american porn
homewatch the programprosecutingthe businessspecial reportsdiscussion
tapes & transcripts

American Porn
Program #2012
Original airdate: February 7, 2002

Produced and directed by
Michael Kirk

Co-Producer
Jim Gilmore

Written by
Michael Kirk & Peter J. Boyer

Correspondent
Peter J. Boyer

Warning: portions of this transcript contain explicit descriptions of sexual acts.

NARRATOR: Once it was called smut. The rules were clear. If it went too far, it was obscene, it offended the community standard of decency. The digital age and a political moment changed all of that. Now pornography is a multi-billion dollar business that has doubled in size in the last five years.

As technology swept pornography into our living rooms, questions began to be raised about the old rules. In a wired world, who can say what offends the community standard of decency? Who can even define a community? Now a new political moment, and those questions are being raised. On the answers delivered by juries over the next few years ride billions of dollars and the fate of American porn.

[Tonight's program contains explicit sexual images, explicit descriptions of sexual acts, strong language and violence. Viewer discretion is advised.]

CLIVE McCLEAN: This is how it starts.

    OK, I'm just going to do a test on the two girls that Roy brought. Roy, I should be five minutes.

I don't know what this guy does. He does nothing. He's always there. I can't get a fucking coffee when I want one.

NARRATOR: Clive McClean's at the top of his game.

CLIVE McCLEAN: Everybody else seems to have coffees in their hand.

NARRATOR: His game is pornography.

CLIVE McCLEAN: This is a couple of new ladies who've never been shot before. They're here for the first time. I'm going to do a half a roll of film on these kids here.

NARRATOR: They're in their late teens, brought to Los Angeles, discovered by one of Clive's talent scouts.

CLIVE McCLEAN: He's a talent scout. Exactly. I never thought of you as a talent scout, Roy.

    You don't mind the cameras?. Are you nervous?

    MARYANNE: No.

    CLIVE McCLEAN: I am.

NARRATOR: Clive says there's no shortage of fresh young talent eager to break into this business.

    CLIVE McCLEAN: Now's as good a time as any. Whoops! Now's as good a time as any.

If you put yourself in their position. I mean, I'd be pretty nervous, wouldn't you? "Would you take off your clothes, sir?" However, she doesn't look too nervous, so based on that-

    OK, look at me, Maryanne. You know why we do that. That's great. Bring your ass all the way out toward me, all the way out.

NARRATOR: Eighteen-year old Maryanne dreams of stardom in Clive's signature video series, Barely Legal.

CLIVE McCLEAN: Here's the Barely Legal series. OK, this is the one I direct. It's the biggest-selling series in America. You see, it's five separate stories within the two hour-video. And each of the stories is obviously a girl. It's about a girl's usually first experience.

    ["Barely Legal"]

    ACTRESS: Dear Barely Legal : I was a naughty 18-year-old, and I knew that well. I went to see an artist who wanted nude models for his paintings.

NARRATOR: The arithmetic of American porn is staggering. It cost $55,000 to make Barely Legal.

CLIVE McCLEAN: Unbelievable numbers. You know, like, 35,000, 40,000 videos is a top seller because about 50 percent go to rentals.

NARRATOR: They sell for $39.95 a copy.

CLIVE McCLEAN: Now we're on Barely Legal 15

NARRATOR: So far, Barely Legal has turned a profit of close to $10 million.

    CLIVE McCLEAN: Woman? She's a girl.

NARRATOR: Autumn, the other newcomer, might be right for a role in Barely Legal number 16.

    CLIVE McCLEAN: OK, now stick your bottom out toward me. Got it! Perfecto! They ought to do a Barely Legal video together, these two.

INTERVIEWER: Is that how it works?

CLIVE McCLEAN: They're- they're just- they're thinking about it.

NARRATOR: Autumn came to L.A. with her husband, Randy. They seem ready, able and more or less willing.

AUTUMN: I'm not real comfortable with girl-boy, but I'll do girl-girl, I'll do single girl. It's just, I don't know what I'm comfortable with. It's all new to me. I've got to see as I go along.

RANDY: It feels good. You know, I like watching her. I like seeing her naked, so, you know, so-

    CLIVE McCLEAN: The one with the more shapely hips, the second one, I think is absolutely a yes. She's not really sure about video yet, but she's great for the magazine, I can see that.

NARRATOR: In the end, Autumn agreed to make a video. A month later, she and Randy returned to L.A. Clive rented this house to shoot what's known as a "girl-girl" for Barely Legal number 16.

    CLIVE McCLEAN: I have a girl-girl this morning in the Jacuzzi.

    AUTUMN: And we're off!

NARRATOR: This morning, Autumn will earn $1,000 to have oral sex with this woman. A session like this can create a stunning array of pornographic products.

    CLIVE McCLEAN: OK. Lean into each other a little bit. Good!

NARRATOR: Pictures for the Internet.

    CLIVE McCLEAN: Oh, that was innocent!

NARRATOR: And more pictures for magazines.

    CLIVE McCLEAN: You've got a virgin-like look then.

NARRATOR: Clive will shoot the video with what's known as a hot camera and a cold camera.

CLIVE McCLEAN: There's one camera there, there's one camera here, so obviously, something like that will allow me to do some nice soft stuff from over there.

NARRATOR: The hot camera scenes are explicit for the XXX version.

    CLIVE McCLEAN: I need light in there, guys. I'm suffering here.

NARRATOR: The cold camera scenes are less explicit. They'll end up on soft-core cable channels and in some hotel chains.

    CLIVE McCLEAN: Keep moving. Don't hold still for this thing.

NARRATOR: In the adult entertainment industry, it might be called vertical integration.

    CLIVE McCLEAN: Cut! It's a fucking masterpiece! Yeah. OK. They can get up and walk off. Just literally walk off to your left. Don't worry about the shoes.

