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21. Merchant of Souls _ Steve Willis



 

***This conversation faces human sex trafficking head on, though it does not go explicit, listeners discretion is advised***

Today we sit down with the indomitable Steve Willis a photographer, videographer and creative who was on the film crew for the documentary “Nefarious Merchant of Souls” which faces head on the global issue of human sex trafficking. Nefarious was directed by Benjamin Nolot who founded Exodus Cry, an international non-profit that works to abolish slavery because every person should be free.

Highlights include:

- Slavery exists today.

- Human sex trafficking is thriving.

- World traveler, but not a tourist.

- Buying Murder Tickets.

- Facing your naivety.

- Overcoming Fear.

- Go to war for your daughters and sisters.


To learn more about Steve Willis and his work you can check him out at: https://www.stevewillisphoto.com/

To learn more about Benjamin Nolot and his work through Exodus Cry, as well as to see how you can engage in the fight to end sex trafficking go to: https://exoduscry.com/

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08;06;36;05 - 08;06;20;29

Jon

Hey, guys, just a heads up, today's conversation is gritty, it's real, and we're exploring the underbelly of humanity. Nefarious Merchant of Souls is talking about human sex trafficking, modern day slavery here in the states and globally.


08;06;20;28 - 08;06;00;10

Aaron

We're sitting down with one of the crewmen on the nefarious movie film project, again dealing with human trafficking, something that affects over 40 million forced prostitution victims. And then it has a global economy of 99 billion. Plus, this is certainly a pervasive, gigantic subject today.


08;05;59;03 - 08;05;43;21

Aaron

We have a discussion today, I think is going to be potentially slightly uncomfortable, it's certainly we're going to get into some of the dark stuff of humanity. But at the same time, I hope we're going to land with what is what good is coming of that.


08;05;43;21 - 08;05;29;02

Aaron

And so of course, on the theory, we're about facing the difficulties, we're about looking at things that are uncomfortable. We've called it before looking in the mirror and we're looking in the mirror of humanity today, where there's some things in the mirror that are pretty stinking ugly.


08;05;28;10 - 08;05;16;08

Aaron

But the great thing is that we don't have to stay there and there's some things that we can do to combat that. So we've invited Steve Wallace, who has sat front row to some of some pretty, pretty crazy things.


08;05;16;08 - 08;05;07;03

Aaron

But we're more here to talk about a film project called Nefarious that that Steve has been a part of. So, Steve, welcome. Glad you're here.


08;05;06;22 - 08;05;06;11

Steve

Thank you.


08;05;06;04 - 08;05;05;22

Jon

Yeah.


08;05;05;08 - 08;04;48;03

Aaron

So the first is a full name is the Merchant of Souls, which is a very provocative title merchant of the sell souls. And we're getting into the sex trafficking conversation here. What's going on in the world and. And I got a I got a minute before I saw this film.


08;04;47;23 - 08;04;28;20

Aaron

I thought sex trafficking is something that happens far away. And in countries that you know, I've never heard of or can't pronounce. And and it's a minority thing. It's, you know, it's not happening very much. But as I watch the show I was, I was just shocked by the statistics on how pervasive this industry has been before


08;04;28;20 - 08;04;23;10

Aaron

we get into the film. Can you tell me what your background is and maybe how you kind of got involved with this.


08;04;21;29 - 08;03;54;17

Steve

OK? I've I've been in the creative media industry for since I finished school back in Cincinnati. I've been a video camera guy. I was a video editor for a long time, then got into graphic design. And then with the advent of camera gear like photography gear making the switch to pro-level gear, I stumbled into photography as a


08;03;54;17 - 08;03;25;20

Steve

career. The the the Canon five DS also functioned as video cameras, and it kind of opened up all kinds of opportunities for me creatively as a result. And because of that and the reputation that I had in Kansas City as a photographer, I got invited to be a part of this.


08;03;25;00 - 08;03;21;23

Steve

The film crew for nefarious merchant of souls.


08;03;20;26 - 08;03;14;25

Aaron

And this is about probably twelve years ago or so, or we're not sure about about that.


08;03;14;25 - 08;03;14;11

Steve

So that.


08;03;13;23 - 08;03;12;26

Aaron

And it's been out there.


08;03;12;14 - 08;03;12;04

Jon

Yeah.


