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Porn titans not worried about Rick Santorum banning their business

Chris Moody, Yahoo News
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Larry Flynt (AP), Michael Lucas and Steven Hirsch (Glenn Francis)

Rick Santorum has made a campaign promise to bar "hardcore pornography" from American websites, magazines and television, but industry giants who produce much of the nation's porn aren't worried that the crusading candidate will stop the multibillion dollar industry from churning out the next "Deep Throat."

"I don't see a danger," Michael Lucas, New York's largest producer of gay adult films, told Yahoo News. "There's no danger that he will be the Republican Party nominee."

Santorum's campaign posted a position paper on its website in February that vowed to "vigorously" enforce obscenity laws and restrict the distribution of hardcore pornography, which it says has reached "pandemic" levels. The former Pennsylvania senator said he will "prohibit distribution of hardcore (obscene) pornography on the Internet, on cable/satellite TV, on hotel/motel TV, in retail shops and through the mail or by common carrier." A spokesman for Santorum's presidential campaign did not return a request for comment.

[Related: Could you really get rid of porn on the Internet?]

Lucas, who grew up in the former Soviet Union and immigrated to the United States in 1997 after working in Europe as a male prostitute, founded Lucas Entertainment in 1998, which flourished into a mega-enterprise that produces some of the most lavish gay porn films in the industry. His side company, Lucas Raunch, boasts a repertoire of hardcore fetish videos that are so explicit that Canadian officials banned copies from the country in 2009.

"This is not what Ronald Reagan envisioned," Lucas said after reviewing Santorum's plan. "This is not what the Founding Fathers envisioned. This is what Rick Santorum envisions. And I think the guy is crazy."

Lucas, by the way, considers himself a conservative, votes Republican and donates generously to several libertarian and right-wing causes. And when he casts a ballot in the November election, he hopes it will be for Mitt Romney.

"I would support Romney of course," the director of "Men in Stockings" and "Hunt & Plunge" told Yahoo News. "There is nobody else to support."

"I am not in love with him, but I like him," he added of Romney. "I don't see any danger coming from Romney when it comes to porn. It's just not there. And I think he will be much better than President Obama. Not that it will be difficult to be better than President Obama."

On the West Coast, Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt, who has spent decades battling obscenity laws and politicians who have tried to shut him down, said he's confident that Santorum won't get in his way either.

"Whether it's Newt offering $2 gasoline or Santorum wanting to ban pornography or whatever else he's doing, they're making these promises and these threats, and they're really empty and meaningless," Flynt told Yahoo News. "I don't think he will be much of a contender if he gets the nomination, but at the same time I don't think he will."

[Related: Rick Santorum's 'winning' war on porn]

Flynt said that, of the Republican nominees this cycle, he preferred former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman because he "wasn't going off the deep end with the rest," but he plans to vote for Obama in November, calling him "the lesser of two evils."

"Everybody wants to make promises and wants to keep our minds pure when they can't even keep the streets clean," Flynt said. "I don't listen to them anymore when they talk. It's just a lot of empty rhetoric."

Steven Hirsch, the founder and co-chairman of Vivid Entertainment, an adult film company that boasts millions of viewers every month, had a more blunt message for Santorum: Bring it.

"Thankfully we live in America and we have a justice system. Certainly he can put together a task force and he can go after the adult industry and begin prosecutions. Certainly that won't be cheap, but ultimately we'll prevail because people don't want to be told what they can watch in the privacy of their own home," he said. "It's sometimes easy to attack the adult industry, but ultimately it doesn't work."

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Like Lucas and Flynt, he's not worried.

"People are more comfortable with hardcore pornography than ever before," he said. "I think it's going to be extremely difficult to get juries to see things his way."

He added: "We'll stay out of his church if he stays out of our bedrooms."

In the case that Santorum wins the election, his effort could struggle to hold up under scrutiny, said Allan B. Gelbard, an attorney who represents the adult industry.

"From a purely legal prospective, there is a question as to whether applying local community standards to Internet speech is constitutional at all," Gelbard said in an e-mail. "Fortunately, we become a more tolerant society over time.  We're increasingly accepting of others engaging in activities that we, ourselves, might not do because we don't want others telling us what we can and can't do."

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