Retailer Greg Sakas is calling out to the adult industry for help in his fight against police and religious groups who are attempting to shut down his business. This week, local authorities intend to charge Sakas with a third-class misdemeanor under a state law that prohibits the sale of adult DVDs and novelties under the same roof.
In late January, New Bern police raided Sakas' Pure Bliss outlet, seizing the store's inventory and records. According to Sakas, the action against him is the first salvo in a Christian Coalition campaign designed to rid North Carolina of pornography.
"I'm the first person in North Carolina to ever be charged on this," Sakas told AVN. "The Christian Coalition is looking at this as the springboard to a major fight in which they can shut down all the adult stores in North Carolina, and beyond. Everybody in the industry needs to fight this."
Sakas told AVN that the Christian Coalition has been looking to close Pure Bliss for several months. "They came in and actually looked at the store back in December," he said. "After that, I had to call them, and what they said was that they wanted me to close down. They want to clean up America and they think a lot of problems with this country stem from porn – they want to take their stand because God needs to be back present in everyone's lives. These people are fanatical."
When the Coalition asked Sakas to attend their Jan. 15 meeting in New Bern, the store owner declined. Two days later, the group filed a complaint with the New Bern police, who applied for a search warrant on Jan. 29.
"The police chief went ahead with the raid without even discussing it with the D.A.," Sakas recounted. "Six vice and narcotics officers came in like they were after a major seizure of narcotics. We've never had one person question what we were doing; we had a license to operate, with the city fully knowing we had adult material. They confiscated the fax machine, the computer, our vendor list, invoices, the DVR [surveillance cameras] and all of our paperwork from the past year; we had to estimate our sales tax at the end of the month. They took all the movies out of the store, and all of the printed matter except for the tattoo magazines. No one signed off on this, and they had no list or description of anything they took - it felt like we were in Nazi Germany."
In the weeks since the raid, New Bern police have placed Sakas and his store under surveillance. When employees began bringing video and magazine inventory back into Pure Bliss this past weekend, the police immediately arrived on the scene to block their efforts.
"I called the store on Friday, and five minutes later, the police showed up," Sakas told AVN. "A sergeant stated to me that I am going to be charged [with the misdemeanor], and that if I do this, they can come back in – he told me, 'you will be in violation of a zoning ordinance.'"
Sakas owns 12 adult retail outlets, 10 of them in North Carolina. The Christian Coalition is already looking to close down another Sakas-owned shop 20 miles away from the New Bern location.
"We're a small chain, but if I lose this and they get their foothold, where do we go from here?" Sakas said. "It's a major concern for everybody in this business, including the manufacturers that are selling in this state."
Heatwave Entertainment's sales and marketing VP Alex also contacted AVN to voice his concern over the case. "We can't put our heads in the sand on this," Alex said. "It's harassment; it reminds me of what Larry Flynt went through; Greg is a valued customer of all of us, and he's not going to walk away from this fight. If he did, it would be a travesty for the adult industry. Greg is a good man, and he's running a good business for consenting adults. If the other side wins, then they're just going to go after everybody else in that state…and then, it's going to be other states. That's why this is so important; everybody needs to be aware of this and support the cause.