Vol. 12, No. 2,856W - The American Reporter - March 18, 2006


An AR Special Report
PORN IN THE AMERICAN MAINSTREAM: A REAL-LIFE=

by Joe Shea
American Reporter Correspondent
Hollywood, Calif.

HOLLYWOOD, July 6, 2001 -- Are you pretty good at putting two and two to= gether?

As I recently told the Daily News and Pasadena Star-News (= in P1 and P3 stories, respectively), "porn bars" (a phrase I coined a few m= onths ago) are coming to LA and California now that the Ninth Circuit Court= of Appeals has ruled that the state ABC rule banning pornography in bars i= s unconstitutional; the court said that non-obscene (XX) displays in bars a= re protected by the First Amendment.

At the same time, although the quote wasn't used in the Daily News for lack of space, Asst. City Atty. Deborah Sanchez told DN reporter Dan= a Bartholomew that the city probably can't do much about cable and satellit= e displays of porn being fed into anyplace licensed to sell alcohol.

In t= he meantime, I've asked Associate Zoning Administrator DavidKabashima to ap= prove a model condition in a CUP application for Prizzi'sPiazza restaurant = on Franklin Ave. in Hollywood under which the ownerwould voluntarily agree = to refrain from showing porn in his bar orrestaurant, even if it is legal t= o do so. Bruce Willner, the owner, hasagreed to the condition, but it was o= pposed by the Hollywood LAPD Viceunit commander because it has not yet been= a problem in Hollywood -- somuch for preventive enforcement. I don't yet k= now what Mr. Kabashima hasdone or will do.

Below, in the Hollywood Independent, you'll read about about the upsurge= in liquor applications in Hollywood along with the claim by a council depu= ty that the increase in bars will bring down crime. I think it's one of th= e most novel -- and sublimely ridiculous -- arguments for more bars I've ev= er heard.

And on July 3, the day before the lead story in the Hollywood I= ndependent told us about the new liquor license applications, the front pag= e headline in the Business section of the LA Times told us Playboy was buyi= ng into XX hard-core cable and satellite tv channels.

This "detective" says they'll get their money back in California "porn= bars" and that a lot of them will be in Hollywood and the Valley.

Couple= these with the other items below, though, and they makeeven more sense -- = or cents, actually -- and are elements of a real-life,social-engineering de= tective story. I've included CLUES #1-6 and some explanatory notes a= t the top of each section below to help you get to the real story: How porn= ography is the next big commercial thing coming into mainstream society. =

But the meaning of that lays beyond the clues. For the "adders" among = you, I've pasted the Hollywood Independentstory, the Los Angeles Times s= tory, and both the earlier Daily News story and the Pasadena = Star-News column, followed by a piece on the big money involved from th= e New York Times Sunday Magazine, and then my own take on the inside= -City Hall machinations of Padilla and friends.

What it is up to, I think, is a real "Rouge City" -- a hooker-and-porn-h= appy Hollywood like the place pictured in the movie "AI" -- right here in L= os Angeles.

One element that's not going to be apparent from any of this is how Alex= Padilla's elevation to the presidency of the City Council is a major boon = to this effort. Padilla has gotten more than $10,000 dollars -- and Jim Ha= hn got similar amounts -- from cable tv and its lobbyists whocome before hi= s Information Technology Committee and Hahn (as City Attorney) trying to pr= event cable competition from breaking into the LA monopoly markets. They sp= ent some $6 million at City Hall on that and the Open Access issue in the p= ast three years alone -- a huge amount by comparison to any other lobbyist = effort in this city's history.

Now, in porn bars, comes the big payoff on their investment in our cit= y's leadership.

Remember that here in LA, each of 15 franchises are held by only one pro= vider -- contrary to city and state policy on cable competition. You can be= t when Playboy gets chummy with one or more of the big monopoly cable opera= tors, their porn shows will be very much on the agenda. Local newspapers, e= ither by silence (Los Angeles Times), by omission (Daily News= ), or by advocacy (Pasadena Star-News) are helping to create the cli= mate they need.

Get ready to watch a lot more porn -- it's super-saturati= on time, with the last frontier of decency poised to crumble as you cheer f= or the First Amendment.

That's where we stand. Dozens of new bars have been approved and/or are= in the pipeline for Hollywood, and the "porn bar" concept is stealthily ap= proaching. A top council deputy insists that more bars equal less crime, a= nd the community knows better. What will you do?

Joe Shea is Editor-in-Chief of The American Reporter.

----------

CLUE #1

[Reporter Leigh Bailey covered this story pretty well. She did not ment= ion the "porn bar" issue, though, and I think that's a key element of the b= oom. But justifying all those new licenses is pretty hard, so 13th Distric= t deputy Roxanne Tynan, who worked for Jackie Goldberg when most of these l= icenses were approved, stretches to justify them. Just FYI, though, here in= Hollywood liquor-related arrests (ABC violations, drunkenness and DUI arre= sts) rose from 1,899 in 1997 to more than 5,000 in 1999. - JS]

Hollywo= od Independent, P1, July 4, 2001

http://indep.townnews.com/display= /inn_news/news01.txt

Bellying up to the bar
Increase in liquor licenses good for Hollywood, some say, but others w= orry it brings crime
By Leigh Bailey

In the past year, dozens of applications for new or renewed liquorlicens= es have been processed and approved by the California Department ofAlcoholi= c Beverage Control, which brings the total number of alcoholoutlets in cent= ral Hollywood to 132 establishments selling alcohol.

