2. Coercion

Part: 
Four
Chapter: 
2

Efficient as it is, the normal recruiting process for pornographic models is apparently not fully adequate to meet producers' needs. It is an unpleasant, controversial, but in our view well established fact, that at least some performers have been physically coerced into appearing in sexually-explicit material, while others have been forced to engage in sexual activity during performances that they had not agreed to beforehand. We heard direct testimony from three unrelated women who each described how brutal force was used to push her into pornography.[1006] The credibility of that testimony was strongly reinforced by the testimony of representatives of "sex workers,"[1007] by a victim counselling agency;[1008] and extrinsic evidence on the public record.[1009]

We also find highly credible the assertion of law enforcement officers that models more often face coercion to get them to perform specific sex acts that were not contracted for.[1010] As one of them put it:

Coercion comes in, especially like some of these witnesses have testified, in the area of anal sex, which many of the models don't want to get into. It really comes into a factor in the bondage and S&M type films. I have talked to models and I have seen films where it's quite obvious that the model had no idea as to what they were getting into. Part of an S&M film, when they start torturing the victim, tying them, whipping them and putting cigarettes out on their body, is the showing of pain. This is what sexually excites some people.

Obviously we are not dealing with people that can act, so they can't act the pain. Therefore the pain is very real. It's quite apparent these people do not realize what they have gotten into once they start the filming.[1011]

Certainly their pain may not be lightly dismissed.

At the same time we may not dismiss the strong assertions of producers, agents, and models in the sex industry that performers are generally safe from physical coercion.[1012] Actual force or threat of force does not, indeed, appear to be a normal part of "mainstream" pornography production.[1013] Rather it seems concentrated in the fringe areas of bondage, sadomasochism, and home-made, noncommercial pornography. Force used to induce young women to enter "mainstream" pornography appears to be applied most often not by filmmakers but by dominating "boyfriends" who in fact play the role of pimp.[1014] All this said, it is nevertheless troubling that the Adult Film Association of America nowhere includes in its "unofficial credo" a pledge to eschew all forms of coercion in recruitment of models.[1015]

