Pornographic filmmaker John Stagliano lost a key ruling today in his attempt to get the charges thrown out against him in an adult to adult obscenity prosecution brought by the Bush Administration’s Justice Department.
Stagliano is known in Vegas for creating perhaps the greatest adult show in this city’s history, The Fashionistas. After the show closed, Stagliano and I stayed in touch and, over the years, he has become a friend. In fact, I stopped writing about him professionally until today, because I am not at all impartial on the subject of the charges against him. I know my friend is not a criminal. I think this is a low-blow prosecution. And, I can’t imagine him going to prison for naughty movies in 2010.
And, that is why even if Stagliano were a total stranger, I would be opposed to these charges. What business of mine is it what movies consenting adults make for each other to enjoy? That idea–that the government should not assume the job of ultimate movie critic–was explicitly part of the argument the judge rejected today. Honestly, I thought prosecutions like this were finished after the end credits rolled on “The People Vs. Larry Flynt.” That turned out to be just a movie, I guess, as Stagliano is now being indicted for sending naughty movies across state-lines in the real world (though it seems like some 1950s version of the real world).
I admit, I have not seen the movies in question. I don’t watch many movies, and prosecutors are not going to change that habit. What is in the movies does not matter. They are movies. They entertain people (just not me). And, I have no intention of passing judgment on other people’s taste in movies. And, there is no taste in movies so bad that it makes sense to call it a Federal crime. Certainly there seems to be a lot of indecent things in movies everyone is fine with having exist. John Waters had an actor eat feces in the celebrated “Pink Flamingos,” another movie I have not seen. But I heard Waters talk about it proudly while he was being feted at the Palms over Halloween weekend at the Fangoria festival. Waters is an honored celebrity; meanwhile, Stagliano is a defendant.
Stagliano, by the way, in part is being prosecuted for a film called “Milk Nymphos.” How does a prosecutor even keep a straight face saying that title as if it were a horrid menace to the world? Can that same prosecutor after trying to throw the ”Milk Nymphos” guy in jail then rent “Pink Flamingos” on the drive home from work? Of course, the prosecutor can. Or, if not, “Pink Flamingos” is shooting across state-lines via Netflix constantly.