Adult Industry Sees Hope in President-Elect Obama

Steve Javors
LOS ANGELES — If Tuesday’s results in the race for president were any indication, it’s that anything is possible in America.

Barack Obama’s victory says a lot about this country — it says we want to look forward to a bright future and not dwell on the incompetence and failures of the past eight years. American history is littered with shameful acts and triumphant victories — last night’s election results is one of our great triumphs.

Based on this week's historic election, XBIZ asked for the perspectives of a cross section of members of the adult industry for their thoughts on President-Elect Obama and how that might affect our business.

If it was one thing all respondents agreed upon it was that the epic failures of the Bush administration are history — ignominious history, but solely in the rearview mirror nonetheless. Based on the responses, Obama clearly has many fans in the adult entertainment community.

How did the adult industry view Obama’s win and what does his impending presidency have on the adult entertainment community? The resounding answer was that Obama offers a new voice; a voice of hope, a voice of change that wasn’t just sorely needed, it was imperative if we wanted to preserve our rights as a free society.

In a country where high-profile obscenity battles are on the docket, the back-and-forth status and enforcement of 2257 regulations looms large and the overarching battle of free Americans to engage in a legal business while exercising their 1st Amendment rights is called into question, having an administration that’s not rooted in right-wing ideology maybe prove beneficial.

Below are the responses XBIZ received.

I think Obama winning the presidential election was historic for many reasons and the adult industry will benefit from Obama taking office. I believe the new president will have his hands so completely full with the myriad of serious issues facing this country that obscenity prosecutions will be pushed to the back burner.
— Peter Reynolds, Plaid Bag Media

I feel with Obama, the adult industry will be better off. His youth and intelligence is something the White House has lacked. Companies making novelty Obama porn probably doesn't help matters. I hope he has a good sense of humor.
— Jonni Darkko, director

Obama’s authoritative win in yesterday’s historic election proves, if nothing else, that optimism in the U.S. is not dead. It was only tamped underfoot, squeezed hard beneath the weight of eight years of divisive national crisis and the steady erosion of the guarantees that made this imperfect union an exemplar for the world.

His work begins now in earnest. And what work it is! The restoration of our national luster will take more than hope, more than a contagious zeal for change. Real transformation requires achieving the nearly impossible: snapping the bonds of hate and the polarization it fosters.

This overwhelming victory for the Democratic Party represents an utter rejection of the toxic and failed policies of the Bush Administration, leaving us with a glimmer of hope for the restoration and preservation of our most precious rights.

The American people demanded this change. And we will all be watching closely as the President-Elect takes these first steps into what could be the sunlight of a new American dawn.
— Larry Flynt, Hustler Magazine

This was the most important election in my lifetime to date. I believe there will be change that is desperately needed. Whatever happens I believe it cant be any worse than it is now. Our outgoing president can now bankrupt many more private companies in his business future. I cant wait to see what dumb-ass will give him his first shot after leaving the White House. If history shows us anything we will see some relief from the blatant attacks on our legal industry that brings much needed revenue to our economy.
— Todd Blatt, Antigua Pictures

An Obama presidency means, first and foremost, that this country can now (finally) begin to focus on the real issues at hand — tough issues like terrorism, the economy, the war in Iraq, the environment and universal healthcare. Given the extraordinarily dire straights that the conservative movement (and in particular the neocons) has left this country in (and this world) it is my belief that the next four years will be spent first and foremost resolving those issues which demand immediate attention, and then afterwards reforming existing governmental structures in order to perfect our union.

Along the way it will be necessary to hold those accountable who have so blithely disregarded the rights of others for their own gain, be they from Wall Street, D.C. Beltway, Wasilla, or former employees of Pennsylvania Avenue. The sheer (and unprecedented) amount of scandals amassed in the last seven-some-odd years, from U.S. Attorney firings to human rights violations and torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo to the treasonous outing of CIA agent Valarie Plame, cannot go without comment into our rearview mirror.

