The Death of a Thousand Cuts
by Carter Stevens
Copyright 1996 Amsterdam Films, Inc. All rights reserved
as Printed in
Volume 3 Number 5
of THE S & M NEWS
The opinions expressed in this editorial are solely the opinions of Carter
as such they represent the opinions and attitudes of
THE S & M NEWS
and if you don't agree with them please feel free to contact him and
intelligently present your counter views. If these opinions just piss you off
and you don't have anything intelligent to say in response please
Fuck off and Die.
The adult entertainment industry (also called the porno business by
those of us without shame about what we do) is under going a major upheaval at
the moment. But before I tell you about it, first a history lesson.
In the 25 plus years I have been a smut maven I have had to get used to the idea
that because I deal with (whisper it) S-E-X I will always be a target for those
bible thumping blue nosed prigs who can't abide someone else having more fun in
their bedroom (or living room, or God forbid dungeon) then they themselves have.
Since most of them don't have any fun in bed except by reading their
bibles they want everyone else to suffer along with them. Although it has been
proven time and time again that pornography is NOT harmful to adults, every time
someone with authority says that out loud the up tights trot out some other up
tight assholes to say it ain't so (remember Nixon and the Meese commission?).
But, with very few exceptions over the years, the government has never really
been able to convince a jury that selling "dirty movies" (or books) is
really a bad enough deed to send someone to prison.
On the other hand they never really had to send porn makers to prison. All
they had to do was harass them enough that it cost them everything they had just
to stay out of prison and pretty soon even the most die hard believer in the
free enterprise system would get the message and get out of the business.
With the unlimited deep pocket of the U.S. taxpayer (local or federal)
authorities could afford to bring charges against those "evil" men
from California or New York in some jerk water town in Tennessee or Texas or
Florida or even Hawaii. Anywhere where the poor slob would have to incur massive
bills for travel back and forth, time and time again to defend himself, plus
legal fees that would make even O.J. weep.
I, myself, have personally paid for one lawyer's summer home over the years
and none of my cases even went to trial. But, then along came the VCR. People
no longer had to go to sleazy theaters to see smut. They could just walk
discreetly into that little room in their local video store and rent a copy of "Debbie
does Everybody" along with a copy of "Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang"
for the kids (with CCBB discreetly on top of the stack of rentals at the check
They could take the smut de jour home, pop it into the VCR and screw or
whack their brains out in the privacy of their own home. As a result, it got
harder and harder for the Gestapo minded elements in the government to convince
even the most balanced of juries (or worse for them) grand juries to allow them
to drain the smut peddlers wallets anymore.
Everyone was watching porn movies. Adult films comprised over 20% of the
total video market in the early days and although that figure has shrunk to
under 10% of the total market today it still represents Millions of viewers. So
did the blue noses give up? Please grow up. This left them with too damn much
time on their hands and since they don't screw at home they still needed to
screw someone at work.
First they targeted kinky sex. Since the average person still (and
falsely) believes there is something "wrong" with S/M, or enemas for
sex sake, or fantasy role playing in general, etc. the prigs in power went
after the kinky smut. Thus sex was removed from fetish films. Now this
personally pisses me off no end since to me S/M is foreplay, but because I'm
aggressively Hetro I have no wish to continue my sex play in the all male
environment of my local jail. As a result you can't buy a real fetish and sex
video in this country anymore. The sex is always simulated or worse just hinted
at. But that removes fetish films (or videos) from the ranks of the "sexually
So with S/M out of their reach the forces for "good" turned to
the one last sure fire weapon in their arsenal: Kiddie porn. Everyone hates
kiddie porn. Even the smut peddlers hate kiddie porn. So who can argue when
Congress passes an anti kiddie porn bill. But the fact is that pornographers
don't make kiddie porn, child molesters make kiddie porn. No one has ever made
a dime off real kiddie porn. The people who make and distribute kiddie porn
trade the damn stuff to other child molesters who make it for the same reason.
