Porn & Politics: Adult Film Industry Moguls Get Into Bed With 2016 Presidential Candidates

“I’m endorsing Hillary Clinton,” Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt tells TheWrap. “If she wins, she’ll be able to appoint two or three judges to the Supreme Court, which could shift the balance.”

Last Updated: August 29, 2015 @ 12:22 AM

When it comes to exerting political leverage during a presidential race, adult entertainers and producers have traditionally found themselves in an awkward position: Their money is perhaps the only not welcomed in Washington D.C.

Even a tepid endorsement from the porn industry is largely considered a political kiss of death, but that didn’t stop TheWrap from exploring which 2016 candidates are being backed by prominent adult industry figures.

“I’m endorsing Hillary Clinton,” Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt told TheWrap. “If she wins, she’ll be able to appoint two or three judges to the Supreme Court, which could shift the balance.”

The appointment of judges could be critical for pornographers in the 2016 election cycle, particularly when it comes to privacy issues, piracy, and net neutrality.

“There’s no question that porn is everywhere,” Vivid Entertainment boss Steve Hirsch told TheWrap. “It’s more accepted than ever before. You can watch it on the Internet, you can watch it on TV. Does that translate into political power? It may. But if it happens, it happens behind the scenes.”

But even though Flynt and Hirsch, as well as other wealthy pornographers, are willing to donate large sums of money to candidates, most presidential hopefuls are too skittish to accept them.

“Hillary Clinton won’t take my money,” Flynt said. “So I mostly give to local candidates.”

Others are looking at Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. The self-described democratic socialist has been outspoken on civil liberties issues, and is a strong critic of mass surveillance policies such as the Patriot Act.

“Out of all candidates, I think he could really help small business,” Joanna Angel, queen of alternative porn and owner of BurningAngel.com, told TheWrap. “He’s against censorship and he’s focused on real issues.”

But not everyone in the adult entertainment industry is voting Democrat.

“Frankly, the political views of the people in the adult entertainment industry is surprisingly broader than I thought it would be,” Mark Kernes, senior editor at AVN — the adult industry’s largest trade publication — told TheWrap. “I know a couple of studio owners who are Republican.”

Even though presidential contenders — Democratic or Republican — haven’t typically touted support from the porn industry, experts said that all could change. Millennials are far less squeamish about porn and more averse to politicians telling them what they can or cannot watch.

Additionally, a new practice called “camming” allows anyone with a laptop or smart phone to start a virtual peep show from the comfort of their own home, eliminating the need for a studio contract. And that, experts say, could translate into tangible political power.

“Our industry now employs hundreds of thousands of people all over the country,” Diane Duke, CEO of adult industry lobbying group Free Speech Coalition, told TheWrap. “It would be a mistake for politicians not to listen to a large part of their constituency.”

Whether or not the adult entertainment industry manages to penetrate the mainstream remains to be seen. But experts say there are still ways to influence the 2016 race.

“We don’t have the power that Hollywood has, or even a fraction of it,” Duke said. “But we do good old-fashioned lobbying, talking to politicians, informing them about the industry and letting them know how many people in their district are employed by the business.”

The once-thriving Los Angeles porn industry has taken a hit in recent months with many of its big players fleeing to Nevada, New York and San Francisco in alarming numbers due to L.A. County’s Measure B. The law, passed in 2012 with nearly 56 percent of the vote, requires the use of condoms in all vaginal and anal sex scenes in pornography productions filmed in L.A. County. Since then, the number of X-rated productions dropped a whopping 90 percent.


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