“I wanted to spread my legs and cause controversy”: The long, sordid history of porn in holy places

After a woman was arrested for filming a porn in a church, we take a look at infamous sites of X-rated shoots

Topics: Sex, porn, Pornography, Love and Sex,

"I wanted to spread my legs and cause controversy": The long, sordid history of porn in holy places (Credit: MoreISO via iStock/Pack-Shot via Shutterstock/Salon)

As a sex reporter, you begin to notice weird iterations of the same news story. One of those is the scandalized revelation of a porn shoot that happens sneakily or brazenly in a public place, even a historical landmark. Most recently this happened at a Catholic church in Hoersching, Austria. A young woman was arrested for filming at least two naughty videos in the church. As Gawker reported, “A churchgoer who saw the video recognized the interior of the building, then notified a priest, and after a clip was played on local news, a second viewer — apparently a big fan — identified [the actress'] boobs and notified the authorities.” Luckily, the local diocese determined that the church does not need to be reconsecrated. You can’t make this stuff up.

Anyway, over the years, I’ve collected a mental tally of these stories, and it’s about time I narrowed that list down to the very best and most outrageous — all for your enlightenment. Surely, there must be some deep, great truth about the human condition to be gleaned from all this — something like, “If it exists, we will have sex on it.”

The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

The coliseum is, in the words of the Los Angeles Times, “the place where the USC Trojans play football, two Summer Olympics were staged, John F. Kennedy accepted the Democratic presidential nomination and Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass.” And, in 2001, it became the setting for “The Gangbang Girl #32.” When the news broke, more than a decade later, it stoked outrage. Thing was, it turned out the filmmakers had a permit for the shoot, it’s just their application wasn’t exactly forthcoming about the nature of the film — as in, sex was never mentioned.

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The lawn of the Westboro Baptist Church

OK, so they didn’t actually make it inside, but a punk band by the name of Get Shot! managed to film a video of their female bass player masturbating on the lawn of the famously homophobic church. The aforementioned diddler was quoted in a press release as saying, “The Phelps family and Westboro Baptist Church are ridiculous and do nothing except spread hate and cause controversy. As a bisexual woman and the bass player of a ridiculous punk band, I wanted to spread my legs and cause controversy.”

Cornell University library

A video titled “She Wanks & Masturbates in the College Library!” — which show exactly what it sounds like it shows — was posted to a Cornell message board in 2012. It took, like, zero time for students to recognize the library as their own. It was discovered that the cam girl in question filmed at least two other videos in the library. A university spokesperson called the videos “pretty sick” and said, “When I was a kid, my mother said some people will do anything for attention, and 50 years later, I’m still amazed by how low people will go.”

Los Angeles Fire Engine 263

Outrage erupted when it was discovered that Los Angeles Fire Engine 263 was captured in a porn movie. In the film, actress Charley Chase can be seen flashing her breasts while posing on the truck, which is parked near a public beach. NBC reported that firefighters facilitated the shoot, knowing fully that Chase was intending to set a pants-fire, but the actress insisted that the firemen were oblivious.

The HMS Bounty

The regal ship is described by the Tampa Bay Times as one of “St. Petersburg’s most family friendly landmarks.” But in 2006 it became the set of “Pirates,” one of the best-selling adult titles ever. In requesting the shoot, the film studio described the movie as “a comedy Sinbad type of film in quest of a magical scepter with lots of special effects and sword fighting with skeletons,” and assured, “As far as rating I would say PG-13.” The owner of the ship, Bob Hansen, told the Times, “They told us the story, we took them at face value, and they lied. What are you going to do? It happens.”

Tracy Clark-Flory

Tracy Clark-Flory is a staff writer at Salon. Follow @tracyclarkflory on Twitter and Facebook.

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