Once upon a time on the Bowery
Talking Heads, 1977
This was their first weekend as a foursome at CBGB’s, after adding Jerry Harrison, before they started recording the LP “Talking Heads: 77.”
These days, it seems like the Los Angeles Police Department has got a thing for porn. Understand, the kind of porn the LAPD wants is not just any kind. When it comes to the LAPD and porn, the LAPD wants the nastiest, dirtiest, most extreme porn around.
“What kind of porn is that?” you might ask. (They are, after all, the police.)
The kind of porn the LAPD wants has naked women fisting each other, and guys peeing on girls, and 80 men masturbating onto the face of one kneeling woman. That’s the kind of porn the LAPD wants.
The adult-movie industry does. That’s why, on Dec. 15, 2000, a posse of L.A. cops showed up with a search warrant at the San Fernando Valley offices of a man who goes by the name of Seymore Butts to get a fisting tape they wanted.
And that’s why on May 16, 2001, they pulled over the car of a man named Jeff Steward in nearby Woodland Hills because they heard he was their guy when it came to a popular new porn genre called bukkake that involves one woman, 100 or so men and lots of semen.
As payment for the porn, the LAPD handed Butts two counts of obscenity. It’s likely Steward will be awarded a few counts as well.
And it is quite possible the LAPD will be coming back real soon to Porn Valley, USA, for more. Because these days, it looks as if the LAPD has a big hard-on when it comes to hardcore porno.
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Seymore Butts lives in a low-lying ranch-style home behind a locked gate at the end of a driveway in the Northridge area of the San Fernando Valley. Outside is a kidney-shaped pool, in the living room is a porn-star girlfriend and in front of a TV is Butts himself.
Seymore Butts is famous. Famous for being a pioneer of gonzo porn in the ’90s, setting off with video cam in hand to chronicle sexploits that, as his name implies, involved more than the missionary position. Famous again in the mid-’90s for a porn movie in which his girlfriend gave a blow job to a fireman — an on-duty fireman — on the back of a fire truck.
Now Butts may become more famous, perhaps even most famous, for his most provocative production to date.
It’s called “Tampa Tushy-Fest Part 1.”
In this particular filmic endeavor, two female porn stars, who go by the names Alisha Klass and Chloe, can be seen convening in a Florida hotel room. Klass and Chloe are two of the adult movie industry’s “anal queens,” postfeminist sexplorers who take howlingly orgasmic pleasure in their experiments at the anal end of extreme porn.
Once situated before Butts’ camera, they embark on a trip to the outer reaches of the extreme sex frontier. In a frenzy of erotic competition and mutual admiration, the women end up putting their whole fists into each other’s orifices to loudly orgasmic fanfare.
This is where Seymore’s trouble began.
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Adam Whitney Glasser was born and raised in the Bronx until 13, the Jewish son of a clothing-company sales-rep father and a secretary mother. When the family moved to Santa Monica, Calif., Glasser discovered he preferred girls to books, lost his virginity at 14 and found a cache of his father’s adult videos. He was disappointed when he did; as he says now, “I didn’t know my Dad just didn’t have good taste in porn.”
After graduation, Glasser hosted nightclubs and went to junior college, but he quickly came to appreciate where his true interests in life lay. “Once I started dating a lot of women,” he says, “I always kind of dated a lot of women.” By 24, Glasser had become a personal trainer and opened a gym in Los Angeles. To make extra money on the side he rented the gym out as a movie location, and one night in 1990 in a video store he espied John Stagliano. And Glasser knew Stagliano was the king of the then new field of gonzo-porn.
In the ’70s, adult movies meant relatively big-budget affairs shot on film stock, but in the ’80s, the advent of cheap and portable video meant anyone could make a porn movie. Stagliano, as a veritable porn pioneer, had created a persona to match the new medium — “Buttman,” a pervert adventurer documenting his “real” sex life so guys back home could watch directly through the eyes of both porn-maker and performer. (A double shooter, really.)
As Buttman’s videos gained in popularity among porn consumers, they inspired a new generation of DIY porn auteurs.
