Best known for his promotion of adult talent Mary Carey and her highly publicized 2003 run for California governor, Kulkis was interviewed by attorneys Robert D. Richards and Clay Calvert in a piece titled “Media Maestro Makes Inroads for Adult Free Speech.”
A self-described “Arnold Schwarzenegger Republican who is socially liberal and financially conservative,” Kulkis is a 1987 graduate of the University of Michigan and attended law school for a semester at Fordham. He is known inside and outside of the industry for his years of public relations work and for bringing his marketing savvy to the forefront of the adult industry, as seen in his promotional success with Carey and the Kick Ass brand name.
Prior to starting his own company, Kulkis also is credited with helping to launch Hustler Video and for serving as managing editor of Adult Video News.
In the interview, Kulkis discusses at length the so-called “mainstreaming” of the adult industry and how generally accepted porn is today in American culture.
“Nowadays, being a porn star is a legitimate career choice,” Kulkis said, describing his tactics for promoting Carey in the mainstream press. “Everyone touts [the run for governor] as one of the milestones of the mainstreaming of porn, at least in the last few years.
Appearances at the White House and “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart were just a few of the highlights of his Carey-inspired marketing campaign, which ended in a loss at the polls, but a big win for Kulkis and his company.
Voting records from 2003’s recall election show Carey earned an impressive 10th place for the governorship, garnering more than 11,000 votes on a platform that promised tax deductions for lap dances and a breast implant tax.
After a nearly three-year relationship with Kick Ass, Carey has since signed a 12-film deal with Legend Video. Independent of Kulkis, Carey has been quoted as saying she intends to run again for governor of California.
Moving on the greener pastures since his contract with Carey, Kulkis also is not without his firm political beliefs, which he freely shared with the two reporters, including why the shield of the 1st Amendment should protect all adult content; the current political climate in the U.S.; his desire to see a stronger Libertarian Party; and his opinions on federal obscenity laws, in particular the prosecution of Rob Black of Extreme Associates.
“There is a whole spectrum of porn available to consumers, and most of it is just consenting people engaged in sex, but Rob Black goes out on a limb purposely trying to offend people, which doesn’t turn on most of the people who buy porn,” Kulkis said. “On the positive side, he is someone who is so stubborn that he basically egged on the government and invited the Justice Department to bust him. Now he’s going to fight his court case. If he ends up winning, then he’ll benefit us all because the result will be to throw out these obscenity laws.”
As for the cessation of the government’s crusade against the porn industry, Kulkis is not very optimistic, especially when it comes to the chilling effect many producers of hardcore material feel when trying to avoid legal entanglements over content.
“I don’t think any party really wants to have an affiliation with the adult entertainment industry because it’s a no-win situation for them,” Kulkis said. “Everyone knows that if you’re going beyond the pack — if you’re a Rob Black — you’re going to be targeted for prosecution.”
Kulkis is adamant, however, that the adult industry have a stronger voice in the political and legislative process, particularly when it comes to laws that affect the industry itself.
“It’s hugely important,” he said. “As the business gets bigger and bigger, it’s becoming more mainstream and we want to be more accepted. [The industry] needs to have a voice in the legislative process to avoid people making decisions without consulting the group most affected. That’s how some of these bad laws are made. No one is going to stand up and say, ‘Well, what about the pornographers? Is anyone thinking about them?’ So we have to have someone there at the table.”
The two authors of the Daily Journal piece are both attorneys and professors of communications and law, as well co-directors of the Pennsylvania Center for the 1st Amendment, at Pennsylvania State University.