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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While he went through the legal system, the antics that had been tolerated in Washington seemed to go horribly awry in the Sunshine State. When Eleanor Pohorylo moved to Florida, she was indicted on racketeering charges. Later, when police pulled her over with a “gentleman friend,” they discovered marijuana in her purse.

Sobin didn’t have any luck, either. His attempts to repeal Pasco County’s adult laws through referenda were thrown out. Meanwhile, his peculiar style of porn production baffled Floridians. A Washington City Paper article at the time captured Sobin’s questioning of a Tampa strip club owner in a video called Skin Games. The interview featured probes like “If you had a picture of [U.S. Supreme Court Associate] Justice [Antonin] Scalia jerking off, what would you do with it?”

At the pornography trial, a witness testified that Sobin had filmed Pohorylo’s daughter holding a banana near her vagina. Sobin’s defense attorney suggested that he was a naïve dreamer, while the prosecutor said Sobin was planning to market the videos to the child porn underground. Sobin was convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison.

The conviction marked the end of Sobin’s makeshift family. Pohorylo, who had testified against Sobin as part of a deal with prosecutors, soon remarried and disappeared. The children Sobin had raised as his own entered Virginia’s foster care system. As for his biological kids, they were grown and far away.

In his self-published memoir, From Prison to Kennedy Center Stage, Sobin compares his child-porn trial to the Salem Witch Trials. In a stranger portion of the book, Sobin recounts the story of Ben, a man he met in prison whose crime was “pushing the save key on his computer.” Although it’s not clear what Ben saved that brought him so much trouble, it seems to be child porn.

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Sobin writes: “I suspect they involved pictures of over-aged or under-aged individuals in less than full clothing. Ben had been curious, so he looked at them. Can’t a person in a free society do that?”

The law, and most people’s sense of basic ethics, says no. But even behind bars, Sobin kept trying to debate the subject, reaching out to the only people he had left.


“My family lives a bunker lifestyle,” Darrin Sobin testified. “We feel like we are being stalked continuously and relentlessly.” Sobin went on to explain how, because of the stalking, he won’t let his sons use social networking sites and how the family sometimes walks separately so the stalkers won’t learn his sons’ faces.

His alleged stalker, Dennis Sobin, sat across the courtroom. Even though this hearing in June 2010 was meant to determine whether Darrin’s restraining order against his father should be extended another year, Sobin is effectively on trial again. The charge: being an atrocious, and possibly dangerous, father.

While Dennis Sobin abandoned his ordinary middle class life as spectacularly as he could, Darrin Sobin struggled from his teens to become like anyone whose father wasn’t the porn king.

While Sobin’s parents, as owners of rival escort services, clashed in business, they also feuded over custody. One Christmas Day, Sobin organized a mob of prostitutes to picket the home Darrin shared with his mother and brother. The prostitutes carried signs demanding that Sobin receive his “father’s rights.”

By the time Darrin was 16, he was answering telephones at one of the escort services, having only the vaguest idea that the business was illegal. At 19, in 1985, Darrin moved to his uncle’s California ranch for the summer as a way of leaving the family business behind in between semesters at George Washington University.

His mother moved to California too, intending to use the ranch to grow marijuana, according to D.C. Court of Appeals documents over whether Darrin should eventually be admitted to the bar. Although he attempted to avoid the illegal work on the ranch, his uncle eventually convinced him that the farm needed his help to stay solvent. Sobin began laying pipes and digging ditches to irrigate the plants. Right as he was about to leave to return to college, police on their way to raid the farm arrested him.

Soon he was facing federal charges relating to both the escort business and the farm. After pleading guilty, he received five years probation, according to the bar-admission documents.

Dennis Sobin opened a surfing and skating equipment shop in Alexandria for Darrin to run, but Darrin moved away from his family business. After attending law school and interning with the federal judge who originally sentenced him, Darrin Sobin might have thought he had finally built a life separate from his father’s influence. But for the younger Sobin, who declined to comment for this article, his problems with his father were just beginning.

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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When I originally commented I clicked the "Notify me when new comments are added" checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove people from that service? Bless you!
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