(Christina Parreira) – I woke up Saturday to a concerned text from my friend Mitchell Sunderland, an editor at large at Penthouse. I logged onto Twitter to see what fresh hell awaited me, and there it was: a tweet from Kate Aurthur, the chief Los Angeles correspondent for BuzzFeed News, featuring a photo of me and Tucker Carlson that I had posted.
Her tweet read, “Remember @TuckerCarlson’s lecture during the height of family separation in June about how the left doesn’t care about family values? Well, I’m not one to kink shame, but here he is with a sex worker. Go Tucker?”
In the photo, I am playfully kissing him on the cheek as he turns away laughing. What Kate failed to mention is that we were attending the Nov. 3, 2018 funeral of Dennis Hof, the legendary Nevada brothel owner and showman, and close mutual friend of both Tucker and myself.
The day the photograph was taken was an incredibly difficult one for me. Dennis was not only a former boss (at this time I was no longer employed by the brothels) but also a mentor and a close friend. He was family. I had his initial, D, tattooed on my middle finger, a few days after his death as a reminder to try and believe in myself the way he had believed in me.
I met Dennis after approaching him about the research I hoped to conduct for my doctoral dissertation as a student in the department of sociology at University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He was the only brothel owner who would give me a chance, and threw his doors open to me after I made the bold choice to work for him as a means of access to the data I was after. My research would not have been possible were it not for Dennis.
Dennis had introduced me to Tucker’s television program. We were getting ready to do some media and he said, “You have to check this guy out––he’s great!” The first clip he showed me was Tucker’s “Campus Craziness,” a show segment about how the PC thought police are destroying academia. As someone in academia, I knew it all too well, and became an immediate fan of Carlson’s show. Dennis assured me that one day I would meet Tucker, and although I had hoped for a very different sort of meeting, I approached Tucker confident that Dennis would be furious if I missed my chance to say hello.
There was nothing salacious or inappropriate about this moment with Carlson. It was a celebrity taking a few minutes out of his day to make a fan feel good. I approached Tucker and told him what a huge fan I was, and he was kind enough to say yes to a photo. It was nothing more and nothing less. When I offered to buy him a drink, he declined. He had a club soda instead.
I sat with Tucker and Mitchell and we shared stories about our late friend. We were three people from diverse backgrounds coming together to remember a man who touched all our lives. I asked Mitchell if he would take a photo of Tucker and I. After taking the first silly one that Aurthur irresponsibly grasped onto, we took a second “normal” photo, both smiling and facing the camera.
Mitchell texted both photos to me and I was delighted. Afterwards, Tucker headed to the airport and flew back to Washington, D.C. I remember musing that he probably wouldn’t even get a chance to sleep before his show, and that he was a good friend to Dennis to travel all that way to pay his respects.
Yes, it is true that I am a sex worker and that I once worked in a legal brothel. However, I was not there as a sex worker that day. I was simply a friend in mourning. Everyone present had come to celebrate Dennis’ extraordinary life.
I am proud to be a sex worker, but I am not defined simply by what I do to pay the bills. It’s interesting how, again and again, the supposedly feminist left takes women and reduces them to nothing but their job title, is it not? It’s no wonder that so many embrace the term “fake news,” and that so few trust the media.
Aurthur threw together a reckless tweet, without checking the context, in an effort to garner clickbait. It can happen to any of us. Imagine waking up to see a misinformed and callous “journalist” with a chip on her shoulder maligning an innocent moment at a funeral, and having no recourse.
Some people angrily tweeted me accusing me of disrespecting Carlson’s family. I am also married and have nothing but respect for him and his family. Quite frankly, I am stunned that I should have to write this piece to explain myself.
I hope this episode serves as a lesson to Aurthur and her ilk, but I doubt it. She immediately blocked me when I attempted to explain the circumstances. We deserve better from journalists, and I am getting tired of one “fake news” hit piece after another. Do better.
Christina Parreira, M.A. is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She’s been studying legal Nevada brothels since 2014 and manages sex worker outreach at Trac-B Exchange, Las Vegas’ first syringe exchange. This column was originally published by The Federalist on February 24, 2019.