08;03;11;24 - 08;02;58;04

Jon

Yeah. And in a quick thing on there, I just want to shamelessly plug your photography. I've seen the pictures you've done of Aaron and how you make him look good. Is I honestly just miraculous because that's such an uphill fight?


08;02;58;03 - 08;02;57;02

Jon

How many lenses did you.


08;02;57;02 - 08;02;56;22

Jon

Work.


08;02;55;18 - 08;02;54;13

Jon

When you had to take pictures of him?


08;02;54;05 - 08;02;49;26

Steve

Well, appreciate the kind words. But Aaron wasn't that bad.


08;02;48;07 - 08;02;46;11

Jon

So no lens is broken. That's a he's.


08;02;46;11 - 08;02;41;16

Aaron

A great leader. Yeah. He very patiently said, Aaron, stop it. Stop it.


08;02;41;02 - 08;02;25;05

Jon

He said the good news is, though, both through the movie and through pictures I've seen you do you do amazing work. So thanks for sharing that and really glad you're here. I think what I'm excited about with this conversation and how we've treated up nefarious merchant of souls and what that's going to cause us to focus on


08;02;24;20 - 08;02;04;19

Jon

is there's a very dangerous naivete in our culture that's based on the comfort in the security and the abundance that we have that. Will be challenged today, like if you believe that people are naturally pre prepared, like predisposed to predispose, thank you so much.


08;02;04;19 - 08;01;40;15

Jon

It's hard to be done to good right to be predisposed to be good. That's false. And if in the proof is in the pudding. All you have to do is open your eyes and travel the world and you'll see that what is miraculous is that we're capable of good, but we're predisposed to pretty terrible things, and I've


08;01;40;15 - 08;01;21;25

Jon

been familiar with that darkness for a long time. And the movie The Forest Merchant of Souls, I thought, beautifully captured the genuine rawness of some of the worst of what we do. You know, the fact that slavery is still alive and well in our country.


08;01;20;10 - 08;01;06;22

Jon

Not to mention, the rest of the world right under our noses is something that if it doesn't send shivers down your spine and predispose your mind to start looking for ways to act, that's scary to me. It ought to.


08;01;06;21 - 08;00;53;08

Jon

It ought to. So that's kind of my take from the start. I hope this is either a wake up call or a reminder because there's many who listen to this who I know know how the world works. And for me, that's what it was.


08;00;53;08 - 08;00;42;16

Jon

It was a it was another thing. It was kind of like going for a run in a blizzard, right? Don't get soft. Don't let your mind weaken. Remember what is right next to you and be a force for good against it.


08;00;42;16 - 08;00;39;22

Jon

So that that's kind of where I'm coming in swinging on this one.


08;00;39;18 - 08;00;19;02

Aaron

Yep, yep. The topic is is extremely important. We're we're not going to be localized in this conversation. This is a global pandemic really of slavery that's happening. I remember I'm Steve. one time here, we were very casually sitting a table with a bunch of guys and we're kind of asking about, Hey, what other countries have you been


08;00;19;02 - 08;00;01;11

Aaron

? And you know, typically, you know, most Americans are going to say a few other countries outside. And then they get to you and you just kept talking about so many countries and so many cities. You've been largely as a part of this project, I think, I think or the other.


08;00;00;18 - 09;59;58;00

Aaron

So you just that little traveled even all the place?


09;59;57;19 - 09;59;26;25

Steve

No, it's it's connected to my career in photography. I never thought photography would. Open up the doors it has and. Provided world travel, but I've been to 23 countries now, pretty extensively throughout the Middle East, being a part of film projects even outside of nefarious with nefarious itself, I went to twelve different countries Northern Europe, Southeast Asia


09;59;26;03 - 09;58;58;27

Steve

, a lot of travel domestically and then down south. We were in Costa Rica. You know, at the start, you know, I'd share that with others that I traveled a lot and it kind of sounds glamorous, but like, you know, my introduction to international travel was mostly just seeing the the sexual underbelly of the nations and and just


09;58;58;27 - 09;58;47;29

Steve

rampant perversion. And I was I was not a tourist. I was working and we were just hearing horror stories.


09;58;47;19 - 09;58;37;01

Aaron

It's it was like the exact opposite of what tourism is like. Tourism was like, Show me the best you got. You go like, we're going to the worst these cities have to provide, you know, you're kind of looking at it.


09;58;36;20 - 09;58;16;10

Aaron

And that's kind of my question is why you know, why? Why did this project come to be? Why would somebody, you know, that's a really hard, long stare at a very difficult subject. And you and I have talked off air about how you have it makes you lose your taste for anything sexual at all because of how


09;58;15;21 - 09;58;09;27

Aaron

, how absolutely evil it is to look and stare at. That's a hard journey to walk down.


09;58;08;03 - 09;57;47;16

Steve

Well, it is and. one of the one of the side effects of even being a part of the film. But I wasn't expecting. Is that, you know, I actually after after coming back home from our from our time in northern Europe.


09;57;45;00 - 09;57;35;05

Steve

I actually saw my my own sex drive kind of go down. You know, I I'm grateful for a healthy.


09;57;33;26 - 09;57;33;11

Jon

Marriage.


09;57;33;00 - 09;57;11;03

Steve

Marriage and sexual activity within a healthy marriage, but just the stories that we hear where sex is being brought so low and just dragged through the mud, it just it almost made it feel dirty. And you know, you kind of had to get back to a place where like, Oh yeah, this is sex is a gift.


09;57;11;02 - 09;56;38;17

Steve

It's it's beautiful. It's it's intimacy with my wife, but I don't know that your you drive for that was kind of. Pushed down and waited from again, just stories and sitting before just real young women. You know, we're in we were in Moldova, which is a country that just kind of a fallout of the old Soviet Union


09;56;38;17 - 09;56;22;23

Steve

, and we're interviewing a teenage girl and. Like, like so many of the stories of these girls, they're promised to work in a in a foreign country and then they just sit there there and slip there. They become sexual slaves.


09;56;21;26 - 09;55;58;25

Steve

And this this young girl just wanted to better her life and find work. And just the most unimaginable things have happened to her and we're interviewing her. And she just she has herpes all over her face, like just coming out from around her lips and around her cheeks and and chin was just herpes.


09;55;56;17 - 09;55;41;07

Aaron

Typekit, she said she'd been treated like chattel day in, day out. You know, it's I mean, this is this is it's difficult to say, but I mean, dozens and dozens of times, maybe potentially per day, she's been she's like an animal to these men.


09;55;40;18 - 09;55;40;05

Steve

Correct.


09;55;38;17 - 09;55;35;21

Jon

But you know, the it's interesting.


09;55;35;12 - 09;55;13;01

Jon

In case we weren't clear enough to start right, the Forest Merchant Shoals is about modern day slavery, you know, specifically with sex trafficking. Right? And it's not racist. It's it's it's not race focused, right? It's focused on the disadvantage that can be taken advantage of and put into these situations.


09;55;12;19 - 09;54;49;06

Jon

And essentially, what slavery is is the dehumanization of someone right to the to the place that they're utilized as property rights to your comment on chattel. Mm hmm. And in the fact that that is happening today. With some of the things that we concern ourselves with as a country instead is wild to me.


09;54;49;05 - 09;54;48;24

Jon

Mm-Hmm.


09;54;48;15 - 09;54;33;10

Jon

But you know, the thing that I really hear with that girl you're talking about is like, Here you go, here's someone who wants to better themselves. And they've been ruined in many ways physically by the herpes right that cover their entire face.


09;54;33;10 - 09;54;13;29

Jon

They have that stigma that they can't even walk into a place without it being a parent's like a scarlet letter on their forehead, regardless of if they're out of the environment or not, they escape. And like what? What specifically in that instance, because you saw tons of girls who all underwent the same thing, tons of children who


09;54;13;29 - 09;54;04;02

Jon

underwent the same thing. What makes her stand out in your mind more? Then or like what makes her come up now? Right? With everything you've seen.


09;53;58;12 - 09;53;37;12

Steve

Hard to say. Maybe because it was maybe because it was a physical manifestation, you know, on her and not everybody had, you know? Visual evidence of. Of their story on upon them, so yeah.


09;53;36;14 - 09;53;36;04

Jon

Yeah.


09;53;34;28 - 09;53;25;29

Aaron

So the project came together. Why? Why was it that they decided this is something that needed to be said, need to be filmed and brought attention to?


09;53;22;28 - 09;52;53;27

Steve

So a gentleman named Benji Nolo is really the backbone behind this film. Benji Ndolo. He heads up Exodus Crime, which is a ministry that was behind making the film and and they've they've gone on to create other films and they're going to have another film come out as well, which I think in many ways is more important


09;52;53;27 - 09;52;36;26

Steve

than the nefarious film. The next film that that they'll release is actually taking on just the pornography industry. Pornography really is what fuels human trafficking.


