PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz.—Officials of the affluent town of Paradise Valley are struggling to come to grips with the news that porn is being produced within their municipal limits. The process appears to have a "five stages of grief" dynamic to it. Denial appears to have passed, anger is brewing, bargaining seems to be on the table, depression is percolating, and even the cops have shrugged their shoulders in futile acceptance that there is little they can do about it.
Word that "two adult-entertainment filmmaking operations within the Town of Paradise Valley" were taking place is about a year old at this point in time. According to Arizona Newszap, a councilperson reported her suspicions to the police.
“I gave Chief (John) Bennett a couple of addresses that were running businesses (out of a home),” said Paradise Valley Councilwoman Lisa Trueblood. “He reported back to me that it was not criminal activity, so there wasn’t anything they could do.”
Actually, two different law enforcement officials told her there was nothing to be done, because neither of the locations at private homes was an official business.
Newszap spoke with Paradise Valley Police Chief John Bennett, who told them the First Amendment was in play. “For things like this, we really don’t get involved. As far as this goes there is no criminal activity—it is more of a civil matter.”
That explanation did not sit well with Trueblood, who says local permitting laws are being ignored. “They weren’t selling anything, but they are in fact now selling memberships to a website, so they are a business,” she said, adding that she also wants to know why they haven't been getting film permits. The lack of attention by her colleagues to the possibility that town code is being ignored by pornographers also perturbed Trueblood.
“We are going to have a 40-minute discussion on charities—but not on this. The question at hand now is why didn’t anyone come in and get a film permit?”
The current impasse may not hold. Spurred by the news of local production and Councilwoman Trueblood's insistence to do something about the situation, the town council will probably look into the matter to see if it can gain greater control over what sort of content can be produced within city limits. But first they have to wrap their heads around the subject, which seems to have taken some of them by surprise.
“We just don’t know about them," said Paradise Valley Councilman Dan Schweiker when asked about explicit filmmaking in Paradise Valley. “I don’t even know what the options are. It is obviously something that we are going to look into."
Stricter production regulations and new permit requirements may be needed, he added. "We need to get a handle on that kind of stuff. I am a believer that if you have rules and regulations, either don’t have them in the book or enforce them.”
The First Amendment did present a problem for the town, he added, but admitted he wasn't so sure to what extent. “I don’t know if we know how much we would differentiate between the types of filming—to prohibit any pornographic productions. I don’t know what the limits of free speech are. I just don’t know what our legal parameters are. What we can and cannot prohibit.”
At least he's honest enough to admit he doesn't know!