The Execution of a Virtual Call Girl

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the ‘outing’ of the net and twitter persona known as Alexa di Carlo. For those of you who don’t follow twitter, and have never heard of the Real Princess Diaries, Alexa was a person claiming to be a high-class callgirl. She tweeted and blogged about being one, and also tweet links to porn she liked. She was pretty opinionated, and I had my personal run-ins with her, especially on the subject of glamourizing the sex trade and some of the semiotics and memes present in a lot of porn these days.

Nonetheless, this cyberpersona was something of a work of art. There was a lot of work put into creating Alexa di Carlo, and she obviously filled a need some people had, because she certainly amassed a lot of followers on twitter, and I would suspect her blog hits were pretty high. Most people, I think, followed her or read her for fun and a bit of titillation. If there were people who were either tweeting with her, or consulting her blog as if she were some sort of sexual guru… well, I’m sorry, but the web is full of crap and misleading information, and although I didn’t agree with her stances on a lot of things, I really have a hard time believing she was much of a danger to anyone. The fact that anyone is depending on accurate and important information off a call-girl’s blog or twitter feed says much more about our inability to be discerning in sourcing information than it says about her.

Now it seems, someone has taken it upon themselves to reveal the perfidious lie that was Alexa di Carlo. Her twitter account was closed, as was her blog, and this went up: http://exposeabro-alexa.blogspot.com/.If this is to be believed, Alexa is actually a middle-aged man with a penchant for deep research and a craving to be lusted after by men.

My response is: so what?

What interests me a great deal more is the writer of the expose, who manages rather deftly to keep their OWN identity anonymous while murdering someone elses. And if it was only a stating of the facts, I would not be so suspicious but please note the vitriolic language:

“Alexa” has been thoroughly and publicly exposed as a fraud for almost a year now, but some people just refuse to believe it. They so badly want the lousy erotica written by their slutty dreamgirl to be real. They need to believe they haven’t been jerking off to the pathetically transparent fantasies of a male computer nerd who wishes he could be attractive and interesting.

Expose A Bro – Alexa, Blog post 22/10/2010, Anonymous

This isn’t the language of someone seeking to inform you of vital information. This is the tone of someone with a great deal of anger and bitterness. It’s also someone who, like the creator of Alexa, did a great deal of digging and research to expose the true identity behind the persona. Maybe. I hope to hell who ever did it is right, because otherwise, [name redacted] is about to have his life come down crashing down around his ears for some karmic debt he can’t even remember incurring. And who will pay for that? Did the person who wrote this expose also feel it was necessary to ruin the lives of [name redacted]‘s wife and children? Because if he has any, that will surely happen.

There is also the accusation that the Alexa persona did harm to certain sex-work organization initiatives, harassed people involved and applauded the closure of a certain publication. Honestly, I think this is probably true. The person behind Alexa certainly misrepresented some of the realities of the sex industry. But so do a lot of films and television series. I can’t really accept that she was a significant force in perpetuating misinformation about an industry that has been horrendously misrepresented for the last 200 years by almost every power structure and media provider in the world. If she/he harassed people, then she should have been charged with harassment. And as far as applauding the demise of a worthy publication… I’m sorry, but that is a matter of holding what may be a misguided opinion, but it doesn’t rate ruining someone’s life.

The writer of the expose then goes on to defend his/her reasons for doing this thusly:

Exposing him isn’t about violating his right to privacy, it’s about cleansing a divisive fraud from our midst.  He is an irritating scourge in the least, and predatory/dangerously irresponsible at worst, and some of us felt an ethical obligation to set the record straight.  It’s about self-defense.

Expose A Bro – Alexa, Blog post 22/10/2010, Anonymous

“Cleansing a divisive fraud from our midst“. This is the language of witch hunts. This is the language of McCarthyism. If the person being accused has committed legal fraud or is indeed sexually preying on minors, then a responsible person would report him to the proper authorities who would charge him with those offenses and [name redacted] would at least get his day in court and the right to legal representation. As it stands, what I see here is cybervigilatism and the public trial and summary execution of a person who has not been proven guilty by any recognizable legal framework.

I don’t doubt that the person who did the exposing thought they were doing the right thing. But this is what I’m left with – what happens when I piss this person off, or you do, or another blogger you know?

How many people, creating wonderful, fantastical work are going to decide not to for fear that someone will make it their job to go  “Cleansing a divisive fraud from our midst“.

Two years ago, a person who took offense to one of my FICTIONAL stories, hunted me down, and wrote a letter to the HR department of the institution where I teach accusing me of being a pornographer, a sex-tourist and a paedophile. The fact that I just WRITE and that I write FICTION didn’t matter to this person. They thought they were “cleansing’ too, I’m sure. It was just lucky that, holding a MA in Writing, and having informed my employers about my writing and my bibliography, they understood that what they were looking at was a deranged zealot. But had I lived in the UK or in the US, the very accusation of sex-tourism or paedophilia could have ruined my career. 

Personally, I accept people on the net the way they want to be taken. That doesn’t mean that I believe everything they say, or take everything they write as instructional. I see this as a place of theatre, a circus where people play out the beautiful, breathtaking, ugly, erotic, silly, ridiculous, etc. Enjoy the spectacles that appeal to you and bypass the ones that offend you. You’re grown-ups. Be discerning about the sources of information, question the agendas. And leave execution to the state sanctioned executioners.

