This particular article has some rather disturbing content. Please keep this in mind before you proceed.The Depravity Event Horizon was passed even earlier than the Internet. I worked in an "adult book store," and a few times a week we'd have creeps coming in looking for "the good stuff:" torture porn, rape, snuff (which I don't believe exists), bestiality, and of course pedophilia. They were always sure we had the "good stuff" under the counter, or in the back.
The answer was "no," for all of it. If they were looking for kiddie porn, the answer was "fuck no, get the hell out of our store you sick asshole." I was sort of the semi-official bouncer, and seriously, the higher-ups (the store was part of a chain) told me that if someone came in looking for child pornography, and didn't immediately leave when told, I had permission to knock him around while "escorting" him outside. "Don't actually injure him, but make it very clear he is unwanted in our stores and to never come back."
"What if he calls the cops for me roughing him up?"
The manager laughed. "Yeah, right. Some guy trying to track down kiddie porn calling the cops over a few bruises? Don't worry: in a million-to-one chance that happens, the company has your back."
A strange company policy, roughing up customers you don't like... But it existed twofold. First, the general moral objections --- you're a kiddie-diddler, you're scum, we hate you, get out --- but also to have a truly unfriendly reputation. Even in those pre-internet days (1987-88) child porn freaks certainly still had a communication network going. We wanted that network to know that not only did our stores not carry child porn, but anyone asking for it would be going to bed that night with a headache, plus various scrapes and bruises. (I'd push them through the doors face-first, then go for distance throwing them onto the sidewalk.) We knew we could never stop them, but we did our damnedest to slow them down.
This may sound cruel.... But look at who we're dealing with. No form of abuse is excessive when dealing with these shit sacks. I'd push them out the door, literally, face-first, then give them a good shove down the sidewalk and yell at them, "Run like hell, scumbag!" If the guy ignored me or just started into a lazy trot, I'd run up behind him and deliver a field-goal-style kick to the ass, wearing engineer boots. "I said RUN, asshole!"
|Isaac Hayes, with the right attitude|
One of several things would happen: (a) The guy would do as he was told, and go sprinting down the block. (b) The guy would start running, then yell, "I'm gonna call the cops!" My reply was to run up behind him and say, "Go for it. Cops just love pedophiles! NOW RUN!" (c) The guy would start running, but then plead, "But my car's the other way!" I'd tell him to go around the block and run FASTER! (d) The guy would decide he didn't like being kicked in the ass, and try to come after me. While I'm no tough guy, this is a child molester who gets his jollies vicariously, and that's close enough for me. And for some reason, I'd have random Seven Seconds songs playing in my head: like I needed the sonic hyperactivity on top of everything else going on.
Instead of trying to do something marginally effective, like taking a swing at me, this guy would try to shove me, with both arms. Hey, thanks! Now I have something to grab you by! I'd side-step him, grab an arm, twist it up between his shoulder blades, then grab his collar and run him towards the wall of the electronics repair shop next door. At the last second, I'd move my hand onto his neck and bang his forehead into the wall. I'd give him three or four good bangs, enough to draw blood. This wasn't enough to actually injure the guy, but there's a powerful psychological effect of having your own blood running into your eyes. I'd let go of him, and he'd start running away unprompted. (People who fight a lot are unfazed by blood in their eyes, but these weren't fighters, these were scumbag creep pervert asshole kiddie porn shits.)
And so another notice would go out via phone, mail, BBS, or person-to-person: Stay away from Smut 'N' Stuff.... Especially at night. They've got this punker psycho who beat the shit out of me just because I was looking for material. I probably should have called the cops, but you know how it is. God, a person can't even make inquiries about child materials without some punk rock nut trying to kill you!
You're right, sir. Anyone who worked for the chain... Or for a legitimate production company.... Or a distributor.... Or any performer or crew member.... Would see no problem with that punk rock psycho putting you out of everyone else's misery and heaving you into a dumpster a couple blocks from the store. It's the legitimate porn industry's Beautification Program for the world.