09;52;34;22 - 09;52;30;12

Aaron

That's an interesting statement that there for saying, What is that? How so? What is the relationship?


09;52;18;27 - 09;52;17;22

Steve

How do I put that into?


09;52;16;22 - 09;52;15;17

Jon

You can just say it straight.


09;52;15;17 - 09;51;58;06

Aaron

Yeah, you not to be delicate, it's OK. Is that as I understand it, do you think of this as I understand it, there's there's a large portion more than we want to admit that the porn industry has used slavery as part of their as part of the industry's.


09;51;57;00 - 09;51;52;18

Aaron

Workers really have heard that, you know, if you can corroborate that, but.


09;51;49;04 - 09;51;29;23

Steve

You know, at at its core, like Benji would put it this way, Benji uses this phrase all the time, but it's it's the sexualization and objectification of women. Mm-Hmm. And just reducing women to objects and they're kind of getting, you know, stripped of their humanity and.


09;51;26;22 - 09;50;50;18

Steve

It's what pornography, you know, does best. It's it's such an easy thing for everybody to keep secret and do in the dark. But it's a it's just a horrible, horrible problem. Mm. But it's it's it's what it's where most men that are purchasing sex, it's their purchasing because their their journey started with porn.


09;50;50;17 - 09;50;45;29

Steve

Usually porn is the gateway is the launching pad.


09;50;45;28 - 09;50;45;07

Aaron

Yeah. Okay.


09;50;44;10 - 09;50;28;09

Jon

So I remember from nefarious, I think it was the detective. I forget the country. She said that to kind of porn that thread. She made a comment that when men are buying sex, they're just they're not having sex, they're just masturbating with women's bodies.


09;50;28;06 - 09;50;27;28

Jon

Mm hmm.


09;50;26;28 - 09;50;02;02

Steve

That was a political leader in Sweden. Yep. We were in. We were in Sweden. Because of some of the stance that the Swedes have taken towards prostitution. So we went there to to speak with some of their political leaders because their Sweden has really embraced that.


09;50;01;03 - 09;49;37;04

Steve

The idea, the concept that if a woman has gotten to the point. Where she is selling her body. She should not be the one that is criminalized, the people that should be criminalized are the men that is taking advantage of her vulnerable state in the states.


09;49;37;00 - 09;49;11;09

Steve

You know, it's the opposite. We've we've criminalized. You know, you and usually prostitutes will get arrested where it's illegal, but it's the prostitutes that need to be helped and counseled and they need to be healed. And so Sweden is actually criminalizing the men that are taking advantage of women in a vulnerable state.


09;49;10;09 - 09;49;09;03

Jon

Hmm. Wow.


09;49;08;11 - 09;48;58;11

Aaron

There's a there's a real shot, even across Western civilization, what we who who the real criminals are and who's responsible for this?


09;48;58;04 - 09;48;45;01

Jon

Well, I think it's really a shot across the world. Yeah, even more so, right? Because this is happening everywhere. Right? And it's just either ignored or it's criminalized in some fashion if you're attacking the the victims and the culprits.


09;48;44;23 - 09;48;35;29

Jon

Right, right. It sounds like Sweden is one of the only places that does that. They attack the culprits. They attack the men, the pimps, the the Johns, all of them.


09;48;35;19 - 09;48;13;08

Steve

Yeah. So prostitution is virtually nonexistent in Sweden. I imagine there's, you know, there's underground elements of it, but most most of the men that are. You know, in bondage to that, they have to go across across borders to to do it.


09;48;12;21 - 09;48;12;12

Jon

Yeah.


09;48;10;24 - 09;48;10;03

Aaron

Yeah, go ahead.


09;48;09;14 - 09;47;54;27

Jon

Yeah, I was going to say like one of the things that like looking at Thailand, right? Because I think most people have heard of like the red light district in Amsterdam and places like that where you can just walk down and literally window shop for a woman to go in and pay and, you know, do that type


09;47;54;27 - 09;47;38;02

Jon

of stuff. Have sex with them or whatever. And there's panic buttons because it's not safe. You know, these girls are getting killed in addition to that, and you could just see when they're interviewing the guy who's owned that business for like 20 years, just the bald faced lies that he's just saying as he's smiling through his teeth


09;47;38;02 - 09;47;34;26

Jon

like, Oh yeah, it's safe, OK, yeah, I care about them. Oh, yeah, I do these things. It's like.


