opinion

2011 FSC Board Election Candidates

Diane Duke

The following list includes all candidates for the upcoming 2011 FSC Board of Directors election to be held in December. Only active FSC members may vote in the election; electronic ballots will be sent by online survey service Zoomerang.com. FSC members may vote for nine seats available in this year’s election, from the field of 11 candidates. First-time nominees are Peter Acworth and Axel Braun.

If you are an active FSC member and DO NOT receive your electronic ballot by Dec 9, please contact the FSC office at (818) 348-9373 or email joanne@freespeechcoalition.com. If you are interested in information about the election or in how to join the FSC, please use the same contact info.

Please cast your votes! This is active FSC members’ opportunity to choose those that will represent the FSC and the adult industry’s business & legal interests for the coming year. Thank you.

In alphabetical order by last name (* indicates incumbent status).

Peter Acworth, founder and CEO of Kink.com
 

Peter Acworth

Peter Acworth is founder and CEO of Kink.com, online network of BDSM websites since 1998. He is “honored” by his nomination to the FSC Board of Directors election, and has submitted his viewpoint on three important issues confronting the adult industry. They are as follows:

2257: ”I feel that some of the requirements of 2257 are overly cumbersome, and too vaguely written. For instance, a strict interpretation of 2257 means that we cannot admit an unpaid participant to one of our ‘community style’ shoots if they have an expired ID, or a foreign passport. Additionally, the extent to which we have to cross reference the participants at our shoots becomes almost impossible for our shoots with many participants (theupperfloor.com, publicdisgrace.com, boundinpublic.com).”

Obscenity: “The industry needs clarification on what the obscenity laws actually are and how they are used. Currently, they are too vague, and applied randomly. The case against John Stagliano is a prime example. Kink.com, along with many other companies all produce nearly identical footage. Was John singled out because he chose to mail a DVD as opposed to distributing via the web?”

Mandatory condoms: “I agree with the desire to make safe working conditions for all adult entertainment models. However, if Cal OSHA were to mandate condoms altogether, I fear business would move out of state, or out of the country. Additionally, preventing a couple from distributing video of themselves engaged in a natural sexual experience strikes me as a freedom of speech restriction.”

Axel Braun, producer/director, 2011 AVN Hall of Fame inductee
 

Axel Braun

The son of legendary porn-pioneer Lasse Braun and grandson of a diplomat, Axel Braun is a member of MENSA, a film-school graduate, and the bearer of a Ph.D. in Psychology. A second-generation AVN Hall of Famer, over the span of his 20-year career, Axel has won awards all over the world for directing, producing, screenwriting, and editing. With over 400 titles under his belt, including the #1 best-selling adult DVD of 2010, “Batman XXX: A Porn Parody”, and the 3D blockbuster “This Ain’t Avatar XXX”, Axel is one of the most prolific and successful directors active in the industry.
Having worked with many of the top companies in the industry, Axel has gained enormous experience and strong connections, thus becoming an invaluable source of insight and advice.

A leader in the fight against content piracy, he recently filed the single-largest federal lawsuit for copyright infringement against 7,098 people who illegally downloaded his movie “Batman XXX: A Porn Parody”. Axel also appears in FSC’s All-Star Anti-Piracy PSA, which was featured in articles and websites worldwide, as well as on the local news and daily newspapers in every major US market.

Among the issues that Axel would like to address is the need for the industry to come together and extend help and outreach for performers, by creating an infrastructure to provide counseling and guidance to those in need. Fluent in five languages, articulate, and passionate, Axel is an ideal candidate for a seat on the FSC Board.

Jeffrey Douglas, attorney and current FSC Board Chair*
 

Jeffrey Douglas*

Jeffrey Douglas is a Santa Monica criminal defense lawyer, representing all segments of the adult entertainment industry since 1982. He is Chair of the Board of Directors of the Free Speech Coalition, the trade association of the adult entertainment industry and Chairman Emeritus of the First Amendment Lawyers Association. A nationally recognized spokesperson for the adult entertainment industry, as well as an expert witness, Mr. Douglas appears regularly as a media commentator, and on invitation, has testified before Congress. He is the author of numerous magazine articles.

Mara Epstein, Lelo Inc. and current FSC Board member*
 

Mara Epstein*

Mara Epstein is sales director at Lelo, Inc. and a current FSC Board member. She has submitted the following statement:

“As a member of both Boards of the Adult Video Association and then the Free Speech Coalition for over a decade, I bring to the table an experienced knowledge of the adult industry and the problems facing it. I have also worked on the vanguard of each new technology as it has evolved. With nearly a quarter century of immersion in this business, I have, and always will, work to improve its impact on society. I believe I have made a difference and ask that you give me the opportunity to continue doing so.”







Sid Grief, founder of AAANews.com, current interim FSC Board President, VSDA Hall of Fame*
 

Sid Grief*

Sid Grief’s (aka Redrob) background includes 35 years of adult retailing in Texas including adult bookstores, video rental stores, newsstands, Internet websites, Internet content sales and Internet fulfillment operations. His education includes a BBA with Highest Honors, with majors in Marketing and International Business and a BA with High Honors, with major in Asian Studies from the University of Texas.Sid was one of the original founders of First Amendment Coalition of Texas, which rose over $1 million for lobbying in Texas. Sid served on the PBAA’s Anti-censorship Committee, on the VSDA Adult Advisory Committee and two terms as a VSDA Chapter President. During Sid’s three terms on the FSC Board, he has served as President, Vice President and on the Legal, Internet and other committees.

Sid states, “I think the FSC’s major challenges will be monetizing new technologies for our existing members, eliminating online piracy, affecting restrictive legislation originating in the state congresses and securing the recognition of our Right to Privacy. Also, the development of new financial and political resources for the FSC to meet these challenges by means of expanding our membership base through the development of FSC Chapters and the sales of individual memberships will be one of my goals.”

Alec Helmy, founder of XBIZ Magazine/XBIZ.com and current FSC member*
 

Alec Helmy*

BIO: Alec Helmy is the founder and president of XBIZ™, the industry source for business news and information, providing up-to-the-minute coverage of the industry at XBIZ.com and in two monthly trade journals — XBIZ World and XBIZ Premiere. In addition, XBIZ hosts two annual conferences, the XBIZ Summer Forum and XBIZ LA Conference, which culminates with the annual XBIZ Awards, a red carpet gala event honoring excellence in the adult entertainment industry. XBIZ is frequently cited in mainstream media for coverage of the rapidly evolving adult entertainment industry and has been published in CNN, Fox News, Newsweek, MSNBC, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Wired, CNET, ABC, USA Today and Los Angeles Times among others. One of the early pioneers of the online adult industry, Helmy is the founder of ASACP (Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection), a non-profit organization that fights Internet child pornography and works to help parents prevent children from viewing age-restricted material online.

Statement: “Today, the adult industry is facing an unprecedented number of industry-specific threats and broader economic challenges that together have caused many adult businesses to lay off scores of staff or shutter operations altogether. Whether it’s content piracy, government regulation, obscenity prosecution or zoning laws, it’s never been more critical for the FSC to formulate and execute strategies that will reverse or minimize the impact of these threats to adult businesses.”

Joel Kaminsky, owner of Good Vibrations and current FSC Board member*
 

Joel Kaminsky*

Joel Kaminsky, 56, is married with three grown children and two grandchildren. His interests include golf, gardening, and working out.
Joel was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio to a working class family. His dad was a laborer and mother a stenographer…both having to work to make ends meet. From this upbringing, he learned a lot about responsibility and work ethic…all of which has served him well in his personal and professional life.
For money growing up, Joel worked as a paperboy for two newspapers, cut lawns, shoveled snow, worked in a clothes factory, a rack jobber, and often in the adult distribution warehouse his brother Mel headed. The latter job is one that exposed Joel to the adult marketplace, and provided income while between semesters and winter/spring breaks in the late 60’s and early 70’s.
After graduating with a marketing degree from the University of Cincinnati in 1976, he moved back to Cleveland to assist his family in handling his dying mother. His brother Mel found him a temporary warehouse position, but an upper level manager moved him to the retail store division. Before long, Joel was supervising stores in Cleveland and surrounding areas… and soon after was promoted to Pittsburgh, Pa. to run a larger retail operation.

In 1978, Joel was again promoted to San Diego to take over an ailing retail operation and open more stores for the headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio. In a matter of 5 years, Joel opened 9 stores, a discount magazine pack route, and an arcade vending machine operation.

In January of 1984, Joel was offered a district manager position in San Francisco, Ca. that would include running 16 stores. Soon after, he was instrumental in the opening of dozens of more stores including Hawaii and Australia, and along with the CEO of Bay Management was the chief architect starting GVA-West, Sin City Video, and numerous other ventures. Under his direction, which included a nearly two year stint running the operation without a CEO (prison sentence), the company grew from a few million annual revenue into the mid to high eight figure range and hundreds of employees.

In October of 2002, Joel moved to Cleveland, Ohio to assist family in a transitional time of business succession. His brother Mel was retiring and selling GVA-TWN to his daughter Rondee. Joel was offered a COO position there and the chance to work with family was enticing enough to come “home”. There, he assisted in running distribution, over 50 retail stores, opening new locations, publishing, a web division, and the purchasing of a video manufacturing business in LA.

