One night in Memphis about 15 years ago, Carolyn McKenzie accompanied a vice cop on a tour of adult bookstores, strip clubs, and a “modeling studio”. This
mother of four and former public-health nurse had organized protests and
filed complaints with the district attorney’s office over the porn shops
and strip clubs that dotted suburban Memphis. But when a detractor accused
her of hypocrisy, asking her if she’d ever actually been in those places,
Carolyn had had to say no.
Carolyn discovered many of the dancers had been sexually
abused and used drugs or alcohol to get through their nights. She formed an organization called Memphis Citizens for Community Values. CCV Memphis helps dancers leave the industry by paying their bills, helping them find jobs, and arranging free counseling and medical care.
In January 2000, Ms. McKenzie gave this testimony before the Michigan House Ethics and Constitutional Law Committee regarding anti-pornography legislation…
My name is Carolyn McKenzie and I reside in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1991, I went out with an undercover agent one evening at 9:00, and I ended up at 3:30 in the morning having gone through five bookstores, two strip clubs, and one so-called modeling studio. That experience caused me to start a local organization that then became involved with educating the community, working with our law enforcement officials, our district attorney’s office, the health department, and our state legislature.
In 1996, I took a bill to Nashville, similar to the one being presented today that takes the doors off the peep booths. I want to pass around to you some pictures from these peep booths in our local bookstores. In these pictures are all types of bodily fluids–semen, urine, and feces on the walls, on floors, on the chairs. They are absolute cesspools, full of infectious materials that in a day of AIDS must not be tolerated.
In the first booth I entered, which happens to be in that picture (pointing), there was fresh semen on the chair, there was semen on the floor, there was semen on the screen of the viewing machine. I had not been in the booth even ninety seconds and I had fully erect male organ on my right hip waving around with no condom on it. Now, the vice squad commander had told me this is what went on in these booths. In the other booths, we found holes large enough for heads and buttocks and you, typically, could anatomically connect from one booth to the next to the next depending on what end of your anatomy you put up to the wall. In a day of AIDS, folks, this is a nightmare for communicable disease transmission and for the public health.
A rebuke to the testimony of a hired-gun psychologist representing the porn industry who testified earlier. I have only one response to the psychologist’s belief that porn has redeeming value. I hate to do this but the particular video that was on in one of those booths I will describe for you and you can see for yourself the redeeming value of pornography. In this particular video, a naked gentleman was shaving and he nicked himself and the naked girl that was with him started to lick the blood off of his face. Well, then she proceeded shave his penis. She nicked his penis, and then she subsequently performed oral sex on the man. At the end of the video she had a mouthful of semen and blood. In a day of AIDS that is not the kind of thing you want to be educating your community to be doing…
[The psychologists for the porn industry] also testified that the public availability of pornography in these bookstores didn’t have any relationship to sex crimes. Well, we’ve have over eighty-five sex outlets in Memphis and we’re currently carrying the title of the rape [capital] of the United States, which is not something that I’m particularly proud of.
Since 1991, I have assisted 39 women and 2 men to leave the industry. I would like to tell you some of their stories. One girl’s father, who was a police officer, sexually abused her from the time she was eight until she was fourteen. He worked the three to eleven shift and several nights a week he would stop at the dirty book store, pick up a video, come home, wake her up, make her watch it, and then use her.
Another gal, whose grandfather used to visit several times a year, would take pornographic magazines into the garage, take little Stephanie in there, and say, “Grandpa loves you. We’re going to play a game.” And so she learned to do what those magazines were showing her to do because that’s the way she was “loved” by grandpa.
I’ve had wives call me and say, “I’m reading the credit card bill, and there’s all these strange expenses on it, places I’ve never heard of.” Well, those places are the cover organizations for the clubs, or the massage parlors, or lingerie services that their husbands have been frequenting. The next question I get is, “Well do you think I need to get a physical check-up?” And I say, “Yes, you do.” I can’t tell you how many of them call me back and say they have turned up positive for an STD.
I also want to tell you about these 39 women that we have helped to get out of the industry. Out of that number of 39 women, only 6% were married. 90% were single moms trying to support their kids… 75% of them had STD’s when we took them in for their medical check-ups. 16% had felony records that they were working with and 25% had misdemeanors. 95% of them were using drugs and alcohol, and three of them had addictions so severe that we had to put them in long term rehab programs.
It is true, these businesses have a right to operate in our communities, but they only have a right to operate within the law. The power is in the hands of the legislature to regulate them so that if these regulations are not followed, significant penalties can be applied.