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interview: adam glasser

Why you?

It's a very good question. Why me? And why now? Those are two questions that come to my mind. Why me? I'm high profile. I released a movie with a scene that depicts women inserting their hands inside of one another. This particular scene is different, in a sense, from other scenes that have been released here in the United States for quite some time, in the sense that a thumb is involved in the process, as opposed to fingers.

In other words, 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. Why? I don't know.

The line is drawn. How do you know where the line is?

It really is a guessing game. When I first came into this business, I was told there were certain things that I couldn't shoot. I couldn't shoot child pornography, bestiality, rape scenarios, snuff films or simulated snuff films, urination, defecation, and fisting. This is back in early 1991.

This was just a kind of myth perpetuated through the industry. Also I was told that every movie had to be five scenes long, and it needed to be 80 minutes, or 82 minutes. That was the time the distributors want. Soon, I broke those rules by putting seven scenes in a movie, or four scenes in a movie. ... My movies are a chronology of my life, and therefore I can't really control how many scenes are in what movie. In addition, I've expanded the format to two hours and 20 minutes. So I've always been somewhat of a rule-breaker.

An actor and producer of adult films who goes by the pseudonym "Seymore Butts," Glasser was due to go to trial in Los Angeles in February 2002 charged with two counts of obscenity for his video "Tampa Tushy Fest, Part 1." It was the first obscenity trial in Los Angeles since 1993. But before a jury got to see his video, Glasser pled "No Contest" to a misdemeanor. Here, Glasser talks about the "mainstreaming" of sex in American culture, and explains why he pushes the line in his movies. This interview was conducted in July 2001.

These particular rules that we were talking about ... started in 1980 with a memo that was delivered from the district attorney's office to the industry. This is what I'm told. ... They say a memo was delivered and that it was named by an acronym for each. It was called "C-U-R-B-F-P," I believe was the letters. The "U" is for urination; the "R" was for the rape. All the letters stood for something.

Penthouse magazine regularly shows urination in scenes. Videos Galore are out there showing urination scenes. The standard changed from 1980. Things are different. Fisting, for me, I didn't understand. I could find movies all day long where there were four fingers being inserted, and eight fingers being inserted, and like I asked the policeman, "How do you differentiate?" Especially when the actual act of fisting is such a staple in the gay and lesbian communities.

As a matter of fact, I got a message on my machine before I came here at my office from a woman in Nevada. She basically said that she's a member of NOW. And she said, "God bless you for fighting this." She said the thing that really bothered her and her friends is that it seemed to her that this was an anti-woman point of view that the city is having, because if the city understood how essential and important the act of fisting is in the lesbian community or the gay community ... they wouldn't be discussing this. ...

Why should making a film on fisting be so important that you might put yourself in jail, or get yourself fined?

Women, especially lesbian women, find this a very important subject. They write to me; they let me know. Why did I choose to do this? Did I think there would be ramifications? I wasn't sure. I didn't know what would happen. As a matter of fact, that's exactly the reason I didn't tout it on the box. In other words, nowhere on the box would you find reference to the word "fisting, handballing, finger" -- anything that implies ... what actually happened in the movie, other than in general terms. ...

The reason why I made the conscious decision to release the movie is because this was not a scripted act. The girls came to me a half-hour before we were going to shoot. We were on our way home from an awards show. We were in a van. They were in the backseat behind me, and they were discussing fisting. Chloe, who is one of the participants, was describing to Alicia the feeling that it gave her. And Alicia wanted to experience this. So we decided that I would pull out the camera and I'd let the girls do their thing. And that's exactly what happened.

I could have, of course, cut it. I could have said, "That looked great, but I'm not going to take the chance." But then I looked at the scene and I said, "Here are two girls, they're doing something that they enjoy." ...

[Before] you get involved in this industry, is there a meeting, a "Pornography 101," where they sit you down and say, "This is what you can do and this is what you can't do?"

... Before this ever came up, let me just tell you that Los Angeles was never a worry to me. I was worried more about places like Alabama, George, Florida, Texas, the Bible Belt states. Those are the states that I was concerned about. Every distributor in our industry has a "hot list." Our hot list changed somewhat over time, but basically stays the same. Certain areas we won't ship to -- Utah, the Bible Belt, certain places where they've made it clear that they don't want this type of materials in their communities.

Actually, that's another question. Certain people have made it clear that they don't want these materials in the community. The community, I don't believe, has made it clear. Certain people have. If you look at direct satellite and cable delivery of sexual programs to the Utah area, trust me, you'll find that there is plenty. However, certain areas we know, we call them "hot." Los Angeles has never been -- I guarantee you -- on anybody's "hot" zone.

I look at systems like they have in Canada and Australia. When I sell the rights to a movie there, I have to put it to a national board. They view the movie. Then they make recommendations as to what is OK with them, and what's not OK. The movie is then cut appropriately, or not cut at all, depending, and then the movie is deemed legal. Then they ship it, and there's never a problem.

I'm not necessarily saying that we should have something as rigorous as that. But I'm saying that at least that gives people an advantage to know what their making is legal or not. ...

If it's such a crapshoot, then why touch the stuff that is considered to be volatile?

Because it's never been clear. ... Sexuality is such a personal thing. What is extreme to somebody else is completely normal to the next guy. Could I just do vanilla sex? Yes. But what drives me is getting the feedback from the fans. We're a very fan-friendly company. People tell us they like what we do. They learn from what we do. They get educated from what we do. And it expands their sexual horizons in their personal lives, and for their partner.

When I see fisting being shot every day for other countries, and when I see in this country four fingers being inserted and eight fingers being inserted, as somewhat of like a loophole that somebody has found, that I don't understand. I want to clear it up. I want somebody to really say to me, "You can't do this because of this."

I understand the rape. I understand the homicide. Bestiality I understand, child pornography I understand. But any act between two consenting adults should be OK, and that's where I draw my line. That's in my head. That's the way I make myself feel good.

To play the devil's advocate, you're only doing this thing for the money, right? You're pushing the line of fisting or whatever because it draws in a certain audience.

If I did it for the money, I would have put, "See the first fisting scene released in the United States in 20 years in this movie." I would have charged more for the movie. No, it's not about that. Certainly, I'm a businessman. Everything I do, I want to be profitable, yes. I want other people around me to make money, yes. However, there is a bigger picture. I realize through the contact that I have with the public that sexuality is a huge issue for most people, individually. In other words, within themselves, it's a huge issue. How they deal with it -- some people are open sexually, some people are introverted sexually. ...

Our movies are entertainment and educational tools. I expect somebody to pick something up in every movie. Some movies I make really focused on a specific subject, and I expect if they've been watching to learn a lot about that specific subject, i.e., female ejaculation, which I do in a complete how-to guide for men and women on. Women have walked up to me and said, "You saved my marriage. Thank you." Men have walked up to me and said, "I conceived my child to your movies, thank you." Sexuality is not only extremely important, but in this country, there is such a confusion. There is such guilt laid at people's feet for their sexual feelings, for what they want, that I feel it's my duty. ... If I can help one guy, one woman, get beyond that, I feel great. The money and all that stuff, at that point, it's just not important.

"Mainstreaming" of pornography, that's talked about all the time. What does it mean to you? What is it?

"Mainstreaming" is possibly an overstatement, in a sense, because I think there's always been the interest. Nowadays, people are more ready to discuss things, more open to possibly experiencing things. The television and movie world is more interested in exploring certain subjects. And they've found that sex is ratings.

Hollywood is really what is responsible for the mainstreaming of our industry. How did the Howard Stern show get popular? Yes, everybody's tuning in, wondering what the hell he's going to say next. Sure. But you don't think that they're really waiting to see the porn star that's coming on, and who's getting naked? That's what they're waiting for. That's the popularity of Howard Stern -- dirty words and dirty girls.

And if you look at just the networks, "NYPD Blue," big thing with showing an ass on TV, right? Now 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 called analingus. You can't get any more extreme, in a sense, in talking about the sexual acts, and making them part of these everyday women's daily lives.

The effect of the Cambria list. Has everybody become good girls and little boys?

There's been basically somewhat of a split. You find some companies that are toeing the line, making announcements about discontinuing products, not shooting the types of things that they were shooting before. And then you have other companies that are basically rebellious and saying, "We're not changing a thing." ...

[I own] a company. I make the kind of movies I do -- hardcore, anal movies with female ejaculation, everything I do except for the fisting, let's say, interracial, everything, urination.

If because, let's say, I read this letter and then I change completely, and I say, "I'm not going to shoot that kind of stuff anymore," am I now admitting that the stuff I shot prior is obscene? That's the quandary that people have if they decide they're going to make a change. Are they then saying, "Well, this stuff that we shot before is bad; therefore, that's why we've changed for the better"?

I personally have not changed a thing that I've done. The only thing, of course, that I haven't done is I haven't released the fisting tape since the bust. I will, depending upon the outcome, then make a decision about what I will do. But aside from that, anything else that I do in my movies, I will continue to do. Because I didn't believe they were wrong when I first made them, no matter who was president, or attorney general. And I don't believe they're wrong now, again no matter who's president or attorney general. ... I don't base my decisions on releasing movies on who was in charge. "Is it a good movie? Does it meet my criteria?"

Tell us about the film that got you in trouble. How it was made, and what did it consist of?

The name of the film is "Tampa Tushy Fest." It's actually part one of a two-part little series that I did. It centered around a trip I took to the Tampa area with my fiancée at the time, Alicia Glass. At the time, we were actually appearing in an adult caravan. ... They invited about 25 adult stars to come down to Tampa Bay and then do a tour of their adult stores as somewhat of a promotion. They had a schedule of the whole day basically, up and through award shows and the whole bit. But there were certain times where we had downtime, and I was shooting in and around the shows and during the downtime.

And the movie is really again like all the other movies, a chronology of my life. I hold the camera. It's all seen through my eye, which is called "shooting point of view." It's all basically narrated by me. It's my experiences, or our experiences, mine and Alicia's down in Tampa. There is hardcore anal sex, hardcore oral sex, hardcore vaginal sex. And there is fisting as well in this.

That's the sum of the movie really. As far as the scene goes, I think I explained to you. It wasn't scripted. We basically decided to shoot the actual fisting a half-hour before we actually turned the camera on, and it was only because of a discussion that Chloe and Alicia had on the joys of fisting. Simple as that.

You're busted; they indict you. It would be a lot easier to plea bargain or pay the fine. Why run this through a jury?

It would be easier to pay my thousand-dollar fine and take the plea of probation for two years. But there are some ramifications to that. One is from the federal level. Let's assume that I plead guilty, and I say that I agree, this movie is obscene. What could happen then is, if there's some cooperation happening between state and federal officials, and they let the federal officials know that there is now a state obscenity conviction on Adam Glasser, then the feds could line up a multi-jurisdictional indictment against me, hitting me in multiple counties. So that's a ramification.

Secondly, principle. This is something that I don't understand. They are saying that everything in my movie would have been perfectly OK if that girl just didn't put the thumb in. It doesn't wash here with me. I think I'm the most high-profile person to be hit within the last eight years. If I plead, I think it would give them a feeling of bravado, and make them more apt to hit more companies. I think, if I win it will take the air out of their sails, and [show] that the people in my industry are not going to lay down and take pleas.

Why not hit a Vivid production? Why not go after the big boys? You're a small organization, on the edges. Why not go after a Vivid if they're going to try to make a point?

Vivid runs a very safe ship. Everything they do, everything that Vivid releases, has condoms. ... Forget about pushing the envelope. They've got envelopes stuffed up their asses, to be honest with you. I don't think that they make the type of product that concerns the vice squad and this memo that they seem to be using as their edict.

But you will find the more high-profile companies will get hit in some way or another. ... You might see somebody like a Playboy get hit because of what they're delivering in a mass way to the public. You might see a Yahoo, an Earthlink. You can find a lot of child pornography in those Yahoo newsgroups if you really search. You can find a lot of fisting stuff in those Yahoo newsgroups, if you search in the Earthlink newsgroups. I just got sent into an Earthlink newsgroup link the other day, alt.binaries.fistfucking. So it's out there.

How important is it for an obscenity case to go before a jury at this point? You could have plea-bargained out.

I could have plea-bargained out, or I could have agreed to let a judge oversee it and waive my right to a jury trial; however, I would never have done that. The jury in this particular instance is crucial. Part of the prosecution's whole theme in trying to get evidence thrown out, or not allowed, is to isolate the movie. And in isolating the movie, they feel like if they get a jury that doesn't necessarily have experience walking into adult shops, seeing what's out there. ... A movie like this could be very shocking and ... they could easily vote a guilty on something like this.

That's why we want to bring evidence to show people what the community standards are -- what is comparable and what's not comparable. That's what's going to be our job with the jury. Selection of the jury is so crucial; you don't want somebody that's a religious zealot, in a sense. ... You can only ask them so many questions. ...

So it's a very careful process. I would prefer gay or lesbian jurors. I would prefer a nurse, you know, a nurse being more open-minded, a doctor, people like that, who come across things on a regular daily basis that are somewhat sexual. A Sunday School teacher probably wouldn't be the best for this particular case. So the jury is extremely important.

How much support have you got in the industry?

I've got a lot of emails. I got a lot of support from the individual business owners. What does surprise me, though, is that I haven't heard from the Free Speech Coalition, and that bothers me. I've heard that the case has been discussed within the secret meetings that they have many times. I've heard that it's been called "the case that has to be won." Adult Video News has provided expert witnesses for me for free, access to anything I need. But the Free Speech Coalition is kind of dropped off the face of the earth. That is why I'm interested in Bill Lyons' reaction to what's happening here.