Glasser was to be one of them. He offered his gym to Stagliano as a set, and the day Buttman came to film, Glasser says, “I watched, and after that day, I thought, I’m in the wrong business.”
These days, Adam Glasser is 37 and known to a certain segment of the world as Seymore Butts. Over the last decade, the porn industry has grown up with him — into big business. America’s hunger for pornography has led to the annual shelling out of billions of dollars on adult videos, erotic magazines, pay-per-view adult programming and porn Web sites. (The exact figure, while widely estimated in the range of $10 billion to $11 billion, is currently being contested by Forbes.com, which estimates it between $2.6 billion and $3.9 billion.) The number of porn videos produced each year has surpassed the 10,000 mark.
Riding this wave, Glasser has made some 90 films, and thinks, after a considerable pause, he has slept with perhaps 400 or 500 women. Today, he is tan and muscular, although his dark hair is going gray in parts and there are lines around his eyes. But if you look at the movies Seymore Butts made, you see why he became as popular as he did.
In videos with titles like “Buttholes Are Forever,” and “Tushy Con Carne,” Seymore Butts sports a cat-that-ate-the-canary grin. He is no stud workhorse at plow, but a man relishing a “spontaneous” sex life with girlfriends and gal-pals. The women apparently enjoy themselves as well. Butts’ camera scans their faces almost anxiously for their reactions. Glasser says: “I hated when it looked to me like the woman wasn’t enjoying herself, [when] it looked like work, like she was waiting for the paycheck.”
Seymore and Adam — they just wanted girls to have fun.
Glasser had his first big hit when he hooked up with Shane, one of several now ex-girlfriend costars. In his mind, they were the “Burns and Allen of porn.” Together they entered the porn pantheon in 1994 with “Seymore and Shane: Playing With Fire,” in which Shane engaged in her fireman tryst. After the movie’s release, the city of Elmont, N.Y., filed suit, asking $172 million in reparations for the indignity of having its fireman debauched, its firehouse converted into a porn set and its station emblem displayed on-screen. (The suit was eventually dropped, and the credited “Marv the Fireman” resigned.)
Over the years, as a pornographer, Glasser had other encounters with the law. In one, at a Los Angeles porn convention in the summer of 1998, Alisha Klass and two other women were charged with obscenity when the women exposed themselves, and Klass united a cigar and her butt in an ode to Monica Lewinsky. “She doesn’t remember completely whether she stuck it in her ass or just put it around her ass,” Glasser says today. The case was later dropped.
So by the fall of 1998, when he was in a Tampa hotel room with Klass and Chloe, it must have seemed only natural to be pushing the envelope while making porn. That day, someone had brought up fisting, as in the insertion of the fist into the vagina or anus for erotic purposes. The practice, while not unknown in certain parts of the gay and S/M communities, is for many, even in porn, considered extreme.
“We were sitting around talking about what we would do in this girl-girl scene, and I said I would love to do that,” Klass recalls. She was Butts’ girlfriend, a relationship repeatedly consummated on camera, in “Behind the Sphinc Door” and “Best of Bunghole Fever,” among other videos. The brunet has begun some moves into the world of mainstream filmmaking, including a small part in Wayne Wang’s recent “The Center of the World” and a rumored fling with Bruce Willis, documented in the tabloids. (“I’m not in love with Bruce,” she told the World Entertainment News Network. “It was all fun for me and now it’s over.”)
Neither Chloe nor Klass was an average gal. Chloe was already a devout fister in her private sex life, and Klass is famous for talents like self-fisting and accoutrements like a tattoo on her rear reading “SEYMORE BUTTS.” When it came to fisting, as a stripper Klass had done research. “Sometimes I’d be onstage and put my hand in my ass, and sometimes people were shocked by it and sometimes they liked it,” she reports matter-of-factly.
For their scene in “Tampa Tushy-Fest,” Klass and Chloe do seem to like it. To begin with, Klass vaginally fists Chloe with one fist. Next up, Klass vaginally fists Chloe with two fists. After that, Chloe anally fists Klass with one fist. And, as a finale, Chloe anally fists Klass with one fist while Klass vaginally fists herself.