To developers and th= eir supporters, the increase in bars andnightclubs in the area is a positiv= e development, both economically andsocially.

"We want Hollywood to become the entertainment center of the city,"says = Roxana Tynan, chief economic development officer for former 13thDistrict Ci= ty Councilwoman Jackie Goldberg. "On Saturday night now,Hollywood is packed= . That's a good thing, not a bad thing."

Bars and nightclubs draw people -- both tourists and Angelenos -- tothe = area, Tynan says, and with them comes additional revenue that benefitsthe a= rea overall.

But increased revenue isn't the only advantage, Tynan says. Anincrease i= n the number of people in the area means less crime, she says.

Although i= t sounds counter-intuitive, "the more people there are onthe streets at nig= ht, the lower the crime rate," Tynan says. "One of thereasons Hollywood was= so scary in the past was because it was abandoned.There was no one on the = streets past dark.

"Abandoned areas cause crime," she says. If the bars and nightclubs that= are popping up all over central Hollywood are successful enough to draw cu= stomers, "it really serves to make Hollywood a safer place to be."

Tynan has worked closely with a number of club owners and restaurateurs = to get approval for new liquor licenses, but says Goldberg'soffice "only su= pported those [applications] that were made by people who have experience" = serving alcohol.

Council support, she says, was essential to getting appr= oval formany of the licensees.

According to the zoning laws, only seven b= usinesses are technicallypermitted to sell alcohol in the area. To have the= zoning board approve anapplication for a new bar or nightclub, the applica= nt must have thesupport of the community.

"Basically, if the police say it's OK and the council officesupports [th= e application], the zoning board will OK the deal," Tynansays.

As a resul= t, she says, the council office looked closely at theapplications it was as= ked to support.

"What we were originally opposed to -- and what we have o= nlysupported twice in eight years -- is an increase in the number of off-si= tesales venues" -- or liquor stores -- "in Hollywood," she says.

John Tronson, president of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce,concurs. = "Bars and restaurants are not the problem in Hollywood. They bringpeople in= to have a good time," he says. "What we'd like to see is adecrease in the= number of mom-and-pop liquor stores in the area. That'swhere you have prob= lems, that is the source of the alcohol-related crimein the area."

But many Hollywood residents feel as Joe Shea does -- that morealcohol i= n Hollywood, whether served across a bar or over a counter, willmean more c= rime, not less.

"The kind of crime associated with alcohol is definitely on the risein H= ollywood," Shea says. "We've gone from something like 1,900 arrests[for alc= ohol-related crimes] in 1997 to more than 5,000 in 1999."

Shea disagrees that crime stems predominately from liquor store sales. "= The arrest records show that there have been a lot of liquor law violations= in establishments, such as under-age drinking and lewd behavior," he says.=

But ancillary crime is also a concern. Shea believes that the increase = in human traffic that will result from more bars and clubs will mean an inc= rease in other types of crime as well.

"Anyone who goes down Hollywood Bo= ulevard and sees the crowdsoutside these clubs knows that drug dealers are = working the margins ofthese crowds," he says. "You see people coming out of= these clubs that aretoo drunk to walk, let alone drive."

There is no doubt in Shea's mind that more clubs will mean moreproblems.= "There will be fights, injuries and DUIs resulting directly fromthe practi= ces that go on in these clubs," he says.

Shea is concerned that the Los Angeles Police Department's Hollywood Div= ision is too understaffed to handle the increase in human traffic.

"While the LAPD has maintained an aggressive stance, they don't have eno= ugh people," he says.

"We're seeing more and more bars in the area, but w= e're not seeing more and more police officers."

Capt. Mike Downing, commanding officer of the Hollywood Division, also e= xpresses some concern that his station might be stretched thin. And given t= he recruitmen t problems the LAPD has faced in the past few years, th sn't likely to change. "Right now, we are down 40 officers from where we sh= ould be," he says.

One of the proposed solutions, Tronson says, is to create a "nightclub c= lub" of bar owners and operators, whose purpose would be to address some of= the potential problems their establishments might cause before they happen= .

Tronson, who also sits on the Hollywood Entertainment District board of = directors, says chamber support of a liquor license application could be co= ntingent on participation in the nightclub club.

Tynan, who is continuing to work on the issue as part of new councilman = Eric Garcetti's transition team, says she would support that idea.

"We're= talking about having [nightclub owners] form a subcommittee to the [Commun= ity Police Advisory Board]," she says.

Tronson says a subcommittee to the HED board is also being considered.

It's possible that club owners might be asked to contribute to a fund th= at would put more security on Hollywood streets between the midnight and 2 = a.m.

"Basically, we are thinking about increasing the number of hours [Bu= rke Security] works," he says.

Currently, Tronson says, the security company patrols only until 9 p.m.=

Shea says he would support such a plan.

"Anything," he says, "that increases the number of security officers on = the streets Friday and Saturday nights would be most welcome."

