Kamylla tells me her story…
This story starts with a woman who is very similar to millions of women throughout the United States. She’s a mother, she’s a wife, she’s educated and has lived a relatively normal life. However, like so many others these days, she has had a very hard time finding steady work. In addition she and her husband both have health conditions which have greatly limited their employment opportunities, but this has never stopped her from working if she found it. At one point she was taking any job she could get, but temporary work is all she and her husband could find and nothing that turned out to be sustainable.
The bills are piling up. The cupboards are practically bare. She’s already facing a final eviction notice in a series of eviction notices. She is no quitter. She is not lazy. She is having to choose between food for the children or gas money and to her the choice is clear. It became difficult to go out and keep putting in applications, applications which keep getting rejected anyway. Facing eviction, no food in the kitchen, no promising work circumstances, she did what many others have done and do under similar circumstances, she placed an ad online as a sex worker.
I listen as she has describes her situation- you can hear the conflict she experienced over her choice to put an ad online. “I never imagined I would be in such a situation. But I did it for my family. Every night I cried in conflict over it. I did what I had to do to take care so that my family wouldn’t be homeless”.
Kamylla is not addicted to drugs, she had never had a criminal record, she had been applying for jobs everywhere she could but finally had to do what she knew was within her power to do to keep her family in their home.
Without telling her husband she placed an ad and she started earning just enough to keep them from being evicted right away. Since they were always in the red, she had to pay additional late fees to stay the eviction. At no point was she out of the red. The work she was doing as a sex worker was only keeping her family from being put out on the streets.
One afternoon she receives a call from a woman, an assistant producer talking about a TV production. The producer explains that they are looking for women who have ads online to participate with the filming of a show called 8 minutes. The producer goes on to describe that the women who participate will be offered assistance to help them, and if they choose to they can ‘leave the life”.
Kamylla explained to them her situation, how she was facing an eviction at that moment; and she explained that she had tried very hard to find work. According to Kamylla, the producer excitedly stated ‘don’t worry, they will help you! There will be assistance for you if you film for the show and compensation’.
They spoke numerous times over the next week because this was no light thing for Kamylla to do- to confess on national television to millions of people that she had been doing sex work to keep her family in their home.
Kamylla is between a rock and a hard place and her desperate need for assistance is bringing her to the conclusion that this could be the right path to take but she is still very unsure at this point. The producer assures her that there will be compensation but they don’t discuss what this compensation might be.
After numerous phone conversations with the assistant producer of 8 Minutes (she believes this person was with relativity media) Kamylla met with this assistant producer face to face. The producer explained Pastor Kevin’s involvement and the premise of the show. Kamylla recalls the producer looking at her and saying “I’m sorry, but [based on your looks] I don’t believe you are a sex worker”.
Apparently Kamylla didn’t fit this producer’s personal perception of what sex workers are like and how they are ‘supposed to look’. Is it any wonder that 8 Minutes pushes such a marginalized and stigmatized perception of sex work and sex workers?
Kamylla told them she didn’t need a ‘rescue’ she needed a JOB so she could pay the bills and rent. AGAIN the producer assures her that 8 Minutes is going to give her many resources and compensation. The woman added that Kamylla isn’t just doing this for herself, she’s doing it for a greater cause to help other people ‘in the life’. Kamylla asks the producer what the compensation amounts to. The producer tells her she will get $150-200 on the spot. Kamylla baulked at this stating “you want me to go on TV and tell my story, to confess such a thing publicly and you want to pay me only $150-200?”. Kamylla says the producer explained ‘you aren’t just doing this for $150-200, it is the resources you’ll be getting”. Kamylla says the producer mentioned medical (Kamylla had explained she was losing her eyesight) and dental assistance (she also told them she had a toothache). This would be in addition to help with getting her a job and what she assumed based on what she was being told would be immediate help to keep her family safe in their home. Kamylla showed the producer her eviction notice. Kamylla says she made sure to stress to them how she had already gone through all of the local resources; the few which she knew existed, wanting to make sure the producer understood. ‘DONT WORRY’ the producer again stressed ‘after you film, everything will be taken care of’. The producer mentioned again how if Kamylla filmed for the show she would be helping other women. It was at this meeting Kamylla says the producer told her she didn’t need to put up another ad, everything would be taken care of.