NARRATOR: Clive will shoot four more scenes before Barely Legal number 16 is a wrap. Barely Legal is one of the many revenue streams flowing into an enterprise headquartered in the heart of Hollywood, Larry Flynt publications. Larry Flynt, once a small-time smut merchant, now presides over a porn conglomerate.

LARRY FLYNT: We're into plain old vanilla sex, you know?

INTERVIEWER: Vanilla sex?

LARRY FLYNT: Vanilla sex.

NARRATOR: He puts its worth at nearly $400 million, and there are at least a half dozen other porn producers in this league.

PAUL CAMBRIA, Pornography Industry Attorney: These people employ major accounting firms, major law firms. Every single day, contracts are drawn or litigation is engaged in to protect copyright, trademark, merchandising, sale of shirts and sweatshirts and whatever, memorabilia.

NARRATOR: And then there's Flynt's latest enterprise, a Main Street emporium called Hustler Hollywood. It made millions of dollars last year. Flynt's daughter, Teresa, runs the store.

TERESA FLYNT: This used to be a Blockbuster and a Boston Chicken Market. And it was like, you know, "Well, do we keep the glass windows so people from the outside can see in?" And we were, like, "Yeah, we want people to see in, and we want people to break the stereotype that sex is dirty."

We're getting a lot of women, which is what we wanted. We sell things that women want to buy. Whether it's a massage oil or an adult movie or a vibrator or whatever it is, its so that they- I think that the couples use the products together.

Nights are funner here because that's- we're on Sunset, and it's where all the clubs are. So when a concert lets out, everybody seems to flood into here for their coffee and their dessert and their toy or whatever.

NARRATOR: Teresa says they sell at least 10,000 videos every month.

TERESA FLYNT: This store is really successful. We have three, we're building another. So I mean, it says that people want these things.

NARRATOR: Porn used to be run by a handful of kingpins operating in the shadows of the legitimate picture business in Hollywood. Now it's not so easy to tell them apart.

PAUL CAMBRIA: Over the years, it's become a multi-billion - with a "B" - dollar business. And the people who are running the companies now, they're educated. They are real business individuals. It's all business.

NARRATOR: The adult business has its moguls, who run studios with names like Wicked Pictures and Vivid Video.

BILL ASHER, President, VIVID Entertainment Group: Who do we appeal to? Well, a large portion is couples. There's women. There's men. I mean, that is our niche. That is our area. And it's really more, like I said, the mainstream.

NARRATOR: Bill Asher is a graduate of Dartmouth, with an MBA from USC. And his company, Vivid, is the high end of porn.

    DIRECTOR: A lot of sensual play and caressing her. Play to the camera with your eyes.

NARRATOR: They'll spend up to $100,000 on a feature.

    DIRECTOR: Sell me the ass!

NARRATOR: They produced 80 new films last year, keeping these state-of- the-art editing rooms busy 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Pornography is the high-tech boom that didn't go bust. Before the digital age, there were only so many ways to sell a dirty picture. Technology transformed the business.

BILL ASHER: We distribute those movies on video, VHS, DVD. We have Internet sites, television channels. Our international business is growing. We're in 30-some countries with all the different products.

NARRATOR: The new technology allowed pornography to break through into the mainstream and into association with some of the biggest brand names in American business. This is the main control room at DirecTV, the satellite distribution service. This is how pornography is channeled into millions of American homes.

BILL ASHER: So we know what's called a "buy rate," which is that for every million homes you're in, in any given month, we'll know how many times someone bought a movie. Generally, our buy rates are between were between 10 to 20 percent.

INTERVIEWER: And how many million homes were you in?

BILL ASHER: We're in 40 million cumulatively .

NARRATOR: That's four million homes every month paying to view a Vivid video. That's good for Vivid Video, and it's good for General Motors, which owns DirecTV.

BILL ASHER: About every six months we've been able to get another large, well-known distributor to offer our content to their consumers. And with each one, I think that there is a little more credibility within the industry. The other distributors are able to stop, take a look, and say, "All right. That company did it. They were able to make money at it. Obviously, it turned out to be a good deal for them. There was no huge protest in the streets- you know, no fire and brimstone." So the next person feels a little more comfortable, and then the next.

NARRATOR: AT&T is the biggest American company that has accommodated itself to the pornography boom. The Hot Network - explicit porn - shows on the cable network AT&T Broadband.

BILL ASHER: Cable companies and satellite companies take approximately 80 percent to 80-plus percent of the adult dollar that gets spent by the consumer.

NARRATOR: For AT&T, porn distribution is great business, but you might not know it from reading the company's annual report. There is no mention of adult material, nor how much it contributes to the company's bottom line. But it's no secret to Wall Street.

DENNIS McALPINE, Wall Street Analyst: If you look at how much money is coming in from adult- remember, there's virtually no cost to AT&T for carrying it. And if he's generating $10 million, $20 million dollars a month, that's virtually all found money going into the bottom line. So it can be a significant amount, $20 million times 12 months. That's a lot of bread.

NARRATOR: Pornography's new acceptability in corporate America has made it an amenity in many of the nation's hotel chains.

DENNIS McALPINE: The hotel needs to provide television as an amenity to the consumer. If it's a businessman, he probably wants to see adult. So this is a way of keeping that consumer happy.

MARK GROSSMAN, Vice President, Hilton Hotels Corp.: It's an offering, much like in a hotel there will be bars that serve alcohol. And that's not to say that we condone drinking or that we should judge people, whether or not they want to drink alcohol, but it is there as a convenience. It is there as an offering to guests who wish to do it, for guests who wish to watch this material.

NARRATOR: The major chains - Hilton, Westin and Marriott - all offer porn in their rooms, delivered to the hotel by one of two major distribution companies, LodgeNet or OnCommand Video.

DENNIS McALPINE: If you're LodgeNet or OnCommand, you go to the hotel operator and you make a deal where you agree to put in the equipment, including in many cases, the TV set. The consumer orders a movie. They will get billed on their hotel bill, $8.95 for an adult movie.