Copyrig= ht 2001 Los Angeles Independent Newspapers/Encore Media

----------=

CLUE #2

[This excerpt illustrates how desperate Playboy is to get = into the porn business. But how it will expand the market to pay off the p= remium cost of its acquisitions? They will have to move into bars, which t= he 9th Circuit conveniently made it possible for them to do. - JS]

Los= Angeles Times, C-1, Tuesday, July 3, 2001

Playboy Sheds 'Gentlema= n's' Cloak, Buys 'XX' TV Channels

Media: Its plans to add explicit= programming emphasize the growing tolerance of racier TV.

By SALL= IE HOFMEISTER, RALPH FRAMMOLINO, Times Staff Writers

Playboy Enterprises Inc. on Monday moved to preserve its role asAmerica'= s dominant purveyor of sex on television by bringing more explicitmovies in= to the living room.

The Chicago-based company agreed to acquire three XX-rated sex channels = from the owners of Van Nuys-based Vivid Video, one of the largest producers= of porn movies, for $70 million.

The transaction, as The Times reported Saturday, will put Playboy far ou= t in front of New Frontier Media Inc., which will become the only other sig= nificant adult television programmer.

The move is a departure from Playbo= y's carefully cultivated image as a "gentleman's" brand. The three channels= it is acquiring -- Vivid TV,Hot Network and Hot Zone -- carry more extreme= programming than anything on Playboy's three X-rated networks --Playboy TV= , Spice and Spice 2.

Playboy's strategic about-face underscores the growing acceptance of rac= ier sex on television. Hard-core pornography has become increasingly popula= r and hugely profitable for satellite and cable operators, forcing Playboy = to give up its singular devotion to soft-core programming.

Monday's deal = "dramatically expands the number of U.S. televisionhouseholds that we reach= and therefore clearly positions us as the leading supplier of a range of a= dult entertainment," said Christie Hefner, Playboy's 48-year-old chief exec= utive, in a conference call withinvestors. "We will be able to serve [our] = constituencies better, by providing a range of nonviolent erotic entertainm= ent to meet market demand."

In doing so, the Playboy empire hopes to stay at the vanguard of the sex= ual revolution that founder Hugh Hefner kicked into high gear nearly 50 yea= rs ago with the famous Marilyn Monroe magazine centerfold. The company also= is trying to protect its star television business at a time when Playboy's= flagship magazine and its fledgling Internet operation are losing money.(snip)

Playboy is having to pay a steep price to recover lost ground. Monday's = deal values Hot and Hot Zone at $28.3 million -- nearly three times what Pl= ayboy sold them for in 1998.

The television business is the lifeblood of Playboy. The three U.S. chan= nels account for the bulk of the revenue in its entertainment group, which = was the only profitable division in the first quarter. The unit, which also= includes international television, worldwide home video and movie sales, r= eported a $5.2-million profit on revenue of $24.7 million in the three mont= hs ended March 31.

Of that total, the three U.S. channels took in $19 mil= lion, down slightly from $19.1 million in the year-earlier period. The Spic= e acquisition allowed Playboy to increase revenue even as competitors such = as Hot gained market share. The continued expansion on cable and satellite = of Playboy's three channels also helped sustain revenue levels.

Although = the magazine still ranks among the nation's top 10, itscirculation has drop= ped from a peak of 5 million in the early 1980s to 4.5million today. Lately= , the magazine has suffered from an industrywideadvertising and subscriptio= n downturn, losing $1 million in the firstquarter, compared with a $1.6-mil= lion profit a year earlier.

(snip)

Initially, the prospects of Playboy going hard-core troubled some major = cable operators. Tele-Communications Inc., the nation's most powerful cabl= e company before its sale two years ago to AT&T Corp., pressured Playboy to= tone down the XX-rated Spice channel, hoping to eliminate any regulatory t= hreat or migration to harder-core movies.

The cable industry still has a love-hate relationship with adultprogramm= ing, which one insider calls the "secret hidden asset." Although porn is a = touchy subject, no television executive disputes its high profit.

Few cable or satellite TV executives are willing to talk publiclyabout a= dult programming for fear of inciting criticism from investors,subscribers = and politicians who might revoke their licenses.

AT&T came under fire from some shareholders this year for refusing to di= sclose the profit it earns from porn programming on its cable systems. The = shareholders petitioned the Securities and Exchange Commission to order the= phone giant to disclose the profit, but the SEC declined.

Adelphia Communications Corp., Southern California's largest cable provi= der, refuses to carry any adult channels because its founder and chief exec= utive, John Rigas, believes it is immoral.

Most others, however, quietly = have carried low-voltage adult programming since the late '80s, when pay-pe= r-view technology made it more secure.

Playboy will remain devoted to softer material, whereas Spice will be mo= re extreme, Christie Hefner said in the Monday conference call. Two of the = Vivid channels will be renamed Spice Hot and Spice Zone. The more graphic V= ivid TV will be renamed Spice Platinum Live.

(snip)

Playboy officials are acutely aware of the success of newhard-core riva= ls. "Do we know those numbers? Yes," English said. "Does itindicate that t= he public's taste and acceptability of [hard-core sex] has changed? Yes. So= 'yes' and 'yes' equal 'got to do something.'"

