Police Arrest 6 Porn Movie Makers, Citing Pandering Law
May. 20, 1985
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Authorities have launched an attack on hard-core sex films, and mainstream filmmakers are voicing alarm over how far police might be willing to go in their investigation of the city's $550-million-a-year adult movie industry.
''I don't want somebody to tell me that I can't take somebody's clothes off,'' said Bob Rafelson, director of ''The Postman Always Rings Twice,'' a film that contains an erotic, but simulated, love scene between Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange.
''I deplore the amount of gratuitous sex I see in movies today,'' Rafelson said. ''...(But) politically, I condemn anybody and fight anybody that is going to deprive the individual of his right to articulate sensuality and sexuality in any way he chooses, even though I may disapprove of it.''
Six filmmakers have been arrested for investigation of pandering under a tough law that carries a mandatory three-year prison term.
Although women performing in hard-core movies maintain they are actresses, vice officers and prosecutors say they're prostitutes because they are paid to perform sex acts. The producers, authorities say, procure the actresses to engage in sex and, thus, are pandering.
Filmakers and actresses say vice detectives have been intimidating crews by conducting extensive surveillance at locations where hard-core films are made and threatening to charge women appearing in the films with prostitution unless they cooperate.
Detectives also have cracked down on two modeling agencies that supply actors and actresses for hard-core sex movies.
''If I had been shooting in Los Angeles, you best believe I wouldn't be now,'' said Les Baker, president of Gemini Film Corp. in Las Vegas, who films in the San Francisco area. ''Unequivocally, it has put a chill (on the Los Angeles industry). No sensible person would stick his head into that meat grinder.''
Of the six movie producers arrested so far, only Harold Freeman's case has reached the trial stage.
Freeman, an Encino filmmaker, is charged in Van Nuys Superior Court in connection with the film, ''Caught From Behind II.'' Freman shot the film, which depicts various sex acts, at a Rancho Palos Verdes house in September.
The women who performed in the film testified that they considered themselves actresses, not prostitutes.
''I was required to memorize dialogue, take direction, wear theatrical makeup and generally do all the things necessary in performing any theatrical role,'' Rhonda Gary of Lake Forest stated in a court affidavit filed in the case.
Freeman argued that his purpose in employing the actors in his films ''is not to facilitate sexual arousal or gratification, but rather to create entertaining and often informational-educational motion pictures.''
Freeman has asked rhetorically if the vice squad can arrest him for investigation of pandering, what is to prevent officers from cracking down on major studios, where a growing number of films depict graphic sexual scenes?
Nothing, according to police Administrative Vice Lt. Dennis Conte, who is in charge of the department's pornography section.
''We don't have any alternatives but to take action,'' Conte said. ''If there was a movie that was R-rated where there was a sex act and we had the means to investigate that type of incident and there was a provable violation, then we would present that to the district attorney.''
Conte said, however, that it would be unlikely for producers of R-rated films to go beyond simulating sexual acts and thus to violate the law.