For obvious legal reasons, there was no way the company would ever touch child pornography, plus the moral implications... But also, the company hated, hated, HATED the idea of people associating child porn with legitimate porn. They were two whole different worlds, and the company didn't like the implication that the two had anything to do with each other. Nobody in the industry does: suggest to a performer, producer, director, cameraman, makeup artist, fluffer, or the guy with the boom mike that there is any association, in any form, between professional, legitimate porn and child pornography is to invite trouble. Even mentioning the subject in general will make them very angry.
I mentioned torture porn and rape above. If it's real, or even looks a bit too real, no distributor will carry it. Sure, we had some BD/SM videos, but they were relatively lightweight fare, kinda corny. (Fine with me, since even the really fake-looking stuff creeped me out.) They always reminded me of the "What's My Perversion?" scene from Woody Allen's "Everything You Want To Know About Sex..." where a girl in a teddy is lightly whacking an old man tied to a chair with a tiny whip, and squeaking, "You're a naughty, naughty, NAUGHTY Rabbi!" (The rabbi's wife is sitting at his feet, eating a pork chop.) All our BD/SM video was a bit hokey to one degree or another. The market was there for more intense videos, but by comparison, it was a tiny market. What kink material we carried seemed to be aimed at people who were curious about kink, but still unsure.... So our videos had lightweight action, with a good amount of suck-and-fuck so the customer wouldn't get too uncomfortable (and have something to jack off to if he just plain didn't dig the kink action.)
Anyone coming into the store looking for torture/rape ("None of that lame commercial S&M stuff, I'm looking for serious action, you know? The stuff under the counter!") would be told no, none of that here, and isn't it time you leave? I seriously considered carrying a stack of business cards in my pocket, to hand out to these creeps: fold a card in half, hand it to them, and say, "Actually, these guys might be able to help you out." The cards would all be from the County Department of Mental Health.
(And no, that is not a bash against kink. These guys weren't looking for kink. They were looking for actual rape, or genuine physical abuse: they wanted to see video of women truly having the shit beaten out of them and then raped. Um, that is not kink, that's hate. And yes, these videos did exist. I'm getting to that in a moment.)
NOTE: If you're of a sensitive nature, just stop reading now.
Late one afternoon I made a run up to the warehouse to pick up some cases of videos. This was unusual: I normally worked nights (11 p.m. to 6 a.m.), and they had a truck that just did daily rounds of deliveries from the warehouse to the stores. However, there was a video signing that evening... At my store, since we had the best parking. All the videos were identical: a new release by one of the big production companies, and a few of the performers were going to be signing boxes. Buy the movie, get the box signed by Nina Hartley or Seka or whoever; I don't even remember who was there. I had a long day in front of me. Besides my regular shift, they also wanted me to manage the lines and do general crowd control at the door and register. (The performers had their own security, dudes who could pick my 6'1" 200 lb. ass up and use me as a baseball bat.) Thank god for amphetamines, lemme tell ya...
I walked in the office of the warehouse, which was "Chip's" domain. He was sitting there, staring with unfocused eyes at a blank TV screen. "Hey, Chip."
"Oh, hey Lenny. You wanna see something?"
Chip hit the 'Play' button on the remote, and I began watching a rape.
It was being filmed by a single camera on a tripod. The woman was screaming and yelling, desperately struggling, which got her punched in the head a couple times. The man was pantsless and hard, and trying to rip off what was left of her clothes. She had scratch marks on her stomach and ribs. She kept begging, no, please, he would punch her, now her cheek is bleeding----
Chip hit the 'Stop' button.
My anger-adrenaline was pumping pretty strong. "Chip, what the FUCK did you just show me that for? Don't you dare tell me we're gonna fuckin' carry that shit!"
Chip wiped his face with both hands. Looking at him, I could tell he was as horrified as I was.
"Sorry Lenny. I don't know... Heh, maybe I just needed share the misery. That showed up in today's mail."
"Who the hell sent it? You can't tell me that's from one of our regular distributors, not even the S&M producers would do something.... Like that."
"Yeah, well, finding out who did that will take some real work. Cop work.
