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Comments by Java Mann

The Gay Old Party
Sex Is Sex

Our story begins in California, in a store catering to "adult" clientele. In addition to a wide variety of "marital aids" and "educational" videos and books, the store featured viewing booths. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of viewing booths I suggest you re-visit the Madonna video catalogue. In the video for Open Your Heart the Material Girl worked as a dancer in a viewing booth. In this story however, instead of a singing and dancing bleached blond pop diva, the booths housed women engaged in activities one is more likely to find in, say, Madonnaís Truth or Dare.

The state of California has become involved in this situation, claiming that the store was engaging in prostitution. That is, the women were paid to engage in sexual acts for the entertainment of a paying audience. This begs the question, shouldnít the patrons of the booths be named in this case? The audience is in fact the "Johns" in this scenario, whereas the store acting as a go between, is in fact pimping. Accepting this, is it right for the state to press charges against the pimp and the prostitutes, while ignoring the Johns? Soliciting a sexual act for money is a crime as well, and if there were no demand for these services the supply would surely diminish.

Needless to say, our story doesnít end here. The store and the women it employs are of course defending themselves. Their defense: It isnít sex. Though they may be scantily clad and frolicking like a pair of randy co-eds from my editorís wet dream, the women in question are heterosexual, and claim that they are not sexually aroused. They were faking it. 

[Insert your own woman-faking-it-during-sex joke here]

Should the state of California choose to pursue this case, they will be opening a can of legal worms that will haunt them for decades. The first of their troubles will be, for once and for all, to define "sex" and/or "sexual activity". This could prove difficult as the Congress of the United States has, as yet, been unable to define pornography (I know it when I see it), and the President, recently had a hard time defining sexual relationsÖ. But I digress.

Should they choose to include "play acting" or pantomiming sexual acts as part of the definition, there is a monumental problem facing them. Itís a little town we like to call Hollywood. If they choose to take the other route, and require that sexual arousal be inherent to the "act", they will in effect be decriminalizing most prostitution, as sex professionals rarely enjoy their job. 

The obvious answer is for the state to drop its case. Even if this was prostitution, and frankly thatís a honking big IF, it is the most benign form imaginable. Plexiglas separates the prostitutes and the johns after all. One would be hard pressed to find a safer form of sex. Surely the police, the prosecutor and the court system have something better to do with their time and taxpayer dollars. At least I hope they do.


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