News

Gang of Five, the Earthquake Authority–and porn?

If you see porn stars walking around the Capitol, you might want to blame (or thank) Assemblyman Charles Calderon, D-Montebello.

In 1997, then-Senator Calderon attempted to levy a tax on pornography. This led to a scene that sounds like it was cribbed from the movie The Forty Year-Old Virgin: a group of adult-industry representatives attempted to drop off a big box of porn in Calderon’s office so he could “learn more about the industry,” said former chief of staff Kelly Jensen.

“The Calderon bill was a milestone,” said the man in charge of delivering the big box o’ porn, Jeffrey Douglas. Now an attorney and spokesman board member for the Free Speech Coalition, Douglas arrived with two porn stars and a phalanx of reporters. “It seemed like every camera in Sacramento was following us.”

But they disagree slightly on what happened next. Calderon said he told Douglas he couldn’t take the box because of gift limits–and that Douglas started taking out the VHS tapes and tried to hand over just the covers. Douglas said that the box contained only VHS box covers and out-of-date magazines with almost no sale value.

In any case, SB 1013 went down in defeat–and the adult-entertainment industry established a full-time lobbying presence in Sacramento for the first time. Douglas said that while the bill “galvanized” the industry, it probably didn’t make much difference in the long term. The industry was already growing so quickly, he said, that it needed to get involved in politics no matter what.
For his part, Calderon said he has no regrets about the bill. Nor does he see himself as an enemy of the adult industry; he just wanted them to “pay their fair share.” He agreed the industry has matured, and is no as longer prone to such “guerilla tactics.”

“Then, pornography was taboo,” Calderon said. “Now it’s mainstream.”
Again, Douglas disagrees, at least partially. He said his organization often sits out free-speech fights because of the ongoing taboo against their industry.
“We’re always conscious of the fact that we may be more baggage then help,” Douglas said.

Contact Malcolm Maclachlan at
malcolm.maclachlan@capitolweekly.net


Support for Capitol Weekly is Provided by: