May 082012
 

Some of you know, but most do not, how difficult it is to be a presenter in the “Alt Sex” community. Folks see me running all over the USA, Canada and Europe and assume I must be making lots of money.

Well…no.

Most conferences don’t pay speakers. Some will at least cover a hotel room and travel costs if THEY consider you to be a “big name.” Most people are happy to get into a con for free in exchange for presenting a class or two. Some of us have thrown ourselves wholesale into this madness, and want to make this our lives.

And that shit is tough.  Because most event producers see the classes as a free / cheap way to get asses in the door.

The venue has to be paid, you need to print stuff. Who can we exploit? Oh yeah…well, it is an honor to be invited to present. Get presenters to work for free.  And No please don’t lay on me that you’re a “Non-Profit.” I have drawn salaries from non-profit organizations. Being non-profit means

nonprofit organization (NPO) is an organization that uses surplus revenues to achieve its goals rather than to distribute them as profit or dividends.

Making sure you get the very best information presented by the very best information bringers is a bloody goal. Don’t have enough money to fly in a presenter? Up your ticket price by $10. Get a sponsor to pay for the programs in exchange for banner ads.

People who host sexual lifestyle conferences and do not pay presenters or even cover travel and lodging effectively make it impossible for working class / poor people to present. How the hell does that promote “inclusiveness?”

I’ve stood at cons and seen wealthy white men lauded for their “contributions: to the community,” and listened to glowing descriptions of how wonderful they are for never “taking money to present.” Which is lovely…when you are an executive, or independently wealthy, and a part of the extant power structure.  I had to laugh when, in one of these situations, the person being lauded (and mind, you, this is someone who puts a LOT of time into the Community) works for an airline and therefore never had to pay for their travel. That salient point was omitted.

I’m working hard to make it my business to help people live fulfilling sexual lives. Economically marginalized people do not often receive representation in the rarefied world of “sex education” or the alternative lifestyle. Alt Ed is clearly more easily obtained by middle / upper-middle class /wealthy white folks. And bringing people from wider socio-economic backgrounds does not seem to be the purview or priority of the people who DO have the power to do so, and that is a bloody shame. This poor Black woman has a lot to contribute, and she is getting very very VERY fucking tired of excuses, poor business models and yes, flat out LIES to justify my working for free, or PAYING to work!

Yeah I played the race card. You know why? Because it matters and unless you have been living in Trump Tower you are aware that race, class and money are writhing in a seething, seedy, sticky lumpy bed all together and it ain’t pretty.

When you say “We are not gong to pay you or even cover your expenses.” what I hear is “We do not value your expertise and contributions enough to make this happen, but we will use your name and work to further our goals.”

So why should you pay me?  You should pay me because I’m worth it. Because I am a member of the community and by supporting me you are supporting the community. You should pay me because I have some notoriety, and you can use that to your advantage. Because I’m smart, funny, and I talk to people with respect. I listen with empathy and dedication. You should pay me because, if you try, you can. You should pay be because I have 38 years of experience as an entertainer, and I bring it. Because I write, walk, eat, live and breathe this material. You should pay me because there are events, venues and conferences who respect me, and themselves, enough to do so.

Yep, OK. Rant over.

Now excuse me…I have to go edit one of the 3 books I’m working on before studying my lines and then running in to SF to teach a class.

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  11 Responses to “Why you should pay me.”

  1. YES! To everything you just said. Ok, I’m a white girl but yes to getting paid for being a teacher/entertainer. You and I have had this conversation. What most producers don’t understand is you are not just teaching (2) 1.5 hour classes. From the moment you step outside the hotel room you are “ON”. What producers are paying for is YOU – your being available for people at any time of day or night during that conference/event to answer questions, listen to stories,and promote their event. It’s more than just the 3-6 hours of class time; it’s usually a 16 hour day. Times that by 3 (shoot, hold on, need the damn calculator) that is 48 hours. Ok, ok…we’ll be nice and say only 12 hour days. What is your rate per hour? $200? $300? Let’s be super generous and say $150. $150 x 36 = $5400!!! PLUS your name being used to bring in attendees = plus an additional 50 people x registration $150. That is an extra $7500.
    So let me get this straight for almost $35K producers are only willing to shell out $150 registration and $100 meal ticket. Maybe they will throw in hotel so to be generous I’ll add another $400. Hrmmm…let’s do the math shall we? $650 vs $12,900. That is over a $12,000 revenue to the producers!!!
    So yes, I have a hard time understanding why conferences can’t shell out a $300 airline ticket to bring in a big name. I have an even harder time understanding the attitude of somehow as a presenter you need to be fucking grateful for the “opportunity” to be exploited.
    People in the community scream for more education, for “real” people who live this lifestyle authentically and with integrity. Well that costs money too. Living real and authentic means looking at our inner demons, dealing with life has it crashes over us, and doing the work. That costs. Whether it be to pay the therapist, or tap into our support network, or the gym membership or the dozen kleenex boxes.
    Master has taught me a wonderful concept – reciprocity. If you want what I’m bringing and I am bringing, then come to the table with something that will match my worth.
    Love you Mo!

  2. Things are a little different here in Australia.. Presenters are remunerated for their time/experience for teaching workshops, and that’s the way I feel it should be.

    Local events = presentation fee. This depends on the number of attendees, and the number of workshops/presentations you would be leading over the course of the event.

    Interstate events = flights, accommodation + a fee. This also depends on the above listed. However if our travel costs are covered, then I feel the presentation fee may be negotiated. You should not have to be ‘out of pocket’ to teach at an event.

    I know from our previous visits to the US, that this is not how it is. We love visiting and teaching in the US, and for us we make it into a holiday. There is no way we could cover the $6000 in airfares (for 3xDV8’s), we would have to be there for much longer than our time allowed to even make a dent in that. But that for us is a pleasure, although not one that can be too regular.. If we are requested to visit and teach in a particular community whilst overseas, I try to at least cover the costs of the extra flights.

    It is not something that is openly talked about, so who sets a ‘standard’.. How do you educate the presenters, events and communities to be more aware..

    A friend of mine in New Zealand is a circus performer – and we had a great chat about performance fees and the like. The performers themselves have taken control of the situation. They are open and honest about their fees, and have standard fees. If it is known that someone is charging and/or being paid less to perform, they performance community approaches said performer or event organiser.

    I understand New Zealand is a much smaller that the United States – and I just don’t see how you can educate the masses *sigh*

    And you are right, events and communities need to RESPECT their teachers, how else would they learn all this really cool stuff :-)

    Lani x

    • Hey Lani,

      I’m in Australia too and things aren’t actually that much different. Case in point: 2 events I was involved with in the past week, both in the same state but interstate for me.

      Event 1: Seemingly grassroots but organised and facilitated by people who are well used to paying and charging hundreds of dollars on sex-education-type stuff. Participants had to pay an entry fee AND a separate accommodation fee whether they were camping or bunking, as well as an extra fee for having meat in their meals AND extra for the airport shuttle. Presenters only got free entry; everything else had to be paid for by the presenter. No fees were paid to the presenter and no expenses were covered. I nearly missed the shuttle because they booked it to leave just before my flight would arrive, meaning that I would have to navigate public transport for 2 hours on my own just to get to the mystery venue. (I had already informed them of my travel plans way in advance, they never consulted me about the shuttle, I was going to be the ONLY presenter that missed out, and they just went “oh I hope you understand it would cost most” blah blah. Thankfully my flight arrived early so I made it to the shuttle in the nick of time. By the time I arrived at the gates I was already rather annoyed, and I felt very unsupported w very little communication the whole time.

      Event 2: University sex & consent week; they found out about my workshop from Event 1’s page. Offered to pay fees, and allowed me to claim my fees in advance so that I could cover cost. Very communicative. At one point they sent an email to performers and presenters saying that while some of them had opted not to be paid, they still wanted to pay them anyway and offered an honorarium. No one had to pay to be a participant or audience member.

      I’ve often found (across industries) that it’s the big names that are unwilling to pay you – they expect you to “be grateful” – while the smaller groups that are probably skint on money are more willing, adamant even, to compensate you.

  3. I’ve worked in non-profits all my life. A non-profit status is a tax identification, not a business plan. Non-profits employ 10.7 million people in this country, twice as many as in finance and insurance. I have limited patience and very little respect for people who claim that non-profit status forgives them from being responsible community members.

  4. I just turned off adblock so I could check. You’ve got advertisements on your blog.

    Yay. You’re being paid. :-)

  5. You are so right on the money. I may be white, but am not well off….actually at this point am unemployed. Because of this, while I have good stuff to share with the community, am limited by the money in the bank to pay my expenses as I am not yet known enough to even get conference registrations paid for me. Though, that is slowly, notice the word SLOWLY, changing. Not sure how to effect a change, just know something needs to change in order for those of use that have good things to share get the opportunity to share and grow as educators ourselves.

  6. Hey, Mo:

    I agree: you should be paid.

    I have a question for you, though. I’ve never presented at an event before, but I’ve been tossing around the idea of submitting a session proposal.

    I’m not well-known in BDSM circles. I’m also really fortunate: I have a profession I really like, so I don’t really have the same goals that you do when it comes to presenting and teaching — I don’t intend or even want to make a living at it.

    Since I’m an unknown, I figure that if I did submit a session proposal and it got accepted, I wouldn’t be getting paid.

    My question is: is my volunteering to do stuff for free negatively impacting your ability to get paid, and if so, what course of action do you think I should take?

    • I wouldn’t let relative unknown status stop you from asking for payment (even if it’s just to cover expenses) if they are paying presenters in general.

    • Hi Lily!

      This is a really good question. When I first started presenting, I did so for free because I figured I would have to “pay my dues,” I had a desk job, and I could afford to travel once in a while, too. Once I got to the point where people were seeking me out and asking me to present, I shifted my model to present when my expenses were covered. As I gained notoriety and time in the trenches, I requested fees. There are always gonna be people who are newer, or who can afford to pay and present, or who do it occasionally because they enjoy it. And I think that is an important part of keeping costs in line. Where it gets dicey is when people start thinking “Hm. I can get a lot people for free, why should I pay ANYONE?” And the why is because different people bring different value and different capacities. I have many years doing kinky shit. SO that’s a factor. However, even a newly minted pervert might be able ot step up and say “You should pay me, too.” Let’s say a therapist, who is new to kink but a licensed trauma specialist is invited to a con to talk about processing trauma in a scene. Their newness in kink has to be balanced with their external experience. So I think there is room at the table for everyone of all financial abilities. I just hope that this helps steer people towards greater awareness and better transparency!

  7. […] a lot of discussion going on about money and presenters. See Mollena and Andrea Zanin, who both posted this week and have sparked many discussions on their blogs, […]

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