To describe Klass and Chloe’s performance this way, of course, removes their actions from the context in which they were created. There are plenty of other interesting moments in “Tampa Tushy-Fest”: Klass’ bong-toking, her substantial “squirting” and her proclamation to Chloe’s crotch, “I wanna stick my whole head up there!”
There is orgasmic moaning to consider for consensuality, Chloe’s hand instructions to be debated as points of education and, for political significance, the post-fisting moment near the end when Alisha turns to the camera and crows, “Fuck, yeah, that’s girl power!”
“It was a really positive, fun thing,” Klass says of the fist fest. For her, it was “enlightening” and “empowering.”
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In the five years or so preceding, porn makers had already been producing increasingly more extreme porn. Take “The Houston 500,” in which porn-star Houston has sex with an alleged 620 men. (There were actually only about 125 men involved.) Or “Girls Who Puke,” in which several women have sex and then, as one might surmise, vomit. Before the current “Tampa Tushy-Fest” imbroglio, there was Anabolic Productions’ notorious “Rough Sex 1,” which was recalled after female stars claimed they’d been physically abused.
To stay competitive with the Web, where anything goes, shock-porn grew in the 1990s under the benevolent shade of Bill Clinton’s perceived hands-off policy toward porn. Porn flourished under the benign rule of a president with whom some porn makers felt a certain kinship in the erotic dalliances arena. By the end of the decade, porn sales were growing larger, and the perception by some in porn was that legal risks were becoming rarer.
But most of those in the porn industry still stayed away from certain erotic acts, those themes and images traditionally considered taboo in commercial porn and most likely to garner porn prosecutions. Simulated rape is one; the pairing of S/M practices and sexual intercourse is another. Other classic porno no-no’s include bestiality, implied incest, insinuated pedophilia … and fisting.
With “Tampa Tushy-Fest” in his hands, Butts got to thinking: What was so wrong with fisting? “I wanted people to give it a chance,” he cries plaintively now.
“I called up one of my lawyers,” Butts recounts, “and I said, ‘Can you please refer me to the specific legal reference to fisting? Please just tell me the page?’ And he says, ‘Well, you know, it’s obscene per se.’ And of course, I had to get the definition of obscene per se, which means it is likely to be found obscene. Which to me is just utterly gobbledygook! I mean, what the fuck are they talking about?”
What the fuck they were talking about is, in fact, the sanctioned method used to assess obscenity, dictated by a 1973 U.S. Supreme Court case called Miller vs. California. According to it, a work is obscene if it appeals to “the prurient interest” as dictated by “contemporary community standards”; if it exhibits “in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law”; and if it lacks “serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.” Then, and only then, is it obscene. Since all pornography, by definition, appeals to the prurient interest, one could perhaps forgive Butts for doubting that a judge or jury would find the taboo practice of fisting any more shocking than a garden-variety porno act like double penetration.
Butts decided to cut two versions of “Tampa Tushy-Fest” — one with fists, one without. Then he sent several thousand fist-filled copies out to retailers across the United States. A week later, his phone began ringing. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” demanded one retailer. He received 50 calls about the tape, Butts estimates, half negative. If they didn’t want it, he told them, all they had to do was send it back, and he’d send the edited version in exchange.
Ten percent sent back the original “Tampa Tushy-Fest.” “To this day,” Glasser says, “the number of requests we get for that movie are great.”
Some porn producers were angry, believing Adam put them all at risk. But at the 2000 Adult Video News Awards, “Tampa Tushy-Fest” won “Best Gonzo.” Klass and Chloe, for their part, won “Best All-Girl Sex Scene.”
The fisting debate died down.
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That is until 8 a.m., Dec. 15, 2000, when several members of the Los Angeles Police Department showed up at Seymore Inc. in the town of Chatsworth, on the far western edge of the San Fernando Valley.
They were looking for porn.
The LAPD served Adam Glasser’s 69-year-old mother, Lila, now a divorcée and the company bookkeeper, with a search warrant. Glasser was called to come down. He says the cops acted reluctant, like they were fans of his — and of his girls.
The police left with the master tapes for “Tampa Tushy-Fest Part 1″ and the yet-to-be-released “Tampa Tushy-Fest Part 2.”
They’d let him know by mail, they said, if he’d be charged.
Three months later, on March 16, 2001, Butts was charged with two counts of obscenity: “distribution of obscene material” and “advertising of obscene matter for sale.” The charges were misdemeanors, threatening a $1,000 fine and six months in jail. As secretary of the company, Lila was charged along with her son.
The boys in blue, it turns out, had had their eye on Butts for nearly two years, according to court records.
Upon receiving an anonymous tip in January 1999 that there was fisting to be found in “Tampa Tushy-Fest,” two vice officers began surveillance of Butts and company. After a few days in January staking out, appropriately enough, the back door at Seymore Inc., the officers ordered themselves a Seymore Butts catalog in February. In March, an officer obtained his own trial membership at SeymoreButts.com, and in May, an officer purchased a copy of “Tampa Tushy-Fest” online. After a bit more surveillance in June, in July the cops took a personal field trip to a Los Angeles porn convention.
The LAPD stayed on the case. In what may have been one of the more spectacular perks ever accorded working police officers, members of the vice squad traveled to the Adult Video News Awards in Las Vegas in January 2000 to watch Butts and his muses accept their porn awards. An officer then bought a second copy of the video in May, and in November, the LAPD finally got its warrant.
Implicit in the investigation was what Butts’ lawyer told him: Fisting is obscene.
What Adam wants to know, like Nancy Kerrigan, is “Why?”
Sexpert Tristan Taormino, after all, announced last spring in her Village Voice sex column that fisting has gone mainstream. “Fisting is not just for muff-divers anymore,” she decreed. There have been other fisting films made since, including Chloe’s unmistakably titled “The Fist, the Whole Fist, and Nothing But the Fist,” from Elegant Angel.
“You think they’d go to the scene where the nun is raped in the wheelchair and then thrown in the swimming pool,” Butts says darkly, referring to a film by a rival producer.
Because these days, extreme porn is all around him.
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Five months later, the LAPD was back in the valley. Because on May 16, 2001, the LAPD decided to add “American Bukkake” to its porn collection. If the department was developing a taste for extreme porn, then why not bukkake?
Bukkake is the deformed, molested stepchild of traditional smut. The tale told in porn circles is that bukkake was born in ancient Japan as punishment for adulterous women. Taken to a cave, bound and forced to kneel, she would then endure all the village men masturbating onto her face.
Bukkake lives on in present-day Japan as a porn genre. In its classic form, no one touches, no one speaks. With a clap, the loincloth-clad men stand. With a clap, they remove their loincloths. With a clap, they throw their loincloths in the air to shout, “Banzai!”
Then the bukkake-ing begins.
In hindsight, one supposes the American porn industry and bukkake were destined to meet. It was 1999 when Jeff Steward, who owns JM Productions, the Chatsworth-based porn production company, came into possession of a Japanese bukkake tape. Not long after, the “American Bukkake” series was spawned.
Every third month, 60 to 100 men have been showing up for bukkake, American-style, on Wednesday nights at a North Hollywood sound stage. Its mostly amateur male performers are brought in through advertisements in Los Angeles weeklies and a busy “bukkake hotline.” The men bring proof of a negative HIV test. They are paid $35 each.
By last September, according to video tracking done by Adult Video News, “American Bukkake” was proving quite popular among U.S. consumers. The February 2001 issue of AVN lists “American Bukkake 11″ as the seventh most popular video sold the week of November 2000.
The day “American Bukkake 11″ was shot last September, some 80 men — and this reporter — made their way to North Hollywood. Waiting in a threadbare holding room, the men were white and black, Asian and Hispanic, short and tall, fat and skinny, handsome and not. They were handed black garbage bags for their belongings. Then they stood waiting in the crowded room in their underwear.
Many of the men wore masks or bandannas to hide their faces. Some of them kept their socks on. One was a midget.
