Several former sex workers who participated in an A&E reality show claim the show’s producers lied to them after they failed to provide promised financial assistance to help them leave the sex industry.
Reality show 8 Minutes follows pastor and former police officer Kevin Brown as he sets up “appointments” with sex workers, meets them in hotel rooms, and then tries to persuade them to leave the industry within the titular time frame by offering them resources to start a new life.
But according to Buzzfeed, several of the sex workers that appeared on the show say that material assistance never materialized.
Kamylla, one of the workers who appeared on the show, said she was paid just $200 to participate, even though she was promised medical, housing, and employment assistance by the show’s producers.
“This show, these people, it’s a disaster in my life,” Kamylla told Buzzfeed, saying she waited weeks for the promised assistance.
Gina, one of the women who appeared in the show’s April 2 premiere, told the site that she tried to contact the producers for help getting a car and housing after filming her segment, for which she was paid just $400.
“All I wanted was help, man. All I wanted was a way out,” Gina said. “I gave them what they wanted, but they didn’t give me what I wanted. I’m not gonna beg people. Y’all said you were gonna help.”
Gina added that she thought the show would make her personal information and details about her life private by blurring her face, but they “didn’t offer that.”
“My family knows about this now, and that’s bulls**t,” added another sex worker named Jazzy.
8 Minutes has been heavily criticized in the weeks since its April premiere.
Writing in the New Republic, Alana Massey characterized the show’s hotel room confrontations as “an ambush that eerily mirrors the vulgar fantasies that play out in so many hypothetical scenarios that anti-trafficking advocates recount as if they were fact.”
“The belief that a strange man in a hotel room can make a more convincing case for quitting sex work than the endless social messages and legal statutes condemning workers is the height of arrogance,” Massey wrote. “The mistake that so many people make—and, in turn, the mistake that 8 Minutes makes—when they implore sex workers to quit: they emphasize leaving sex work while ignoring the very real economic consequences.”
Critics started a Change.org petition before the show’s premiere, urging A&E not to air it.
“Sex workers are human beings with a brain just like everyone else and can make choices for themselves about how they earn their living,” the petition reads. “The problem is with the law that continues to enable broadscale discrimination such as this.”
A representative from A&E told Buzzfeed that the show is indeed currently off the air, and offered no comment. The link to stream full episodes of the show on the network’s website appears to redirect to the A&E homepage, though it was not immediately clear if the show was cancelled.
A representative for the network did not immediately return Breitbart News’ request for comment.