Photo: Krystal Ramirez

Are the Puritans Coming for Your Porn?

Last weekend’s AVN convention brought hundreds of porn stars to the Hard Rock Hotel, where they posed for photos, signed autographs and peddled the all-important merch to tens of thousands of fans. It’s been a Las Vegas tradition for decades but, it’s one the incoming federal administration may seek to change.

The seminar, “When the Whip Comes Down” provided a platform for veterans of past First Amendment battles to share their war stories and warn the younger generation that the future of porn will not be as smooth as its present. “The industry has had eight years of wonderfulness with no 2257 inspections, no obscenity prosecutions. Well, fasten your seatbelts,” said lawyer Clyde DeWitt.

You wouldn’t think these would be tough times for adult entertainment: Donald Trump appeared in three Playboy softcore films (only as an actor, phew) and we’ve all seen the products of Melania Trump’s days as a nude/lingerie model. Yet the 2017 Republican platform declared pornography “a public health crisis” and “a public menace.” Jeff Sessions, Trump’s nominee for attorney general, declared in hearings that adult obscenity laws should be “vigorously prosecuted” and expressed interest in reviving the Justice Department’s shuttered Obscenity Prosecution Task Force.  

“In the 1980s, there were massive searches and seizures and there were multiple federal prosecutions all over the country,” recalled DeWitt, “Now we face the same prospects because we’re about to have an attorney general who feels the same way Edwin Meese felt when he was trying to annihilate the industry.”

The open-mindedness of the people in our country appears to be changing and increasing … [but] the increased regulation on our industry could be devastating.” John Stagliano, owner of Evil Angel productions

“The real question with Trump is how much he wants to be involved in being president,” said lawyer Reed Lee. “If he is a hands-on president who directs policy according to what he thinks is important … I don’t know that he has any personal animosity toward adult entertainment. My fear is that if Trump wants to cruise through four years and leave policy matters to others, the people who are in place to step up are not friends of this industry. [Vice-President] Mike Pence is a very conservative, very religious guy.”

Eric Paul Leue, executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, a trade organization for the adult industry also expressed uncertainty about the future. “We do not know what to expect of a President Trump; we do not know what is going to come,” but the odds don’t look good. He continued: “But we do know that [Trump] vowed that porn is a public health crisis and signed a pledge by Enough Is Enough, which is one of the most terrifying and challenging hate groups against our industry They’re looking at blaming us on children watching adult content, they’re looking at blaming us that consuming or watching adult content makes your brain shrink; they’re looking to think about how we increase teenage pregnancy rates, etc. They want to blame every single social issue that they didn’t want to address on this one ‘person’ in the room.”

The open-mindedness of the people in our country appears to be changing and increasing,” pointed out John Stagliano, owner of Evil Angel productions, but he also noted that, “the increased regulation on our industry could be devastating.” It’s uncertain how many young dudes taking a break from 4Chan to Google fetishes or the middle-aged white guys out on the convention floor snapping photos of their XXX faves realize that Trump could be the guy who puts everyone’s clothes back on. Leue concluded with a directive that many might want to keep in mind: “Only when we fight, do we win. So let’s fight.”

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