09;47;34;12 - 09;47;34;03

Jon

one.


09;47;34;03 - 09;47;12;10

Jon

You can see he's telling himself those lies. And because it's like, how do you stomach it to? That's just what it is. But then like there, it's mostly more, more grown right there. The the the women are a little bit older than, say, in Thailand, where like it's common practice for like four or 567 year olds to


09;47;12;10 - 09;46;53;12

Jon

be sold. That one when one of the things that really struck me, especially now revisiting this topic as like a father was like seeing in Thailand the part where they're talking about all those, those men who could just wake up and drink beer and smoke cigarets all day and go back to sleep.


09;46;53;12 - 09;46;33;28

Jon

It's like, Well, how could they afford that life? It's because they were they were selling their daughters locally in the same town. two grown men to pedophiles into all these types of things. And then they come back home each night and because they were selling them, they're able to just do nothing, and they chose to do nothing


09;46;33;28 - 09;46;19;14

Jon

despite having the capability to work and. And to me, it's just like I either bring the sword mentality to those types of things or, you know, some people have the heart to like, rescue the children I have the heart to.


09;46;18;27 - 09;46;08;00

Jon

Let's, let's eliminate some of those men. And that's just from my background. I'm not trying to be machismo or nothing is 100% like I'm being authentic is at home. Like, there's nothing. There's no reason you should draw breath.


09;46;07;12 - 09;46;05;26

Jon

If that's how you're going to treat your children.


09;46;05;18 - 09;46;05;08

Jon

Hmm.


09;46;03;22 - 09;45;50;29

Jon

But like looking at that, I just want to peel back the curtain a little bit more on the true ugliness of this because it's like, OK, you know, I can just hear some. Individual for lack of a better word at the moment.


09;45;50;22 - 09;45;48;24

Steve

So I'm actually going to back you up.


09;45;48;19 - 09;45;48;02

Jon

OK, please.


09;45;45;29 - 09;45;18;01

Steve

So I totally understand that that's a it's a real typical and natural response for. Plus, alpha males right to want to. Fight and bring justice to the innocent. You know, and to bring the sword, but I'm not, I'm not sure that's the the healthiest response.


09;45;16;16 - 09;44;51;19

Steve

For men, because just. There's another side of that. It's although it's easy to see, you know, the women and the boys that are enslaved, that there's there's there's an invisible enslavement that's happening in the hearts of men and and in another way, men just need to be set free themselves.


09;44;48;25 - 09;44;19;20

Steve

Well, while I was on my journey doing this film, I had a really powerful dream that kind of brought light on that. And in this in this dream. I'm outside of an apartment complex and there's a film crew there, and it was, and I understood in the dream that it was like the America's most wanted television show


09;44;18;29 - 09;44;02;02

Steve

and that they were going to record this, this bust. And in the dream, upstairs was an adult male and and he was with a very young, a young girl that he had just hired for his pleasure, essentially like a prostitute.


09;44;01;09 - 09;43;49;08

Steve

And I heard the host of the show, you know, talking about how they were getting ready to bust this guy. Little does our John upstairs know that that this girl upstairs is an undercover agent and she's only ten years old.


09;43;46;08 - 09;43;22;24

Steve

And so I go in and he begins to kind of massage the girl the John does and and that was enough for them to kind of move in and do a bust. And so in the dream, I remember coming down on this guy and I just in the dream, I just wanted to hurt him.


09;43;22;23 - 09;43;06;01

Steve

I wanted to bring justice and I and I in the dream I actually had a bat. And I am just laying into this guy. I'm making sure his his knees are getting hurt. He's on the ground. He's like, he's like, curled up, and I'm making sure that I'm hitting his head.


09;43;06;01 - 09;42;48;24

Steve

I'm damaging ribs. I'm just in the dream. It kind of felt like, Oh, this was satisfying to make this guy pay, right? And then and then, you know, I stopped doing that in any rolls over to the side.


09;42;47;28 - 09;42;42;15

Steve

And he's just weeping and he's weeping in this understanding came to me.


09;42;41;25 - 09;42;41;17

Jon

In.


