The mood is getting a little more somber in the adult entertainment world.
I just spent the last weekend hosting a booth at Erotica-LA, and I met a lot of nervous people. To those who have been in the industry for a while, the current change in regulations around record keeping rings a familiar tone. It is likely the first of several coordinated moves aimed at tightening in the reins on our freedom of expression, freedom to do business, and freedom for adults to see what they want.
To wander around the floor of the convention as a customer, you might not think of it as a conservative crowd. The racks of discounted adult DVD's were stacked high, the latest high-tech sex toys for today and tomorrow were on display, and the performers were out signing autographs for their long lines of devoted fans.
But even though the focus of attention was ostensibly sexual, there was an almost puritanical sense of reserve in the air. The most revealing and eye-catching costumes were being worn by visitors. The displays and banners were nothing you couldn't see on any subway train, television commercial, or billboard across the country. Even the erotic dance shows on the stages failed to generate more than a few polite hoots from the audience.
When I talked with folks who worked at the different companies, I got a pretty consistent story. We were all glad to be there, hanging out with others from the industry, but there was a sense of foreboding. The first shoe is scheduled to drop on June 23, and nobody knows how many feet this bureaucratic monster has.
The recent changes in the regulations stimulated a renewed interest in the few civil rights groups which have made a name by speaking for the adult entertainment industry. But as in all times of uncertainty, more of the chatter was based on fear than anger. Some folks whispered in confusion about whether any lawsuits brought on behalf of the members of those groups would be applied to companies who did not contribute to one or another. Some wondered whether companies who joined would be the first on the inspection lists when the new regulations start being enforced.
I thought the 1950's were over.
I also heard stories about companies who are throwing in the towel this month, rather than face the costs and insecurities of inspection. One example is Bound and Gagged, an admittedly extreme provider of fetish content for several years. Visit their homepage while you still can to see the compelling message from the founder about his reasons for closing down.
CyberBears and Salamander Studios are fortunate to have had the foresight to prepare for the coming changes, so we won't be going anywhere. Our records are on file here and with all of our distribution partners. Our performers have all agreed up front that their personal information is part of the company records, and they all understand that it can and will be shown to the appropriate authorities upon request.
The indignity of that request, in the United States, in the 21st century, is just something else we'll be able to tell the next generation about when their time comes.
Let's hope it's another 50 years at least.
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