Managing Perception

Tod Hunter
On Sept. 7 in Portland, Ore., Paul Eugene Frizelle, 37, was charged with the murder of 18-year-old model Emily Egan, whose body was found in his apartment.

The case has a number of familiar themes: a young runaway girl, an older man, intimations of drugs and sex, and an angry mother who claims in reports that her daughter was naive and sucked into a world of depravity and drugs.

The case also has a tie-in to the adult industry: Frizelle operated an adult website that often featured Egan.

This coincidence, tangential as it may seem to professionals in the adult industry, is the kind of event that the enemies of free expression seek out to help validate their belief that crimes like this happen regularly in the adult industry.

"Because the adult industry is being used instrumentally by organizations for the purpose of raising money for restricting speech rights generally, or a pathological hostility toward human sexuality, the industry is always at risk for distortions any time that anything bad happens to anybody," 1st Amendment lawyer Jeffrey Douglas told XBIZ. "It would be particularly grotesque — and therefore quite likely — that the homicide of an adult actress would be used to taint the industry.

"To characterize this as part of the adult industry is truly ludicrous if they had a pre-existing relationship. That's where the violence occurred. It's one of the great tragedies of primate existence that the worst forms of violence occur within the family. There's a reason there are bumper stickers that say 'There's no excuse for domestic violence.' It's a distortion of the first order."

Mike South, who operates websites and produces amateur videos from his home base in Atlanta, suggests that more information should be available for would-be talent.

"We should have a good reference system that girls looking to get into adult can call and find out if the person they are thinking of shooting for is one of us or not," South told XBIZ. "All too often these girls have no resources. Try calling Vivid or Hustler and asking if so-and-so shoots for them. You don't get anywhere. In the meantime, some guy in Atlanta is advertising all over the place that he has a Vivid Pictures office here.

"I think if we as an industry want to differentiate ourselves from this type of behavior, we must first differentiate ourselves from this type of producer."

South, a longtime opponent of rough treatment of women in adult videos, has posted a list of cautions on his website for would-be talent. The list includes such tips as:

  • "Nobody legit has any kind of 'audition.' Ever."

  • "Nobody legit does any kind of percentage deal or pays anything other than cash. (Many companies in porn valley pay by check, but I shouldn't have to tell you that a check from the real Vivid is legit.)"

  • "Nobody legit will have a problem with you bringing someone to the set with you. Whomever you bring is, however, expected to behave appropriately."

  • "Legitimate shooters do not post anonymously. They have real email addresses, not Yahoo or Gmail."

  • "Know exactly what is expected of you up front and exactly what you will be paid. Be specific also in what you will not do. Always do this up front."

The points that must be stressed when the Frizelle case is mentioned, according to Douglas, are that the adult industry safely produces hundreds of videos every month, and this appears to be a domestic violence case, not an adult-industry case.

Adult vs. Hollywood
"The relatively small adult entertainment industry generates as much content as all of the rest of Hollywood," Douglas said. "There are thousands of people who earn their living performing in adult shoots, and there is less violence and less tragedy than occurs routinely in Hollywood. When the actor Vic Morrow was killed in the filming of a Hollywood movie, no one in their right mind would say we have to stop shooting horror movies or adventure films. Every time a large band tours the U.S., insurance companies know how many technicians will be electrocuted. When you compare what the adult industry does with Hollywood, we come off shining bright.

"We need to speak the truth. The difficulty is being heard. The media that will provide a forum for the distorted lies that we are concerned about will not give us an actual forum, because they are not interested in a discussion of the issue. They're interested in exploitation."

South said that self-regulation within the industry is the best way to avoid problems: "You do it by setting ourselves apart and policing ourselves. There's no other way. It isn't what we say after the fact that will exonerate us. It's what we do beforehand."