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 his father was imprisoned, first in Florida and then in federal prison in Virginia, Darrin Sobin attempted what amounted to a homemade Dale Carnegie correspondence course to make his father more bearable. In one letter, he proposed 11 things Sobin could start doing so he could have a relationship with Darrin after his release, like No. 4, “Stop trying to shock people (this includes not cursing)” and No. 9, “Try never to use the word ‘hypocrisy’ again.”

Judging by Darrin’s later letters, Dennis Sobin refused. Instead, he sent his son a short story titled “A Son’s Commitment.” In the story, a father released from prison plots to plant drugs at his son Aaron’s apartment and, by getting him incarcerated, saves his son’s marriage to a woman whose name rhymes with the real name of Darrin’s wife.

Before Sobin came out of federal prison in January 2003, Darrin already had a restraining order against him. Sobin went on to violate it by attempting to attend hearings on crime issues at the Wilson Building—the site of Darrin’s office. On his way to the hearing, Sobin was arrested for violating the restraining order.

The mystery behind Sobin’s continued harassment of his son is why he even cares. Sobin has always presented himself as a man more interested in his hedonism than raising a family—Pohorylo estimated that when she was living with him, Sobin lived with other women a third of the time.

But there’s something that draws Sobin to his son, no matter how many lawyers and judges tell him to stay away. In a letter he sent to Darrin during one of their many court battles, Sobin wrote about seeing his son at trial, “Forgive me for saying it but this is a hell of a way for us to be communicating. But it’s better than nothing! Definitely better!” It’s a pretty good bet the chance for proximity to his son—or at least the chance to do legal battle over said proximity, or at least the chance to hear people talk about the unlikely prospect of said legal battle over said proximity—motivated his latest mayoral run.

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In 2010, the restraining order came before Judge José M. López for renewal. Dennis Sobin’s lawyer submitted a sheaf of documents arguing, essentially, that Sobin is just too nice to be a stalker. They included a grant from George Soros’s Open Society Institute for Sobin’s Prisons Foundation. “If the below email and attachments don’t impress Judge López, nothing will,” Sobin wrote to his lawyer.

López, in fact, wasn’t impressed. Last month, he extended the restraining order for another year. “The Dennis Sobin that gives free guitar lessons to the elderly, is not the same person when it comes to Darren Sobin,” he wrote in the order.


The crowd seated inside the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater is waiting to see the musical Sobin wrote about his arrest, Busted at City Hall. Or, as it could be called, The Dennis Sobin Story, If Dennis Sobin Won.

The musical is part of Sobin’s foundation’s contribution to the Kennedy Center’s Page to Stage festival. Sobin’s foundation has produced prisoners’ plays at the Kennedy Center in the past, and now it’s Sobin’s turn. The Kennedy Center holds a special power over Sobin. He mentioned his guitar performances there repeatedly during campaign appearances. His memoir is called From Prison to Kennedy Center Stage.

After a performance by a police band, three young women take the stage. Sobin sits behind a piano player. For once in his life, he’s mostly out of view.

The invisible man is a guy who got rich off of Washington’s appetite for sex. He made, concealed, and lost a fortune along the way. He racked up convictions and sexual partners. He did terrible things. He never apologized. And he made life hell for members of the family he dragged along with him. And he also built himself up again after his conviction, after a fashion. Should that recovery, the transformation into a nice old man who teaches guitar and champions jailhouse artists and only really acts like a menace to one person, outweigh everything else? The musical is Sobin’s argument for yes.

Onstage, with a woman playing the hero’s role, the drama traipses through Sobin’s old prison term and his new run for mayor. But there’s a twist: Sobin actually gets elected. At the end, Mayor Sobin has a friendly chat in city hall with a senator and the guard who arrested him.

But the musical’s true climax comes while the Sobin character is arrested at city hall—by authorities who’ve been alerted by his own son. As the guard sing-drones about his Miranda rights, Sobin asks the eternal porn king questions: “How can this happen to someone so kind? Someone who only has love on his mind?”

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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