Eclectic. Eccentric.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


I haven't been blogging as often as I'd like, but thems exciting times!

I've been elbows deep in work the past week, and it's just the beginning of school. The Daily Sundial is keeping me busy. I wrote a teeth-gnashing piece on the passing of the NDAA and have been assigned the student government beat. However, I've also been given the privilege of having my own column on food issues in addition to submitting a healthy recipe a week for the Arts & Life section. I'm insanely occupied, but I'm looking forward to the opportunity to get some more published clips out there.

I'm also leaving tomorrow to cover Five and Diamond, a San Francisco brick and mortar shop for Auxiliary Magazine. I have a short deadline, so I'll be hiking up to the bay area and turning around the next day to hammer out the photos and copy. I'm also in talks with the editor about interviewing Lacuna Coil on their recent album release.

I'm also producing a documentary project over the course of the next few months. I'm going to follow Flip Cassidy, an LA artist and his involvement with East Jesus, the small artist space within Slab City, a desert community near the Mexico-California border. East Jesus is like nowhere I've been. So colorful and surreal. In the middle of nowhere, it's an oasis of culture.

There are also a few potential modeling gigs coming up, so stay tuned!

Photo by Matt Derrick

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Slab City, Salvation Mountain and East Jesus

Took a trip today to Slab City  for the first time. Man, what a trip. It's Mad Max-hillbilly-hippie-artist destitute community. Wow, I love it.

We went over to visit Salvation Mountain, a three-story tall man-made structure that's been kept up by a man, Leonard Knight for over three decades. One of the most bizarre places I've been to. 

Lastly, we made a stop at East Jesus, an evolving sculpture garden. I've never seen anything like this before.

January 5, 2012 Slab City, Calif.- One of the many art cars found in East Jesus, Calif. This one's adorned in whippets if you look closely.

January 5, 2012 Slab City, Calif.- Flip Cassidy, frontman of Flip Cassidy & the Junkyard Gospel, photographer and artist poses in front of the late mayor of East Jesus, Charlie Russel's memorial in Slab City, Calif.

January 5, 2012 Slab City, Calif.- An installation at the esteemed art collective, East Jesus in Slab City, Calif.

Rosie Neuharth stands in the doorway of Slab City's welcome booth on January 5, 2012.

January 5, 2012 Slab City, Calif.- Salvation Mountain, a man-made three-story structure that spans the length of a football field. Leonard Knight worked on creating and maintaining this piece of art for over three decades. You can walk through it and explore different rooms. Truly a sight to see.

January 5, 2012 Slab City, Calif.- Salvation Mountain, a man-made three-story structure that spans the length of a football field. Leonard Knight worked on creating and maintaining this piece of art for over three decades. You can walk through it and explore different rooms. Truly a sight to see.

January 5, 2012 Slab City, Calif.- A couple embraces on top of Salvation Mountain in Slab City, Calif.

January 5, 2012 Slab City, Calif.- The local church found in Slab City, Calif.

January 5, 2012 Slab City, Calif.- A couple running a "yard sale" in Salb City, Calif. live part-time in this off-the-grid haven to escape the MidWest.

January 5, 2012 Slab City, Calif.- Randy, a resident of Slab City posed for the camera at a yard sale on the side of the road.

January 5, 2012 Slab City, Calif.- A tree on the side of the road in Slab City decorated with shoes.

The Salton Sea's Bombay Beach Community

So, I went on a morbid adventure with my girlfriend, Rosie today.

We took off to the Salton Sea and stopped in the Bombay Beach neighborhood.

If you don't know about the Salton Sea, it's disgusting. An accident with an aqueduct from the Colorado River busting into this valley resulted in one of the largest man-made lakes in the world.

What residents are left have a post-apocalyptic vibe to them that makes your skin crawl. The air is rancid with the stench of rotting flesh, nothing living can survive in its waters, as its salinity is uninhabitable and it's terribly polluted.

The "sand" isn't actually sand, but the bones of thousands of deceased waterfowl and fish.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Pirates Invade Studio City and 29 Palms New Years Day Photos

Moi! Photo by Chrix Lanier- No make up and rugged after two days of camping in Joshua Tree

Pardon the shameless self-promotion in the shot above.

Below are some samples I took from the Studio City farmers market of December 18, 2011 and some snap shots of my boyfriend in 29 Palms on New Years Day.

Chrix Lanier- New Years Day in 29 Palms, Calif.

Chrix Lanier- New Years Day in 29 Palms, Calif.

Chrix Lanier- New Years Day in 29 Palms, Calif.