Therefore it is my belief that issues regarding free speech and the rights of consenting adults to enjoy prurient material in the privacy of their own homes will be upheld. No longer will we suffer under a government that excoriates its citizens over issues of choice, wasting millions of dollars and important resources to enforce their supposedly “moral” agenda. A new light is dawning in America and indeed the world.
— DCypher, director

I think that a Democrat-led administration will again shift focus away from obscenity laws in a way similar to the Clinton years. We can hope that task teams and government prosecutors will be given different agendas to focus on. Perhaps some of us will have higher taxes, but at least we have a bigger hope of actually staying in business.
— Karen Stagliano, Evil Angel

A new day is dawning.

I feel like I felt when we stopped the war in Vietnam, when we kicked Nixon out of the White House.

We have truly seen it all, John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, Selma, a wall came down, a man walked on the moon and Woodstock.

It is such a great feeling to know we can make a difference. I’m so proud of my home state of Ohio and the state of Florida. The winds of change are blowing; we must embrace this time, for these are the good old days.

I think Obama has much more important issues to handle than the adult industry. We are almost self-governing, we abhor child pornography, and do everything we can to make quality adult entertainment. I am hoping he will strengthen the economy so sales continue to be on the rise.

This is truly a glorious day.
— Howard Levine, Cezar Capone Productions/Pulse Distribution

I woke up today believing in America again. Barack Obama is president of the U.S. and the world is standing proud. I love that shot of Jesse Jackson crying stage side at Obama’s rally last night. We could only imagine what it must feel like to fight for equal rights your whole life and an African-American becomes president not because of the color of his skin but because he’s the right choice. Most people never thought this could happen, but anything can happen in this country! It feels so good to say that again and not be joking.
— Kimberly Kane, performer/director

It was crucial for Obama to be elected because of the dangerous state the world is in and Obama appears to have the demeanor and the intelligence to best deal with the war and other tensions in the world. Also, hopefully, he will feel he owes nothing to the religious right and will clean up the politicized Justice Department. I hope he has the courage to indict people who broke the law (Rove, Bush, Gonzalez, etc.) with regard to the Justice Department. Political pressure on the Justice Department is illegal and should be dealt with as such. There is a written, easily understandable law about this. On the other hand, how was I supposed to know I was breaking the obscenity law when I shipped my movies? A return to the rule of law would be the fair thing to do.

On the other hand, Obama has promised things — tax cuts and financial stability, national health care, favoritism to various pressure groups — making all these people happy is impossible. Hopefully he will deal with these conflicts in the least damaging way. The idea that government should and can solve problems — our problems — will lead to a more divided and contentious society. Special interest groups from Wall Street to unions to health workers will all vie for a piece of the pie. Look forward to a mess and economic stagnation over the next four to eight years.

Obama's best trait is that he appears to listen to people, hopefully when things don't work out as intended he will listen to other's ideas and adjust.
— John Stagliano, Evil Angel

I think Obama is more intelligent than Bush (by 100-plus IQ points), so he’ll realize that FBI and Justice Department resources are better used to combat terrorism and investigate crooked Wall Street fat cats than by going after our industry.
— Mark Kulkis, Kick Ass Pictures

Hopefully the election of Obama will bring change. However, I am relatively pessimistic because even if a new president genuinely strives for change, he still must overcome the inertia that is Washington and those that have a vested interest in the status quo. That said, I believe that with respect to the adult industry, the new administration will have more of a laissez-faire attitude and that will be beneficial for business.
— Mark Spiegler, Spiegler Girls

I think that Obama has the potential to at least begin to repair the damage Bush has done in the last eight years, although I feel it might be a while before we see any results. He appears sincere when he speaks, is extremely intelligent, and seems to have the motivation and drive that is needed for accomplishment.