"Look. You guys at the stores think I just sit here all day eating sandwiches and watching the latest stuff from the distributors. No, along with getting all the store orders together and keeping track of the numbers and having mutual bitch sessions with the toy and novelty companies, I also get fucking gems like that in the mail. And now what I'm gonna do is get a hold of the cops in whatever town their contact address is in, explain to them who I am ---- and they just love getting calls from guys saying, 'Hi, I manage a small porno empire, and we need to talk business' --- and tell them I've got a video tape of a possible rape I'd like to send them, and here's the contact information that I have. And odds are I'll have to do something just like this next week, and the fucking week after that, and on and on."
"This all the packaging and info?"
"Yeah. Who knows what they were thinking."
I looked at the padded envelope the cassette had come in. The address, both sending and return, were in Sharpie and looked like they'd been done by a five year old. The intro letter wasn't even typed, but written on lined paper. It claimed they were "the hottest BD/SM producers on the East Coast!" and to send an SASE for a list of titles, "with new videos every week!!" The contact address was in New York, but the return address was in New Jersey; both were post office boxes. The letter had no name on it, anywhere. Big surprise.
I popped out the cassette. There was no side label at all, and the top label was the kind that comes with a blank cassette, with "Bich [sp.] Loves It Hard!!" written on it with the same childish Sharpie. I turned to Chip and gave him the bad news that he had two different sets of cops to call, New York and Jersey.
I asked, "So just how much unsolicited crap do we get here?"
"A hell of a lot. It's not all shit like that --- thank God --- actually, most of it is just really bad home movies. Yeah, there's that niche for amateur porn, but we get stuff that's worthless: shaky cameras in unlit rooms filming overweight couples in their forties. I swear I've actually seen guys wearing hernia belts on camera! What little you can see due to the lack of lights is unattractive pairs sucking and fucking like they're exhausted. And the guys always have tiny dicks.
"Now, stuff like that?" He gestured at the cassette that was still in my hand. "About once a week we get shit like that. They know the distributors won't touch it, and they're hoping to find enough scumbag-run stores that'll pick up their shit to make a buck. This one here, okay, there's a one millionth percent chance that it ain't what it looks like, that they found some junkie chick who was willing to get beat up and raped for five hundred bucks or something. I don't trust those odds, so I'm calling cops on 'em."
"Yeah, but with no physical address, the cops can't do much."
"It'll slow 'em down, but they'll figure out a way to find them.
"Yeah. Once a goddamn week I get illegal garbage in the mail. Some stuff, like the kiddie shit, I'll put effort into making sure whoever's responsible goes to jail. I'll call the cops every few days, ask for the contact name I have, and say, 'Hey, this is Chip, you find that scumbag yet?' The best part is they often do.
"The headache is when I get foreign packages. Not only do they not understand the concept of 'you gotta go through a distributor,' but the laws are different in other countries. Some places the age of consent is much lower. Christ, age of consent in Spain is goddamn thirteen! I'll watch the tapes and be thinking the whole time, 'Um, these girls are just too damn young looking.' Their stuff will be shot well, good quality work, but there's no way in hell the female performers are over eighteen... So I'll call them up and explain to them, 'If you wanna sell these in the U.S., the girls have to be at least eighteen, and you have to be able to prove it, legally. An I.D., a passport, whatever. But if I sell these videos, I go to jail.' And they always seem confused: 'Eighteen? Why eighteen? Girl in video, she fifteen, she beautiful, yes?' Yeah, beautiful. Creepy, but beautiful, whatever. They still gotta be eighteen."
"Okay, I can see the Europeans just not getting it when it comes to age of consent. Shit, at least they're following their own laws, using performers that are post-pubescent. I mean, look at----"
...And I cut myself off just in time. I'd nearly used the equivalent of the name 'Jehovah' back then. I'd nearly let the name "Traci Lords" escape my lips.
(Briefly, Traci Lords really fucked over a lot of people in the industry. Traci and her fake I.D. ended up getting people put in jail, genuinely hurting people who thought they were friends with her, and adding a whole new layer of lawyers to the industry, whose job it is to deep-check identification and keep rosters of performers, with their real names, ages, and all the other crap. Overall, Traci Lords was an incredibly selfish person decided to cash out, and didn't care who it hurt.)
