Monday, March 31, 2008
Friday, March 28, 2008
This article that I discovered at the TampaBay.com website explains the whole deal of how the sex media and sex work is steadily blowing up in the Sun Coast and South Beach....and the possibility of, favorable court decisions pending, there could be a serious alternative developing to Silicone Valley (aka, the San Fernando Valley in Cali) as a production center.
Tampa Bay.com: Tampa's newest porn star? It could be you
Snicker if you must, but Tampa's adult film industry — and Florida's as a whole — is no joke.
An October cover story in the Adult Video News examined Florida's burgeoning role in the adult film biz, crediting a wealth of talent, a permissive attitude toward nudity (especially in South Florida) and a "healthy and vibrant strip-club scene" for creating a de facto "East Coast branch of the San Ferndando Valley's near-monolithic Porn, Inc."
But when it comes to porn, you're not likely to hear local chambers of commerce crowing about industry growth. Hundreds of Florida adult Web sites prefer not to advertise their location, lest they draw the ire of community leaders.
It happened with Voyeur Dorm, a site featuring college-age babes lounging around a West Tampa house. Claiming the site violated local zoning standards, city officials wanted it shut down. Voyeur Dorm argued that the "business" at hand was actually taking place in cyberspace, and therefore not subject to local ordinances, and it won. The city appealed the decision all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, but Voyeur Dorm still came out on top.
Still, conflicts like these are why the adult industry carries on mostly outside the eye of the public. And for amateur pornographers, that can pose a ton of legal problems.
Take the case of Clinton McCowen, a.k.a. Ray Guhn, who ran a few successful adult Web sites from outside Pensacola. In 2006, McCowen was arrested on charges including racketeering, obscenity and prostitution.
Yep. Authorities say McCowen and partner Kevin Patrick Stevens paid women to have sex on camera, which, when you get right down to it, does sound a lot like prostitution.
But it's not prostitution, say porn advocates. It's art.
"If it has artistic value, then it's not obscene," said St. Petersburg attorney Brandon Kolb, who's running the show at Porn Camp. "You're not hiring people to perform a sexual activity. You're hiring people to perform their interpretation of a theatrical role."
Don't laugh. In 1989, the California supreme court ruled that participants in an adult film were doing it solely for the money, not their own sexual gratification, and therefore couldn't face prostitution or pandering charges.
The case, California vs. Freeman, helped solidify the state's status as a porn mecca. In the years since, officials elsewhere have been loath to pursue similar charges against porn producers, lest their states become similar hotbeds of X-rated action. That's partially what's at stake in the Ray Guhn case, which will go to trial in late June.
"If we get a decision like they got in Freeman," said Larry Walters, McCowen's Orlando attorney, "that would clearly open up the floodgates and allow the creation of adult material without fear of prosecution under prostitution laws."
If that happens, watch out — Florida's under-the-radar porn industry might suddenly take center stage.
Hmmm....didn't our fearless blog founder just get back from a roadie in Florida today??? Just a coincidence, no doubt.... ;-)
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Since this scandal hit the news, the media has been all over contacting high-profile sex workers for their perspective on the sex industry, especially the high-end call-girl/powerful client end of it. There was a very good interview with Audacia Ray on the New York City public radio Brian Lehrer Show. (I also have quite a bit to say in the commentary thread following the audio of the post – shameless self-plug.) However, much of the desired level of conversation by members of the mainstream media hasn't exactly been so high-minded, and in at least a few cases, the interviewers have essentially played the role of cheap johns, wanting simply some salacious statements to sell copy, and barring in advance any discussion of the bigger issues. (Readers of this and other porn and sex work blogs may recognize a pattern at work here when it comes to the relationship between sex workers and the larger media and entertainment industry.) In a rather exemplary display of principle over publicity, Audacia Ray writes that she turned down an interview with MSNBC for this very reason. Audacia, you rock!
On another topic, "Thomas", a guest blogger on Feministe has just posted on the death of Shannon Wilsey, aka Savannah. (No, its not an anniversary of any kind, just a subject he felt like talking about.) On one hand, he's pretty right on the money with his pointing out that a lot of the male celebs who she played around with couldn't be bothered with her when she was in need during her life, nor even bother to show up for her funeral after her death. (Exception: Pauly Shore, of all people – otherwise, a variation on the same pattern of behavior toward sex workers as I was talking about earlier.) The flip side of the piece is a certain moralistic tone the piece takes "These were young women with few prospects. The patriarchy dangled a wad of bills in front of them if they would put on sexual performances for men. Then it treated them like shit when they took it. Sex objects, objects of curiosity, objects of scorn. To which I would add, "objects of pity and condescension for feminists".
First, she was not completely alone toward the end of her life – she was actually pretty close to a number of other porn performers and people in the industry. (Albeit, quite a few others despised her as a prima donna.) The Feministe piece ignores this in favor of the "exploited by the porn industry she hated" angle. Second, for all of the very real demons Shannon Wilsey clearly had, the whole passive victim of The Patriarchy script we see at work here really doesn't do her story any justice. For better or worse, Shannon Wilsey played a very active role in remaking herself into Savannah, first as a celebrity groupie, then as a top porn star. Shannon/Savannah was someone with great sexual charisma, an exceptional "hottie", and like anybody with an exceptional ability or gift, had a lot of her self-image wrapped up in that. In the end, probably too much, but nonetheless, she was who she was, and those who dismiss her as a mere victim of male objectification or empty hedonism and little more do nothing to honor her memory.