More troubling to me – in a general way – is what the web is becoming, or what we are demanding that it be.  We are an unpoliced society of sorts. No one can force the Alexas of the web to stop pretending to be something they aren’t in reality and no one can demand the shutting down of the expose page, nor should they. We depend on civility to keep this society sane. It requires that we click away from things we don’t like or disagree with. It requires using the block function and the ban function if we are really offended. But it also requires that we don’t use this place as a babysitting service or assume it should be. The very vibrancy of the web depends, in great measure on our tolerance for each other. For our etiquette in NOT tracking down someone’s real identity when clearly a pseudonym is being used for a reason, unless we really have to – not because someone is an asshole or gives bad advice or masquerades as a call-girl-come-sexpert. And if you do need to seek out someone’s reality beyond what they offer you, then speak to them directly, privately. Do not use this place to kill the vibrancy and the chaos and the mystery of it, or I think we are going to be sorry with the gray, lifeless, orderly place we end up with.

In the interest of fairness, please take a look at some opposing arguments on this issue:

Please let me know in the comments if  you feel I should include others.

Addendum:

Now, it seems, a story has emerged about a certain young woman, entering sex work for the first time, took the persona ‘Alexa’s’ email recommendation for a client. The story and the email are reproduced here and here. According to the woman – who did take the client – the person she met was the person exposed as being behind the persona of Alexa.

I have two things to say about this. First, we have a single person’s eye-witness affirmation that ‘Thomas’ is the client she serviced. I’m not saying she’s lying – I’m saying this is ONE PERSON’S word. Someone who is not under oath or being held accountable for saying this.

Second, I’m not in the sex trade and I’m not an expert. But it does disturb me that any woman, going into this business, would take a recommendation of a client via email from someone they haven’t had a lengthy face-to-face relationship with. I’m very glad she didn’t end up hurt or dead. She could have.

Furthermore, the tone and content of the letter reads a lot more like a piece of bad fantasy porn about happy hookers and their clients than any real recommendation from working girl to working girl. Having had friendships with a number of sex workers, both male and female, a recommendation sounds like this: ‘I’ve had this guy as a client 3 times, he’s clean, he’s safe, and he doesn’t misbehave.’

Because sex work is illegal in many countries, workers are incredibly vulnerable to violence and harassment, and lack legal remedy when in occurs. I’m sure many of you know my stance on sex work. I think it must be made legal for the protection of both the buyers and the sellers.

And because sex work has been ridiculously misrepresented  and glamourized in literature and film and television, and because people can’t seem to separate fiction from reality, it is possible for the persona ‘Alexa’ to fool someone who is thinking of entering sex work into believing she’s a sex worker.  And because men who visit sex workers want to fool themselves into thinking they are being more than ‘serviced’, they are also prey to these sorts of illusionary devices. And because, in order to tout for business, many sex workers represent their work as more pleasurable and glamourous than it actually is, they contribute to the myth.

However, to call this rape because the client misrepresented himself to a prostitute is, I think questionable. Very few men who visit prostitutes give their real names or disclose who they are, in the same way and for the same reasons that very few prostitutes reveal their own real names or details. And, whether male or female, casual sex encounters often involve people who are not who they say they are.

I am not absolving this man of anything. Frankly, I think he’s a rotten little shit. But to call this rape – and let it sit on the same level with what happens to women in the Congo. No, I’m sorry, that offends me greatly. I’m very glad to hear that the woman who saw him is safe. I hope that, should she proceed with her plan to go into what is, still at this time, and illegal and unregulated business, she will be wiser in the future about where she gets her client recommendations from. The vast majority of sex workers in the world are on the street or in bars, suffer violence, force, and non-payment for services on a regular basis.

Addendum 2:

The person who was accused of having pretended to be Alexa has responded, if only briefly, before being advised by a lawyer, to take it down and pursue legal recourse. The page is reproduced on the AAG blog, here: http://aagblog.com/2010/10/25/a-message-from-[name redacted]/

  43 comments for “The Execution of a Virtual Call Girl

  1. janeway
    October 24, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    You’re right; it’s fucking scary.

  2. Chinesebob
    October 24, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    There is something missing with this analysis. I certainly agree with what you are saying. What I found when reading the expose was this was not just a systematic attack of another fraud, this was something personal. The writer has been wronged by this person or someone similar. Probably in a cybersex chat with “alexia” only to find it was a dude.

    That or maybe something more sinister. I don’t know and don’t care. The effort is what is intriguing. What is the motivation to put so much energy in discovering and tracking this person’s online activities. It had to be very personal for the extremes he took.

  3. sin
    October 24, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    I agree that it’s a bit of a witch hunt and that the attack is vitriolic. It makes me wonder about the motives of the person who wrote the attacking piece. Your piece here is very well written, thanks for helping me sort out my thoughts on this.

  4. Colleen
    October 24, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    This is crazy. Not the post, by any stretch, but the idea that someone would bother to take the time to ‘out’ anyone. To each their own, right?

