The show was great. XXXchurch even landed on TMZ. Here are some recaps.
The grace of God followed us throughout the entire Porn Convention. I felt prepared and equipped for every interaction, every conversation and every encounter. The darkness of the environment seemed to bounce right off. I am so grateful for the opportunity to reach the men and women we had the privilege of reaching. There was such openness and receptiveness. I praise God for the work He accomplished and for the prayers that went before us.
My Wife and I had a great time at this years XXXpo! One specific encounter I remember was with a guy that ran a slip n'slide booth next to us who's name ironically was Christian. I walked up to him and introduced myself....after a few "what up's" "not much" "what up with u" we started chatting about XXXchurch and their involvement at those Porn Expos.
All of a sudden he says: "I wouldn't make a good Christian" to which I answered: "don't worry, me neither!" I smiled and walked away thinking, man, what an awful answer, I surly could have thought of something better to say.
On my way home the entire scenario replayed in my mind and I realized that maybe for that one moment (right after my weird comment) we stood on an even playing field, and I wonder if that is not exactly what GOD is telling us (christians) on a daily basis "don't worry son/daughter you are ok right where you are...now get up and keep moving!"
Does Jesus Love P0rn?
“Are you saying Jesus loves porn?” a half-dressed girl in a children’s bounce house asked us as she held the “Jesus Loves P0rn Stars” t-shirt up to herself. She was one of a few dozen girls hired at the p0rn convention to entertain the patrons by swinging on swings and playing on see saws and other children’s apparatuses.
“No. Because that would be weird,” Rachel a fun-loving, boisterous volunteer began,“but he loves p0rn stars and all of the people IN p0rn. I think if he were here today, he'd show up at p0rn conventions and say the same thing.”
Throughout the rest of the Exxxotica P0rn Convention in Los Angeles last weekend, the Treasures team partnered with XXX Church and shared that very message. Jesus loves people.
We were joined by Crissy, a stunning young woman who left p0rn at the height of her career, in order to follow Jesus. Her compassion for the women still in the industry seeps out of her pores and was evident in all of her encounters with them.
One moment I looked over to see her eyes filled with tears as she talked to one of the girls. “I was in the business for 6 years,” she shared.
The woman’s face softened upon seeing Crissy’s empathy. “It’s hard, isn’t it?” the woman responded.
Next to the bounce house was one of many tables of women signing autographs. But these women were not signing autographs for their p0rn-stardom. They were noted as being the “Scandalous Women of 2010”, a title awarded for having affairs with the likes of Tiger Woods and Jesse James. They were being given celebrity status for having sexual relationships with married men.
My stomach flip-flopped. Are we really living in a culture that rewards adultery with fame?
I was reminded of Jesus’ response to the woman at the well, a “scandalous woman” of her day. “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water," Jesus said to her.
Out of all of the people in the bible, this woman’s story resonates with me the most. I have been a scandalous woman in my own right and I identify with the depth of her need and the lengths she goes to in order to satisfy it. After years of looking to men, food, sex, attention, (you name it) to fill me, I have discovered that only One Thing will satisfy. Only Jesus can quench my insatiable thirst in a way that is true and lasting.
My heart broke as I handed each the women signing autographs a gift. Not BECAUSE of them, but FOR them. Because I believe that if they knew the “gift of God”, they would not be compelled to drink from the salty cup of infidelity. If they truly knew, they would walk away from that hollow well of fame, and instead thirst for Living Waters.
Jesus loves scandalous women. He loves p0rn stars and addicts. He even loves prideful, religious, judgmental folks. And when I contemplate my own heart and nature, it is just as awe inspiring that He loves me.
Love, Harmony Dust
Founder of Treasures, Author of Scars and Stilettos
The thing I've always found most fascinating since the first show I ever attended until now has been the incredible people and their stories. You assume at first that the crowd fits some preconceived mold, that the stereotype you've created in your mind will be the reality you experience on the show floor. That notion was shattered early on. From the first interactions on the floor of a porn show several years ago until now, I realized that the opportunity these outreaches offer is the privilege of hearing real people share incredibly personal parts of their lives with you condensed into a few minutes at our booth. Story after story of people and their unique backgrounds and experiences... stories you never saw coming, personal stories, private moments that I'm sure they didn't anticipate sharing when they purchased their ticket to the porn show that day. I've learned to expect them now. I look for them. This show was no different.
"I spent two years in seminary," was the beginning of one conversation I had. Now a Buddhist who runs a music magazine for Black and Latino punk and hardcore (I know, right?!), we talked for some time about the path that lead him from his upbringing in the church to where he was today. He talked about the struggle he experienced with the church, the frustration he felt with Christianity as he experienced it, and the acceptance he received in his Buddhist circles. He allowed me to ask questions and probe a bit deeper, and he asked questions of his own. Amazing, really, when you consider it all taking place on the pink carpet of an exotica convention.
Though the circumstances of his story were unique and his own, it occurred to me after we exchanged information and he walked away that his story wasn't so different from the others I had heard. His path to Buddhism wasn't so much a turning away from God, but rather a response to the misrepresentation of God that others tried to sell as authentic. That maybe had he experienced the truer representation of the person of Jesus in those who claimed to follow Him, things might have had a different outcome.
That thought became a challenge for me over the next few days. Do the people that encounter me see Jesus or do I muddy the waters with my own garbage and agendas? Do I represent Jesus well or stand as an obstacle to people experiencing the love of a Savior? I don't know how well I measured up to those questions, but that's the challenge, isn't it?. I can't say with any certainty that anyone's life was changed by a few minutes of conversation and a smile in our booth, but if God is using these conversations to affect others as much as they affect me, then yes, change is taking place.
One conversation at a time.
Once again it was a blessing and honor to serve alongside you guys and be the hands and feet of Christ. The show helped to challenge me to not be afraid to share the good news of the gospel and love of Christ with all people, even if I fail, a lot. It gets me out of my faith comfort zone to which I am so grateful. It has prepared me to be a volunteer at Wyld Life camp next week (scares me more then going to a porn show:). It was a blessing to have one of the dancer stations (that trampoline thing) right by the booth and opened up the opportunity to have some in-depth conversations with two of the girls working for the show about life, God, family and Oasis (great to have somewhere to refer them to). This whole experience has further prepared my heart to talk to my church about possibly bringing a strip club outreach to the area I am at.
Most importantly these opportunities always speak to me that I don't have to go to a porn show to share the love and truth of Christ with others, that it is being faithful and sharing these things with the people God has already given me that matters most. That even thought I do not have it all together, the Lord is still merciful and can work through me.
We left Vegas at 4:30am and headed for LA Exxxotica. I’m not a real morning person, so as we arrived at 9:00am, I was already feeling a little crabby. As we set up, people started arriving to their booths. Right next to our ‘Jesus Loves Porn Stars’ booth, was a well-known Porn Star's booth. Her make-up artist started talking with us, asking questions about who we are, and what we do. The conversation continued, and when we were completely set up, she came to me and said, “I only came here because I really need the money. I really didn’t want to be here, but know that things happen for a reason, and I was supposed to meet you guys! I want to get involved with you guys!” She hugged me and thanked us for being there.
As I walked away from that hug, I realized that God had such big plans for the trip, and knew that if I was just open to conversations, He was going to use me, and that was exactly what he did a couple hours later! That afternoon, we left to get lunch for everyone. It ended up being the trip from hell as we got lost for an hour, parked in the wrong parking lot, and I broke a nail. I was literally tearing up as we were walking in, and my tired, hungry, emotional self was just about broke down. Then we heard a voice behind us walking, she said, “Hi guys!” We turned around to see the porn star whose booth was directly next to ours. “Hi, we said!” She was like, “Oh I thought I knew you guys, sorry!” We were like, “You do know us, we’re neighboring booths.” And that’s how the conversation started.
She went on to tell us that she thought it wasn’t coincidental that we were next to her booth. She had just gotten out of porn for 2 years and worked at a church in North Dakota. She was a children’s minister. As we asked why she had gotten back into porn, she stated, “For a number of reasons.” Something clicked in the conversation, and she literally started pouring out her heart about how she used to cry every day, because there were so many politics in the church, and she was hurt so bad. The conversation ended as we walked into the convention, but before we parted I looked her in the eyes and said, “We are nothing like them, and we are here if you need anything at all!” She replied back, “Oh I know you’re not, I know a lot about you guys!” That encounter blew me away. If we wouldn’t have gotten lost, and parked on the opposite end of the parking lot, we would have never had that conversation. God totally knew what He was doing!
Throughout the convention, there were other little conversations that really made an impact on me. One in particular was when we brought Starbucks to the porn stars. As we walked up to the bigger named porn stars booth, thinking we would be shunned, one of them got teary eyed as we offered her a coffee. She said why are you doing this? We replied, because we want you to know that you are loved. Jesus absolutely loves porn stars, and so do we! She said, “wow at least somebody loves us!” You wouldn’t believe the barriers that are broken down by a cup of hot coffee, a little pink gift bag, and a ‘Jesus loves porn stars’ t-shirt. We built relationships with the Exxxotica models, who were hired to jump on trampolines and dance on polls in lingerie, both new and old names in porn, and 2 of the sweetest gay men who operated a lubricant slip and slide right in front of our booth. These men had new questions about what we do and what we believe every day! One of them said he loved what we do so much that he brought us a whole supply of lotions and bath salts that he created. We are planning to have dinner when they come to Vegas!
I am absolutely honored to have been able to chat with and love on people of all walks of life with absolutely no agenda, except to let them know that they are completely loved! I am thankful for every conversation, every hug, and every encounter at Exxxotica LA, and I can’t wait for the next convention!
My experience at Exxxotica LA 2010 was very similar to Joy’s. From getting lost while looking for lunch (which is really embarrassing for me because I worked in downtown LA for a year) to meeting a pornstar who had been out of the “business” for two years and working at a church, our time was mostly spent together.
There are a few things that really stand out for me. Meeting two gay entrepreneurs who have just launched a line of personal care products and having deep conversation about the church and homosexuality was, to me, thrilling. These men are very open about the hurt they feel towards Christians. I was honored to, hopefully, change their perspective.
Speaking to a few of the “dancers” was also an eye opener for me. Seeing them take photos with stranger’s arms around them got me thinking. I asked one of the girls if she was annoyed or creeped out by this. “After the first day, you just kinda tune it all out.” she responded. Most of the girls I spoke with said they didn’t work in the industry, but were “just there to make some extra cash.”
Sadly, most of the conversations I had about faith, Christianity, or God evolved into the judgment and condemnation they felt from the church. I spoke to one woman who said she had worked at a Christian college, but had left because of “politics and in-fighting”. She told me that she still loves God, just not Christians. But I did get to go on a sex-lube Slip-and-slide…
This year at Exxxotica was interesting because it was a lot smaller than usual. That might sound bad, but I actually enjoyed the slower pace because it made it a lot easier to connect with people in a more relaxed environment.
Our booth was directly across from an area where girls from the show were stationed to work, so it was a great opportunity to talk to the girls and befriend them. They were all so sweet, and couldn't stop thanking me when I offered them water.
In a place where everyone wants something from them, I think they feel both relieved and safe that we are there for them, no strings attached. It's definitely exhausting so be at the show, even though it was smaller, there was still so much sadness.
On more than one occasion I went into the bathroom to hear someone throwing up or see someone smoking weed. These girls are pulled in all directions at all times, so I love being able to be there with them, whether it's to offer a makeup touch up, some water or some coffee. Every show I go to, I am more and more sure of how much we are needed there. It was a great experience! Can't wait for the next show!