from www.calcoastnews.com – Over the past seven years, Paso Robles resident Gary Lee has conducted his business quietly… some might say, under the radar. He doesn’t advertise in the local media, or rub elbows at service club meetings, or join civic committees. But while Lee may maintain a discreet presence, his enterprise most definitely does not.
Lee is proprietor of a North County web-based pornography empire featuring 33 sites, including his favorite, slobabes.com, which boasts (honestly) all local girls. It was an idea that Lee said quickly took hold.
“When I first thought about returning to Paso Robles and creating a site using local girls, I figured the biggest problem I’d have would be finding the girls. Not so. That was the easy part,” he said as he munched on a steak at F. McLintocks restaurant.
“I wondered who would be willing to get naked. After all, we’re a small town. And if the girls go on slobabes, someone is going to see them who knows them. I guarantee it. If you are a local in this town, and you go to slobabes for 48 hours, you will see someone you know. It may not be your girlfriend or your wife, but you will see someone you know.
“So on my site you might see the girl who sold you your house, or took care of you in the hospital, or helped you at the bank,” he said.
As he spoke to a reporter, restaurant workers passing his table smilingly greeted him by name.
No, he said, his biggest business issue has been finding and keeping technically qualified people to help with website design and maintenance, and capable production people.
“I found when I came back to Paso that if it didn’t eat hay, no one knew how to fix it,” he said.
A thrill-seeker by nature, the former Navy Seal said he virtually stumbled into his first porn role about 20 years ago, and has spent time both as an actor and producer of adult films.
He would spend time in Los Angeles appearing in films, then return to Paso Robles to do his “legitimate” work. All the while, his family and most friends were unaware of his supplemental income source. But the Paso Robles High School graduate always wanted to be doing business nearer to home.
And now he is. He’s fully licensed and takes great pains to comply with all local, state, and federal laws and regulations, because he suspects that his every action is being monitored closely.
Paso Robles Police Chief Robert Burton did not respond to questions about Lee’s business.
If it’s not officials watching, it could be any of the hundreds of customers the sites attract.
“I have many customers, many of whom are over fifty, who pay their $9.95 each and every month, who I would consider my regulars,” Lee said. And while many might consider his business seamy, he said he labors to remain within lawful standards, and is just taking advantage of past court decisions.
Nearly a half-century ago, the U.S. Supreme Court was wrestling with the concept and definition of pornography when Justice Potter Stewart uttered what many consider to be the most famous words ever voiced by the court:
“I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [“hard-core pornography”]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.” (Jacobellis v. Ohio, 1964, regarding the motion picture “The Lovers.”)
And thus was born the “community standards” test for obscene material, with the original concept being that people in individual communities were the best judges of what is, and is not, obscene.
With that decision came the creation of a standard in which all speech is protected — except for “hard-core pornography.” That definition did not, however, provide an applicable standard for review by lower courts. The “Miller v. California” test in 1973 created three criteria that must be met before state regulators could take action, according to Wikipedia: (1) The average person, applying local community standards, looking at the work in its entirety, appeals to the prurient interest; (2) the work must describe or depict, in an obviously offensive way, sexual conduct or excretory functions’ and (3) the work as a whole must lack “serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific values.”
Pornography is the reason the Internet exists today, Lee opined.
“Virtually every innovation on the Internet has been because of porn,” he said. “That was how the technology emerged to put many photographs up on a site. It prompted people to figure out how to stream video. And porn was first to commercialize the Internet, because before porn there was no way to take a credit card over the Internet.”
When he started his business “most of us older guys didn’t even have a computer at home. Now I don’t think I have a single friend who doesn’t have a computer in the house.”
Lee said he is happy that “old guys like him” still have a role in the adult industry; most guys who watch porn are around his age, he said, so can relate to him more.
Paso Robles city officials recently have been crusading against alleged sex businesses, primarily massage parlors suspected of being fronts for prostitution. A local ordinance stiffening up regulations had its first reading by the city council last week.
The porn business is lucrative, Lee said, but he won’t be more specific.
“It’s like any other business,” he said, “not much money and a lot of work at the beginning, then it improves.”
It’s also a multi-billion-dollar a year industry that has major corporations — particularly large hotel chains — raking in immense profits for in-room broadcasts. Marriott, Westin and Hilton hotels all offer the service.
“I’m not in that income class,” grinned Lee.
Does porn provide a healthy outlet, or satisfy any socially redeeming purpose?
“Two or three glasses of wine can be healthy, two or three bottles are not,” Lee said.
“There are limits to everything. There are a lot of things that are good in moderation. Porn is one of those things. If someone occasionally looks at porn, I don’t think a marriage is going to fall apart, or make a single guy not want to go out and meet people. But if someone just sits there and takes matters into his own hands six times a day, that’s a bad thing.”