    One confusion – who’s [name redacted]? Is he Alexa? I got lost there….

    • October 24, 2010 at 7:47 pm

      Yes, apparently, Alexa is allegedly [name redacted]. But I really didn’t want to repeat his name over and over again because I think he’s in enough shit already.

  5. October 24, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    I can’t say much beyond “Yeah! what she said!”

    A fellow author who has made it explicit why he uses a pseudonym woke up one morning to find an email to him from a ‘fan’ cackling about how he’d unearthed his true identity. I tried to recreate the google trail that uncovered my friend, and discovered it was complex and difficult. Even knowing exactly what search terms had uncovered his identity, I spent a full evening and was unable to repeat the ‘fan’s’ discovery. It was chilling, to say the least, mostly because of the questions about why someone would go to such heroic efforts for such a minor victory.

    Your story raises those same hairs on the back of my neck.

    As for Alexa, I’ll blog about that myself Wednesday. I had been following her blog, and it rang false many times, but my attitude was “so what?” The writing was, in general, superior to most and the storytelling was fantastical. I couldn’t help but think of the women I know who’ve done phone sex professionally. At best, the tales are merely exaggerated for the sake of their audience, when they are not complete whole cloth. And where is the harm in that? It only came when their clients had a desperate hunger for the tales to be real, so they could maintain the illusion that the interaction was ‘real’–one of friendship or affection instead of merely paid.

    As for the vibrancy of the web–that’s a great discussion. Thank you for pointing out those implications.

    • October 24, 2010 at 7:57 pm

      I’ll be looking forward to your post!

    • October 30, 2010 at 4:30 am

      i really liked your post. read mine if you have a chance!

  6. richf90
    October 24, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Very well written and thought out. I appreciate your time to present a view I may have overlooked.

  7. Peter
    October 25, 2010 at 12:11 am

    I am completely comfortable with blogs and writers in general using a pseudonym. Indeed, I tend to be a little concerned where writers reveal too much of their identity and expose themselves to the threats such as you describe.

    About a year ago, I wrote to an blogger to whose identity I will no clues, pointing out that their blog revealed information which could both identify the writer and expose his family. To reinforce my sincerity, I emailed the blogger using my real email address and identity. I was immediately accused (in the blog) of threatening the writer and having conducted an in-depth investigation using unconventional sources of data. In fact everything I had noticed identified the blogger was in the archives of the blog.

    I believe everyone who communicates using a pseudonym has the right to be anonymous, but equally they must take care not to expose themselves. That leaves the rest of us free to enjoy their efforts, as entertainment, as Big Ed implies.

  8. October 25, 2010 at 12:48 am

    Excellent piece…informative in many ways. I am not so much concerned with what one does on the net in regard to how they present themselves. As you said…take in what you want, pass up what you don’t care for.

    However, you’ve opened my eyes to the fact that there are witch hunters out there. Wow. As the other noted…this person seems to have a personal vendetta going. It would be scary of the net had to be regulated like pretty much everything else in our world these days.

    Thanks, A.

  9. October 25, 2010 at 3:01 am

    “Personally, I accept people on the net the way they want to be taken. That doesn’t mean that I believe everything they say, or take everything they write as instructional. I see this as a place of theatre [...]

    I’ve been musing about just this point lately, and considering writing a cautionary post for my own blog. Even the most well-researched factual reporting doesn’t – cannot – include everything. Of necessity, we edit what we present. This incident, these feelings, even the words we choose to define a color – they all go through a mental winnowing. And we all have motivations other than pure reporting. I play with words, with rhythm, with mood, both for the enjoyment of writing and to help me get to my own emotions about what happens to me. I would hate to find out that someone was using my blogposts as a guide to submissive living. Especially as there are crucial details which I omit to protect privacy and identity and vulnerable feelings.

    I found out about this whole furor accidentally and knew nothing of the blog or people involved before this. So I won’t comment on that controversy. But you are quite right, RG, about how we have to be responsible for ourselves and what we choose to believe. And this refers to sex blogs and newspapers and Wikipedia and medical studies and the inflammatory spewings of uninformed politicians. Read and listen and read and listen and then stop. And think.

    o.g.

  10. Dom King
    October 25, 2010 at 9:45 am

    If I had to guess, the vitriol would be the people fooled hating ones self for being allowed to be fooled, or to let themselves form an attachment.

    I don’t want to speculate too much on some of the people reading ‘her’ blog, but sometimes people can get a little through the Looking Glass and build up genuine emotions towards someone.

    I agree on the main problems of the internet being able to be cloaked in a veil of what/whoever one wants to be.

    As for the fictions merit or validity being tied to an author, it shouldn’t matter, as what’s the difference between Charlotte Bronte writing as Currer Bell.

    Does it become murkier when it comes to a man writing sexually as a woman? A tad, but only if you let it. One could argue it demonstrates quite a talent , if a little misdirected, to do so.

    The issue is more authorial intent.

    I’m torn on what the motivation behind it would be; fooling people deliberately? Ethically wrong. Writing these thoughts because they are more easily embraced as a female voice? Less so.

    • October 27, 2010 at 8:47 am

      You bring up the topic of authorial intent, and I agree, it’s a good one. Deserves a post of its own.

      And there is an unfair prejudice against men writing as women. In principle, I have no problem at all with it. It can produce a very interesting voice. However, as you say, the agenda of the author does matter very much. Willfully perpetuating untruths for the purpose of coaxing women into the sex trade (so you can be their ‘first) is pretty fucking sociopathic. I’d never defend that.

      However, I guess the point I was trying to make, and which has sort of been overlooked, is that the ‘outing’ means a lot of people who would like to create characters and works pseudonymously will look at this and think…there, but for the grace of god. go I.

  11. October 25, 2010 at 10:20 am

    As often happens in a blog dustup, no one is on the side of angels here.

    What you say rings deeply true to me. Five years ago, I was a different person, blogging under a different identity – and someone who had a life to lose if “outed.”

    And then, one day at work, on my work account I got a furious email from a sex blogger threatening to sue me if I didn’t take the site down. But I had no site – I had given up my old blog, and the one I created after that. I had stopped writing for months. Yet, in a fit of pique over an insult someone else had made, she decided to lash out at me, and found my work account. At the time, I had a job with a security clearance, and marriage I was trying to hang on to. In a flash, I knew my clearance could easily get stripped away, and my job would evaporate, and my marriage implode. My real life was going to be destroyed over blog drama I didn’t even create.

    This person was a friend. Was. It’s why I’m still leery of ever making another friend through my blog, as much as people want to. There is so little good to be had, and so much harm to be inflicted.

    • October 25, 2010 at 11:06 am

      That really IS a frightening story, Sylvanus. And I can see how easily it could happen. And luckily, no matter how piqued, this person contacted you directly first, instead of posting your identity up on a blog, absolutely convinced she’d got the right person. I’m a great believer in the cliche that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. I feel pretty much the same about the net. I have met people off the net, but after a long, long time of correspondence and in a public place where I had absolute control of the situation.

      • Morag
        October 25, 2010 at 5:45 pm

        I have a worse tale to tell. I used to be active on an adult dating site, mostly because it had a good blogging section. I have made many good friends there, some online only and others I have met.

        I have not been especially private about my identity, because I have nothing to lose if people find out who I am, but I did use an anonymous identity on my blogs.

        And then I discovered that someone whom I had previously met as a friend but who had since dropped off the radar was claiming things about me elsewhere on the same site. And – worst of all – she was telling people about the business I owned (which involves baby products) and implying that I was some kind of a paedophile. I only came across this information by accident, as was bemused as to why she was attacking me in this way. As far as I was aware, we had never fallen out. And she had never approached me if she had any concerns of any sort.

        It later turned out that she was some kind of troll, also attacking another friend of mine who lives in Australia and has a number of mental health issues, to the extent that he kept changing his alias and she kept following him. What was scariest of all was the degree to which she researched how to find him again and again.

        My response was simply to leave the site I blogged on, because she wasn’t worth the effort, but she did sour an otherwise positive experience in my life.

        As for the carefully anonymised “outer” of Alexa – I think he probably jerked off once too often and then got very upset about having been tricked by a man. Possibly the female if the species is not the most vindictive after all! ;)

        • October 25, 2010 at 7:03 pm

          Morag! That sounds horrific! Good god.

          Actually, the statement that the post mas made for ‘self-defense’ made me think it was written by someone who had either been tricked into servicing the man in question, or almost was. But who knows.

  12. October 25, 2010 at 10:28 am

    Like the other commenters, I can only agree with what you’ve written. If the man allegedly behind Alexa is potentially guilty of harrassment or grooming then he should be defending himself in a court of law; the person who wrote the exposé should have contacted the relevant authorities, and I hope that he/she has done so. Apart from that, what words or images people choose to get off on is nobody’s business. The tone of the exposer’s diatribe seems to be partly motivated by small-minded moralism about other people’s auto-erotic practices. Let’s hope it doesn’t become commonplace for self-appointed online vigilantes to out those whose blogs, tweets and other Web-based activities whose disapproval they have incurred. I am appalled at what happened to you, RG, and I’m relieved it turned out not to have damaged your career. Also the disturbing experience of Big Ed’s friend is a salutary reminder that online, just as in meatspace, we are all potentially vulnerable to the troublesome ways of twisted arseholes.

    For what it’s worth, I actually took Alexa at face value; indeed it didn’t occur to me at all that she was a fiction. Naive, no doubt. But it was a very skilfully constructed hoax indeed.

    • October 25, 2010 at 11:18 am

      I’m smiling at your last statement. No, not naive. Male. She really did offer a mythology about sex workers that many, many men want to believe is true. Most people hope the person performing fellatio on them is loving it, even if they’re paying. Ironically, to me, it speaks to something in the decency of most men that they hope prostitutes enjoy their work. I hope my dental hygienist likes her work, but I suspect that she doesn’t really enjoy it much. Some days are good, some days are bad, and she wishes people would floss more. I bring it down to that level because, the day to day reality of sex work is just as banal as any other. The only difference is that, if someone abuses my dental hygienist, she can call the cops. Prostitutes can’t do that.