Work had been extremely sparse over the thanksgiving holiday and with another eviction notice looming over her head she decided to accept the 8 Minutes offer. Here was another thing she was willing to do for the sake of her family, putting herself in a very vulnerable situation trusting these strangers with her life (not much different than what Pastor Kevin claims the women filmed in 8 Minutes are doing when they do sex work if you think about it).
This all happened starting in mid November into early December. In mid November after thanksgiving, Kamylla was already facing eviction notices and this is when the producer reached out to her through her online ad.
The following week after the initial call there were numerous phone conversations between Kamylla and the assistant producer and by the first week of December Kamylla met at the hotel (the production set) to participate in filming the show.
The day of filming Kamylla brought her final notice of eviction to show the assistant producer of 8 Minutes. Yet AGAIN Kamylla is told ‘Don’t worry! You are going to be compensated’. Again the producer goes into how this will be her chance to have a better life and how doing the show is going to help others who are in the life’. Kamylla responded by saying “I’m sorry, I understand that others need help, but right now I myself need help desperately. I don’t want to beg. I want to help myself”. The producer insisted Kamylla would get resources. Kamylla pressed it- she went as far as to explain again how she had already exhausted the few resources available in the local region (rental assistance is often limited to once annually) or that she didn’t qualify for certain local assistance. She explained she had no gas money to go putting in applications or to be driving around.
It cannot be stressed enough that Kamylla states that she thoroughly explained her circumstances. “If I don’t put another ad up, if I stop working today I need to know there is going to be a tomorrow”. Kamylla says the producer described how much money the production had access to, and Kamylla thought of the giveaways she had seen on Oprah and other shows where people had been given help. Based on what Kamylla says the producer described, in her mind 8 Minutes was going to find and give 40 people a new fresh start and she was fortunate enough to be one of those people!
The set is busy. When Kamylla arrived at the hotel location to film, everything was moving fast. She says she wasn’t given a chance to thoroughly read over the contract she signed; they told her she was already late for filming.
First they had her wait for the call from Pastor Kevin Brown during which they would film him making the appointment as if he had just called her after finding her ad. He acted his part during the call and she acted as though she didn’t know who he was. Then they told her to go to the room where Pastor Brown would be waiting to film the scene. The producers told her to act as though the Pastor was a client and she didn’t know who he really was. She knew cameras were everywhere.
Kamylla says she will never forget that the hotel room where she did the filming was room 106. They told her to go to room 106 and knock on the door. She knew there were cameras throughout the room filming the scene. She acted as though she had no idea what was going on, just as all of the other women filmed for 8 Minutes did as well. Kamylla describes her thoughts as she went to knock and as she entered the room. “I was so glad that this would be my last client and he wasn’t really a client. I was doing this to feed my kids. I never wanted to do this work. I just wanted to take care of my family”.
Once in the room she sat down and described her circumstances to Pastor Brown as the hidden cameras filmed. The pastor offered her assistance to leave the life right on cue and then one of 8 Minutes primary ‘advocates’ D’Litta Miller came into the room to play her role. Miller gave her account of her past having been ‘in the life’ and then the two women walked out of the room and according to the show- Kamylla is now headed towards her new life! “Let’s go to your new life” was the line she remembers D’Litta stating as they departed from the room.
Kamylla says Kevin was standing in the corner texting the entire time when he wasn’t on camera. She says she was around Pastor Brown no more than 40 or so minutes, just long enough to film. Kamylla says she spent very little time with D’Litta Miller as well, though D’Litta filmed an additional scene with her as they drove Kamylla in a van- not to get the assistance and help they had promised and according to what is portrayed in 8 Minutes, but to drop Kamylla off where her ride had been waiting for her to complete filming. There was no pimp, no trafficker, just a girlfriend who had given her a ride.
Kamylla says she had to ask for her cash because it wasn’t readily offered. She says it felt very awkward and she didn’t want to ask (shouldn’t have had to ask, just as a copy of the contract should have been offered if these people were sincerely and truly advocating for her, yet it was not and she left without a copy).
Kamylla says the production crew of 8 Minutes, the advocates, everyone kept telling her ‘Don’t worry!’. Kamylla says that over and over the resources were mentioned: help getting a job, help with rent, food, and more. She was assured that the next day someone would be calling her.
Kamylla states that the assistant producer had told her not to place another ad as soon as she had agreed to do the show. At the time of filming Kamylla had already invested over a week into the show’s promises and hadn’t posted an ad.
