D.C.'s Oldest Living Smut Kingpin Tells All Meet Dennis Sobin: Mayoral Candidate, Phone-Sex Innovator, Kennedy Center Playwright, Child-Porn Convict and Wannabe Family Man

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Dennis Sobin is on the mayoral campaign trail, and things aren’t going well. The audience members at the D.C. Democratic State Convention are rewarding his pro-convict, anti-drug platform with laughter and applause, but that’s about all they’re giving him.

Sobin’s entourage usually consists only of girlfriend Argentilhia Boechat, a small, elderly Brazilian woman fond of wearing dark sunglasses and abstract patterns. His campaign manager is Richard Dyches, a convicted murderer currently imprisoned in Nevada. It’s not clear whether anyone in the room actually knows who he is, or at least who he used to be. Well before primary day, he’ll be out of the race.

Sobin’s first four runs for city office happened when he was actually well-known as a menace. He used to have a mob of prostitutes working his campaigns, which were sometimes funded directly by his massage parlors. Customers at the Adam and Eve and Paradise parlors “donated” $35 to two political action committees associated with the business for a half-hour of service. Because only donors of $50 or more were disclosed in PAC filings, the johns weren’t immortalized in campaign finance reports.

As treasurer and organizer of both PACs, Sobin felt free to open his political war chest to a variety of causes. He printed condoms promoting his campaigns; he distributed clean syringes to drug addicts. Prostitution money also fed Sobin’s print-media ambitions, an on-and-off stable of publications that included the Washington Pist, the Baltimore Freedom Times, and the Sophisticate Video Review. He also started Crime Solvers magazine, filled with tales of the true crimes Sobin thought police should pursue instead of raiding the Playground Swing Club.

For a time, Sobin and his cohorts came across as more Weather Underground than the Libertarian Party. Sobin worked, both politically and in his businesses, with members of a group called C.O.Y.O.T.E., a prostitutes union that held some of its meetings in abandoned buildings. Prissy Williams-Godfrey, a C.O.Y.O.T.E. organizer, detailed at Sobin’s fraud trial how the prostitutes would convince their johns to let them use their credit cards to fund political activity. Williams-Godfrey considered Sobin the man who would take her from a self-described whore to a political boss: “I searched for many years in every major city and every little cubbyhole town until I found Dennis Sobin,” she said.

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And Sobin was a hard boss to stop. After the Adam and Eve and Paradise massage parlors were closed by the property owner, Sobin crowed to media that he and his employees would set up in the Godfather, a strip club he had recently bought: “There will be men and women dancing nude today, tonight and tomorrow.”

Outside the Godfather, Sobin hung a sign that said “Under Nude Management,” letting the neighborhood know Sobin had moved in.

It’s no surprise that the sex-entrepreneurial self-promotion overlapped with the political-organizing self-promotion. Sobin’s runs for office, like his other attention-seeking schemes, centered on his campaign to legalize more sex acts—which, completing the circle, would make it easier to run his business. Nearly all of the fortune Sobin amassed seems to have funded his political activities. At his bankruptcy trial, even prosecution witnesses said Sobin bought his clothes from thrift stores. Former common-law wife Eleanor Pohorylo said she had to fight Sobin to get money for basic household goods.

According to Pohorylo, his only affectations to the high life were a 1914 Model T and replica Model A. “He always thought that everything should go into the business or his what he called ‘political war chest,’” she testified.

An attractive black couple is on a date. She’s in a red top with puffy shoulders, he’s wearing a bright blue shirt under a canary yellow jacket.

“Every time I dial 9-SOCIAL party line at 976-2425 I’m connected to lots of different women from the metro area’s wild adult 24-hour party line and we get to talk and exchange telephone numbers,” he says.

“Plenty of men call too. I get automatically connected to everyone who’s called 9-SOCIAL for a party line conference call,” she says.

Although he never appears in it, that commercial would help make Sobin wealthy—even wealthy enough to risk prison.

