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A Case to Watch: The Adam Glasser Trial

Could the Adam Glasser trial in Los Angeles be the first in a wave of obscenity cases brought by state and federal prosecutors emboldened by the Bush administration? That was the question hanging over the adult film industry in late 2001. But on March 20, 2002--the day the case would have gone to trial--Glasser and his attorney announced they had reached a settlement with the Los Angeles city attorney's office. He pled guilty to a public nuisance charge and paid a $1000 fine to a victims restitution fund. Glasser also agreed to offer an edited version of "Tampa Tushy Fest, Part 1" for California buyers. However, under the plea agreement, Glasser is free to sell the unedited version in California without fear of future obscenity charges. Glasser called the settlement "a great day for the adult industry, the free speech movement and...the millions of consumers who enjoy their rights to watch the adult entertainment of their choice."

the cover of tampa tushy fest Here's some background on the case. Glasser's trial would have taken place in the porn industry's backyard -- Los Angeles. Scheduled for late February 2002, it would have been the city's first obscenity case to go before a jury since 1993.

Adam Glasser (known in the porn business as "Seymore Butts") and his company Seymore Inc. were charged with two counts of obscenity for a 1998 video called "Tampa Tushy Fest, Part 1." Glasser was offered a plea bargain with probation and a small fine, but turned it down.

As in Glasser's other sex videos -- his company, which he says is worth $2 million, releases about 20 films every year -- this film shows hardcore (i.e., explicit) anal sex, oral sex, and vaginal sex. It also shows "fisting," with women inserting their hands inside of one another.

Deputy L.A. city attorney Deborah Sanchez said she was prosecuting because "Tampa Tushy Fest, Part 1" is filled with scenes that depict sexuality in "a patently offensive way." (Read more in Sanchez's extended interview with FRONTLINE. WARNING: This interview contains explicit descriptions of sexual acts.)

But Glasser defended his movie and said he wanted a jury trial. He maintains that the women in his film were consenting adults who were obviously enjoying themselves. Moreover, he says the particular sexual practice of fisting "is a staple in the lesbian and gay community." (Read FRONTLINE's extended interview with Glasser for his views on the merits of his film and his response to its critics. WARNING: This interview contains explicit descriptions of sexual acts.)

Additionally, Glasser's lawyer, Roger Diamond -- who didn't think a jury would convict his client -- planned to enter as evidence books and medical treatises on the subject of fisting. Diamond said his client was choosing to fight the case as a matter of principle. "If there are no children involved, and no violence, I don't see what interest the government has in prosecuting this stuff," said Diamond.

photo of glasser Some background: Adam Glasser is famous in the adult content industry for being a pioneer in what the business calls "gonzo porn." Using his own small video camera, his films chronicled various provocative sexual exploits with friends and girlfriends. In 1994, one of Glasser's videos acquired a certain notoriety for showing his girlfriend having oral sex with an on-duty fireman on the back of a fire truck. Glasser has made some 90 videos to date and has become one of the porn industry's new millionaires.



A Note: Despite the obscenity charges "Tampa Tushy Fest, Part 1" was facing, it could still be purchased. A seller on eBay tried to take advantage of its notoriety by advertising to interested parties that the film was "no longer available in USA -- get it while you can."

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