He definitely is far more liberal in his thinking, which brings me to believe that the industry would not be negatively affected by his presidency. Not to mention, there are so many problems that are in dire need of being repaired in the U.S. right now, and by prioritizing the issues, the adult industry will fall far down on the list (if even on the list at all). It is better for it to be overlooked than scrutinized by the religious and conservative right-wing groups that Bush was involved with.

Right now, the adult industry is being largely affected by our economy, which is obviously a complete disaster at the moment. If Obama focuses on the economy (which I think he will) as a high priority, then as a result, the adult industry will benefit from any progress in that regard.

I highly doubt he will target the adult industry as a high point of interest. I think it will just be business as usual.

This is just my opinion and we obviously won't know anything until he gets into office. But he definitely does have a more liberal point of view, which by itself, takes some focus off the porn industry. We would have been in deep shit if McCain was elected.

And as an added note, this might be good for the industry. All those religious right-wing conservatives will probably be so pissed that Obama is in office that they will need porn to release some of that inner aggression. After all, they probably make up the largest part of our customer base.
— Ryder Skye, performer

With this sweeping victory not only for Obama, but for Congress, those who make the laws, it looks as if we caught a huge break.

It's quite obvious to those of us who make our living from the cultural moods of the country, that the current mood is brighter than simply hopefulness. As the constraints of the conservatives are lifted during the transition to new policies, our lives as free speech advocates, artists and businesspeople, will become a whole lot easier. Now it's up to us — we the people.

Let's see if we can walk it like we talk it.

Yes we can!
— Roy Karch, director

As so many said last night, our long national nightmare is finally over. For me, the 10 weeks we have yet to endure our developmentally-disabled puppet of a president and the men-behind-the-curtain who have been pulling his strings since day one cannot pass quickly enough.

Normally, I’m not terribly enthusiastic about any politician, of any stripe. I believe that all politicians are liars, cheats and thieves, and as a rule, no one is any better than another. Obama clawed his way to the top of one of the most notoriously corrupt political machines in the country. I’m not naïve enough to believe he’s the inscrutably honest face he presents.

But, after eight years of the most foul, perverse, blatantly criminal war profiteers this country has ever seen running things, I believe Obama cannot help but be a breath of fresh air. More importantly, he’s smart. Finally, things have gotten shitty enough in this country that the people who’ve actually, oh, I dunno, read a fucking book at some point in their lives, have given a loud and ringing endorsement to the smartest guy in the game, out-maneuvering and out-voting the people who put Bush in power, i.e., the willfully ignorant.

In this, I know whereof I speak. I come from a long line of Arizona white trash, and I grew up among throngs of rednecks who love to despise anyone obviously smarter than they. Well, electing the president ya wanna have a beer with didn’t work out so well in the long run, did it?

It’s really hard for a cynic like me to admit it, but yes, I’m hopeful. I’m hopeful that the smart guy and his smart friends can pull the economy out of the fucking toilet; get us out of Iraq, where we had no fucking business going in the first place; turn things around in Afghanistan; put Pakistan on notice that we know they’re secretly Public enemy No. 1; get us a healthcare system that stops us from being the joke of the entire civilized world.

I’m also looking forward to going abroad, which Kylie and I frequently do, and not having to be ashamed of America and our mongoloid retard of a president.

As for our business, I think Obama has a much more realistic set of priorities and no ultra-conservative base he has to satisfy to be bothered with legislating morality. Certainly, there’s no such thing as a pro-porn administration, but I can’t envision an Obama justice department that maintains an obscenity task force. I believe these people understand that there are more important things to deal with than people making dirty movies.

I think you’ll see 2257 inspections quickly drop back off to nothing, and I doubt the anticipated wave of prosecutions from the inspections already conducted will come to fruition. John Stagliano’s trial isn’t going to go away, but I doubt it will be pursued with much zeal. It might even be left to linger as Rob Black’s was until conservative columnists started screaming about it.