NARRATOR: Some analysts say these movies make more money for the hotel chains than all the alcohol and snacks in the mini-bar.

DENNIS McALPINE: So the 5 percent or the 10 percent of revenue that the hotel chain gets, that's pure profit to him because they have no cost. They didn't put in the wiring system. They didn't supply the programming.

NARRATOR: It's a happy alliance for both sides of the business equation: for the mainstream companies easy money, for the porn industry a protective layer of legitimacy.

BILL ASHER, President, VIVID Entertainment Group: The mainstream companies help legitimize what we're doing. They tell America that, by definition, if this company, this large company that you respect, is distributing this, obviously, there's demand for it. I think that is what has helped us is that, in the past it was always- you know, people talk about "How big is the adult history," and people would say, "Oh, it's huge." But I think that the average person said, "Well, that's a lot of hype. There really isn't that much interest in this product, or it's a very small segment of people who really buy this product."

I think once they start hearing large companies are distributing it, they start to realize, "There must be demand for this. This must be normal. I shouldn't feel odd because I enjoy it."

[www.pbs.org: Inside the porn business - more]

NARRATOR: If pornography is companionable with the hotel, cable and satellite businesses, it might have been made for the Internet. Take the relationship of porn and the giant search engine Yahoo!

DENNIS McALPINE, Wall Street Analyst: I think what Yahoo! did was go one step beyond and say, "OK, my customers want to see sex. I'll make it easier for them, and I'll categorize it. You know, here's bestiality. Here's whips and chains. Here's whatever."

NARRATOR: Yahoo! made money, lots of it, selling ads and links to porno Web sites.

SAMUEL AGBOOLA, Dir. of Mktng & Public Affairs, Danni's HD: When Yahoo! first launched, getting a site listed, even a commercial business site, was free. Nowadays, it costs $200 to get a Web site listed, unless you're an adult Web site, in which case they charge $600.

NARRATOR: One of the earliest advertisers was Danni's Hard Drive. Danni Ashe is the CEO.

DANNI ASHE, CEO, Danni's Hard Drive: I was obsessed with the computer. I thought, "I want to become a computer programmer." It was like the proverbial light bulb going off. I knew what I had to do. And I said, "I got to have one of these now."

NARRATOR: She got one, and last year she made $8 million. But Danni is more than a CEO. Once she takes off her clothes, she's the main attraction.

DANNI ASHE: I'm bit of a geek, yeah. I'm a geek with big breasts. Yes.

NARRATOR: Danni, a former stripper, holds the Guinness World Record as the most downloaded woman on the Web. Danni's niche is what is known as soft core. No male-female sex is shown. Instead, model Shauna O'Brien will earn $750 for a little wiggle, a little jiggle and little giggle.

    DIRECTOR: Say, "Hi. I'm Shauna O'Brien," and then hop out again.

NARRATOR: Shauna will tell the joke of the week-

    SHAUNA O'BRIEN: And this is your naked joke of the week.

NARRATOR: -perform a virtual lap dance, and she'll do a guest shot on Danni's weekly talk show, In Bed With Danni. There'll be photo shoots with Danni for the site. And then, while viewers type in messages on line, Shauna will spend the next two hours stripping for the camera.

    CHAT MONITOR: You're doing great. Gabbyhaze says, "Have a good night Shauna. Stay happy." Warrio says he could look at those eyes all night long.

NARRATOR: Danni's Hard Drive is one of the most popular Web sites on the Internet.

    CHAT MONITOR: He wants to know if you always look this beautiful.

NARRATOR: But it's only one. Across the World Wide Web, there are at least 200,000 commercial pornography sites. This is the golden age of porn. But the porn king, Larry Flynt, knows that in the recent past, people like him were hunted down by the law.

    NEWSCASTER: Larry Flynt is in the Hamilton County Jail tonight following-

BRUCE TAYLOR, Former Prosecutor, Cleveland, OH: I was a 25-year-old prosecutor, done 400-some obscenity cases. Did 200 cases a year, got everybody.

    LARRY FLYNT: They feel very much threatened.

BRUCE TAYLOR: But maybe one of the more famous cases I did was Larry Flynt.

    LARRY FLYNT: I say to them, in the language that I know best, two words, shove it! I'll stay here till hell freezes over.

BRUCE TAYLOR: In the '70s, pornography was the hard-core stuff. Everybody knew it was sleazy because it looked sleazy. It was in downtown, back alley, dirty bookstores. Cops had to wear plastic bags on their shoes to go into there, and the peep shows were full of diseases, and it was just awful.

NARRATOR: The question was, what was criminal? And there was a fairly straightforward test for that, a Supreme Court case called Miller versus the State of California.

BRUCE TAYLOR: The Miller test - and we still use it today in every state court and every federal court trial in the United States - is a three-part test. The first two prongs use community standards, and you're supposed to decide whether you think an average person in the community of adults where you live would find that the material appeals to the prurient interest - meaning does it appeal to that shameful, morbid, lustful, lascivious, erotic interest in sex.

Second prong- would that average person, applying community standards, find that it depicts the sexual activity in a patently offensive way? And then the third prong is, would a reasonable person find that it lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value?

NARRATOR: The heart of Miller was that second prong, letting community standards decide what material was offensive. And juries in hundreds of communities knew obscenity when they saw it.

BRUCE TAYLOR, Fmr Justice Dept Obscenity Atty: It was pretty easy to get obscenity convictions through a jury in the '70s. I mean, I never could understand why anybody could lose an obscenity case. I think part of that was that people on the juries hadn't seen hard-core pornography before.

    ["Behind the Green Door"]

    ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, you are about to witness the ravishment of a woman.

NARRATOR: Local prosecutors were getting their convictions by showing juries films like Behind the Green Door. But even so, the porn business thrived with the first of the big technological breakthroughs, the VCR, allowing porn to come right into the home.

