5/07/14 7:30pm

Man "Addicted to Porn" Tries to Marry His Computer By Bryan Le 05/07/14

A man claiming he fell in love with his porn-filled computer files a suit to legalize his union, but his motivations are politically suspect.

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A Florida judge has thrown out the motion of one man "addicted to porn" to marry his own "porn filled Apple computer."

Chris Sevier, an attorney, music producer, "former Judge Advocate and combat veteran" claimed he was intervening on Florida's landmark same sex marriage case on behalf of "other minority sexual orientation groups." In his 24-page motion he argued that if gay couples "have the right to marry their object of sexual desire, even if they lack corresponding sexual parts, then I should have the right to marry my preferred sexual object."

The motion continued in part:

Recently, I purchased an Apple computer. The computer was sold to me without filters to block out pornography. I was not provided with any warning by Apple that pornography was highly addictive and could alter my reward cycle by the manufacturer. Over time, I began preferring sex with my computer over sex with real women. Naturally, I 'fell in love' with my computer and preferred having sex with it over all other persons or things, as a result of classic conditioning upon orgasm.

Judge Robert Hinkle did not find Sevier's arguments particularly compelling or amusing. "Chris Sevier has moved to intervene, apparently asserting he wishes to marry his computer," he wrote in his April 24th ruling. "Perhaps the motion is satirical. Or perhaps it is only removed from reality. Either way, the motion has no place in this lawsuit."

Sevier has before been banned from practicing law in Tenessee in 2011 for "mental infirmity or illness" and has a history of similarly strange suits, including an attempt to sue Apple for selling him a computer that brought on his alleged porn addiction.

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5/07/14 6:41pm

Eminem—About the Drug Addiction By Bryan Le 05/07/14

Marshall Mathers, better known as the rapper Eminem, has struggled with prescription drug addiction that is so easy to come by—and is at times necessary—in celebrity life. He has been open in speaking about his addiction, which can be seen in this compilation of his interviews.

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Eminem—About the Drug Addiction

5/07/14 5:30pm

Rob Ford Apparently Enjoying His Stay In Rehab By Shawn Dwyer 05/07/14

The world famous crack smoking Mayor of Toronto feels “great” and looks forward to resuming his campaign for reelection.

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Ford before the fall. Shutterstock

Mayor Rob Ford has been in rehab barely a week and is already having a great time. In an interview with the Toronto Sun, Ford revealed that his stay has been “amazing” and that he fully expects to be back on the campaign trail soon.

“I will be on the ballot for mayor in October, guaranteed, and I will do well,” Ford said. “There will be no need to change the locks. There will be no need to clean out my office because I am coming back.”

Last week, Ford voluntarily entered an undisclosed rehab after images from a new video of him allegedly smoking crack were released. He stated at the time that he was ready to seek help for alcohol, but mentioned nothing about any other illicit substances.

“It's not easy to be vulnerable and this is one of the most difficult times in my life," Ford said last week in a statement. "I have a problem with alcohol, and the choices I have made while under the influence. I have struggled with this for some time."

Now that he’s apparently on the road to recovery, Ford said he is prepared to make amends for past antics that have made international news while making the city of Toronto a laughing stock to the world.

In his first week sober, he seems ready to come to terms with all that has happened in the past year. “I do feel bad about what happened, but it might have been the best thing that happened because I am working on getting better,” he said.

Ford expressed his appreciation to supporters through what he described as a difficult week, but promised that he was going to return in better shape than before. “I am coming back and I am going to kick butt,” he said.

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5/07/14 5:18pm

Sex and Drugs and Tennessee By A.J. Dugger III 05/07/14

There's a connection between America's biggest musical state and the drug epidemic there; our Tennessee correspondent investigates.

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Nashville, Tennessee is the home of the Country Music Hall of Fame. It is also the place where Todd Harrell, bassist of the rock group Three Doors Down, was arrested after a fatal car accident last year. At the time, he was allegedly under the influence of Lortab, Xanax and hard cider. According to reports, Harrell displayed signs of impairment during the field sobriety test. He checked into rehab shortly after the accident. The other driver in the accident, Paul Shoulers Jr, was pronounced dead not long after being transported to the hospital. Harrell was again taken into custody in February when police found him passed out in his vehicle at an intersection in Mississippi.

