Anyone Recommending Las Vegas Must be Forgetting the Pure Pleasure Bust and How Free Speech Donation Money Mysteriously Disappeared

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AVN’s Mark Kernes in a story about underage girls being shot for amateur websites operating out of Arizona states that if the porn industry is going to make any move out of California it would probably be to Las Vegas.

Those preferences are due in part to a California court ruling [The Freeman decision] that made adult-film production legal, Kernes said, and an understanding that courts in Nevada would accept that ruling.

Last time I checked, Clark County still outlawed prostitution, but if you want to take your chances shooting there, tell your attorney Mark Kernes sent you. I’m sure there will be a discount.

In his rush to get a nomination to the US Supreme Court, Kernes, a Free Speech Coalition board member, must also be forgetting the Pure Pleasure Bust that occurred in Las Vegas involving the Erotic 11 and Free Speech.

The Erotic 11 was a name given by Bill Margold [pictured] to a number of porn stars who were busted in Vegas at a store called Pure Pleasure back in January, 1993.

The incident was re-created to some extent in a movie titled Infamous Crimes Against Nature produced by Arrow Productions’ Ray Pistol. Pistol played a pivotal role not only in footing legal bills but getting the antiquated statute struck off the state books.

Margold, who still has a very bad taste in his mouth about Las Vegas because of that incident, had long been putting on lingerie auction shows at an Upland, California location known as The Toy Box.

The idea of the shows was to have fans come up on stage and remove porn stars’ lingerie with their teeth. Among the first performers to participate in those shows were Amber Lynn, Sheri St. Clair, Athena Star and Bunny Bleu. And, according to Margold, the performers loved it, the fans loved it. “It was just a good time for everybody.”

Margold kept those shows going on a yearly basis in Upland as long as interest held out. Then in January, 1992 he took it on the road to Las Vegas and staged the first lingerie auction show at Pure Pleasure which had a venue large enough to support it.

With the show locked in place featuring a “cast of characters” the momentum was such that it was able to start raising money for what was then a combination of the existing Adult Video Association and the Free Speech Legal Defense Fund.

According to Margold, there were marginal, fun-and-games sex acts but not explicit ones beyond girl-girl play.

“No one seemed to care. It was Las Vegas and I was simply bringing a little more salt to Sodom as I always said,” he states.

The event was structured similarly to an old time carny show and was tucked away in a tent.

“We were private,” says Margold.

“People paid money. It was like ten dollars admission to get in. And there were a lot of participants in that first one including Nina Hartley, Patricia Kennedy, Porsche Lynn and Madison.”

Because it was so successful, Margold elected to do the show again in the summer of ’92 during the VSDA convention with similar results.

“No one seemed to care. No one seemed to bother me. No one seemed to be upset with the whole situation,” states Margold.

During this time, politics were such that the Free Speech Legal Defense Fund was trying to absorb the Adult Video Association.

By September, the Free Speech Legal defense Fund absorbed the AVA, did away with it and became the Free Speech Coalition.

A key point to bear in mind, says Margold, is that Free Speech has gone out of its way to deny that it had anything to do with the disastrous show the following January. However its name is on the flyers, and by that time Margold figured he was donating $1,000 to $2,000 from those events.

Likewise, the January 1993 show generated thousands of dollars including $20 bills tossed on stage like spent matches.

“The money flew like locusts in the air,” Margold recalls, and he estimates that 1100 people attended that show at $10 apiece.

“It was a private party, by the way.”

At one point doing the show, Margold, who was later arrested, slipped on the money and blew his knee out.

“It caused a rather unique experience in jail. They were going to search me but they couldn’t get my pants down,” Margold remembers.

“My knee was swollen I couldn’t push my pants all the way down.”

The 4-hour show was videotaped by Seymore Butts and Allan Gelbard who later became a lawyer.

The women who eventually came to be known as The Erotic 11 included Nina Hartley, Sharon Mitchell, Beatrice Valle, Patricia Kennedy, Danyel Cheeks, Ariana, Lacey Rose, Trixie Tyler, Shylene, Naughty Angel and Nina Suave.

Another five girls appeared in the show but didn’t get busted. Those were Angela Faith, Tami Monroe, Pearl Joyce, Kat Karlson and the late Alex Jordan who Margold discovered in 1991 and gave her the name as a hybrid of Alex Karras and Michael Jordan.

“She lived next door to me,” Margold remembers. “She was my most beloved of kids and I worshipped her.”

Though it doesn’t have anything specifically to do with the Pure Pleasure bust, Margold notes that Jordan was off at a booth somewhere at the time of the bust getting high on pot.

“She probably didn’t know what was going on stage.”

Within a month after that event, Margold held the FOXE awards.

“Alex won Starlet of the Year from AVN that year,” he recalls.

“Then she won the FOXE Vixen award that same year. Alex went to the AVN awards and I was told by Michael [Jordan’s husband who went under the porn name Justin Case] that there had been a deal made to guarantee her freedom only if she attended the AVN awards. She was told by somebody at AVN that she was not allowed to attend the FOXE awards, and, if she did, AVN would rescind whatever they intended to rescind.”

The Pure Pleasure show was into its last act and Naughty Angel took the stage. Margold was looking forward to having a steak and then crashing because he had to be on the convention floor the next morning.

By his recollection, about a minute after midnight, someone came on the stage to announce the show was over. Not even suspecting that it might be the cops, Margold breathed a sigh of relief.

“I said, good- I’m glad. I want to go home.”

Margold was told not so fast, and the guy pulled out a badge.

“He and his army of vice cops had watched the entire show; now we were going to jail.”

As the audience was storming out of the tent [Margold describes it as “an unbelievable lemmingesque retreat into cowardice”], Margold asked the head vice cop for what.

“It was just us in the back of the tent dressing area- Seymore, Gelbard and the girls in various forms of undresss and handcuffs. The greatest of all shots was taken that night of Nina in handcuffs.”

Asked what he was doing at the show, Margold said he was raising money for Free Speech and that’s about all the detail he could offer.

Margold went on to explain that it was a private affair and that people paid to get in. He assured the cops that there was certainly no one underage.

“There was nothing that we did wrong.”

Margold was then informed that because he wasn’t cooperating, he was going to jail.

“Cooperate about what? I didn’t do anything wrong,” he repeated. Margold said the eleven girls previously mentioned were then trundled off in vans and cars to the hoosegow.

“It was a pathetic sight.”

It took little time for word to get out that there was a big bust at Pure Pleasure. What upset Margold the most was that the money generated during the show was never accounted for. Your guess being as good as anyone’s as to what happened to it.

“The money was raked off the stage- I was watching the vice cops happily do that.”

Then, according to Margold, he was frisked and $2480 was allegedly taken from him- money that he raised earlier that day at the AVA/ Legal Defense Fund booth. “That included a couple of checks and money orders,” he remembers.

“None of that money was ever seen again. None of it. None of the money off the stage and none of the money taken from me. That’s highly suspect.”

While Margold could see where the stage money could be used as evidence of ill gotten gains, the money taken off his person was neither returned.

“The cops never gave that back.”

The women faced charges of prostitution and Margold faced a charge of pandering. His defense was that he made no money doing it.

“I’m a not for profit panderer and the girls weren’t paid for doing it. These people volunteered their services.”

The original charges subsequently disappeared replaced by new ones- “Infamous Crimes Against Nature”.

“Felony lesbianism,” Margold points out.

“Because the women were up on stage doing things with each other. Some archaic crime from the turn of the century in Nevada was being hung over these ladies’ heads.”

Margold remembers Butts being let go. “He told his side of the story and was let go because he didn’t do anything wrong. He was up on stage happily shooting, doing nothing more than documenting history.”

The women, swears Margold, were violated in jail during the course of the searches. Of all the women, only Hartley and Mitchell remained in the business.

“Gelbard says that evening inspired him to become a lawyer. It scared him straight I guess. And it was frightening.”

After spending an night in the holding tank, Margold got released after Ray Pistol put up bail. Margold also suspects that Fat Dog’s Larry Fields [who is now retired] was also instrumental in putting up some cash while Gloria Leonard went person-to-person to collect money.

Margold said he was one of the last to be released, that the women were out before him.

“Seymore was the last to get out, and I do remember feeling horribly empty when, about nine in the morning, they came to get me and Seymore was just left there. I was heartbroken. There was no one there for him but eventually he did get out the same day.”

“I was just miserable,” Margold recalls.

“I had been arrested a number of other times in the Seventies for making movies. In those days, for whatever it was worth, I guess I was guilty. But it was such a stupid thing I was guilty of they never could convict me. But then you knew you were going to get busted.”

Vice cops even told Margold as much, and Margold knew that he was a face on a wanted poster.

“Here for the very first time I’m arrested and I’m innocent,” he says. “I never expected to get arrested in Las Vegas.”

Margold finally made it on to the convention floor about 11 am.

“Basically dead, and that night- a paradox- I was given induction into the only Hall of Fame I don’t care about being in, and that’s AVN’s.”

Margold suspects that Reb Sawitz, who accepted it on his behalf, may still have it. By Sunday, Margold was handing out glib one-liners to the press about the arrests.

By the summer of ’94, Margold was found guilty.

“But of what?” he asks.

“By the time I’m convicted it’s a gross obscenity, and to this day, I’m not exactly sure just how guilty I really was.”

Meanwhile, the women secured legal representation from attorney Dominic Gentile. According to what Margold had heard from Danyel Cheeks, Gentile urged the women to turn on Margold.

“I’ll get you all off,” Gentile was supposed to have guaranteed.

While some of the girls were willing to do it, Cheeks supposedly told them to shut their goddamned mouths, that they know what they were doing when they were on the stage and that they should all take their chances.

“Gentile wasn’t too thrilled about that,” noltes Margold.

“But I guess in the long run he got more payment than he could bargain for because Ariana [whom Gentile subsequently married] was one of the people he was handling so he got exactly what he deserved. And people can read into that whatever they want.”

Margold suspects that the girls, individually, were able to raise enough money to fight their cases.

“Eventually all of them were let off with a big slap on their wrist and a misdemeanor obscenity charge.

“But for awhile they were all at risk to be convicted of something called Infamous Crimes Against Nature. The one thing that Gentile did succeed in doing was somehow he managed to overturn that whole statute in the Nevada State Supreme Court. So he was valuable to that extent.”

After the Pure Pleasure bust, according to Margold, a number of people in the adult business officially proclaimed him a dead man.

“They said that I had violated every common sense, every sane act and, according to some, did it on purpose for my ego. Really? Theoretically facing 54 years in jail? I was doing this on purpose?”

Margold says the one fact very obvious in the case is that he never made a cent on the show. Neither did the women.

“They did it because they believed in the cause and even more than that, I think they believed in me.”

Margold’s case, underwritten by Pistol, dragged on long after the others were dropped.

“I don’t think they ever figured out exactly what I had done.”

By the time Margold finally got before a judge, the judge nor the D.A. were exactly sure what Margold had done, nevertheless, Margold was fined $4,000 with three years’ probation and a stern warning from hizzoner: “Don’t do it again.”


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