Teen Porn 101

If they're taking their laptops and cell phones to bed with them, it's probably not to do homework.

Ethan Burnett spent a lot of time alone in his bedroom, and that was before he hit puberty.

Being alone for Ethan was okay, because in his room, he was comfortable. At his desk and his chair in the corner of his room, in front of his computer, he was comfortable. That wasn't the case when Ethan was at school or at church surrounded by other boys and girls his age.

Ethan (names of the teens in this story have been changed) was a gamer, and even at 12, he spent much of his idle time on the Internet. The first time he stumbled across pictures of people having sex, it fit. Like his games, the stream of Internet pornography did not stop, and even though looking at porn and masturbating felt wrong to Ethan, alone in his room, there was no one to stop him.

The technology got better as Ethan got older, and the millions of pictures became millions of videos; Ethan couldn't open all the doors if he tried. If he hadn't been so young, his parents might have thought that Ethan was shooting heroin. The dark rings around his sagging eyes in the mornings revealed little sleep from the night before.

But Ethan's parents, who live north of Houston, didn't flinch. They thought he was fine until a weekend-long binge of Internet gaming and masturbating while looking at porn made him sick with dehydration.

Ethan is part of the first generation of teenagers who are computer literate and have had fast, unlimited access to the Internet basically since birth. In fact, the rise of MySpace and Facebook has turned online communicating into the preferred method.

Advances in cell phone technology have allowed teens to get on the Internet in the back of their parents' cars, in restaurants and classrooms. These kids are well versed in texting, sending pictures, video chatting and whatever else pops up long before they can do a lick of algebra.

And like Ethan, they're getting hooked on porn.

"If a child has a computer or takes a cell phone to bed at night, I can guarantee that they're using it for some sexual purpose," says Steve Schultz, a director at the Oxbow Academy, a private residential treatment facility and one of the only programs in the country for young boys with pornography addiction. Oxbow also gets plenty of calls about girls who are addicted, but chooses not to treat them. Schultz doesn't know of any facility that does.

Dr. Robert McLaughlin, who treats teens at ADAPT Counseling, a private facility in Houston, adds, "In many cases, the kids are poorly supervised and the parents have a mistaken belief about what their kids are up to and are quite naive about what their children are really doing with their time."

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association and viewed as the bible among shrinks, doesn't recognize pornography addiction as an official disorder, although scientists in recent years have become more vocal about the notion. A researcher from the University of Pennsylvania, for instance, testified to members of the U.S. Senate in 2004.

"Even non-sex addicts will show brain reactions on PET scans while viewing pornography similar to cocaine addicts looking at images of people doing cocaine," Dr. Mary Anne Layden told senators. "This material is potent, addictive and permanently implanted in the brain."

The federal government has never formally funded a study into the sexual behaviors of adolescents, but the little research that is being done has produced staggering statistics.

The average kid sees his first pornographic image at age 11, and according to researchers at the University of New Hampshire, about 90 percent of children between the ages of eight and 16 have looked at porn. In fact, the largest group of Internet pornography consumers consists of teens between the ages of 12 and 17.

The New Hampshire researchers also found that most kids who watch porn on the computer weren't searching for it the first time they found it. If a sixth grader, for example, was doing a research paper on Abraham Lincoln and errantly Googled "Abe Lincon," one of the first things that would pop up is this definition: "This happens when a man shoots his cum on the girl's face, letting it run down her chin."

Armed with that information, a child could find all the porn he'd ever need, and it's not airbrushed pictures in Playboy kids are seeing.

"There's been lots of tits and ass out there since 3000 B.C., so if you're trying to make money off just another booby site, then you've got to be smarter," says Ray Morris, whose company in College Station handles Internet security for huge sites like Girls Gone Wild and Twistys. Morris has also worked in just about every technical area of the Internet porn industry, starting his first site in Austin in 1997. Early in his career, Morris flew to Dallas for a weekend to set up the first live video "adult chat" with sound.

