Opening Arguments In the U.S. Vs. John “Buttman” Stagliano
This morning, opening arguments were held in the U.S. government's prosecution of John Stagliano—the adult entertainment industry impresario known as "Buttman." The obscenity trial hinges on three porn titles allegedly distributed by Stagliano: The full-length DVDs of Milk Nymphos and Storm Squirters 2: Target Practice, and a 5-minute online trailer for Belladonna: Fetish Fanatic 5.
The D.C. jurors—six men, seven eight women; nine 11 black, three white—will be tasked with determining whether Milk Nymphos' dairy-based enemas and Storm Squirters' water sports violate D.C.'s "community standards" for obscenity. But before jurors even see the smut, attorneys provided a run-down of arguments for and against Staglino, through the trial's opening arguments:
Government: You won't find Milk Nymphos on Pay-per-View. "This case is about crossing the line," the prosecution offered in its opening argument. These videos aren't like the ones you'd order into a hotel room or catch on "late night TV"—this "goes beyond that."
Buttman: Exactly—so don't order it if you don't want to see it. "The movies are not—and are not meant to be—distributed to these 14 strangers sitting in a federal courthouse," Stagliano attorney Paul Cambria said. They include "adults putting on a performance . . . for another adult, who would make that choice if that were his or her cup of tea." And at least some people like it: An attorney for John Stagliano Inc. promised the jurors that when they watch the tapes, "you'll see the actors enjoying themselves."
Government: Kids could have seen this stuff! The investigator downloaded the free movie trailer in "a public area in a Washington, D.C. hotel," where he gained access to the material with "only four clicks of his mouse." The trailer could theoretically be made available to people under the age of 18.
Buttman: Yeah—but they didn't. "The evidence will prove beyond all doubt that there was no distribution . . . at any time to children," Cambria told the jury. "No children involved whatsoever." In the hotel, an attorney for John Stagliano Inc. argued, there was only "one customer in there—an adult"—and they didn't see anything, either. On the production side, Stagliano also keeps records of birth certificates of his performers to ensure they're of age (But Stagliano isn't being accused of producing these videos—just distributing them).
Government: No, seriously, this stuff is really gross. The prosecution laid out the "extreme" imagery of the videos: Performers using "syringes and tubes to pump milk into women's anus and vaginas," then expelling the milk from their orifices and "into each other's mouths." A performer inserting his "penis into a woman's anus" and then immediately into "another woman's mouth." "Using drills" in "women's vaginas." "Extreme close-up shots" of "women squirting liquid" across the room and onto each other. A performer sticking a "foot inside a vagina." And one omission: "No real plot-line."
Buttman: But the videos have some artistic merit! The performers are "sexual athletes, if you will," said Cambria. "They are attractive people. A lot of care and work went into designing these movies." Also, it's not like consumers are surprised by that content. The videos include "exactly what they expect: Intercourse. Oral sex. Women-on-women sex," Cambria said. And, yes, "enema play."
Government: D.C. doesn't want this stuff in its community. The videos, the prosecution told the jury, "violate your community standards."
Buttman: Hey, D.C. is a diverse community. An attorney for John Stagliano Inc. urged the journey not to rule based on "personal preference" but rather with respect for "all the cultures that are here in the capital of our nation." Like the Milk Nympho culture, for exabple.
Government: This guy is promoting this smut in public! The prosecution noted that an investigator came across Stagliano's offerings after visiting an "Adult Expo in Las Vegas." The FBI was alerted.
Buttman: That's actually a very classy porn expo. The expo "is like the Academy Awards of adult movies," Cambria said—and Stagliano is "a several-time winner." Also, it's a porn expo. It's not like this stuff was "on a billboard on 495."
Photo via Tambako the Jaguar, Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0