The next day after filming Kamylla waited by the phone. The day came and went with no call. A week goes by. At this point it’s almost been a month since Kamylla earned any money.
Kamylla had placed her bet on the word of the producers of 8 Minutes, Pastor Kevin Brown, D’Litta Miller and everyone involved. She is at her wits end worrying about the eviction coming, her family, it is Christmas and there is no money and they are facing homelessness.
Three days after the final eviction notice kamylla called someone with the show to ask about the resources and assistance she had been promised. A volunteer with the show told her that they would see what could be done and call her back. Kamylla waits three more days. The volunteer knew Kamylla was already practically evicted yet she made her wait three more days just to call back to tell her ‘there is nothing I can do’.
Now Kamylla is starting to get really upset. “This is the help?! I declare myself a prostitute for nothing?!”
The next thing that happens is surreal. Kamylla gets a call from one of the show’s producers asking if she could help them find more women to appear in 8 Minutes. “don’t you have any shame?! She says she told them “You haven’t helped me as you promised you would, why would I want to help you find other women? For the love of God, please forget my number and my name, now I know you are liars!”
It is at this juncture that Kamylla puts her ad back online. On this day she had only $10 in her pocket, just enough to pay for the ad. Using the same phone number she had used before which the 8 Minutes crew was aware of, she placed her ad to try to earn money for food. Kamylla waited to get a call.
Details here must be protected for Kamylla’s safety but her story only gets worse. Within 24 hours of placing this ad, Kamylla found herself under arrest for prostitution. She says six or more officers raided her hotel room, it was terrifying. She says she stood there scared out of her wits while the officers were laughing and mocking her. It was deeply humiliating.
Kamylla says she never dreamt this would happen to her.
While in jail Kamylla says she met many others who had been arrested for sex work. She describes how these women would be the first to truly come to her aid. “They were helping me reach my family outside, using their credits to call people who could reach my husband”. She says some of the women were also trying to get the cash they had when they were arrested to help her post bail to get out, but they were told it would require quite a process to get their property under the circumstances. Kamylla says this is when she started to see. She had been lied to by the faith based 8 Minutes ministry and crew who had promised her everything yet were lying through their teeth, while on the other hand the sex workers who were under arrest were now trying to help her get back to her family.
Kamylla finally reached her husband and this is how and when he found out what she had done. With no money to post bail he sold the kitchen dining room set and most of their furniture to raise the money. Now the house sits vastly empty. Kamylla says when she left to do her appointment her daughter was expecting her to come back soon to make dinner; mom didn’t make it back for 48 hours.
After her arrest Kamylla contacted the producers of 8 Minutes. She created a twitter account and attempted to contact Tom Forman and others with the 8 Minutes production. She researched Pastor Kevin and found his contact information online. She called Pastor Kevin Brown and told him what had happened. He offered to pray with her. He also told her that he would have someone in Houston call her. The days keep passing. No call back.
Here was a person who truly wanted any help she could get and would have maximized any help she received. The excuse being given by at least one of the 8 Minutes advocates via her Twitter feed is that the 8 Minutes ministry and show could not force these women to get help, they could only help give the ladies the foundation to make an empowered choice. It was Lexi who made this comment. “We don’t force anyone to make a decision we empower them to make a choice” where was the EMPOWERMENT Lexi?!
This line of thinking, allows Kevin Brown and 8 Minutes (not to mention the entire rescue industry which has had it’s hand out for millions of dollars) to excuse themselves from any responsibility and accountability. They can simply say that the women refuse the help.
If there is a person who would benefit and fully take advantage of any assistance given, Kamylla was this person. Instead she was promised the world, she was lured by the producers of 8 Minutes, and used as a prop in a show which amounts to propaganda to push the faith based non profit industrial complex and then she was blown off.
Did these people- the various producers, Pastor Brown and D’Litta Miller ever really believe their own claims as much as we are led to believe as we watch 8 Minutes?
Or….do they know that they were lying to these women as well as the audience of 8 Minutes? 8 Minutes, Tom Forman, Kevin Brown, A&E, are all profiting off of the criminalization of sex workers bottom line.
According to what Kamylla has revealed, 8 Minutes not only lied to these women about the resources that were actually available, but the resulting circumstances served to compound the situation, an already impossible situation.
After locating and speaking to a number of the women who agreed to be filmed it is clear that many of them simply wanted the cash they would be getting for their appearance, which amounted to $150-200. A&E through the 8 Minutes production took advantage of vulnerable women who desperately needed money, paying them crumbs to expose their lives for content for a show. Otherwise there was no ‘compensation’ to speak of beyond that.
