Utah Mom Cleans Store Out of Van Styles 'Visual' T-Shirts

OREM CITY, UT—Most adult entertainment fans know Van Styles as an award-winning adult director, but how many know that he also puts his photography skills to work designing high-fashion T-shirts, marketed under the brand name "Visual"? One thing's for sure: Orem City resident Judy Cox is now well aware of that fact, having seen the shirts displayed in a PacSun store as she was shopping in the University Mall with her 19-year-old son. So she plunked down $567 and bought them all.

Mind you, Cox is no fashion maven. "This was pushing a button," Cox told KUTV News. "They were trying to make a statement and I don't think it's appropriate here or anywhere else where children are shopping in a mall."

Cox is convinced that some of the shirts, which feature scantily clad women (and men) in sexy poses, violate the city's decency code; in particular, shirts that show a man's semi-exposed buttocks. When the manager of the PacSun branch wouldn't remove them from the store's display window, but said that Cox could buy them if she wanted, Cox rose to the challenge. And when the manager said that even if she bought every T-shirt in the window, he'd simply replace them from the stockroom, she offered to buy the whole lot: 19 shirts at $27.98 apiece.

But before the store counts its money, it should be aware that Cox has said that she plans to return the shirts before the 60-day trial period lapses; she's just waiting for the Orem City Manager to rule on whether the shirts are in fact indecent under the law.

She'll have a long wait: The Orem City Municipal Code (.pdf) apparently doesn't support Cox's charge. Article 9-2-10 of the Code makes it a crime for a person to "knowingly or intentionally, in a public place, appear[] in a state of nudity or fondle[] the genitals of himself or another person," with "nudity" defined here as "the showing of the human male or female genitals, pubic area, or cleft of the buttocks with less than a fully opaque covering, the showing of the female breast with less than a fully opaque covering of any part of the nipple or areola, or the showing of covered male genitals in a discernibly turgid state." Since 9-2-10 only applies to a person being nude, that section likely wouldn't apply to T-shirts.

But what about the city's Pornography and Obscenity Code? Section 9-3-5 describes the crime of "Public display of sexual material," saying, "It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly to place explicit sexual material upon public display, or to knowingly fail to take prompt action to remove such a display from property in his possession or under his control after learning of its existence." However, the section continues, "For purposes of this section ... 'Explicit sexual material' shall mean any material that appeals to a prurient interest in sex and depicts nudity, actual or simulated sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sado-masochistic abuse. It shall not include material which, taken in context, possesses serious educational value for minors or which possesses serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value. The meanings of 'material', 'nudity', 'sexual conduct', and 'sado-masochistic abuse' shall be the same as set forth in Section 76-10-1201, Utah Code Annotated (1953, as amended)."

But even though the Utah Code defines "nudity" pretty much the same way Orem City's Municipal Code does, the prohibition against public display of sexual material doesn't criminalize simple nudity; the nudity must also "appeal[] to a prurient interest in sex"—and a jury would be hard-pressed to find that a photo of nude buttocks appeals to "A morbid, degrading and unhealthy interest in sex," that being the legal definition of "prurient interest."

In any case, even Cox admits that what's depicted on the T-shirts is pretty much the same as can be seen in the window of the local Victoria's Secret outlet, and even though Orem City's motto is "Family City USA" and most of its residents are Mormons, the store will probably continue to sell them, because as PacSun CEO Gary Schoenfeld said in an emailed statement, the company takes pride in the clothes and products it sells, which are inspired by music, art, fashion and action sports.

AVN attempted to contact Styles for comment, but the call was not returned at press time.