    ["Deep Throat"]

    ACTOR: [as physician] Well, there it is! You little bugger! There it is!

    LINDA LOVELACE: What?

    ACTOR: Your clitoris. It's deep down in the bottom of your throat!

PATRICK TRUEMAN, Fmr Chief, Justice Dept. Obscenity Section: The industry was becoming so big. It was omnipresent. You found it in 7-Eleven. You found it in advertisements in your phone book for "Dial-A-Porn." It was on cable television. It was in your local video store.

NARRATOR: By the 1980s, the Reagan administration decided the federal government needed to do something about it.

PATRICK TRUEMAN: So the attorney general's commission met, looked at the laws and said, you know, "The laws are there. It is the responsibility of the Justice Department, and we encourage you to prosecute." And they did.

NARRATOR: For the federal and local anti-porn squads, convictions were routine. They'd just show the porn and ask almost any jury if it offended its community standards. They won nearly every case, as the porn kingpins pled guilty.

BRUCE TAYLOR: They were indicting the big shots. And so everybody else in the industry said, "If they can get to the boss, they can get to us." So the first thing that goes away from the shelves is the more extreme- you know, animals- you know, blood, goats and kids.

    NEWSCASTER: Judge William Morrissey sentenced Flynt to 7 to 25 years in prison and refused bond pending an appeal.

NARRATOR: Law enforcement officials believed they had actually put the pornography genie back in the bottle. Then in the early 1990s, federal porn prosecutions essentially stopped when a new administration with different priorities took over the Justice Department.

JANET RENO, U.S. Attorney General, '93-'01: What we tried to do is to take the resources that we had and establish priorities. I suppose somebody could decide to use all their resources for obscenity prosecutions and not for other matters. It seems to me, clearly, that national security and human life free of violence are two very important priorities.

NARRATOR: Under Attorney General Reno, federal prosecutions slowed dramatically, and the obscenity task force effectively went out of business.

PAUL CAMBRIA, Pornography Industry Attorney: As a result, the industry burgeoned, and numbers and numbers of companies sprouted up everywhere to meet the demand because there's a huge demand, from millions to billions, and to also take advantage of the fact that there really weren't any prosecutions going on.

MARK CROMER, Hustler Video Producer: And when Clinton comes in, it's definitely blue skies and green lights and fat bank accounts.

NARRATOR: Mark Cromer is one of the beneficiaries of porn's new-found freedom and riches.

MARK CROMER: I'm somewhat, I think, of an anomaly in the industry. I am a writer, a journalist by trade, a college-educated journalist, who came to porn just a few years ago by selling Larry Flynt a concept.

NARRATOR: Cromer and Flynt produce a series called Jail Babes.

MARK CROMER: Jail Babes tapped into American's dual fascinations with sex and crimes. We blended that rather seamlessly by using women who had committed- you know, real criminals, and interviewed them about their crimes, what they did in jail, how it worked, and then their sexual fantasies, and then filmed them having sex.

    ["Jail Babes"]

    WOMAN: Everything happened- all the sex happened in-

    MARK CROMER: Her cell.

    WOMAN: Yeah, in the cells.

NARRATOR: As the adult business flourished in the '90s, many of the new pornographers arose from the Hollywood culture itself. One of the industry's new millionaires is Adam Glasser.

ADAM GLASSER, President, Seymore Inc.: I went to high school with Rob Lowe, Robert Downey, Jr., Sean Penn, Chris Penn, Holly Robinson, Charlie Sheehan, Emilio Estevez. They all went to my high school. So I'd visit sets. I mean, you know, cameras this big, and lights that you had to have cranes operate and crews in the hundreds to make a movie. Forget about it.

NARRATOR: Then one day, Adam went to the set of a porno film.

ADAM GLASSER: This guy walks in, and he has this little hand-held camera, and this old man that barely could see two feet in front of him taking still shots. And they made the whole movie in one day. So for me, it completely changed my view on- you know, it was possible- it seemed possible to me. And so from that day forward, I really- I said, "I'm in the wrong business, and this is the business that I want to- that I want to get into." And I slowly but surely gravitated and made my way into the adult industry.

NARRATOR: Adam's company is a family business. The treasurer is his 70-year-old mother, Lyla.

LYLA GLASSER: To me, it's not- it's a business. I think that, basically, this industry has very nice people, even though people expect differently, for whatever reasons.

NARRATOR: This family business grossed two million dollars last year. All over the San Fernando Valley on the outskirts of L.A., young Larry Flynt wannabees made millions by taking sex to the outer limits.

ROB BLACK: I was the one who went out to L.A. and said I was going to be a pornographer.

NARRATOR: Rob Black is making big money and big plans.

ROB BLACK: I don't see us just as an adult company. I'd say the trajectory we'd like to be is more of, like, a Ted Turner or a- or a- you know, a Disney or something like that.

NARRATOR: Rob and his wife own Extreme Associates. His wife - she calls herself Lizzie Borden - is a former actress who's made the transition to directing.

LIZZIE BORDEN: I just look at what's happening in society - like, real stuff - and I just bring it to porno.

NARRATOR: Lizzie and Rob are low-budget filmmakers. This film, about the rape of a woman whose car breaks down, cost about $20,000 to make. They'll earn tens of thousands of dollars in profit.

    LIZZIE BORDEN: Yeah, grab her by the fucking throat!

NARRATOR: Rob and Lizzie try to make two films a week.

LIZZIE BORDEN: I don't shoot the lovey-dovey porno that you watch all the time. This is for people who watch porno all the time, and they're sick of the husband and the wife making love with candles. This is for- if you want to jerk off to fuckin' porno with your old lady, and you're watching it and you're getting into it, and it's hot, steamy sex that you're, like- after you get done you feel like you just did drugs. Like, "Yeah!~"

NARRATOR: Lizzie and Rob have their own Web site. They sell videos and memberships for $29.95. It's pretty rough stuff. But in the sexual cornucopia of the Internet it's just another Web site. Internet sex shoppers can browse sites featuring sex with pregnant women, Asian bondage, foot worship, bestiality. Fetishism is the growth market.