Despite the narrative of 8 Minutes, the women I have spoken with who filmed 8 Minutes were not interested in getting any services and they made this clear to the producers of the show, but this was not the case with Kamylla. She wanted and desperately needed the assistance. It now stands to reason that had 8 Minutes fulfilled the promises which she said were made to her, Kamylla would never have felt the need to repost the ad which led to her immediate arrest.
I AM KAMYLLA!
Kamylla’s story is not unique by any stretch. Her story echoes the circumstances of millions of women, men and transgender people who have been and will be arrested doing sex work in the United States. The economy, the high cost of living, and a lack of jobs with living wages is pushing more people into sex work.
At the same time, throughout the United States there is an exponentially growing non profit industrial complex that sex workers have dubbed the ‘rescue industry’ which is an arm of the self described ‘modern day abolitionist movement’ solely based in anti prostitution sentiment. This anti prostitution movement (disguised as a humanitarian effort to combat sex trafficking) often aligns itself with and in many cases directly works with law enforcement.
8 Minutes now serves as a propaganda front for the faith based rescue industry. Observing the 8 Minutes twitter feed you find tweet after tweet praising what Pastor Kevin Brown and his advocates are doing, as if they are actually helping the women shown. Many people have fallen for the ruse of 8 Minutes. Subsequently, faith based rescue organizations are now tripping over themselves to grab their media bites in order to ride on the show’s algorithm and popularity no doubt with the hopes of pulling in more funding and donations.
Meanwhile, the JVTA and the SAVE ACT are bills currently being pushed unanimously into legislation and are the result of the narratives generated by the faith based non profit industrial complex and its abolitionist movement (which already gets millions in funding). If these bills are passed into law millions more in funding will be funneled to rescue organizations just like Kevin Brown’s ministry, as well as to law enforcement. Will ‘victims’ be rescued? Thus far, all we have seen is more women like Kamylla being arrested and their lives made more impossible. The narratives generated by the faith based anti prostitutionists of the abolitionist movement equate all forms of sex work as being sex trafficking, and this is the clincher. People watching 8 Minutes are being told the women presented are trafficking victims simply because they are sex workers.
8 Minutes is a perfect allegory for the rescue industry. There is a great deal of rhetoric around ‘rescue’ ‘restoration’ and ‘help’ but we aren’t finding much in the way of actual services for people, despite the millions some of these organizations receive. We do find an increase in adult consensual sex workers being arrested and their already difficult lives made even more impossible. The 8 Minutes narrative is a treacherous lie which echoes the rescue industry it represents.
Many people working in the rescue industry know that most sex workers don’t want their ‘rescue’. This doesn’t stop them from applying for federal grants or accepting donations. The money is predominantly used for hotlines and raising awareness. Watching a person like Kamylla fall through the cracks- being a person you’d assume the rescue industry would love to assist, is very telling. Kamylla’s circumstances exposes the narrative for what it is, a ruse to be able to generate more funding for the rescue industry that never seems to manifest into tangible services.
As we watch 8 Minutes observe how they pat themselves and each other on the back for all the good work they think they are doing to ’empower’ and ‘liberate’.
Ask Kamylla what she thinks of their empowerment and if she feels liberated.
I don’t think you’ll get a positive review.
Sex workers come from all walks of life, cultures and socioeconomic circumstances. No matter the circumstances involved, outside of legal forms of sex work all sex workers are criminalized and work under the threat of arrest. Sex workers do not have equal protection under the law let alone sufficient labor rights. Regardless of whether a sex worker engages in legal or illegal forms of sex work- sex workers face marginalization, stigmatization and discrimination- just like Kamylla.
If you can offer anything to help Kamylla to go towards rent or food- PLEASE donate. Rent is due and there’s no money for food or even gas to go driving around trying to get help. Lives have been destabilized further.
If you would like to send a gift card (groceries, gas card, gift card of any type) or a note of encouragement to Kamylla, you can do so:
16516 El Camino Real #344
We can succeed where 8 Minutes failed. Everything including the energy and support in getting the word out has been MUCH APPRECIATED!
We can prevent the damage arrest causes by decriminalizing consensual erotic services. You can support this effort by supporting the US based case to decriminalize. DECRIMINALIZE CONSENSUAL ADULT EROTIC SERVICES!