The legal battles facing [Mark Curtis] and others are just the latest problems to beset the porn business. After a period of "porn chic" in the early '70s, when hip couples went to X-rated theaters to see "The Devil in Miss Jones" the way New York dilettantes used to go to the Cotton Club in Harlem, pornography has lost its eclat. Twenty years after "Deep Throat" helped bring the grimy sex film out of the closet, it is no longer cool to be seen waiting in line with the raincoat crowd at an X-rated theater. Feminist critiques of the way women are portrayed have led to picketing of video stores, and the arrival of AIDS has sent a wave of fear through what industry insiders used to call "The Playpen of the Damned."
The debate over the role of the mob in the porn business has raged for years. According to two separate, well-regarded law-enforcement sources, the father of a man who operates a Los Angeles-based porn company now serves as the mob's West Coast link to the industry. The man's father, these investigators say, reports to John Gotti, the swashbuckling, alleged New York mob boss. Gotti has been indicted and accused of involvement in a series of murders, including that of alleged New York porn mob figure Robert DiBernardo, who disappeared June 5, 1986. That disappearance is apt to come up for debate whenever a group of pornographers get together. "DiBe did a Jimmy Hoffa" is the word in the business.
PHOTO: COLOR, video parlor / John Humble; PHOTO: COLOR, (Cover) A set from the Video Exclusives soundstage.; PHOTO: COLOR, Mark Curtis; PHOTO: COLOR, [TRACEY ADAMS]; PHOTO: COLOR, [Ron Jeremy]; PHOTO: COLOR, The flood of videos from warehouses such as Curtis' has caused prices to fall from $100 to $5. / Fredrich Cantor; PHOTO: [Reuben Sturman] / Roadell Hickman; PHOTO: COLOR, X-rated video conventions, such as this one in Las Vegas, still attract potential buyers. / Gary Krueger