Chip knew what was on the tip of my tongue, gave me a look, and decided to let it pass. "Like I was saying, it's quality work they've sent us. And where they're at, it's perfectly legal. But there's no way in hell we could ever carry it. Besides being dicks and circumventing the distributors, I don't even wanna think about how complex taking care of the proof-of-age would be, between two different countries. It's just not worth it."
Chip sighed and took a pull off his soda. "Shit, I already see too much kiddie shit coming from Europe. Not the 'not of legal age' video, but real kiddie shit. I've gotten to where I can spot it before anything happens: single camera on a tripod, and a guy just standing there with a hard-on, like he's waiting for something. If you let it run, a kid will suddenly appear in shot naked, like she was shoved there.
"Or, the kid is sitting on a bed, naked or clothed, like she's waiting for something. They keep looking at the camera, then off to one side, then back to the camera again, and off to the side again. Those are the fucking worst, 'cos if you look at the kid's face, it's obvious he or she is fuckin' high as hell on something. Fucking scumbags."
"You get the cops on them?"
"That's the worst part! The goddamn cops in Albania or Yugoslavia or whatever shithole country they're in could care less! I tried calling a couple times, both in Romania. Once I finally got somebody who spoke English, they didn't give a shit. 'Oh yes, this no good. You give address to me.' I tried calling back a few more times, and the dude was never in. Fuckers probably have the cops paid off."
"Shit man, at least you try. That's something. You're trying to do the right thing."
Chip gave me a grim smile. "I've got to. I couldn't live with myself if I just let that shit go. Oh hey, check this out. You know what's legal other places but not here?"
"Fuckin' dog porn, man. No shit."
"Holy shit... No way, man."
"Dead serious, I checked it out the first time I got a tape of it. It's illegal as hell here, but there's places in Europe where you can film some chick fuckin' a doberman and it's all kosher."
"You ain't thinkin', Lenny. That ain't the gross part. You know the gross part? The fact that there's dudes jacking off while watching that. Fully horned up from watching a chick fuck a dog. Now that's gross."
I have to admit, he had me there.
I said, "So Chip, this may be a stupid question, but... Why do you bother looking at them at all? Why not just chuck 'em in the dumpster as soon as they arrive?"
"Two reasons. The first is practical. If the tapes go in the dumpster, somebody's gonna find 'em. Dumpster-divers love us here. We stopped locking the damn thing because we got tired of replacing locks: they'd just get cut off.
"So if all that illegal garbage went in the dumpster, sooner or later somebody will tip off the cops that hey, we found this kiddie porn in Smut 'N' Stuff's dumpster. SDPD would love that, they'd love an excuse to shut the whole chain down. You know the cops in this town."
"Do I ever."
"So every couple weeks I burn 'em."
"Me and a few friends go to the beach with some wood and some hot dogs and beer, have ourselves a nice little bonfire, and after everyone is done eating, I throw all the tapes in the fire. All gone, bye-bye, good fuckin' riddance."
"Okay, but that doesn't explain why you watch them, when you know they're evil garbage."
Chip smiled like he'd just won a $500 scratcher. "Because, just often enough, I'll strike gold."
"Okay. This was a couple years ago, you weren't here yet. I get a tape in the mail, obvious home production, and a cover letter saying, in effect, 'Hi, me and a few friends decided to make our own porn. Call and let us know what you think, if you like it, we can do the duplication and maybe the box art. Thank you!' Yeah, maybe they can do the box art. Great.
"So I figure what the fuck, and put it in the player... And I got blown away. These random kids --- okay, early twenties --- had produced four thirty minute loops, and absolutely nailed it. The girls were hot, the guys were good looking and had decent cocks, not huge, but good-sized, the framing was great, the lighting was great, the damn sound was great, it was well edited... Excluding the lack of titles, this wasn't just professional-level work, but grade-A professional work. The action was top-notch, too. Good positions, decent balance of suck and fuck, even the money shots came off great --- three facials and a tit-shot, and the girls took the facials like pros, no squinting or ducking, just smiles and tongues out.
