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Porn Caves to Bush 

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As John Ashcroft was being confirmed attorney general in D.C., pornographers in Los Angeles were mulling a widely circulated list suggesting that self-censorship may be the best preparation for the Dubya years. “The Cambria List,” nicknamed after co-author and First Amendment attorney Paul J. Cambria, suggests a smorgasbord of edgy sexual material to ax from adult-video cover imagery and skin flicks. The sexual no-no’s range from “Incest Topics” to the misogynist-leaning “Degrading Dialogue” to the somewhat strange “Food Used As Sex Object” to the more extreme “Bukkakes” (where 50-some men ejaculate on a woman). Interracial sex, sex between gay men and bisexuality are also deemed likely to set off the storm troopers.

The list started when one of the adult-video industry’s biggest production companies called in legal adviser Cambria to consult on what content was likely to enrage Little Boot’s porn fighters. The resulting list of taboos was distributed among Cambria’s clients, Hustler Video and Vivid Video among them, and from there industrywide, to heated debate. The Internet’s no-holds-bar approach to porn has posed a real threat to the $4 billion adult video industry, which has responded by upping its extreme sex content. While Slick Willy’s attitude was mostly hands off, porn makers are now worrying that Bush’s brethren will cut into their profits — or worse, try to shut them down.

In all likelihood, many but not all of the industry’s leading producers will decide to censor their edgier videos. Rob Black, head of the controversial Extreme Associates, and newly decla L.A. mayoral candidate, vows, “We will continue to do what we do, and we will fight for our right to do it.” Black opines that the list seeks to drive smaller porn producers out of business so the big guns can have the field open for vanilla porn.

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But Ed DeRoo, whose Totally Tasteless Video produces shock-porn titles like Girls Who Puke, reports he’s already begun censoring. “People are going to be targeted, and it’s going to be a terrible thing in the country,” forecasts DeRoo. “Never before have we had a government that’s going to go for censorship like they are.” While Girls Who Puke might be missed by only a select few, the forces behind its demise should give pause to anyone serious about the First Amendment. —Susannah Breslin

Mexican TV Comic’s Passing

For nearly 18 years, Enrique Cuenca and his partner, Eduardo Manzano, brought Spanish-language viewers one of the funniest hours on television. Their show, known as Los Polivoces, poked fun at everyone from Mexican police, to mythical indigenous figures, to everyday characters in the homeland. It was a smash hit in Mexico and abroad, grabbing top ratings for Univision in Los Angeles through the 1970s. The show can still be seen locally on Televisa.

But on December 30, an era ended when Enrique Cuenca died in Mexico City, awaiting a liver transplant.

Cuenca and Manzano got their start when they separately entered a comedy contest and tied for first place. They decided to team up for Los Polivoces. Their popularity led to a prolific career that included 18 films, 18 comedy albums and 60 world tours.

In recent years, however, Cuenca’s career had slowed down. He made few live appearances. Los Polivoces’ family-oriented style of humor was out of fashion. There was talk of a comeback, but Cuenca’s time was cut short. In an interview with Univision.com shortly before his death, Cuenca said, “I am a happy man, with many things yet to accomplish — to entertain people and to take care of my children.”

For a while, however, Los Polivoces brought millions of Mexicans living in Los Angeles a post card from their homeland, at a time when advertisers and Hollywood ignored Spanish-speaking Los Angeles. Cuenca is survived by his wife and four children. He was 70. —Sandra Hernandez

The Gays-Made-Me-Do-It Defense

The John Ashcroft Gay Baiter of the Week award goes to one Ted Moreno, a former Santa Ana city councilman convicted of extortion and money laundering in a scheme to take over that town’s city council. Moreno was sentenced to almost five years in federal prison last week after a jury found him guilty of extorting 31K from a gas-station owner seeking council approval for a beer-and-wine permit. Moreno used the money to fund the campaigns of his political allies.

Which is nothing new in politics anywhere, except for the incible line of defense Moreno employed in justifying his shakedown. Moreno claims that the reason he wanted to take over the Santa Ana City Council was to stop the city’s multimillion-dollar plans to convert its “struggling” downtown (“blighted” is more like it) into an arts district, because said district would attract gays and lesbians. Moreno said he found the trend “troubling.” “I just know that the gay lifestyle is a sin and offensive to God, and it is wrong to take this city in this direction,” said Moreno.

U.S. District Judge Gary L. Taylor turned down Moreno’s request for house arrest so he could “be with his family.” “Moreno is in a state of denial about his crimes,” Taylor said. No kidding. More ridiculous still was Moreno’s claim that he had been “entrapped” by the gas-station owner. A government video showed Moreno high-fiving the informant as he was being handed $2,500.

But as a righteous man, Tony Moreno was only doing the work of the Lord in keeping those Sodomites out of downtown Santa Ana. Because everyone knows that “arts” districts are synonymous with homosexuality, right? Who cares if that part of the city is about as attractive as Rush Limbaugh’s cyst? It’s deliciously ironic, albeit absolutely disgusting, that a corrupt politician would play the “sexual-preference card” to try to get off the hook, but this could well be a sign of things to come in the Dubya-Ashcroft era.

—Johnny Angel

Queer Bill

For decades activists of various political stripes have been launching local currencies. By circulating within one community, the thinking goes, such a scrip would encourage people to spend their money close to home, thus fostering the area’s economy. Sometimes the idea takes off, and sometimes it doesn’t: A planned local tender for Santa Monica never seems to have gotten off the ground, while Santa Barbara’s currency is now on a “healthy hiatus,” according to organizer Bruce Bigenho. The project’s been suspended, Bigenho reports, until its participants can figure out a way to get people to “ascribe value” to the alternative bucks — i.e., to treat them like real money.

OffBeat wishes them luck, but our favorite such project isn’t in Southern California. It’s in Lawrence, Kansas, where the leftish Lawrence Trade Organization has been printing bills that bear the faces of Pélathé, the Shawnee scout who defended the city against Quantrill’s Raiders; Langston Hughes, who spent part of his childhood in the town; and — this is the coolest part — William S. Burroughs, the Beat eminence who lived his last years in Lawrence. The Burroughs bill, we feel, marks substantial social progress: Money art usually honors queens, presidents and other officially designated authority figures, not bitter individualists who despised lawmen and churchmen and anything that stank too much of order.

These days, local money tends to be promoted by mellow Green types. But if you trace the movement back far enough, you’ll find a fairly disreputable collection of often right-wing social critics who mixed their parochial economic views with intricate conspiracy theories. It thus seems appropriate that a local scrip would bear the image of Burroughs, an inveterate conspiracist whose broadsides against social-control systems walked a fine line between deliberate and unconscious metaphor.

On the other hand, it was Burroughs who once likened capitalism to drug addiction, comparing a poor man’s desperation for dollars to a junkie’s hunt for a fix. Of course, given the Lawrence Trade Organization’s ideological intent, the Burroughs bills may seem less like junk than like methadone.

—Jesse Walker

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