Memphis rappers are known for dabbling in drugs, particularly marijuana and Sizzurp—a mix of  Promethazine with codeine (from cough syrup), the soft drink Sprite, and sometimes Jolly Rancher Candy as a flavor additive. The result is a feeling of lethargy and drowsiness. Lord Infamous of the Academy Award-winning rap group Three 6 Mafia shocked the rap world when he suddenly died in mother's house last December. 

"He had a heart attack in his sleep," said his half-brother and former bandmate DJ Paul. "His mother found him dead. He had been dead, the doctors say, for about five hours. And when she came home, he was sitting at the kitchen table with his head down on his arms. He had told his girlfriend that he was sleeping and he wanted to go to sleep. His girlfriend left and was like, 'You going to be fine?' And he was like, 'Yeah, I'm going to be good.' And she was like, 'You sure?' and he was like, 'Yeah, yeah, I'm positive, I just want to get some sleep.' So he laid his head in his arms at the kitchen table and he went to sleep and then when his momma came home, he was sitting at the kitchen table passed away.”

Though Lord Infamous' family and bandmates have never publicly mentioned drugs as a contributing factor to his demise, others have gone online with their suspicions. “Got a check, bought drugs, overdosed and died,” said a user named TucoTuco on the site hiphopdx.com. Some sources don't want to reveal their names but gave their own personal stories of witnessing Lord Infamous' alleged drug use. “I did a show with Lord Infamous a year ago and he was really bad on drugs,” said an anonymous commenter on hiphopdx.com. “He had an 'I need a Xanax bar' shirt on. While he was shooting a music video with my boy, Phsyco, he kept takin 'coke breaks.' Even being f*cked up, he rocked that show like no other. RIP Lord Infamous. I feel blessed I was able to perform n meet him. I just wish he would've got clean and sober because that man was a beast!”

Tabitha Smith, a 40-year-old rap fan in Memphis, followed the career of Three 6 Mafia. “They put the Memphis rap scene on the map,” she said. “Nobody was more excited than me when they won that Oscar (for Best Original Song) a couple of years ago. They deserved it. But what's so sad is that no one close to Lord Infamous is saying the obvious. I understand that they want to protect his reputation and legacy and all that, but drugs was one of the things Three 6 Mafia used to rap about. You write and rap about what you know. They were part of that street life and I think it caught up with him, sadly. His health was already bad.”

DJ Paul agrees with Smith's comment about his half-brother's health. In 2010, Lord Infamous suffered a stroke and a heart attack. "We don't know yet [if the two incidents were related]," he said. "It probably did. A lot of times people have heart attacks and a lot of people survive heart attacks and usually when they have that second, third one, it's pretty much over with." 

Another tragic drug-related death happened in 2010 when Memphis Musician Jay Reatard died of cocaine toxicity and alcohol at the age of 29. With his long curly blond hair and arrogant attitude, Reatard was the epitome of a rock musician. He got his start playing in the underground punk rock scene with bands such as The Reatards and The Lost Sounds. He was a multi-talented musician, able to play keyboards, guitar, bass, percussion, as well as writing catchy songs and having a singular high tenor singing voice.

At the time of his death, he was receiving international stardom. His 2006 solo album, “Blood Visions,” made major waves far outside of Memphis and helped him cross over to the mainstream. According to Reatard's friend and fellow musician Daniel Stewart of the band, The UV Race, Reatard's upbringing might have had something to do with his sometimes hostile and addictive personality. “Jay grew up moving between small houses with paper-thin walls and trailers in the country. He also grew up poor in Tennessee, and he says he also felt very aware of being white. Jay grew up fast because he had to,” Stewart wrote on his website. Like many other addicts, Reatard struggled with his addictions, temporarily overcoming them but always regressing later. “He explained to me that his body had come to accept the delicate balance of stimulants and depressants that had defined his nocturnal activity since he was a teenager,” Stewart explained. “I know he was an insomniac because we usually crashed in the same hotel room where he’d basically talk until his mouth fell asleep. His drug binges had pushed his weight up and down drastically, and his back muscles were completely f*cked as a result, so he was in continual chronic pain.”