"So, I called the number they'd given me. Honestly? I was thinking it was a prank, one of the production companies jerking me around, using new performers I wouldn't recognize. Nope, some girl answered the phone. I told her who I was and who I was with. She squealed and said, 'Oh wow! Hold on! Let me have my boyfriend talk to you!' The boyfriend gets on, I re-introduce myself, and tell him that I was impressed by what he'd sent me. He said, 'Wow! Gosh! You really liked it?' Christ almighty, he actually used the word 'gosh.' I've got this undiscovered talent for producing hardcore porn videos, and he talks like a member of the 'Brady Bunch.'"
I asked him about the production: 'Oh, we rented a couple cameras, we borrowed the lights from the junior college I go to, and the boom mike was just a mop handle with a microphone duct-taped to it.' I asked about the performers: 'That was me, my girlfriend, and a few friends of ours. We... Um ---' I swear I could HEAR the kid blushing over the phone --- 'We kind of have, a, uh, exhibitionist streak. Um, our friends do too. So we just thought making a dirty movie would be fun.' What about editing? 'Um, we used the equipment at the J.C. We had to go in at night, so nobody would see what we were working on.' And who was your crew during filming? 'That was us. Whoever wasn't being filmed was the crew, basically... Oh, except for that one scene, where it was Renee and Jen and Skip? My friend Mitch came over and operated that darn fake boom mike. It worked out really well: he's had a private crush on Renee for a while, and I guess seeing her naked finally gave him the guts to ask her out, and now they're dating! Isn't that cool?' Golly, that sure is, kid. Jeepers."
"The upshot was I loaned them the money out of my own pocket to get the tape boxes printed, they were able to cover the duplication costs themselves --- they probably had a fuckin' bake sale --- and the chain picked up forty tapes at first, twenty purchased and twenty on consignment. I put 'em on an end cap with a sign --- "Hot Local Heroes!" --- and they flew out. Oh, and I also did them a big favor; I got them hooked up with a real distributor. They took a look and said, shit yes we'll carry it. That was the tipping point for those kids. They went from being overjoyed at having sold a whole forty tapes to having a distributor wanting a thousand at a time, and demanding a release schedule. Not shabby for some horny kids who knocked out some smut videos for fun.
|"Hey everybody! Let's make some porn!"|
"It was only four of the eight at dinner, because the other four had night classes at their J.C. Holy shit, it was like the cast from a '60s sitcom. They don't swear... Except on camera, then it's the usual 'Fuck me baby, give me that big cock,' blah blah blah, but in person, it's 'gosh' and 'darn' and 'golly'. They don't drink either, at least they didn't at dinner. Sodas all around, and a Heinekin for me. Such a fucking weird experience. These squeaky-clean college kids with impeccable manners that don't drink or cuss, and we're sitting there discussing the finer points of performance in hardcore porn. I actually tried to get a rise out of them a couple times, by saying things like, 'I'm impressed, Debbie, you take a good facial.' I figured that would at least rate some heavy blushing, or her boyfriend saying, 'Let's not discuss that.' You know what she said? 'Oh, thanks. I hate it when the girls squint during a money shot. It's a toss-up, though, I want to use my tongue on the guy's cockhead more because that looks sexy, but then most of the cum ends up on my chin, instead of getting a full facial. Which do you think looks better? You have way more experience at this than we do.' Holy shit. What else could I do, except answer honestly? I told her if she was jacking him and using her tongue, wait for the first taste and then she can aim him wherever she wants, so she can still get a full facial. Like aim the first squirt on her tongue, then point his cock upwards and get the face shot. Was she embarrassed by this? Shit no. Her face brightened up and she said, 'Okay, great, I'll try that. I jack pretty good, so the guy usually doesn't have to finish himself off anyway.' And everyone else at the table is is nodding seriously, like 'Yes, absolutely right, Debbie does have good combination hand/mouth skills, she could make a man ejaculate thirty feet.'"