For distributors, the more explicit porn has the highest profit margins = in the pay-per-view business.

Although cable operators usually pocket les= s than 50% of revenue from a pay-per-view mainstream movie, they keep as mu= ch as 90% of the money from porn provided by Playboy's competitors.

The attractive terms partly were the result of fierce competition among = Vivid, Playboy and New Frontier, as well as the low cost of producing porn.=

Ultimately, Playboy's acquisition "is about generating revenue and profi= tability and maximizing shareholder value," said Mark Kreloff, president of= Colorado-based New Frontier, which owns the only XXX-rated channels. "This= programming sells. It will always sell."

Times staff writer P.J. Huff= stutter contributed to this report.

Playboy's Problem

Pla= yboy Enterprises Inc., whose founder, Hugh Hefner, helped launch the sexual= revolution of the 1960s, finds its television business -- its most profita= ble division--under siege. After deciding not to enter the hard-core segmen= t nearly two years ago, the company did an about-face Monday and purchased = three hard-core channels from the owners of Vivid Video, which quickly beca= me one of its largest competitors. Playboy Chief Executive Christie Hefner = said the deal positions the company as "the leading supplier of a range of = adult entertainment."

Porn continues to gain popularity ...

= Satellite and cable operators expect pay-per-view revenues from adult TV ch= annels to nearly double over the next five years.

2006= (estimate): $945 million

... but Playboy's company-wide revenue h= as stalled and profits have eroded.

Net sales, in millions

2000: $307.7 million

Net income, in millions

2000: -$47.6 million

After a spike in 1999, the company's stock price = hasfallen back to 1998 levels.

Monthly closes and latest for PLA

Monday: $17.50

Sources: Times research, Bloomberg News, Kagan Worl= d Media

The Cable Porn Market

Here's a look at the biggest players in the cable porn industry. Playboy= announced Monday that it is buying Hot Network, Hot Zone and Vivid TV.

M= illions of households reached in 2000 through cable and satellite and the y= ear each channel began:

Playboy
29.6: Playboy TV (1982)
16.5: Spice (1999)
46.1 total

Vivid
16.0: Hot Network (1997)
10.0: Vivid TV (1999)
10.0: Hot Zone (1999)
36.0 total

New Frontier
17.5: Pleasure (1999)
6.8: TeN (1998)
2.4: ETC (2000)
26.7 total

Source: Times research

Copyright 2001 Los Angeles Times/Tribune Media, Inc

----------<= p>CLUE #3

[The first item in this section is Dana's note about the ci= tyattorney being unable to regulate cable (or satellite) content;unfortunat= ely, that didn't make it into his terrific P1 piece on porn bars that ran i= n the Daily News on May 21. - JS]

Date: 17 May 2001 09:47:07 -0= 700
From: dana.bartholomew[AT]dailynews.com
To: ar[AT]monitor.net
= Subject: Re: city atty

Joe,

She said you were right: cable broadcas= ts are likely out of the city'spurview of regulation. *hat off to you* Stor= y's in the can (if it runs,I'll waive the $10 for a fancy cup of coffee).Best,

dana

Daily News of Los Angeles, P1, May 21, 2001
RE= PEAL OF ANTI-SMUT RULE MAY ENCOURAGE 'PORN BARS'

by Dana Bartholom= ew
Staff Writer

``Monday Night Football'' at local bars could soon be replaced by Monday= night porn under a pending rule change by state saloon regulators to cease= policing public smut.

A federal court decision has prodded the state Alcoholic Beverage Contro= l agency to seriously consider revoking a 30-year ban on sexually explicit = materials where booze is sold.

Repeal of the anti-smut regulation could take place as early as July, AB= C officials say. Less clear is how the rule change would affect Los Angeles= and other cities with laws that limit X-rated businesses.

"The (U.S.) Supreme Court can't even define obscenity," said Matthew D. = Botting, chief counsel for the ABC.

"So we're not in the position to be morality police and decide what is o= bscene and what is not."

While some say a repeal will encourage "porn bars" to proliferate in com= munities throughout the state, others say local X-rated ordinances backed b= y state alcohol regulators are enough to control the practice.

Joe Shea, a Hollywood activist disturbed over the number of topless bars= and adult book stores that have proliferated in his neighborhood, is outra= ged at the likely repeal of the ABC prohibition known as Article 1, Section= 143.4.

Sex sells, he said. And bar owners seeking to buttress their bottom line= s will be tempted to plug in pornographic videos or switch on cable TV sex = channels to titillate new business.

A succession of big-screen porn bars will not only degrade public speech= , Shea maintains, but lead to greater violence against women.

"It's an unhealthy kind of competition and one more element in the slow = decay of our society,'' said Shea, editor of The American Reporter, an onli= ne daily, and president of the Ivar Hill Community Association ofHollywood.=

"And police won't be able to do much about it."

Flashback to 1996, when a swingers organization engaged in what some say= was an orgy in a San Diego hotel ballroom. When ABC investigators tookacti= on against the hotel for permitting booze and sex, the group known asLifest= yle Organization (LSO) staged an erotic art show the next year at aPalm Spr= ings convention center.

