James Franco’s latest project is making a documentary about BDSM and fetish porn site Kink.com. [Warning: Link is oh so very NSFW].
On “Conan” to promote “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” Franco doesn’t mention the Kink.com site by name. However, he briefly describes the project: “I’m making a documentary about pornography,” he said. “There’s this amazing facility in San Francisco. It’s at this old armory and they do everything in house, they build their props in house, so I’m making a documentary about that.”
Kink.com was formed in 1997 by Peter Acworth while he was earning his PhD in finance at Columbia University. When the site became successful, he dropped out of the program. Kink.com bought the San Francisco Armory in 2006 for $14.5 million for use as a production studio, despite local protests and opposition from mayor Gavin Newsom. The city later ruled that Kink.com didn’t violate any laws or zoning requirements.
Presumably, TBS (and 20th Century Fox) wouldn’t want Kink.com sharing in their airtime. However, Kink.com may also be trying to keep the project under wraps. A tweet from Kink.com actress rain degrey from June 26 read: “Kink.com is all aflutter today because James Franco is here shooting his new movie. All these girls want to f*ck him! lol.” However, the tweet was later deleted.
Franco told Conan O’Brien that he’s long had an interest in porn and those who make it, but quickly learned that it wasn’t one of his talents after he and a girlfriend shot footage of themselves having sex. ...
The Florida Boxing Commission has dropped a cease-and-desist order issued in April against the Shefights.net website that features women pummeling homeless men and other male volunteers.
A spokesperson for the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation said investigators determined the "pugilistic events" depicted on the website do not fall under the commission's jurisdiction because they don't meet the definition of a boxing match.
The commission originally was in the corner of attorneys suing the site's creator, J.P. Florida Productions LLC, on behalf of two homeless men in St. Petersburg who were paid $50 for submitting to "12 minute beatdowns" by women trained in mixed martial arts.
The beatings, which took place in the garage of a condominium near Tropicana Field this year, involved punching, kicking and whipping.
Attorneys from Southern Legal Counsel Inc. representing the homeless men allege one of them was hogtied and suffered broken ribs and a dislocated jaw.
The website's attorney described the bouts as a form of sadomasochistic expression.
"This is not a boxing match by any imagination," said attorney Luke Lirot, who represents Shefights founder Jeffrey Williams. ...
"They strapped me up like this in ropes," says David Brezger, raising his hands over his head. "Put me up in a tree and whipped me with a whip...they kicked the crap out of me."
That's how Brezger describes his "beatdown." He is among an unknown number of homeless people in St. Petersburg, Fla. who say they were recruited for videotaped beatings by attractive women for the website Shefights.net.
Homeless advocate G.W. Rolle told CBS affiliate WTSP he discovered what was going on after repeatedly seeing homeless men in Williams Park with injuries. "Broken ribs, fractured skulls...I think that's wrong and I think someone's going to die if they don't stop this," says Rolle, who took photographs of some of the injuries.
Two homeless men, George Grayson and Kyle Shaw, with the help of Southern Legal Counsel, are now suing Jeffrey Williams and others associated with Shefights.net. They're seeking damages for emotional distress and money for medical bills. Lawyers for the two homeless men said the website sells videos starting at $2.99 for a two-minute "sparring session" clip and increasing in price to $33.99 for a 33 minute clip of two women beating a man.
The lawsuit, which was filed April 1 in a Florida court, contends the beatings violate a state hate crimes law that specifically protects the homeless and that the producers are exploiting the poverty of transients for whom any cash is hard to come by. "What type of society would allow this to happen?" said Neil Chonin, the lawyer for the homeless men. "This company preyed on people who are desperate."
Chonin and area homeless advocates said there are many more men who were assaulted in exchange for cash and that some were injured so badly that they were hospitalized. According to CBS affiliate WTSP, a judge recently ordered the website manager, Jeffrey S. Williams, not to take down the website or erase the videos in question so the evidence could be preserved for trial. Williams said via e-mail Tuesday that his accusers are trying to pressure him through public attacks. "My side will come out in court," he wrote in the brief statement.
Joe Kriegesmann believes he has a business model that can work in St. Louis -- one that will fulfill a niche and be the only business of its kind in the state.
Selling it to city leaders and residents might be a hurdle, though.
Kriegesmann wants to turn an empty warehouse along Gravois near Benton Park into a S&M club, not a Sam's Club. He wants to provide an outlet for those who engage in bondage, dominance and sadomasochism.
But many of his critics can't get past the BDSM hurdle. It's immoral, some say. Not in my backyard, some say. Flogging, whipping and biting could spill out into the streets, say others.
While it may not have been big business, BDSM has been around a long time. It has been dated back at least to the ninth century B.C. in a religious area in Sparta. And it still has a pretty big following.
Massachusetts has at least 25 fetish or BDSM clubs. Alabama, at least eight. Arkansas, at least four. Don't expect to find any in Utah, though. As far as profitability, that's anyone's guess.
Kriegesmann, who is seeking the city's blessing, started off on the wrong foot, because of the way he has gone about trying to establish his business, critics say. They say he has lied, applied for the wrong permits on purpose and sidestepped public meetings. ...
A DALLAS man lost an appeal today to save his swingers and teen rave nightclubs after failing to convince a court that the two premises could be defined as churches.
Glen Hudson's clubs, The Playground and The Darkside, were both operating in areas zoned for a church, mosque or synagogue. Last week a judge temporarily shut down The Playground after Dallas lawyerss argued it was really a swingers club.
During today's hearing, Mr Hudson defended his clubs and called the city's efforts to permanently close them an infringement on his constitutional rights.
He claimed his non-profit organisation NRG Mission was using The Playground, and The Darkside was a dance hall that also served as a youth ministry and outreach program.
But opposing lawyer Melissa Miles provided evidence that the two clubs were anything but saintly, showing that The Playground allowed patrons to have sex while watching pornography. Narcotics officers reported that drug busts were common at The Darkside. ...
S&M sex master John Hopkins appeared in court this week and will proceed to trial next month. Hopkins, 45, was arrested in February after allegations arose that he had enslaved a 27-year-old woman who had responded to his Craigslist ad for S&M sex and then traveled from Wisconsin to Williamsburg to live with him free of rent.
Hopkins, an audio engineer, is charged with dozens of felony and misdemeanor sex crimes, including rape in the first degree.
The victim, who did not show up to court earlier this year, reportedly admitted that the initial encounter with Hopkins was consensual and that the two had an online correspondence before she came to Brooklyn. However, after living in his Williamsburg apartment for a week in February, the victim reportedly called her mother, who contacted the NYPD.
Police found the victim chained to a radiator and curled in a fetal position in Hopkins’ apartment.
Kings County Supreme Court Justice Patricia Di Mango said that despite evidence from both sides that the sex may have been consensual, the question is if the victim ever said “no.” Di Mango, however, did release the defendant from jail on his own recognizance pending trial, which is set to begin on Sept. 20.
Trial was delayed in June because the victim had left the city and was unavailable to testify, according to reports. Prosecutors from the Kings County District Attorney’s office were reportedly unsure of her whereabouts. The woman reportedly had a blood-alcohol level two-and-a-half times the legal limit four hours after she made a police report claiming she was being held as a sex slave, a defense lawyer said.
Hopkins’ attorney, Andrew Stoll, had said that Hopkins and the woman knew each other for two years and had a consensual relationship. The woman even wanted to return to the apartment after Hopkins kicked her out for excessive drinking, Stoll said.
“It stretches credibility beyond the breaking point to say that from the get-go she was being held against her will,” Stoll said. “I cannot imagine there will be a conviction here.”
A three-member city panel riddled a local businessman with questions about his proposed south city bondage club Thursday. South St. Louis County businessman Joe Kriegesmann described his business as a 46,000-square-foot warehouse at 3130 Gravois Avenue, in which he is already holding classes for those who would like to learn bondage and sadomasochism practices.
He insisted that his club would be safe, and that he has been honest with city and neighborhood leaders. The club, if approved for occupancy, would be the first of its kind in the state. But the conditional use panel wanted more details. How would the club, asked city hearing officer Terrill Eiland, teach its lessons?
"We use every method possible, sir," responded Kriegesmann.
Which includes, Eiland asked, "demonstrations?"
"Yes, sir. We allow no sex and nudity during those times either, sir," Kriegesmann said.
Can the audience participate?
"Yes, they're allowed to practice after the classes. When they go practice, there's somebody who knows what they're doing and watches over them ... so nobody gets hurt."
Alderman Craig Schmid, neighborhood stabilization officer Barbara Potts and Benton Park West Neighborhood Association President Linda Hennigh all testified that Kriegesmann has not been honest about his club. He opened before telling anyone his plans and before getting the proper permits, and he has changed his story repeatedly, they said. And all three said they are now worried about public safety in the old brick warehouse.
"Ostensibly, the application is for educational seminars," Schmid said. "But I cannot reasonably ignore what is the actual use of the facilities."
Sitting in classrooms and listening to teachers is one thing, Schmid continued. But hanging people from the ceiling is quite another. "I find it difficult to find any reason to support this application," he concluded.
Potts told the hearing officers that she wasn't against the club's activities. "What I'm more in opposition to is how it's all come about," she said. "I feel Joe Kriegesmann has been his own worst enemy. He started out on the wrong path."
Kriegesmann said the city has no occupancy or business licenses that fit his club, and he urged the panel to consider adding laws to city code.
"We don't fit under anything," he retorted. "You tell me what I should go under. Please explain to me why my civil rights are being violated. I am legal."
Eiland said the city's Board of Public Service will make the final decision in about a week and a half.
In an old brick warehouse on Gravois Avenue, a local businessman is laboring to open what he says would be the state's first legal for-profit bondage and sadomasochism club.
Joe Kriegesmann says he wants a place where St. Louis residents who participate in such activities can do so openly.
This morning, Kriegesmann is set to go before a city hearing officer to obtain an occupancy permit. If his request is approved, his club will become the first such business establishment in the state, according to a national advocacy group.
But his efforts are drawing fire from worried neighbors and city leaders, some of whom are expected to attend the hearing.
Critics say Kriegesmann and his supporters have lied to the local alderman and neighborhood association leaders, purposefully applied for the wrong permits and sidestepped the required public hearings.
"We encourage business in our neighborhood," said Linda Hennigh, president of the Benton Park West Neighborhood Association. "But this gentleman has not been honest about anything he's done."
Kriegesmann stressed that he has done "exactly what the city has suggested" and is working hard to open a legal establishment.
"I guess they feel it's immoral," Kriegesmann said. "Because I know it definitely isn't illegal."
Kriegesmann said his members-only club, called Clan of the Barbarian, would not allow sex, nudity or alcohol. He intends to charge participants $20 per night or $500 per year for a membership.
St. Louis already hosts several nonprofit associations that collectively claim hundreds of members who practice what is known as BDSM — bondage, dominance and submission and sadomasochism. Some tie their partners to planks or hang them from ceilings Some whip, flog, spank or bite.
The best known local club is called STL3, formerly known as St. Louis Leather & Lace. The group has been around for more than 15 years, according to an email from the group's chairman, who refused to give his name.
Such activity is growing in the St. Louis area, said Susan Wright, founder of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, a 15-year-old nonprofit group that advocates for alternative sexual lifestyles. Kriegesmann's proposed business, she said, is a reflection of that growth.
Cities such as San Francisco, New York and Dallas already have BDSM clubs, she said.
Wright sees Kriegesmann's effort as a civil rights issue. "Joe is definitely pushing the envelope in order to make things more mainstream," she said. ...