Stewart witnessed many occasions when Reatard would do well for a noticeable length of time but then submit to the temptations. It happened once when the two were on an international tour. “He stayed off the drugs entirely until we got to Perth where we were given a handful of acid. In the hotel room, buzzing, we sat around listening to each other's iPods, enjoying Hawkwind and Antidote as we fried.”

Steward has a clear memory of one of the last times Reatard dedicated himself to recovery. “One time when I spoke to him he was really drunk and depressed. He told me he’d started drinking again. He told me that his girlfriend had left him because he was being a f*ckup and that he’d fired the band. I was very sad to hear this, as I knew how much he loved their company, speaking about them with the kind of affection and frustration usually reserved for older siblings. He told me he was going to get his sh*t back together soon though and quit drinking, and he was excited to play some shows in the Midwest with us if we made it to the US.” 

Sadly, the shows never happened because of Reatard's sudden death at his Midtown Memphis home. “He was a legendary individual with a reputation for completely insensitive asshole behavior, but what I really appreciated about the time I spent with him was the self awareness that he had — that he knew his time was limited and he wanted to make his mark on the world through music. His favorite topic was himself, but unlike most people with incredibly uncomplicated existences who like talking about themselves, Jay had lived a very long life rich with hilarious, mortifying, disgusting and tragic experiences that made for great late night conversation.”

Drugs was also part of the story of The Dealers, a regionally successful funk band from Memphis who were label-mates with the late pop megastar Michael Jackson on CBS Records at the height of their popularity. On any given night, The Dealers could be in any city in the country or in Canada sharing the same stage as Marvin Gaye, The Eagles, Jerry Lee Lewis, Kool and The Gang, The Supremes, Stevie Wonder and other acts. Roy McClaine was once a club owner who booked The Dealers many times during the 1970s and '80s. “They were the best band in Memphis for two decades straight,”  he said. “The dance floor was flooded with people whenever they played. They put on a hell of a show.” “They were the best,” added a former Memphis Musician named Randall Pearson. “They had songs on the radio all over the country and seemed poised to take off.”

Being on the same record label as Michael Jackson during the Thriller era hurt the band because CBS spent most of their time and money on promoting the new King of Pop. In addition, some of the band members let their addictions get the better of them. The Dealers' bassist and lead choreographer Elton Johnson succumbed to congestive heart failure in 2007 at the age of 49. Though he was clean for several years before his death, his family agrees that his fast living lifestyle and years of drug use caught up with him. “He used the hard stuff - cocaine, crack, marijuana, and other substances,” said a family friend who wished for anonymity. “Elton was so talented. He was the best bassist in Memphis. I'm serious. He could sing, dance and play the bass all without missing a beat. But those drugs, man. Women and drugs. When you have access to whatever you want, you take it. Fame and money will change you.” 

Ricky Townes, who has been The Dealers' drummer since 1975, says that he's seen musicians rely on drugs because of their hectic schedules and lifestyles. “I saw a lot of people party too much,” he said. “If you're running your body nonstop, you can easily become dependent on drugs to sleep and do your shows. When you get that big, it's hard to balance your time. A lot of hard workers don't get rest.” Townes also points a finger at alcohol, which can also become a drug of abuse. “Alcohol is a drug too, but a lot of people don't acknowledge that. Some people say they're more creative when they're high or drunk. I don't agree with that. I never smoked or was high on stage. To me, performing is a job. If you're a lawyer, you wouldn't be drunk or high in the courtroom, would you?”

During the band's heyday, Townes says drugs and women were easy to get. “We have to be careful as musicians. Whatever your drug is, they (the music industry) will flood you with it. They'll do anything to manipulate you. Enablers give you anything you want to make money. This happens with athletes, too.”

