I am an advocate for healthy sexuality but on this journey I have discovered that not all forms of sexuality and lifestyles are worth fighting for. Everyone has a view, everyone has an idea of what is wrong and what is right. Even from a most liberal point of view one may think a lifestyle should be accepted or legalized but there is always someone living in the fringe who disagrees, living among the social outcasts the illlegales who likes it that way.
After visiting the brothels I wondered out loud why prostitution isn’t legal? I say it should be, but I threw it out there and was met with backlash. Not all sex workers even want it to be legal. Government regulation is not the answer for everyone. From a social standpoint, acceptance of prostitution would bring about a greater understanding and appreciation of sexuality but what about the sex workers who work illegally? Some disagreed with me and many said the money is addicting, and still yet many want to and wish to get out of it. When something is illegal it promotes crimes, violence, trafficking , etc. That was and is my point, but it’s not that simple.
Polygamy is another concept that I have been researching by default as of late. Someone got me into it. I was not even aware of this until a few years ago. I mean I wasn’t aware of its mass outreach and existence in America. Talk about monogamy brainwash. Having been part of the queer culture since the mid 80′s I was familiar with the ideas of polyamory, as the gay community has been polyamorous since the beginning of time. Polyamory is fun, natural, its a little crazy making and scary and no it doesn’t breed that sense of security we get in monogamy which is also natural, enticing, and freeing at times yet also confining. Yet, our culture is so steeped in heteronormative monogamous poop as I like to call it, not because it’s right or wrong but simply because it’s promoted so massively and anything against it is wrong. Government and religion control, does not promote healthy natural lifestyles based on nature but rather based on manipulation, control and brainwash. Conditioning. But in my research polygamy yes illegal but in its current state in the FLDS community promotes a lot of gender inequality, homophobia and general hate not to mention it also promotes incest and abuse. Would legalization and normalization change the inequality, did government illegalization actually do us a favor, or did things go south mainly because of government involvement in matters of marriage and religion?
Porn, same sex marriage. Should porn stars be forced to use condoms, no, but many tested positive for HIV. Make it a law, kill the industry. No two people of the same sex cannot get married. What? Who says. Change the law, make history.
I guess it’s hard to swallow still that there are laws around who we can marry, which sends us a message about who we can love, who we can fuck. Laws around abortion, yes our uterus our physical bodies. We cannot go to jail for suicide, but yet abortion and murder are illegal, we anger and treat animals inhumanely yet they kill each other out in the wild. The natural food chain, bereft of any social laws only the laws of nature. Why are humans always acting within the laws of nature but constantly punishing, controlling what those laws are? Law and order. Natural or not.
I guess what I am trying to say is that it’s not that simple. Just legalizing or illegalizing something does not change the mindset of a society steeped in certain beliefs. People believe what they are told even though they may feel otherwise. Should you trust the government or should you trust yourself? Change has to take place over generations. Whether it be in the heart or in the mind, it definitely has to start somewhere.
I spent the day with ex-polygamists. I hung out in Colorado City, AZ this morning. Home to many polygamists and lots of former polygamists now too as well. Colorado City, AZ is a city that is changing but at what rate is still yet to be seen. Holding Out HELP, an organization based out of Salt Lake City, had it’s grand opening today in Colorado City – a community center, complete with internet cafe, showers, thrift store, counseling/legal resources, kitchen and a couple beds – to help the displaced members of a formerly tight knit polygamist community. People have been fleeing the community or in many cases have been asked to leave by their leader, but often times lack the resources to know where they need to go next. Where to find a job. Where, if needed to seek legal help, shelter, etc. Holding Out HELP is building this new community center to help such displaced folk. Located at the corner of Central and Johnson in Colorado City, AZ.
(Below are some stills of from the footage we shot today.)
I spoke to Tonya of Holding Out HELP. I asked her if she thought there would be violence or backlash from the community for building such a center. She said she was sure there would have been but, “There hasn’t been any yet, but we don’t believe we are wanted here.” She was sure they would have burnt the place down by now, but, they haven’t. She’s not 100% convinced though that there won’t be some backlash of some sort.
On the flip side, however, the rest of the nation seems to be watching Holding out HELP and people showed up in droves from around the country to attend todays opening ceremonies.