In 2007, the company purchased the renown woman-centric retailer Good Vibrations…which Joel purchased from the company in 2008.

Joel was instrumental in turning Good Vibration’s near bankrupt condition into one of solid general business health. This led to his decision in ending his career at GVA-TWN and devoting full time attention to Good Vibrations at the beginning of 2010 as the CEO.

FINAL NOTE RELATIVE TO POSITION:

Joel was indicted in legal cases because of the industry he worked in and was a personal witness as a member of companies that were involved in some of the most significant cases of its time. From this, he gained first hand knowledge and experience the “threat” the adult industry is cloaked under. Additionally, he has been involved in zoning cases, has worked with cities on amending laws, has witnessed his family’s commitment to a long running 2257 battle.

Mark Kernes, legal columnist for AVN.com and current FSC Board Secretary*
 

Mark Kernes*

Mark Kernes is a legal analyst for industry trade publication AVN.com and current FSC Board Secretary. He has submitted the following statement:

“Certainly, one of the most important subjects the [FSC] Board can deal with over the next few years is making the public understand how fucked up the government and many social institutions are about sex and sexually-related subjects. Obviously, the issue of same-sex marriage and gays serving in the military are subjects of major public discussion right now, but many don’t realize that there are still some areas where you can’t buy a vibrator, and that there are only three jurisdictions in the entire United States where people can legally shoot adult content.

I’ve attended several federal government hearings and City Council meetings where the most outlandish claims have been made about the practices of adult retailers and adult webmasters, and about the character of, and the personnel involved in creating, adult content - and these are lies that Free Speech must counter through its community outreach programs. As a journalist, it’s a topic very near and dear to my brain.”

Reed Lee, attorney and current FSC Board member*
 

Reed Lee*

Reed Lee is a practicing constitutional lawyer concentrating on free speech matters. He is National Chairperson Emeritus of the First Amendment Lawyers Association and he has served on the FSC Board for three terms. He has political experience ranging from grass-roots organizing to lobbying in Congress, always for the less popular or powerful as against the more. He has long felt the need to help speak truth to power and to help defend those against whom the intolerant have unleashed a culture war.







Steven Scarborough, founder of Hothouse Entertainment, GAYVN and Grabbys Hall of Fame member and current FSC Board member*
 

Steven Scarborough*

Hot House Entertainment President Steven Scarborough started Hot House Entertainment in 1993 determined to reproduce the award-winning success he enjoyed during his 6-year tenure as Executive Vice-President of Falcon Studios. After launching the fledgling Hot House brand (initially called Bullwhip Video), Mr. Scarborough sensed a growing demand for fisting/fetish videos and conceived the Plain Wrapped and Club Inferno brands to address that niche. Both brands quickly became singular overnight sensations.

Mr. Scarborough has always been a fierce vocal advocate for freedom of sexual expression and its protection under the First Amendment. His early masterpiece Descent became the focus of a landmark Canadian obscenity case that ultimately wound its way to the Supreme Court of Canada where it was dismissed. His outstanding contribution to this cause was acknowledged in 2001 by the Free Speech Coalition with their Lifetime Achievement Award. Mr. Scarborough’s lifelong pursuit of excellence has been honored by all of the top industry awards shows, including many Best Picture wins, Hall of Fame Awards (2002 GAYVN & 2003 Grabby’s), and in 2008, a Lifetime Achievement Award from XBIZ.

Online, the studio maintains 2 membership sites (Hot House Backroom and Club Inferno Dungeon); Hot House Cash, a robust affiliate program for those sites; a Superstore with special DVD pricing, free XXX previews and iPod downloads; and Hot Flash, a blog of anecdotes, pictures, and video of all things Hot House. With over two decades of experience in the adult industry to his credit, Scarborough remains as committed as ever to fulfilling the Hot House tagline: “Filthy Never Looked So Good.”

Lynn Swanson, sales manager for Topco sales and current FSC Board member*
 

Lynn Swanson*

Lynn Swanson is a true veteran of the Adult Entertainment business. With a resume spanning practically every facet of the industry, Lynn offers over 30 years of experience including retail (Goalie Entertainment), distribution (General Manager of M&M Sales), and now manufacturing (Topco Sales). As a current Board member of the Free Speech Coalition, Lynn offers a broad understanding of the entire industry.

As a long term member of the industry, Lynn understands the many obstacles and challenges we face today. Her dedication to the cause of free speech has been a priority, and she understands that decisions she helps make today will have far-reaching effects on the industry in the future. With her vast knowledge and long-standing relationships with members of the domestic as well as foreign adult marketplace, her voice on the Board resonates with the wishes of the many, rather than the few.

Lynn is running for re-election to the Board, and her goal is to help lead the industry into a future that is free from government intervention, and the strengthening of our First Amendment rights.

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