Tennessee's most famous example of this is the late King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley. His personal physician,  Dr. George Nichopoulos (whom Presley affectionately called “Dr. Nick”), wrote Presley 199 prescriptions from January through August 1977. The total was more than 10,000 doses of amphetamines, narcotics and sedatives. Presley had problems sleeping that only got worse after his mother's death and his stint in the United States Army during the late 1950s. In addition to taking medications to improve his sleep, he also took amphetamines, which kept him awake and helped him maintain his slender frame. As the years went by, Presley became more and more dependent on prescription drugs. When Nichopoulos refused to provide them, he would suddenly find his job in jeopardy. "He'd get mad at me, and he'd get on his plane and fly to Vegas or Palm Springs or California and stay for a few days and get what he wanted. And I'd have to take it away from him when he got back home," Nichopoulos explained. Despite the warnings that his friends and family would give him, Presley thought his prescription drug-intake was fine. "Elvis's problem was that he didn't see the wrong in it. He felt that by getting it from a doctor, he wasn't the common everyday junkie getting something off the street. He was a person who thought that as far as medications and drugs went, there was something for everything.” With Presley, one addiction would often lead to another. He overdosed twice on barbiturates in 1973. He then became addicted to Demerol, and to combat that addiction, Nichopoulos would give him methadone. Eventually, Presley overdosed in his Memphis Mansion, Graceland, in August 1977. When he died, the drugs in his system included Dilaudid, Percodan, Placidyl, Desbutal, Escatrol, Ritalin and others.

The stories of Memphis musicians using drugs do not end there. Eric Gales is a blues musician from Memphis who was arrested there for cocaine possession as he was unloading band equipment in June 2010. Over a year before his 2010 arrest, he served 21 months of a three-year sentence after violating probation four years earlier for gun and drug charges. “I was smoking weed on the road and I didn’t want to risk them telling me to come home in the middle of the tour because of a dirty urine sample,” he said in an interview. He was released in March 2010 but was arrested again that June. “I got caught up on Beale Street, man. I had some cocaine and some Xanax pills on me and wound up going to jail again. After that I made a decision that it wasn’t conducive for me to stay any longer in Memphis, Tennessee. I knew too many of the wrong people, and too many of the wrong people knew me.”

“I think there's a real conspiracy about this stuff,” said Evan Marshall, a bassist from Memphis who currently resides in Nashville. “I've seen it all. When you reach a certain level, they give you what you want. They don't give a damn about you, personally. They just want to make money off of you. It's a game to these record industry folks. And it ain't just them doing it. When you get big like that, people come from out of the shadows and want a piece of the pie. They want to get on your good side and enable you.” Marshall has played with different bands over the decades and witnessed several stars, including Presley, getting whatever they desired, despite the toll it took on them. “My girlfriend at the time worked for Mr. Presley,” said Marshall. “I met him a few times. He was a nice guy but he used to pace around and looked so bulky and sweaty. I remember after one show he couldn't calm down for nothing. But there were people around sitting by trying to act normal or giving him his drugs of choice. My girlfriend was afraid to say anything for fear of losing her job. Everyone else on Elvis' staff felt the same way.”

When asked if things will ever improve regarding this situation, Marshall closed his eyes and shook his head. “I've been in the business for over 30 years. Tennessee has a blessing and a curse regarding this. The blessing is the great music booming from these cities, especially country in Nashville and blues and rap in Memphis. No other cities do it better. The tragedy is that drugs and leeches always find their way to these talented musicians. That happens to musicians everywhere.”

A. J. Dugger lll is a journalist based in Clarksville, Tennessee. He recently published his first book, The Dealers: Then and Now. His last piece was on the prescription drug epidemic in his home state.

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5/07/14 3:30pm

Miley Cyrus Refutes Drug Overdose Rumors By Shawn Dwyer 05/07/14

The artist formerly known as Hannah Montana denied that her hospitalization last month was due to anything but a severe allergic reaction to antibiotics.

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Not on drugs. Shutterstock

Last month, Miley Cyrus canceled dates for her Bangerz tour after reports surfaced that the singer was admitted to a hospital on April 15. While her official statement was that she had a severe allergic reaction to antibiotics, rumors immediately began to swirl that she may have suffered from a drug overdose.