"Maybe it's Asian midgets," Morris says. "If you have the best Asian midget site on the Internet, then everybody who wants that is going to buy from you. That's the content that is successful."

The effects are spilling over to the classroom. Middle schools and high schools provide the perfect meeting grounds for aspiring porn producers and directors — young teen boys — and willing actresses — young girls.

The Houston Independent School District, at the start of this school year, passed an official ban on receiving, sending or possessing "sexually suggestive messages." The ban was aimed at stopping kids from passing around naked pictures on cell phones, because district officials were concerned that was becoming a problem.

In December of last year, a couple boys at a middle school in Keller, Texas — about 35 miles west of Dallas — were arrested after getting young girls to take naked pictures of themselves, which the boys sent out to hundreds of classmates. A 13-year-old boy in Sanger, also outside of Dallas, was arrested on child pornography charges for having a nude photograph of a girl his age on his cell phone.

Pictures aren't the only problem. A star athlete and homecoming king in Georgia was taken to jail for making a sex tape that featured him having sex with a girl and another girl performing oral sex on multiple boys.

Ethan never went to jail, partly because his parents had the resources to seek help.

They sent him to a lockdown facility1,500 miles away in Utah. It was about their only choice.
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Perhaps the most famous porn movie ever made, when viewed on video today, comes through as grainy, a reddish yellow color and almost warm. One scene early in the movie features lead actress Linda Lovelace being examined by a doctor.

"So nothing turns you off to sex," the doctor asks.

"Nothing turns me off to sex," she replies. "I could spend the rest of my life getting laid!"

Sexual intercourse follows.

The film, Deep Throat, would almost be considered soft by today's Internet porn standards; the movie's plot largely centers on Lovelace's quest to have an orgasm. She succeeds after discovering that her clitoris is in the back of her throat. Even the movie's tagline, "How far does a girl have to go to untangle her tingle?" is more shtick than smut.

Deep Throat was produced in six days for $25,000, and it's credited as the first adult film that had the same elements — plot and character development — as a mainstream feature film. A 2005 documentary about Deep Throat said the film had grossed close to $600 million, making it the most profitable movie of all time. That number has been criticized, but it's never been questioned that the movie made a whole lot of money.

More important, it was the first porno that made it out to a mainstream audience. The modern porn industry was born.

Before the release of Deep Throat in 1972, pornography was a seedy, backroom industry. Hugh Heffner had already started Playboy, but it wasn't until 1970 that pictures showing pubic hair were published. More and more adult theaters were erected between 1960 and 1970, but many states used an antiprostitution act from the early 20th century to shut them down.

The demand for Deep Throat, however, was too strong. The 2005 documentary Inside Deep Throat shows archival news footage from the 1970s, and in one clip, a white-haired grandmother wearing a cherry-red suit and a string of pearls, standing outside a movie theater, says, "I liked it. I wanted to see a dirty picture and that's what I saw. I don't want someone telling me I can't see a dirty picture."

The woman's attitude wasn't far off from that of the rest of the country involved in the pornography debate. An article titled "Porno Chic," for example, appeared in The New York Times Magazine about a year after Deep Throat came out, and the reporter wrote that the film "helped people expand their sexual horizons and particularly emphasized that a woman's sexual gratification was as important as a man's." The article's mention of celebrities like Jack Nicholson and Truman Capote seeing the film didn't hurt, either.

Members of the judiciary joined the debate as well, almost from the beginning, and in March of 1973, a judge in New York City ruled that Deep Throat was obscene and banned it. The day after the ruling, the judge was quoted by the Associated Press as saying, "This is one throat that deserves to be cut."

That same year, a grand jury in Houston indicted the owner and five employees for playing the movie at the Cinema West theater in downtown. The film was shown just three times before the Houston Police Department confiscated it.

But after being arrested, Joe Spiegel, the owner of the movie theater, obtained another copy of Deep Throat and held private viewings for people in the city, including members of the Houston Athletic Club and local media, according to an article from the now-defunct Houston Post. About 200 students showed up to watch Deep Throat at the University of Houston.

After two mistrials, then-District Attorney Carol Vance told the Associated Press, "Although a majority may oppose showing this explicit film, the sole issue is whether the film is illegal...It is extremely doubtful any Harris County jury would be able to reach a unanimous verdict."

"They were never going to stop us," says Scott Fuller, who has worked at different adult video stores in Houston for the last couple of decades. Deep Throat, now digitally mastered and sold on DVD, is carried at different stores in Houston, and it continues to sell well.

Fuller's latest gig is Pleasure Zone, an adult video store near the intersection of Richmond and Chimney Rock streets, and while adult video sales have dipped since Fuller started in the industry, "anything we carry, people buy." On a recent evening at Pleasure Zone, which was lit up like a Gap store in the Galleria, Fuller worked the register. A couple of video racks had been taken down to make room for more sex toys — those used to be illegal, too — in preparation for Valentine's Day, but the films remain a big part of the store. One of the best sellers goes for $73.

"People always ask what we have in the back," Fuller says. "But I tell them, if it's not up front, it won't sell."
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Ethan Burnett never had to ask anyone for what he was looking. All it took was a quick Google search.

If he searched for "porn" on any random night, the result might be a link to the popular video-streaming site pornhub.com. The top video on Porn Hub for this particular search might be Drunk, High and Cock Hungry, provided by the site collegefuckfest.com. The video features a young woman surrounded by a group of men at a party, taking off her shirt and pants before performing oral sex on a guy in front of a group of college-age students.

If Ethan moved on from Porn Hub, he could click on another Google result: keezmovies.com, full of similar video streams. The top video on Keez might be titled Slut Masked and Gangbanged, featuring a young woman having sex with half a dozen men at the same time.

It would take less than 20 minutes to view both videos, and neither cost a dime.

High-end pornography today that sells on DVD and Blu-ray has basically moved mainstream, pushed by the home video boom of the 1980s. Porn actresses do far better than Lovelace, who made a little more than $1,000 for her role in Deep Throat and was arrested for cocaine a couple years after the movie's release.

Jesse Jane, for instance, who was born just outside of Dallas, acted in a 2005 adult film that had a $1 million budget. The movie, Pirates, which sells at Pleasure Zone for $73, was also released in a toned-down version and carried by Borders and Barnes & Noble. Jane told Howard Stern that she pulled down six figures making five films a year.

Forbes magazine estimated that a porn company started by Jenna Jameson, who made about 50 adult movies in a ten-year span, is worth $30 million. Vanessa del Rio, who worked in the industry for 25 years, also acted in the ABC series NYPD Blue.

If the porn industry has a dark side now, it's on the Internet.

"There's so much free stuff, coming out so fast, and it's all junk," says Fuller, who doesn't own a computer and stays away from Internet porn. "Our customers keep spending money here because they have kids, or grandkids, and the kids get on the computer, too."

When children watch porn on the Internet, there's not much that authorities have done to stop it. They've cracked down on child pornography, and those arrests are often massive and highly publicized, but regulating what people produce and publish on the Internet, for the most part, has proved trickier for the government.

Courts have left that task up to cities and states, and the governing law depends on where a person is viewing the porn. So if a kid in Texas were looking at a hardcore porn site based out of Nebraska, it would be up to Texas to pursue any criminal charges.

"There are tens of thousands of laws, and that's the problem," says Morris, the Internet porn guru in College Station. "Every city, every county, every state, those laws apply to every Web site. How are you going to comply with that? You're not. Most Web masters say, 'We can't follow the law, so why try?'"

Producing a sex tape in Texas, if you sell it, isn't legal — California is the only state where it is — but the Internet culture has some haphazard views on the law.