09;42;41;17 - 09;42;22;11

Steve

The dream that he was just so full of shame and confusion. He didn't understand how it got to this point in his life, and he felt like he deserved every blow that I was giving him. And I think he was relieved that he got caught.


09;42;21;11 - 09;42;06;02

Steve

And in the dream, I just understood that, you know, his journey started probably looking at lingerie and then it got a little bit darker and then it got a little bit darker. And now he was trying to have sex with kids and he wanted to get free.


09;42;06;02 - 09;41;52;15

Steve

But there was so much shame and guilt, and you just feel so dirty. How do you confess this to other people to get free from it? But in the dream, he was actually relieved. Yeah, that that the bust came.


09;41;51;24 - 09;41;36;11

Steve

Yeah. And so he was just on this strange, dark path. And and so, you know, the men are in bondage, too. And it's and it's so easy to overlook it because we can't see their chains.


09;41;36;00 - 09;41;35;24

Jon

Hmm.


09;41;35;06 - 09;41;13;11

Steve

But they're but they're real. And men need help. And as much as we can do to create a movement to help. Free, the obvious bondage that we that we see with women and children. There needs to be a movement to get men free, too.


09;41;13;06 - 09;41;12;25

Jon

Mm hmm.


09;41;12;05 - 09;40;58;29

Aaron

Yeah. So you're you're talking about more of the root of the cause, like where this is all coming from, not just the actions that are coming out. And so it's a lot of what we talk about is that and this is why we're talking about these hard subjects.


09;40;58;29 - 09;40;47;19

Aaron

It's not unlike anything else that we have to look at like, Hey, these are terrible things that are happening in my mind right now. I need to look at them. Humanity is no different. They have things that they have.


09;40;46;23 - 09;40;29;20

Aaron

We look at them. Why? Because we want to deal with it. We want to get it out because I don't I don't want to die. I don't want people to be. I don't want people to be killed at the same time that just aside, and I think, John, to your point, the the immediate reaction is like it


09;40;29;20 - 09;40;17;29

Aaron

needs to stop right now, no matter what. This can't be repeated ever again. And but then it's also like juxtaposed with that. How do we how do we heal the problem? Because otherwise we're just chasing people all the time.


09;40;17;12 - 09;40;10;01

Jon

I really love that you backed me up like that. I love it when people do that. So I'm just grateful for that.


09;40;10;00 - 09;40;07;19

Aaron

Chronologically, you back. You back. Well, you back.


09;40;07;09 - 09;39;57;05

Jon

And you disagreed, right? With the point I was going to. Yeah, and I loved that a lot. I don't have much to comment on it because I think that what you said is very valuable and I don't disagree with it.


09;39;56;08 - 09;39;48;24

Jon

The only thing I would say because hearing how you heard what I was saying for when I say, when I said that it's very unemotional.


09;39;48;13 - 09;39;48;03

Jon

Mm-Hmm.


09;39;47;25 - 09;39;35;26

Jon

That the bringing of the sort. There's no emotion. There's no desire to hurt. I'm not going to take, you know, I want to take it in that solution. There's no injury. It's execution. It's elimination. It's not punishments. Not just me.


09;39;35;25 - 09;39;21;12

Jon

It's elimination. And and that is from, you know, I've been thinking about. That a lot and I don't know how to manifest, right, but when you have problems like it doesn't help to go in and eliminate the John.


09;39;20;17 - 09;39;00;23

Jon

It doesn't help to go in. You have to find the the deeper route. You have to find the head right? Of the issues for it to be impactful. So it's actually. The only thing I come into, what I was saying just to provide clarity for the context of our conversation is when I say when I said that


09;38;59;16 - 09;38;30;02

Jon

. The place I'm coming from after having thought about these types of issues for a long time and revisiting them over the last week is not an emotional response to inflict pain. Mm-Hmm. It's a. Clinical surgical removing of tumors, which which I think is very well counterbalanced and more actionable to be corrected in the light of what you


09;38;30;02 - 09;38;16;24

Jon

were saying. Mm hmm. Right. And I think it actually further adds value to what you said because if you look at it from the equation of OK, here's a problem what's clinically remove it in your eyes? Yes, that's fair.


09;38;16;14 - 09;38;05;26

Jon

It's also fair to want to hurt them because you're angry and sickened and that's know what you came in with. And it's like, but here's the root of the problem everyone here is hurting and broken in some way.