      However, the online identity thing is another issue. I guess we need to decide HOW we process the information we obtain from the net and what credence we give the info we get there. That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it, or be amused by it, or turned on by it. But it does mean that it can be, and often is, fiction. And we shouldn’t base decisions that affect our lives, our jobs, or our welfare on it.

  13. October 25, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    Hi RG,

    I’m an internet dinosaur. I pre-date the world wide web and go back to a time when you needed real skill to find out who someone is.

    One of the joys of the internet used to be the anonymity. No one used their real name. No one expected you to BE who you said you were. They were interested in WHAT you said you were. To paraphrase the Rocky Horror Show, if you could write it, you could be it.

    Wanting to exercise that freedom to become an internet artifact, someone other and different from myself, was one of the things that led to me deciding that I had some talent for writing fiction.

    I was and still am careful to be as private as possible on the internet

    Someone could still find me if they were motivated enough, but it won’t be because I told them where to look.

    Facebook changed the concept of privacy on the net. Twitter replaced the sometimes shady intimacy of ICQ with the public intimacy and the concept that being followed was a compliment, not something to be alarmed about.

    Now we have witch-hunters on the web. Zealots who seek to replace narrative with truth without understanding that narratives, once believed, are true even when there is no factual basis for them.

    The internet has always been a dangerous place. It’s also somewhere that provides the fundamental freedom to express who you wish you could be. I believe that it therefore offers the opportunity for the highest level of civilized behaviour as well as the greatest opportunity for brutality.

    The choice, as always, is down to us.

    • October 26, 2010 at 7:37 am

      Your last paragraph is a masterpiece, Mike. And yes, I could not agree with you more. But then, the real world is just the same. Allowing us the opportunity for both acts of great kindness and compassion, and deceit and war, and localized brutality. We will take our natures wherever we go.

  14. October 26, 2010 at 12:01 am

    Very crazy stuff here.

  15. October 26, 2010 at 3:35 am

    I agree with a lot of your points here, but what still frustrates me is not so much the deceit, but the predation behind it. The luring of underaged girls, and even the baiting of non-sex-workers to “experiment” in the trade. A lot of my interactions with Alexa were of this nature. I happened to not take the bait, but I can easily see how others could be (and were) romanced by her to the point of going along with it and making poor decisions. I think it’s quite a cautionary tale for all of us to remember that the anonymity of the web can provide risks as well as rewards.

    And my further concern is that “Alexa” will not go away. That she will continue to prey on others under another name and with another flashy website in the future. Part of me feels that we owe it to those people to try to stop this from happening… but I just don’t know how.

    • October 26, 2010 at 7:32 am

      Yes, I think you’re right, it IS a cautionary tale. And no, the Alexa’s of this world (and there are many) are sociopaths and they aren’t going to go away. And you are no safer from them on the net than you are in the real world.

      You stop it from happening by simply being sensible. And encouraging other people to be sensible to.

      • October 26, 2010 at 11:05 am

        I’m not sure being sensible and encouraging sensibility is enough, especially in the cases of youth. I am a well-educated, mature adult in a long-term monogamous marriage and I was still targeted by Alexa. I was sensible and it did not stop this from happening to others. Regardless, as mature, educated adults, it seems that we have a responsibility to actively protect others (and especially youth) from being victimized. As individuals, we are a bit helpless. As a supportive community, perhaps we have more influence?

        • October 26, 2010 at 12:04 pm

          I’ll be completely honest with you, I am not sure that support communities and ‘protection’ works all that well. Frankly, I think it gives people a false sense of security and it often makes them feel like they are absolved from the responsibility of thinking critically for themselves, and being …well… sensible.

          Yes, there are definitely predators out there on the internet and parents should actively discuss this with their kids and be open and frank and honest about those threats. However, I have noticed that people are often eager and willing to level accusations of child predation at people just because they have done something ELSE they find offensive. And someone has done this to the Alexa persona. It is a VERY grave charge, and should be reported to the authorities – NOT gossiped about on the internet. Because a false accusation of this sort is likely to ABSOLUTELY RUIN someone’s life, EVEN if they are then found to be completely innocent of the charge.

          When it comes to adults, Zelda, you were sensible. And there are always people in this world who are gullible and stupid and ready to be manipulated, and it’s usually – by the way – not entirely innocent on their part. A woman who considers making a few extra bucks in the sex trade is NOT an innocent. The sex trade is a dangerous business and there is AMPLE information to the effect that it is. I wish it were safe and legal, but it’s not. And I do not believe that ANY ADULT WOMAN doesn’t know that.

          I don’t mean to be callous, but a woman who wants to make money off having sex with a man HAS an agenda. She’s NOT Cinderella. It seems, this man ALSO had an agenda. Luckily, it wasn’t her death.

  16. Joe Homeowner
    October 26, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    So what? This person lied to get into the good graces of others. And more importantly, to everybody, this person LIED about their education credentials, and then doled out advice on their website, Caitlain’s Corner, while pretending to be a sex educator. On more than one occasion, this person told people to ignore the advice of their doctor, because this person apparently knows more than a doctor. Which could make sense if they actually had any sorta credentials… But they didn’t. They were a fake.

    Someone had to out this person, and I’m glad somebody did. Anybody that can’t see what’s wrong with what this person did is blind or dumb.