Notes

  1. See, generally, Washington, D.C., Hearing, Vol. I, Valerie Heller, p. 217; Washington, D.C., Hearing, Vol. I, Sarah Wynter, p. 175; New York Hearing, Vol. I, Linda Marchiano, p. 47; Ms. Marchiano's testimony was actually a short summary of her full account in L. Lovelace, Ordeal (1980), in which she described her forced introduction and partici pation in pornography by her husband and "manager" Chuck Traynor. Mr. Margold discounted her testimony on the basis that "if you put a gun to the head of the girl who's performing fellatio on you, what would be left to perform fellatio on:" Los Angeles Hearing, Vol. I, William Margold, p. 414. This view is neither faithful to the actual account of Ms. Marchiano's experiences nor convincing in its logic. Harry Reems, who performed with Ms. Marchiano in "Deep Throat." has more cogently questioned the validity of her assertions by contradicting certain details of her account of the filming of that movie. Harry Reems Interview, supra note 987, p. 28. Nevertheless he ultimately conceded that he does not know whether Ms. Marchiano  was coerced into making "Deep Throat" or other movies, Id., and at least one impartial chronicler of the world in which she moved during the 1970s has apparently found her story fully credible. R. Miller, Bunny: The Real Story of Playboy, (1984), pp. 162-66. Based on their demeanor, their lack of any obvious motive to falsify, and the other evidence we have heard, we can state that we believe the testimony of Linda Marchiano, Ms. Heller and Ms. Wynter to be true, and, in view of their sufferings from continued public exposure in this light, courageous as well.
  2. Los Angeles Hearing, Vol. II, Priscilla Alexander, p. 229. (Education Coordinator, COYOTE, National Task Force on Prostitution) ("There is certainly evidence that some women have been forced to perform in sexually-explicit productions." Id., pp. 229-30.)
  3. Chicago Hearing, Vol. II, Terese Stanton, (founding member of Pornography Resource Center which provides help to victims of pornography) ("We have gotten calls from both women and men who are currently being forced into the making of pornography-asking us if there is anything we can do for them:' Id., p. 6.)
  4. In hearings before the Minneapolis City Council in 1983, one woman related how she was forced into pornographic performance. Public Hrgs. on Ordinance to Add Pornography As Discrimination Against Women (1983), Session II p. 49-52. In those same hearings Professor Kathleen Barry, author of Female Sexual Slavery (1984) submitted a letter describing how some pornography is produced by pimps through the rape of prostitutes, for reasons which "include personal pleasure of the pimp and his friends, blackmailing the victim by threatening to send them to her family, and selling to the pornographers for mass production." Id., Session I, pp. 58-59. A street outreach worker confirmed that young prostitutes are often raped by their pimps, with the rapes photographed, held as a weapon to insure their continued submission, and later "published in pornographic magazines without their knowledge and consent." Id. Session III, p. 77. Because pornography and prostitution are so strongly linked, it may of course be inferred that the coercion which historically and currently afflicts the latter will play some role in the former. See, R. Rosen, The Lost Sisterhood: Prostitution in America, 1900-1918 (about 7.5 per cent of prostitutes at the turn of the century were physically coerced into the profession); Silbert & Pines, Entrance into Prostitution, supra note 987, p. 484 (four per cent of present-day sample of prostitutes listed "physical threat" as the "major reason" they entered prostitution); Badgley Report, supra note 1013, p. 988 (3.6 per cent of juvenile male prostitutes and 15.9 per cent of juvenile female prostitutes were forced into prostitution). Finally, although it has not yet come to trial, we note that a state court in New Mexico has received substantial testimony supporting the existence of a pornography ring which kidnapped a young woman for use in a pornographic film but killed her out of fear of discovery-testimony sufficient for the court to find probable cause and bind the suspects over for trial. See, series of articles from Albuquerque Journal and Tribune, beginning February 15, 1986, on file in Commission Archives. Whether or not a conviction for murder is obtained in that case, we believe the evidence is sufficient to strongly indicate that forcible tactics were used to secure female models for pornography. See also, Jacobs, Patterns of Violence: A Feminist Perspective on the Regulation of Pornography, 7 Harv. Women's L.J. 5, (1984), pp. 20-21.
  5. Los Angeles Hearing, Vol. I, William Roberts, pp. 99-100; Los Angeles Hearing, Vol. II, Catherine Goodwin, pp. 78-79.
  6. Los Angeles Hearing, Vol. I, William Roberts, pp. 99-100. See note 1015, infra.
  7. Los Angeles Hearing, Vol. I, Les Baker, p. 203B-7-8. (President, Adult Film Assn. of America) (describing coercion of Linda Marchiano, if it did occur, as "a tragically unfortunate but nevertheless isolated phenomenon:"); Los Angeles Hearing, Vol. I, William Margold, pp. 414-415; Statement of Candida Royalle (denying any coercion used in inducing her to become a model); 1984 Senate Hearing, supra note 976, p. 316 (testimony of Veronica Vera) (denied ever meeting "anyone, man or woman, who was not participating of his or her own free will.").
  8. See, Los Angeles Hearing, Vol. I, George, p. 87 ("in career of over 100 films, I have never seen a director physically grab [a model] and force her to do a scene.").
  9. See, L. Lovelace, Ordeal (1980); Washington, D.C., Hearing, Vol. I, Valerie Heller, p. 217.
  10. Los Angeles Hearing, Vol. I, Les Baker, p. 203B-3. The A.F.A.A. acknowledges five "responsibilities" which center on protection of children and nonconsenting adults from seeing pornography: none of them relate to problems of adult performers. See, Los Angeles Hearing, Vol. I, George, pp. 86-87. ("1 have seen some directors get really violent and have a lot of yelling and throwing things and threatening of the young ladies, they will never work again if they don't want to do a scene.... Then, you know, every time I have seen the girls, always regret it afterwards; there has been a lot of pain involved with doing scenes they didn't want to do".)