09;38;05;23 - 09;37;50;03

Jon

Mm-Hmm. And and we can do things to help head that off. And that's like, that's where there's real power and that's what I want to honor and and bring back to the point, right? Yeah, I think that makes sense.


09;37;49;24 - 09;37;37;15

Jon

How can we help prevent that, right? How can we help prevent that journey down to the point where you have this person who's weeping because they're excited they got caught in your dream of becoming pain to be a pedophile?


09;37;37;07 - 09;37;20;15

Jon

You know, how can you head that off? And I think that's a much more actionable for many more people, some a movement that could be started and actually done. I love the quote that you guys did, whether Wilberforce at the end were it's we don't need casual observers.


09;37;20;15 - 09;37;08;16

Jon

We need incurable fanatics. Mm hmm. And then at the end of the spot, they hit me the hardest and goes to this directly know, or at least in my mind, does I hope it does? And it comes out is.


09;37;07;00 - 09;36;50;06

Jon

You can you can choose to look away, but you can never say you did not see. Mm-Hmm. And that's a loose quote. I didn't hit it perfectly, but that to me, I loved it because even listening to this conversation, if you listen to this conversation, it's news to you that this type of stuff is happening.


09;36;49;12 - 09;36;35;09

Jon

You can choose to ignore it, bury it. But you can never say you weren't informed. Mm-Hmm. And that's why I love that you stopped me and corrected in that we're able to kind of delve into what are the responses to this that can be taken?


09;36;34;25 - 09;36;19;10

Jon

Right? Because I'm not in the position to do like at the moment, I'm not in the position at this exact second to eliminate anything, to act emotionally on anything. If that was the response, there are things that I can do to combat it along the lines of what you're saying.


09;36;18;29 - 09;36;08;21

Jon

You mentioned Exodus Cry. You mentioned that these things are creating movements. Right? This this this thing is not an entertainment film, right? It's a tool.


09;36;07;08 - 09;36;06;27

Jon

Yeah.


09;36;05;27 - 09;35;35;29

Steve

Yeah, very much so. Benji, the producer director of the film, just did an amazing job, but he was. Benji was really stirred by a book called The Natasha's, and then he began to kind of dove in and look at other documentaries that were out there, and they were mostly kind of poorly done, and they were mostly kind


09;35;35;29 - 09;35;18;27

Steve

of just voyeuristic in nature and weren't weren't kind of counterproductive. Yeah, I kind of wasn't really accomplishing anything. And so he was just greatly convicted and said, Well, I'm going to make a documentary. And Benji had never made a film before.


09;35;18;07 - 09;35;14;26

Steve

And he gathered this kind of ragtag. It's those are.


09;35;14;25 - 09;35;12;25

Aaron

Kind of people, John. Yeah, let's go for it.


09;35;12;24 - 09;35;06;01

Steve

So we gathered a ragtag team of guys and took them around the world with just a little bit of equipment.


09;35;06;01 - 09;35;05;22

Jon

And.


09;35;04;26 - 09;34;36;01

Steve

An eye. I what Benji accomplished is amazing having this been his very first film because I think it's probably the best documentary out there on the subject, and that ends with some hope. But but back to you saying about it being a tool, Benji and his Exodus Cry team have been really deliberate in bringing this film before


09;34;35;29 - 09;34;01;09

Steve

congressmen and senators and governments in other nations trying to just to bring awareness so that nations will change their laws and that nations will make it harder for, you know, criminals to succeed in this. There's there's a lie out there that Amsterdam bought into, and it was this that, you know, the sex industry's just going to happen


09;34;01;09 - 09;33;32;22

Steve

anyways. Prostitution is not going away. We should just let's make it safe and let's just legalize sex in our country. And they opened up the Red Light District in Amsterdam. But it's not really an ethical business. And what happened when Amsterdam opened up the Red Light District District, they basically rolled out a red carpet for organized crime


09;33;31;08 - 09;33;09;14

Steve

. Because the only people that are wanting to really profit on this are unethical, nasty gangsters. And so when they did that, you know, not only the, you know, that those criminal businessmen didn't just bring, you know, the sex industry to that city, but then along with that came.


09;33;08;18 - 09;33;07;22

Jon

Drugs.


09;33;07;03 - 09;32;52;13

Steve

And everything else that that. Those type of businessmen. Mm-Hmm. Just bring along with them, right? And so it just kind of it just opened up a whole slew of other problems for Amsterdam and Amsterdam is kind of their kind of learning.


