website statistics

Reality Show or Human Trafficking? You decide.

Over a year ago I wrote about Justin Sisely, an Australian filmmaker who was "auditioning" for virgins to auction them off and then film the process for a documentary. Sadly, there are virginity auctions happening all the time all over the world, but Sisely was especially interesting because:

a)He claimed he was merely an artist "exploring the idea of virginity as a commodity.” He sounded more like, I don't know, a pimp.

b)He attempted to fashion a legal definition of virginity for his contract, something even the medical establishment has never done (because it doesn't exist)

c) He got death threats for advertising his 'auditions' with a photo of the Virgin Mary with male genitalia on her forehead. So, sexual exploitation is apparently fine, but not if you're going to mess with the Holy Mother.

d) He admitted he was asking his subjects to prostitute themselves, but actually going through with the deflowering was not required – a small fact that might put a damper on the bidding - and any interest in actually seeing the film. Not that I'm giving him advice on how to to be a good pimp/pornographer, I'm just saying...

Fast forward one year:

Justin Sisely's just announced he'll be bringing three Australian teens to a Nevada brothel to carry out his virginity auction project. After a year of virgin "auditions" in Sydney, and he says he's recruited two men and one woman,but needs to move the operation out of Australia as he's been advised by the local authorities that prostitution is against the law Down Under (who knew?).

And though you're allowed to sell your body in the state of Nevada (provided you pass a health check, get a license, and work for a properly registered pimp brothel), persuading someone to cross a state line for the purpose of prostitution is explicitly prohibited by the colorfully named "White Slave Act" of 1910 (also known as the Mann Act). Sisely's project could earn him 10 years in the slammer for each person (virgin or not) that he spirits to Nevada for his auction. Some media outlets are taking Sisely's press releases at face value, but the Las Vegas Sun has a more thoughtful take, where they point out the Mann Act problem, as well as the unlikelyhood of Sisely being able to successfully auction off a male virgin (apparently there were no registered male prostitutes in Nevada until January 2010, and it's not exactly a booming business).

So what the hell is Sisely about? His claims that he's examining virginity in any thoughtful in-depth way is laughable and insulting to people who actually spend time thinking about these issues. Will he be asking his auctionees their thoughts about the value of virginity in today's society as they're getting their share of the take? Is he just seeking publicity and sponsorship to advance his career, even though he's stooping to the level of a human trafficker? And - why does the word "virginity" and the titillating prospect of selling it to the highest bidder so easily catch the media's fancy? It's totally infuriating.

Just the other day, an Australian media outlet contacted us at Trixie Films to book an interview with Sisely, thinking that his film was our film. This pretty much put me over the edge. I told them that although we too were exploring virginity in the 21st century, we weren't actually exploiting our subjects to do it. But if we did decide to exploit some virgins, would they cover our project, too? The Australian media folks were actually pretty understanding, but it didn't make me any less angry at what this creep was doing.

If you're also angry about how the mainstream press has showered attention on Sisely's exploitative project, there's something you can do about it - Team Trixie's feminist-inspired "How To Lose Your Virginity" documentary needs funding assistance. Send as little as $10 our way to help, or pre-order a DVD of the film for a mere $25 donation! Self-serving? You betcha! But we need some other video voices out there to critique the hell out of his shit. And, we promise that no virgins will be harmed in the making of this film.