BILL ASHER, President, VIVID Entertainment Group: In the adult industry, it's not odd to have, you know, quite a few Internet sites with everything from different fetishes, aimed at different markets, if you will. How important is it to us? It's approximately 25 to 30 percent of our business right now. The key to it is that it's the growth area. You know, it's the thing that's taking off.

NARRATOR: The Internet, more than any other technology, inhibits obscenity prosecutions because it fractures the very idea of what a community is. Has a world that offers home-delivered fetishes lost its capacity to be offended? Or is it that obscenity in the digital age has just not been put to the test?

BRUCE TAYLOR, Fmr Justice Dept Obscenity Atty: I think that the porn industry today, the hard-core porn syndicate, has been blessed by history in two ways. One is that they just happened to hit the Internet when it was exploding. And if there had been continued federal prosecutions, you wouldn't see the Internet presence of the porn syndicate as big as it is today. But the combination of the industry's willingness to go on the Web in a big way and the prosecutors not, you know, indicting them for that allowed it to explode beyond anybody's imagination, I think. It was just that fluke.

NARRATOR: This is the Los Angeles convention center, the city's favorite place to see the newest boats and cars. This year, it's home to the city's premier porn event, Erotica L.A. Here the adult industry is letting it all hang out. Consumers willing to pay $15.00 can see the latest sex toys-

    SALESWOMAN: It's a G-spot cock!

NARRATOR: -meet a porn star or buy a video. Five years ago this event didn't exist. This year it is three times as big as it was last year.

    DILDO SALESMAN: I recommend running it low speed, with a lot of lube.

    DILDO SALESWOMAN: You cannot harm yourself with these.

    WEB SITE SALESMAN: This is live right now from Newport Beach.

    PLASTIC DOLL SALESMAN: Booby shots or-

NARRATOR: It's proof, the leaders of the adult business say, that their business is demand-driven.

    SALESWOMAN: You want to try it?

    POTENTIAL CUSTOMER: I just tried the big bondage table over here. I think it's his turn now.

NARRATOR: Millions and millions of Americans want pornography and spend billions for it.

    SALESMAN: Can I interest you in a transsexual magazine? No? OK, thank you.

MARK CROMER, Hustler Video Producer: Why? Because we want it. We want porn. We want lots of it. We want it on demand. The Internet is fueling our ability to have it on demand, and nobody can stop that now.

DANNI ASHE, CEO, Danni's Hard Drive: Well, I think we're in this- we're at this really kind of interesting time, where we still have this real undercurrent of conservatism and the fact that, "Ooh, sex is taboo," and, "Ooh, it's forbidden," yet it's available. So we're feeling like, "Ooh, we can't have it," but it's available, and what you've got is a billion-dollar industry.

NARRATOR: But Larry Flynt is worried that porn's new prosperity won't last. Within the last year, he cast his experienced eye toward the horizon, and what he beheld wasn't a blue sky. It was the Republican administration of George W. Bush and a new Justice Department. Flynt knows that zealous prosecutors are bad for business.

BRUCE TAYLOR, Fmr Justice Dept Obscenity Atty: I think they sort of know that, you know, President- this President Bush, George W. Bush, and Attorney General Ashcroft, I mean, they're about as serious as a heart attack.

NARRATOR: After Attorney General Ashcroft was confirmed, one of his first meetings was with former prosecutors and other anti-porn advocates.

BRUCE TAYLOR: I was present at a meeting with the attorney general, and they did ask for our input. And so we did write up, you know, examples of the kinds of cases we did in the past, some of the trial tactics and investigative methods that have been used by prosecutors around the country. So I think that there will be a big surprise next year.

NARRATOR: In early September, the attorney general was preparing a major assault on porn. Then the events of September 11th changed all that. The feds are off Larry Flynt's case, at least for now. But the U.S. Supreme Court has heard two porn-related cases this session. And there's a new anti-porn case in the industry's back yard, Los Angeles, that has captured the attention of the kingpins.

[www.pbs.org: Summary of the Supreme Court cases]

DEBORAH SANCHEZ, Deputy L.A. City Attorney: We try to see what the community will accept as a yardstick because that's really where the law kicks in. And so I think the common sense part is I'm a regular gal, I look at a video. I see, "Whoa, that's very extreme," and I don't think the community will accept it.

NARRATOR: But Larry Flynt and the other porn producers are betting billions that the community standards have shifted.

LARRY FLYNT: You can now see on television material just as explicit as we were publishing in Hustler in 1974.

ADAM GLASSER, President, Seymore Inc.: With the cable networks- Sex and the City, the last two episodes I've seen dealt with female ejaculation and rim jobs. If you know what a rim job is, that's- that's called anilingus.

    ["Sex and the City"]

    1st ACTRESS: Are we talking tuchis-lingus?

    2nd ACTRESS: I'm afraid so.

    1st ACTRESS: How did this happen? How did they get the message that the ass is now on the menu?

    2nd ACTRESS: I bet there's one loud-mouthed guy who found some woman who loved it and told everybody "Women love this!"

    1st ACTRESS: Who is this guy?

ADAM GLASSER: You can't get any- any more extreme, in a sense, in talking about the sexual acts and making them part of everyday women's daily lives.

    ["Real Sex"]

    ACTRESS: That sting that I get after he canes me lasts!

NARRATOR: But it is the very mainstreaming of sexual content on cable that is forcing some pornographers to try to go even further. Over at Extreme Associates, Rob Black and Lizzie Borden are determined to test the limits.

ROB BLACK: We're known for all the taboo stuff that everyone's said you can't do, and we do it. And we sell it, and people are entertained because people are bored with the other stuff.

NARRATOR: Today they're shooting the box cover for Lizzie's new feature.

LIZZIE BORDEN: A girl being kidnapped, being forced to have sex against her will.