Pirate invading the Studio City, Calif. farmers market December 18, 2011

Pirate invading the Studio City, Calif. farmers market December 18, 2011


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sex Workers in Higher Education

I recently had the privilege of snapping a portrait of Jessie Nicole, Director of Sex Worker Outreach Project (SWOP) for The Daily Sundial. Article written by fellow Sundialer, Karlee Johnson. Enjoy!

Sex workers in higher education

Jessie Nicole, 25, now director of the Sex Worker Outreach Project, became an escort after moving to Chicago for graduate school. Jessica Jewell / Contributor
Correction: The statistics cited in Sarah Elspeth Patterson’s research are from two separate studies headed by Dr. Ronald Roberts of Kingston University, London. The statistics on student debt are based on data collected from the New York Federal Bureau of Economic Analysis. Additionally, the study regarding discussion of sex work in the classroom is not conducted by Widener University, but independently by Patterson.
“I started stripping when I was 19 because I had huge debt. I was in a private college and I had student loan and credit card debt, and I decided that what was going on was ridiculous,” said Jane Doe, 32, a doctoral student at USC.
Doe, now pursuing her Ph.D in literature and creative writing, said she had a friend that had made her way out of debt by stripping and did not seem emotionally damaged by the experience.
“I loved it,” Doe said. “Of all the shit jobs I had ever had, it was the only shit job that was not a shit job.”
Doe’s story is not atypical; according to a recent study on discussing sex work by Widener University’s Sarah Elspeth Patterson, M.Ed. The study notes that  “10 percent of students know of students who engage in sex work in order to promote themselves financially, with 16.5 percent indicating that they might be willing to engage in sex work to pay for their education.”
Sex workers, as defined by the Sex Worker Outreach Project (SWOP), are those who earn money by providing sexual services. This includes prostitution, erotic dancing, pornography, phone sex operators, fetish modeling and any other “transactional erotic labor.”
SWOP is a national social justice network dedicated to the fundamental human rights of sex workers and their communities, focusing on ending violence and stigma through education and advocacy, according to
Sex work while enrolled in school
For Jessie Nicole, 25, sex work was the only employment option that allowed her to make ends meet and remain a full-time student.
“I was broke,” Nicole said. “I had a scholarship that paid my tuition and 70 percent of my books, but that doesn’t pay your rent, that doesn’t give you food, and you still have 30 percent of your books.”
Nicole, now the director of SWOP’s Los Angeles chapter, began dating “sugar daddies” when she was a 19-year-old undergraduate at Florida State University, but turned to escorting when she moved to Chicago for graduate school.
“One of the easiest things about escorting in grad school was that I could pay to live and work a couple of hours a week,” Nicole said. “That was so crucial to me. I had a thesis to write. I did a nine month master’s program. [My] time [was] really precious.”
Though sex work helped pay for both Doe and Nicole’s schooling, the cost of education left each of them in an incredible amount of debt.
According to the Widener University study, 2010 college graduates are carrying an average of $25,250 worth of debt, and student loan debt has increased 511 percent from 1999 to 2011.
“I did sex work to live and be a student and then I graduated and couldn’t find a job because I have a master’s in humanities,” Nicole said. “The economy is not kind to women in their early twenties with master’s degrees in humanities. So I kept doing sex work. And I’m still using sex work to pay off my student loans. College expenses don’t just go away.”
Doe, who took a break between earning each of her degrees added, “(Sex work) was about school debt, even when I wasn’t in school. My student loans were $800 a month.”
Though Doe has the ability to set her own schedule as both a stripper and a “sugar baby,” between her schoolwork, and participation in Occupy Los Angeles – where she was arrested during the police raid – the money she makes when she works does not allow her the ability to save.
“I don’t usually work a shift where I make less than $400,” Doe said. “There have been nights when I’ve walked $800, $1000, and there have been some nights when I’ve walked out with $200. But $200 for a shift at a job isn’t that bad. If I wasn’t doing Occupy I’d probably be working a lot more.”
Nicole said she also cannot afford to save the money she earns.
“Sex work helps pay for you to live, but it doesn’t let you save money and it doesn’t let you prepare for after graduation,” Nicole said. “It’s instant gratification most of the time. It’s, ‘my rent’s due. I’m going to see a client.’ Then pay your rent and that’s it. So you don’t have money saved up.”
The choice
Miss Claw, 18, is a digital animation student at Gnomon School of Visual Effects and a professional submissive at a Los Angeles dungeon, a gathering place for bondage/discipline and sadism/masochism (BDSM) play.
She has been part of the BDSM lifestyle since high school and now works at the dungeon to pay for her extra expenses.
“My parents pay my rent, tuition, gas and groceries,” Claw said. “I pick up everything else. I don’t have to be in the adult industry. But I love my work so much. Now that I’ve had this job, I could never go back to a regular job.”
According to Nicole, who conducts dialogues about the misconceptions of sex work with SWOP Los Angeles, many who critique and condemn sex work see the industry as coercive and degrading.
“(Sex work) is a job like any other job,” Nicole said.
Nicole said that she has never engaged in “survival sex,” prostitution that is one’s only viable means of staying alive. Survival sex is most common among street workers, who are primarily women of color or transgender, she said.
“The lines are drawn so clearly on class, on education, on race, on gender, gender identity,” Nicole said.
The study suggests that, because sex workers are not immediately identifiable by appearance, it is easier for them to stay “closeted” and avoid the stigma and legalities of sex work. Because of this, it is difficult to gather accurate data, though according to Nicole, there are more student sex workers than one might think.
“I didn’t (out myself) when I was in school,” Nicole said. “When I did come out, I found at least three other friends that were doing sex work in Tallahassee at the same time that I was. I was like, ‘are you fucking kidding? Is this just my group of friends or is everyone carrying this around? Why didn’t we work together?’”
Nicole was quick to note that although student sex workers make up a large portion of the industry, they are not representative of the whole.
“(My experience) is normal in a sense that this is in every fucking college in the country,” said Nicole. “But it is not representative of the sex industry. There’s a radical feminist argument that says, ‘well, you’re sex workers of privilege so you’re not representative so your story doesn’t count.’ That’s not what we’re saying, and it’s really unfair to point at someone and say that their life doesn’t count. My life experience still matters. I know of a lot of people who have had a very similar experience to me.”
Doe concurred with Nicole, adding that she is a sex worker who has “started from a position of privilege and stayed there.”
According to Doe, there is a class and racial disparity between sex workers.
“(Student workers are) mostly white, as far as I know,” Doe said. “There’s a really disturbing class divide amongst women who do sex for pay, between indoor and outdoor workers, and between whose bodies are most criminalized. And we aren’t. Very rarely do we go to jail for it. Black women and Latina(s) in particular, a lot of them are not going to have stories like (ours).”
For Claw, fighting general misconceptions about sex work means telling her own story.
“People think that in sex work you are compromising yourself in some way,” said Claw. “It’s helped me grow and learn in ways that nothing else could.”

