Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pornotopia CENSORED Show Canceled in Albuquerque

An Open Letter to the People of Albuquerque:
We, the organizers of the Pornotopia film festival,  regret to inform you that as of today all Pornotopia events are cancelled indefinitely.
For the past 3 years, we have brought beautiful, raw, healthy expressions of adult sexuality to welcoming audiences. And, for the past 3 years the City of Albuquerque has attempted to limit, censor and persecute our constitutionally protected speech.
This year, in an attempt to defuse this ongoing conflict and comply with the City’s onerous zoning requirements, we voluntarily elected to postpone our annual film festival. Instead, we have spent recent weeks putting together a non-pornographic celebration of sexuality and the 1st amendment under the title of Pornotopia CENSORED. As planned, this one night performance consisted of burlesque, drag, torch songs, film clips and risqué comedy sketches, all highlighting the power and importance of open, uninhibited speech in a free society. Each act in Pornotopia CENSORED was deliberately designed to meet the letter of the City’s highly restrictive interpretation of its own zoning regulations.
However, when it comes to Pornotopia, following the rules is not enough. Over the past few days, the City’s Planning and Zoning Department, apparently in coordination with other City agencies and departments, has conducted a campaign of bullying and intimidation against all those associated with Pornotopia CENSORED. Veiled threats have been made against the Sunshine Theater (the planned location of Pornotopia CENSORED) and against our performers. The City made it clear that both Zoning Enforcement officers and Special Investigations Divisions officers would attend the performance in number, and that these officers would find a way to shut down and silence an event focused on the importance and power of free speech. The Sunshine Theater was threatened with citations for permitting “adult entertainment” under an obscure provision of the zoning code which the City has never before enforced, and which it conveniently overlooked when similar events were held at City-run venues. The performers scheduled for Pornotopia CENSORED were threatened with potential citations for violations of the City’s business license requirements, even though to our knowledge no band, DJ or dancer at any other Albuquerque club has ever been required to meet such a requirement. Attendees, staff, and the Sunshine Theater itself were implicitly threatened by statements that Special Investigations Division officers would be specifically targeting the Pornotopia CENSORED performance for potential violations of New Mexico’s draconian alcohol service laws.
Even if these various citations ultimately proved to be groundless, the costs of fighting the foreseeable legal battles would bring financial ruin to the individuals and small businesses targeted by the City.
Under these circumstances, Pornotopia CENSORED simply cannot go forward. We cannot ask our supporters and our performers to risk legal and financial dangers of this magnitude. Pornotopia and Self Serve Sexuality Resource Center have always focused on promoting the beauty of adult sexuality in a safe, protected environment. The City’s actions have cast a shadow of fear and intimidation over the entire performance. Since we can no longer provide a safe space for our friends and allies to create their art and express their sexuality, we believe it is better to cancel the performance, conserve our resources, and move forward in our continuing efforts to bring an uninhibited, unashamed, sex-positive voice to the cultural and social landscape of Albuquerque.
Having made the agonizing decision to cancel our constitutionally protected and erotically charged performance, we now turn to you, the people of Albuquerque. We ask you to consider what our city is losing by having Pornotopia silenced. We ask you to consider if this is the type of city government you want, one where a relatively minor city bureaucracy has unchallenged authority to determine what you can say, and where you can say it. The City has threatened to interpret its zoning provisions as broadly as possible. Under that standard, every burlesque performance, every R rated movie, every sexy song, every naughty dance, every bikini contest, in fact every public expression of sexuality, can be silenced. Using your tax dollars, the City can transform itself into a puritanical utopia.
If you have a better vision for our City, or for yourself, your sexuality, then we ask you to join us. As a first step, we encourage you to sign and deliver the attached short letter to Mayor Berry.  We also ask you to speak up about censorship and fight for free speech in our city!  Spread the word, share this blog post and don't let zoning and intimidation threaten the sexiness of Albuquerque.
Thank you,
Molly, Matie, the Pornotopia organizers and the community of Self Serve
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mayor Richard J. Berry
PO Box 1293
Albuquerque NM 87103

Dear Mayor Berry,
I SUPPORT PORNOTOPIA! (and you should too!)
I am writing to show my support for free speech in Albuquerque! The City’s zoning code has now driven Pornotopia’s constitutionally protected speech from theaters and clubs in Nob Hill and from downtown Albuquerque. Between the zoning code, the fire code and other building regulations, the City government has essentially banned the Pornotopia Film Festival from the City limits. This ban on adult speech and adult sexuality attitude limits the diversity of ideas in our city. Prohibiting free speech under the guise of zoning also hinders the economic activity of the City’s small businesses.
I am asking you to show your support of free speech by reconsidering the City’s current definition of “adult entertainment establishment.” At the very least, I am asking you to show your dedication to the fundamental principles of democratic government by supporting an exemption procedure which would allow the City to consider reasonable, short-term exemptions from zoning regulations.
Do what is right. Support Pornotopia!
Sincerely,
Name _____________________________
Address ___________________________
__________________________________

31 comments:

SB said...

wow!

Erin said...

Albuquerque bureaucracy is pathetic. Puritanical assholes.

Erin said...

mayorberry@cabq.gov

Email the letter!!

Jen Prosser said...

I've emailed a version of the above letter. Scandalous!

Gabe said...

I've sent my letter

dyrtyd said...

Talk about selective enforcement!

It makes you wonder what do they let their friends get away with.

tschleder said...

They are forgetting that sexuality can't be squashed, the fearful dirtbags.

tschleder said...
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tschleder said...

Write the Mayor now, here,

http://www.cabq.gov/mayor/how-can-we-help

johnny said...

i wrote a new letter and sent it to the Mayor.

Let's all keep pu the pressure, until a festival happens!

johnny said...

i wrote a new letter and sent it to the Mayor.

Let's all keep up the pressure, until a festival happens!

Mary said...

November 4, 2010

Mayor Richard J. Berry
P.O. Box 1293
Albuquerque NM 87103

Dear Mayor Berry:

I read with dismay the news that “Pornotopia CENSORED” has been canceled. I trust the organizers, Molly and Matie of Self Serve, and I can’t dismiss their accusation. Did your Planning and Zoning officials use intimidation to stop the festival?

Over the last year, Your Honor, I have been quite pleased with your administration. But I can’t stay happy with any Republican who doesn’t defend the freedom we love in the Wild West. As long as the kids are kept away, can’t we have some dancing girls on stage?

As a former sex worker and current criminal defense attorney, I think I know prostitution and exploitation when I see them. Respectfully, your officials would have to be pretty naïve to confuse this event for a threat. Pornotopia shows don’t even pose the same danger as ads available in the back of newspapers all over town.

I am aware that I haven’t heard your side of the story yet. Did you want to crush this festival, or has it just run afoul of a few officials acting on their own? Did those officials deliberately intimidate Molly and Matie because they knew they didn’t have a leg to stand on in court? Your State of the City Address today promised to save us money by keeping government small—small enough to stay out of the way of Albuquerque’s people when they are making the city great. Please, if you do nothing else, get back to me (and Molly and Matie) and make your position transparent. Even if you disagree with me, assure us that your administration will fight its battles in the open, not by scaring business owners out of exercising their rights.

This may seem like a small issue for our big city, but it’s a chance to do the right thing. If you are fighting the public health battle against sexually transmitted infections, I have good news for you: Molly and Matie are on your side. If you are taking a feminist stance against the exploitation of women and children, I’ve got good news for you: Molly and Matie are on your side. And if you want property values here to look more like San Francisco than Branson, I have good news for you: Molly and Matie and their hundreds of friends are more likely to stay if you just take their side on this one.

I wish you a safe trip this week and hope you will take a moment to personally encourage Molly and Matie to throw a safe and joyful Pornotopia show.

Yours,


Mary Griego

Mary said...
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Mary said...
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Señorita said...

what a disappointment.

well, i feel way more "moral" now, how 'bout the rest of you?

grrr...

Señorita said...
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Diva said...

I saw the Genitorturers at the Sunshine back in the day. TWICE. This is selective enforcement if there ever was.....

YourDarkness said...

I will be sending a letter. Also, have you ladies contacted the local ACLU? This sounds right up their ally. If nothing else, they might have advice about how to proceed in the future. I know they have been invaluable to some other organizations.

Diva said...

Can't believe I forgot this! They offered up nearly the same intimidation techniques for the first Alibi/Crushed Velvet Rope Fetish Ball at the Launchpad.

We didn't say a word and we let them show up. Rumors flew about the plain-clothes cops in the crowd. We knew we were following all the rules to the letter.

No tickets were issued. Doesn't mean it wouldn't happen this time; I've been gone for so long I don't know what the climate is there anymore. I also had an attorney on retainer for all the performers and a valid business license to operate the troupe, which helped.

Suffice to say I hope you all fight the good fight on this one - ABQ needs to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century, just about every 10 years. Sorry that you're due now, just before such a sex-positive, free-speech event as the one you had planned.

R.J. Awesome said...

*sigh*


This is all such a load. You know? It's not only a disservice to the community as a whole, but it's detrimental to individuals. The message they're sending me is that by being sex-positive and expressing that openly (with other grown ups who are like-minded) I'm actually a dirty freak, not a productive member of society.

I'll tell you what Abq, I pay my taxes. I work hard. I want to play hard, but I want to do it my own way. Deal with it, and stop putting roadblocks in my way.

Grr. This makes me sick and angry :o{

Molly said...

Thanks for all the comments, and Mary- your letter is fabulous.

We are talking to the Mayor's office tomorrow, and hope to make progress on figuring out how to finally host events, legally, without fear of repercussions. I am still hopeful!

I figure we shall go straight to the Mayor and try to learn what's going on.

Rogi said...

This breaks my heart. Hookers all over Central Ave, strip clubs, sexist adverts, HIV AIDS, STDs, pregger teens..... healthy sexuality would cure ALL of this sickness. And it would empower people in such subversive ways, it would destroy the capitalist system, conventional religion and the military industrial complex! Bless you for your conviction and heart. Albuquerque hasn't heard the last of us yet.

Granola said...

I sent my letter. Freedom of Speech is very important to me.

meganfein said...

what in the world has got "the powers that be" in Albuquerque so riled up and scared?

revphil said...

some people are not happy until someone else is sad.

rox_mariposa_69 said...

We should get as many people as possible to dress risque or wear Pornatopia shirts tomorrow!

lovely. said...

@Meganfein - it's all that damn tea the tea party is making the people drink.

it's like that special kool aid... you know, the kind the special clubs give you. with the matching sneakers.

Jean said...

I've been to two of the Burlesque/Circus show in the past and loved them! I was very much looking forward to tonights performance only to check my e-mail and find it's been cancelled for no good reason! Last night I happened to be at Kosmos and when I walked in they were having "pants down" musical chairs with males and females participating - all participants had panties or boxers on and it was hysterical. Is the city going to try to stop this kind of harmless fun everywhere or just when it involves anything with the name "Pornotopia"??? You bet I'll be sending Dick Berry a letter!

Mr. G said...

I also have a small business and I have also experienced similar abuse of power. Too much focus seems to be placed on the censorship aspect . The greater problem is simply that Government is too big and far too intrusive. If the City had less power their ability to abuse power would also be lessened. The problem is big government and its abuse of power. It is ironic that at the same time so many Americans think we are fighting for freedom in foreign lands while our freedoms here at home are being lost.

Killbox said...

How do "Adult entertainment" video/magazine stores do it? Its been a good number of years since i turned 18 and shopped much at any of those, but popular legend says they have movie viewing booths and theaters. Admittedly their porn is not the same as pornatopia content, But what laws do they use to stay open?

xulaxula said...

i just sent the letter to mayor berry! good luck!