NARRATOR: Lizzie's newest film breaks many of even porn's taboos.

LIZZIE BORDEN: Being butchered at the end, and spit on. She's being degraded.

NARRATOR: The actress, Veronica Caine, apparently doesn't know exactly what she's in for.

    ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Just go with the flow, all right? Let happen what's going to happen.

LIZZIE BORDEN: She's, like, one of my best friends.

INTERVIEWER: And you're about to put her through-

LIZZIE BORDEN: Hell.

INTERVIEWER: Why?

LIZZIE BORDEN: She knows me. She's my best friend. I know she can take it. And at the end, I give her a hug. I take her out to dinner. We go shopping.

INTERVIEWER: Is she going to take a beating, a real beating?

LIZZIE BORDEN: Yeah. She's really going to get hit. She likes it. It's good. Sometimes, it makes you more horny when you're getting hit. It makes you more, like, wet. It makes you, you know, more tingly down in your genital area.

NARRATOR: Before the scene is finished, Lizzie's friend, Veronica, will be kicked and beaten. She will have oral, vaginal and anal sex with each of these actors. Then they will pretend to cut her throat and leave her for dead in a pool of blood.

LIZZIE BORDEN: I'm a female director, and it's easy for me to say, "Oh, come on, do it," you know, and not just a man. If a guy asks, they're, like, "Oh, he's a pervert." But if a woman asks, they do it.

NARRATOR: We were here because this is one of the places where porn is now regularly pushing the limits. But this was more than we bargained for. And while it appeared that what was happening was legally consensual, we left. The incident, though, caused us to wonder not just about the content but about the human cost, a cost that even porn producers see every day.

MARK CROMER, Hustler Video Producer: And it never ceases to amaze me what these women are willing to do for money. I mean, why do you have a 19-year-old girl having sex with multiple partners, three, four, five days a week?

    CAMERAMAN: How does that work with braces?

    PORN RECRUIT: What?

    CAMERAMAN: Well, you know.

MARK CROMER: Well, she works three days a week and she's making $1,000 a shoot, which- some of these girls get $1,000 for a straight boy-girl scene, $1,500 for if they do anal. So you're 18 years old, and you've just made $4,500 in a week. That's what I made, I think, all year when I was 18, right?

NARRATOR: This is the set of another Extreme Associates production, porno boot camp, where young actresses are being taught the ropes about hard-core.

    DRILL INSTRUCTOR: How old are you?

    RECRUIT: I'm 21, sir!

MARK CROMER: Maybe they just do girl-girl to start. But what happens is a demand builds for them to see them do a boy-girl, so then their price goes up because they haven't done boy-girl. So then they do boy-girl. So they start parceling out what they'll do. They go slow at first.

RECRUIT: You know, everything's just been, like, mild, like routine guy-girl type of thing, or girl-girl.

MARK CROMER: They don't do anal. So then the demand builds for that because that producer wants that first box cover that says, "Her first on-screen anal," all right? So her price for that goes up.

RECRUIT: I'm scared. I'm slightly nervous because cause I haven't ever done anal before, so- well I've actually tried it but it was, like, horrible.

INTERVIEWER: So why? Why now?

RECRUIT: Honestly? For the money.

MARK CROMER: But after a while, then she starts doing anal a lot, and the price goes down.

    DRILL INSTRUCTOR: Have you ever been fucked in your ass?

    RECRUIT: No.

    DRILL INSTRUCTOR: And you plan to get fucked in your ass?

    RECRUIT: Yes.

    DRILL INSTRUCTOR: By six guys.

    RECRUIT: Yes. Sir.

MARK CROMER: Do you tell the guy of your dreams or the girl of your dreams, for that matter, that you've had sex with about 685 people, maybe 800 people. You're not- actually, you're not sure. You can only figure you do two scenes a tape, and you did 300 tapes, or you know, some sort of arithmetic like that. That's a killer.

NARRATOR: Veronica Caine was the actress beaten in that film made by Lizzie Borden. She has lasted three years in the porn business. She says she'll know Mr. Right when she sees him.

VERONICA CAINE: The individual has to be open and intelligent and understanding enough to realize that this is a business and that it was something fun for me to do and it was a part of my life and, you know, I'm not- I'm not ashamed of it.

    DRILL INSTRUCTOR: You guys are going to do everything your drill instructors ask you to do today, right?

    RECRUITS: Sir! Yes, sir!

MARK CROMER, Hustler Video Producer: If you want to know what I think the dirty little secret of the industry is?

    DRILL INSTRUCTOR: You guys are going to be the best porno bitches in the whole industry, right?

    RECRUITS: Sir! Yes, sir!

MARK CROMER: They're mannequins. If you're not going to do it, she will, and if she won't do it, he will. And you know, I mean, it's just- they come and go.

NARRATOR: The recruits are vying for a $10,000 prize from Rob Black. The winner will be judged as the one who was most enthusiastic about two days of various sex acts performed in front of the camera. The tape will sell for $29.95.

LIZZIE BORDEN: When I was a child, my step-father was an alcoholic. So I think I had, like, deep issues, and this is kind of therapeutic for me, is to take my aggression out on other people. So in a way, I'm exploiting people. I'm taking all my inner demons and aggression out on them. But it's good for me. So I guess that's all that matters.

NARRATOR: Over at porn incorporated, Larry Flynt, the past master of the outrageous, won't go as far as Lizzie Borden and Rob Black. From his point of view, they can only cause problems for the industry.

LARRY FLYNT: Look, if you've got a video that's indefensible, to try and take a hard-line position for yourself, you're not going to do anything but harm yourself and harm the industry.

NARRATOR: The porn kingpins don't want any attention that will hurt their industry's carefully crafted association with the mainstream. But in the last year pornography's biggest mainstream ally - AT&T - has been the subject of an anti-porn crusade.