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Shots from Occupy LA

Occupy LA- Free hugs

Bunny gets interviewed at Occupy LA

LAPD at Occupy LA

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Pizza Parlor

Trudging into the dingy pizza joint, she saw the writing on the wall, "And that's the way the pizza crumbles."

"Two slices of cheese please."

She sat down, waiting around for a good ten minutes, listening.

Her mind was hazy, as she'd just wasted an hour of her life, shuffling with the collective metal herd on the freeway-- like hideous track marks scarring the California landscape. They keep spiking the vein, and like a fix that'll never be satisfied, they build another, and another and another. Swollen with contempt, they invade like an insidious cobweb.

Checking back in, there was a familiar cadence around her. When she let her mind wander (which it so often does) it sounded like a song. As the echoes and inflections came back to focus, she understood.

"Quieres correr en el pinche parque, despues, guey?"

They went on, talking about the neighborhood.

Pizza in hand finally, she sunk her teeth into a slice, burning the roof of her mouth. The soft, spongy tissue went numb, but the throbbing remained. A dull ache.

The dough was browned around the edges and she had to gnaw through the crust like a stray dog trying to get the marrow out of a bone.

"La delgadita, la negrita...darle otra pieza."

She had recently dyed her hair black. She looked sick.

A young guy from behind the counter walked over and shoved a to go box with two more slices inside and said, "We burned the other two."

She looked up at him and forced and awkward, nervous smile. It's a shame that a nice gesture comes with a price these days.

"Thanks, I really appreciate it."

Whooping and hollering erupted as the kid walked back to his station. The teasing was incessant.

Clenching her jaw, she broke a sweat.

No one ever knows she can understand. She's a sleeper cell, a halfie as white as a loaf of wonder bread on a shelf at Walmart. Little do the unsuspecting hoards know on either side of the fence is she can slip between two worlds. She's stratified. Alienated by both parts of herself.

She's Colombian and Scotch-Irish. Someone recently said to her, "That's a passionate combination. You're like the FARC meets the IRA."

"Busca su numero! Cual es su nombre?"

Shifting uncomfortably in her seat, she felt the fissures in the plastic seat pinch her ass viciously.

She got up, smiled, nodded and scuttled out-- the pizza burning her hands through the box.