As far as any future prosecutions, Obama will be installing a shitload of appellate court judges during his first term, and hopefully a few supremes as well. It would be a great day for the world in general if Scalia would just hurry up and choke on his own fat tongue so Obama could replace him with someone sane. All that is good news for porn folk if they get prosecuted.

Above all, though, we need to hope he can fix the economy quicker than Roosevelt did. That’s the only thing in the cards that might help the current shitty state of the industry. Well, that and a lot of porn folks suddenly waking up one morning having become actual business people… but I don’t foresee that happening.

I think, in the final analysis, what Obama has done is take away any excuse we have to blame the government for our woes, because they won’t be the issue, at least for four years. Now, as the Bard said, the problem lies not in our stars, Horatio, but in ourselves.
— Eli Cross, director

I think that Obama will be our great president of this generation. He will be looked at in hundred years to come as the Lincoln, Roosevelt, or JKF of our time. They might even put his face on currency. Obama’s speeches have been takeoffs of Roosevelt’s “New Hope” and JFK’s “New Deal.” America finally has a new hope for this new deal that Obama has been promising.

Obama graduated in the top 1 percent at Havard he is smart enough to know not to waste the FBI’s time going after the adult industry. How can you spend time going after a 2257 clerical error when there are real terrorists out in the world trying to kill Americans? In my many years of being in the adult industry I don’t know one producer that would knowingly shoot a minor. We all love our jobs and would hate to lose them.

The adult industry as a whole will hard time trying to selling content it after a generation kids that grew up on free porn on tube sites and file sharing. We might get lucky and break back into the theaters and have record breaking blockbuster box office success. A smart America may think that it is socially expectable to watch adult movies in the theater once again.
— Robert Interlandi, Arrow Productions

I'll be sleeping a little better tonight.

Who knew it would be the Democrats who would want to focus on business? It looks like Obama's first priority is going to be rebuilding the economy and the country. Which to me says the heat's going to be off the adult industry for a while. The next four years will not be easy, but at least Obama's crew will focus on getting more people employed. So people will start spending more money on adult products again.

In addition, more people working in mainstream means less people will be trying to make money in adult, which should provide further stability to the adult industry.
— Jay Moyes, Black & Blue Media

I have real hope that an Obama administration will find and apply solutions to the recession, the debt crisis and wage stagnation. As much as people in the adult industry would like to believe we live in a bubble, what happens to the economy as a whole has a real impact on us.

I also hope the president-elect respects individual rights and works to restore those rights eroded by George W. Bush. Our industry depends on consumers who believe in free speech and that adults have a right to watch what they chose in the privacy of their own homes, free from any government surveillance or harassment.

That being said, the adult industry must keep in mind that it has no friends. We have foes on the left — anti-sex feminists, for example — as well as the right. The sad fact is, most people respect the right for an individual to watch what they want but they won't protest when that right applies to adult content.

We must continue to be vigilant against unreasonable government regulation and intrusion, as the adult industry is made the scapegoat for so many of society's ills. The only way to address this is to make real inroads to politicians, political parties and political groups to see that we are an important part of the economy. We also need to get beyond being a novelty in the eyes of the public and demonstrate that we are respectable citizens who engage in a lawful and legitimate business.
— Wayne Hentai, Plan 9 Media Group

The scope of what it means to have Obama in the White House is immense. Not only do Democrats traditionally lay off the adult industry (let’s keep our fingers crossed), but there are three to four Supreme Court judges that are due to retire soon and that means that Obama can appoint liberal judges to take their seat. That is good for adult, a woman's right to choose and a wide array of issues for years to come, even after he has left office.

This is a truly a historical time in America. The fact that an African-American is now the president of the U.S. is a milestone in race relations in this country. Just 16 years ago there was a race riot in the streets of Los Angeles. Who would of thought this day would come?

