Adult Site Broker Talk Episode 104 with Mike Stabile of the Free Speech Coalition

Adult Site Broker Talk Episode 104 with Mike Stabile of the Free Speech Coalition

Bruce F., host of Adult Site Broker Talk and CEO of Adult Site Broker, the leading adult website broker, who is known as the company to sell adult sites, is pleased to welcome Mike Stabile of the Free Speech Coalition to Adult Site Broker Talk.

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Speaker 1 (0s): This is Bruce Friedman of Adult Site Broker and welcome to Adult Site Broker Talk, where every week we interview one of the movers and shakers of the adult industry, and we discuss what's going on in our business. Plus we give you a tip on buying and selling websites this week. This week we'll be speaking with Mike Stabile of the Free Speech Coalition.

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Now time for this week's interview. My guest today on adult site broker talk is Mike's to Beale of the free speech coalition. Mike, thanks for being with us today on adult site. Broker talk,

Speaker 2 (2m 43s): Thanks for having me

Speaker 1 (2m 44s): Great to have you here. Now, Mike is a journalist and documentary filmmaker. Who's written about an advocated for sex workers and sexual speech for over a decade. His work has been published in a wide range of places, including the daily beast salon buzz feed Playboy in the New York times, seed money, his documentary on pornographer and philanthropist. That's a hard word in the morning. Chuck Holmes was named one of the best documentaries of 2015 by the advocate to Beal founded Polari media to help non-traditional communities and businesses better communicate with a mainstream audience.

He's handled communications for the free speech coalition since 2013, by the way, you're doing one heck of a job. The, a free speech coalition's mission is to protect the rights and freedoms of both the workers and businesses in the adult industry or organization functions as a resource, a leader, and a tool for the communities that they serve. They take pride in fighting to alleviate the social stigma, misinformation and discriminatory policies that affect those who work in and adjacent to the adult industry.

For more than 25 years, they've been fighting and winning impossible battles from the Supreme court to the ballot box. And back again, our industry is almost constantly facing scrutiny and attacks, but we've seen firsthand when we come together and fight we win. So how was that for a commercial for the FSC?

Speaker 2 (4m 13s): That was great. Thanks for the kind words as well.

Speaker 1 (4m 17s): Hey, you know, I, I love what you guys do and I believe very much in your mission. So how did the FSC first get started?

Speaker 2 (4m 27s): So it's funny because the FSC got started in environment, not so dissimilar from the one that we face today. It was in the early nineties, the department of justice, the FBI in conjunction with local vice squads were rating adult businesses. So, you know, if you remember back in the mid eighties, there had been the Meese commission report and the Reagan administration had gone after adult businesses quite aggressively, you know, in terms of sort of launching a culture war, wanting to take down the growing at that point VHS business.

And they instituted after the report came out a policy of going after pretty much every big adult business that they could think of, you know, that they can reasonably bring in. I think that, you know, in the early nineties they took down, what they would do is they would go after an adult business. They wouldn't often be able to get a conviction, right? So sometimes they would go after, you know, say somebody was making films, you know, obscenity prosecutions are really, really hard.

And so they, you know, they wouldn't necessarily have success, but when the federal government is coming after you it's tremendously expensive. Right. And so what they would do is they would make it more expensive. They would, you know, they would, the FBI would order videotapes to Utah. They'd ordered videotapes to Alabama, they'd order it to North Carolina. And then a distributor would send those video tapes out and they would suddenly launch multiple prosecutions in multiple states, you know, try to fight the federal government in, in a court of law.

And you're going to quickly go out of business. You're just not going to have the resources.

Speaker 1 (6m 20s): They don't have to pay there. They don't have to pay their lawyers.

Speaker 2 (6m 24s): No, absolutely not. And they've got a ton of them. So what we saw was a lot of businesses were starting to just fold and settle and the free speech coalition started originally as a legal defense fund so that people could fight back, you know, so that if they struck one business that other businesses were, you know, sort of mutual aid society coming to their defense, it meant that they could share resources in terms of lawyers, right. That we could understand how to beat these charges back.

So that was how it originally began as a defense fund, as the, you know, as that the culture shifted, it became a trade organization and it started focusing on, you know, not just individual legal battles against individual companies, but against discrimination. Industry-wide against laws that, you know, were discriminated against adult businesses. Like the 2257 regulations or things like in, in California to one of our early victories was against a syntax, which would have led at 25% tax on adult content.

So it, you know, I think that we really grew as an organization in response to the challenges that were put forward to us later. Obviously we would deal with, you know, launching a testing system to test adult performers, to fight HIV aids. We, again dealt with raids in the early two thousands with the Bush administration over 2257 records. We recently, you know, we even went to the Supreme court at one point and, and won an important victory over what we would terms were barely legal.

There had been a law passed in Congress during, in an omnibus bill saying that if a actor looked under age that it was child pornography. And so, so we had, we had to fight a lot of things in order to protect our industry. And, you know, today, as I mentioned, we're, we're in the middle of a culture war again, and we're seeing a lot of legislation attacking our industry. So we're, you know, feeling that, you know, despite the challenges that were as vital today as we were 30 years ago,

Speaker 1 (8m 51s): I agree now it's funny, you mentioned the Reagan administration and the, and the Meese commission, you know, the more I read and then I think back, and I'm in the middle of Andrew gang's newest book now. And I don't remember the, the issue that he was talking about with Reagan on this one. I'm oh, I do. Actually, it was, I think it had to do with three, three districting. If I'm not mistaken, you wonder what the country would be like if there was no Ronald Reagan, you know, you wonder what the country would look like today.

If Ronald Reagan had never been president hell, I was living in California when he was governor and he was a terrible governor. And then he ran for president. It's like, by then I was voting. I'm like, I'm not going to vote for this guy. He was an awful governor and he's going to be president anyway, I digress. So how has its the FSCS mission evolved over the years?

Speaker 2 (9m 52s): Well, I think that, you know, we've evolved as the industry has evolved. So I think that as, you know, as we moved, like I said, from the original fight over individual obscenity prosecutions to really trying to bring the industry into a more reputable place, right. Establishing standards, trying to coordinate across, across different companies, you know, looking and establishing mutual defense so that we sort of understood what the issues were.

And I think that that's something that, again, we still see today, if you look at their cases being brought against porn hub, this case is being brought against only fans, as you know, in multiple districts and multiple, multiple states. And what we see is that those companies don't always talk to each other, right? Twitter is being sued under the same law that PornHub is being sued on. And you know, I think that the role for FSC today really is to try to be a central hub for communication.

You know, we've, we've certainly also moved more aggressively in terms of the rights of workers. It was something that was certainly there at the beginning. Once we became a trade association, we had people who really wanted to, to talk about how to protect people who were working on set and what their rights would look like. But as the industry has changed, as performers have become more independent, right? They don't need studios, they don't need agents necessarily. They can run their own businesses through platforms like only fans and fan Centro and just for fans and, and the, you know, the 30 or so platforms that have exploded the past year.

I mean, there's a platform if for every company at this point, I don't know one company that I work with or anybody else works with that, isn't either, you know, running a fan platform or designing one. So, you know, that is a shift in our mission as well, right? We need to make sure that there are resources for all of these new business owners that they know how to store model records, that they know, you know, how to do their accounting, that they know what legal recourse they have, that they know what the standards are.

If you've never been in the industry before, and you've never shot anything, but suddenly you have a $10,000 a month only fans account. You may not know about consent checklist. You may not know how to be an ethical creator. You may not. It may not be that you don't want to be. It may not be that you're, you're negligent. It may just be that you're not educated. And I think that that's one of the roles that we see for free speech coalition going forward is really helping people who are coming into this industry. No matter whether they're in, you know, Australia or Bangkok or London or Los Angeles that we're there to help them.

Speaker 1 (12m 49s): Yeah. Yeah. You know, it's interesting, you mentioned record-keeping and I think a lot of people have the misguided thought that because 2, 2, 5, 7 is now largely a moot point that they don't need to keep records.

Speaker 2 (13m 7s): Yeah. I think that that was something that, that people did think, you know, free speech coalition fought our, we just ended our 2057 battle, right. It started in, you know, it started 12 or 13 years ago, again with a series of raids where the FBI was going into adult businesses and demanding to see their records. And if they missed, if a person missed, filed something, if it was filed under S rather than T or they, they had them in the wrong order, that was a felony under 22, 57, 22 57 was designed to be a trip wire to arrest people when they couldn't get them on obscenity charges.

And so we, you know, we fought those regulations. We, we, we battled it for 13 years and eventually defanged them. But what you see, you know, almost at the same time is MasterCard stepping in to issue its own regulations. So

Speaker 1 (14m 5s): I

Speaker 2 (14m 5s): Think you're right. A lot. Yes, exactly. So you see a lot of people who aren't familiar with 2257 regulations, or don't think that they have to keep them suddenly getting caught and saying, oh, wait, I do have to do model releases. I do have to, it's not just enough that I verify or that I, you know, that know that somebody is 18 or that they consent to be in it because they've been sent it to you to be in it. I have to document that. And you know, again, that's where FSC comes in, both in terms of, you know, trying to run interference with MasterCard, to let them know what our issues are and, and, and how to design better regulations, but also to educate the community as to what you have to do and what the dangers are, if you don't do that.

Speaker 1 (14m 49s): So how did you get involved FSC?

Speaker 2 (14m 53s): I got involved. I'll do you one better? I got involved in the adult industry in the early two thousands. I've been working in magazines in New York. I moved back at that point to San Francisco and was,

Speaker 1 (15m 9s): I didn't even, I didn't even, I didn't even know you lived in the city. So my hometown,

Speaker 2 (15m 14s): I love it. I exactly, I think of it as my hometown as well, even though I didn't grow up there, it's really sort of my, you know, where I, I feel, yeah, it's such an emotional connection. And so I had, I'd been living in San Francisco. I moved to New York. I moved back to San Francisco because once you leave California, it's, it's, it can be hard to stay away. And you, it was sort of looking for work.

I was sort of bouncing around and I had a friend who was doing some freelance work for some gay adult company, sort of handling their press releases and things like that. And he couldn't do it anymore. And he said, oh, do you want some, some work? You don't want some sort of freelance work. And I said, sure. So I picked it up and almost immediately it felt a kinship. You know, I had it, it felt like my community. It felt like it was fun.

You know, I think that I, it's a, it's a, it's a family, it's the industry. And it's, it's, you know, people don't take themselves too seriously. So I sort of thought of it maybe as like a temporary stop and, you know, started sort of developing products and started sort of eventually pitching articles and, and writing a little bit more about the industry I left in 2009, because I had sort of stumbled across a story that I thought was best told through documentary.

It was about this gay porn, pioneer Chuck Holmes, who founded Falcon studios and had had this sort of tortured relationship with the democratic party. He was a big funder, but you know, the type of person who, you know, he could throw a party, he could have dinner with Gorbachev, but when it came to, you know, being invited to someplace, he'd be asked to use the back door essentially, right? Like you want a pornographer there though. They were happy to take his money.

And so to me, it was this sort of tragic story of, you know, I mean, it was, it was Gatsby ask in terms of like, you, you, you have these yachts, you have these private jets, you have these, you know, homes in multiple places and all of this luxury and really what you want is respect. And that's a story that so many pornographers and people in the sex industry have, which is, you know,

Speaker 1 (17m 47s): And gay people.

Speaker 2 (17m 49s): Absolutely. I think that, that is that's, that's absolutely it. And so, you know, I, I sort of wanted to tell this story. And so I, I, I had been working at a company called naked sword,

Speaker 1 (18m 1s): Ah,

Speaker 2 (18m 2s): Running a website,

Speaker 1 (18m 3s): Our friend, our friend, Tim,

Speaker 2 (18m 5s): Our friend, Tim Valenti. Yes. So I had launched a, you know, a sort of gay news site called the sword and was sort of running that and decided I sort of wanted to leave and, and work on

Speaker 1 (18m 16s): That. I didn't know you started that. That's cool.

Speaker 2 (18m 18s): Yeah. Yeah. And so I took off, I moved to Argentina with a bunch of film. I shot some early interviews and was just trying to play around with, with what it would, you know, what I could do with it. And, you know, and I, eventually I came back to the states cause it just became harder to, I had to shoot more interviews and going back and forth wasn't financially feasible, you know, and I missed having 18 different types of toothpastes in the checkout aisle.

Speaker 1 (18m 48s): Tell me about it,

Speaker 2 (18m 51s): The ex-pat lament. So I, you know, I did that and, you know, again was sort of doing freelance writing was, was trying to figure out what it was. I went and covered the obscenity trial in, in, in LA and, and, you know, had always had, had a relationship with FSC, but not, not a real direct one. You know, I worked on various things when they could sort through them.

And so I, but I was looking for money for my documentary. And so I was hitting everybody up and I went in one day to You know, I was in San Francisco and, you know, I loosely knew Peter and I was going into sort of pitch him on this. Well, you know, if you know any, so they never liked to give money away. Right.

Speaker 1 (19m 46s): But

Speaker 2 (19m 48s): At that time just happened as I happened to be in there, he got a call from the Huffington post, you know, about a potential scandal at the company. And, you know, something was bring, somebody was, was talking. And he said, you know, I don't really know how to answer these things. They said, well, listen, you know, you know, he had hung up at that point, or I don't know if he even taken the call, but I said, you don't tell me what the story is. And he told me this story and I was like, well, that's entirely reasonable. There's no reason that, you know, you should be able, you should be hiding from this.

This is it. You just need to talk frankly, about what this is. And so he said, you know, could you give them a call? And I said, sure. So I gave him

Speaker 1 (20m 30s): A call. That's how you became his PR guy.

Speaker 2 (20m 33s): And that's how I became his PR guy. The story killed.

Speaker 1 (20m 37s): I still want them on the podcast.

Speaker 2 (20m 44s): That's good. Yeah. I will. I'll remind him he's knee deep and things right now. But hopefully in the new year, he'll start servicing and sort of be more available for media. So he, from then on, I, they said, oh, we could use some help around here. So I needed money. And I said, I've got a sort of fund to stock and I'll do it. And that happened to be, and I, a time when there was just a lot going on at cake, you know, it was really in the crosshairs, they were getting ready to, they had worked on a documentary that James Frank Franco had produced.

It was coming out at Sundance. There were, you know, a number of issues that were happening in the, the larger adult industry regarding testing and safety. And, you know, while working with kinky, he's sort of contacted the FSC and said, Hey, listen, you know, I think that you should work with Mike. I think that would help with some of the issues that you're having. And so I started working with FSC and, you know, from there, our relationship really blossomed, but I really felt strongly about free speech coalition about sexual speech, about the rights of sexual minorities, about the rights of workers and was adept at communicating that with, with the mainstream media.

And that was something that coming from a journalistic background felt, you know, like I'm, I'm in my zone here and, and, you know, I've been there ever since, you know, we, we, we worked on multiple campaigns. We, we sort of bought, fought back prop 60 in California and I couldn't be happier.

Speaker 1 (22m 21s): Awesome. So what are the greatest threats facing the industry today?

Speaker 2 (22m 26s): I mean, I think that, you know, the, the greatest, I mean the same threats that face the industry, the, the, the threats that face the, the entire world at this point, which is sort of misinformation and, you know, and moral panics, you know, I think that we are looking at a, you know, a culture war that we haven't seen in 20 years, and maybe haven't seen in, in 30 years, I think that, you know, the, the closest approximation that we have right now to the sort of multi-pronged bite, you know, and that is, we have legislative battles on, on section two 30 going on in the house and Senate, we have age verification regime is being instituted in the UK and Australia and Germany.

We have the evangelical and faith based groups, like the cozy and Exodus cry, pressuring the banks to de platform for things like porn hub and only fans. Yeah. I mean, it is, it's, I've never seen it, this aggressive. I think that I, I, I often think that last year, you know, last year being 2020, right.

Speaker 1 (23m 45s): I should, I should point out we're doing this in December of 2021. So this will run in the spring of 2022. Okay.

Speaker 2 (23m 53s): Okay. So in, you know, in early 2020, I started watching, you know, a monitor, you know, hundreds of, of publications a day. So I'm, I'm, I'm going through in the morning, I'll get through all of these things, you know, mostly you're sort of scanning headlines and things like that, but I've pretty aggressive monitoring service that will click in and say, I've got to read this. And so I would see this stuff bubbling up about trafficking hub and, and, you know, these, these claims being made about putting up, and I thought, God, this is just so witty, Arctic, right?

Like this is so misguided. It's not, it's not based. In fact, it's not based in any statistics, it's just sort of these evangelical groups running a censorship campaign, right. That we've seen

Speaker 1 (24m 35s): This.

Speaker 2 (24m 36s): Exactly. And I didn't really take it seriously. And, and in retrospect, you know, there, it was a mistake, but I don't think anybody took it serious. I think that we all just thought it was a bunch of chokers, you know, cut to a year ago this week and Nick Christoff and the New York times publishes

Speaker 1 (24m 54s): I canceled. I canceled my subscription, by the way, after that second article, just to let you know, I sent the New York times a message, like they care. I sent the New York times a message telling them why I canceled my subscription.

Speaker 2 (25m 6s): Good for you. Good for you. I mean,

Speaker 1 (25m 9s): Fight, fight back. You know, the only thing you got as a tool is your money, you know, you vote with your money. So,

Speaker 2 (25m 15s): Yeah, absolutely. And they, you know, they put out that, that article where he had sort of platform to cozy and Exodus cry did not identify them.

Speaker 1 (25m 26s): PornHub,

Speaker 2 (25m 27s): PornHub Laila, Micklethwait the sexual trafficking activist and the legal analyst. It, it just, it was, it was, it was so consciously done to sort of strip them of the faith-based roots and to present this story as if this was an activist story, as opposed to sort of censorship. And of course, Dick Kristoff has a long history, a long tortured history of, you know, completing sex work and sex trafficking of savior syndrome and everything else, and, and of wanting to sort of shut down

Speaker 1 (26m 3s): Risa grand standard. Was

Speaker 2 (26m 4s): That exactly? God bless Oregon where he's running for governor.

Speaker 1 (26m 10s): Yeah. I heard about, I wish I could vote against him in Oregon. Oh, well I know people there.

Speaker 2 (26m 16s): Yeah. This is an act of sex worker community. So I'm hoping that, that, that they, they take care of him. So, you know, yeah. So I mean, this, you did take it seriously. This sort of gets whitewashed. And then all of a sudden you see visa and MasterCard withdrawing support from PornHub and you see everybody else working out. And I think that one of the things that, you know, we realized this year and, you know, it is, is just how tenuous our relationship is with the financial services sector and how brutal it is to lose it.

If you lose visa or MasterCard, you lose your business. And it's something that's always been an issue. I remember, you know, even going back when I was working on the documentary about Chuck Holmes, he couldn't get a loan from the bank, right loan for his business. You couldn't get bank accounts. And this is back in the eighties today, obviously sex workers face that same level of discrimination. They get kicked off of PayPal. They get their funds seized on Venmo. FSC tried to open a business, a second bank account this year and was told by our bank that we won't take it.

You're an adult business. And we said, but we've already got an account with you. And they said, well, I'd be quiet about it if I were you, you know, it's just, it's, it's just that level of, of discrimination that we face. I think that this year brought it into sharper relief. And, and we're not the only ones that, that knew that. I mean, I think that one of the things that I've realized as I've gone back over the past year and, and as FSC and our legislative committee and our various partner organizations that we work with, you know, have discovered is that, you know, groups like Nikolay the national center on sexual exploitation, formerly morality and media.

No, is that banks are a weak point and they're exploiting that. And so, you know, I was looking back and, and the president of the cozy until I think a month ago was a guy named Patrick Truman and Patrick Truman, you know, as I sort of dug back was the head of the task force, the obscenity task force, and the department of justice in the late eighties, early nineties went after adult businesses, right?

He's he doesn't believe it's Christian. He doesn't believe that we have a right to do it. He believes that it's all exploitation. He doesn't believe that adult content is protected by the first amendment. And in realizing that I, you know, also realized that the strategies that they have right now is the same strategy that they had in the eighties and nineties. So in the eighties and the nineties, what it was, was multiple prosecutions in and sort of denying you access to funds. So they would seize your bank accounts.

They would come at you from a bunch of different angles and knew that it would take a lot of energy and resources for you to defend yourself against it. That's the same strategy they're taking today. They're using different mechanisms, but they're going after your banks, right? Exactly. They're filing multiple lawsuits. There's multiple losses that Nicole has sponsored against PornHub right there. They're trying this strategy to really drain the business and essentially make them, you know, give up, say, it's too much work.

We're going to go into something else. And so, you know, it, once you understand their strategy, it's a little bit better because at least you understand how to react to them. You know, I, I wish I had made the connection a little bit earlier and that the industry had been a little bit more on high alert. I tend to be a little bit of a chicken little as it is. So not everybody lists, but you know, in this case, I, I wish I yell a little bit louder,

Speaker 1 (30m 7s): Always. So why do you think we're seeing such a backlash against adult content around the world?

Speaker 2 (30m 14s): I think that we're seeing a backlash because we've been so successful. If you think back to the eighties or nineties, or even the early two thousands, when there was a battle over, you know, a pornography, you know, as, you know, becoming sort of more mainstream, right. This idea that like, oh, it's, it's becoming more prevalent people. See it, what does this mean? We should restrict access to it. We should, you know, we should bring them up on, I'm sending charges, we stroll up this stuff, you know, we've won that battle.

You know, there isn't a, there we don't see obscenity prosecutions happening anymore. Even under the Trump administration, we didn't see any, you know, 2257 has been

Speaker 1 (30m 58s): Too busy getting in their own way.

Speaker 2 (31m 1s): Yeah, exactly. You know, PornHub is, you know, PornHub was a household word, right? People talk about porn, women talk about porn. You know, we talk about ethical point. We talk about anal, you know, on the news. And so I think that the, the conservative Christians were really at a loss in, in terms of, you know, having lost this culture war. And so I think that this is a deeply reactionary movement, you know, in an attempt to say like, oh my God, I can't believe that it's gotten this bad.

And I think that it's also, it's not just related to porn. I think that this is a reactionary movement in terms of the progress of the gay and lesbian community and the trans community. I think that these were all things that over the past, you know, five years really had people, you know, especially in conservative, socially conservative circles, wondering like what's going on with our world, right. We're losing, or, you know, our, our primacy, we're losing our power. And this is an articulation of it.

I think that on a more specific level as I went back and sort of traced the trafficking hub movement and, and trace the sort of anti the rise of Vandyke porn, what I've seen is that it, it ties in almost exactly what the pandemic. And I think that there was trauma. If I, you know, this is just sort of loose speculation, you know, but what you see is is that when the pandemic happens, you see a tremendous number of news stories about how people are logging on and watching porn public health department saying, oh, you should watch porn.

You should, you should, you know, it's better than going out and having sex. This is a natural way to release tension and all the rest of it,

Speaker 1 (32m 46s): Nobody ever caught COVID from their computer.

Speaker 2 (32m 49s): Exactly. And at the same time, everybody is home alone or it's home with their family right there. And so there's this feeling of, you know, a greater attention to what is my kid doing in the bedroom? You know what it's like my college student son doing with the door closed, what's my husband doing so long in the bathroom. What's my wife doing, you know, while I'm not there, you know, or while I'm cooking dinner or whatever it is. I think that, I think there was this sort of this magic brew of, you know, all of this is going on and then a general cultural anxiety around sex and sexuality in the household.

And I think that, that it, it helped it sort of gain traction where it hadn't before. You know, I think that it, I think that, you know, when you look at how it all plays out, it, it, it matches so closely that I think that there has to be something that, because people are always trying to, so this is not the newest argument that we've had, right? Like there has always been, there have been conservative Christians who have been advocating against pornography for years, but I do think that, that there was something about the pandemic that really gave it a little power and allowed it sort of to, you know, not to use it too much of an on the nose COVID metaphor, but, you know, escape, its old host and sort of go into a new population, but here we are,

Speaker 1 (34m 8s): And they had too much time on their hands. I think. So what's the,

Speaker 2 (34m 14s): Sorry. I should also, somebody know, I, someone also mentioned that one of the things that happened during the pandemic with the, the relief bills is that the cap got lifted on donate on charitable donations. And for people who were making, you know, donated more than 50% of their AGI, what we saw during the pandemic was the donations to these organizations skyrocketed, you know, this is a cash cow. The COSI was really wandering in the wilderness for years, right there.

Their big victory in you in the past five or 10 years was getting Cosmo removed from the Walmart checkout line. You know, they were not a relevant organization, but once they sort of moved into this sort of, this idea of anti-trafficking of child porn, they really hit it. And by, you know, I think their revenue in the, between want to say like 2018 and 2020 tripled, you know, they're just making so much more money than they were before. And that puts them in a better position to do these types of things.