Are you being set up? You could be on the top of the list, and federal prosecution could follow this in years to come.

I don't think so. Although I'm a small fish in numbers, I'm a big fish in profile. Vivid is supposedly a $90 million company; I'm a $2 million company. Do you see $88 million worth of difference in being talked about and the notice that you get? There isn't. But we're on the front page as much or more as Vivid, no matter what we're doing. I'm just probably not as good a businessman as the guys over at Vivid are, obviously. I haven't been in this business as long as them. They've got about 10 years to 12 years on me, as far as how long they've been owning their company compared to me. Am I the sacrificial lamb? I don't think so.

If I lose, what do I lose? I put on a good fight for something that I believed in. If I win, I've just opened up the market just a little bit more and given us access to a little bit more freedom as far as what we want to view. And there is no in-between, really. Those are the two things that are inevitable.

But is the basic nature of the business one of competitiveness, that doesn't allow much brotherly sort of support?

This is a very competitive industry, and we all basically hate each other. However, show me an industry that's much different. When you're in an industry, you're all competing for basically the same dollars. In our industry, since the advent of the video camera, anybody and his brother can be a moviemaker and producer. And, therefore, there's a saturation of product in our industry that's tremendous, which makes it even more difficult to compete. If I was gone, not any one company is going to notice any kind of difference. The reality of the situation is that I've always been somewhat of an envelope-pusher, not necessarily willing to follow. ...

I'm playing devil's advocate, but there are some people out there that will say you, the Rob Blacks and such are the ones that bring down the heat, that perhaps it's time to go undercover.

Let's say that Rob Black and I weren't around, [that] none of the rabble-rousers were around. Let's say there were only four companies: Vivid, Wicked, VCA and Adam and Eve. You don't think that soon one of those companies is going to start pushing whatever envelope they have all fit themselves into soon to be able to get their share of that extreme market, so to speak, or the people that want to see things a little bit harder?

So, in other words, you don't think that soon Adam and Eve wouldn't be [showing] just like the hardest sex you've ever seen, the craziest sex. ... That's just the nature of the beast. You have to somehow distinguish yourself. ... Somebody out of the group who was left standing would do something that would be bothersome, would have to do something to initiate a 500-man gangbang. Everybody is trying to get noticed. If you read the Extreme website the other day, you'll see that they were bragging about pulling chunks of shit out of somebody's ass. Ridiculous. They don't think that these people are reading it.

For me, it's consensual sex. I don't push the envelope. I let people push their own envelopes, in a sense. It's hard for me to take the blame of bringing heat down on the industry when I basically say to people, "What do you like? What do you want to do? And let's do it. If you don't enjoy it, I don't want to do it. It doesn't matter if I have to pay you. ... If I can afford to pay you the extra $200, and you'll accept the other $200. I don't want to get into something where you're doing something because it's about the money, and not because of the enjoyment."

My movies are about the enjoyment, and that's why my movies are so popular. It's because of that. In that essence, I can say I'm doing something great for the industry. Let's say I release 20 movies a year. Every one of those movies is going to be quality. Vivid will release 500 movies a year. And out of those 500 movies a year, 50 to 100 will be quality.

The guy who walks into the store and happens to catch one of those good Vivid movies, now he's going to have to go through about 500 more before he gets to another good one; whereas every time somebody rents one of my movies, they know what they're getting. They know they can count on it, and they know its quality. That I feel good about.

Everybody has to interpret the obscenity law for themselves. For me, it's consensual sex among consenting adults: bottom line.

Where, then, is the line for you? Are some of Rob Black's materials beyond the pale compared to yours? Are there others out there?

To be absolutely honest with you, I only know about what I read. I haven't actually seen any of that stuff. I don't have time to watch any other movies, to be honest with you. I only can deal with me, and making myself feel good about what we do, and making our employees feel good about what we do. And our edict is basically, "Over 18, consensual sex, anything goes." Now, if somebody came up to me and says, "I've had this fantasy. I want somebody to defecate in my mouth." Quite probably, even though as funny as it may seem, there would probably be quite a market for that, whether it be from the novelty aspect of it, the shock aspect of it. I don't know necessarily why. I wouldn't understand it. I wouldn't shoot that.

There is such guilt laid at people's feet for their sexual feelings, for what they want, I feel it's my duty.  If I can help one guy, one woman, get beyond that, I feel great.

