LOS ANGELES — While many in the industry obsessively checked precinct reports last night over which way Proposition 60 would turn, just as many were focused on the presidential race.
During election-night coverage, it appeared that none of the news anchors had truly prepared for the possibility that Donald Trump might become president. That possibility wasn’t in the script, apparently.
But Trump triumphed, and now the adult entertainment biz is trying to figure out what it all means.
After all, it was Trump who signed a pledge in late July with the nonprofit group Enough Is Enough to crack down on porn if he was elected president.
Trump’s signature on The Children’s Internet Safety Presidential Pledge purportedly required him to speak out against child pornography and sex trafficking and “give serious consideration to appointing a presidential commission to examine the harmful public health impact of internet pornography on youth, families and the American culture.”
Still, Trump’s reasoning to sign such a pledge seems strange, particularly since the country’s president-elect was confronted during his campaign by a parade of women, including adult star Jessica Drake, who made charges that he made inappropriate sexually charged advances toward them.
Also, one could take in consideration that Trump doesn’t really give a hoot about sexually explicit material. The New York Post recently posted a topless picture of his wife, Melania Trump, and another that showed her in an intimate pose with another woman.
Steven Hirsch, founder and co-chairman of Vivid Entertainment, told XBIZ that he doesn’t believe Trump will have any interest in fussing with pornography.
“I believe the new administration will be focused on things other than going after our industry,” Hirsch said. “Time will tell.
"Traditionally during Republican administrations we do see an uptick in obscenity related cases. But remember with the advent of the internet it makes these cases more difficult to prosecute.”
Kelly Holland, Penthouse’s owner, told XBIZ that texts started coming in from all over Europe late last night, everyone expressing disbelief and horror about Trump winning the presidential seat.
“I’ve spent the better part of my day on the phone or in my office with staff stepping through some number of the stages of grief to calm people down,” she said.
Holland noted that Penthouse magazine published a feature article four months ago on the state of Utah’s adoption of symbolic language declaring pornography a public health and safety issue.
“That same language was put into the Republican platform, and Trump went on record saying that pornography should be illegal,” Holland said. “Face it, Trump is the puppet. The strings will be pulled by his ultra-conservative vice president, [Mike] Pence, his presumptive attorney general, [Rudy] Giuliani and the rest of the alt-right that will pull the strings.
“I try not to anticipate the practical outcome but given the alt-right base that the Republicans and Trump are now beholding too it does not bode well for our industry,” she said.
“I don’t think they will come at us on the First Amendment. They will now try to kill us with bureaucracy, whether that’s tighter banking laws or public health initiatives.
“So, ironically, as we triumph over one fascist zealot, [AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s Michael] Weinstein, another one, Trump, rises.”
Some, like Peter Acworth, founder of Kink.com, are unclear if Trump will take heart in his earlier pledge to crack down on adult material.
“While Donald Trump did promise to crack down on pornography, the truth is I don't know what will happen,” Acworth told XBIZ.
Evil Angel founder John Stagliano, who along with his two companies faced an obscenity trial in 2010 that was later dismissed, had a different take.
Stagliano said that if only politicians would follow the Constitution, that the industry wouldn’t always be on the defensive.
“America has been conceding more and more power to the executive branch though the idea that the president is a dictator who can implement immigration policy, trade treaties, wage undeclared wars on Middle East nations, on drug users and on pornographers and lots more improper things. Bush and Obama were the worst, and now we have Trump, who could be way worse,” Stagliano told XBIZ.
“Hopefully Congress will wake up and do their job and properly restrict government per our Constitution and balance power between the branches of government.”