Loading...

Porn Jitters 

Maybe W. can’t spell “pornography”

Wednesday, Feb 21 2001
Comments

In one of the salient moments during testimony to the Meese Commission, porn sage William Margold remarked wryly to the commissioners that they need not worry about, or waste taxpayer dollars investigating, the adult-entertainment industry.

”Just leave us alone,“ Margold noted ruefully, ”and we‘ll destroy ourselves.“

Well, not quite.

Related Stories

  • Porn Production is Back Following HIV Scare

    The porn industry's L.A.-based trade group announced that production could resume today following an HIV scare that triggered a voluntary moratorium. See also: Porn Industry to Shut Down After Star Turns up HIV+. The Free Speech Coalition said in a statement today that only one performer has turned up positive...
  • Movin' Out

    @ Milken Institute
  • Photography IS a Crime 2

    In the post-9/11 world, you can be questioned by federal agents simply for taking photos of what they believe are security-sensitive buildings. Not only that, but that questioning is often preceded by a "suspicious activity report" (SAR) that stays in your federal file. The ACLU of California is suing the...
  • Porn Company Offers to Help Fix Obamacare Website

    They say that when it comes to the world's high-tech habits, from free content to video streaming, the San Fernando Valley-based porn industry has led the way. If there's a new content delivery system, xxx fans will exploit it first. So maybe we shouldn't be surprised to learn that the...
  • Justine Sacco Gets Interracial Porn Offer

    Ever an Ellis Island for publicly disgraced women, the porn industry is opening its arms once again to a reviled public figure. L.A.-based porn producer Monarchy Distribution is offering public relations executive Justine Sacco the "opportunity" to star in an adult video it would call Justine's African Vacation. Really. Sacco...

In the 16 years since Margold faced what many considered to be a McCarthy-like inquisition designed by the Religious Right to degrade the First Amendment, porn hasn’t exactly committed suicide.

In spite of Margold‘s sarcastic prediction, the L.A.-based industry survived the ReaganBush years and has grown into a thriving enterprise, an octopus with multibillion-dollar tentacles that reach deep into traditional media such as video, cable and print as well as new tech formats including DVD and the Web.

A common cry among the groups opposed to the adult industry has been that ”porn is as readily available in this country as fast food.“

That’s not too much of an exaggeration. Consider that an estimated 25,000 video outlets across the nation stock adult material, with more than 10,000 new porn-video titles released each year. The Internet seems to have multiplied all of that exponentially.

Yet the blue skies and bulging bank accounts that came with the Clinton era are now over, and major porn companies are sounding general quarters for what they are sure will be their first major firefight in a decade. Obscenity busts and trials are looming large on the horizon, they worry, with the only questions being when, where and how.

If the previous two Republican administrations are any indication, veteran First Amendment attorney Jeffrey J. Douglas says, the industry can expect at least 30 or more companies to be targeted by the Justice Department. That was the approximate number of companies that were put in the cross hairs under both Reagan and Bush.

”Some people are predicting that as many as 80 or more companies will be targeted, but I don‘t think they have the staff to handle that,“ Douglas says, adding that the real question confronting the adult industry is how the expected prosecutions will take shape.

If they seek a pure political appeasement of the Religious Right, Douglas says, prosecutors will be less likely to bargain and will push hard for prison sentences. This was the tack they took against adult mail-order companies during the Reagan years, Douglas notes. Yet they could also seek to cripple financially a slew of companies instead, angling to force additional changes upon the industry without seeking to lock up its producers. According to Douglas, that was the approach taken by the previous Bush administration against porn manufacturers more than a decade ago.

Douglas says a new era of Justice Department prosecutions could hammer some companies into oblivion, noting that in 1990 the department’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Unit milked more than $23 million out of more than two dozen companies. Essentially it is the porn equivalent of a drug raid that nets a baggie full of weed in a mansion and -- presto! -- the mansion becomes a trophy in the Drug War. The porn seizures were euphemistically titled ”liquidated forfeiture.“ On average, companies were forced to pay $1.2 million each.

Yet the fact is, the porn industry didn‘t just survive those dark days, but thrived in the aftermath and even pushed the sexual envelope further.

So it is surprising -- given the depth, breadth and financial clout of the industry -- that top production and distribution companies are scrambling as if the very industry itself may not survive Hurricane Dubya.

The scope of their angst, which has been slowly building ever since George W. Bush fought off Senator John McCain in last year’s primaries, has reached something of a zenith in recent weeks with the inauguration of Bush and the confirmation of John Ashcroft as attorney general.

The highlight -- or nadir -- of this collective hand wringing emerged in mid-January in a 24-point list of guidelines that producers and directors are expected to follow when making a porn flick.

Dubbed the ”Cambria List“ after the lawyer who crafted it, First Amendment attorney Paul J. Cambria, the guidelines effectively put to an end a host of sexual acts that range from the bizarre to the basic.

Suddenly verboten are scenes in which the models seem to be experiencing ”unhappiness or pain,“ as are scenes that put female models on the receiving end of some of the vitriolic tirades that have become a trademark of such porn trailblazers as Max Hardcore.

Carrots, cucumbers and other phallic-shaped produce have been spared degradation as well, as food is no longer fair game as sex toys.

Related Content

Now Trending

  • Sexual Predator Is Targeting Females in Eastside Park

    A sexual predator is on the loose in an Eastside park, police warned today. Cops say the creep has targeted "lone females" walking in Ernest E. Debs Regional Park three times between January and July. He has groped, exposed himself and even attacked with a knife, the Los Angeles Police...
  • U.S. Reps Call For Federal Intervention in Dodger TV Blackout

    A group of local U.S. representatives wants the Federal Communications Commission to help end Time Warner Cable's blackout of Dodger games for competing cable and satellite providers. Negotiations to bring the team's games to AT&T U-verse, Charter Communications, Cox Communications, DirecTV, Dish Network, Mediacom, Suddenlink Communications and Verizon FIOS have gotten...
    2
  • Foster the People's Downtown L.A. Mural Is Coming Down

    The controversial Foster the People mural downtown is coming down, the office of L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced today. Despite claims by the pop band that it had necessary permits and that the artwork was legitimately produced, the mayor's office states what we reported previously: The piece is on a...
Los Angeles Concert Tickets

Slideshows

  • Street League Skateboarding Super Crown World Championship
    On Sunday, Street League Skateboarding touched down in the Galen Center at USC as part of a four-stop tour for SLS's Super Crown World Championship. The L.A. stop determined the roster for Super Crown, airing August 24th on FOX Sports 1. The final eight are Nyjah Huston, Luan Oliveira, Torey Pudwill, Shane O'Neill, Paul Rodriguez, Chaz Ortiz, Matt Berger and Ishod Wair. All photos by Nanette Gonzales.
  • Comic-Con's "Celebrity" Autograph Area
    A sometimes overlooked (but still incredibly unique) aspect of San Diego Comic-Con are the celebs available to sign autographs, as well as the autograph seekers themselves. If you've ever wanted to meet the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld or the guy who played Michelangelo in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, chances are, as you wander the Autograph Area, you'll be able to connect with someone you didn't even realize you were waiting your whole life to meet! All photos by Rob Inderrieden.
  • Real Madrid Soccer Practice at UCLA
    Fans came out to greet world champion soccer team Real Madrid as they practice at UCLA. This is the first time that soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo has practiced with the team this year. All photos by Jeff Cowan.