Some of the things I heard today included one certain former polygamist who has been out of the community for 47 years, but yes, he still lives in Colorado City. He is a practicing monogamist who says that in theory he believes that polygamy should work. But when I asked him if he thought there was some gender inequality in polygamy he said, “No, the women should be in charge, and that the original scriptures would have it be so.” He refers to the polygamy psychosis. You’ll have to watch the film to hear what that is.
We spent mid-day driving to Salt Lake City, UT. Where we met up with our friend, a 19 year old soon-to-be ex-polygamist – we spent the afternoon with him and taught him some urban slang such as the meaning of “balling out of control,” (he laughed) in between hearing about how he was raised, how incest, abuse, homophobia, etc run rampant in polygamy and the loop holes of the law: sure people may come forward but unless they are willing to testify in court, there is quite often no case, which is why these large communities of polygamy still exist.
People are catching on. I wouldn’t say people are leaving polygamy in masses but there are definitely a lot more people open to speaking up about leaving polygamy than say two years ago, when I was here last.
She invited people, and said, “It’s nothing big, come if you want, we will be getting married today, the ceremony will last 15 minutes.” This is a story of love, light and hope. After several years of hardship and struggling with the courts as she fought for her maternal rights, she met an amazing man with whom she chose to commit her life to.
Surrounded by family and friends at what could only be described as a destination wedding, the girl, formerly known as Peyton Rivers was married a gentleman, who one could tell by the way he looked at her and from the tears he shed that he would be the perfect husband and father. She had chosen wisely. She didn’t expect so many people to show up nor did she expect the day to last as long as it did. Her wedding day. A perfect day.
The moral of the story is not for us, but for you, the reader, the follower. There is life after prostitution and I feel angry that I even have to post this. I feel bad that Peyton might feel that she has to hide her real identity. I hate that as a society we have so much shame about sexuality and that we still frown upon and use derogatory phrases such as sleeping around, being promiscuous, being loose, being a slut, being used by men, especially for women. There is still a lot of judgment in my opinion about the choosing of partners when it involves having several in a short time. We still live in a time of double standard, such that it’s okay for men to pay for sex, but for women it suggests that something is terribly wrong, if she engages in any sexual activity for money or even not for money if it is not within a committed relationship. Okay, once or twice is fine, but god forbid she chose to have a different partner every night of the week, society would sigh in horror. Men would secretly wish to meet her, women would wonder what is wrong with her but silently wish they could be so free. Shackled and bound by shame. We have turned sex into the most important thing on the planet, that which should be shared only with someone special. On the one hand I agree, our bodies are our temples. But I don’t agree with the shaming. It’s causing us to hide from our true selves. Men and women alike.
You know, people tell me or ask me almost daily what they see this project doing, where it should go, how it should be. Mou, it should be about you. They wonder aloud, what is it about? Is it about religion? Is it about sex? Well, at the end, it’s all of the above and none of the above. This story started out as an investigative study into the world of institutionalized prostitution and polygamy, but is turning into an expose on our societies obsession with guilt and shame, and how it’s expressed solely through sex and religion. Even the most open, honest, expressive, liberal person is affected on some level. There is an underlying layer of shame that dictates our lives. How can you tell if you are being inflicted by shame? If you hide any part of yourself from anyone, if you choose to omit parts of your story, if you avoid talking to certain people about certain things, if you lie, cheat, steal, have secrets, then you are likely operating from shame. It’s a terribly repressive place. Secrecy will cripple you.
Everyone is entitled to passion, joy, romance and pleasure. Everyone is entitled to express it if and how they choose. Everyone is entitled to come out of hiding. Everyone is entitled to a perfect day, if they so choose. Everyone.
He’s 23 and was born and raised in a polygamist family just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. He’s been mostly home-schooled, but for the last few years he dreams of leaving the only world he has ever known, behind. He doesn’t believe in the religion, he says, but leaving means he has to say goodbye to his family. Forever. Once he leaves, he will not be allowed to make contact with them. This is not an easy decision to make.
Polygamy is a plural marriage practice found in the fundamentalist sect of the Mormon religion, often referred to as FLDS, Fundamental Latter Day Saints. In this culture, monogamy is not allowed, and each husband must have a minimum of two wives. But it’s not all fun and games, members of the community are often quite isolated and bound by many rules, one of which prohibits them from having contact with the outside world.