There isn’t much room for innovation in the oldest profession, a fact that must have irritated someone as unconventional as Sobin. But in 1985, he heard from a man named Brad Woodward, who operated what is thought to be the first pay-by-the minute telephone line in the area—at the time, a daily soap opera daily in one-minute installments.

First used to poll television viewers, “976” lines multiplied after telephone deregulation. Operators and the local phone company would split the profits. As an indication of how little anyone understood the market at its beginning, Woodward and Sobin’s first 976 line offered recordings of children’s stories. They soon dropped it for lack of interest.

The lines wouldn’t succeed until Sobin added what he did best: sex. According to Woodward’s later court testimony, the two men realized the potential for a sex line whose owner who could advertise in his own papers.

Sobin had access to another resource: women who could staff the sex lines. Chief among them was Pohorylo, according to court transcripts, a convicted prostitute and recovering Dilaudid addict Sobin had been living with on-and-off since 1980. Soon, along with other employees Sobin had met via his papers and escort businesses, Pohorylo was making adult recordings and changing tapes for Sobin’s lines. Pohorylo told the Post that some days, the lines were so popular that she had to call the sex line office from a pay phone to make new recordings.

Our Readers Say

A very interesting story about a very dillusional man.
Little Ellen and Justin Pohorylo (not their real names, I don't think) were innocent casualties left behind in Dennis Sobin and Jon Kemp's wake, but, as City Paper's coverage demonstrates, not the only ones. Dennis, in his career as libertine and gadabout, seemed intent on fulfilling the second of John Lennon's triumvirate of “keeping them doped with religion, sex and TV.”

My moist poignant memory is of tying Justin's shoelaces one day, upon which he thanked me, neatly countering my anticipated little boy objection. I wanted to scoop him and his sister up in my arms then and there, getting them both as far away as possible. Had I known what was in store for them, I would have done my best to do so. I was told that the Florida visit was to take them to Disneyland.

I don't say that Dennis intended from the beginning to profit from them as subjects for child porn, but I could easily see where he could delude himself into such an outcome. I'm sure he didn't exercise forms of corporal punishment, as he always seemed pretty gentle, but they were always dirty looking, and he didn't seem to mind what he exposed them to.

It can at least be said of Mr. Kemp that he was a “better angel” to Dennis, using part of the 1518 K Street location to handle outcalls in a manner humane to the workers, until building management evicted us from there.
You should not have placed the Pohrylo name out there.
J and L probably have PTSD concerning some of the events that happened during that time... E, their mother, was a drug addict with many problems of her own. Everyone involved in the business at the time was stealing from it in one form or another. It made for very crazy times.
The child porn thing was trumped up but the craziness surrounding everything else was real. Jon Kemp was a tool. I remember him being much of a player, just a pawn/front/beard for a lot of activity. Dennis was the only real player in his gang of misfits.
Correction:

I meant to say I DON'T REMEMBER JON KEMP AS BEING MUCH OF A PLAYER.

