The video on YouTube shows a first-person perspective as a person enters a Starbucks, then confronts a man sitting at a table. The woman filming asks him to explain why he'd threatened her online and called her a slut and a whore. A drink is thrown, and shaky footage rolls as she leaves the shop in a hurry with the enraged man in pursuit. How and why did such an encounter happen in a Galleria-area Starbucks?
In the years leading up to that confrontation, Emily Snow had been busy creating a sex-positive podcast called Nocturnal Admissions and posing as a fetish model. Speaking about how she began, Snow says, "I started phone sex when I was 19. I have a young-sounding voice, so I always got older men who were into rape and torture. I hated it, but needed money so I worked anyway."
Things soon improved for her after a client asked for something special. Snow explains:
"When I was 20, I got my first domination call, and the guy told me to humiliate him. He paid me a huge tip and I loved not being degraded, so I stopped doing anything except domination calls. That's when I realized that there are thousands of fetishes. They were all so interesting to me, so I specialized in them.
Learning the ropes quickly, Snow says, "All of my customers treated me with respect. They didn't treat me sexually in any way." She was happy with that new direction, but soon the company she worked for went out of business, leading her to create a new persona.
"I had to go independent. So I made my own character and named her "Emily Snow." Then I got a local photographer to take photos so I could make a website."
As her online presence grew, Snow began to realize that many of her customers felt they were abnormal. "I don't think sex is nasty or dirty, and I've heard every fetish out there from people who'd call me crying and begging to 'fix' them, when I think there isn't anything wrong with them. It broke my heart, and I wanted to do something about it, so I started a podcast to tell people that everything they were feeling was normal no matter how weird they thought it was."
While Snow found her work, modeling and podcast satisfying, they also made her a target for abuse. "People are very quick to say that I'm promiscuous because of the photos and sex talk. I haven't even posed fully nude, but because I speak openly about sex, they assume that I am some sort of prostitute. Some days I'll get up to ten hate mails, and I'll block several people for posting comments like "Let me eat your pussy" or "I'll fuck you." Some get angry when I tell them I don't want to have sex with them, and they'll ask me why I post the photos I do if I don't want to have sex."
Asked whether she believes that other fetish models experience the same kinds of abusive messages that she gets daily, Snow says, "I do. I think it happens to me a little more than some because it's a combination of the photos and the open sexuality of my podcast. Maybe if I did my podcast in a turtleneck, I wouldn't get as much backlash, or if I was only naked and didn't have an opinion."
Unfortunately, the abuse doesn't always end with messages online or people screaming insults at Snow during her podcast.
"I cannot tell you how many times in my life I have been touched by men when I didn't want to be, and I'm sure that's true for a lot of women. Just because I do an educational podcast on sex and post a photo of myself topless doesn't mean I'm inviting everyone to touch me, grab me or to send me naked photos of themselves."
Recently, Snow posted on Facebook that she was clearing out her friends list because it had grown to 5,000 people and was unmanageable. One individual decided to take that moment to deride Snow for being a "slut," going so far as to make physical threats against her. She finally had enough.
"So I tell him if he wants to say all of these terrible things, to come and say them to my face. He tells me to meet him at Starbucks at 2:30. Everybody on my friends list starts saying, "Don't meet him, do you want me to come, let me meet you there." I tell everyone that I don't need them to meet me, and that I'm going by myself. I didn't want this to be a crazy situation."
Snow understands that some people won't be able to understand why she'd want to meet a man face to face who'd been making threats to her. She continues:
"Being called these names every single day for the last few years has kind of gotten to me, and I was ready to face one of these people. I wanted him to be liable for what he was saying, and not just spouting off. People don't realize how much they hurt others when they write things on the Internet."
And so it came to pass that Emily Snow went to a Starbucks to meet one of her tormentors face to face. The video that resulted from that meeting has been getting a lot of attention, with some individuals assuming that it must've been a setup. Snow says, "People think I was filming it as some sort of prank or stunt, but it was because I wanted to have proof if something happened. I was expecting to meet up with him and have him act the way he had online, calling me a whore. I thought I would get him on camera saying these terrible things, but after sitting across from him and hearing him call me a slut and a whore, I got mad."
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Snow says that she threw a drink in her critic's face, but felt it first to make sure it was at room temperature and wouldn't harm him.
The encounter ended with Snow being pursued by the furious man as she retreated to her car, and as he punched and kicked at her, she sprayed him with pepper spray her sister had given her. Snow claims that the man she confronted had not only made threats to her, but also sent nude photos from her website to her family members, and sent threatening messages to her sister with enough personal information to indicate he knew where Snow lives.
"I've talked to the police, and they told me that if I feel unsafe or see anything suspicious to call them and they would come check it out."
Asked if her bad experiences ever make her consider quitting, Snow says, "For every person who calls me a bad name, there are three more who thank me for helping them feel normal. It makes it all worthwhile. Every time I get discouraged, I end up with a message or comment from someone who tells me how much I've inspired them, and then I just can't stop."