Kiki D’Aire was the bukkake girl that night. A sweet-faced and Vargas-bodied blond porn star, D’Aire has appeared in roughly 100 adult videos, among them a number at the extreme end, from “Missionary Position: Impossible” to “White Trash Whore 19.” She is the cheery type of 24-year-old who makes people feel fine about everything, even the prospect of 80 men about to orgasm on her visage.
D’Aire entered the large stage-area room wrapped in a red silk robe and asked for vodka before the bukkake began. The set behind her was that of a business office, and for the movie’s opening scene, D’Aire masturbated alone on top of the desk while the men waited testily in the next room, their eager hooting now muffled.
Filming D’Aire was “American Bukkake” director Jim Powers, a good-humored stockbroker turned porn director. He is known for shooting some of the most shocking porn being made today — “Freaks & Geeks”; “Fatter, Balder, Uglier”; “Perverted Stories.” The black T-shirt he wore that evening read “Can’t Hold Back the Demons.”
D’Aire was escorted from the room. The bukkake men were funneled in. When D’Aire was brought back, the men cheered. One man, in a Darth Vader mask, breathed heavily through his vents.
“You guys are turning me on so much!” D’Aire announced to the crowd.
Powers implored the men, “Please try to come on her face!”
The group was directed to take off their underwear en masse. At Powers’ prompt, they threw their boxers and BVDs in D’Aire’s direction, shouting, “Banzai!” D’Aire giggled.
Powers emphatically coached the men, “When you’re done coming, jump back!”
D’Aire sat naked on a towel down on the floor. The men formed concentric circles around her. For the next two hours, the men masturbated from ladders and on desks, jockeying for closer position.
D’Aire encouraged them. “Oh, yeah,” she said, her eyes closed.
The men were generally orderly. It was, for the most part, quiet.
Of those I talked to afterward, one man told me, “It was a lifelong fantasy to do something like that.” Another said, “I don’t consider it degrading. I don’t want to degrade anyone.” Another revealed, “It’s a way of being a pervert but not really hurting anyone.” Another confided, “I’m not involved with anyone right now.”
And one discovered, “For me, standing around jerking off with a bunch of guys isn’t exactly my fantasy.”
In the end, D’Aire left for home with $500.
A girlfriend of D’Aire’s, who had done a bukkake, told her beforehand that bukkake was “the easiest $500 in the universe.” Looking back, today D’Aire judges bukkake hilarious.
“If you go in there and have fun and treat it like this humorous thing, you’ll have a good time,” she advises.
What was on her mind during the bukkake?
“What was going through my head was how absurd the whole experience is, how wacky it is that men are so in awe of a girl that they’re willing to stand next to 60 other guys jacking off,” D’Aire replied. “Two years ago if someone told me I was going to be sitting on the floor waiting for 70 men to come on my face and hair, I would’ve thought they were crazy. But, you realize there’s a place for everybody in this world sexually.”
She added, “I woke up the next day and my hair was soft. Semen is full of protein.”
D’Aire is very open-minded.
She will tell you she controlled what happened that evening. She believes strongly there are more important things in the world than someone who took so many, in her words, “shots to the face.”
If you’re going to have fantasies, you have to acknowledge that fantasies aren’t always nice, D’Aire says. That is where people have a hard time, really, with porn, she says, because it is happening but at the same time it is not.
When you bring a fantasy to life that way, says D’Aire, sometimes it clouds the issue.
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On May 16, Jeff Steward was pulled over by an LAPD car outside his Woodland Hills home. In January, someone — likely a policeman, as the same pseudonym was used in the Seymore Butts case — bought two Steward-produced videos, “American Bukkake 11″ and “Liquid Gold 5,” a peeing tape, through his Web site.
Now, the police had a search warrant for the same videos and wanted to search Steward’s car, home and office. As he was being pulled over, Steward’s wife, driving their 15-year-old son to school, was also detained, she says, by a total of 10 police cars.
Steward says he was taken back to his home in a police cruiser, where 20 LAPD officers searched his house. They retrieved invoices and fliers for those videos purchased through his Web site. Steward says he repeatedly volunteered to the LAPD that the things they were looking for — three copies apiece of “American Bukkake 11″ and “Liquid Gold 5″ — were at his office in Chatsworth.
The officers finally followed him there. He gave them the tapes they wanted. They left, pornos in hand. Soon, Steward may be getting a letter, letting him know if he will be charged with obscenity.
Four days after Steward’s run-in with the police, the New York Times Magazine ran a cover story by Frank Rich profiling the adult-movie industry. The cover’s headline was “The World’s Most Profitable Back Lot,” and it noted below, “There’s no business like porn business.” The essay posited that porn is a business, run by businessmen, who happen to trade in sex.
In an echo of Rich’s thesis, Steward himself informed the police, “I have done nothing wrong. I’m a businessman.” And at present, as a businessman, Steward defends his work at the extreme end of porn in nakedly capitalist terms. “This is no different than people selling cars at a car lot,” Steward says exasperatedly.
The product he pushes, he says, is no different from the rest of the products of pop culture, like the gross-out humor being offered from cable channels to movie theaters. “It’s like ‘Jackass’ on MTV,” says Steward. “Some guy swims in feces on MTV, and that’s OK. But for a girl to swallow 80 loads of cum is obscene? I don’t think so.”
After all, when it comes to bukkake, Steward says, he has moved some 200,000 copies already. JM Productions is only up to “American Bukkake 14,” and Steward isn’t even the only producer making it. The same day Steward encountered the LAPD, Jim Powers was back shooting another bukkake that night in North Hollywood.
According to AVN.com, Powers declared on the set, “We’re doing this for all of America.”
Of bukkake, the businessman says, “If people didn’t want it, it wouldn’t be made.”
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The case of Adam Glasser, who estimates his company earned $1.6 million last year, is scheduled to start in October. Fortunately for Glasser, he has found himself a lawyer with fisting experience. In 1976, attorney Roger Diamond defended the maker of “Plunge 1,” a gay fisting film, and won. Diamond says with confidence, “This thing will be a trip down memory lane.”
Steward insists, “I didn’t do anything wrong.” He, like Glasser, with lawyer Alan Gelbard, plans to go to trial, if necessary, rather than cop a plea. He would be fighting for his First Amendment rights, but for his finances as well. Porn makers who take guilty pleas may face fatally high financial penalties if federal agents later pick up the cases of those who already have state obscenity convictions.
Several porn companies, though, are already discontinuing their extreme video lines. Metro Video’s “The World’s Biggest Gangbang 3″ is no longer available at an adult video store near you. And the porn industry is still trying to figure out if, as they fear, the advent of George W. Bush and his unabashedly moralistic attorney general, John Ashcroft, will generate a conservative trickle-down effect when it comes to obscenity prosecutions, with extreme porn the Achilles’ heel for the entire industry.
“This is a crackdown,” proclaims criminal defense attorney Jeffrey Douglas, who works regularly with the adult-movie industry and sits on the ACLU’s Southern California board of directors. As Douglas sees it, the LAPD was just lying in wait for the likes of Ashcroft, hoping that with Bush in office more federal monies will become available for obscenity prosecutions.
The LAPD vice squad, believes Douglas, is hoping extreme porn will lead to easy convictions, resulting in bigger budgets and providing them sought-after respect. “If all you do all day long is watch X-rated movies and search porn Web sites,” Douglas says scornfully, “it’s harder to get status amongst your colleagues.”
Regardless, pornographers pushing the obscenity envelope didn’t foresee that this day would come, says Douglas. “I’ve been at meetings and events where, if you’re talking to a 25-year-old porn-maker about federal prosecutions for obscenity, you might as well be talking about the Spanish-Mexican War,” he says ruefully.
And with extreme porn, hypothesizes Douglas, a conservative government struggling for a popular foothold could find the perfect political tool. “In order to pursue obscenity prosecution, you need the convergence of two things,” Douglas explains. “You need to have both an ideological commitment and a political payoff.” Extreme porn would provide a bone to throw the rabidly anti-porn right-wing constituencies who helped Bush into office, as well as an easily demonized enemy to fight against for mainstream support.
