I woke up this morning to discover this in my twitter feed:
RT @TheFakeEscort: Alexa di Carlo “really” a man named Thomas “Pat” Bohannan. Deets: http://exposeabro-alexa.blogspot.com
Since I was well aware of the controversy surrounding Alexa’s blog www.realprincessdiaries.com (now offline) was listed as the Between My Sheets top sex blog of 2010, I’m not surprised that things finally came tumbling down for Alexa. That level of notoriety often leads to the sort of scrutiny that filters the truth from the lies.
I’ll admit that when I first read the Real Princess Diaries, I bought into the story. The writing was really good, both in terms of the technical proficiency and the stories. I know a lot of real-life escorts are very careful to keep their online personnas separate from their personal lives, so it didn’t set off any immediate warning bells. Similarly, quite a few online sex writers work anonymously in order to avoid losing their jobs or other problems. Also, most of the how-to information was more or less accurate. Certainly, I’ve read plenty of worse sex advice from self-proclaimed sexperts, so the occasional inaccuracy didn’t really stand out to me. So I invited Alexa to participate in the Good Vibrations Sex Educator Profile Series and posted her profile.
However, last December, after reading an article on Carnal Nation and and talking/emailing/tweeting with quite a few people, I started doing a little digging. Part of what made this take a while is that different people had different pieces of the puzzle. I heard about Alexa’s attempts to infiltrate sex worker rights organizations from one person. I heard about how Alexa spent time on youth sex ed message boards and set up a now-defunct website from someone else. Then I discovered that the photos that were ostensibly of Alexa were lifted from a cam girl’s website. And then it occurred to me to check Redbook, a website devoted to advertising and reviewing sex workers. Even folks who don’t advertise on the site almost always have client reviews, so it was clearly suspicious that nobody had reviewed Alexa. Perhaps none of these, other than using someone else’s photos, would be enough to put it together, but when all of the pieces were laid out, it was clear that Alexa wasn’t who everyone thought she was and I removed her profile. For the details, click on the image above.
For the last year, I’ve been keeping track of the developments.Each time someone pointed out an inconsistency or something that cast doubt on something Alexa wrote, that blog post would suddenly disappear. Mostly, though, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. That happened this morning, when a site went up claiming to have the facts behind Alexa. It says that Alexa is a guy named Thomas “Pat” Bohannan. While I can’t vouch for the accuracy of everything there, I had been told last year that Alexa’s IP address came from Philadelphia, as described on the exposé site. I also knew that Alexa had been behind the website Caitlin’s Corner and had been banned form Student.com and Scarleteen.com, as described.
Alexa’s Fetlife profile has been mostly stripped, along with what appears to be another site run by the same person, The Sensual Exhibitionist. Here’s a screen capture of the site taken from Google’s cache. Longtime readers of Alexa will see that the background and writing style look pretty much the same. Remember- just because you delete something doesn’t mean it’s gone from the internet.
So what’s the big deal? Personally, I don’t care if someone wants to create an online fantasy personna. I don’t think it’s necessarily bad or unhealthy to explore the different facets of our psyches by writing stories. A lot of people do it and have fun with it. And a lot of people read these stories and enjoy them. For that matter, I don’t even care when people give anonymous sex advice. Some of it is accurate and some of it really isn’t, but I figure it’s up to the reader to do due diligence when researching anything online.
But I do take exception when someone creates false credentials in order to dupe the gullible. I worked hard to get a doctorate in sex education and many of my colleagues, whether they have academic credentials or not, have dedicated years of their lives to learn about sexuality in order to provide good information. I feel a lot of anger when someone pretends to have done the work in order to make it seem as if they know what they’re talking about.
It also upsets me when people misrepresent sex work. Usually, people make it seem as if it’s much a much worse career than it might be, especially when they want to ban it. But it’s also problematic when people glorify it because it creates a misrepresentation of the challenges and difficulties that sex workers face. In turn, this romanticizes the profession and makes it more likely that people will decide to try it out without knowing how to protect themselves. Plus, sex workers have always struggled with people who talk about them without listening to them. The motto “not about us without us” fits here- if you’re not a sex worker, don’t spout off about what it’s like. Listen to sex workers and be an ally without speaking for other people. They can speak for themselves.
Is “Alexa” gone for good? Maybe. But dealing with things like this on the internet is like playing whack-a-mole. If this guy (or whoever is behind Alexa) doesn’t start another site, someone else will. And I’m sure that no matter what the evidence, some people will refuse to believe it, perhaps because they hoped that the fantasy was real or because it’s hard to admit when you’ve been duped. In either case, I’m glad that the truth is coming out and I’m looking forward to seeing how this develops.