What followed was a lengthy court battle brought by the LSO and theAmeri= can Civil Liberties Union for threats made to revoke the center'sliquor lic= ense.

A 9th Circuit Court of Appeals judge ruled the ABC anti-smut regula= tion unconstitutional last year for banning erotic art, protected by the Fi= rst Amendment, under an overly broad prohibition against sexual material "c= ontrary to public welfare and morals."

"It takes the alcohol regulation people out of the business of censorshi= p and tells them to do what they should be doing," said Peter Eliasberg, th= e ACLU attorney who litigated the swingers' case.

"They shouldn't be thought police or be art police."

That leaves cities -- and ABC investigators permitted to help them -- to= control sex and bars.

Deborah Sanchez, an attorney with the Los Angeles Special Enforcement Un= it, said porn bars would be treated like any other new adult businesses lim= ited under strict city zoning, obscenity and nuisance laws. Conditional use= permits could also limit the practice.

"There isn't much space for new adult businesses," Sanchez said. "If a b= ar shows sexually oriented material and it becomes a nuisance to the commun= ity, heck, yeah, we'll do something about it."

Said Botting: "I'm sure some licensees may try to take advantage of this= , but to the extent to which it could become a (pornographic) free-for- all= , there is no basis for such a fear."

But Shea says current city X-rated ordinances fail to allow for cable po= rn. Others such as Jeff Goldfarb, an adult business attorney for Newport Be= ach and other cities, say Los Angeles has plenty of areas in which to open = X-rated businesses, including bars.

Repeal of the state anti-smut rule "w= ill cause some bars on the financial margin to bring in adult movies in one= form or another," he said.

"Whether cities in the long run will be able to essentially fill thelegi= slative gap left by the appeal court remains to be seen."

Copyright 19= 99-2001 MediaNews Group, Inc. and Los Angeles Newspaper Group, Inc.

<= b>----------

CLUE #4

[The May 13 item, below, features "reader" ema= il from Pasadena Star News Executive Editor Tal Campbell to Star New= s columnist Charles Cherniss about his May 8 column on porn bars. Ironically= , the Daily News and the Pasadena Star News are both owned by= Dean Singleton's MediaNews group. The column follows the more recent resp= onse. Please let me know if you hear of Singleton having ownership interest= in porn studios, sex mags or cable tv franchises. - JS]

Pasadena Star= News, May 13, 2001

Cherniss: McCain, Tito and porn stuff

By Charles Cherniss

...

TAL CAMPBELL, I suspect, would just as soon tell you directly whathe thi= nks.

He's executive editor of our newspaper group and has a column th= at appears on the Opinion page.

But I so agree with what he had to say in an e-mail, I have toshare it w= ith you:

"In answer to your column question (asking readers to comment onporn bar= s and places such as Hooters), government's only role should bepublic healt= h.

"If the beer, hamburgers and place in which they are served aresan= itary, that should be it.

"Government has no business in dating matte= rs."

Curtis Kline e-mails this thought on the subject: =

"Which is our greatest worry, kids harmed by porn in bars -- orkids harm= ed by porn in libraries?"

Too bad we have such a hard time convincing kid= s about the wondersof non-porn stuff in libraries.

On the other hand, tee= n friends and I went to the library to lookat National Geographic pix of to= pless native women.

Depends on what's pop at the moment.

~ ~ ~

Pasadena Star News, P3, May 8, 2001

Cherniss: Bar porn ban face= s extinction

By Charles Cherniss

JOE SHEA lists himself as a columnist for the "American Reporter,the Int= ernet's Digital Daily."

Frankly, I'd not heard of him or the Digital Daily until a couple of hi= s columns popped up in my e-mail Sunday.

The one that grabbed me concerned the sun setting on a California Alcohol= ic Beverage Controls regulation prohibiting bars from displayingporn materi= als and movies; even pay TV junk on Playboy, etc.

Repeal is result of a d= ecision handed down by Fed Appeals Judge Dickran Tervizian, a Pasadenan I g= reatly admire.

KINDA in the dark on this subject. Never spent much time in barsthat mig= ht fall into such degradation. Have yet to visit the gentlemen'sclubs aroun= d Our Valley. Nudie cutie shows rub me the wrong way.

As close as I've be= en resulted from newshawking back in the daysof topless bars.

Once arrived early for a lunch meeting at the then stuffy Jonathan Club = in downtown LA. Decided to have a beer in a saloon next door to theclub.

= Pitch black. Young woman guided me to a stool. Not until my eyes adjusted d= id I notice she was topless.

Left, which had nothing to do with the beer.

Same deal at a press lunch in the Other Ball, later an infamousspot in S= an Gabriel.

Subject was some sort of baton-twirling competition. Can'tremember much = because I was distracted by the topless dancing in thebackground.

Finally= , friend Lloyd Kath was in town from D.C. Lloyd was editorof the California= Kiplinger Letter.

As a matter of education he asked about the topless fa= d.

Wife Maggi and I took him to a place I think was called Gianone's;on L= ake Avenue, just north of Washington.

Our outing ended with Maggi's remark, "When I hire carpenters, Iexpect t= hem to have the tools of the trade."

Gianone dancers didn't.

LACKING experience, I'm not totally sure I share Shea's upset withthe AB= C dropping its porn-in-bars ban.

