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Nelson Mandela: A life in pictures
Nelson Mandela and his wife Winnie in this undated file picture.
Here’s a knotty — and partly NSFW — saga from the city by the bay. Back in April, Matt Smith of the San Francisco Weekly revealed that California state government funding designed to make businesses more competitive had (long story short) gone to subsidize job training in multimedia technology — for the employees of Kink.com, a pornography business that runs BDSM and other fetish-related websites. “California’s government has been subsidizing torture-based pornography,” Smith wrote.
But that’s not the story! Smith’s piece — an arguably not-so-rich blend of reporting and opinion, which actually lost Kink.com this funding — made a lot of people angry, including a Hollywood-based fetish and bondage model/dominatrix/actor/blogger known as Mz Berlin, who, along with her peers, took serious issue with Smith’s apparent conflation of consensual (if unconventional) sex with non-consensual abuse.
Mz Berlin has experienced both, she (NSFW) wrote, thank you very much, and she knows the difference.
Smith wound up (NSFW) interviewing Mz Berlin for a follow-up story. In which — despite her express wishes to the contrary — he evidently tracked down and printed her real name. (That version of the story has since been taken down.) When he asked why she didn’t want her name used, Mz Berlin told Broadsheet today, she said, “Because I get naked for a living.” Having her name out there, she said, would make her feel unsafe.
In more ways than one, as it turned out. (Okay, now this is the story.) Mz Berlin’s ex-husband in Louisiana, she says, used the SF Weekly story to make the case — successfully — for erasing her right to visit their 8-year-old son.
Before now, she had unlimited access — and a much more amicable relationship with her ex. His stated concern: her safety, and their son’s. Sure enough, Mz Berlin was in London when the story with her name ran. “I’m in a foreign country, and all of a sudden people are calling me telling me they’re in my yard,” she told Broadsheet. (Fortunately, she had just moved; the yard callers were actually at her old address.) He also says that he thinks what she does is immoral, and that he plans to use that in court if necessary. (She was not doing this work when they were married. He since learned of it but, she speculates, hadn’t realized the scope or extent until now.)
“This is not a pity party. I realize that I put myself out there. I chose to do the interview. I choose to do porn,” Mz Berlin told Broadsheet. ”But I meet people a lot who have seen my asshole before looking in my eyes, and the exposure of my name truly made me feel scared. It’s the most violated I’ve ever felt.” She adds: ”The whole custody thing just makes me so angry. It should never have been questioned.” In that regard, she feels her ex is overreacting.
Her ex says the only way he’ll allow custody rights again is if she moves back to where he lives in Louisiana. Meanwhile, Mz Berlin intends to change her legal name in order to re-protect her identity.
In fact, Mz Berlin set up a PayPal account to solicit donations for a legal fund (and the name change process), receiving enough to move forward with a petition for revision of custody. (Financially, the timing here was bad: she had just run down her savings launching a production company and several new websites.) ”I am completely humbled and thankful for all of your letters of encouragement, your hard-earned cash and your empathy,” she wrote. “So many fans and friends really came through for me when I needed them to. This is a personal and time sensitive thing and the fast action of the community has been really inspirational.”
Much here to discuss, no? Can’t put it better than our tipster, who wrote: ”From a journalistic perspective it raises questions about the granting of anonymity, as well as being a chilling reminder of the power of what we write. Then you have the added elements of morality, sexuality, parenthood and the adult film industry. Is a pornographic actress inherently unworthy of being a parent? Setting aside the morality of the industry, will even the best-intentioned porn star put her child in danger of stalkers?”
Award-winning journalist Lynn Harris is author of the comic novel "Death by Chick Lit" and co-creator of BreakupGirl.net. She also writes for the New York Times, Glamour, and many others. More Lynn Harris.
Nelson Mandela and his wife Winnie in this undated file picture.
Mandela is accompanied by his former wife Winnie, moments after his release from prison February 11, 1990 after serving 27 years in jail. (Reuters)
In this February, 1990 photo, shortly after his release from 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandela, gives the black power salute to the 120,000 supporters packing Soccer City stadium in Soweto, near Johannesburg. (AP Photo)
Nelson Mandela showed his passport in February 19, 1990, shortly after his release from prison. The South African government authorized an application for himself and his wife Winnie - (Juda Ngwenya / Reuters)
In this July 27, 1991 photo, Cuban President Fidel Castro, and Nelson Mandela gesture during the celebration of the "Day of the Revolution" in Matanzas, Cuba. (AP Photo)
In this July 4, 1993 photo, President Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela listen during Fourth of July ceremonies in Philadelphia during which Clinton presented the Philadelphia Liberty Medal to the African National Congress president and South African President F.W. de Klerk. (AP Photo/Greg Gibson)
President of the African National Congress Nelson Mandela acknowledges cheers from the crowd as he prepares to unveil the ANC's official election platform in 1994. (AP Photo/David Brauchli)
African National Congress (ANC) leader Nelson Mandela greeted residents of Mmabatho in March 1994, during a visit after the nominal homeland came under South African control following the ousting of the former President Lucas Mangope. (Reuters/Howard Burditt)
South African President Nelson Mandela smiles with actor Sidney Poitier at a press conference in Cape Town in 1996. Poitier played Mandela in the film "One Man, One Vote" (AP Photo / Sasa Kralj)
South African President Nelson Mandela waves to crowds as he sits next to Queen Elizabeth II in a an open carriage on the way to Buckingham Palace.(AP/Louisa Buller)
Chairman of the Constitutional Assembly Cyril Ramaphosa, left, holds up a copy of the country's constitution which was signed by President Nelson Mandela, in December 1996. (AP Photo / Adil Bradlow / POOL)
Nelson Mandela at a news conference in Johannesburg in February 2000. (AP Photo / Denis Farrell)
South African rugby captain Francois Pienaar, right, received the Rugby World Cup trophy from President Nelson Mandela also wearing a South African rugby shirt, after South Africa defeated New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup , in 1995. (AP Photo / Ross Setford)