OLD ORCHARD BEACH, Maine—”We’ve fooled them all,” says Vivid co-founder Steve Hirsch as he stands hip-high in the gray Atlantic as a clearly hypothermic Allie Haze romps nude in the waves. “They will never, ever find us.”
Standing under the rickety pilings of this New England summer town pier, Hirsch shows palpable relief, even in reduced circumstances. Chased out of Los Angeles by nuisance regulations spearheaded by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the adult industry flirted with moving to neighboring counties and Las Vegas but, Hirsch says, “that’s what they would have expected us to do.”
Hirsch, who co-founded Vivid in 1984, is right. As L.A.’s embattled porn business contemplated a move to Vegas, the AHF placed dozens of billboards on either side of I-15 for 50 miles north and south of the Las Vegas Strip reading “Porn Gave These Puppies AIDS.”
In addition to the recently-passed County Ballot Measure B, which mandated extra fees, funded inspections, and condom use on porn sets that included cavity penetration, State Assemblymember Isadore Hall (D—Los Angeles) has introduced Assembly Bill 332, which will do for California what Ballot Measure B did for Los Angeles County.
“And if you think L.A. County had an uninformed electorate…” Hirsch says, but trails off, his numb fingers barely catching his Canon 5D from dropping into the frigid water.
Prior to the move, Hirsch never got behind the camera, but even Hustler founder Larry Flynt can be seen barking directions from his gold-plated wheelchair 300 yards down the beach, as a shivering Tasha Reign and Marcus London wrestle in the sand. On the nearby Saco River, award-winning director Axel Braun is helming “Apocalypse Now XXX.”
“We use the natural environment,” says Braun, picking a lobster from Anikka Albrite, nearly blue from cold, “and we are just up the river from the excellent outlet stores of Kittery.”
Once the adult industry realized it would be hounded from its ancestral homeland by the twin threats of a misinformation-mongering AHF and a benighted electorate, the always-practical business pulled up stakes and embarked on a cross-country exodus in April.
“Some we left with didn’t make it across,” admits Evil Angel owner John Stagliano, who regrets taking the southern route. “We lost 20 percent of us at the Arizona Mills Mall alone. They’re just wandering in and out of the Rainforest Cafe giving blowjobs under the tiki lamps. They can’t stand the cold.”
Aside from the toughened porn performers who made the journey, Hirsch notices the encroachment of a ruddier talent pool from the surrounding areas.
“Some of these apple-picking girls fuck like the Wendigo is after them,” says Allie Haze. “They’re not scared of death.”
As Haze towels off and heads back to her apartment in tony South Portland, Hirsch grows wistful.
“These are not the days of Ginger Lynn and Jenna Jameson,” he says. “These are not even the days of Monica Sweetheart and Jana Cova. But we’ve adapted before, as we did with Vivid-Alt and during that Porn Wrestling Federation or whatever that was. Or however Daniel Dakota was involved. We’ll survive.”
Braun finishes his shoot as the unfamiliar eastern light fades away. Albrite picks leeches from her skin and hands them to a production assistant. While Braun has his pick of filming locations in nearby salmon hatcheries and abandoned paper mills, he will instead pack up a skeleton cast and crew for a shoot tomorrow in L.L. Bean’s trout pond, 40 miles away.
“I need some shirts,” he says.
Albrite cannot get cell reception and mechanically thumbs the screen of her bejeweled iPhone.
“I guess I miss California,” she says, “but I hate condoms, and they’ve got taffy here.”
Previously on Porn Valley Observed: No on B (but not because Porn Valley doesn’t need fixing); Porn and managed expectations—when Derek met Nikki; Survey—porn stars no more “damaged goods” than you