Don't approve, but wonder if we don't ha= ve more serious things toworry about.

Joe writes, "I am deeply concerned (repeal) will give rise to anew and e= xtremely sordid kind of competition between bars that seek toenhance their = bottom line by exploiting the old maxim, 'Sex sells.' Thatis certainly indi= cated by the success of clubs like Hooters."

Old C-Squared, as some friends call me, has not made it to Hootersin Old= Pasadena, but understand nothing goes on except beer drinking,hamburger ch= omping and ogling of fully clad young women who don't mindbeing ogled.

To= ld it's popular with dating couples.

Joe says, "Such competition will lead to significantly greater violence a= gainst women and deterioration of the standards for publicspeech."

I'm confused. Free speech is engraved in the First Amendment. Todeterior= ate standards means censoring what others have to say or theirinterpretatio= n of what's art.

Those of us who hate smut have a right to demand that go= vernmentnot support it.

Don't those who love smut have the right to look at it in private,adult = bars?

An informed society keeps kids out of bars so they won't be harmedb= y booze or porn.

Joe says public comment on repeal closes on May 7. That wasMonday. No t= ime to comment now, but I didn't know until Joe told meSunday.

HOW do = you feel?

Are you for or against guvment prohibiting beer swilling,hamburger chomp= ing and dating?

-- Reach Charles Cherniss at charles.cherniss[AT]sgvn.= com.

Copyright 1999-2001 MediaNews Group, Inc. and Los Angeles New= spaper Group, Inc.

-----------

CLUE #5

[A day before the article in the Daily News and two weeks afterthe first co= lumn in the Pasadena Star News came a big piece in the Sunday New= York Times Magazine by former Theater Critic Frank Rich looking at the= financial success of the porn industry in the San Fernando Valley. I've e= xcerpted the beginning of it below. - JS]

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/05/= 20/magazine/20PORN.html

The New York Times Sunday Magazine, May 20, 20= 01

Naked Capitalists: There's No Business Like Porn BusinessBy FRANK RICH

In late January 1998, during the same

week that America first heard the ribald

tale of the president and the intern, Variety

tucked onto Page 5 a business story that

caused no stir whatsoever. Under a

Hollywood dateline, the show-biz trade

paper reported that the adult-video business

"saw record revenues last year" of some

$4.2 billion in rentals and sales.

It soon became clear to me that these
bicoastal stories, one from = the nation's

political capital and the other from its

entertainment capital, were in some essential

way the same story.

In the weeks that followed, Washington

commentators repeatedly predicted that the

public would be scandalized by the

nonmissionary-position sex acts performed

illicitly in the White House. But just as

repeatedly voters kept telling pollsters that
they weren't blushin= g as brightly as, say,

Cokie Roberts. The Variety story, I

realized, may have in part explained why. An

unseemly large percentage of Americans

was routinely seeking out stories resembling

that of the president and the intern -- and

raunchier ones -- as daily entertainment fare.

The $4 billion that Americans spend on

video pornography is larger than the annual

revenue accrued by either the N.F.L., the

N.B.A. or Major League Baseball. But

that's literally not the half of it: the porn

business is estimated to total between $10

billion and $14 billion annually in the United

States when you toss in porn networks and

pay-per-view movies on cable and satellite,

Internet Web sites, in-room hotel movies,

phone sex, sex toys and that archaic medium

of my own occasionally misspent youth,

magazines. Take even the low-end $10

billion estimate (from a 1998 study by

Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass.),

and pornography is a bigger business than

professional football, basketball and baseball

put together. People pay more money for

pornography in America in a year than they

do on movie tickets, more than they do on

all the performing arts combined. As one of

the porn people I met in the industry's

epicenter, the San Fernando Valley, put it,

"We realized that when there are 700 million

porn rentals a year, it can't just be a million

perverts renting 700 videos each."

Yet in a culture where every movie gross

and Nielsen rating is assessed ad infinitum in

the media, the enormous branch of show

business euphemistically called "adult" is

covered as a backwater, not as the major

industry it is. Often what coverage there is

fixates disproportionately on Internet porn,

which may well be the only Web business

that keeps expanding after the dot-com

collapse but still accounts for barely a fifth of

American porn consumption. Occasionally a

tony author -- David Foster Wallace,

George Plimpton and Martin Amis, most

recently -- will go slumming at a porn

awards ceremony or visit a porn set to score

easy laughs and even easier moral points.

During sweeps weeks, local news
broadcasts "investigate" adult bus= inesses,

mainly so they can display hard bodies in the

guise of hard news. And of course, there is

no shortage of academic literature and First

Amendment debate about pornography,

much of it snarled in the ideological divisions

among feminists, from the antiporn

absolutism of Catherine MacKinnon and Andrea

Dworkin to the pro-porn revisionism of Sallie

Tisdale and Susie Bright.

I'm a lifelong show-biz junkie, and what sparked myinterest in the busin= ess was what I stumbled upon in Variety -- its sheer hugeness. Size = matters in the cultural marketplace. If the machinations of the mainstream = TV, movie and music industries offer snapshots of the American character, d= oesn't this closeted entertainment behemoth tell us something as well? At $= 10 billion, porn is no longer a sideshow to the mainstream like, say, the $= 600 million Broadway theater industry -- it is the mainstream.