    • October 26, 2010 at 8:49 pm

      Joe,

      We disagree, but I’m neither blind or dumb. I’m happy to hear your point of view, but I don’t appreciate the insult. And it is exactly this sort of absolutist attitude that scares me a lot more than people on the net who masquerade as something they’re not.

      Moreover, I have to wonder what has become of people’s critical thinking skills if they would take the word of a person they’ve never met, whose credentials they’ve never seen, over the advice of their health care provider.

      YES, this person lied. NO they aren’t a nice person. But the net isn’t the only place this happens. Meanwhile, you better be sure – POSITIVE – that the person who got outed WAS the right person, because if it wasn’t then someone walking around with JUST YOUR LEVEL OF RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION has absolutely and completely fucked up an innocent person’s life.

      And if that doesn’t give you just a LITTLE pause for thought, Joe, then pardon my frankness but you’re the blind and dumb one.

      • Joe Homeowner
        October 26, 2010 at 10:10 pm

        People come online for advice because they’re too embarrassed to ask for it in person. So, if somebody is walking around masquerading as an expert, that is a huuuuuuge problem. The victims of the “advice” were teens, some of them pre-teens. They may not have the critical thinking skills that the rest of us have, and they were likely just looking for an answer to their problems. This person lied about their credentials and befriended young people in an attempt to trick them. The people in question are by no means anything other than victims.

        As for who the person is? Well, I’m not pausing for any thought. I’ve known for years that Caitlain/Alexa didn’t exist, and somebody told me a long time ago that they were pretty sure it was a man living somewhere on the East Coast. Nothing ever added up with “her”. And now we have more than enough proof – an association (this man was “referred” by “Alexa” – several sex workers have this story, yet his denial says it only ever happened once), websites registered to him, the same high school, similar fake credentials in other aspects, a list of books bought by him that were on the same topics used on a website (and were reviewed by “her” – why is it they bought EVERY SINGLE IDENTICAL book?), him living in the same places “she” sometimes said she visited, and finally, his job firing him over the stuff that has been going on. They know the truth, and they fired him for it.

        The fact is, every single person that has ever threatened to “expose” “her” for the fraud that she was was banned, blocked, threatened, or made to look crazy by “her”. Nobody would go to such great trouble to defend their identity if they didn’t have something as big as this to hide.

        And most of all… If you lose your job over something, and the damage is done… Why delete your only source of income (running these sites for “Alexa”)? It doesn’t make sense, unless you’re trying to cover up the truth – that you’re her.

        • October 26, 2010 at 11:20 pm

          If a person is masquerading as a doctor, that is a criminal offense and they should be charged under the law and have the opportunity to get legal defense. This man is convicted on the basis of what legally would be termed VERY circumstantial evidence – you are okay about ruining someone’s life based on the books they bought? The towns they lived in? I’m not saying Alexa wasn’t a fraud Joe. And I’m not saying whoever it was that was pretending to be her was a good person.

          What I’m saying is…you are SO DAMN SURE. What will you do for this man if, it turns out, you’re wrong. Will you pay his kid’s medical bills?

          What got the person who was outed as Alexa fired was misuse of work computers for personal reasons. If people actually got fired for that, half of America would lose their jobs. What got them fired was a accusatory and malicious letter. But since that wasn’t proof, his employers used computer usage as the excuse.

          How do I know this? Because by the grace of god, there I might have gone. The person who sent a letter to my HR department, accusing me of being a sex tourist and a pedophile could easily have gotten me fired. It was only because 1) I was female and 2) my published bibliography was already known to my employers and 3) they were sane people who understood that a person’s life could indeed be ruined by some self-righteous zealot and they used their common sense.

          Had I been a male, or lived in some small US town, I would be jobless, insuranceless, and absolutely ruined. And all I do is write fictional short stories. All because someone thought they were doing the ‘right thing’

    • October 26, 2010 at 10:35 pm

      I suggest that you read Jim Lawrence’s comment above. In my opinion he has got it exactly right. Internet vigilantism is no more acceptable than vigilantism in general. If, for whatever reason, the outer thought that they had evidence of any actual crime(s) having been committed, then they should have presented their information to the relevant authorities so that due process could take place.

      I am not sure whether lying about one’s educational credentials, or pretending to be a sex educator, are crimes; probably not. However such behaviour cannot be defended simply on the basis that anything goes on the Internet, particularly when it has the potential to damage some of the less aware amongst us. WIth regard to those allegations, the outer could have challenged Alexa to substantiate her position, privately to begin with, and then, if no such substantiation were provided, it could have been requested publicly on the Internet. If Alexa was openly claiming these things then she was putting them in the public domain, with all of the potential for discussion and examination that that entails. However, that does NOT require the exposing of Alexa’s true identity in a fit of self-righteous spite.

    • October 26, 2010 at 10:48 pm

      Joe Homeowner,

      Nice name. I wonder what your real one is and why you don’t use it when honesty on the internet is so important to you?

      Could you be trying to pre-position your readers to see you as just another working stiff doing a vox pop, rather than someone, bright, educated, literate but not wanting to have the content of their ideas evaluated in that context?

      If you are not just an average jo, would that make you a fake?

