Adult industry director Mo Reese who’s running for a spot on the Free Speech Coalition Board of Directors, was a guest on Rebecca Bardoux’s Internet show Friday night.
If you were following the action, Reese was very vocal during the No on Measure B campaign.
“I think you have a very strong passion when it comes to this industry,” Bardoux said.
“I do,” said Reese.
“I came from mainstream five years ago, and I came into porn. I’ve always been a fan of porn, but I fell in love with the industry. I was brought in by Andre Madness and five years later I’m still here. I really love what I do.
“I like the politics of porn,” he continues.
“I think it’s very interesting. I care about the people, and I have a lot of friends in the industry. I’m also a big fan of politics outside the industry, so things like Measure B really piqued my interest.”
Reese said a Cal/OSHA meeting was one of his first experiences at witnessing true politics in porn.
“It was a very interesting meeting to participate in, and I went from there,” he said.
“Most people know me from Twitter, and Measure B was something I was also very passionate about.”
Reese noted that during the Measure B fight there was a lot of communication breakdown.
“There were a lot of people in the industry, especially the talent pool, that really had no idea of what was going on. There was a lot of confusion. There still is about what’s going on with the permitting process; everything’s up in the air. Nobody knows what’s going on.”
According to Reese, what really got him pro-active, was a message he received on Twitter.
“A girl came into my office on a go-see; a sweet girl. But I don’t know her. She direct messaged me and said, ‘Hey, I don’t know if you remember me. You seem to know a lot about Measure B. Supposedly we’re to be wearing condoms today from what I read in the news. I’m on set today. Are we supposed to be wearing condoms toady? Is the law now? I don’t know.’
“This is a person who doesn’t know me but based off of what I said on Twitter, came to ask me that question,” explained Reese.
“I’m way down lower on the people she should be asking, but that just shows how confused people are now that this law has passed. Are you supposed to do this, who’s responsible for this? I don’t know all the answers.”
Reese said the conclusions he drew from this exchange was that there was a communications breakdown and people need to be educated.
“Free Speech Coalition has been very active now on Twitter which has been great, but a lot of press releases go to the typical news sources, XBiz, AVN. I don’t think that communication gets to the actual performer, and a lot of the other people who work on sets.
“Performers are very important, obviously, they are what make the movies happen. But there are PA’s on set that are going to have these kinds of questions. Right now there is no place for anybody to go where they can really get the answers. Everyone’s trying, but there’s really no place for that.”
Reese said this was an opportunity for the FSC to be more direct not only to the performers but to “everyone who works on a crew.”
“What is the responsibility of the Free Speech Coalition to this industry?” Bardoux asked.
“What are they here for?”
“That’s a good question,” said Reese.
“My experience with them, most recently, has been with Measure B. There’s been a lot of complaining and backlash against them because, Measure B, we lost. People felt that the campaign wasn’t in the right direction. My response to that- I’m not defending them- was where was the other side? Where was the other voice? Where was the other ten companies that got together and said, hey, we’re going to do a campaign as well? There wasn’t that.
“There’s a lot of back door politics, there’s a lot of things that go on that I don’t know about, that a lot of people in production don’t know about,” Reese concedes, referring to the “power players” in the business who chose to go with the government waste issue.
“Personally, I would have gone more with a ‘this is a workplace safety issue that the public has a real reason to be voting on.’ That’s always been my argument. We don’t make decisions on any other work place. Why is this happening? I’m not saying I’m right or this would have been the way to go.” [Spoken like a true politician.]
Reese said his reasons for going on the board are not to change the world.
“I’m looking to go in there and give a different voice. When it came out that I was nominated I was flattered, shocked and intimidated when I saw the other people that are running. In some cases there are people who have been in the industry longer than I’ve been alive. I respect that very much.
“These are people that are very outspoken and big names in the industry. I was very flattered being on that list. I’m an average guy that people know on set, from Twitter; they know me as a passionate guy so I would bring a different voice. They already have lawyers. They have company owners.
“There is one talent that is currently on the board. I wouldn’t be going in as talent. I want to be more of a general voice of the production side of things and be able to say, hey, in the trenches, this is what I’m hearing.”
Reese feels the Free Speech Coalition has a responsibility to listen to that voice and to what the general porn population is thinking.
Reese also feels that as long as consenting adults are appearing in porn movies and that there’s a market for them, there should be a be and let be attitude towards them. However on the “scat” issue [Ira Isaacs] Reese says he’s not into it.
“I have no desire to watch that and I don’t want to be on a set for that,” he states.
“But there are people who are really into it. There’s European porn that does that; well that’s obscene and you can get into a lot of trouble for that; and there’s been a few court cases about that. But, to be crude, if one person wants to shit on another person, and one person wants to film it and another person wants to buy it, I don’t see why there’s an actual issue to that. That’s my personal opinion.
“The same thing goes with fisting. Four fingers is fine. You add that thumb, and now we’re obscene. While at the same time I can watch a girl put in a toy that’s the side of a two liter bottle of soda up their butt and nobody says a thing about that. But if she would put a whole hand up her butt and it goes out on DVD, and its distributed to the wrong place, there’s going to be a court case over that. But those are all protections, and I know the Free Speech board deals with that and will continue to deal with that in the future.”