Speaker 1 (35m 16s): Yeah, that's very true. So what is the FSC doing to fight back?

Speaker 2 (35m 22s): So, you know, we're, I mean, what aren't we doing at this point? It is a long day, every day. You know, we are a small staff and we have a lot of volunteers including often me, you know, we immediately in, in, you know, in late 2020, I immediately got on the phone with PornHub, tried to understand what was going on and on their side of how we could support it. In June, by January, we had launched a legislative committee to deal with the spate of new bills that were coming in against section two 30 began sort of monitoring these groups a lot more and meeting weekly to sort of talk about what had gone on comparing notes with performers and in terms of what they're seeing, talking with studios as to what they're seeing and just improving the lines of communication.

One thing that happened in COVID is that we all got siloed, right? We didn't have as many places where we were communicating at the same time. It also enabled things like zoom. So once we got our sea legs, we've been much more aggressive. I was on the phone, this on a zoom call this morning with, with sex worker activists in Australia, you know, understanding what's going on with their online safety act and how that, you know, how that ties in to the legislation that's being introduced in the UK and to the, the evangelical movement in the U S so we're starting to draw all of these connections.

I think that, you know, we are, we've hired federal lobbyists for the first time in over a decade And, and responded to, you know, when, when representative and Wagner Missouri sent a letter to, she sent two letters actually to the department of justice, or what, what did the department does justice and one defense in calling for an investigation into only fans. We responded, we, we send a letter to Merrick Garland last month, you know, outlining just how wrong this is.

We also send it to a hundred members of Congress who had signed onto her letter and said, we needed to come in and talk with you because this is bullshit. You know, this isn't true, this isn't representative of the industry and this isn't accurate. So we're, we're fighting back on just about every level. We, we, you know, we had meetings with MasterCard in June, you know, we, we have been talking with banking, you know, with payment processors and things like that. And also trying to just get the adult industry to understand that this isn't about one or two companies.

I think that one thing that you saw when PornHub first went down, or I shouldn't say went down, but when it was, you know, when it was attack, was that, you know, there were a number of people who didn't feel so nice kindly about porn hub. And so they thought, well, this big competitor's gone. What do I care? And I think that we also saw that a bit with, with only fans, right. There were a lot of people that said that for them,

Speaker 1 (38m 16s): A lot of jealous, a lot of jealousy when, when people are on the top, I think.

Speaker 2 (38m 19s): Yeah, exactly. And I think that, you know, I don't, I don't want to take away from what people feel, right. These, these are companies that really dominate the space. So you're,

Speaker 1 (38m 30s): And there's long Cylance faces. There's longstanding resentment towards big tube sites.

Speaker 2 (38m 37s): And for

Speaker 1 (38m 37s): Sure, and there's a lot of people who still bitch about it instead of choose to work with them, those that are still in business.

Speaker 2 (38m 45s): Yeah. And I, I understand that entirely. And what we've been trying to say is that this is beyond that, like this isn't, you know, the, the inner family battles have to stop. You know, what we have to understand is

Speaker 1 (38m 57s): There are no

Speaker 2 (38m 58s): What they do about PornHub. Isn't going to just affect porn hub. It's going to affect you. And I think that we're making that we're making that case. I think people are finally realizing it. The other thing that we do is that we talk to the media constantly. So we are on the horn calling up the Washington post yelling at the New York times. You know,

Speaker 1 (39m 20s): The way you put those two,

Speaker 2 (39m 23s): You know, I mean, it is, and I want to be in as many places as possible, even if they're hostile, because they think that, you know, you might read an article that's overwhelmingly hostile, but if there's no country opinion in there, there's no chance that you're going to change your mind. So I think that if, if, if at least we can get a quote in where we're disputing something, even if it's in, you know, the daily caller or, you know, the BBC, which has become so incredibly hostile to sex work in porn, that it's, it's almost unrecognizable.

I want to be there. I want to be there making a contrary opinion in the same way that, you know, I think that I did as sort of a young gay activists, which was to say, listen, I'm happy, whatever lies, your, whatever lies you're telling about my community. I want to stand in opposition and say, that's not how I feel. I'm not mad. I'm not depressed. I'm not degraded. I'm happy and, and proud of who I am. That's how I feel about the adult industry today is that I want to be there and say, as a Testament, to what they're saying, isn't true.

Here's somebody who is reasonable, who could talk about these things, who can understand what the challenges are, you know, that we face online in regards to things like revenge porn and CSM, and that we take them seriously that this isn't a playground, you know, a wild west.

Speaker 1 (40m 42s): Yeah, no, I agree with you. Maybe, maybe you guys need to have a campaign, a, an adult industry, pride campaign. I think that's something that I'm serious. I think that's something, that's something we all need to be more proud of.

Speaker 2 (40m 57s): Absolutely. And I think that it's, you know, as I just launched, you know, we're launching a fundraising team and working with creators and, and on, on sort of new ideas as to how we can do it or how we can sort of bring in more money. But when you thought about, you know, what is my dream goal with this industry and with this organization, you know, what would we be doing? And obviously it would be, I want to be at every hearing, right? I want to be talking to parliament. I want where I want someone from the industry talking to parliament. I want, I want white papers.