      Are you living up to your Jo Homeowner image when you say that something had to be done (implying that what was done was that something when RGs argument was partly that the same ends could have been achieved by less self-righteously gleeful means) and that anyone who doesn’t agree is blind or dumb (thereby declaring – in a man-of-the-people plaid-shirt-and-toolbelt kind of way – that to argue is to self-classify yourself as not worth arguing with) or are you using the persona to slip in some dodgy rhetoric and have it written off as “he’s just folks.”

      Frankly, I don’t care.

      I always enjoy meeting Jo Homeowners, and Tom Paynes and I’mjustsayins on the net. It a refreshing change from rigorous discussion.

      My favorite part was the “So what?” that you started with.

      A question that was actually a condemnation. An expression of anger. An assertion of status. All in two little words and a misleading (but accurate) piece of punctuation.

      If you ever get tired of being Joe Homeowner you could always try out for the John Alphamale club. You have “I’m angry – I’m right – and SOMEONE’S GONNA PAY” down pat. I suspect you have that in common with the person who set out to destroy this bloggers life.

  17. DelightAndDole
    October 26, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    Why are you virtually the only rational, non-hysterical person blogging about this? It’s been interesting to watch the accusations and suppositions fly, only to get quoted by someone else a day or two later as supposedly FACT. My favorite is the woman who cited two of her “friends” who’d actually met with [name redacted] as a client. Then, a day or two later, she posts that oops, these two women were actually the same person.

    So few people are exercising critical judgment and caution here. Kudos to you for leading the way.

  18. October 28, 2010 at 1:33 am

    RG:

    As someone who has also posted on the whole affair, and one who was also just as fooled and deceived by “Alexa”, I’m not quite as willing to give his inventor the benefit of the doubt, because the evidence shown does clearly point to him being the inventor of that persona,…and the evidence and testimony of others do in fact reenforce my view that the man who invented “Alexa” (and “Caitlain” as well) was in fact [name redacted].

    We may debate the tone of the virulent reaction and the vitriol of Expose a Bro’s expose as well as their motives in accusing [name redacted] of being a pedophile and a sexual predator….but the evidence of his deceit and his virtual Ponzi scheme simply cannot be denied by anyone with working eyes and brains.

    The fact remains that [name redacted] built and maintained this house of cards named ‘Alexa” for the sole purpose of gaming sex workers and legitimate sex educators,…and far worse, used this persona as a “Fuck Me Free” card to trick vunerable sex workers into quick and easy and potentially dangerous situations. That “she” was a gifted sex writer that produced erotica that turned many people on and offered “sound” sexual advice and skills (and BTW, how do we know that even this “sexpertese” wasn’t as stolen from others as the pics he stole from BlueEyedCass??), still does not change the level of deception and destruction he/”she” wrought.

    And all this is not even including the prospect of him using “Caitlain” to seduce vulnerable preadult teens itou instant hookups.

    Plus…”Alexa” is no innocent lamb: “she” did threaten to expose the true identity of an activist sex worker who dared to question “her” credibility and credentials. That, along with the crass exploitation of other sex workers, could explain why the reaction was so swift and sudden…self-defense and protection, not a “witch hunt” or “mob mentality”.

    Now, that‘s not to say that the EAB post didn’t, in my view, degenerate into serious overkill in their flinging their charges at [name redacted]; or that there isn’t a legitimate question of how far Internet anonymity can be abused in genuine witchhunts or where innocent people can get caught in the crossfire. But, in this case, considering that credible allegations against “Alexa” being a fake and a fraud had been openly broadcasted for more than a year without any level of discourse or reaction, I’d say that the need to put out the evidence won out.

    As for ShazamSF/RandomRimJobs…why would you doubt that her reccolecctions of what her friend was saying about meeting “Alexa” (or, “Alexa’s client”, “Matt”) were simply the truth and not merely part of the great witchhunt?? And to respond to DelightAndDole (who, in my opinion, seems to bave become [name redacted]’s personal sockpuppet of late); ShazamSF doesn’t say that TWO of her friends met with [name redacted]; she simply stated that one of her friends had communicated with “Alexa” when she reccommended “Matt” as a client, then ultimately hooked up with “Matt”. Of course, since it is now confirmed that “Matt” used the same IP address as “Alexa” and PatBo, why shouldn’t she conclude that [name redacted] and “Matt” were in fact the same person…and feel free to fill in the blanks.

    There is nothing wrong with roleplaying online or using the Internet to post your own special personal sex fantasies. Heck, I’ve done it plenty of times as an author of stroke material. But, when you deliiberately seek to exploit such a virtual fantasy world and invent characters and pass them off as real as a means of decieving real people just to get into their panties, then it no longer becomes a “harmless game” or a practical joke. Then, it becomes identity theft, mind rape..and even potentially sexual assault. And, in the case of “Caitlain’, even statutory rape.

    Critical judgment and caution are genuine virtues. Not denying the credible testimony of real women/sex workers and maintaining credibility and accountability for what you write or post?? Just as genuine.

    • October 28, 2010 at 10:24 am

      I’m allowing your comment, with a cautionary note. Not because you disagree, but because accusing someone of being a ‘sock puppet’ just because they hold a different opinion to you is – frankly – FUCKING RUDE.

