A few months ago, my ever-wise friend DH suggested I take a look at JulieMeadows.com.
Now, I was already familiar with the Julie Meadows of yore â€“ a beautiful blonde adult performer with a kittenish face and signature beauty mark.Â She had worked from the late 1990s through the early/mid-2000s; but I had no idea what sheâ€™d been up to lately, so I went to JulieMeadows.com as suggested…
…and there I met Lydia Lee.
(pictured: meet Lydia Lee!!)
Lydia Lee is Julie Meadowsâ€™ real name, and JulieMeadows.com is where Lydia shares her art, writing, and thoughts about so many things. I began reading with great interest tales of knitting, â€œLunch in the Valley,â€ â€œWeird and Gross People,â€ The Undergirl, and Doug (among many others) â€“ I had a lot of catching up to do!!
…and I noticed pretty quickly that there was one thing in particular that really compelled Lydia: Shelley Lubben and, by proxy, Pink Cross Foundation.
For various reasons, Lydia Lee is one of Shelley Lubben et alâ€™s most passionate critics.Â Consequently, she and producing partner Michael Whiteacre have nearly completed The Devil and Shelley Lubben, which promises to be an unflinching look at and a thorough debunking of Lubben and her affiliate organization.
Lydia took some time out to chat with me about her history in adult production, her current projects, and where she may be headed next.Â Read on!!
First off Lydia, thank you so much for taking the time out to do this interview. I imagine you and Michael are working â€˜round the clock â€“ I do appreciate you taking the time out.Â
So, to get us started, can you tell me a little bit about how you went from Julie Meadows, performer, to Lydia Lee, film producer and bloggess extraordinaire?
â€œWell, I performed in adult movies from 1998 to 2004, roughly. I was also an exotic dancer before that from 1994 to 1998, and I feature danced as an adult film actress while I was a contract star for VCA. What is that? Ten years in the sex industry? Wow.
In 2009 I started my blog with a revamped website around it.Â The intent was to pay homage to my adult career, but my friend Jonathan Appel encouraged me to write more and that turned into ideas about shooting video and learning how to edit.
After I began interviewing models for a series I called On the Couch with Lydia Lee,* JonÂ told me he wanted to make a documentary with me. He was a documentary filmmaker at that time and had just won the Audience Choice Award at the Friars Club Comedy Film Festival in New York in 2009 for his film Souled Out Comedy, an insightful look at African-American comedians trying to make it with a clean sense of humor.
He was moved by my compassion for sex workers, my innocent questions, and my genuine curiosity, so we began filming in February 2010. Unfortunately, Jon isnâ€™t with us anymore, but my friend Michael Whiteacre and I are going to complete it together.
(pictured: Lydia and a recent tribute to her friend Jon)
But, aside from filming, I use my blog to talk about the adult industry, sex issues, human rights, and womenâ€™s issues, which in turn has evolved into becoming a vocal activist on different fronts.
So essentially, JulieMeadows.com has transformed from an homage to your former performer self to a activist space drawing attention to all sorts of human rights and social-justice related issues? Thatâ€™s amazing!!
Given that, can you tell me a little about your formative years? Certainly this tendency to fight injustice didnâ€™t just come about all of a suddenâ€¦
Well, Iâ€™m a Texas gal, and small town life growing up was simple and relatively quiet. I have three sisters, and we pretty much ran amuck in the neighborhood. We had funâ€¦ but I always hung out with guys because they seemed more basic in nature and interesting to talk to.
I tried to hang out with a girlie-girl from school once, in third grade I think, and she wanted to play with dolls. I just remember being so bored. And then, as we were walking pink strollers down the street in front of her house with these fake baby dolls in them, it began to rain though the sun was still out. She looked up and said â€˜That means the devil is whipping his daughter.â€™ I just remember thinking â€˜That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard in my life. I am never hanging out with this person again!!â€™
Ha!! So, not your typical girl and somewhat incredulous from an early ageâ€¦
Definitely, and I was a writer at an early age too. It began when my best friend, Minh, a Vietnamese girl, moved to New Jersey. We wrote these really long letters to each other, and Iâ€™ve been collecting pen pals ever since.
Awww thatâ€™s so cute – little budding writer since childhood!!
Yes, except that I really donâ€™t see myself as ever having been a child. Thatâ€™s not a bad thing; I was just always very serious-minded. My mother told me that she talked to me from a very young age about her problems. In fact, I can remember her telling me very intimate things that I probably shouldnâ€™t have been able to understand, but did, when I was very young… maybe five years old. I can see how that helped transform me into a curious and avid listener, and I am extremely fascinated by human nature.
Thatâ€™s so interesting â€“ I wonder if she ever had any idea you â€˜understood,â€™ being so young and all? So, from a young age you were interested in listening to the tales of othersâ€¦
Yes, but I loved adventure too and I got into some pretty hairy predicaments from time to time.Â Regardless, though, I never stopped observing. I never stopped and thought â€˜Oh my life is so horrible. Oh, wonâ€™t someone save me?â€™ I donâ€™t judge real problem situations, nor do I really register being afraid â€“ a tornado could be coming towards me, and Iâ€™d never stop evaluating the experience. I think my writerâ€™s mind is always figuring how any experience could be turned into a compelling story.
Wow, you must have been an English teacherâ€™s dream!!
Actually I wasnâ€™t interested in school, so I did run from that at every chance. For some reason I donâ€™t like teachers and I never could relate to other kids my age, so most of the things I know are self-taught. Iâ€™m a workaholic, and Iâ€™m also a hermit.
Ahhh you say that like those might be â€˜badâ€™ things â€“ productivity rules!! But returning to your social justice tendencies, was there anyone in particular that you admired or who inspired you to really fight inequality and the like?
I really looked up to my dad, who was a police officer for several years, and I admired his outspokenness towards injustices. He was a good man and one of the rare people one would actually call a â€˜good copâ€™ in that he never bent the rules in his favor… although it didnâ€™t prevent him from cleaning his guns when boys came over haha!!
Dads. You gotta love â€˜em!Â OK so we have a creative, adventurous young Lydia who marches to the beat of her own drum â€“ what happened next?
Well I met a man and fell in love in 1990, and a year later we married and moved to Dallas, Texas. I gave birth to my son twelve months later, and we both worked odd jobs and struggled for a while. He was hurt in a car accident while working driving a tow truck, so we were on welfare for a bit.
Oh god (accident)â€¦
During that time, I found that exotic dancing was a great moneymaking option, but more than that it was fun to dance and laugh and exist in a party atmosphere. I donâ€™t think people really understand that dancing in Texas, compared to other places, is a luxury. I honestly miss Texas from time to time just because the people are typically oozing with friendliness.
Iâ€™m not sure the dancing part was really that â€˜exotic,â€™ but I loved it. Something about being under the colored lights and swaying to a song I really loved made me feel good. I love music, so I was always very meticulous about picking the right song and then getting lost in the melody (as opposed to strutting up and down the stage just posing).
(pictured: Lydia as Julie Meadows)
Oh Texas and its friendliness, I love it so!! Ok, so how did you then make the jump from â€˜exoticâ€™ dancing to adult?
My entrance into adult movies happened after I met a director in a Dallas club and then met with him at his office to discuss performing work. My husband loved the idea, of course, but I was taking small acting jobs at the time, while also going to acting classes. I took drama, commercial acting, theatreâ€¦ I went to a weekly actors showcase at a modest Italian restaurant called Pazzo Menteâ€™s.
I enjoyed performing but was not convinced I could pull of being a sex vixen. I just wasnâ€™t sure I had it in me, but after considering how much I loved acting, how much we enjoyed California when we visited the year before, and how good the money was, I decided Iâ€™d take a chance on finding out.
â€¦and so there you were â€“ what was it like for you?
Well, Iâ€™d say I had a great run because I learned the industry very quickly and surrounded myself with the kindest people. I gravitated towards higher budget movies with scripts and select casting. But I eventually tired of the industry and divorced my husband because, though we were good friends and never fought, I could see how our decisions together were not very sound.
How do you mean, exactly?
Up until 2002 we had done all the things we wanted to do, minus his making music. He loved playing music so I really pushed for him to be able to pursue a musical career, but he produced very positive upbeat rock-n-roll that hadnâ€™t been popular since the early 90s. Anyway, he wanted to move to a small town north of San Diego, and I couldnâ€™t see our lives being anything other than my saying â€˜yesâ€™ to everything he wanted and him taking me for granted. I spoil the people I love because I love them, but usually at the expense of my own happiness.
Of course, it never occurred to me to stop taking care of my family, so I transitioned from movies into escort work. That took its toll on me because itâ€™s not legal. I could have done that kind of work for a long time had I had rights and protection, but the constant feeling of unfairness about it and always thinking about how I would defend myself if I needed to put a lot of strain on my mind and emotions.
Knowing that the job was so judged and that, as kind as I was, others saw me as deserving of jail time alongside people who steal from others or take peoplesâ€™ livesâ€¦ well that left a significant mark on me.
(pictured: Lydia as Julie Meadows)
Wow. I understand your passion for sex worker rights activism so much more nowâ€¦ Our cultureâ€™s dis/regard and simultaneous rabid consumption of sex workers is beyond confoundingâ€¦ I think it does real damage to the women and men who actually perform the labor.
Yeahâ€¦ I donâ€™t think itâ€™s logical or fair at all how sex workers are treated. Beauty in America (and possibly in most other places) is considered a sort of natural talent. The fact is, an attractive person is equally worshipped and punished just for being good-looking.
Whether a woman chooses sex work or working her way up the corporate ladder, physical appearance is evaluated and is an overly emphasized attribute. It would be nice to see people judge less with their eyes and more with their hearts. The way we abuse women, disregard men in sexual conversation, and punish sex is very strange to me.
I couldnâ€™t agree with you more Lydia. These types of things occurring in a supposedly rational world are almost impossible for me to wrap my head aroundâ€¦ But tell me about Doug â€“ you seem to be in a much different place today, and he seems to be a big part of it.
I met my current husband Doug in 2005. We got along right away and married that same year. He has been a great influence on getting me think of myself first before leaping to help others.
Heâ€™s a genius, actually tests at genius levels, so he can speak endlessly about many things.Â He is also one of the kindest people Iâ€™ve ever met. He got my website back for me in 2004 along with several other domains with my performing name attached to them, and he has always encouraged my writing. He loves it, though he is really tired of reading about Shelley Lubbenâ€¦ and I do not blame him at all!!
He sounds fantastic (and funny)!! â€¦and so, speaking of Shelley Lubben, can you tell me a little bit about this big project you are working on?
Right now the big project is my and Michael Whiteacreâ€™s exposÃ© on Shelley Lubben entitled The Devil and Shelley Lubben. I have been doing my own research on Lubben since the end of 2009, so when Michael asked me if I wanted to collaborate on this with him, I jumped at the chance. In a way itâ€™s been very easy â€“ thereâ€™s so much footage of Lubben speaking and being interviewed. She has made our research a breeze.
(pictured: Lydia and Doug at their wedding in 2005)
Well thank goodness for small miracles, you know ;)Â So, what exactly is the film about?
Essentially, itâ€™s the truth behind the fantasy of Pink Cross Foundation. It chronicles Shelley Lubbenâ€™s life, specifically how she has gone from someone in the adult industry (who was probably weeded out because she was a hardened criminal and strung out on drugs) to embellishing her story for the purpose of attaining what she wasnâ€™t able to achieve in the mid 90s â€“ porn stardom.
Sheâ€™s obsessed with sex and porn, and sheâ€™s obsessed with fame. Sheâ€™s a predator who has found a way to package porn and present it to the Christian masses, even when there are children present. Sexual predator or spiritual predator â€“ on the basis of everything we have uncovered about her, sheâ€™s still a predator.
Wow, from what you say, The Devil and Shelley Lubben may well be Pink Cross Foundation’s final curtain callâ€¦ Is that the goal? What do you hope to accomplish with the film?
I would like to see Lubben get psychiatric treatment for her disorders and not prey on people, including her own children. [Her daughter] Tiffany is referred to as the â€˜trick babyâ€™ several times, and I’m pretty sure one of her other daughters is featured in a really sick postcard she handed out at the UCLA panel discussion.
I would like her to see what sheâ€™s doing realistically. I would like for her to see how she is hurting and damaging people by talking about herself and her sick past constantly. If she could get away with adding gruesome details of torture and murder and cannibalism to her story, Iâ€™m sure she would.
Canâ€™t say that I disagree with you there, but how is it that she became so disconnected from reality? Maybe sheâ€™s always been like thisâ€¦
Well the problem with getting input from lots of fans only is that their adoration prevents one, in this case Lubben, from hearing any honest critiques. We (Michael Whiteacre and I) don’t want her to not get help and to not help people, but she’s just hurtful and unstable in the way she acts and the things she says. I’m sorry, but just saying â€˜blah, blah, blahâ€™ is not enough when you are lobbying and positioning yourself as a policy maker.
I want to see her finally take responsibility for her actions. I would like her to explain lying on the Pink Cross Foundation tax forms and taking 39.9% of the donations. I’d like to see her held accountable for cheapening an entire group of women [former adult performers] and their experiences by hexing them and soliciting their makeup advice, then justifying cheap candles and scarves and chocolates as compensation.
I’d like to see more intelligent and reasonable people question her obvious expenditures on plastic surgery or how she can flash a diamond watch in a church that has paid her to be there, while simultaneously criticizing [that same church] for not establishing a Pink Cross fund. â€˜False Christiansâ€™ are making her life very cushy, and I’d like to see her actually humbledâ€¦ because it’s healthy to be humbled.
(pictured: Lydia’s photoshop skills plus clever super-sass equal… heee!!)
Dang. So does she know about this project?
Evidently. She just gave an impromptu interview to Michael Whiteacre after a fortuitous run-in at the Rainbow Bar & Grill the other night [January 19, 2011]. She made a few comments about being too busy to watch videos and not being aware of our footage, but then she noted specifics about the teasers Michael has posted.Â It indicates that she’s paying attention and that she’s reaching.
But in addition to this incident, she sent me an email about a month ago thanking me for the traffic and attention I send her way. Yes, Miss Humility is thankful for the attention I send her way. In fact, our (my and your) mutual friend ZW says that she has quoted me on her site saying â€˜This industry is full of people that hate – literally HATE women.â€™ Evidently she doesnâ€™t understand that she is included in that statement.
She doesnâ€™t understand that sheâ€™s the kind of person who wedges sex workers between her high heel and the ground. She will literally use anyone if it furthers her self-obsessed cause; but if sheâ€™s actually reading my work, or having her followers read my work, it means that my chances of appealing to their logic are that much greater.
I work very hard to be clear and present thoughtful information. Even the really early raw stuff conveys the exact same message I relay today. Understanding is more powerful than just thinking you know everything, and sex workers are misunderstood. They have interesting and powerful voices that should be heard.
What Lubben would never consider, because she doesnâ€™t actually care, is that misogynists are prevalent in the world at large. The â€˜cureâ€™ then might be conversation, tolerance, and an honest approach to sex workâ€¦ perhaps making sex work legal and not further victimizing workers.
I can just as easily say that politics are full of greedy people or that child pageantry is full of pedophiles, but how could a person justify using that information to attack and silence the people governed by politics or to disregard abused children?
(damn â€“ what powerful analogies!!)
Lubben is validating the idea that women are mindless sex objects by proposing to know what theyâ€™re all thinking. If you actually care about a person, it doesnâ€™t make any sense to not ask them what they think.
No it most certainly does not, nor does proposing to â€˜knowâ€™ the experiences of others… So what sort of reactions and responses to you expect this film to get?
I hope the intelligent and thoughtful people of the industry, the kinds of people who are normally quiet because they aren’t attacking types, will feel encouraged to be more vocal and find the time and the words to courageously say what they really think. The forums, where most people do their talking, are populated by angry people that tend to miss the important points at the heart of various issues.Â Sometimes itâ€™s as if it’s just about yelling and being angry. I would like to see more intelligent discussions.
I’d also like to show the side of Lubben that most people may not see. Without watching all the videos and listening to all the audio files, one may not necessarily notice the conflicting information, lies, and dramatic changes in her story over time. Someone trusting may see one post and take it at face value.
The Devil and Shelley Lubben compiles the footage and audio, so that the busy person who works a job and doesn’t have time to put in the research can see everything plainlyâ€¦ that along with the kind of healthy commentary you won’t find when you read her takes on an industry she clearly knows nothing about!
(pictured: Lydia with Jane Hamilton)
You know Lydia, this project â€“ this work â€“ I think about it, and Iâ€™m struck by the amount of time and energy you have to be putting in to itâ€¦ Why care so much? Is it at all personal?
Absolutely. I have an obligation in the face of such foul accusations about my mental wellbeing and integrity to speak loudly and clearly. I do not agree with her. My experiences were not and are not the same.
Now, I don’t have hate in my heart and I can’t breath when I’m angry all the time, but I don’t know what planet she lives on. I cannot relate to her, not even a little bit. I’d love to be able to say she has a point here and there, but if you say ‘She makes some good points’ or ‘Yes, that makes sense’ what it seems to mean to her is ‘Yes, Shelley, youÂ are right. YouÂ are All-Knowing.’
It’s impossible to reason with a mentally unstable person, and she doesnâ€™t appear to be stable.Â One disagreement with her and all members of Pink Cross hear is ‘Youâ€™re in league with Lucifer, and youâ€™re mentally ill.’ As far as I know, she’s one video away from saying we’re all really chickens inÂ bipedal hominid suits!!
Ha!! Seriously though, along with untangling others from what sounds like a very tangled web, it seems to me that you also want what may be most healthy and beneficial for Shelley. The irony there is astoundingâ€¦ Sooo, when can we see it??!!
Hopefully within the next week. Michael works around the clock, and we have really good footage and material â€¦but it keeps growing. Hopefully very soon though because it is jaw dropping.
Michael Whiteacreâ€™s YouTube page is the hub for the exposÃ©. He has teasers posted that arenâ€™t even the finished product but are very revealing and preview important things we cover.
I tell you my jaw cannot wait to be dropped â€“ I am dying of curiosity!!Â But what happens after The Devil and Shelley Lubben? Where do you see yourself moving next?
I see myself growing as a writer and making more documentaries. I enjoy exploring my own human nature, the human nature of others, and the growing process that goes with it, so I project I will be connecting with as many people as possible in an effort to encourage intelligent conversation about a wide variety of topics. My blog is my constant home, and I update it regularly with information about what Iâ€™m doing â€“ all one has to do is look there!
Also, I just created a web design company â€“ Galactic Warrior Productions â€“ because I myself have had very one-sided experiences with webmasters. I find some to be very snobbish about their ability to understand the technical details behind code and even abusive once they have control of your url.
My website was pirated from me in 2003 by a webmaster that was recommended to me by a friend. It was an unfortunate experience, but it made me anxious to help create other peoplesâ€™ visions while not taking advantage of things they may not know.
Galactic Warrior has lots of tools and equipment for helping people create a cyber home in a package way. Shooting video, creating flash bannersâ€¦ the idea is to really provide options and make having a site and/or blog as fun as possible.
â€¦and really all of this is also a way of paying tribute to my friend Jonathan Appel. He really pushed me to pursue my dreams. I love writing and creating and being a geek, so I have to honor that and do what I can to really be happy as a creative person.
At this point my plate is full, so I doubt I can handle anything else, but I love your site and how you express yourself, so I will send you any and every update in the future. This has been a great way to spend my time. Thank you, Goddess/Dr. Chauntelle!â€
(pictured: Lydia, the Galactic Warrior)
Thank you, Lydia. Thank you.
I have known of Lydia Lee (as Julie Meadows) for years, long before I understood much at all about porn or the adult industry or sex work or the injustices that face some of the persons working thereinâ€¦ but it was only recently that I got to know this woman in a truer sense.
Lydia is deeply committed to making the world a better place and taking a stand in the face injustice and misunderstanding. Her commitment actually radiates from her – it radiates from her writing, from her candor, from her sense of humor, from the punishingly long hours she puts in to her work, and from everything she creates.
Lydia Lee amazes me. She probably amazes you too.
* * *
All photos courtesy of Lydia Lee.
For the Back Story on Lydia’s producing partner Michael Whiteacre, check out “Michael Whiteacre, or who’s behind The Devil and Shelley Lubben (part 1)” here.
*To view some episodes of On the Couch with Lydia Lee, check out Lydia’s YouTube channel. Â There is some really sweet, interesting, and intense stuff therein.
* * *
From performers to post-production, office workers to executives, PVVOnlineÂ Back StoriesÂ explore the lives of people who work in all aspects of the adult industry. For more industry insidersâ€™Â Back Stories, goÂ here.
You may quote anything hereinÂ with the following attribution: â€œReprinted from PVVOnline/Porn Valley Vantage, copyright Â© Chauntelle Anne Tibbals, PhD (www.PVVOnline.com).â€