PORN VALLEY—Paul F. Little, formerly Inmate #44902-112 of the La Tuna Federal Prison until late last January, and then a resident of a halfway house in Long Beach until June, has regained his cowboy hat along with his Max Hardcore persona—and he dropped by last week to give AVN readers the lowdown on what he's been up to, and his plans for the future. Hint: They don't include shooting movies with women pissing, vomiting, fisting or getting fisted.
"First, I'd like to emphasize that my U.S. versions, which are the only movies that I'm offering now, are completely safe and sanitized of all offensive material that might otherwise incur any unwanted scrutiny," Hardcore assured. "We've taken out, in our U.S. versions, which I personally have never been prosecuted for, all the material that would be considered offensive. I've got over 200 titles in my library, and I still am releasing them, and fortunately a few people have stuck with me that really have some balls and believe in free speech, and are putting their money where their mouth is. The distributors now can distribute our movies with confidence."
Max's problems, which led to his prosecution in Tampa, Florida in 2008, were all caused by both the European versions of his movies, which included all the activities mentioned above, and the trailers he posted for those movies on his website—a site which remains under government ownership, though he's now got a new one: MaxHardcoreTV.com.
"I'd like to emphasize that our U.S. videos are, by comparison, tamer than much of the material that's available now; some of those other scenes are really strong," He noted. "When we were going through this ordeal, I had a chance to talk to the prosecutors and people surrounding the case, and they said specifically what they were looking for was the European material; they weren't concerned with and they weren't going after the American versions, so people can distribute our movies with confidence."
Indeed; his movies are still available for viewing on sites like AEBN and Adult Rentals, and his DVDs are still being distributed by companies like Premier Sales and Nova Products, but the fallout from his trial still remains, and many companies are still afraid to stock his American-version product, even though it played no part in his prosecution.
"Some people still don't understand the difference between the U.S. and European versions," he said, "and it's quite simple: The European versions are more explicit. They contain acts of urination and fisting that have never been in the U.S. versions. That's what I was prosecuted for. They've even told me face to face, that if you make this American stuff, we'll never bother you, but if you make this [European] stuff, we're gonna come back."
Hardcore spent almost exactly two years in one federal prison or another, during which time he took courses to rid him of his overindulgence in booze; then six months in the halfway house, where he had to regain his freedoms little by little.
"I was really punished; I really paid my dues here," Hardcore emphasized. "Not only was I sentenced to 46 months, which is comparable to what Dr. Conrad Murray was recently sentenced to, for assisting in the killing of a great public figure [singer Michael Jackson]. I got the same penalty and was fined nearly $100,000 all told, so I'm asking the distributors to get up and do the right thing and support me. They should do this for several reasons. First of all, it's the right thing to do; second of all, I took a bullet for the industry. I set the mark. We know now what you can do and what you can't do. Before that, a lot of people were doing similar things, but it was me that got busted."
What many don't realize, but which Hardcore's had plenty of time to think about, is that both of the other major obscenity prosecutions of the past few years—John Stagliano/Evil Angel and Jeff Mike/JM Productions—didn't result in jury acquittals for the defendants. In the case of JM, charges were dropped just as the trial of co-defendants began, after the government failed to establish through proper evidence that JM had shipped the movies in question to Five Star Video in Phoenix—but that didn't stop the Five Star defendants from being convicted anyway. In the Stagliano case, the government attorneys were poorly prepared—something Judge Richard Leon even noted on the record from the bench—and there were several evidentiary foul-ups as well, all of which led Judge Leon to order a verdict of "not guilty" from the bench without the case going to the jury. (None of the foregoing is meant to diminish the excellent work done by defense counsel in both cases. In fact, it was their tireless work that brought about those good results.)
"If you're in this industry, one would hope and assume that you're a believer in and supporter of free speech," Hardcore said. "Well, if you're really a supporter of free speech, then get in there and do the right thing and support my product just as you would support John Stagliano's and Jeff Mike's."
"I feel like I keep getting penalized," he added. "You know, the lawyers charged me a lot of money. I feel Lou Sirkin and his team, with Jennifer Kinsley, Jamie Benjamin and Daniel Aaronson, and of course my personal lawyer Jeffrey Douglas—I felt they did the best job that they could have done, but their hands are tied. When you're in court, they're so limited as to what they can do. They can't challenge the legitimacy of the law itself; they have to respond to the government's accusations, and as we discovered, it's easy to bulldoze a jury, to push a jury into believing, because you're in a federal court, you're on their turf—the jury goes along with peer pressure to convict you because they're not familiar with this material, and okay, it's the easy thing to say, and nobody wants to stand up. Even the three people who believed that I shouldn't have been prosecuted were able to get bulldozed into convicting me. When you end up in court, you've already got two strikes against you in the bottom of the ninth, and you're down by a couple of runs; it's going to take a grand slam for you to get out of there. I never want to go there again, and I certainly don't want anybody to get in trouble for my product, which is why I personally went over everything to make sure that it's sanitized."
Hardcore also provided some insight into what prison life was like for him.
"I'd like to say that this experience has been a benefit to me. Although day by day, it's not a pleasant experience, I made the most of the time I had to better myself in ways that really matter. I quit smoking and drinking, and I reevaluated and readjusted my attitude towards things to get greater appreciation of life and love and other people's feelings and concerns."
