Bill Margold Speaks: 2

Rodger Jacobs
In part one we looked at "The Plimpton of Porn" and his refusal to compromise his beliefs. In today's conclusion, we'll look at Margold's concept of a tax on adult products and notion of imposing a 21-year-old minimum on adult performers.

One belief Margold won't compromise on is his concept of a tax on adult products.

"The porn tax is not a new invention," he said. "It is something I have been preaching since I was on documented record with Congress in 1985 in front of the Meese Commission. In that testimony, among many other things, I said 'Let's have a porn tax. Think of the money you people could make if you gave us the same tainted respectability that alcohol, cigarettes and gambling has.' Why can't we have that? I want that because that would give us all of the lobbying, all of the people in Washington. People will pay it. They will willingly pay it. They would probably pay even more because they think they're getting something better because it is getting taxed. Our industry thinks it's the worst thing that can happen."

With a porn tax, Margold believes, "comes exactly what the industry wants: respectability." But he fears that the concept of a porn tax "frightens a lot of people" in the adult community because "a lot of them would have to work a little bit harder in order to put out better product to justify the tax."

At the Meese Commission hearing, Margold also introduced the notion of imposing a 21-year-old minimum on adult performers, a concept he still embraces. Their minds might be a little more stable at 21 [and] it would show that we are humanely concerned about the psychological stability of our adult performers," he said.

Margold hikes his shoulders, dismissing the idea as fast as he introduces it. "This industry wants to feed off performers as young as they can get." Margold also wants a stopgap solution to what he dubs "the foreign invasion."

"The females who come over here from England, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Russia, they don't have a Social Security card, don't have a work permit," he said. "They come in and rake off $10,000-$30,000, go home, and leave nothing here. If you're going to work in our country, help support our country.

"I'm sick of these people — and many of them are way too stuck up for their own good — cackling like hyenas and taking their money and going home. The government should eventually develop antennae and figure out that something's wrong. If anybody's monitoring this business, they realize they all aren't beach bunnies anymore. These are people who don't look, act, or sound like Americans. Keep 'Erotica America' in America. Isolationist X, if you want to call it that. I'll be hated for this, but I don't really care."

Waiting Period
Margold proposes that foreign performers be placed on a two-to-four-week waiting period because "we don't know what [diseases] they are bringing with them into this country that we might not know how to deal with."

Margold also would like to see an eradication of the relationship between escort services and the adult industry.

"This industry should crack down and say no more hooking by adult performers because that's our underbelly," he asserted. "I don't mind if a superstar has her series of sugar daddies, but I just can't stand this concept of advertising the superstars as prostitutes."

Margold would like to see a penalty imposed on any adult performer who offers escort services.

"She cannot work in this business," he added. "Her genitalia belongs to us and if her genitalia is being ravaged outside of this business, can things crawl in there and create problems for us? Oh, yeah."

Margold co-founded the XRCO (X-Rated Critics Organization) in 1984 with Jim Holliday. But he believes it was the creation of Friends of XRated Entertainment (FOXE) in 1989 that lowered his standing in the industry.

He created FOXE to "give the fans a voice" because he had heard "for many, many years the porn establishment's contempt for the fans." The industry despises him, he insists, over his defense of the fans because to the industry, the fans are "totally worthless and the lowest thing in the world."

Margold also wants to see some sort of rating system employed with a seal of approval issued to productions that meet, for lack of a better term, the "dirty decency" standard.

"The industry is torn because it's either going to have to clean itself up or someone will come in and clean us up," Margold said. But these are the pleadings of an admittedly vain, self-made man who is becoming increasingly marginalized in an industry he helped create.

Margold wistfully recalled a trip to the beach in Atlantic City with his mother when he was two years old. His mother watched him walk into the ocean.

"And there was no one there to save me, but I didn't drown," he said. "She said what happened was I simply fell over and I began to swim. The ocean and I have a very, very unique relationship."

Near-Death Experience
Decades later, Margold had a near-death experience while body surfing off the coast of Malibu.

"I caught a really big wave, and I knew there were going to be problems because I looked down and there wasn't any water beneath it," he said. "I came down straight on the top of my head and the wave grabbed me and dragged me back under. And I was going pretty fast."

Margold estimated he was underwater for four minutes, dragged along the ocean floor. He "made death a deal" after surviving the frightening ordeal.

"I said, 'If you want me that much, give me the Detroit Lions in the Super Bowl and I'll be happy to die.' Now, death has never given me the Lions in the Super Bowl, so I'm alive and, unfortunately, will probably live forever."

It was this Faustian pact with death, Margold said sorrowfully, that perhaps led to the recent death of his 17-year-old cat Pogo. He had been bragging about Pogo to a neighbor and proclaimed that he would gladly trade five years of his life for five more years with his beloved feline.

"You can't make a deal with death twice," he said with a cackle. "Only once. Because within three weeks, Pogo was dead. Almost immediately after the vow, the cat started to disintegrate, and the last weekend of Pogo's life was more torture than I've ever been through."

But does Margold really believe he will live forever?

He sighed. "I miss Holliday. I miss Viper. And now, of course, Pogo is dead."

Margold paused reflectively and reiterate his unique relationship with the sea.

"I will die in the ocean," he said. "I will drown looking up at a cliff, and I can't get out. I've analyzed what that symbolism is. It's the ultimate earthquake that knocks California into the ocean and I can't get out."