minxes they are, you damn well do it.
In truth, everyone had taken a sweet, sweet dive into the big ol’ adult pool that week, swimming to the deepest of ends to find themselves among the finest of friends, and a more beautiful community of tropical wildlife than the Atlantic could ever hope to match.
For coverage of the 2019 XBIZ Cam Awards, presented by MyFreeCams, tune in to XBIZ.com tomorrow. For photos of XBIZ Miami, which are being added daily this week, click here.