Nevertheless, “Tampa Tushy-Fest,” says Douglas, isn’t obscene by today’s community standards. “If what’s available to California consumers and on the Internet is taken into account, then Adam should get a written apology,” he says.
The LAPD, for its part, says this is all just business as usual. “I’ve been doing these type of investigations for the last 16 years,” says Detective Steve Takeshita, who is overseeing the latest obscenity cases. “This is standard practice.”
Sex in the bedroom may have gotten wilder but, Takeshita asserts, that doesn’t make movies featuring provocative sexual content any less obscene when distributed. “What two consenting adults do in the privacy of their own home is between them,” he says. “As soon as that activity is distributed publicly, that’s where obscenity statutes come into practice.”
Regardless of the result of the “Plunge 1″ case, Takeshita predicts “Tampa Tushy-Fest” is going down, based on his previous experiences with porn. “I think it will be found to be obscene because of past cases that we’ve done,” he says confidently.
Was the LAPD pressured by the federal government? Takeshita says no way. “The LAPD doesn’t receive direction on how to do investigation from the feds,” Takeshita snaps. “We are not doing anything we haven’t done for the last 16 years or even longer.” (The investigation of Seymore Butts, it should be noted, began in the Clinton era.)
Deborah Sanchez, the prosecuting attorney in the Glasser case, agrees with the LAPD. What’s new is only that the cases are going to trial, she says. “We’ve prosecuted dozens of obscenity cases,” she explains, “but we’ve always gotten pleas. This is getting attention now that the city attorney is involved.”
Sanchez asserts pornographers like Glasser, who push the limits of porn, won’t be able to hide behind the First Amendment in court. “From what I’ve seen,” Sanchez says of Glasser’s tape, “this goes beyond what the First Amendment covers.” The porn industry, Sanchez says, knows full well the unwritten rules of what they cannot do without risking prosecutions. “The industry knew there are things you just don’t distribute.”
It remains unclear why 100 men masturbating on a woman is less protected by the First Amendment than, say, three men doing the same thing. It’s a state of affairs that only serves to illuminate that, when the subject is porno, the criterion of “community standards” becomes increasingly hard to define.
If extreme porn is the adult industry’s indirect attempt to narrow the definition of obscenity further to give themselves greater freedoms, Sanchez says, it will backfire: “They want to see if they can test the waters and push the boundaries a little more as far as the First Amendment.”
Sanchez expects to win — “Juries have sided with us,” she says — and she promises that the city will give the producers more of the same if porn continues to test the obscenity limits of adult video in the future. “It’s going to continue to be prosecuted regardless of whether Glasser is convicted or not,” she says. “If others are distributing videos with bestiality, fisting, defecation, [they are] going to be prosecuted.”
Not everyone in the porn world disagrees. “We’ve had a free ride for a long time,” concedes self-appointed porn spokesman William Margold these days, somewhat wistfully. The act of bukkake, he says, encapsulates what’s gone wrong with porn.
“I think the biggest thing bukkake proves is that the adult-movie industry has forgotten how to create,” Margold sighs. “When you’ve forgotten how to create, you go through the motions over and over and over again.”
But that’s not how Steward and Butts and their cohort see the world. “I’m innocent of any wrongdoing and I’m going to fight,” pledges Steward. “Why do people have the right to watch what they want to watch in the privacy of their own home?” he asks rhetorically. “That answer is we live in the United States of America.”
Porn producer Rob Black, head of Extreme Associates, has since searched his own online buying records looking for the same pseudonymous “Steven Peterson” of the Butts and bukkake cases. It turns out Peterson had already paid Black a visit. The movie purchased was “In the Days of Whore,” and, as Black points out, it is not just any video. The finale was shot in a church and features a multi-money shot accessorized with urine and a crucifix.
“We extend our arms openly with a warm embrace for the consequences to come,” Black taunts the LAPD from his Web site. “Give us a call if you want to purchase any other products!”
