Cops: "Big Daddy Is In Big Trouble"

On Wednesday afternoon, February 10, plainclothes detectives armed with search and seizure warrants simultaneously raided the Risque Video location at 43rd and Chestnut Streets and other Philadelphia video stores to seize tapes in the Big Daddy Red Hot Steamy Sex series which allegedly contained underage performers.

It is unclear at press time whether the performers are actually claimed to be under 18 years of age, or simply appear to police to be underage, the latter being an offense under the Child Pornography Protection Act of 1997.

"They came in," recalled Risque Video owner Dean Pagano. "Whatever they wanted, we gave them. We also had three of his tapes out on the street being rented. The cops did want the people's names who had them out. I refused. They understood totally. I said, you know, 'I'm an honest businessman. I will get these tapes back for you if I have to go to these people's houses myself and pick them up, but I am not going to give you any of that kind of information. You can harass me but you cannot harass my customers.' I guess it's illegal, but they still ask it to see if anybody's going to say, 'Okay, take it,' you know, but at Risque Video, our customers' privacy is top priority on our list."

From reports to AVN, at least five stores in the Philadelphia area were raided. None of the stores were closed down as a consequence of the raids, but all Big Daddy Red tapes were seized from some of the stores.

"[The police] took them all because they had to view them all and determine if the people, male and female, are over 18," Pagano said.

"I did talk to the sergeant, these three detectives' boss," he continued, "and he was very nice to me. You know, he said, 'Dean, there shouldn't be any trouble for you guys, but Big Daddy is in big trouble, and he is incarcerated; he is under arrest.' He's being held, according to the sergeant, out at that precinct. Also, he said that there is two volumes that they have [seized] under the age law. He told me the numbers; I think one of the volumes was 50 and maybe 70-something. These two volumes, according to this sergeant, had underage actors or actresses in it."

Pagano recalled there being approximately 85 volumes in the series so far.

At least two distributors contacted by AVN - IVD in Hightstown, NJ and Major Distribution in Plainview, NY - said that they had pulled all Big Daddy Red tapes from stock, and had issued a cautionary recall to their customers, advising stores to take the tapes off the shelves and either hold them or return them.

"The only thing I've done," said Jack from Major Distributors, "is notify people that there may be a problem, and to cease selling them until we find out what the problem is, and go from there. I just don't know nothing. I have a call in to Daddy Red. He hasn't returned the call yet. I'd like to find out what's happening. I really don't know.

"As a distributor, we receive in hundreds of tapes in a week," he continued. "It's not a distributor's position to ask for model releases if it is an age problem from every - Evil Angel, VCA, Vivid - I mean, it's just not part of the business. I mean, the manufacturers, they're in business, and they put disclaimers on every video, and the distributors generally say, 'Okay, they're doing their job; let me do my job' and make sure that you sell it in proper locations."

AVN attempted to contacted Frank Kay at IVD, but he was unavailable for comment.

Risque Video has stocked the series for several years, Pagano said, and noted that in the early days, he used to buy the tapes directly from Big Daddy Red, who was also a resident of the West Philadelphia area. Later, however, Pagano obtained the tapes through his regular distribution sources. Pagano had observed that all the tapes and their boxes had the proper labels as required by federal law, "so I assumed this stuff was okay," he said.

However, Pagano admitted that he had "heard some rumblings through word on the street that a couple of the girls looked a little young... but it was not obvious."

"Our main problem with his line, before this problem, was the quality," he added. "We weren't crazy about carrying them because of his quality. They went on defective too quick. They really weren't done professionally, and I guess that should teach me a lesson, that too homegrown or too amateur, maybe their paperwork isn't on par or on course. I'd want to doublecheck it, and will from here on."

"We're very concerned," said Jack at Major Distributors. "We don't like anything in this industry to be tainted and this would be a terrible thing. The only thing we can do is work responsibly and intelligibly and work together and resolve this. If there's anything wrong out there, take it off and make a big call-back. I just don't know what it is, and as soon as I find out, I'll be doing my thing to make sure that it's right."