I don't have the feeling Dennis ever abused them in the way it came off in the case against him. However, his lifestyle is so contradictory to mainstream ways that he will always have a problem... and those around him, especially will be affected.
He is a very persuasive person. He appeals to your common sense about what it right and wrong but somehow the outcome is not as anticipated.
He is a survivor.
Darrin has always been uptight. It always seemed he had problems working with the crew. He carried a lot of the burden for both Dennis and Paulette from a very young age. I remember speaking to him about his arrest when he was caught watering some marijuana plants and thinking how square he was because he had absolutely no interest in the underground life. I really thought he was the straightest teenager I met and couldn't imagine how he was Dennis' son. The interactions between the two were always quite interesting to observe.
The biggest tool in Dennis' gang was, in my opinion, Bob Sorkin. If you want a story, look that jackass up and see what kind of nonsense he has been up to these days. You may also want to ask Dennis about OPERATION EASY RIDER.
Those two kids (Justin and Little Ellen....not their real names) were hellions but they were not raised in your typical American lifestyle. Justin is married now and has three kids. Little Ellen has at least one kid. I can't recall if she is married or not... Both of them are trying to have normal lives. I sincerfely hope all works wout well.
Aprial how did you know them?
Hey Jesse. I knew someone who baby sat for you and Lynnie... Remember the old lady who minded the "toystore" Dennis had down in Chinatown DC? She was an acquaintance of my aunt. She got the job at the "toystore" because she used to babysit you and Lynnie.
I don't think it was really a toystore but it had a few toys in it ... toys like a jeep you could actually ride in. I think it was front for something else because no one ever brought anything there. I believe the building it was in now is a jewelry store of some sorts. It is/was on H St about a1/2block or block from the Chinese Gateway at the main intersection of Chinatown.
Лен, привет ) Как говорит моя мама, воспитавшая 5х детей и помогающая мне сейчас с Сонишной: дети достаются легко только дуракам ) Так что Вообще, дети разные и родители тоже. Меня Соня будила по ночам только до 2х месяцев и всегда даже в очень маленьком возрасте умела занять себя сама играть, читать No problem. Так что, в утешение всем переживающим в этом блоге а-ля неужели нас тоже такое ждет? : это по сути лотерея (и отчасти вопрос воспитания), но вас точно ждет уникальный и незабываемый во всех смыслах опыт ). Дети цветы!!!
Journalist Rick Janisch (who had recently lost his job when the Washington Tribune went out of business in 1985) briefly worked for Sobin's various enterprises in 1986 and 1987, but had second thoughts after discovering Sobin allegedly employed underage runaways as dancers in his clubs and perhaps as prostitutes. Janisch allegedly reported Sobin to the police but on the night of June 25, 1987 Janisch was run over by dark mid-size car as he crossed Piney Branch Road near Dale Drive in Silver Spring. Janisch, who resided at 8301 Garland Ave., Takoma Park, was pronounced dead at Washington Adventist Hospital at about 11 PM. While Rick's friends and loved ones told police that Sobin should be considered a person of interest in Janisch's death, police in Montgomery County, Md. were never able to link Sobin with the crime. Without Janisch to testify the case of alleged child prostitution against Sobin apparently collapsed. I'm posting this here in hopes that the next time somebody writes a story about Sobin they'll mention this.
Fake Name... happy to see people are weighing in on this mix. I worked witk Mr. Sobin during this period and never met or even heard of Rick Janisch. I do know Dennis was into a lot of different things but underage children working at his clubs as dancers is something I never heard about. What clubs were these?
At that time, the closest thing he had to a "club" was a sauna/massage parlor on Capitol Hill that he took over from some loser. It closed as soon as it opened up because of problems the previous owner had with the lease. During this time, Dennis had moved away from club ownership and escort services to mainly instant toll call enterprises. I do remember a young pregnant teenager whose boyfriend (older but also younger) appeared to be on the run from crazed chicken hawk pimps crashing at a building Dennis rented in Chinatown. The story about Janisch seems to me to be a bit farfetched. I am not claiming to know everything that happened in the enterprise but I would think I'd know someone who worked for us, especially if it was in a role you describe in your post.
Some wild and crazy peoples. Jon Kemp was a flunkie and a bad one at that. Prissy Williams-Godfrey was an uncontrollable loud mouth cocaine dealing pain in the ass. Jackie Tessmer was a fat slob who made a porno film with Dennis... Dennis being a key player in the film. A lot of cheese being thrown in the mix. Man, those were the days. I used to go to Catholic high school with Darrin in DC. This is some cray shit to see it here on the internets. BLACK CHICKS RULE!
BTW... no one ever heard of the jackass Rick Janisch. When was he on the scene. This is some bull crap. No one heard of this guy. Was he associated with Brad Woodward or that scumbucket Bob Sorkin? This is totally outrageous. FAKE NAME! Reveal yourself!
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