FSC Membership Meeting Features 'Presidential Debate'

NORTH HOLLYWOOD, Calif. - The Free Speech Coalition's first membership meeting under new executive director Diane Duke took place Tuesday evening after the close of the Adult Novelty Expo, and the invited guests delivered all-star information and entertainment.

First up was Hustler editor Bruce David (pictured), filling in for publisher Larry Flynt, who'd been invited at the last minute to appear on the Larry King Show to discuss Hustler's outing of Sen. David Vitter as a client of D.C. Madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey.

David lauded Flynt's unswerving activism for free speech causes, and gave some details of how Hustler crime reporter Dan Moldea had managed to link up with Palfrey, noting that Moldea was one of just four people to get an advance look at the list of client phone numbers that Palfrey was to release a few days later. Upon discovering Vitter's number on the list, David described a flurry of phone calls between Moldea, himself and Flynt as to how to handle the matter -- a debate settled by Flynt saying, "Get the son of a bitch."

"We're going after hypocrites and liars," David announced, noting that of the 280 responses Hustler had received to its ad in the Washington Post seeking information on Washington insiders' sexual indiscretions, the staff was following up on the 25 most promising ones.

Commenting on the Bush administration's flagrant disregard for the truth, David averred, "The issues these days go far beyond the sex industry," and said that the industry's enemies are "dangerous [but] they're really stupid."

The highlight of the meeting, however, was the "presidential debate" -- that is, a panel of past FSC presidents responding to questions from moderator Robert Raben, FSC's Washington lobbyist.

The panel, which consisted of Nick Boyias, Julie Stewart, Gloria Leonard, Jim Everett and Scott Tucker, represented all of FSC's past presidents except Lenny Friedlander, who was kept away by a family emergency.

Boyias took Raben's invitation to contrast adult industry productions with Hollywood's to recount his travails in producing the award-winning mainstream feature Quinceanera, helmed by adult industry director Wash West at a final cost of over $900,000. Boyias noted that just about everyone connected with the film, including distributor Sony Pictures Classics, made a profit except himself, then warning, "Stay in porn; that's where the money is."

Stewart used her five minutes to talk about how she got involved in FSC in the first place -- she'd grown tired of complaining that she didn't know what Free Speech did for the industry, so she joined to find out -- and noted that the current political scene presents many challenges for industry members, whom she saw as adrift in an "atmosphere of political malaise." Her answer for that condition was the recognition that people need to be informed of what the industry's enemies are doing, and suggested that manufacturers slip political "fact sheets" into product boxes .. and possibly even postcards pre-addressed to legislators, letting them know that, "I'm a happy sex toy user" or "I'm a happy porn viewer."

Leonard opened her segment with several thank-yous, particularly to FSC board member Sid Grief for having donated 87,000 frequent flyer miles so Leonard could jet in from her home in Hawaii to attend the meeting. She was asked to comment on what changes she had seen in the present-day industry from her perspective as an early porn star. Leonard decried the lack of storyline features currently being produced, saying that today's content is much the same as the 8mm loops that were popular when she was first starting out; that adult features are much more readily available now, and in more varied forms, than in the mid-'70s, noting that in those days, movies played for a week in theaters and were then forgotten.

"I do sort of miss the good old days," she concluded.

Current FSC president Jim Everett, who works as a consultant for, among others, the Lion's Den chain of retail stores, was asked about how the recently-enacted SB 16 will affect his home state of Ohio, as well as the rest of the country. Everett then detailed the fight being waged by the Buckeye Association of Club Executives, whose members include both adult cabaret and adult bookstore owners, and the newly-formed Citizens for Community Standards to gather enough voter signatures to put the new law on the November ballot. Everett listed some of the "bad guys" -- Citizens for Community Values founder Phil Burress; former newspaper publisher Carl Linder; Cintas owner Richard Farmer -- and some of the good ones, which surprisingly included Ohio's Chamber of Commerce.

Noting that he expects to have obtained over 100,000 signatures by this weekend, Everett stated, "This is about a serious loss of freedoms."

Topco Sales owner Scott Tucker batted clean-up for the panel, assessing what he considered to be the most important issues facing the industry today -- and not surprisingly, he dealt with the "obscene device" laws currently on the books in seven states, which he noted represent 14% of the country.

"They can buy guns but they can't buy a dildo," Tucker exclaimed, suggesting that perhaps some group should be formed which has as its slogan, "Save The Dildos."

Finally, FSC board chair Jeffrey Douglas took the microphone to give the group a short update on the new 2257 regulations, much of which was summarized on a "fact sheet" distributed by ASACP executive director and FSC board member Joan Irvine.

On the down side, Douglas noted that "lascivious exhibition of the genitals" had been added as a category triggering the requirement to keep 2257 records, and that such exhibition need not even be nude; a "filled jockstrap" could be sufficient to trigger compliance.

Declaring that 2257 was not about child porn, but is "designed to entrap you," Douglas warned that 2257 compliance "is something you must discuss with a lawyer," and that "This is potentially a life or death fight for the industry."

He urged attendees to check out the Free Speech website in the near future for tips and forms on how to comment to the Justice Department on the new regulations, and stated that Free Speech will be taking legal action to protect the industry from the harmful effects of the new regs.