Alexa DiCarlo, Anonymity and Sex

Pic via The Frisky

Yesterday afternoon my inbox brimmed with emails asking about the real identity of, as  Tasty Trixie put it, a faux ho blogger.

Basic story: A sex-worker/blogger writing under the name Alexa DiCarlo is getting some serious shit over stealing a soft-core porn performers pics to posting as her own and possibly not being an actual sex worker. Everyone is scrambling to point fingers and figure out the real identity of Alexa DiCarlo. She claimed in her posts to be studying in my graduate program (Sexuality Studies at SF State) and seems to have lifted information from the department profile of a fellow male graduate student.

For the record: there is no way this person is affiliated with my department. She knows a fair amount about sexuality studies but she constructed a syllabus of the History of Sexuality without including writings from Michel Foucault [Thanks Zoey for the cache link to Alexa’s syllabus post]. History of Sexuality: An Introduction is one of the first sexual theory texts first year students read. No-one would leave Michel Foucault out of a basic sexuality reading list. This is tantamount to discussing the history of social labor movements without reading Karl Marx. Fail lady, fail.

I don’t know who this person is and the only thing I care about is that she is falsely claiming intellectual territory in Sexuality Studies at my university. Back off. Go fake yourself a life somewhere else.

What fascinates me is the myriad of ways humans behave behind the curtain of internet anonymity. We are free to create entire lives for ourselves, either wrought from our own imaginations or pieced together with the plundered  bits of others. Game worlds like Second Life exist for this very indulgence. Create yourself without limits.

Oddly, we tend to represent ourselves accurately on our internet profiles. This is one reason for the major backlash against writers like Alexa DiCarlo or even James Frey. We feel affronted when we accept another’s lie as truth.

Authenticity is important in our world, but especially important with sex. Transmen and especially transwomen discuss fears of others “outing” them. Gwen Araujo murderers defended their horrific actions by claiming a her “misrepresentation” caused their blind violent rage. A student who is a transgirl expressed this fear by saying, “Before I have my surgery I have to tell everyone I’m not really a girl. I don’t want to end up dead because people think I lied.”

The blogger shitstorm surrounding Alexa centers, in part, around her inauthentic sex worker claims. Other sex workers are angry that she appropriated another sex worker’s photographs and posted them as her own. Hence the term “faux ho”.

I admit that I would never devote so much energy into creating a false online persona. But I am sure many of us, at some point, indulged in fake sexual selves online. When I was 13 I used the internet for two things: 1) ordering bootleg tapes of my favorite performers and 2) engaging in cyber sex.

I never masturbated while cybering. The thought did not cross my mind. My delight came from the seemingly consequence-free playtime and sexual exploration. On IRCs I could play sexual hide and seek, touch other people, take off my clothes and nothing bad could happen to me. Everything prohibited in the real world was mine to experience online. No cultural prohibitions could restrain my sexual imagination.

In this light, maybe Alexa deserves a bit of sympathy because she may be engaging in games of self-invention that everyone else likes to play. She’s just really, really committed to that fantasy.

19 thoughts on “Alexa DiCarlo, Anonymity and Sex”

  1. Heading out the door, but I REALLY APPRECIATE THIS. Too many people are ignoring that she’s a faux educator/academic who targets teen audiences and a content thief, among other things, because they’re so busy talking about the “ho” part of the equation and her fantastical stories.

    I am so glad you took the time to read and respond from a different perspective than most of us have who are angry about her. I can’t say “thank you” enough.

  2. Good piece, and a needed addition to the whole mess The internet can be a strange place, if I may add my two cents. (This is the same “namelesschaos” that commented on the Tasty Trixie article.) I’m one of Alexa’s many victims, I was a big reader of her blog and I will say this I *want* to be mad at Alexa, I *want* to feel righteous indignation, but ultimately I can’t. I’m actually madder at myself for not being able to get mad at her, than I am actually mad at her. (Did that last sentence make sense?) There are two reasons for this:

    First, to be honest her blog has helped me explore my own sexuality. I will freely admit I was conned but I consider the con to be a blessing; Alexa DiCarlo is fake but the beneficial effect she has had on me is real. Yes, I’m aware that the whole fake sex educator thing makes this very very disturbing, which is again why I’m mad at my own inability to get mad. (Is there a term for this? If not there should be).

    Secondly, as your last line said. How different is she really from I. The “chaos” you see in front of you is an online persona after all; I don’t consider mine fake the way “Alexa” clearly is, just an aspect of me I can’t show the world at large, but never the less is the motivation for whoever created “Alexa” that different from what drove me to create “chaos”?

    At the end of the day this is a fascinating case wouldn’t you agree? In being so insanely commented to the fantasy there is something, crazy, sad and yet inspirational in all of it.

    Anyway hopefully my nonsense ramblings added something.

