UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. — The Free Speech Coalition's annual Red, White and Blue Bash fundraiser, held at Universal Studios' Globe Theater, proved an exceptionally stirring and entertaining affair, with Democratic presidential candidate Mike Gravel and Goalie Entertainment founder Eddie Wedelstedt both giving spirited and much cheered addresses to the audience.
Toward the beginning of the event, emceed by industry legend Nina Hartley, FSC executive director Diane Duke spoke about having just returned from a lobbying session in Washington, D.C., and being contacted by Gravel to appear at the dinner, which she said was "shocking." According to Duke, the former Alaska senator told her over the phone, "I know what you're about. I'm not ashamed."
And sure enough, when Gravel took the podium — making him the first Oval Office hopeful to speak at an adult industry function — he made it crystal clear that, "I'm very well aware of what I'm doing here tonight. How is the media going to treat my presence here? That's interesting, and I'm curious to see, myself. But if it's handled right, it'll be a milestone step forward; I'll be advancing the ball down the field."
With no apprehension whatsoever to take a firm stance in defense of the industry, Gravel told the audience, "You are making a living, it's an honest living, and be proud of it. There's nothing wrong with it."
Gravel focused much of his talk on urging industry members to support the National Initiative for Democracy (www.nationalinitiative.us), a legislative campaign that would put lawmaking powers into the hands of citizens.
"Get tough," he advised the audience. "Some people are ashamed of what you're doing. They shouldn't be. It’s human. Take names, kick butt. Start figuring out how to convey a political message. You communicate a recreational message. You have power, you just have to learn how to use it, and one of the ways is having the National Initiative in place. You want free speech? Fight for it!"
Later, guest of honor Eddie Wedelstedt came up to accept an award "In recognition of past, present and future service to the FSC and the adult entertainment industry," presented to him by Diane Duke and Doc Johnson owner Ron Braverman. First toasted by daughter Beverly Wedelstedt, who said of him, "There's not a man I know who sticks to his convictions like my dad," Mr. Wedelstedt — who just ended more than a year-long prison sentence for interstate transportation of obscene materials — spoke tenaciously and at length of the need for industry members to stand behind one another in the face of adversity.
"We need to work together," he said. "We got some serious problems out there. The Constitution of the United States is the greatest work of all time; we've bastardized that thing so bad, it's unbelievable. Any time we have that so-called Moral Majority — which we all know isn't moral and isn't the majority — raising money, we're going to have problems. Cross you 't's and dot you 'i's. Do your business, but do it right. We need to stick together and watch our backs."
As proof that he could put his money where his mouth was, Wedelstedt made on-the-spot pledges to the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP) and the FSC of $10,000 and a year's office rent, respectively. In the case of the latter, it came as an especially pointed move, since the FSC was evicted from its previous office space in Wedelstedt's old Goalie Entertainment building by the people who purchased it from him.
On the entertainment side of the evening, comics Dante and Jackie Beat did routines that received increasingly enthused guffaws from the audience, while dinner was served and a silent auction was conducted.
Sponsors of the Red, White and Blue Bash were: AVN Media Network, AEBN, HotMovies.com, VGR Systems Corporation, Marina Pacific Distributors, NakedSword.com, XBiz, Plan B Investments, Keller Williams Realty, ACE of California, AdultVest.com and HardcoreHotel.com.
Pictured: Sen. Gravel with Nina Hartley, Ira Levine and Diane Duke