The last time he tried to leave a few months ago, plans were botched by several family members trying to get him back. “They kept texting me to come back.” He told me that he and his family members are allowed to go to school, and although he does attend the local community college, having friends outside of school is not allowed, therefor it is hard for him to build a community of friends, to build the support system he would need once he does decide to, and if he decides to, leave his family.
Should he leave in the next few months, he says he has a place to stay. And, as he currently works for the family he would most definitely need to find a job. And he would also like to continue going to school. But for now he says he’s just figuring all the rest out. “All the rest?” I asked, “Yea,” he says, “How I am going to live my life without my family.”
The irony is that I was at this party last week, so randomly, I made two new friends who told me they were RLDS- and I had never even heard of it. I’d heard of FLDS, the fundamentalists, of the LDS- Latter Day Saints. But this was new to me. They let me interview them on the spot. Apparently it’s the reformed sector of the Latter Day Saints.
Thanks to my new friends Nicole (right) and Jacob (second from left) for your help!
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On the fringes, the outskirts of America, in some of the most rural, and final frontiers of the Wild West, sexuality has been forced into a quiet exile. The stigma around prostitution limits women’s autonomy, and perpetuates shame and guilt around sex. Brothels are currently illegal in the United States, except in rural Nevada. Prostitution outside these licensed brothels is illegal in the United States. From the legitimate sex workers industry to the fundamental religious zealots and sexual outcasts. Excommunicated Mormon polygamists have been forced to live in the quiet border towns of Utah and Arizona, other various attempts at colonization of the Wild West continue. Illegalization; random regulations of sexual practices to benefit religious and fiscal pursuits…
An attempt to indoctrinate a country.
What is of this unchartered sexual frontier? Society vilifies men and objectifies women in the prostitution business, yet it is the oldest profession in the world. Mormon polygamy began with Joseph Smith, Jr who received a revelation on July 17, 1831 that “plural marriage” should be practiced by Mormon men who were specifically commanded to do so. To divide and conquer is to set forth a fundamentalist mentality and regime. Prop 8 was passed in California to ban same sex marriage in 2008 by the Mormon church.
Secrets, lost innocence, lies, deception, sex & religion, love & beauty.
Featured Music by Alt-J entitled “Bloodflood”
Moushumi Ghose, MA MFT, creator/producer/director who provides psychotherapy and sex therapy for couples and individuals for the greater Los Angeles area, takes us on a journey to the wild west of sex and religion. Chris Knitter of Overlooked Productions from Kansas City shoots along side Mou through her adventures in Brothelville, USA. Also including Jenae Heitkamp Olivas, Raul Olivas, Lara Wurm, Szymon Potynski, Dennis Hof, Cami Parker, Zainy Pirbhai, Brian and Tessa Kessler, Damon Holzum, Justin Schroeder, Darla Rea Schemp, Peyton Rivers, Dr. Suzy Block, Katarina Fabic, Scarlotte, Angel, Peaches aka Daisy Mae, Vanessa London, Bella Cream…
This request is not for the faint of heart…
I’m a sex therapist, and musician, living in Los Angeles and currently I am making my first documentary film, a sex positive documentary film called, Temples and Brothels. It’s a film about sex, and sexuality lifestyles in the West. The film is being produced by Producer Chris Knitter and his company Overlooked Productions.
One main focus are the brothels in Nevada, and the film features Dennis Hof‘s leading lady Cami Parker from the HBO hit series Cathouse. The film will also include Joe Darger and his 3 wives, who’s story based the HBO hit series Big Love.
…But first, I need to go back to Nevada, Utah, Colorado and Arizona. In Colorado is a town called Trinidad, which is the capital of sex changes (a very prominent sexual reassignment doc lives there,) and in Arizona are many polygamists who have been excommunicated from the Mormon church. The film will focus on these three lifestyles. We will also address CA’s law, Proposition 8 which ban’s same sex marriage, which itself was a Mormon initiative.
We are looking for camera crew, and editors, based in Los Angeles, who are willing to take a week or two off of their day jobs in the next year, (maybe next 2-3 years) to travel to these states and gather footage with me. This is unpaid, but when we have enough footage we are going for funding. Thus, the opportunity to make money is there, on the backend. Although I’d love to meet everyone and chat with everyone, please message me at Mou@Darvohifilms.com only if you are absolutely interested in this line of work, sex positive and can take minimal time 1-2 weeks off unpaid within the next year, with hopes for getting paid later.
Thank you again, and I do look forward to meeting and speaking with everyone interested.