True the government has convicted several child molesters through the
kiddie porn act but everyone of them was caught some other way than from selling
the damn stuff. The only cases involving the selling of kiddie porn I know of in
the last five years involved "sting" operations where the GOVERNMENT
agents were the sellers. But Hell, like I said everyone hates kiddie porn, so
how can you fight a bill to protect the little ones from us big bad smut
peddlers? You can't, so you stay away from anyone you suspect might be underage,
and you keep on churning out what you hope is high quality smut for the adult
market. But since smut is in the mind of the beholder the anti smut forces felt
they had to do "something" to wipe out this scourge of prurient
Which brings us to the present and the new Federal Labeling and Record
Keeping Act [18 U.S.C. section 2257 (a)-(c) and 28 C.F.R. Part 75]. Actually a
small section of the Federal Child Pornography Protection Act, the new "labeling
law" requires anyone in the adult business to keep copious records
including copies of photo IDs, releases, etc. of anyone in any video and/or
photo containing "Actual sexually-explicit conduct" which has been
defined explicitly to include "sadistic or masochistic ABUSE"
(emphasis added. The old S/M abuse nonsense again, but that's another matter.)
These records must be kept in multiple copies and cross referenced about
sixteen ways to Sunday and the real name and physical address of the record
keeper must appear in every publication and or video released.
What this law is supposedly meant to do is protect the kiddies by forcing
us "dirty" pornographers to stand up in the bright glare of public
knowledge and letting anyone know who we are and where we are. This is supposed
to make us give up and slink into the night like the evil persons we truly are.
Now since almost every piece of clothing I own has my name and a naked
chained girl hand painted on it somewhere and since I work out of my rather
modest little home and my address is plastered all over everything I produce,
print, or distribute, this doesn't mean much to me.
(And for the record Lexington Ave, P.O.Box 727 is my physical address
because we live in the sticks and don't have street numbers and EVERYONE has a
P.O. Box number because the U.S. Mail doesn't deliver to our houses way out here
in the woods, even though I'm five minutes from a major interstate exit.)
But what makes this law such a pain in the ass is that because of legal
battles through the courts it has not gone into effect until now and now it is
retroactive to November 1, 1990!! Which means we have to go back over 5 years
of material, find releases and Photo IDs and start filing them and cross filing
them and checking every ad and every story with photos and every video and send
copies of all this material to the distributor who must also keep copies on file
and cross file them, etc, etc, etc. In short we must bury ourselves in a
mountain of paperwork just to prove that we didn't use anyone under age.
Again this sounds reasonable in theory, and who doesn't want to protect
these poor children from the evil clutches of the many pornographers just
waiting at every school yard to ensnare their tender little bodies in dirty
nasty porno films. But, by now I think everyone knows the story of little Traci
Lords, the poor defenseless lass from the Midwest who came to the big bad city
of Los Angeles, got herself a phony ID good enough to fool the U.S. Passport
office and wound up in Major smut rags and videos at the tender age of 15. This
little shark fooled everyone in the adult business and caused the first Million
Dollar recall in the history of the smut trade. And were the evil smut providers
driven out of the business by the child pornography act? Hell, no. Since she
provided them with a photo ID issued by a government agency they were all free
and clear from prosecution.
So much for the child protection aspect of the child protection act. But
the other aspects of the law, and the real reason it is effectively hurting many
adult oriented pornographers is that most of them are fly by night, in and out
of the business or just plain lousy bookkeepers. Many companies are scrambling
to find actors, actresses, models, advertisers, etc who they have used in the
past and get photo IDs from them. However, since many of the models, etc are
even more fly by night than the producers it is proving to be a chore. I,
personally, am in a much better position than most of my competitors. Because of
my run ins with the law many years ago I have always kept a copy of a photo ID
from any one I use in a video. Since a large percentage of our material is
generated either from or with people in our videos we are in pretty good shape
as far as the new law is concerned. But even for us the new law is hurting us
where it was really meant to, in the pocket book.
Our distributor has returned to us 6 of our latest magazines which were in
various stages of production so we can fix them to comply with the new law.
Having to pull the magazines cost them money and having to redo them with the
proper forms, records, etc. will cost us time and money. We have been lucky. Out
of 6 magazines we have had to pull only one photo shoot because of a lack of
proper records. (Ok, I fess up, I probably misplaced the ID) But nevertheless
our cash flow has dried up, and since it takes 3-5 months to get a magazine from
production to news stand we will have no new material (or cash) appearing for
several months. And you try to tell American Express or Sears that your payment
will be late this month because of a new provision in the Federal anti-kiddie
porn act. I think not.
So once again the forces for good triumph over evil. At a cost of only
millions of your money the government will cost us thousands of our money in
trying to comply with another senseless regulation all to protect you from your
evil self. Another little slice in the death of 1000 cuts strategy the blue
noses have adopted to combat pornography. Is it working? Damned if I know, but
I'm still stocking up on Band aids, and what the hell, scarification is a fetish
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