09;32;52;07 - 09;32;34;28

Steve

They're they're they're slowly changing and they're shutting down more and more of the windows there. But Amsterdam was actually my introduction. It was the first country we went to when Benji approached me. He said, You know, I want you on this film crew.


09;32;34;28 - 09;32;21;00

Steve

You're going to do photography, you know and video for us. We leave for Amsterdam in two weeks. Do you want to go? And I was like, Well, I'm in. Let me check with my wife. Sure, I'm in. I'm.


09;32;20;18 - 09;32;06;25

Steve

And so, you know, my first introduction to international travel was staying in the red light district for ten days. And you know, we all had read the book The Natasha's, and we're just kind of mortified by the reality.


09;32;06;25 - 09;31;39;01

Steve

But then we're in the red light district and just everywhere is just, well, women and windows, transvestites and windows. Windows, selling dildos, live sex acts where you could sit in a theater and. And see, a couple have sex on a stage.


09;31;38;11 - 09;31;17;29

Steve

It was kind of over. Overwhelming and to stay there, and so we arrived jetlagged, right? And it's just it's just tense circumstances that we in, just like right away and. So that's how I got baptized into the film.


09;31;17;10 - 09;31;02;28

Aaron

Well, well, can I I give for just one second because to me, like I know, you kind of rushed through that, you know, then she invited you to do this crazy journey. But like, what mentally are you? How do you prepare yourself?


09;31;02;28 - 09;30;53;02

Aaron

How do you even make that decision? Because I can imagine going to my wife and saying, Hey, honey, I'm going to go to some of the ugliest grossest, you know, most profane places in the world. You know, what do you think about that?


09;30;53;01 - 09;30;46;23

Aaron

You know, how did that go down and what ultimately allowed you to say, this is something I need to do?


09;30;46;12 - 09;30;40;14

Steve

Honestly, I was I was kind of naive and I was just excited to do, yeah, world travel.


09;30;40;05 - 09;30;39;26

Aaron

Right?


09;30;36;08 - 09;30;17;24

Steve

And, you know, so at first, I was excited. And it was, you know, it was it was it was life changing in so many ways. You have but then you get there and then, you know, the stories unfold.


09;30;11;26 - 09;29;58;00

Steve

And I don't know, you know, maybe we just kind of. You know, you kind of put up a little bit of a wall inside your own inner man just to kind of protect yourself. We have teams of people praying for us while we were making the film.


09;29;57;19 - 09;29;50;21

Steve

I think that was incredibly helpful. I don't think it would have been hard to do it without that.


09;29;50;06 - 09;29;33;01

Aaron

Well, it's rare that we really get the entire lake syllabuses what's going to happen and we never do really for big mission. It's, you know, and and to be totally honest, like you probably would have run away screaming had you know somebody gave you the finer points of what you were going to have to endure.


09;29;32;19 - 09;29;21;28

Aaron

You know, you almost were growing along the way as you needed to being in it because you didn't know what was what you were going to expect, what you were going to see, where you were or how are you going to react to certain things?


09;29;21;11 - 09;29;14;14

Aaron

I mean, it's it's a tough walk. And you say that naivete was challenged.


09;29;13;28 - 09;28;47;24

Steve

Yeah. You know, another another kind of side effect for for me, it was just fear. I have a boy and three girls. And after making the film, like I just I just watched my daughter's like a hawk. And it's just like you didn't even want them to, like, leave your front yard.


09;28;47;11 - 09;28;31;09

Steve

Mm-Hmm. Because you were just so scared of one of your daughters being snatched up, right? Like, you know, taking. Taking my girls to a to a mall or something, and if there was an old man on a bench, I'm like, Dude, are you a pervert?


09;28;31;08 - 09;28;26;10

Steve

Are you here right now, girl? And I was like, No, I can't. I can't live under fear.


09;28;26;09 - 09;28;25;10

Aaron

Kind of ruins your mind.


09;28;25;10 - 09;28;08;22

Steve

Yeah, you know. And so it was it was interesting having to kind of navigate and kind of prey through that so that I didn't like was an overbearing, overprotective, sure over shelter. You know, my girls, they they need to live and.


09;28;07;06 - 09;27;55;09

Steve

Right, experience life. But but that was a that was kind of a side effect of the of the journey was kind of coming home with just. Real fear and suspicion of right of men.