Secret's Comments on My Porn or
This ones to my friend Dave, who
unfortunately I must disagree with. In any court proceeding, any court ruling
anywhere can be introduced and serve as precedent. When the judge reads the
lawyers briefs he decides just how much weight to give that precedent. Precedent
established in California pertaining to film making is extremely powerful. It is
so because California has a vast court system which over the years has heard
thousands of cases. This is especially so in entertainment law, where many, many
cases have been decided in California courts. The Freeman case precedent is
particularly important in light of the fact that it is a decision of the
California Supreme Court which no court of comparable standing has ever refuted
the logic of. Are you 100% incorrect, no. Could the local, yocal judge of the
kangaroo court whose daughter is dating the police chief's son disregard the
Freeman decision. Suppose he could. I do know in our case, the local DA made
that exact argument (California law does not apply in Nevada). When he did so
the federal judge looked at him like he ought to go back to law school. This
judge BTW was a Reagan appointed, Republican, conservative, Mormon judge who
going in we were told would probably rule against us. Why did he rule our way?
The Freeman precedent is too important to ignore for a competent judge.
As far as the private dancer case, the Freeman precedent only applies to film. Arguing that Freeman protects any activities out side the boundaries of film making is frankly mistaken. Furthermore, my lawyer (Mr. Lichtenstein) told me that the amount of first amendment protection afforded film making is considerably higher than that for live performance (for a variety of reasons). Film is held to an obscenity standard where as live performances can be regulated in a number of ways. The best example of this is the various strip club ordinances being passed and upheld by the courts around the country.
On the video studio in Phoenix, I would suggest to you that the operators were in over their heads. That kind of operation would in deed be a risky business. They should have known the laws going in, had a game plan for fighting when the cops inevitably knocked on their door and most of all had the necessary funds to hire competent legal advice. They probably did none of those things. I actually doubt, they were convicted but rather just agreed to close. That would be an option the authorities would almost certainly present to them because they (the authorities) would know that in any lengthy court proceeding, the Freeman decision would almost certainly be brought forth and they (the authorities again) would lose. If they agree to close, it is a huge win for the prosecutors because they not only rid themselves of the problem, but they convince other people (such as you Dave) that making adult videos in their locale is illegal. The reality is (if you have presented the case properly) the video studio operators for one reason or another, did not fight it properly.
You are correct we did not get a
constitutional ruling from the judge on the validity of Freeman in Nevada,
however the decisions he made, had huge implications here. At the time of the
case, my company was the only company based in Las Vegas shooting adult films,
there are now counting the internet hundreds. About a year after our case, DA
Stewart Bell told Channel 8 news here, that shooting adult videos was NOT
illegal in Las Vegas. This was a complete reversal of their previous position.
On the obscenity issue any adult film could be so charged however there are great difficulties in getting convictions. One difficulty is 18USC2257 itself which establishes record requirements for adult film making. Another even greater difficulty is getting all 12 jurors to agree to establish community standards, which to be obscene the film must be in violation of. The classic example occurred here in Vegas at the Talk Of The Town Video Store. The store was owned by three Vegas businessmen (one of whom is my friend) and Reuben Steurman. Mr Steurman for those of you unfamiliar, was the one person most responsible for the distribution of porn in modern America. He started out in the 1950s distributing comic books, advanced to magazines, loops, eventually formed General Video (the country's largest distributor) Steurman refused to pay taxes saying it was aiding the enemy. Needless to say the feds hated him. Back to Talk Of The Town, in the peeps at the store, they were showing some pretty crazy stuff (animals, GS, scat etc). The owners were charged with 8 counts of obscenity for 8 separate films. At the trial, the prosecution presented each film to the jury with an explanation as to why it should be considered obscene. When it came time to view one particular film (scat) the defendants rather than have the jury see the film, conceded that it was not necessary to view the film because it was indeed obscene. This was done on the advice of their lawyer, who felt that the film was so dirty that it would turn the jury against the defendants. When the jury went in for deliberations, one woman (a school teacher that the defendants had tried to keep off the jury) said that she didn't care, everyone in all the films was an adult and that she intended to vote not guilty on all 8 counts! She could not be budged even on the unseen film the defendants conceded was obscene! Hung jury, everybody walked. BTW, they later agreed to close the store to avoid a retrial.
The Talk Of The Town case is the classic example of not only the difficulties of prosecuting adult films for obscenity but also why it will be pointless to pursue in an increasingly accepting society. In the last several months there have been trials of Seymore Butts and Max Hardcore. Neither resulted in conviction (although Seymore had to cop a plea due to monetary considerations). I could of saved them the trouble (and the taxpayers some money) Listen up prosecutors! An LA jury will never convict Max Hardcore. If you bother to retry, he'll walk again. I think they really think they can get him but they won't. BTW, Obscenity laws will soon be about as relevant as kissing in public ordinances. It's why I think, the next federal attack will be on the internet and those sites not in compliance with 18USC.
Summary of Issues by Stevi Secret
As you read this, there are two important
points to bear in mind 1)Facts are not necessarily facts (it depends on how you
look at them) 2)What is more important? The constitutional rights of all
American citizens OR the right of the government to enforce petty pimping or
prostitution laws even if they infringe on those rights.
1) Before I start, I will concede that having a camera does not make one necessarily immune from prosecution. No one can guarantee that every cop or every DA everywhere will have such respect for one's first amendment rights, that they would never tread on them. In fact, it is safe to assume the opposite. For the sake of this discussion, let's say that the odds of a person being arrested are no different, camera or not. So now let's assume that an unfortunate hobbyist has been caught filming himself with a pornstar escort. He's been arrested and now must defend in court what he was doing in that hotel room with that girl and that camera.
2) In every court case there are facts. These facts will be presented to a jury. The prosecution will present it's version of the facts, the defendant will offer it's version of those same facts. Generally, those who disagree with me have already presented what will be the prosecution's version of those facts, ie that the camera is meaningless, paying for sex is paying for sex and that's illegal.
3) Considering that the hobbyist brought the camera along for the purposes of offering a defense; Furthermore considering that he will not be so stupid as to say "I hire prostitutes to provide me sexual gratification"; He will offer up the following version of the facts, which I will call "Mr Smith Goes To Court". "Your honor, over the years I have watched numerous adult movies. I became a fan of these types of movies. In fact, I became such a fan of these movies that when I was having sex with my girlfriend, I would fantasize that she was a famous adult film star or that I was Ron Jeremy (a chuckle goes through the courtroom). One day I said to myself, you know, I'm tired of fantasizing. I want to be just like Jeremy, I want to live my fantasy. Anyway, I heard about this strip club, Stevi Secret's Nude Cabaret (that's me chuckling). Every week they bring an adult fim star into town (lol-me again). So I began to go down to the club to meet some of, can I say pornstars, your Honor (courtroom chuckling this time). You know what, the ladies were almost, well except for blankety-blank (more chuckling), very nice. Better yet your Honor, when I asked them if i could film them with me, many of them said yes. They would tell me how much they charged for a scene. I would pay them. I made some great movies with some beautiful women. Now, your honor, I don't sell these movies or anything. I'm really just a State Farm Insurance Agent (everyone is now chuckling). I don't want to go into the porn industry or anything like that. I just want to exercise my constitutional right to make a legal, non obscene adult movie with a consenting adult film actress. Sir please, if I can say just one more thing. Sometimes. late at night, I watch some of the movies I made. You know what, your Honor. I'm better than that damn Ron Jeremy!" Courtroom explodes in a combination of laughter and applause (End scene)
4) Obviously, I'm having a little fun with this but unfortunately some of you guys sound like a bunch of over worked prosecutors from Hazzard County with talk of sexual gratification and circumventing prostitution laws. If you are a hobbyist using a camera why frame your arguments on their terms? There is a preponderance of law (Freeman, 18USC2257, the Ohio Decision or how about the First Amendment) that suggests that you have a constitutional right to make an adult movie. The film style, picture quality, lighting, sales potential and yes even the funding are all side issues. They are not important when viewed constitutionally.
5) The government cannot pass laws which infringe the rights of the citizens. Think about it. What were they really after in the Freeman case? Simple isn't it. If you cannot pay actresses to perform in adult movies, it will be very difficult to produce such movies. If a law makes it more difficult for the citizens to exercise their constitutional rights, it is called "prior restraint", which is on it's face unconstitutional. While the California court took on the logic of the state pandering law (who's the pimp, who's the john, who's the prostitute) what they were really doing was protecting the First Amendment rights of film makers. Furthermore, when adult film producers like Mr Freeman or even little old Stevi's Secrets win in court, the victories big and small were not just for other commercial companies. They were for all Americans. Paying actresses to make movies is not a right reserved to Vivid or Ed Powers or John Stagliano. You don't need a business license to exercise your rights. Think about that! Better yet if you are using a camera and ever have to, argue it that way, you'll win!
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