"I've shot stuff in Texas, and there's certainly stuff being filmed in Texas now," Morris says. "But you just try to fly under the radar, don't do anything with bondage, no rape fantasy, anything that might get the [district attorney] or the neighbors interested, and you hope for the best."

The federal government has tried to protect kids from porn, starting in 1996 with the Communications Decency Act, and two years later, the stricter Child Online Protection Act. The law basically outlined criminal punishment for anyone who made pornographic material available to kids under 18.

The act became the subject of litigation almost immediately after being signed into law, and as recently as the summer of 2008, a federal circuit court upheld earlier rulings that the act violated the First and Fifth amendments. In effect, there are almost no penalties under federal law for a Web site that makes porn available to children. Not that it would have mattered much anyway.

"COPA wasn't that big of a deal," Morris says. "Proving [age] was a little bit of a concern, but most of the people in the industry have that teenage attitude of, 'It's never going to happen to me. I can get away with anything.'"

Tube sites — places like Porn Hub and Keez Movies — are the rage of Internet porn right now. It started back when YouTube exploded in 2005 and 2006, causing the adult industry to follow. Along with the above-mentioned sites, there's youporn.com, pornotube.com, youjizz.com and just about every other catchy spin on YouTube.

And all the free stuff is driving customers to spend money on Internet porn.

"I hear a lot of complaining about the free stuff hurting business, but I don't hear the complaining from the guys who have been successful year after year," Morris says. "Those guys look at it and say, 'Okay, there's free stuff out there, there's always been free stuff out there, so how do we use that to make money?'"

Morris started his first "porn" site in the infant years of the Internet boom, after he was offered a free site for signing up with an Internet provider. Adult Web sites were pulling in about 80 percent of the money being spent online and 70 percent of the traffic. (Those numbers today have fallen to about a 60/50 split, Morris says.)

He was 21 years old and working at a fast-food restaurant, so Morris went with what was selling: He used his free Web site to post six pictures of Alyssa Milano. Then he got involved in an affiliate program, posting ads for other Web sites on his page, and each time someone clicked on an ad on his Alyssa Milano site, Morris got ten cents.

"It took all of an hour to set up," Morris says. "But a couple weeks later, I got a check for $25, and a couple weeks after that, I got another check. I worked for an hour and kept getting $25 over and over, so I figured, 'What happens if I work for ten hours?'"

Two years later, Morris was making $8,000 a month with his sites. The money model was fairly simple back then, mainly funneled through a program called Adult Check. Consumers paid $30 a month for access to about 80,000 Web sites. Morris never took money from a person looking at his porn, but received a percentage of Adult Check's profits.

"That model has pretty much gone away," Morris says.

Web companies now can process credit card payments, something individual owners couldn't do ten years ago. Most of the sites that have the endless supply of free material are operated by smaller pay sites that provide a niche product, usually one fetish or another. The free sites link to the pay sites, and if a person doesn't buy there, it links back to a free site, which will lead to another pay site. The ultimate goal is to get someone to stumble across something he has to buy.

"Let's say you have blackgirlsandmustangs.com. If someone wants to see black girls and Mustangs, that's where you go," Morris says. "If you're not the best with the black girls and Mustangs, if you opened up darkskinnedwithfordsandsportscars.com, then nobody's going to buy it, and you're not going to make shit."

A goal for a site might be to retain 200 members who pay $30 a month for membership to the site. That Web master would pull down $6,000 for the month, money made, more than likely, from running the site as a side job from his house.

"The Internet is the perfect market economy," Morris says. "If you're the best at what you do, if you produce the best product, you're going to make a butt-load of money."
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Logan Moore was hooked on child pornography by the time he was a teenager. He found out that getting the stuff, however, especially the videos of young kids being molested, could be hard to find for someone his age.

The amount of kiddie porn Logan collected was expanding, but his stockpiling became tough after he fixated on one "prepubescent" child who had been molested and raped over a long period of time on film. The videos were released in short segments only, and the people who distributed the stuff were guarded, to say the least.

Logan plodded through online chat rooms where pedophiles conversed, and he presented himself as an adult, constantly working to find videos of the young child he wanted to watch. Logan later admitted to spending six hours at a time hunting down the content featuring the kid.

"He described to me that it reached the point where it was no longer for sexual arousal," says McLaughlin, the doctor who works with teens at Houston's ADAPT Counseling. "He became attuned to the look in the child's eye that showed she recognized that she had lost control. It was the helplessness that served as the stimulus."

The ADAPT program works with about 50 teens — mainly in the 12 to 17 age group — from Harris County at any given time, and more than half of those are referred from the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department. Teens who are hooked on child porn, bestiality, bondage or rape simulation are rare, McLaughlin says, but those kids do come through the program.

"That pulls particular interest for a child, because it is unusual and bizarre," McLaughlin says. "Kids who explore in that area begin to do so right around puberty, when kids will overhear or partake in conversations that for some kids are jokes but other kids take more seriously."

McLaughlin has even treated kids who have sexual encounters with animals.

"They're available, and they don't report or complain," he says. "Some kids, especially the ones without social skills, they might act out those sexual impulses on available targets, and that can be family pets, or in rare instances, we've had kids who have had sexual encounters with farm animals."

He adds, "Because of the nature of the Internet now, kids have that as a resource to find out whether what they're hearing is real, and they don't have to look very far to find out that it can be very real."

A top result of a Google search for "bestiality," next only to Wikipedia, is basically a YouTube of animal porn. Videos of men and women having sex with horses and dogs and just about everything else are instantly available.

"If we found a dad's Playboy when I was young, we'd look at it, but eventually we'd get bored and go play football," says Shawn Brooks, a founder of Oxbow Academy, the lockdown facility in Utah. "Now an adolescent can sit in front of a computer for 15 hours and never see the same thing twice."

Brooks, along with Steve Schultz, was in Houston in January to meet with family therapists and talk about treating kids who are addicted to porn. Teens who end up at Oxbow — the academy only accepts 13-to-17-year-old boys — are extreme cases. One boy, for example, was out to eat with his parents and was caught in a bathroom stall masturbating to porn on his cell phone.

Another Oxbow kid had continually broken through the restrictions and locks his mom put on the family computer to stop him from looking at pornography, and when his mother finally removed the computer, the boy broke into a neighbor's house.

One teen, in a recorded therapy session at Oxbow, said, "I think honestly what I deserve right now, for what I have done, is to be locked away for a long time."

"We get the kids who let [pornography] have a serious effect on their daily lives," Schultz says.

The teens at Oxbow — it's in Utah because the state doesn't have any anti-lockdown laws — have also, for the most part, been through their local school counselor/family therapist/church counselor systems with no results.

"I think there are a lot of therapists who have contact with it," Brooks says. "They just don't necessarily know how to treat it."
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Things in Houston are no different.

In 2004, about the same time McLaughlin saw a rapid increase in the number of patients with pornography addictions, a 14-year-old boy walked into a Sex Addicts Anonymous meeting in Houston, marking the first time a teen had tried to join a meeting in the city. Carol Ann "R," a recovering sex addict herself, was there and says the group was stunned, unsure how to proceed.

"We're just a fellowship for people who have a desire to stop. Anyone is welcome; we trust people to tell the truth and don't think anyone would lie about being a sex addict," Carol Ann says of the group, which has its national headquarters in Houston. "But with teenagers, we have to be so careful because of age. We needed to develop a special message."

After about 30 minutes of debate, the group allowed the boy to stay at the meeting, but it would be the last time a teenager seeking help would be allowed do so, because the "legal responsibilities transcend 12-step traditions."

According to Carol Ann, Sex Addicts Anonymous has created program for teens wanting to join the organization. It has a rigorous and lengthy screening process for the teen and any adult who agrees to be the kid's sponsor.

A faster-growing portion is a group for the parents of such teens. One Houston mom joined Sex Addicts Anonymous after she discovered that her stepson had been using her credit card to buy pornography.

"I don't know how to access the degree of it, but it turned out it was going on for quite a while," she says. "It's definitely a problem, because it influenced him in a negative way and certainly the household. My husband and I want a completely porn-free house, and we're both going to the 12-step group, and we want to focus on recovery."

Getting her son to commit to therapy of any kind has been more difficult. The mom says that he has talked to "one or two people," but the therapy isn't "completely underway."

Several family therapists in Houston wouldn't talk to the Houston Press about how they treat teens with sexual or pornographic addictions. Cynthia Littlefield, the director of the Christian Counseling Center of Houston, declined an interview because of the sexual nature of some of the content in the Press.

Jeremiah Ramer, the youth minister at the massive Second Baptist Church, initially agreed to talk to the Press, saying that the church counsels a large group of teens on pornography issues. But a media liaison for the church later canceled the interview, explaining, via e-mail, that Second Baptist "tends to keep a rather low profile for the comfort and protection of those involved so that we can gain the level of trust so vital to this process."

Dr. Milton Magness was one therapist who did speak with the Press. Magness runs a practice in Houston for men with sexual addictions, and he treats celebrities and professional athletes, who have the same issues, at a resort in the Canadian Rockies.

Magness's career has been as successful as any family therapist could hope for, but he rarely treats anyone younger than 17.

"It's such a specialized area of care, that for the most part I will not treat younger teens," Magness says. "I'll get calls from mom and dad who say they want something straightened out, but when I talk to the son on the phone, he's not motivated. I'm not going to treat him."

Jake Turner went to therapists during his entire childhood, starting after he was kicked out of kindergarten. Early on, he was diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and separation anxiety, and psychologists loaded Jake up on pills.

"At one time he was on $1,400 worth of meds a month, and that was out of pocket," says Jake's father, James, who wished only to be identified as living in "a Southern state." "A lot of those counselors weren't real good, and one just about killed him with an overdose."

Meds did little to help Jake's behavioral problems, and at school and church, he would lash out at other kids his age, as well as adults. As he grew up, Jake enjoyed the company of young children half his age, his father says, but he couldn't make friends with his peers and constantly caused problems.

"It was always someone else's fault," James says. "His typical answers were, 'They don't like me, nobody likes me, they hate me.' Things would escalate, and boom, he'd burst out the door of high school and run down the road."

During his junior year, Jake hit a teacher. Then his parents found out Jake had been buying hardcore pornography. The family withdrew James from school and sent him to a 51-day wilderness camp for troubled teens in North Carolina.

One evening while he was at the camp, Jake called his parents and told them he had been molested, starting at age five, for about four years by an older kid, the son of a family that lived next to Jake's babysitter.

"It wasn't something pleasant to listen to, to hear him tell that story," James says. "But we felt relief that now we knew what to go and attack."

The family sent Jake to Oxbow after he returned from wilderness camp, to "give him a new thought process," says James. Jake was there for more than a year, spending his 17th birthday and senior year of high school being treated in Utah.

"He begged to come home, and he begged us to come get him," James says. "But we were committed to whatever time it took."
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After he was sent to Oxbow, Ethan Burnett experienced actual withdrawal pains. Missing the endorphins that would shoot into his body from sitting in front of the computer, looking at porn and masturbating, was too much for him to handle.

Ethan broke down, unable to stop crying or punching the floor.

"They have a hard time not masturbating every 15 or 20 minutes," Brooks says.

To combat that, Oxbow has implemented a prison-like regimen. The boys are under constant supervision by staff members, because all it takes is ten seconds, Schultz says, to quickly grope another boy.

"They don't do it to achieve orgasm, but they're trying to create a memory to masturbate to later," Schultz says.

Boys at Oxbow are allowed ten minutes in the bathroom, and because of a variance granted by the State of Utah, the boys are monitored by video cameras and motion detectors while they sleep. It would be nearly impossible for them to escape.

"And we're in central Utah in the middle of nowhere," Brooks says. "There isn't anyplace to go."

The therapy at Oxbow focuses on group sessions, and in one exercise, the boys get together in small groups and try to corral horses without putting their hands on the animals. "Force will normally get what you want, but you don't always need to get what you want," one of the boys said in a recorded session, after being asked what he learned from the horses.

Another major part of the therapy is a lie-detector test, aimed at getting to the underlying issues that caused the boys to get hooked on porn. Some of the teens at Oxbow come from divorced families, some were adopted and some had even been sexually abused, but almost all of them were socially awkward at home and detached from boys and girls their age, causing them to find solace in hardcore pornography.

Ethan remains at the academy, but Jake recently returned home. A big challenge, his father says, came recently when he got a new computer to start taking online classes at a community college.

"An alcoholic that wanted to stay sober wouldn't go into a bar," Brooks says. "But these kids will always be in front of a computer."
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THE CRUSADES
Federal efforts to control pornography elicited few results.

Attempts to federally regulate pornography first emerged during the Deep Throat era. After the Supreme Court ruled that people could look at what they wanted in their own homes, Congress, on an antiporn crusade, spent $2 million to fund a President's Commission on Obscenity and Pornography. Researchers selected by the commission were charged with finding the harmful effects of watching porn.

The results couldn't have been worse for the government. The commission's final report found no link between pornography and anti-social behavior, adding that child molesters and rapists had less exposure to porn than "sexually well-adjusted" people.

More funding for broader sex education programs was suggested in the report, along with recommendations for laws that would outlaw the sale of pornographic materials to minors. Laws needed to protect people who did not seek exposure to porn, according to the report, but it also said that anti-porn laws should be repealed because legislation "should not seek to interfere with the rights of adults who wish to do so to read, obtain, or view explicit sexual materials."

The U.S. Senate almost unanimously rejected the findings, and in a statement regarding the final report, President Richard Nixon said, "I have evaluated the report and categorically reject its morally bankrupt conclusions and major recommendations. So long as I am in the White House, there will be no relaxation of the national effort to control and eliminate smut from our national life.

Commission member Morton Hill, a Jesuit priest who founded Morality in Media, was perhaps the strongest dissenter from the report, eventually holding his own hearings and filing a report that recommended stricter laws that would make illegal the sale of pornographic materials to adults.

According to one account, in "Politics and Pornography," prepared for the University of Texas – Dallas, researcher David Edwards writes, "At one of the commission's regular sessions a young radical called the project a 'blatant McCarthyesque witchhunt' and threw a whipped-cream pie in the face of his questioner."

Congress accepted Hill's report and read it into the record, but there were few results in regulating porn.

After Ronald Reagan was elected president, Father Hill snapped into action again, arranging a meeting at the White House to urge Reagan to attack pornography. The President did so by forming another commission. Linda Lovelace, the star of Deep Throat, testified at those hearings, saying, "Every time someone watches [Deep Throat], they're watching me being raped."

One commission member sent a letter to convenience store chains, telling them that they were identified as pornography distributors for selling magazines like Playboy and Penthouse. Many of the chains — 7-Eleven the largest — pulled the magazines, and one store in East Texas, according to an Associated Press article, even dropped Texas Monthly because it published a racy perfume ad. A federal judge later ruled that the letter violated the First Amendment.

Meanwhile, as the federal commissions failed to enact any real regulations, the pornography industry boomed as home video became the norm. A United Press International article published in 1986 touted the fact that a third of all households had a "videocassette recorder," and the video industry flourished because of porn. By the mid-1980s, there were 20,000 adult video stores in the country, and 75 percent of the members of the American Video Association sold or rented adult films.

paul.knight@houstonpress.com

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