"I worked out every day," he detailed. "I'm in significantly better shape now. I worked out ceaselessly, and I kept track of what I did in a notebook, how many sets I did, how many miles I walked or ran, what the temperature was—it was typically 100 or more out there in the desert. Prison is very, very crowded. I was in a low security prison. For a while, I was in a dormitory, and that's really noisy and not very comfortable. Then I kind of moved up the ladder a little bit into a private room, but the room was really small; just a tiny aisle with only room for one person between the beds, and a cabinet for your clothes that are about the size of two gym lockers but half as tall."
And he kept busy, in part because of the voluminous correspondence from fans the world over, all of which he retained and now resides in the plastic crate picuted above.
"I spent half my time in the library, and people wrote in and I wrote back—another good thing: I got my handwriting back!—and I really enjoyed writing and making fun of the letters that I had to do, and the responses that I made," he explained. "I got so many fan letters, including a beautiful woman on the east coast who would write me at least once a week, and fans that really believed in me—hundreds—and I responded to everyone. It said to me there's a tremendous demand for my movies yet, and it gave me a lot of comfort to know that I'm going to be back. And even in prison, Team Max survived."
"But no matter how famous you are, you're still reduced to a name and number," he added whistfully. "Everybody knew who I was, but we're all the same in there. I was surrounded by a lot of drug smugglers, because we were down by the border, and it was kind of like a local jail; a lot of the guys in there were from the El Paso or New Mexico or Texas area, and a lot were in there for meth crimes, and some white collar stuff too—Medicaid fraud and what-not—and we were in a low facility, but it was still serious business. They had double fences around, 20-foot fences with barbed wire on top. You weren't getting out of there, no way. The worst thing about being in prison is the helplessness. You can't really do much to affect things going on on the outside. It was very frustrating, but I made do with writing letters and giving the guys as much assistance as I could.
"But I really got a lot of different interesting perspectives on life by being in there, by looking at life through other people's lives, and I realized that some of the things I was sure about, I was more sure of, I was more positive I was doing the right thing, and other things, I learned in prison to change my way of thinking, to help people more and to be more open-minded, to have more humility, more objectivity, be more caring and have more gratitude. And that's my goal right now: I want to see what I can do to help people, because I discovered, the more I help people, the more I help myself."
Indeed, Hardcore wanted to give "shout-outs" to the many adult industry members who helped keep his spirits up, including Stagliano—"He really helped me out a lot both emotionally and technically with some good advice he gave me, but also financially as well, and it's really appreciated"—as well as other Evil Angel associates like Christian Mann, Joey Silvera, Rocco Siffredi and Nacho Vidal; performer/director Rick Savage; Anabolic's Christopher Alexander; Topco Sales' Scott Tucker; California Exotic Novelties' CEO Susan Colvin; Laura Henkels of the Erotic Museum; Oscar from Shotz Video; Mike from Nova Products; former AVN staffer Jared Rutter; attorney Clay Calvert, who's writtens everal articles about Hardcore's case; and Hardcore's long-time girlfriend, Layla Rivera.
"But," he added, "I've had a long good career in this industry and the only regrets that I have, and I've many plenty of mistakes—the only thing I regret are the people I've inadvertently, unintentionally harmed, either physically or mentally. I sincerely apologize to these people. It was never my intention to harm anyone but when you're making a movie and the pressure's on, it's easy to push a little too hard sometimes, and I hope to never repeat doing that again, that's not my intention, because I want everybody to know I love people and help everyone that I can."
And what about the future?
"What I'd like to do is go beyond shooting adult movies and I'm exploring the potential to do work within the extreme sports categories similar to or just like X-Games, and also racing of all types, specifically auto racing—I've always been interested in that. I think there's a market for it. Certainly, with more and more channels available, there's a greater demand for content, and we're well-positioned as a production company to move forward. We've got the equipment, we've got the know-how and we've got the drive to succeed."
"This summer, I went down to the X-Games that were held downtown at the Staples Center, and I went to the U.S. Open of Surfing down in Huntington Beach, and I discovered there's a lot of opportunities available," he continued. "It's dominated by ESPN, of course, but there's opportunities for smaller production companies to do specialty pieces, I believe. We'll be moving into this directly. My approach to business is to work hard and keep pushing forward and accepting new challenges—the bulldozer approach—and I find when I do this that I discover new opportunities and I move into them, and normally we would discover things that are fun to do and pay very well, and that's our goal. We have to be profitable in order to continue."
And beyond that?
"Perhaps I'll hire someone to take over for me, groom a successor, somebody that can take over. The movies will never go away; they can stay in circulation into the unknown future here, and the mark, the brand is a registered trademark, so other products and services can be made and produced under the Max Hardcore trademark. In fact, I thought about apparel, and I thought a good name would be Max Hardwear, or a line of tools, Max Hardware—tools for work and tools for pleasure."
Like we said: The new Max Hardcore. Those who'd like to contact him can do so by email, or they can visit his Facebook page, MaxHardcore100—the real one; not the scores of imposters who've used his name.
"Anybody's who's ever written me in the past has gotten a letter back from me unless they didn't include a return address," he noted. "When we had our old website, the one that was forfeited, we had a precursor to Facebook which was called chat board or chat room, and there, I always responded to customer comments and complaints and suggestions as well, so Facebook is really a great thing to have. It allows us to talk directly to the fans, and I love it."
Anybody want to make a new Facebook friend?