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Shit Happened: Scat Porn Trial Begins

“Ladies and gentlemen, we have a jury.” So said Chief U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Alex Kozinski at 4:55 p.m. today, and not a minute too soon. Over the last two days court clerks had sent up three batches of 50 potential jurors apiece to Room 1600 of the U.S. Courthouse in downtown L.A. before Kozinski got 14 panelists who could say they weren’t too Christian or squeamish to sit through three films featuring bestiality and defecation. These movies lie at the heart of U.S. v. Isaacs, a trial that will possibly be the Bush administration’s final federal obscenity prosecution.

The defendant is Ira Isaacs, a 57-year-old South Bronx native who came West in 1978. After knocking about eight years (he briefly worked in the L.A. Weekly’s ad department), Isaacs formed his own ad business, creating art work for flyers and coupons for dry cleaners, pizzerias and dentists. But in 2001 an old yearning for filmmaking led him to form L.A. Media and Stolen Car Films, which specialized in producing scat movies in which young women smear themselves in excrement and eat it.

In January, 2007, the FBI raided his companies’ Koreatown offices; six months later he was charged with six counts of importing and distributing obscene material: a Dutch bestiality film called Gang Bang Horse “Pony Sex Game”; a Japanese scat movie, Mako's First Time Scat, and Isaac’s own production, Hollywood Scat Amateurs #7. (A fourth film and two attendant counts were dropped from the government’s case yesterday.) Isaacs finds it ironic that #7 used simulated feces, while his subsequent, unindicted oeuvre employed the real shit.

Isaacs, in fact, maintains a noticeable sense of humor for a man facing five years of prison time for each of the four counts.

“Hey, last night I found a Nazi Web site that calls me a ‘Jew filmmaker,’” he chuckled in his New York accent. In person Isaacs appears as both a soulful and cunning figure -- part Times Square barker and part misunderstood artist. He wears black sports jackets and open-collar shirts, baggy trousers and loafers; his very black hair is swept back and tied together with a band and a smidgen of a goatee clings to his chin, while a Stephen Colbert “Wrist Strong” bracelet encircles a wrist.

Isaacs, who does not dispute that he distributed the films as charged (but claims they are not obscene), sees himself as a “shock artist” from a long artistic lineage that includes painter-sculptor Marcel Duchamp and comic Lenny Bruce. He says his own film work isn’t pornography because there’s nothing erotic about scat movies (what little sex there may be in these movies is simulated). In a can’t-win-for-trying aside about Gang Bang Horse “Pony Sex Game”, which he imported but did not make, he noted how animals rights activists consider bestiality films cruelty to animals.

“I eat meat,” he admits contritely, “though I wish I didn’t. That’s a hell of a lot crueler for a horse than getting a blow job from a good-looking Dutch girl. My films are not cruel.”

During jury selection, most prospective panelists were forthright in saying why they didn’t want to sit through nearly four hours of animal lovers and poopusa eaters.

“I have a very queasy stomach,” one middle-aged man said. “My friends once took me to a film with an actor named Divine who ate some dog doo-doo and I threw up in my popcorn.”

Some, however, danced around the issue.

“I’m not a moviegoer – I’d fall asleep,” demurred another man.

Tomorrow the show moves to Judge Kozinski’s Ninth Circuit courthouse in Pasadena, where the three remaining films will be screened – after lunch. One thing’s likely: No one will be falling asleep.

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