The following list includes all candidates for the upcoming 2015 FSC Board of Directors election to be held through mid-December. Only active FSC members may vote in the election; electronic ballots will be sent by online survey service Vertical Response.
FSC members may vote for eight seats available in this year’s election, from the field of 12 candidates. New nominees include Wasteland.com founder Colin Rowntree, Pipedream Products Vice President Rich Easton, Fallen Angel Production co-owner Luc Wylder and Fallen Angel’s co-owner Alexandra Silk.
Incumbents in the race include Kink.com founder Peter Acworth, Adam & Eve’s Bob Christian, attorney Jeffrey Douglas, XBIZ Magazine founder Alec Helmy, Vivid Entertainment’s vice president Marci Hirsch, AVN writer Mark Kernes, attorney Reed Lee, and Classic Erotica’s Lynn Swanson.
If you have questions, or you are an active FSC member and DO NOT receive your electronic ballot by Dec 5, please contact the FSC office at (818) 348-9373 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The voting period ends on Dec 12.
PLEASE REMEMBER TO VOTE! This is an opportunity for you to choose the members that will represent your business interests and industry to legislators, media and the public. Thank you.
BIO: Peter Acworth was born and raised in rural England. While pursuing a doctorate in Finance at Columbia Business School, Peter came across an article about the nascent online porn market and began Hogtied.com, a subscription site selling bondage pictures.
In 1997, after the success of Hogtied.com, Peter moved to San Francisco and founded Kink.com. From its headquarters in the San Francisco Armory, Kink now employs about 125 people and operates two dozen sites. Kink.com prides itself on producing high quality BDSM entertainment, and is currently investing in live and social networking products.
WHY I’M RUNNING – “I’m running again to bring the perspective and voice of the producer to the table. Kink.com does production, live camming, post-production, and distribution under one roof; we work in concert with affiliates, models, developers and retailers — their concerns are our concerns. These are a few issues about of which I’m particularly passionate.”
STATEWIDE PRODUCTION LAWS – “Models deserve to have access to safe and sane working conditions, including workers comp. But Measure B, the various bills such as AB 1576 and many aspects of the Cal OSHA regulations — ignore both the ways in which the industry has worked to make this a reality, and the calamitous effects forced condoms and/or forced testing will have on production, existing protocols and model privacy. As proposed, AB1576 would have pushed production underground, damaging safety standards. We cannot let a vocal minority force companies out of state and out of business. We need to be more forceful in reframing the debate in the media, and with the public.”
PASS DATABASE – “I’m proud to have helped design PASS, a central database which protects both models health and privacy. PASS lists only if a given model is available or not, but does not store a model’s personal information — such as ID or medical data. If this database were to be compromised, there would be little damage to the models and no repeat of the Porn Wiki Leaks incident. During a third term, I’ll continue advocating for model rights and model privacy.”
2257 – “The requirements of 2257 are overly cumbersome, and too vaguely written—and disproportionately effect certain producers. For instance, a strict interpretation of 2257 means that we cannot admit an unpaid participant to one of our ‘community style’ shoots if they have an expired ID, or a foreign passport. The 2257 requirements placed on secondary producers and companies involved in live programming make the law almost impossible to comply with.”
OBSCENITY – Free speech should cover sexual speech. The government needs to get out of the business of criminalizing and censoring consensual sex between adults. If there are statutes, we deserve to know what they are, and how they apply. As it stands, obscenity laws are an arbitrary political tool. Why are some companies prosecuted and not others? An attack on one of us is an attack on each of us. As an FSC board member, I’ll continue to fight to make sure our rights as an industry are preserved.
BIO: Jeffrey Douglas is a Santa Monica criminal defense lawyer, advocating for all segments of the adult entertainment industry since 1982. He has served for many years as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Free Speech Coalition, the adult entertainment industry trade association, and is Chairman Emeritus of the First Amendment Lawyers Association. He is a Director of the ACLU Foundation of Southern California. A nationally recognized spokesperson for the adult entertainment industry, as well as an expert witness, Mr. Douglas appears regularly as a media commentator, and on invitation, has testified before Congress.
STATEMENT – “I want to serve as an FSC Board Director because it provides the best opportunity to advance the lives of the people who make up the adult industry, as well as improve the marketplace for sexually oriented communication and products. Together we can protect the precious rights of our customers to buy our products and services, as well as express our ideas and creativity. I am honored to defend against government, and non-government organizations, our industry and the individuals who comprise it.”