  3. Lovely read and much appreciated. Again i must say it’s interesting how experts in their fields (for lack of a better term) Strippers, Escorts, Sexual Studies Students, etc all seem to say the same thing… when she writes about MY field it doesn’t ring true. Maggie Mayhem brought it up in her thoughts on the subject, when she talked about anal sex and how that was something she, Maggie knew a lot about and how this persons writings on the subject didn’t ring true with her.

    its the common thread…. Nothing rings true. It’s fiction, make believe, fantasy.

  4. I’ve been hearing about this topic of from tons of people and, I’ll admit, while it’s certainly morbidly fascinating I can’t seem to care a whole lot. Maybe that’s because I can easily say “I’m not a sex worker.” This post on the issue seems the most sensical and insightful. Thank you for writing it. 🙂

    When I was a teenager, I also created false personas online in order to have an environment with no direct physical risk in which to explore sex and sexuality. Doing that was exceptionally important to me. It was a fundamental and critical tipping point in my learning how to be respectful of my own and of others’ peoples sexual expressions.

    I imagine that the frustration against Alexa is that many people believe that, while her words are informed, they’re founded on an inauthenticity that makes it easy to throw everything else—the bad and the good—into question.

    When I was a teenager creating a false identity online to safely explore my sexuality, I was mindful of maintaining a purposefully limited sphere of influence among others; my false identity was intended only for me and my exploration . Alexa, on the other hand, seems to be actively attempting to increase her sphere of influence. But when the underlying identity is false, pushing one’s influence out into the world isn’t really kosher in my book.

    Especially when it comes to the contentious issues of sex, we really, really don’t need more lies.

  5. I agree with much of what MayMay said. My feeling is that whoever “Alexa” is, he/she is someone who is not very experienced in real-world sexuality, but who is intelligent and well-read. He/she wants to join in the general dialogue about sex online, but feels insecure about doing so from a “novice” identity. Thus, they have created the persona of Alexa.

    The picture-stealing thing IS annoying to those of us who either model or shoot, and who know how much work it takes to create a good image. However, I know most people don’t really see that as a mortal sin. So I think spending a lot of time on the subject of copyright infringement distracts from the main issue.

    And the main issue is: you can say you’re anyone you want online, and yes, as long as it’s clearly just for entertainment, there’s no real harm done.

    It’s when one starts trying to influence other people’s behavior, and encouraging people to get really emotionally invested in your persona – that’s when this sort of thing goes wrong.

  6. I don’t know many people who *haven’t* created false online personas for fun, including the more specific fun of trying on different sexual selves. But, as Maymay and Mistress Matisse (and you, Sexademic!) have said, it doesn’t seem right to aggressively promote that imagined self as an expert on issues that could result in harm to others. On many occasions, Alexa gave advice to non-sex workers who wanted to get into escorting, and that scares me. To have someone who doesn’t know anything substantial about the business advising another person equally ignorant is a great recipe for problems with bad clients, police, etc. The fact that she saw fit to create a Sex Worker Code of Ethics is also troubling and insulting to real workers.

    I’m so glad there’s been some positive debate and reflection to come out of this, including Dr. Charlie Glickman retracting his endorsement of her as a “sex educator,” and I’m sorry that poor Richard Garcia and BluEyedCass (who I do not believe is behind the Alexa persona) got dragged into something this strange.

    Thanks for clearing up/stemming off confusion with this post

  7. I find this “Alexa” thing to be rather amusing.
    The topic just seems to be popping up everywhere.
    Also, noticed that her blog page is “offline” until further notice.

  8. hey everyone–

    i’m a sex worker/grad student desperately trying to finish my thesis about stripping and identity formation, and some of the discourse emerging around the alexa debate fills a crucial hole in my argument. i need some sources, though: anyone got links to articles/posts specifically dealing with: mainstream sex work debate/academia’s lack of acknowledgment of sex work bloggers, current criticisms of sex work bloggers as disempowered, or that blogging allows us sex workers to express liminality in an otherwise polarized debate? i’m also very interested in making the point that blogging, specifically that of sex workers, marks an important step in dismantling the hierarchy of knowledge production within academic literature.

    any and all ideas would help at this point. i’m at a loss, and this debate just became my ticket to ride. link to my blog is below, please email or comment with any ideas. sorry to be whiny. i’m trying to take my shite to the academic level, yo!

    love and lapdances,


  9. Nova: I have thought about this a lot, especially the following quote from you:

    “i’m also very interested in making the point that blogging, specifically that of sex workers, marks an important step in dismantling the hierarchy of knowledge production within academic literature.”

    I’m sad to report that there is minimal research on sex worker identities. Funding goes to people studying global sex trafficking, so anything written about strippers, escorts, pro-dommes, etc. is absent. i recently saw a call for papers on sex work to fill this gap.

    Email me privately (contact info is in booking info section of my blog) and I can hook you up with resources. If you can hold off for a week or so that would be best. I’m in the midst of prepping a 500 person event this weekend.

    To everyone else that commented/started reading my blog recently: Thank You! I’m so happy to expand readership!

    P.S. Mistress Matisse! I have been reading your blog on and off for years. I almost choked when I saw that you commented. Thank you.

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