      We clearly hold VERY different opinions of what ‘proof’ and ‘fact’ constitute. Nuff said.

  19. ashes
    October 28, 2010 at 7:39 am

    This all seems very senseless. People with nothing better to do then smear & attack someone for something that isn’t PROVEN. I feel for this guy in that regardless of if it is or isn’t him who is ‘Alexa’ why would someone feel the NEED to out ‘Alexa’? Witch hunt indeed. They have nothing in their real life that they could work on making better so I suppose their thought process is might as well make someone else’s life worse… It doesn’t impact them but they are living it vicariously through the net. Kinda sad really.

    As for others comments above about how gullible teens are – yes some of them are however even teens have a dose of common sense they should be using & I don’t think taking advice from a blog of a ‘sexpert’ uses common sense at all. I have never understood this whole ‘shield teens from the world’ outlook. I am not saying they shouldn’t have safe havens or people to turn to but at some point you make decisions for yourself…

    The net has always been very ‘buyer beware’ yet has everything at your finger tips.

    There are so many things I want to say but can’t phrase.

    The last thing I need to say though is thank you RG for posting something rational & non-emotional about someone’s trauma. And it is trauma regardless of what else occurs there will always be a smear, a mark, a bruise in that mans life.

  20. October 28, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Great post. I would agree with you 100% if it were simply a blog meant to entertain or live out some type of fantasy. A 35 year old bored housewife, or a 45 year old man with a beer belly. Wouldn’t matter one bit to me.

    However, this individual – whoever it may be – did dispense advice to minors under the pretense of being a sex educator with professional training. As far as I’m aware, this isn’t disputed by anyone as it can be seen in various cached posts and verified by a number of people who originally knew her as Caitlin.

    Secondly, we don’t know how this situation might have unfolded if some type of intervention did not occur. Many sociopaths continue to escalate their behavior as they seek to have more intense experiences. Merely deceiving sex-workers may have eventually proven not to be as exiting and later led to a more violent outcome. All too often we read stories in the news and think “why didn’t someone say/do something earlier?”

    Lastly, if this individual was only interested in living out a fantasy or entertaining the men of the Internet, why collect a torrent of data from clients? This person had a professional site that collected the information of dozens, or perhaps hundreds, of potential clients personal information. Who knows how that information might be used by an individual such as this one.

    Prior to the “outing” many tried very reasonable avenues to educate others to be aware of Alexa and to convince “her” to stop, but very few listened because they weren’t given 100% undeniable proof and she was allowed to continue.

    Could there have been a better way? Possibly, but without at least some investigation and work done by those involved it may never have come to light, possibly to the detriment of more minors, sex-workers and clients.

    • October 30, 2010 at 7:09 am

      i keep seeing the word “may” and feel the need to reiterate that while all these accusations are “maybe’s,” the real time implications for the individual who has been publicly lambasted are *absolute.* we do not live in a country where individuals police each other; we’d all soon be dead if we did.

      could there have been a better way? absolutely. if people had slowed down, set aside their emotional reaction, and attempted to deal with the situation at hand… rationally. responsibly.

  21. October 29, 2010 at 11:30 pm

    THANK YOU for being the first well-known blog to post what i consider to be a rational thought process with regards to this unfortunate, absurd and irresponsible situation. i’m going to link to this on my blog!

    • October 30, 2010 at 12:22 am

      I read your blog. Very good post from a different point of view. Although I’m not sure I completely agree with your freedom of speech point, I can see it, and see the arguments for it.

      Ultimately though, as someone else commented, I think we better learn to be civil and behave ourselves before someone decides we need supervision here on the net, because then it really IS going to be a place with very little freedom. And I guess that is what it comes down to. What are we willing to pay for our freedom here? Is it worth one Alexa, two, three?

      See, I see my freedom on this blog and on twitter as a vitally valuable thing. So perhaps I am willing to suffer some deception and misbehaviour to keep it.

      • October 30, 2010 at 7:10 am

        thank you for reading! i too value my online freedom… and anonymity.

  22. ZeWitness
    November 1, 2010 at 12:56 am

    RG,

    I’ve let this sit for a week, but did want to contribute to this discussion.

    One of the things I’ve been appalled by in the past, as a participant in the “sex positive community”, is that for a community supposedly based on tolerance and understanding, it is filled with intolerance. I have seen “the torches and pitchforks” brought out against many people who had the bad grace to say the wrong thing at the wrong time to the wrong person.

    Now clearly we are talking about something more significant than poorly chosen words, however I think the mob mentality is over wrought. A man was pretending to be a woman in an online environment. It isn’t the first time and it won’t be the last. I have done it myself. It frankly isn’t hard.

    The fact is that in the online community, women get significantly more attention than men. If your motivation is to get attention, rather than try to enter into sexual relationships, then choosing a female persona is obvious.

    The vitriol of the reaction to this situation is based on the quality of the deception. Alexa was good enough at it to suck some people in well, she played to their desires and they bought it. The heat of the reaction comes from the depth of the deception. People say they are concerned about a predator, a pedophile, or some other social concern. But what they are really mad about it being fooled.

    They wanted her to be real, and can’t abide being shown to be gullible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *