MIAMI, Fla.—There's a tiny round(ish) island in the bay between the City of Miami and Miami Beach named after Henry Morrison Flagler, an early capitalist who managed to parlay a $100,000 investment (of his brother-in-law's money) with oil baron John D. Rockefeller in 1867 into a partnership in the world's first multinational corporation, Cleveland-based Standard Oil. By 1892, Standard Oil controlled 88 percent of the refined oil in the U.S. and was worth just under $43 million, or just over $1 billion in 2009 dollars—that is, until the Supreme Court broke up the company by invoking the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1911.
But while still flush with oil profits, Flagler turned his attention to Florida, where he and his first wife used to spend their winters, and where Flagler built or bought several hotels up and down Florida's east coast, not to mention the Florida East Coast Railway, which stretched from St. Augustine to Biscayne Bay south of Miami. He also built streets, inaugurated Miami's first water and electric systems, and even financed the city's first newspaper—so perhaps it's no surprise that Flagler, dubbed "the Father of Miami" at the turn of the century, is still lionized all over South Florida—and perhaps also no surprise that the citizenry has gotten so bent out of shape that adult producer Reality Kings (RK) has actually shot a sex scene on Flagler Memorial Island.
"There's stuff about Flagler all over Florida," observed Lawrence Walters, attorney for Reality Kings. "I mean, there's a Flagler College, there's Flagler County, there's Flagler Beach, there's memorials, museums—I mean, he's The Man."
And then there's Flagler Memorial Island, all (roughly) 175,000 tree-covered square feet of it, for which Miami voters approved $1 million to restore the Flagler Monument, a 110-foot-tall obelisk (see photo) set on a concrete plaza at the island's center. As one can see from a map of the area, the island is a good thousand feet or more from any of the other (manmade) islands that jut from the Venetian and MacArthur Causeways that link Miami Beach to the mainland.
"It's a deserted island; nobody lives there," Walters noted. "Nobody was there when the filming occurred, so there was no opportunity for anybody to be exposed to the filming. The crew is cautious any time they film in public to make sure that nobody's around when they do the filming, and that's what happened here."
But that hardly mattered when Reality Kings posted their latest production, Island Adventure, to their website on Feb. 5—and someone noticed that in the background of a scene featuring Brooklyn Lee and JMac fucking their brains out was the Flagler Monument.
"Really, the monument had nothing to do with the scene," Walters assured. "Nobody was trying to make any type of political statement. They just wanted to shoot in an isolated location, and it just happened that they picked a spot where the monument was also visible."
But the concept that people can have sex in public drives some people a little nuts.
"This is not an uninhabited island miles off the coast," Assistant City Manager Hilda Fernandez told the Miami Herald. "It's in the middle of a very busy bay. You can't go filming pornos in public parks."
Of course, the fact that the filming was only discovered when the scene was posted online would seem to suggest otherwise, but never mind that. Also never mind the fact that although Miami Beach film and event production manager Graham Winick admitted that porn is filmed all over Miami without a permit—because, "We occasionally get calls, but it's rare they actually fulfill permits," Winick said—in any case, even if RK had applied for one, "a permit for a movie involving a pornographic scene at a public park would not have been granted," according to what Winick told Herald reporter David Smiley.
"It doesn't seem as though Miami is very strict in that regard," Walters agreed, "but to the extent that RK needs a film permit or that's the stated position in light of all this, they're happy to get them, and they obviously don't want to stir up a problem with the city or the county. If they need permits for public filming, even in deserted areas, they'll be happy to get them."
Indeed, but for Smiley's story, it's unlikely that the appearance of the scene on RK's website would have raised any waves—but now that the news has hit the news, Fernandez told NBCMiami.com that the city's legal staff "was given the tough task [sic] of reviewing the film to see how they want to proceed."
But Walters is adamant that Reality Kings did nothing wrong in filming on the island or posting the movie to its website.
"It would have free speech protections," Walters assured. "It can't be taken down because it [RK] didn't get any required permit. But to the extent there are future issues, RK is receptive to any additional regulation they want to impose, or permitting requirements. There's obviously no intent to violate the law here."
The publicity may have some effect, however; perhaps raising Reality Kings' site's Alexa rating (currently at 618) a couple of points, and as Smiley pointed out elsewhere, "on the bright side, Flagler's monument was probably exposed to a number of males over the age of 18—Reality Kings' target audience—who had never seen it before."
Still, historian Zeth Bramson had some advice for RK regarding a possible Island Adventure 2.
"They should not be desecrating that island," the self-described non-prude said, apparently confusing Flagler the oil baron with some religious icon. "It's hallowed ground."
But if RK (or Bang Bros.) does want to continue shooting around Miami, blogger Sebastian Del Marmol had some suggestions. Or they could simply mosey on over to the Coconut Grove mansion, where Deep Throat was filmed in 1972!