Originally posted at The Well Versed
In the conclusion of our interview with John Stagliano, TWV talks to the director about his obscenity trial, pushing his limits on film and whether or not he’ll jump on the bandwagon and shoot a porno parody.
The Well Versed: When you talk about wanting to do harder stuff and push the limits, is there anything particular that you’re looking to do?
John Stagliano: The art of S&M sex. It’s something I’d like to explore. I can’t say…I know a lot of about it but there are people that know more and have been in it longer than me. As I get older, my sex drive isn’t as intense as it used to be. Maybe I’m more interested in doing some story stuff, with some S&M like The Fashionistas. But not like pushing limits in terms of S&M because I’m not there personally and I don’t understand it that well.
TWV: In The Fashionistas, there was a lot of S&M stuff, but in the dialogue there was a bit of the educational side of things in terms of establishing boundaries and limits. Was that by design?
JS: The goal was to show S&M for what it really is: People figuring out ways to get off better. A lot of people look at S&M and think it’s just a lot of psychologically damaged people who say “I want to be beaten up.” No, it’s “I want to get off and I really get off this way.” That’s what we were trying to do with the story and I hired real people who are into it.
TWV: Will we be seeing a resurrection of the franchise?
JS: I’m not sure. It’s certainly possible that I’ll do another Fashionistas movie. It’s harder for me to get the energy up for me to do a feature because it totally disrupts my life. I have two children now and I run Evil Angel and there’s another national project that I can’t talk about right now. I may wind up doing that instead of a big porn production.
TWV: You ushered in the gonzo era and now everything is going towards parody and big features. Are you content with doing gonzo?
JS: I could do a parody and it might be fun. From a creative standpoint, I’d rather create my own world like The Fashionistas. It’s more fun to create my own stuff.
TWV: I wanted to touch on the trial a bit, how significant was that victory for you and the business.
JS: I think it showed that the majority of the people in this country don’t think porn should be illegal. They did this crazy thing where they prosecuted me in DC. It was interesting in that… I don’t know if they did it for convenience. The judge asked the prosecutor, “Why are we here?” and she said “I’m here and my family is here.” It didn’t make any sense. George Bush appointed this task force; it was part of the old guard. Obama has continued a little bit but it looks like he’s done it more so he doesn’t create a stir. He hasn’t put more resources into it. Fortunately the Tea Party doesn’t talk about it; I don’t think that’s part of their agenda.
It proved in my trial—the people who were interviewed afterwards—that the government didn’t prove their case. And they didn’t want to put me away because I sold movies where girls squirt milk out of their butts. Crazy stuff by most people’s standards, but most people thought other things were more important.
There was a recent study I read in the Washington Examiner that said sex crimes have dropped even more than all violent crimes. Everybody thought the opposite would happen with the Internet boom. Now a guy can sit at home and jerk off instead of going out in the world instead of doing something stupid.
TWV: Were you surprised with the indictment or were you worried at all when you were shooting that this might have been an isssue down the line?
JS: Everybody is aware of the government’s obscenity law—they can come after you at any time and you never know when you’re breaking it. You know if you steal something, you’re going to get in trouble. I knew that what I was doing wasn’t middle of the road. But I also knew there was stronger stuff on the Internet. I didn’t think I was a target. Apparently they wanted to bust a mainstream, bigger pornographer.
TWV: This took a couple of years and a lot of money, did you think about packing it in after it was over.
JS: I can’t say no, but it made me think about my business and what I was doing. Think about my movies psychologically. Am I hurting people? After that I came to love my company and love what I was doing. Sometimes I have to be pushed. I believe people are doing the right thing when people are making porn movies. They’re expressing their sexuality and that’s a good thing. Even if my mother and family think I’m doing a bad thing, I think I’m doing a good thing. I have to have the courage to say that. I had the courage to say that; that was a good part about the process, I’m more aware of what I’m doing.
TWV: You had a lot of people that came to your defense, how important was that?
JS: I had some directors that work for me and fans—people at Adult DVD Talk—send me a check for $100, I was really happy about that. What I feel bad about is somebody like Max Hardcore—a guy that turns a lot of people off—he’s way more radical, he’s still just selling movies?
TWV: He got what? Four or five years?
JS: Yeah, and he’s still sitting in jail. That’s fucked up. Just because I’m more liked than Max, the principle is the same. You gotta defend Max as you defend the principle of freedom—you can’t put people in jail for making movies.
TWV: Do you think the industry threw Max under the bus?
JS: I think that may have happened a little bit. Certainly people didn’t step up. I helped him a little bit, but I think it’s more important that people are aware he’s still in jail. There are also bookstore owners that get prosecuted all over the country and we hear hear about it. They don’t get contributions like I did. It’s not good that people aren’t getting the same support that I did.
TWV: How do you want to be remembered in the industry?
JS: That I made it a more honest business. People can be more honest with their sexuality. In business, if you’re more honest with your distributors, you’ll make just as much, if not more money than when you rip people off. I feel like I’ve helped a little bit in those areas.