Unfortunately many people are under the assumption that Obama will end the war in a few months and that things will just go back the way they were. That unfortunately is not the case. Yes troop withdrawal can begin, but the region is completely unstable and the war in Afghanistan (the only war we should have been in in the first place in my opinion) is going to be a long tedious process. I cannot foresee the future, but our rights, our freedoms, civil liberties, the lives of Americans sons and daughters, and our financial wellbeing now lies in the hands of Obama, and for that I am grateful and hopeful.
— David Lord, director

Right now it's too early to say. It may take six months to a year after his inauguration before there are any indications of where his admin will be headed. To my knowledge, the adult industry did not appear to be a discussion or campaign point in the Obama-McCain battle for the presidency.
— Elliot James, SCORE Group

I'm hoping at best that he will have the same kind of "hands off" attitude that President Clinton seemed to have. More importantly, I believe he will get to select at least two new Supreme Court justices that will be liberal in their views, leaving the court balanced.

Unfortunately, if some producers decide to push the limits even more now, they will only be inviting trouble, which could affect everyone. So please, let's be happy that we can assume better days are ahead for the industry, and not try to go berserk and force even middle of the road politicians to come down on us. Let's not get crazy now. Short time gain may result in long-term misery. Just ask Max.
— Rodney Moore, Rodnievision

I believe that he has the spirit of the voters behind him and the mandate to make appropriate changes, both domestically and the way America interacts with, and is thought of, internationally. It won’t all magically happen on the evening of Jan. 20, but positive advances relative to the last eight years will begin surfacing.

Based upon his answer during a debate with Hillary Clinton to a question about entertainment and violence on the Internet, in which he said he felt monitoring the access of minors was a parental responsibility, I’m hopeful that he’ll refocus Justice Department priorities back to preventing/fighting/prosecuting real crime instead of expending critical resources against what consenting adults legitimately and constitutionally do, watch and enjoy.

I sense that he’ll basically lay off of the industry (except possibly for violent/extreme adult entertainment). Obama should be practical, not what a McCain Attorney General appointee might have done to appease the radical religious nuts. The same goes for the filling of vacancies that might involve the Supreme Court and/or federal judgeships. As long as the adult entertainment industry (and/or individuals within it) doesn’t invite trouble, I’m hopeful that responsible and legal business practices will keep the Feds from hassling us.
— Dave Cummings,

I’m crossing my fingers that Obama’s campaign for hope and change will do our industry a favor, but everyone knows, our president isn’t going to come right out and preach his views on the adult industry.

Our industry is facing a constitutional battle, a battle of rights, like women’s rights for equal pay and the right to chose — both policies that Obama not only supports but also says he will change.

In short, as Obama said, “if there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, tonight is your answer.” If this is true, when our industry has to face the opposition, we can echo these statements to our advantage. One thing that history does tell us is that only time can tell, and whether or not Obama and the new administration is our saving grace we won’t know until we are on the battlefield and policies have been executed. My biggest hope is that our industry can and will recognize the slim advantage we will have on Jan. 20, and come together to fight for our constitutional rights — but that’s too idealistic. I’m sure a majority of the non-industry veterans will forget about Max Hardcore and John Stagliano in a few months, just as I’m sure my generation will forget about Obama’s spirit in four years.
— Sasha Grey, performer

This is significant in so many ways. One in particular that is important to our industry is the effect on our judicial system. In the past eight years, the appointment of federal judges has been decidedly to the ideological right. With Obama as president we have an opportunity to see a more balanced judiciary.
— Steven Hirsch, Vivid Entertainment

Of course, the departure of George Bush and the resounding rejection of his toxic politics by the electorate, are developments to be welcomed by all Americans of sound mind — pornographers included. But where our industry is concerned, I wouldn't be too quick to break out the champagne. While I doubt the Obama administration will waste its resources on content-based criminal prosecutions under adult obscenity laws, given the vast challenges he faces and the economic limitations within which he must address them, I don't expect him to be a traditionally libertarian liberal on social issues, including the ongoing debate over the role of pornography in society and the manner in which adult entertainment products are manufactured.