In a plea for support on AVN.com, Glasser is seeking support from porn friends and fans. He asks that distributors push his product more aggressively, retailers introduce their customers to his videos and, “last, but certainly not least, I simply ask fans to whack off a little more!”
Already, Court TV is calling Seymore Butts.
Talking Heads, 1977
This was their first weekend as a foursome at CBGB’s, after adding Jerry Harrison, before they started recording the LP “Talking Heads: 77.”
Patti Smith, Bowery 1976
Patti lit up by the Bowery streetlights. I tapped her on the shoulder, asked if I could do a picture, took two shots and everyone went back to what they were doing. 1/4 second at f/5.6 no tripod.
This was taken at the Punk Magazine Benefit show. According to Chris Stein (seated, on slide guitar), they were playing “Little Red Rooster.”
No Wave Punks, Bowery Summer 1978
They were sitting just like this when I walked out of CBGB's. Me: “Don’t move” They didn’t. L to R: Harold Paris, Kristian Hoffman, Diego Cortez, Anya Phillips, Lydia Lunch, James Chance, Jim Sclavunos, Bradley Field, Liz Seidman.
Richard Hell + Bob Quine, 1978
Richard Hell and the Voidoids, playing CBGB's in 1978, with Richard’s peerless guitar player Robert Quine. Sorely missed, Quine died in 2004.
This photograph of mine was used to create the “replica” CBGB's bathroom in the Punk Couture show last summer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. So I got into the Met with a bathroom photo.
Stiv Bators + Divine, 1978
Stiv Bators, Divine and the Dead Boys at the Blitz Benefit show for injured Dead Boys drummer Johnny Blitz.
“The kids are all hopped up and ready to go…” View from the unique "side stage" at CBGB's that you had to walk past to get to the basement bathrooms.
Klaus Nomi, Christopher Parker, Jim Jarmusch – Bowery 1978
Jarmusch was still in film school, Parker was starring in Jim’s first film "Permanent Vacation" and Klaus just appeared out of nowhere.
Hilly Kristal, Bowery 1977
When I used to show people this picture of owner Hilly Kristal, they would ask me “Why did you photograph that guy? He’s not a punk!” Now they know why. None of these pictures would have existed without Hilly Kristal.
Dictators, Bowery 1976
Handsome Dick Manitoba of the Dictators with his girlfriend Jody. I took this shot as a thank you for him returning the wallet I’d lost the night before at CBGB's. He doesn’t like that I tell people he returned it with everything in it.
Alex Chilton, Bowery 1977
We were on the median strip on the Bowery shooting what became a 45 single sleeve for Alex’s “Bangkok.” A drop of rain landed on the camera lens by accident. Definitely a lucky night!
Bowery view, 1977
The view from across the Bowery in the summer of 1977.
Ramones, 1977 – never before printed
I loved shooting The Ramones. They would play two sets a night, four nights a week at CBGB's, and I’d be there for all of them. This shot is notable for Johnny playing a Strat, rather than his usual Mosrite. Maybe he’d just broken a string. Love that hair.
Richard Hell, Bowery 1977 – never before printed
Richard exiting CBGB's with his guitar at 4am, about to step into a Bowery rainstorm. I’ve always printed the shots of him in the rain, but this one is a real standout to me now.
Patti Smith + Ronnie Spector, 1979
May 24th – Bob Dylan Birthday show – Patti “invited” everyone at that night’s Palladium show on 14th Street down to CBGB's to celebrate Bob Dylan’s birthday. Here, Patti and Ronnie are doing “Be My Baby.”
Legs McNeil, 1977
Legs, ready for his close-up, near the front door of CBGB's.
Rev and Alan Vega – I thought Alan was going to hit me with that chain. This was the Punk Magazine Benefit show.
Ian Hunter and Fans, outside bathroom
I always think of “All the Young Dudes” when I look at this shot. These fans had caught Ian Hunter in the CBGB's basement outside the bathrooms, and I just stepped in to record the moment.
Tommy Ramone, 1977
Only at CBGB's could I have gotten this shot of Tommy Ramone seen through Johnny Ramones legs.
Bowery 4am, 1977
End of the night garbage run. Time to go home.