And so I w= ent to the San Fernando Valley, aka Silicone Valley, on the other si= de of the Hollywood Hills, to talk with the suits of the adult business. I = did not see any porn scenes being shot. I did not talk to any antiporn crus= aders or their civil-libertarian adversaries. I did not go to construct a m= oral brief. I wanted to find out how some of the top players conduct their = business and how they viewed the Americans who gorge on their products.

Among other things, I learned that the adult industry is in many ways a = mirror image of Hollywood. ....

(snip)

Copyright 2001 The New= York Times, Inc.

---------

CLUE #6

[This article about ho= w the City Council and City Attorney officials stopped cable competition in= Los Angeles was killed by the LA Weekly the day I announced my candidacy f= or Mayor. The Weekly declined to run it after the campaign ended. Both the= Weekly and its parent, the Village Voice, get substantial income from adve= rtising for soft-porn services -- so-called "masseuses" and "escorts" -- th= at are often fronts for prostitution. The paper also enjoys a substantial p= resence on the cable tv public affairs shows paid for by the cable operator= s that are the subject of this story. - JS]

THE HIGH COST OF KILLING CABLE COMPETITION

by Joe Shea

=

LOS ANGELES, January 12, 2001 -- In July 2000, a cable "overbuilder" cal= led RCN presented an application to the City of Los Angeles that would prov= ide competition to other cable companies for the first time in 30 years. T= oday, at best estimates, that contract is still "several months" from being= signed. Indeed, it may never be.

Meanwhile, this city's largest cable provider, Adelphia, hasarbitrarily = excluded adult programming from its 1.1 million homes, raisedrates to some = customers, and will soon require all to use a set-top devicethat ensures al= l premium programming is charged for -- at another $8 or $9a month. And AT= &T and Cox, two other L.A. cable providers, have gone tocourt to quit payin= g cities a franchise tax on their cable-based Internetaccess service, backe= d by a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision inanother case. Other cable = providers are taking heat for poor reception,interruptions of service and o= ther ills that plague their aging systems.

A survey by the Information Technology Agency early this fallshowed that= more than half of all cable users in the city would switchproviders if the= re were competition to switch to; many even asked the cityto start its own = cable system, presumably believing it would not only becheaper and more rel= iable, but that service calls and customer complaintswould be handled with = friendliness and dispatch.

So why is the city holding up the RCN application, which would letthe Pr= inceton, N.J.-based upstart provide 110 channels, local and longdistance fi= ber-optic telephone service, and cable service with moreclarity and less fr= equent interruptions? The bruising clash of giantcompetitors and huge amou= nts of money spent on lobbying city councilmembers and other local official= s may have a lot to do with it.

RCN, just last year the darling of Wall Street and what Business Week ca= lled "the juciest morsel in telecommunications" for prospective merger part= ners, with almost $2.1 billion in cash from Microsoft billionaire Paul Alle= n, is feeling the pinch. It announced a month ago that it would no longer b= e seeking franchises beyond its current commitments (in Los Angeles, New Yo= rk, Boston, Chicago, Portland, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.), saw its = stock downgraded by analysts twice in late December, its stock price fall f= rom $74.88 to $6.44 per share in a year, and got named in the Jan. 8 Barron= 's as one telecom firm that may have difficulty servicing its debt.

Als= o, an agreement with Southern California Edison that RCN hoped would help b= uild out its systema year earlier than originally planned may now be in dou= bt as the utilityflirts with bankruptcy. Meanwhile, politicians are holdin= g the company up for everything they can get.

Did I say holdup? I did. According to Councilman Alex Padilla's spokes= person, David Gershwin, the RCN deal is still "several months" away. But a= s long ago as Nov. 1, the deputy city attorney who negotiated the contract = told me the contract had been fully approved and would in all likelihood co= me before the full council on Nov. 21. Before that time, too, he gave me a= copy of the contract -- marked "final." Yet the only action in the council= that day on cable issues was to direct the city attorney to go to bat for = the city before the FCC in support of "open access," which requires a cable= operator that provides Internet access using an affiliated ISP to also sel= l unaffiliated ISPs access to its system.

"Open access" is the key to the holdup. According to a statemen tCounci= lman Padilla made at the Nov. 1, 2000, meeting of the Information Technolog= y Committee he heads, it is his goal to provide a "level playing field" (a = term coined under a state law that requires overbuilders to pay as much as = incumbent cable providers to gain a franchise) not only to the incumbents -= - AOL Time Warner, Adelphia, AT&T, Cox, etc., or an overbuilder such as RCN= or WINfirst, but future "service providers" as well.

That is an extension of the state's requirement the state law never inte= nded. It means that RCN's price of entry must be so high that service prov= iders who lease its lines to deliver high-speed Internet access, for instan= ce, won't be able to offer lower prices than incumbents do. Thus, Padilla = is telling consumers that if competition comes, it will be at the same pric= e they pay now. And the overbuilders, of course,will not get a monopoly, a= s thoe incumnbents enjoyed for two decades.So what's the point?