"Last news I heard about those kids was they'd added five more people to their circulation, three girls and two guys. Students, or course. They're knocking out about thirty-six hours of raw footage a month; that comes out to maybe twelve hours of finished video. Oh, and they did their first full script movie. Heh heh, they probably got some English major to write it for them by promising to let him watch the filming. Yeah, thirty-six hours sounds low --- and it is --- but between the high quality material they crank out and the fact that they treat this as a part-time gig, a way of earning money on the side while they're in school, it's livable.
"The distributor has practically been begging them to up their quantity, but they refuse to, at least till summer. They have a really low production rate in their contract, much lower than anyone else. You know why? They didn't want their class schedules interrupted. During the summer and after they graduate, hey, they'll make all the fuck films the distributor wants, but until then, school comes first. Honest to god.
"Yeah, I'd love to hear that phone conversation: 'Golly, Mr. ______, we'd love to do more production --- three of the girls are looking forward to doing anal, Trisha is ready to do a double penetration scene, and we've stage-blocked a seven-person orgy --- my friend Dale will let us use the pool at his house --- but our darn finals are coming up in two weeks, and we all have to study! But honest injun, during summer break and with more of our friends helping out, we'll try to hold to a six-day production schedule..... What? No, we need Sundays off ---- well, church, of course. Renee and Jen are in the choir at their church, and I'm an usher at mine.'
I asked, "So Chip, what did you get out of this, besides a free dinner?"
Chip said, "Well, the kids paid me back --- right on time, too --- and the distributor gave me a 'Christmas Bonus' that was either months early or months late. I didn't mind getting a grand for several hours of my time."
"Sweet deal.... So, someone who could produce good-quality porn, on time, with good looking women, hell, they'd----"
"Forget it, Lenny. No way."
"I know exactly what you're thinking, and it wouldn't work. Too niche."
"Okay, Chip. Tell me what the fuck I'm thinking."
"You're thinking you could round up the equipment and the performers --- and you wanna fuck on camera, dont'cha Lenny? --- and do what those kids did: start off producing loops, probably edit them at SDCC, and jump into the game, you and your friends, right?"
"Well... Yeah.... But what's wrong with that?"
"Lenny, I met your girlfriend. I've seen your friends, male and female. There is absolutely no goddamn fucking way any distributor, or even a production company, is gonna pick up hardcore videos featuring nothing but punk rockers!"
I bristled. "And what's wrong with how my girlfriend looks?"
Chip held up his hands. "I'm not insulting your girlfriend. I know to you she's gorgeous. In fact I think she's gorgeous too.... Or would be, if she let her hair grow out and dyed it back to its natural color, got rid of the damn piercings, stopped using all the black mascara and eye liner --- and black lipstick? What the hell? --- and put on a skirt and blouse, instead of her ripped fishnets and t-shirts and leather jacket.
"What I'm saying is, nobody is going to produce, market, or distribute fuck films featuring nothing but hardcore punk rockers. The jackoffs who rent and buy our videos want to see women who are relatably hot. You could imagine Christy Canyon or Nina Hartley as women you might meet in an office somewhere. Yeah, they're hot, and they suck and fuck on camera, but they still look like normal, accessible women."
"So.... Punk rock girls would be something exotic! I bet plenty of the customers have probably whacked it fantasizing about punk girls they've seen on the street. Besides, 'New Wave Hookers' did great business, and the girls in that one didn't even look that trendy!"
Chip held up a hand again. "Lenny.... The world just isn't ready for hardcore punk porn stars. Punk rockers just plain scare too many of your average suburban whitebread dipshits. A punk girl naked with a dick in her mouth is still gonna be a punk girl to the suburbanites, and those suburbanites are our customers, our bread and butter."
I sighed. "Okay, fine. All punk rock fuck films is something the world isn't waiting for.... Yet. But I'd bet you anything it at least becomes a viable, profitable niche market. And sooner rather than later."
And years later I was proven right: the names Joanna Angel and Rachel Rotten come to mind, plus others who have cultivated a certain "look." Lois Ayres, with her bleached-blonde hair cut short on the sides (and not very long up top) definitely had a "rebel girl" look to her, and that was in the late 1980s.
And theses days, anyone with a couple cameras, lights, boom mike, and some horny exhibitionist friends can produce good-quality porn from the comfort of their own home.