... Could I find somebody that would be accepting of this, and somebody that's willing to give this? That would probably be easy; it's just a matter of money. And I could certainly probably find people that would enjoy it. But, for me, that's beyond my taste. That's not part of my scope. I enjoy watching people in pleasure, being pleasured, especially women. And that's the focus of my tapes. The woman's orgasm, the woman's pleasure. How it happens -- whether it be a fist or a penis, or a squash -- to me, it doesn't necessarily matter. That's within my personal realms of what's OK.

Would I object to somebody shooting a movie of somebody defecating in somebody's mouth? No, I can't object to it, because I know that there's a market for it. I personally have no interest in it, but I can't object to that person, because I know there's people out there that want it. I've read too many things, and heard too many stories, not to know that there is interest in that. But it's just not personally for me.

The only thing where I would get involved personally and say, "Hey, I don't think this is right," is if I knew that (a) children were involved, (b) animals were involved, or (c) somebody was being forced to do something that they weren't necessarily prepared to do. ... Aside from that ... this is supposedly a free country, and I'm certainly not going to step in the way of anybody's individual freedoms. No way.

Are you ever embarrassed by the product?

Well, considering the fact that I also personally take part in some of the productions. ... In other words, I'm actually having sex on camera while holding the camera. You don't necessarily always see me doing it but you know it's me. If Grandma asked me what I'm doing, I've never been completely honest with her about my work. So it might get a little embarrassing, possibly, in a social situation where I meet a new woman, and she doesn't know who I am, and I don't necessarily know what her views are. And the question comes up, "So, what do you do?" Sometimes it's a little hard for me to get it out. Again, especially if I'm interested in the woman, it just makes it a little bit harder for me to get it out. It will come out, and nothing will happen without it coming out. ... But it does make it a little bit awkward at times.

One of the things that people who are against pornography bring up a lot is that in the end, the thing that is ignored -- beyond the business, beyond the beneficial teaching thing -- is that it's abusive to women.

I can't be a policeman for the entire industry. I know that things like this happen. I know that women are degraded, and women are disrespected, and I know that women are taken advantage of. And when it comes to my attention, I do try to do something about it.

However, I'm sure 95 percent of the cases that happen do not come to my attention. I can only deal with my world. My world deals with respect. My world deals with overpaying possibly more so than underpaying. My world deals with the woman's orgasm and the woman's pleasure and her being in control. I think that's what makes my movies so attractive, not only to men but also to women, because they get that feeling.

In the end, the bottom line is that most women that come into this business, they're 18, 19, 20 years old. They have no business acumen whatsoever. And they have no plan. Then all of a sudden, lots of money is thrust their way. It's a very difficult thing to handle. It's somewhat analogous to young athletes who come into money quickly; except for these girls, the difference is that every time they want to get paid, they're going to have to have sex. And it's a very easy act for them, once they get into it.

So they set themselves up with a certain lifestyle. And then they don't count on the fact that there's things like becoming saturated if you shoot too much too soon, burning yourself out if you shoot too much too soon. The health risks of shooting too much in a short period of time -- not just for AIDS, but other things, ... just irritation, whatever. They don't have plans.

And when a woman doesn't have a plan in this industry, there are a lot of people that are prepared to take advantage. That's a problem. But then again, if they weren't doing it here, then would they be walking Sunset Boulevard? At least here it's a little controlled. I mean, nobody is getting beat up, nobody is getting killed, which is more than I can say for what's happening on the street.

So, for some women, it completely changes their life. If they get into the right situation, the right hands, and they have a good head on their shoulders and some support from somewhere, this could be a life-changing business as far as giving people a freedom and financial stability that they have never ever imagined for themselves. It's a two-way street.

Lastly, what's so important about your case? In the end, who should care?

I think anybody that cares about their personal freedoms. Once they were to stop my movies, whose movies would be next? What other types of activities would be next? The bottom line is that I don't want the government telling me what I can watch or not watch. I don't think it's their place. And I think that there's a lot of people that believe the same thing -- that there should be a certain privacy for everybody in their own bedroom. Still in this country today there are laws that outlaw oral sex and anal sex between husband and wife. How could that be? How could there possibly be a law that says a husband and a wife cannot do anything except kill each other, or hurt each other? How? I don't get it.

But there are people out there that think that they know better than us about what's best for us to watch, to do, to see, to speak. I just don't think that the American public as a whole is given enough credit to be able to make the right decisions. Certainly not everybody is going to make the right decisions. But, as a whole, you have to give the people, adults, credit -- credit to know what they want to see; credit to know what they want to do.

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