LAS VEGAS—Industry pioneer Lasse Braun will be honored at the 30th annual AVN Awards Show Saturday night with the prestigious Reuben Sturman Memorial Award, to be presented to him by his son, two-time AVN Director of the Year Axel Braun.
Named for the legendary First Amendment martyr who died in a federal prison in 1997 while serving a 10-year sentence on tax evasion, the Reuben Sturman recognizes industry stalwarts who've made revolutionary strides for industry rights by battling legal and free speech obstructions.
Lasse Braun was arguably the original porn crusader, essentially single-handedly effecting the legalization of adult material in Europe during the 1960s and '70s by doggedly chipping away at governmental restrictions through rogue manipulation of market forces. In other words, he saturated retail shops with explicit fare to the point that there was no option but to allow its sale. And he did so using under-the-table tactics, slipping them free samples of books and magazine and constantly moving about the Continent and U.S. one step ahead of authorities, often assuming aliases.
Due to this practice, Braun earned the nickname "Santa Claus," and by 1965 had convinced over 500 retailers to collude with him on peddling his outlawed wares. He also ventured into movie production of the guerrilla kind, shooting scenes sometimes with himself and various girlfriends on black-and-white 8mm film and scrambling to get them processed by whatever scant few labs would agree to do so.
In 1966, Braun founded a movie company in Stockholm called AB Beta Film that produced the world's first color hardcore films. These were 10-minute shorts, constituting what became known as loops, and included titles such as Golden Butterfly, Blow-Up '70, Sex on the Motorway and Dream of a Nymphomaniac, distributed under the banners Eros Film and Ciro's Film.
Seeing the potential for massive profits, Braun instituted the first ever mail-order business for his material, and catching the attention of none other than Reuben Sturman himself, went into business with the daring entrepreneur manufacturing peep-show machines that would project his loops in Super 8mm inside an enclosed booth.
The idea caught on like wildfire, and between 1971 and 1974, Sturman placed 60,000 peep-show booths throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Braun continued to wage his war on sexual repression until deciding to retire in 1977, worn down by the number of legal cases that had been mounted against him in numerous countries over the years. During the next couple of decades, he returned to erotic filmmaking sporadically, directing or producing movies when the mood struck him in various spots around the world. His legacy is one like few others in the history of the industry have ever established, and AVN celebrates it by bestowing this honor upon him at Saturday night's landmark ceremony.