Investigative journalist – Storyteller – Performer

Posts from the “Reporting” Category

Why Has No One Heard of the Nonprofit Charles Manson’s Fiancée Runs?

Posted on December 1, 2014

It’s 2:00 in the afternoon, and I am standing in front of an apartment door in the middle of a barren complex which sits four miles from Corcoran State Prison. I hesitate to knock, because there is a sign asking me not to. And because inside is the woman who is about to marry Charles Manson. The door is unassuming, except for two things: there is a small star made out of tiny mirrors, pasted just below the peephole, and diagonal from that, a note: “Hello, no media please. Contact my publishing agent… This is the only way to get something started.” It seems a lot of media have been to the tan colored complex in the last few days, since Star Burton, the…

The First to Go: Disabled People Fight for Visibility in the Physician-Assisted-Death Debate

Posted on November 25, 2014

John Kelly has been told he’d be better off dead. Not because he wanted to die, or even because he was suffering, but because people around him thought that if they were in his shoes — in his wheelchair, that is — they wouldn’t want to live. Kelly was able-bodied until he turned 25. Now, he is a professional activist for disability causes, and in particular, in opposing physician-assisted death. Since Californian and cancer patient Brittany Maynard became famous this year for moving to Oregon to take advantage of their “death with dignity” law, the concept of taking lethal medicines in order to end one’s life has become an even more active debate. Gallup reports that between 58 and 69% of Americans support the…

Will this new study help end schizophrenia?

Posted on November 25, 2014

In Elyn’s junior year of high school, houses started talking to her. You are special. You are especially bad. Look closely and ye shall find. There are many things you must see. See. See. The houses weren’t speaking — not in the usual, audible sense— but nonetheless, they were transmitting their messages to her, through her own mind. “I instinctively knew they were not my ideas,” she explains in her autobiography,  The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness, “They belonged to the houses, and the houses had put them in my head.” Elyn has schizophrenia. She’s not “a schizophrenic.” This term, she holds, can be dismissive and pigeon-holing. Rather, she is a person with schizophrenia, and she has lived with the accompanying delusions, hallucinations…

Punch Lines and Victims: The Media’s Portrayal of Transgender People

Posted on November 25, 2014

Alice Rehfeldt was 19 and in college when she first saw someone like her. It was 2003, and blogging was booming. Out of this global network of writers came subcultures that would never have met otherwise, and among the voices, Rehfeldt found transgender writers. They were people who either identified as a gender other than the one on their birth certificate, or didn’t identify as male nor female. Alice had been considered anatomically male by default, the way most of us are pegged by gender at birth, but she had always known that something was “wrong.” In the early 2000s, the term “transgender” was barely a T on the end of LGBT. When transgender people were mentioned, they were nearly always the butt of…

Porn Experts Weigh In: Is the Industry Safe Enough for Performers?

Posted on November 25, 2014

Tasha Reign celebrated her 25th birthday this year, and earned a bachelor’s degree in gender studies from the University of California Los Angeles. She’s a vegetarian and loves Disney movies. Oh, and she’s a porn star. When I called Reign, she was eager to talk. Her industry has been in the limelight the last few days after a performer was thought to have had sexual contact with an HIV carrier. The Free Speech Coalition, the trade association which represents the adult film industry in the U.S., immediately called for a moratorium on filming, while the risk to other performers was assessed. On Monday night, that moratorium was lifted, after it was determined that no risk was posed to performers (the association couldn’t say more…

Thousands in California May Lose Health Insurance Over Missing Paperwork

Posted on November 25, 2014

Ten thousand people are about to lose their health insurance, despite being approved for Covered California, the statewide health care program. But those people, the federal government argues, aren’t Californians. And immigrants rights groups are surprisingly quiet about it. This week, Covered California will send “pre-termination notices” to 10,000 individuals who they say haven’t adequately proven that they are legal California residents, the Los Angeles Times reports. In order to verify residency, an applicant must provide proof of eligibility, such as a social security card or permanent resident documents. But not everyone has submitted the required paperwork. Last month, Covered California warned 148,000 people comprising 98,000 families that they were at risk of losing their insurance soon. This week, that clock is ticking down.…

White Lies for Life: Crisis Pregnancy Centers in Los Angeles

Posted on November 25, 2014

Gloria was sixteen when she entered a “crisis pregnancy center” and said she was afraid that she was pregnant. The only volunteer there, a sweet woman behind an uncluttered desk, asked her to confirm her pregnancy with a urine test. When it came back positive, Gloria cried. She wasn’t ready to have a baby, and she couldn’t afford one. Whatever happened next, Gloria told the woman, she wasn’t going to be a mother. She needed an abortion, she said. But Gloria wasn’t going to get one here. The clinic was actually an anti-abortion pregnancy center, where staff and volunteers attempt to talk women out of abortions. The centers, which operate largely on a bait-and-switch model and intercept clients intending to find an abortion clinic,…