I've warn repeatedly over the past couple of years that anti-porn radical feminists have been working diligently to undermine support for freedom of expression concerning sexually explicit speech, and that they've gained some ground by shaming traditional liberals, who are the only defenders we have outside of our own industry, into abandoning their arms-length concern for our First Amendment rights. That liberal commentators like The New York Time's op-ed columnist Bob Herbert and left-leaning blogger Don Hazen have recently reversed field on defending porn does not bode well for any of us.

And the fact that career anti-porn crusader Catherine MacKinnon has been a highly visible and vocal Obama supporter who may have been helpful in neutralizing some of the feminist hostilities created by Obama's defeat of Hillary Clinton in the primaries suggests that she and her cronies may well have the ear of the incoming administration on issues that concern us. Lawyers who studied under her as law students worked in Obama's campaign and may be a presence in some departments when he structures his new team. This could be very bad for us. Unlike ideological conservatives, who like to make examples of those whose conduct offends them through the use of the criminal justice system, more liberal guardians of the public good tend to take a broader approach. This could mean new regulatory efforts, along the lines of 18 U.S.C. 2257 and the CDA, both of which were enacted under Bill Clinton, but much more specific and much harder to challenge as obvious attempts at backdoor censorship. A federal version of MacKinnon's model ordinance to define pornography as a form of sex discrimination could open us all to ruinously expensive nuisance litigation from anyone who claims to have been "harmed" by porn in whatever indirect manner. Even worse would be an attempt to impose "workplace safety" requirements on the order of those proposed by Cal-OSHA porn-buster Dr. Peter Kerndt that would make it effectively impossible to create sexually explicit material without violating them, thus exposing ourselves to penalties that could potentially put us out of business. These strategies, though untested thus far, are potentially more threatening to the vast majority of us than scatter-shot obscenity busts.

My concern is that, unlike the Bush approach of coming after us one at a time, a center-right Democratic administration with a lot of input from anti-porn feminists might attempt to regulate us all out of existence at one time. We've been fighting the religious right for so long, I fear we're both legally and psychologically unprepared to address such possibility, and therefore I wont sleep much better tonight than I have any other night for the past eight years.

The good news is that Obama himself hasn't taken any official position on pornography himself, and his voting record as a legislator and a senator contains nothing particularly ominous. What comes next will be all about who gets his attention on the subject. It behooves us to make certain that those who favor protecting our civil liberties are heard.
— Ernest Greene, director

I hope that he will bring with him change that this country so desperately needs. As far as our industry is concerned, I’m sure he’ll be pressured by the religious zealots to “do something” about our industry. However, I for one believe that he’s got much more important matters like the state of our economy, wars, his plans for healthcare, the environment and a lot more issues, immigration for example, that weren’t even focused on by him nor his opponent during their lengthy campaign to deal with rather than waste unnecessary time or government resources on our industry.
— Valerie See, Hush Hush Entertainment

Will Obama bring the change that this country needs? This country needs so much change it can't be done by one man. It is up to all of us to be the change we want to see in the world.

What does his presidency mean to the adult entertainment industry? The end of the Bush era!

I don't think he will be a zealous opponent but I don't believe he will necessarily embrace us either. I think he will appropriately focus his attention on the issues of crisis in our country, the economy, the wars, healthcare etc. Hopefully it will have a positive effect on the economy, thus helping all business.

As far as the industry's current obscenity cases, they will not be impacted by the election. Future obscenity cases are the question. Hopefully, the new Attorney General will lead as Reno did seeing Obscenity as a "non-issue."

— Diane Duke, Free Speech Coalition

To the best of my knowledge, we have no clues about Obama’s attitude towards adult entertainment. We’ll have to wait and see.
— Phil Harvey, Adam & Eve