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Evil Angel’s Christian Mann Interviewed by Dirtyoldmen.tv

Evil Angel’s general manager Christian Mann was a guest this week on the newly launched video podcast, Dirtyoldmen.tv. The show’s hosted by Wasteland/Spicecash’s CEO Colin Rowntree [a great radio voice, by the way] and fellow paysite owner Simon Abitbo.

Mann, before taking over the reins at Evil Angel when Chris Norman returned to England on personal matters, ran such companies as Catalina and Video Team. Mann, who’s been in the business 32 years, grew up in the adult publishing end of the business having worked for his father, Kurt Mann’s Flamingo Press in the late ‘70’s.

Mann notes that his mother, long divorced from his father, didn’t want him involved in the “sordid” business that his father was in.

Mann was taking a break from college, having just finished his freshman year. His summer job was being a tutor to Vietnamese children that had just landed in the United States.

Lacking translators, people who could speak Vietnamese and English, Mann at age 18, got the job because he could converse in French with shell shocked youngsters in their second tongue. Mann is still pretty facile with the language.

“We’ll get the whole Quebec crowd,” Rowntree mused as Mann went on in the Parisian tongue.

When that translator’s job became short-lived, Mann, whose father had been printing adult magazines since 1964, gave him a job for the summer. Mann turned the summer job into a career.

“I did go back to college while working for him in the afternoons and evenings,” Mann continues.

“There was still the conceit that I was maybe going to finish my college education. I’ll say that I was educated under the yoke of my father’s tutelage and occasional slavery. When you work for your dad you can’t file a complaint with the labor board.

“My dad is the reason that part of my involvement with the adult industry is so focused on graphics,” Mann goes on to say.

“He was a printer and a layout artist back in the days when people used exacto knives and rubylith and opaquing tape and light tables. He created all of his own brochures. I was fascinated by that process and he was also an advertising and marketing guy. He had studied a little bit with the great Saul Bass in the 1950’s.

One of the subjects Mann enjoyed in college was Psychology. He was fascinated by the psychology of marketing, especially in the adult business.

“It’s so Id-driven and there’s so many subliminal and not so subliminal messages. I don’t think there’s much I could have learned in college that was a valuable as that coupled with some mentoring in salesmanship.

“My father would teach me the difference between the hard sell and the soft sell and he showed me how to do it with relationship building so that it wasn’t a sales call. It was a friendship call.”

Mann worked for a time as purchasing agent in the mail order end of adult. In doing that he encountered all the people in the business.

“People from Caballero, people from Mike Thevis’ era, Parliament News, all those guys,” Mann recalls.

“Unlike my father who was conservative, I was a young, radical, dope-smoking, drug taking…by day I was a people pleasing sort of goody two shoes but I wanted to party.

“And so I used the connections I made to start going to the parties and finding out what-was-what. It was a great sexual education. I was fresh out of high school. I’m the kid who didn’t get laid in high school. I was the dorky, dweeby…my best shot at hanging out with the cool kids is that I was also selling them their weed, so I have a little entrepreneurship. I was that character who behaved like Eddie Haskell once the parents weren’t around.”

Rowntree could see Mann as an “extra” in Boogie Nights. While Mann admits he’s never seen Boogie Nights he consulted on the film 8mm with James Gandolfini.

“He spent a full day in my office just observing me,” Mann remembers.

“I didn’t see that movie. I didn’t see Hardcore with George C. Scott. It’s too strange for me to watch because I sort of lived in it. I remember John Holmes one or two days after the Wonderland incident. A very good friend of mine in the industry was at a party the night of the incident when John Holmes showed up, freaked out and still shooting drugs in front of everyone.”

According to Mann, the height of the insanity was when he became roommates with Paul Norman and Jeanna Fine.

“We had this crazy party house in Studio City on Valleyheart Drive and ours was the place to go. It was the height of the cocaine era and our pajama parties were legendary because they brought in a mix of mainstream and porn people.

“All I can tell you is the final thing with all of that happened in 1988 when I got sober. There was a reason I needed to get sober.”

Mann went down on an obscenity bust when he was working for Video Team.

“I was my first experience as a Federally-indicted defendant,” says Mann.

“I wasn’t my first run in with obscenity law or running afoul of the law in this business. When I was running Catalina, we had a studio outside of Los Angeles County- this was before the Freeman decision and our studio in Ontario [California] was busted.

“I had to deal with all of that. So I’ve had a lot of experience on the local level with the Los Angeles police dept. administrative vice. I had friends on the vice squad who knew my father and respected my father.

“It was strange bedfellows back in those days where the cops and the robbers knew each other by name and they were friendly [Bill Margold tells an entirely different story]. This was my first experience on the Federal level.”

Mann recalls how on the first day working for his father he was in a van picking up magazines at CPLC. As he turned the corner, the MyPorn raids were in full swing. He called his father to find out what was going on with the news cameras and a full bust going on.

By 1989 when he was indicted Mann said he was pretty well versed in obscenity law.

“I had all the background. I knew who the lawyers were. The scary part was that I was the father of a one year-old and a two year-old son. I recognized that I might go to jail. The good news was that I had people behind me who stood behind me the whole way. No one hung me out to dry.

“As a second generation in the business I looked at it as an opportunity to do something that my father referred to as being a stand-up guy.”

According to Mann, the Government made him an offer to roll on the big guys but he would never consider such a thing.

In one of the ironies of porn, Mann, five years later, was offered an opportunity to buy Video Team for whom he took the hit. He got favorable terms to suggest that he had done the right thing by the company by not rolling over because he was the low man on the totem pole and “collateral damage”.

Mann feels in obscenity cases it’s more important to defend the content than the defendant.

“I instructed my lawyer to go with the team.”

Rowntree noted how in a conversation with John Stagliano after his obscenity victory, Stagliano muttered that he wanted to take the case to the US Supreme Court and was denied the opportunity by prosecutors who couldn’t run a DVD player, thus affording him a win on technical grounds.

Mann, who wasn’t with Evil Angel at the time the indictment was handed down, called and offered his support knowing the effect such things have on a wife and children.

Mann knew that Stagliano would defend his case on principle but didn’t want to see Stagliano assemble a legal team that wasn’t united and didn’t have enough experience.

“And I lobbied for my guy, Paul Cambria. John at that point had decided that he was using Lou Sirkin.”

In a conversation he had with Cambria, Mann said Cambria wanted to be on that case and could work with Sirkin but that he didn’t solicit business.

“I told [Stagliano] that you’re going to need a real team,” said Mann.

“You have three defendants- two corporations and one individual. All three need separate representation because of a conflict of interest issue. They can’t be defended by the same lawyer. To me the team of Sirkin and Cambria were really the one-two punch.

“I think the first piece of assistance I gave to the team was my insertion of Paul Cambria into the case. From there most of my assistance to the team was administrative. I knew how to do little bits of research within the industry that may have been tougher for those guys.

“But the biggest piece of assistance I gave was assisting the lawyers to get certain ideas through to John. John had this idea that not only did he want to take it to the Supreme Court he wanted to take the stand in his own defense. He wanted to get up there and do Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and tell the jury why this law is a bad law.

“John had a lot of ideas based on his principles and his very strong opinions about what he should be able to do, but he didn’t have the experience with how the law works, what a judge will allow; you can’t just walk into a courtroom and off the cuff make your strongest defense and impassioned plea; and you can’t say whatever you want to a jury.”

Mann suggested deploying a focus group and how that was invaluable in his own case.

“Focus groups are very expensive to do yet I felt it was worth it because I thought we would learn a lot about what a jury from that community is likely to believe and look at.”

According to Rowntree from his own experience Cambria can find the best Italian restaurants, family owned, with Italians in the kitchen in any city on earth.

Mann, when his case went down in Texas, Cambria took him to the outskirts of town to an obscure barbecue joint where they piled food on your plate cafeteria-style.

Rowntree suggested having Cambria participate in a cooking show.

“That man can make Beef Boulianaise like nobody’s business I hear.”

Mann feels that Cambria’s a paradox.

“When it comes to the law and history he is the most brilliant, the most educated and the fastest thinker I’ve ever seen and a strategist especially in a courtroom setting.

“He’s the best debater, the best arguer; nobody comes close in my opinion. Once you get him out of that realm, he is a total blue collar guy. He is a Harley Davison-riding, NASCAR-lovin’, cafeteria-eatin’ sort of raunchy guy, dirty jokes and he’s somewhat uncouth and you can quote me.”

Mann says Stagliano’s defense cost him a million dollars. So obviously Cambria’s also pretty good at invoicing.

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