“There’s a wild, wild west out there,” Bardoux points out.
“There really aren’t set rules; everybody does what they want to do when they want to do it. Is it going to be Free Speech that’s going to set up these rules and we have to enforce these rules within ourselves instead of allowing people from the outside to come in and enforce them for us which we know doesn’t work well.”
“We need to self-regulate ourselves better,” Reese replied.
“There are problems with this. Anybody can film pornography. Anybody at this point.”
Reese says if you have an independent producer who decides that he’s going to hire a couple of girls off of Craigslist and makes porn, there’s no way of regulating that.
“There are people who shoot pornography all over the country.”
All of which leads Reese to speculate that AHF is shooting for a state proposition on condoms.
“But what about the people who film in Florida? What about the people who shoot elsewhere? We can’t control those. We are the wild west. There’s a lot of that so it would take a massive movement – talent, agents, producers – to all come together on that. People have their own cliques.
“Everybody keeps in their own group and nobody wants to talk and everybody think they’re in competition, so I think it’s very difficult, daunting task. Is it impossible? I would say it would be very difficult. Is it something that board of directors can control? I think with 14 people it would be difficult. I think there would be need to have a lot more infrastructure to handle that. Should we unionize? Those are all questions that need to be handled by the population.
“I think it would be very difficult for us to unionize,” Reese continued.
“I like the idea of insurance, but with the high quick turnaround of talent, how do you put those people in and out of the system- somebody who doesn’t work for six months or two years that comes back. The bouncing in and out, how is that going to be run? Those are fairly complex systems that need to be set up. It sounds great, but even when I worked in mainstream, I wasn’t in the union. I didn’t have insurance. There was no health insurance for that.
“With sex there is a risk of STDs,” Reese concedes.
“There’s risks on a photo shoot. There’s risks on independent movies, and a lot of other areas as well. If you’re injured on a job, and you don’t have insurance, and you’re an independent contractor, you’re stuck the same way that any porn performer is.
“A lot of people need insurance. I could use some insurance. So if anybody has some sort of deal out there let me know.”
Bardoux posed the question about raising the age from 18 to 21 to perform in movies.
“I think it’s an interesting thought,” said Reese.
“The problem is we consider an 18 year-old to be an adult. So that would have to become an actual law. Otherwise it’s a case by case basis of companies. If Brazzers or Wicked or Vivid or New Sensations said they we’re not hiring anyone under the age of 21, that would help limit those types of things if you could get an agreement; again, smaller, independent producers they can hire whoever they want unless there was a state law.
“The testing we do is not a law,” he pointed out.
“This is something we have created ourselves and follow. But when it comes to the age-thing, you might find companies cornering the market. I think this should come through the agents or the testing facility- there needs to be more of an education when people come into pornography- about what the risks are.”
Reese feels there could be a psychologist, via a testing facility for instance, to speak to someone who’s coming new into the business.
“There are realisms; there are emotional risks. There is a life after this. You could have family issues. Not to convince people not to do it, it’s more to say here it is.”
Reese suggests that agents might get together and put together a Porn 101 training class for newbies, that it would be a good idea.
“But there’s no way of enforcing that or requiring that. It would have to be a genuine guideline.”
Comparing it to the HIV test, Bardoux thought a performer might present a Porn 101 certificate on set the same way. She mentioned other professions that make those requirements.
“How far Free Speech can go to bring everyone in the same room to make those discussions, who knows?” says Reese.
“When I went to those rallies for Measure B, there was a spattering of different people. We don’t get along well enough to bring everyone together. We can try. I’m not going to say it’s going to happen.”
“At this point I don’t know why we need the Free Speech Coalition,” said Bardoux.
“Back in the day I understood it, but at this point it seems to me what’s the point of having them? What is the Free Speech Coalition, where you being on the board, what are you going to do to help me as a person who has a career in the adult industry?
“Those questions need to be asked of the board,” answered Reese.
“There needs to be a forum, a place to go to put in a suggestion box, if you will, where those questions can be addressed. Because if you don’t know the questions, you don’t know how to help them.”
On the Measure B issue, Reese said he met the campaign manager [James Lee] and thought “he was a great guy.”
“I was, wow, we got a fighting Republican. Did he do a great job? I wasn’t in the closed door meetings. I don’t know what happened so it makes it difficult.
“I thought they fought a good fight. There were a few holes. I know where the LA Times wasn’t contacted quickly enough to get their opinion. They changed their mind. They were going to be for it, then after they heard more from our side, they backed down.
“Communication is definitely there, but what it comes down to in these cases, who else is going to be fighting for this? What group is going to be doing a lawsuit against LA County?
“Obviously Larry Flynt is politically active, but I haven’t seen a declaration coming out of Hustler saying we’re going to sue, we’re taking this on. There’s no other collective I know of, so the question is, who would fill that hole? Right now this is the organization that’s out there.”
Noting that he’s just an average guy, Reese said he wants some fresh blood in the room when FSC decisions are being made.