Now in London to kick off the international leg of her tour, Cyrus held a press conference at the O2 arena on Tuesday, where she vehemently denied the rumors.

"I didn't have a drug overdose,” Cyrus said. “I took some shitty antibiotics that a doctor gave me for a sinus infection and I had a reaction."

Cyrus canceled dates in Kansas and North Carolina, and was on doctors orders to spend the following two weeks on bed rest with an IV drip due to the lingering effects of her reaction. Now in good health and good spirits, Cyrus said that she was ready to resume touring after what she called the “most miserable two weeks” of her life. "I'm the poster child for good health," she said. "You have no idea how ready I am. There is nothing I would rather not do than lay in a bed for two weeks.”

The 21-year-old singer went on to describe her newfound naturalistic approach to health while stating that her lifestyle backstage isn’t as wild as everyone might believe. “I'm probably the only one on this tour who doesn't drink or smoke before a show, as I take this really seriously,” Cyrus said. “It's almost like being an athlete being up here, because if someone was fucked up, they definitely couldn't do my show.”

This wasn’t the first time that Cyrus confronted the drug overdose rumors. Last week, she did an interview with Ryan Seacrest describing her ordeal. "It was so scary…I had basically been poisoning myself with something I didn’t know I was really scary allergic to,” she said “I was on this medicine for five days and everything was all good and on the sixth day…I couldn't breathe."

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5/07/14 1:00pm

Top Economists Call On End to Drug War In New Report By Neville Elder 05/07/14

Five Nobel Prize-winning economists were among those slamming the War on Drugs in a new report detailing catastrophic worldwide anti-drug policies.

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According to a new report published by the London School of Economics (LSE), the war on drugs has been all but lost.

Written by a team of economists, including five Nobel-prize winners, the 81-page report, Ending the Drug Wars, calls for an end to catastrophic worldwide drug policies that have done far more harm than good.

“Academics and economists have great insight into this issue—and for so long, they’ve been ignored,” said John Collins, International Drug Policy project coordinator at the LSE. “Evidenced-based data about the war on drugs has been lacking for too long. It’s time that something changes.”

In the report’s introduction, Collins cited knee-jerk U.S. prohibitionists of the 1960s as the source of United Nation’s modern drug policy, while the phrase “the war on drugs” was originated by President Richard Nixon in 1971 during an unrealistic call to rid the country entirely of drugs.

“A ‘drug-free world’ is just not plausible,” said Collins, “The ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to the drug war is not only failing but ‘repressive’. The historical belief that controlling the supply of drugs would eradicate abuse is a fantasy.”

Though the report stressed prohibition in some form should continue, policy goals should be modified to drive dealers underground and control the violence, crime, and poverty created by the drug markets. "The pursuit of a militarized and enforcement-led global 'war on drugs' strategy has produced enormous negative outcomes and collateral damage," the report said.

Ironically the report comes at a time when Latin American countries like Uruguay, Columbia, and Guatemala have been turning their backs on U.S.-style crackdowns such as the eradication of drug crops, while seeking alternatives to the ‘war on drugs’ including legalization. Late last year, Uruguay became the first country in the world to nationally legalize marijuana.

In another chapter, Ernest Drucker, adjunct professor of epidemiology at Columbia University, railed against brutal U.S. prison sentences for drug offenders and described the appalling treatment of inmates incarcerated for minor infractions. These effects, Drucker complained, show the counter-intuitive effects of the drug war that allowed America’s prison population to explode over the last 40 years.

“(The) decriminalization of personal consumption, along with the effective provision of health and social services, is a far more effective way to manage drugs and prevent the highly negative consequences associated with criminalization of people who use drugs,” Collins wrote in the introduction.

The report concluded by calling on “rigorously monitored" experiments with legalization, such as the programs already in place in Washington and Colorado, and a focus on public health and harm reduction techniques like safe injection facilities in Europe and Vancouver, as ways of minimizing the impact of the illegal drug trade.

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5/07/14 10:30am

Numerous NFL Prospects Fail Drug Tests During Scouting Combine By McCarton Ackerman 05/07/14

The rash of failed drug tests among some of the NFL's top recruits was yet another black eye for a sport recently plagued by drug and alcohol problems.

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More than 10 NFL prospects have failed drug tests at a recent scouting combine, raising further concerns about drug use in pro football.

Among the names on the list are Louisiana State University quarterback Zach Mettenberger and Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan. University of Miami tackle Seantrel Henderson also tested positive for marijuana. The numerous positive tests are also surprising because the players were all aware they would be screened during the combine and could have stopped using well in advance.

Mettenberger claims that he had a diluted sample - considered a failed test by the NFL - from drinking extra water after cramping during his rehab for a torn ACL. He is expected to challenge the positive result. His agent, Joe Linta, said he provided medical documentation to Dr. Lawrence Brown, the league’s advisor for drugs of abuse, alcohol, and HIV.

Drug and alcohol problems have plagued the league among the professional ranks in recent years. Last February, Washington Redskins tight end Fred Davis was suspended after violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy for the second time and then receiving a DUI within 24 hours. In a prepared statement, he said that his second violation came from taking a supplement that he wasn’t aware contained a banned substance. His first violation came from testing positive for marijuana.

“For over two years, I've worked very hard to eliminate marijuana from my life, and I have not had a positive test for it since 2011. Unfortunately, a couple of months ago I took a supplement that contained a banned substance,” he said. The NFL Policy is strict, and not knowing that a supplement might contain a banned substance doesn't excuse a violation of the policy. "I've worked closely with the NFLPA and NFL to resolve this violation, and I will be permitted to apply for reinstatement in the fall.”

Since March 2013, NFL players have been arrested 27 times on drug and alcohol-related charges, and many have been suspended for violating the league's substance policy. Among the big names suspended were Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller, New York Jets tight end Kellen Winslow, and Seattle Seahawks cornerbacks Walter Thurmond and Brandon Browner.

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5/07/14 8:30am

2 Chainz Sentenced To Drug Diversion Program, Receives Sobriety Bracelet By McCarton Ackerman 05/07/14

The long-troubled rapper was given a second chance by a Los Angeles judge who encouraged him to maintain a positive attitude while trying to achieve sobriety.

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2 Chainz in 2013. Shutterstock

Rapper 2 Chainz managed to avoid a potential three-year prison term on drug possession charges and was instead sentenced by a judge to an 18-month drug diversion program.

2 Chainz, whose real name is Tauheed Epps, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance. He was arrested last June at LAX when airport officials found ingredients for sizzurp in his checked baggage. In exchange for his guilty plea, the felony drug possession charge was dropped and the misdemeanor change will be removed from his record if he successfully completes the program.

Afterwards, Judge Keith Schwartz gave 2 Chainz, 36, a sobriety bracelet that said “Stay Clean and Sober,” a gesture that apparently moved the rapper. “I think it’s all important for people in the entertainment industry to give a positive attitude,” said Schwartz.

Luckily for 2 Chainz, the prescription cough syrup used in sizzurp has been pulled from the market. Pharmaceutical company Actavis hinted that the glorified use of the drug in hip-hop culture prompted them to remove it from the shelves. Several rappers, including Soulja Boy, have posted photos of the Actavis bottles on their Instagram accounts, often referring to it as “purple drank” or “lean,” while Justin Bieber also reportedly uses the drug. A bottle of the cough syrup sold for $800 on the black market when it was legal and that number is only expected to increase.

Sizzurp is a combination of prescription cough syrup, hard candy, and sugary soft drinks, with a single serving containing more than 25 times the recommended dose of codeine. "This is a very dangerous drug. It can lead to seizures and essentially lead you to stop breathing,” said Dr. Robert Glatter of Lenox Hill Hospital. “The sweetness of the soda and candy combined with the drug itself make people want to have this all day long. They just don’t know how much they’ve had throughout the day and by the end, it’s almost too late.”

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5/07/14 8:07am

Clean and Serene Sex Work By Veronica Monet 05/07/14

Prostitution and sobriety are not mutually exclusive.

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The first sober escort I ever met was Maria. She was a spunky, sexy brunette who attended my home group. She worked a good program and still had a hard time staying sober for more than a few months at a time. Maria felt prostitution was an impediment to her sobriety and it was her wish to quit the business someday soon. I eventually lost track of her so I have no idea if she ever did quit prostitution nor do I know if she was able to sustain any long-term sobriety.

But I certainly recall the resistance I felt inside myself when some members of twelve step recovery assumed that certain professions or sexual orientations are inconsistent with a life of sobriety. For me, tradition ten, which states "we have no opinion on outside issues," created the safety I needed in order to get sober.

Similarly, "God as we understood Him," the central theme communicated in the twelve steps, gave me the psychic space I needed to recover. Like others in twelve step groups, I learned that forming a conscious contact with God or my Higher Power was a deeply personal journey which created a key distinction between twelve step programs and religion.

Yet, I often encountered judgmental and opinionated people in meetings who were not shy about sharing their version of God, their take on "sin," and their personal preferences when it came to what constitutes "appropriate" sexual behavior. It seemed that although the program expressed "no opinion on outside issues," members often felt free to express their opinions about all sorts of topics. Sex in particular seemed to generate a great deal of pressure for conformity, so much so that some gay and lesbian individuals were either kicked out of a recovery group or so thoroughly harassed for being gay that they felt they had to leave the group. 

Having spent my childhood and adolescence in a conservative religious cult, I knew the damage which shame and dogma can inflict. My sobriety had to be sourced in something other than peer pressure and shame-based thinking. Therefore, I fully intended to find a God of my understanding, develop a conscious contact, work the steps, practice the principles in all my affairs and then do my best to follow where my Higher Power directed me. And I did. But I was also careful to get a sponsor who led me through the steps while expressing no opinions on outside issues. She was all about sobriety and I appreciated her no-nonsense approach.

At four years sober, I came out as bisexual and began attending gay/lesbian meetings. I didn't feel like I fit in but at least it was a place where I could talk about my truth without being judged too harshly. It was the early 90's and bisexuals were not exactly accepted in the gay/lesbian community. In fact, I often heard that I "should make up my mind" whether I wanted to be "straight" or "gay" because almost no one believed there were any "true" bisexuals. But still the level of acceptance was greater than what I encountered at the regular meetings and I knew that in order to safeguard my sobriety it was essential that I find another sober alcoholic to share my truth with.

After all, we are "only as sick as our secrets" and I didn't want to have any secrets. Recovery had also taught me that shame would lead inevitably to another drunk so I practiced rigorous honesty in order to dispel my shame. Even then, I knew the true power of meetings is how they heal shame by affording members the opportunity to share their secrets and unburden themselves of remorse and resentments.

Soon after coming out bisexual, I began dating a woman who was working as an escort. At first I felt sorry for her, but as I got to know her it became apparent that her life was highly functional and she was not only very healthy and happy but completely drug free. Occasionally she had a glass of wine but she never finished it. I was confused. How could anyone have sex for money without using chemicals to deaden their emotional distress?  And why did she appear to be happier than most of the people I knew?

Conventional thinking has it that prostitution is a degrading profession which leads inevitably to addiction and all sorts of dysfunctional behaviors. But since I was not prone to follow conventional wisdom, I allowed my curiosity and sense of adventure to lead me to question some of my own assumptions. Was it possible that I had been misinformed about prostitution? Might it be possible to work as an escort and maintain a sober lifestyle?

I was deeply dissatisfied with my current employment in corporate settings and I wondered if I might experience myself as being happier and healthier if I tried working as an escort. I began discussing the possibilities with my sober friends but not for long. My best friend in sobriety, Janise, wanted nothing to do with my musings. "How dare you talk about God and turning tricks in the same breath!"  Janise yelled into the phone just before she slammed the receiver down. It would be the last time she spoke to me despite the fact that we shared the same home group and would often see each other at meetings. I loved Janise so it was a huge blow for me. 