I want, you know, analysis. I want to be able to fight back with data and with facts though, I understand that facts and data are increasingly irrelevant in this world. But you know, the other thing that we we look at is that we want to be involved in a media campaign, right? You want to be able to do what porn hub used to do with, you know, with their billboards and time squares and get so much press, but why can't we do that for issues that are that matter to us?

You know, the issues of sex we can and with enough money we can

Speaker 1 (42m 5s): That's right. It all comes, it all comes down to money. It always does. What can individuals in the industry do to get involved in the fight?

Speaker 2 (42m 14s): Well, I think that the first thing is, is that to take it seriously and follow it, right? This is understand that this affects you when your livelihood, that if, if, if these companies go down, especially if you're a creator, you're going down, right? Your, your income is going to drop. If you're banking, discrimination gets worse, your issue is going to get worse. So I want people involved in that. Obviously I want them to donate to FSC, or at least become FSC members, even for five or $10 a month. That becomes something that is, that sustains us and allows us to do this work.

But I also just want people to get involved. You know, I mean, I interact with so many people on Twitter and have met so many people from so many different areas of the fight, you know, full service, sex workers, free speech, activists, technologists, you know, and you really want people who you don't want to. We had a research team meeting for the first time for a new research team meeting. We expanded it and put out a call for people that were interested in sort of doing research. And it was so wonderful to see people from all over the industry say, Hey, listen, I want to take a look at scientific studies.

Somebody else saying, I want to look at, you know, I want to look at this. Group's tweets, someone else saying, you know, I want to write a, you know, an op-ed, these are the things that we need, people we just don't have. We're never going to have enough people to do it all ourselves, you know, from FSC, we're only gonna succeed in this if we have the entire community involved.

Speaker 1 (43m 38s): So Mike, talk about Polari media. Give us a little bit about what you do there.

Speaker 2 (43m 45s): Well, you know, Polari media was a affirm. I founded, you know, when I was working on my documentary and starting to work with adult companies and, and others are a marginalized groups, so sex educators, LGBTQ groups, and artists, and, and things like that, to help them access the mainstream media to get their message out. And glory is a term that comes from sort of late 19th century, British slang, that that was used by sex workers and dock workers and the queer community to communicate in the community amongst themselves to avoid law enforcement.

So a lot of the words that we we think of today is very common. Like dragon camp were early Polari words. And so I, I thought of that as I'd always sort of been fascinated as a linguistic history and it seemed to fit sort of what, you know, I was doing, which was trying to find ways for these groups that have been marginalized to, you know, better communicate. And so I, I founded this business and it's always been something where I never really had to go after clients often, you know, I I'm, I'm a bad business person.

And so have always been, you know, almost trying to lose clients so that I could have more time to do the work that I want to do. But, you know, it's, there's always a tremendous need in this industry. There's always people, you know, whether it's people who want to reach the mainstream media for, you know, to get their brand out or something like that, or whether it's somebody who is, you know, getting attacked in the mainstream media and needs to understand how to fight back, have done a ton of it, which is how I started.

It's still sort of where I, you know, what I love to do. I love, I love to be in a fight in that way, and I love to be able to come to somebody's defense. So, yeah.

Speaker 1 (45m 56s): Sorry, I'm going to see

Speaker 2 (45m 58s): MSA. Yeah, absolutely.

Speaker 1 (46m 1s): What are you most proud of with your participation in the adult industry?

Speaker 2 (46m 5s): You know, I mean, I think that in terms of pride, you know, I really think that our battle over prop 60 in, in 2015 was pivotal. This was a mandatory condom legislation. It was a ballot measure that would, would have forced performers to use condoms, or they would have faced, you know, potential civil lawsuits from consumers. So the way that the, you know, the, the way the law had been structured was that if, you know, they were mad that nobody was using condoms, right.

They were such

Speaker 1 (46m 41s): A California thing.

Speaker 2 (46m 44s): Exactly. Right. And so, you know, they, they didn't care about the testing system. They didn't care about this and, and largely Cal OSHA and the regulators didn't care about it. Right. Didn't they, I mean, in terms of the, they weren't concerned with the adult industry, cause the adult industry has done a really great job of self-regulating, but there are always going to be moralists who are concerned, what message is this sending to our kids. Right. That was essentially where it came from. And what, you know, if you put something on the ballot that says shouldn't sex workers or shouldn't porn stars use condoms.

Well, you know, everyday people are gonna say, oh yeah, I think that makes a good, that's a good point. They should do that. You know, that would be helpful. It was pitched as a, you know, a worker protection measure except that in this case, the workers hated it. You know, they said, you know, we, we get tested every 14 days when I shoot with a condom, it's much more difficult. You know, I, I can't shoot as much. It's harder on my body. Condoms aren't meant for these sets where we're shooting for three hours, you don't know what you're talking about and to deal with the recalcitrant report was right.

They, I think they thought they were going to come in as liberator's. I think they had this idea age F, which was the organization aids, healthcare foundation thought they were going to come in, oh, one stars. We're going to embrace them because they had just been, you know, subjected to, you know, oppression by these studios. They didn't find that. And so the way that they, they design the legislation was that they allowed citizens to Sue much in the way that we see right now in Texas with the abortion law. Right. They, they, what the government couldn't do, they were going to empower citizens to do, they're going to power them, bring civil lawsuits.

So a, you know, if you saw a film without a condom in it, you could Sue the producer. The problem was is that in many of these cases, you know, in almost all cases, performance, we're also creating their own content. So this left away for fans and stalkers and anybody to harass them, right. To bring them into court, to have, to be able to see them. And so we, this was something that when the bill was first introduced, when the ballot measure was first introduced, we, it was 75% support in the, the, in the state of California.

You go in, in early polling, we barnstormed the state. And we did, we talked to every editorial board. We, we got the Democrats on our side, we got the Republicans on our side, we got the libertarians on our side. We got the ACLU on our side, we got the chamber of commerce. And, you know, we got everybody that could possibly get hunter sites. And, you know, with the course of four or five months, we turned that into a victory for us. You know, we were able to feed it back and it was tremendous. So I'm tremendously proud of that.

I'm also just tremendously proud right now to be what I'm doing in terms of fighting back. This anti-porn movement. It's something that I have, you know, I found distasteful when I was coming of age and, you know, in, in the early nineties. And it's, it's something that I'm glad to be in this fight today. This is a historic moment. And you know, it's as difficult as it is and challenging. And as much as I wish it weren't here, you know, I'm relishing the chance to sort of beat them back.

Speaker 1 (49m 56s): You know, it's funny, you mentioned, you know, to keep their kids safe and give their, give their kids the, the right idea, their kids shouldn't be watching porn.

Speaker 2 (50m 6s): No, no. And, and that's the thing that's so paradoxical about this, this whole process is that the most effective way to stop your kids from watching porn or stop your kids from accessing porn is to be involved in their devices and be involved in their life. Right. You know, you can block porn on porn hub, right? You can, you can take down all the porn hub. You could make mandatory age verifications. Kids are going to get a VPN. They're going to go to a different country. They're going to have a file sharing site.

They're going to go all these things. There's

Speaker 1 (50m 39s): Much,

Speaker 2 (50m 40s): There's some order, and you can be much more effective with the filters on your devices, right? With, at, at the, like That are going, because all adult sites register with those, those devices. So if you turn on a filter and you put in password protected, you know, it's not going to be able to access porn hub. It's not going to be able to access, you know, X videos. It's not going to be able to access only fans, you know, and you know, you can monitor this with this world.

You know, they're your kids, this is your responsibility. You can even block it at the ISP level so that when they're accessing wifi, they can access it. It's going to be much more effective, but people don't want to hear that. People want to hear that there's a magic solution that they're going to take down. These are all sites. You know? I mean, I think that, you know, I hear arguments. I get with anti-porn groups and they say, well, it's, you know, it's like liquor, you know, kids can't just go into a liquor shop and buy liquor and they need to do age verification.

And I was like, but they can go into your cabinet and drink liquor. And so the, this stuff is going to be everywhere, right? They could that this isn't going to be something that is done just by, oh, we, we pass the age verification for liquor and no kids ever access it. Right. It's not it we've. We understand that this is something that you have to talk to kids about. You have to monitor their behavior, you have to observe it and you have to, you know, keep it out of sight. You know, you have to keep it so that they can access it, you know?

And there's always going to be people who are going to try to get around that, but an involved parent can be much more effective than the government.

Speaker 1 (52m 22s): Yeah. Good luck. Good luck with that. In, in 2022, I'd like to thank you for being our guests, to Dan adults. I broker Taka was fascinating and I hope we'll get a chance to do it again really soon.

Speaker 2 (52m 36s): Thanks so much for this. I really, really appreciate it.

Speaker 1 (52m 38s): My broker tip today is part four of what to do to make your site more valuable for when you decide to sell it later, trademark your site, having a trademark instantly protects your brand and makes your site more valuable. When it comes time to sell it trademarking, your site will cost an average of about $1,500, but should be more than worth the investment. When it comes time to sell it, show buyers ways you feel the site can make more money in the future. This includes showing them future plans.

You may have traffic trends as well as sales trends. If things are growing and you can show them how to grow it more, they are likely to be willing to pay more for the site. Do something unique with your site. If you have competitors, figure a way to do it better, be different in distinguishable way that makes you better. Your members will notice and spend more money with you. Make your site a place that people want to visit. Not just to buy things. Review porn, be creative, not just one of many.

Keep thinking outside the box and make positive changes on your site. Think like a buyer when planning or updating your site. Don't think like a tech think like the consumer. We'll talk about this subject more next week. And next week, we'll be speaking with Jack polo of Mach media. And that's it for this week's Adult Site Broker Talk. I'd once again like to thank my guest Mike Stabile of the Free Speech Coalition. Talk to you again next week on Adult Site Broker Talk. I'm Bruce Friedman.

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