Exec Seat: Joanne Cachapero, FSC’s Utility Player

Scott Ross

While Joanne Cachapero’s business card states that she is the Free Speech Coalition’s membership director, as one of the FSC’s three full-time staff members, Cachapero is called upon to wear many hats: membership director, marketer, publicist, trade show representative, blogger, producer, and spokesperson, among many others. Cachapero, who was an adult industry journalist for XBIZ before joining the FSC staff in 2008, essentially functions as a de facto communications director for the FSC. She kindly took time from her busy schedule to answer a few questions from XBIZ about the FSC and the state of the adult industry.

Does your background as a journalist help you in your role as membership director?

The bulk of our membership is smaller businesses, and these businesses are diverse, from every sector of the industry — film to pleasure products to online.

My strength is communications, as a writer and a social networker. My experience as a journalist — I worked freelance in the industry for several years before working at XBIZ as a writer and GLBT editor — has been invaluable. I covered every sector of the industry, so that gives me a broad perspective on adult. Also, FSC is an organization that has somewhat been shrouded in mystery — many people inside and outside of the industry really weren’t aware of what FSC’s function is, or what we do to promote the industry. So, part of my commitment is to promote and educate people about FSC.

I think I’ve been especially successful in establishing a social media presence for FSC on Twitter and Facebook, where we can reach thousands of industry members, FSC members, and the public, to create a dialogue about industry issues.

How important is the Internet to the FSC’s efforts to rally its membership and to keep members informed?

Well, I’m a big believer in social networking, simply because the adult industry is really on the forefront of social media in general. FSC tweets daily, [posts on Facebook] daily and we have blogs for FSC and APHSS.org, so I spend a lot of time online. After we got on Twitter, one performer thanked me and said, ‘You know, Twitter is like our CNN …’ That’s really true. I try to pass on as much information as possible through social networks for folks that don’t have time to scan the adult-related news, as well as other legal and political issues.

I believe that industry members and civilians are interested, and I want them to relate to issues that can directly affect them, with some gossip and celebrity news thrown in. It also helps me stay in touch with all that’s going on, so that when I am talking to people at shows or events, I’m right up-to-date on the latest developments. Knowledge is power, so it’s FSC’s way of trying to empower its membership. We should be and are always making efforts to be a hub for the industry, to create a space where we can be united.

Who should join the FSC? Why?

Some of the biggest companies in the industry have supported FSC since the beginning in 1991, but the bulk of our membership is really made up from small businesses and entrepreneurs. I think that every industry member should support FSC, so that we can be there to support the industry. We are the legal watchdog for the industry, as well as providing services and resources to our members and, often, to all industry members whether they join FSC or not. And because the adult industry has problems and issues that are unique because of the products we create, it’s especially important to have an organization to confront challenges like 2257 or potential mandated condom regulation.

The more support that we have from members, the more we also are able to provide services like lobbying, legal advocacy or APHSS.org on behalf of the industry, which are vitally important. We exist off of membership dues and donations, so the money invested by the industry goes directly to funding services that support our members. It’s an investment in your own business.

Is the FSC primarily for production companies or does it represent the entire adult industry?

As I said, the bulk of our membership is smaller businesses, and these businesses are diverse, from every sector of the industry — film to pleasure products to online. To be perfectly honest, the adult film industry has been in the forefront of our membership, maybe because FSC was founded by filmmakers in the beginning. We also have many members in the novelty (or pleasure product side) and actually, most of our membership is in the online side. Performers also have become more aware of FSC since we stepped up to create APHSS.org and administer the Performer Subsidy Fund. We want to do better at representing every sector of the industry and addressing the unique challenges of each sector — but sometimes, it’s like herding cats. The adult industry is wonderfully diverse and full of strong-minded individuals that have their own opinions and their own way of doing things...

Membership benefits include access to an array of financial and administrative services. Why were these services chosen? What are some of the other perks of membership?

We partner with benefit providers, a lot of times, based on their willingness to serve the adult community. We have insurance dealers, merchant bank services and a human resource consultant that specifically expressed a desire to service the adult industry market, which is great because there are many service providers that, surprisingly, might not want our business. We also provide networking opportunities for our members; special events and seminars at every major industry trade show; and free legal referral and support. Coming soon, we are looking forward to offering educational opportunities with new seminars being developed; greater outreach to members with social events in the near future.

On a personal level — any industry member that wants to call with questions or for information is welcome to contact me at joanne@freespeechcoalition.com or call (818) 348-9373. This industry has been built on relationships, and we don’t forget the importance of that at FSC ….

The anti-piracy PSAs you produced were very popular and received a lot of mainstream media attention. Any plans on producing more?

We were very lucky with the anti-piracy PSAs because they got picked up by Wired Magazine, which effectively broadcast them to every computer geek on the planet, sending them viral. After all, computer geeks were exactly the audience we were trying to hit. We got 100,000 views within a week, which is pretty good for a video of adult performers talking in their clothes.

We have worked with industry members to create other PSAs, especially around the condom issue. Vivid Entertainment helped us create a PSA with Ron Jeremy and Tera Patrick, which was released last year before the November elections. Remmet Studios, Kimberly Kane, James Deen and Jessica Drake produced the condom PSA that was featured on Huffington Post, illustrating the realities of barrier protection in adult films — we helped with that one, too.

Our latest PSA is what I call the “We Speak for Ourselves” PSA. About 30 industry members volunteered their time to come down and speak out against mandated barrier protection. It’s a strong message, straight from the performers themselves.

The FSC recently launched 2257donate.com, a fundraising website to help the FSC’s ongoing legal battles over the 2257 laws. While the site is still very new, has there been any headway gained in terms of raising the $300,000 needed to for the latest round of legal battles?

It could be that if producers didn’t end up having to pay so much to keep their 2257 paperwork in order, they would have more money to donate to worthy industry causes like 2257 or the condom opposition. Let’s face it — $300,000 is a lot of money and the people that are left in the film industry are still feeling the ill effects of the Great Recession of ’08. Also, since there haven’t been recent prosecutions, many have just become accustomed to the idea of this regulation hanging over their heads. Because the threat of 2257 prosecutions is still there — the burden on primary and secondary producers, as well as the threat to performers whose personal information might become exposed.

That’s why it’s vitally important that we raise as much money as possible because this is our last chance to possibly defeat 2257 regulations once and for all. And maybe work toward record-keeping requirements that make sense for producers, performers and the government. But everyone in the industry — film, toys or online, needs to understand that if you display sexually-explicit content, 2257 leaves the door open for potential prosecution that can result in fines and jail time, just for a clerical error. The adult industry is an easy target for prosecution because of laws like 2257.

What is the greatest danger the adult industry faces at the moment? What is the FSC doing to help its members prepare for this danger?

There are different challenges in each sector, but the main challenge is an old one — there are lots of people that feel uncomfortable and even threatened by explicit sexuality in the form of pornography, pleasure products and easy availability of adult online content and, to be perfectly honest, they would rather that we didn’t exist. Particularly in hard times, people become more fearful and conservative, and adult can become a target for their frustration and fears. I just spoke to a lady at the International Lingerie Show that owns an adult shop in a small town in Illinois, and she told me that a morals group in her town made sure that adult videos are nowhere to be found locally, simply by intimidating store owners into pulling it off their shelves. When you live in L.A., Miami or NYC, you might not be aware of how these things happen in the rest of America — but the those issues are lying right beneath the surface.

How involved is the FSC in combating Measure B, the ballot measure requiring condom use in all porn movies that Los Angeles County passed last year?

Oh my God, if I never have to live through another political campaign, it’ll be too soon — it was a lot of work! FSC was deeply involved in opposition to Measure B and it was nonstop from about June until the end of October. We organized the opposition campaign on behalf of the industry and worked closely with the campaigners. The measure, unfortunately, won 57% to 43%, and that’s not the landslide that AHF portrayed. Forty-three percent is a lot of voters. In fact, we have been actively opposing AHF since 2009, when they first reared their ugly heads. Maybe if we had a $200 million-a-year budget like AHF, we could have maximized TV and billboard advertising, and won the election — common sense and fighting the good fight isn’t always enough.

As for enforcement, I have had no indication when they will start enforcement in earnest. So far, Immoral Productions is the only one that has been singled out, and their issues stem from AHF actively watching their videos and then filing a complaint with the County. If, in fact, it is true that the complaint came from an insider on an Immoral set — well, I find it hard to believe that an industry member would reach out to AHF to send an ‘anonymous’ complaint. As far as I know, AHF has only reached out to former industry members that are disgruntled or have become infected with HIV, like Darren James and Derrick Burts.

What’s on the horizon for 2013?

Well, we haven’t announced this yet, but FSC recently moved to new, larger offices — so, as I mentioned, we will be offering educational seminars and networking events at the new offices, starting soon. We will continue to oppose the barrier protection mandates and, even more importantly, we will continue to support industry testing protocols with APHSS.org, for the safety of our performers. We would like to do more outreach to the pleasure products side, including smaller manufacturers and retailers.

Eventually, we would also like to start organizing consumers. Now that adult has gone ‘mainstream,’ we need to make sure that we’re in touch with the people that make it possible for all of us to have jobs — the fans. And, of course, we’ll be at trade shows and events, getting face-time with our old members and new potential members. If you’re in the adult industry, join FSC. We’d love to have you be part of our future.