Capital Video’s attorney, Michael Pill, likes to style himself as the defender of the underdog. Let’s ask, who is the underdog in this situation, and who has power?
Capital Video describes itself as “the largest adult retail chain in the nation”. Owner Kenneth Guarino told Dun & Bradstreet that sales for 2005 amounted to $21,005,399. He has been doing business since 1979. In a 1994 profile, the Wall Street Journal reported, “Mr. Guarino is a rich man. He lives in a luxurious home on Narragansett Bay, drives a Mercedes, and–federal prosecutors in the Las Vegas case say–has numerous foreign bank accounts.”
NoPornNorthampton was started in late June by two citizens who live in a two-family house in Northampton. As for porn performers, “very, very few of its line workers ever escape from grinding poverty. The relationship of capital to labour in the sex industry is classically Dickensian.” The Los Angeles Times reports that some performers are willing to forgo condoms for as little as $50 extra per sex act.
Court documents describe how Kenneth Guarino “was associated with Natale Richichi, a capo in the Gambino family of La Cosa Nostra, who dealt directly with the bosses of both the Gambino and Patriarca families and had influence with other factions of La Cosa Nostra… Guarino in 1979 began to pay ‘tribute’ to Richichi to fend off extortion attempts and to assist Guarino with other business matters where Richichi’s influence as a capo might benefit Guarino… The total amount of the payments is in dispute, but between July 1985 and September 1995, Guarino paid Richichi at least $1,728,000 in cash.”
To the best of our knowledge, NoPornNorthampton has no influence with the mafia. As for porn performers, U.S. News reports, “There is a constant demand for new talent, and few actresses last more than a year or two… Checks sometimes bounce. The borderline legal status of the industry makes performers reluctant to seek redress in court…” Dr. Mary Anne Layden tells the US Senate, “[Performers in the sex industry] have high rates of substance abuse, typically alcohol and cocaine, depression, borderline personality disorder which is a particularly serious disorder and dissociative identity disorder which used to be called multiple personality disorder. The experience I find most common among the performers is that they have to be drunk, high or dissociated in order to go to work.”
The “elitism” charge was raised by a speaker at Thursday’s City Council meeting. We’d like to note that the zoning ordinances before the city aren’t about shifting adult businesses from one neighborhood to another. They are about putting a 500-foot buffer between any Northampton home and a large adult business. It doesn’t matter if that home is on Elm Street, Damon Road or North Street. They will all enjoy the same protection.
We further address the issue of elitism in our Frequently Asked Questions…
FAQ: Doesn’t your campaign smack of elitism?
A: Why no, the reverse is true. The most visible porn advocates have been saying that freedom of speech is so important, it trumps all other things people might value, such as a safe neighborhood, one that’s comfortable to walk around in, economically prosperous, where people won’t be harassed or solicited for sex.
Porn advocates appear to be indifferent to the suffering of ordinary people, whether it’s porn workers with STDs, spouses of porn addicts, or cities whose downtowns can’t grow due to the presence of an adult business. Despite mounting evidence of the social harms of porn, the porn advocates assert they simply know better what’s good for America, and that the people can’t be trusted to impose the slightest regulation on adult businesses or soon we’ll all be burning books. There’s no evidence that adult-use regulations in Hollywood, New York or Boston have led to censorship, but the real world seems to matter little to porn advocates. That’s elitism.
We can also look at this from a power perspective. Who has access to millions of dollars, fancy prep schools, exotic cars, expensive lawyers, Ivy League MBAs and luxury homes? The porn merchants. On the other side, vulnerable young porn workers, small towns with limited resources, parents busy raising children. Who are the elite in this situation?