Cardinal WILLIAM KEELER, Baltimore Archdiocese: We've been asking AT&T to get out of the hard-core porn business. Ma Bell shouldn't be selling smut.

NARRATOR: Last spring, an interfaith coalition of religious leaders brought their concerns directly to the top at AT&T. They met with its chairman, C. Michael Armstrong.

Cardinal WILLIAM KEELER: I raised the issue-that when a company like AT&T, which has won the hearts and allegiance of so many people, gets into this business, it's a way of legitimating it, saying it's OK, it's all right. That's the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval we don't want to see put on this kind of business.

NARRATOR: While AT&T refused to grant FRONTLINE an interview about the Hot Network, the company has publicly stated their position in letters like this, where it says that competitive pressures with companies like General Motors are keeping AT&T in the business.

Cardinal WILLIAM KEELER: We didn't think that the arguments we heard were persuasive. One point that was alleged to us is that G.M. was in the same business, and they had to keep up with G.M. Also, AT&T's representatives at this meeting indicated that there are some worse things out there. But I think there was a concession made that what they have is pretty raw.

NARRATOR: AT&T Broadband has only gotten bigger with its pending $72 billion merger with cable competitor Comcast. The new AT&T Comcast corporation would be the nation's biggest cable outfit. And with C. Michael Armstong in charge for now, it will be porn's biggest pipeline.

BRUCE TAYLOR, Fmr Justice Dept Obscenity Atty: They can give all the excuses in the world. The chairman of AT&T knows if he's selling hard-core pornography, he's a pornographer. And if that's his pornography, if he's made a deal for it, if he's not just the carrier, if he's in the business, then he's in the business.

NARRATOR: Besides this attack on AT&T Broadband, other crusaders have joined the assault on the corporate collaborators. Some turned their attention to Yahoo! after the giant search engine announced that it was opening a virtual sex shop where millions of users could buy hard-core videos and DVDs. The assault began.

[www.pbs.org: Background on the looming battle]

PATRICK TRUEMAN, Fmr Chief, Justice Dept. Obscenity Section: One more mainstream company was now going to violate federal obscenity laws. And that was a news story, and it was quite widely distributed.

NARRATOR: Overnight, Yahoo! was bombarded by hundreds of thousands of email complaints.

PATRICK TRUEMAN: The very next day, Yahoo! made some statement that they were getting out of this business. They would no longer sell hard-core videos and were going to clean up their site.

NARRATOR: And ever since, Yahoo! has been in full retreat. The company closed its sex shop and began to hinder access to other porn sites. Yahoo! also refused FRONTLINE's request for an interview. Suddenly, the porn industry is off balance. No better indication of that is that Larry Flynt has discovered caution.

    LARRY FLYNT: Tell Jim we'd like to run this, but you wanted to run it by him so he could talk to Paul.

NARRATOR: Paul is Paul Cambria, the porn industry's lawyer. He created a list of sex acts that he advised his clients to treat as taboo if they wanted to avoid trouble with the Justice Department.

PAUL CAMBRIA, Pornography Industry Attorney: What are those things? Ejaculation on the face, urination, things that, you know, maybe the Midwestern soccer mom might say, "Whoa," you know, "Hello!" Don't make adults appear to be under age. That's number one. These so-called Bukkake films, an Asian variety of film where 25 men ejaculate on a woman. Stay away from subjects involving the dead. Stay away from subjects involving religion.

NARRATOR: It's called the "Cambria list," and all the major porn producers have agreed to follow it.

MARK CROMER, Hustler Video Producer: It's a bunch of rich guys running scared. It's a bunch of guys who were maybe rebels in the '70s and the '80s that don't want to fight anymore. They want to take their chips out of the bank and cash them in and go home and play golf.

NARRATOR: But prosecutions are happening. In L.A, city attorneys are about to bring the first obscenity case since 1993 before a jury. Attorneys for the city will find out whether community standards meet the prosecution's test for obscenity.

DEBORAH SANCHEZ, Deputy L.A. City Attorney: I have an acronym for it, and I memorize it through that. It's called CURBFHP. And what the C stands for is children involved. The U is for urination or defecation in conjunction with sex acts. The R is for rape scenes. The B is for bestiality. The F is fisting or foot insertion. The H is for homicide or dismemberment in conjunction with a sex act. And the P is for pain, for severe infliction of pain. So those are the seven general categories that we prosecute.

NARRATOR: The newest case - scheduled for trial in Los Angeles in February, 2002 - starts with an F for fisting. The defendants are Adam Glasser and his mom, Lyla.

ADAM GLASSER, President, Seymore Inc.: It happened December 22nd. I got a phone call about 8:15 from my mom, basically telling me that the police were there with a search warrant.

NARRATOR: Lyla's son produces in a very lucrative niche of the adult market, anal films. Early in his career, he decided to change his name from Adam Glasser to Seymore Butts. At the heart of his case is the argument about at this moment, this content is now acceptable to the community.

INTERVIEWER: Why you?

ADAM GLASSER: Why me? I released a movie with a scene that depicts women inserting their hands inside of one another. For the last 10 years movies have been shot where multiple digits have been inserted into women and/or men in gay movies. But for some reason, when you put a thumb in it is called "fisting," and that seems to be a problem with the L.A. city attorney.

NARRATOR: Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney Sanchez will show Adam Glasser's fisting tape, Tampa Tushy Fest, to the jury.

DEBORAH SANCHEZ: Somebody has to stand up for the community. I have to at least allow them to see this is what's going on. Do you think that this is acceptable to your community? I'm just a representative of the city. I think my job is a presenter. I say, "Community, look at what's out there. Community, is this acceptable to you?" And if a jury tells me yes, then so be it. If they tell me no, then let's see where that really goes.

NARRATOR: There is a gathering sense, even within the industry, that one way or another, pornography is bound for a reckoning.

MARK CROMER: They hate it all. They're looking for their easiest targets, their edgier, more provocative filmmakers, and they're going to hold those up as the examples of pornography.

NARRATOR: Pornographers insist that they are engaged in protected adult expression that's endorsed by the public every day at the cash register.

BILL ASHER, President, VIVID Entertainment Group: -that, ultimately the people have spoken, that they like adult content, that they're comfortable with it and that, you know, they don't want the government coming in and dictating what they do and don't want.

NARRATOR: But prosecutors are betting that if the new hard-core pornography is actually put before the community, the old standards will apply.

BRUCE TAYLOR, Fmr Justice Dept Obscenity Atty: Hard-core pornography, penetration clearly visible, was the standard 30 years ago. It's still the standard today.

NARRATOR: Prosecutors insist that even in the digital age, there is such a thing as obscenity and that a community will know it when it sees it.

AMERICAN PORN

PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY
Michael Kirk

WRITTEN BY
Michael Kirk & Peter J. Boyer

CO-PRODUCER
Jim Gilmore

CORRESPONDENT
Peter J. Boyer

EDITOR
Steve Audette

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER
Corey Ford

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
Ben McCoy

SOUND
Steve Lederer

ONLINE EDITOR
Michael H. Amundson

SOUND MIX
Jim Sullivan

ADDITIONAL CAMERA
Greg Larsen
Chuck Barbee
Corey Ford
John MacGibbon

ADDITIONAL SOUND
Rob Peterson
Bill Bass

(Int'l Version only)
ORIGINAL MUSIC
Handsome Brothers Music

SPECIAL THANKS
Brian Fulford
WGBH Archives?

ARCHIVAL MATERIALS
Cincinnati Museum Center
Corbis
CNN ImageSource
Sekani

FOR FRONTLINE

PRODUCTION MANAGER
Tim Mangini

ON-AIR PROMOTION
PRODUCER
M.G. Rabinow

SENIOR EDITOR
Steve Audette

AVID EDITORS
Michael H. Amundson
John MacGibbon

POST PRODUCTION
COORDINATOR
Patricia Giles

POST PRODUCTION
ASSISTANT
David McMahon

SERIES MUSIC
Mason Daring
Martin Brody

COMMUNICATIONS
MANAGER
Erin Martin Kane

SENIOR PUBLICIST
Christopher Kelly

PROMOTION WRITER
Jennifer McCauley

SECRETARY
Mary Sullivan

COMPLIANCE MANAGER
Lisa Palone-Clarke

PARALEGAL
Adrienne Armor

UNIT MANAGER
Douglas D. Milton

BUSINESS MANAGER
Tobee Phipps

WEBSITE PRODUCTION
ASSISTANT
Todd Goldstein

WEBSITE ASSOCIATE
PRODUCERS
Sarah Moughty
Kimberly Tabor

WEBSITE COORDINATING
PRODUCER
Stephanie Ault

WEBSITE PRODUCER/
DESIGNER
Sam Bailey

WEBSITE EDITORIAL DIRECTOR
Wen Stephenson

EDITORIAL RESEARCHER
Catherine Wright

COORDINATING PRODUCER
Robin Parmelee

STORY EDITOR
Ken Dornstein

SERIES EDITOR
Karen O'Connor

SENIOR PRODUCER
SPECIAL PROJECTS
Sharon Tiller

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
SPECIAL PROJECTS
Michael Sullivan

EDITORIAL DIRECTOR
Marrie Campbell

SERIES MANAGER
Jim Bracciale

EXECUTIVE EDITOR
Louis Wiley Jr.

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
David Fanning

A FRONTLINE coproduction with Kirk Documentary Group, Ltd.

© 2002

WGBH EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

FRONTLINE is a production of WGBH Boston, which is solely responsible for its content.

ANNOUNCER: For more on this report, go to our Web site. Take a closer look at the pending Supreme Court cases, see how you would have voted in a recent obscenity trial compared to the jurors, study the politics of porn in Congress, explore why people are drawn to pornography, get details on porn and mainstream companies and watch this whole report on our Web site, or find out here if your local station is re-airing this program and when. Then join the discussion at PBS on line, pbs.org or write an email to frontline@pbs.org or write to this address. [DEAR FRONTLINE, 125 Western Ave., Boston, MA 02134]

Next time on FRONTLINE, Fat. We love it, we hate it.

    Dr. GEORGE COWAN, Baptist Memorial Hospital, Memphis: We live in a food-toxic environment.

ANNOUNCER: Now the same industry that's making us fatter is cashing in, trying to make us slim.

    CATHERINE STEINER-ADAIRE, Harvard Eating Disorders Center: People are bombarded with messages: "Eat this," "Eat this," "Eat this." And then, on the other hand, they're told "Don't eat."

ANNOUNCER: Why is it so hard to get rid of fat? And should we?

    JACKQUELINE HOPE, Founder, Big, Bold & Beautiful: I like being a big woman. And who the hell is out there to tell me that anything is wrong with it?

ANNOUNCER: Watch Fat next time on FRONTLINE.

For a VHS copy of FRONTLINE's American Porn, call PBS Home Video at 1-800-PLAY-PBS. [$19.98 plus S&H]

National corporate funding for FRONTLINE is provided by NPR.

In Denver, Skopje, in Teheran, Omaha, in Istanbul, in Hong Kong, Belgrade, in Decatur, in Seattle, Beijing, in Pittsburgh, in Johannesburg. This is NPR News.

And by Earthlink.

FRONTLINE is made possible by the annual financial support of PBS viewers like you. Thank you.

home . introduction . prosecuting . the business . special reports
watch the program . if you were the juror... . quiz . do you use porn? . discussion
interviews . readings & links . tapes & transcripts . press reaction . credits . privacy
FRONTLINE . wgbh . pbs online

some photos copyright © 2002 photodisc all rights reserved.
web site copyright 1995-2014 WGBH educational foundation

SUPPORT PROVIDED BY

NEXT ON FRONTLINE

The Rise of ISISOctober 28th

FRONTLINE on

ShopPBS