I continued to question why I was entertaining such a controversial career choice. It seemed like a dark direction. Here I was four years clean and sober, establishing a new life based upon honesty, accountability and a spiritual path. How on earth could working in the sex industry be harmonious with a life based upon these principles? 

But no matter how many doubts I entertained and no matter how many powerful messages I got from people and from the dominant culture that this would be a horrible choice, the guidance I received from my Higher Power was positive and embracing. 

I eventually got the nerve to ask my girlfriend if she could teach me to do what she did for a living. At first she refused. She didn't want the responsibility. But when I made it clear that I would try to do it on my own even if she didn't teach me how, she finally agreed to share what she knew.

Getting paid for sex was different than I imagined. 

Actually, my feelings reminded me of those I experienced the first time I made love with a woman when I was in college. I woke up the next morning and ran to the mirror to see if I looked any different, as if sex with a woman would magically make me look like a "lesbian," whatever that meant to my naive brain.

Getting paid for sex made me question if I was a good person or a bad person. I wondered if I would ever be considered loveable or acceptable to men who were not my clients. I felt as if I had crossed some invisible line where once I was a "good girl" and now I was a "bad girl."  

But no part of me felt like doing drugs or drinking. 

Most people imagine that sex for money would repulse them to such a degree that they would need to leave their body or suppress their true feelings. But that was not true for me. I brought my emotions and my conscious contact with my Higher Power to escorting just as I did for every other facet of my life.

As part of my interpretation of what it meant to be an escort, I incorporated my spiritual journey into my professional pursuits, learning ways to heal and love my clients. This involved helping them to release repressed emotions and express their truth in a shame-free setting. 

Even though my path was shocking to many, it was empowering for me. 

Why was I so happy? Why was it such a good experience for me? My work as an escort was sourced in my spiritual life more than any profession I had before. 

I prayed constantly to be of service to all my clients, whether they were highly successful and powerful men who paid me $15,000 a date, or men who lived with severe disabilities and had a limited income. What gave me joy was the opportunity to be a healing influence in the lives of others. Because of this, I enjoyed a very successful fourteen years in the profession while maintaining my sobriety.

It was also fulfilling to become an international voice for the sex worker rights movement, and to be afforded the opportunity to speak out for women's sexual freedoms on major media such as CNN and The New York Times. 

The public perception is that escorting is a soulless pursuit, but it was not that way for me. Much to my surprise, the greatest spiritual gift which came to me was learning to trust the guidance of my intuition and my conscious contact with my Higher Power. I had been raised to rely upon logic for decision making and prayer for penitence. But I learned to use prayer in every facet of my life, especially when earning money. 

However, I never did feel comfortable talking about my profession at meetings. That was always a source of sadness for me. Even now that I have been retired from escorting for a decade, having successfully transitioned into coaching couples on anger management and communication, I don't share my truth as a former sober escort at meeting level.

However, that doesn't mean there aren't a lot of sober sex workers in meetings. There are. But like me they don't talk about their profession. The fear of being labeled or ostracized is too potent for most people.

Not only are there plenty of sober escorts, there are even more sober clients of escorts. I was completely oblivious to that fact before I entered the profession, but I found that many of my clients were sober too.

Today I am over 28 years clean and sober. 

And yet, despite the fact that I maintained an excellent program of sobriety during the fourteen years I worked as a high-end escort, my friend Janise's parting words to me still shame me all these decades later. I feel frightened to tell anyone in the program about my former profession. I feel certain they will judge me and misunderstand me. Perhaps I am getting ready to grow past my fears by writing this article.

I am speaking about God and prostitution in the same breath.

By sharing my truth some people might be afraid I am trying to convince others to follow in my footsteps. I am not. And as someone who is actively working to dismantle shame and facilitate healing, I want you to know that a sober escort might be holding your hand when you say the closing prayer at your meeting. Perhaps now that you have read my story, you will find it easier to accept her or him if they ever take the risk of sharing their truth with you.

Veronica Monet has appeared on CNN, Fox and CNBC; is the author of Sex Secrets of Escorts and currently works as a Couples Consultant, coaching clients in North California.

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