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Karen Stagliano Speaks Out on Obscenity and the Max Hardcore Conviction

Susannah Breslin writes on www.trueslant.com -Last week, I wrote a post about adult movie director Max Hardcore, who is serving a 46-month sentence at a federal prison in Texas after he was convicted on a slew of obscenity-related charges in 2008.

The next day, I received an email from Karen Stagliano, whose husband, John Stagliano, an adult film producer, director, and former performer, was indicted on seven obscenity-related counts in 2008.

His trial is set to begin July 7 in Washington DC.

In her letter, which she granted me permission to publish here, Karen, a former adult performer, addresses the question of Max Hardcore, opines on obscenity, and reveals how her husband’s indictment has affected their young daughter.

Susannah-

This morning I read your post about the Max Hardcore porn parody and I wanted to contact you about how it made me feel.

I first became aware of your TrueSlant blog through the article you did about my husband John Stagliano in March. As that specific article was more about the journalistic world, I couldn’t really tell what your personal view on the merit of the case was.

With regards to Max Hardcore’s trial, I understand completely that you’re disgusted by Max Hardcore’s movies. There’s not much, if anything, to like about them. However, I was surprised by Debi Diamond’s comment regarding Max of “you commit the crime, you do the time”. What crime did Max commit that he was actually convicted of? He’s in jail for making movies where the performers say they were willing participants, and people willingly bought those movies. It was never suggested during the trial that anything nonconsensual ever happened during the making of those movies, no matter how disgusted the viewer may have been by the movies. If a person is disgusted by horror movies, I would think they should choose to not watch them. I choose to not watch South Park, because even though I agree with the basic overall opinions of the vast majority of the episodes and topics, the way the show is presented is so callous, mean-spirited and often-times offensive, that I more often than not, would not actually enjoy it. So after several episodes of feeling offended (even though I didn’t disagree with the underlying thought), I chose to stop watching South Park. I didn’t protest the show. I tell people I think it’s mean-spirited, but I support the right of the makers to make the show, of their right of speech to say the things they do, and the right of Americans to watch the show if they choose.

If Max was in jail for beating a woman against her will, or for coercing someone, I would think that would be completely justified. When I was a porn performer many years ago, Max tried to hire me. I was well aware of him and his movies and I knew it was not something I wanted to be a part of, so I said no. I did not need the government to step in and protect me from Max, I was more than capable of making logical decisions for myself.

When people say that Max deserves to be in jail under pretenses of an obscenity law, it creates a slippery slope of allowing people to put anyone in jail just because they made something that they simply don’t like. Not everyone has to like pornography. Violent crimes should be prosecuted under every letter of the law, but if a porn movie is indeed made consensually, then even if there are people in this country who disagree with it, shouldn’t we simply be able to tell those people to simply not watch it?

My 9 year-old daughter was 7 when her father received the indictment from the federal government. She knows that we make movies with grown-ups, that only grown-ups can see. We told her that there are people who think that John shouldn’t be selling the kinds of movies that he does, and that he should be in jail because of it. We emphasized to her that we never have someone do something that they don’t want to do, and we don’t show the movies to anyone who doesn’t want to see them. At age 7, she asked “if they don’t like the movies, why don’t they just not watch them?”

Thank you for your time,
Karen Stagliano

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