Los Angel= es City Council members and mayoral candidates are swimming in a sea of cas= h from cable companies. City Atty. James Hahn, whose deputy drafted the con= tract that has now been indefinitely delayed, got at least $14,000 from cab= le giants AT&T and other cable lobbyists. So has Padilla, whose MIT backgr= ound has helped him understand the issue but may have blinded him to the ec= onomic realities of the cable marketplace.

If RCN can't offer lower prices, the advent of wireless technologies tha= t don't need a monopoly to offer the same services -- and probably at rock-= bottom prices -- may devastate the city's cable franchise tax revenues. =

If RCN is competitive, though, some revenue may still be generated by ca= ble long after wireless has taken over most of the Internet acess market. = But RCN's competitors have given generously to Padilla and wined and dined = him, and so far he has been responsive.

The cost to the city is incalculable, though: RCN promised to give aw= ay high-speed Internet access to every public entity in Los Angeles, from s= chools and hospitals to senior centers and field offices and fire and polic= e stations. Perhaps Padilla's backers prefer that the city buy it from them= .

The largesse of cable companies battling over open access has beenso gre= at, in fact, that the City Ethics Commission has issued two specialreports = about it. In addition to AT&T and Adelphia paying $750,000 eachto sponsor = the fizzled New Millennium celebrations in 1999 -- part of hugeexpenditures= whose recipients, the City Controller has said, cannot be identified -- ca= ble companies have spent some $6 million lobbying city offices since 1999. =

But a Federal court ruled last fall that cities can't regulate "openacc= ess" anyway, so what have all those lobbyists gotten for their money? The = answer, I fear, is a stifling of competition in the services newtechnology = can bring.

City officials, RCN attorneys have said, have asked RCN to do muchmore t= han the earlier franchisees were asked to do -- yet RCN isn'tgetting what t= hey got: a monopoly.

At a thousand pressure points alongthe fault lines of the RCN proposal= , incumbent cable operators have pushed the city and Padilla to eke out mor= e cash, more concessions and more freebies for the city from RCN that will = all end up costing consumers far more than they needed to pay for cable ser= vices. That's one reason that, as ITA official Paul Janus noted, competiti= on has not brought lower prices to cable consumers.

But the table may have turned on the incumbents when the offer from WINf= irst was suddenly withdrawn, leaving no back-up competitor in sight (now, t= hough, yet a third overbuilder has expressed interest, the L.A. Weekly has = learned), and RCN opened its "mega POP," the central connection facility fo= r its planned franchises. Things are "tight" for the company, a City Hall = insider familiar with the negotiations says, but a deal ought to clear City= Hall by the end of January 2001 [see note].

It's time to take cable competition issues away from the City Council, w= here four members are unable to vote on them anyway due to conflicts of int= erest, and to leave them with the Information Technology Agency, which appr= oved the "final" RCN contract last September (the Board of Information Tech= nology Commissioners approved it Oct. 16).

Otherwise, the "historic moment" Padilla promised months ago -- the da= y when Los Angeles would see cable monopolies opened up to competition at l= ast -- maybe awfully slow to come.

[Editor's Note: A week after the preceding story was killed by th= e LA Weekly, Padilla's Information Technology Committee tabled the RCN appl= ication "indefinitely."]

----------

NO MORE CLUES

The American culture is notoriously difficult to tame. It is constantly= changing, and sexual mores change with it. Today American values concerni= ng sex are somewhere between the "free love" ethic of the Sixties and the v= icarious thrills of the AIDS-riddled '90s.

But the question of mainstream pornography is not first about sexual m= ores and values. It is more important as an illustration of the power of b= usiness monopolies to shift our cultural mores on the basis of profit.

= Pornography is a vast business, and by shifting it into high gear, a handfu= l of companies hope to make huge profits. Thousands of other companies hop= e to be downstream as the profits work their way into the post-production i= ndustry, the advertising-dependent media (newspapers, television, magazines= , billboards), the vast alcoholic beverage industry, and finally to the per= formers, whether they are megastars of the porn industry or back-alley pros= titutes.

Indeed, the important thing is to know that tidal shifts in mores no lon= ger originate over centuries in personal decisions made by hundreds of mill= ions of individual people, but are manufactured overnight by companies that= have the power to control the marketplace and the images that reach us via= the mass media.

A society saturated with sex will probably not be as much fun as it soun= ds. As my late friend Arnold Gingrich once explained to me, the thing that= makes sex interesting is not nudity, but mystery. Only when the Emperor's= clothes are on do we wonder lies beneath.

In a culture suffering from super-saturation of sexual imagery, we'll = be unlikely to enjoy it more, to value it much, or to perform it with as mu= ch finesse as they do on tv. In one more rather essential way, we'll be se= parated -- for the profit of a few -- from the essential parts of ourselves= , becoming voyeurs of our own experience.

But the true discovery to which our clues should have lead you is that i= ndependent reporting can give you a perspective that is widely lacking in t= he controlled media. One advantage of that perspective is that it allows y= ou to make your own decisions.

We hope one of those decisions is that you will not allow your country= to be controlled any longer by a handful of image-and-value manufacturers,= and will help return it to the people from whom it sprang. We still have = freedom -- if we have the courage to use it.

Copyright 2006 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.

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