BIO: Rich Easton joined Pipedream Products in a new role as Senior Vice President of Global Sales. Easton brings along a successful track record of growing recognizable brands such as Hefty, Arm & Hammer, Oxi Clean, and Trojan in his previous roles as an executive sales and marketing leader. With Trojan, Easton was able to drive distribution of Trojan vibrators and lubricants to all major retailers in the mass, drug, and grocery classes of trade.
Easton recently founded a consulting business focused on helping drive sales for small to mid-size businesses. Prior to his consulting business, Rich held the position of VP of Sales Operations at Church & Dwight where he led a team of internal sales managers focused on developing products, pricing, promotion, and positioning for as many as 55 different brands. Rich spent most of his career as a sales leader at Hefty Consumer Products, where he led several new product initiatives including the launch of Cinch Sak, One Zip, and expansions of private label tableware.
Rich graduated Union College and pursued his MBA at Chicago University.
STATEMENT – Why I would like to be a board member on the FSC?
“I came to this industry because I firmly believe that there are significant growth opportunities for strategic minded companies. Part of the growth is dependent on the normalization of sex and sexuality as viewed by the American public and other countries where women are regarded as second-class citizens. As the FSC continues to act as a “force to be reckoned with”, it can be a catalyst for the industry growth.
When I worked at Church & Dwight as VP of sales Operations, I worked hand in hand with our Trojan team and the legal department to address the seven states that had old litigation on their books prohibiting the sale of adult toys. We were successful at helping our retailers introduce sex products into all of the states in question except Alabama and Mississippi.
In the state of Utah, where the influence of the Mormon church is evident in all facets of the government, we were able to convince them that the sales of sex toys per capita, was the highest in the United states, which helped to soften their rules on sales of adult toys.
My role in both of these situations was first to identify that there was an issue with free trade and free speech, and then secondly to develop the research to convince the key decision makers to alter their policies. Our legal team worked the front lines.
I hope to add value as a board member and build on the power of the work that has already been done as well as the talents of the other board members.”
BIO: Alec Helmy is the founder and president of XBIZ, the adult industry’s leading publisher of business news and information, providing up-to-the-minute coverage of the industry at XBIZ.com and in three trade publications — XBIZ World for the digital media market, XBIZ Premiere for the retail market and XBIZ Sensuals for the intimate products market. In addition, XBIZ hosts five annual trade events including the adult industry’s top awards event of the year, the XBIZ Awards. XBIZ is frequently cited in the media for coverage of the industry and has been published in CNN, Fox News, Newsweek, MSNBC, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Wired, CNET, ABC, USA Today and Los Angeles Times among others.
STATEMENT: “If you do business in or are involved with the adult industry in any capacity, it behooves you to join and help support the FSC, which does so much to protect the business from unnecessary and, often times, politically motivated intervention.”
BIO: Marci Hirsch is VP Production & Licensing for Vivid Entertainment and is a tireless supporter of civil liberties causes, particularly on behalf of The Free Speech Coalition. Marci is a strong, behind-the-scenes senior executive, well known in the industry as someone who takes on big challenges and completes them successfully. She is a veteran of adult entertainment, having worked with her father’s companies, AVC and its 8mm division Sunrise International, starting when she was 18. Her brother Steven Hirsch is the founder and co-chairman of Vivid and she joined him in the company in 1992 as a special projects manager. She took on increasing responsibilities and quickly focused on building relationships with Vivid’s clients as well as in production. She has played an important role in helping Vivid become a global leader in adult entertainment and in winning more awards than any other single studio in the industry.
A native of Cleveland, Marci graduated from the University of Las Vegas. She lives in the Los Angeles area and has two sons.
STATEMENT: “We must all be on the alert to safeguard our Constitutional liberties and the freedoms that make America the great country that it is. I am particularly passionate about our First Amendment rights. I believe that freedom of speech is the cornerstone upon which all of our laws rest. That’s one reason I am so committed to the mission of the Free Speech Coalition and have worked actively to support its ‘No on Measure B’ litigation. I’ve worked to organize our industry to support the FSC, helped raise funds and organized events to gather leaders together — and I will continue to do so in the future.”
BIO & STATEMENT: Joel was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, to a working class family. His dad was a laborer and mother a stenographer…both having to work to make ends meet. From this upbringing, he learned a lot about responsibility and work ethic…all of which has served him well in his personal and professional life.
For money growing up, Joel worked as a paperboy for two newspapers, cut lawns, shoveled snow, worked in a clothes factory, a rack jobber, and often in the adult distribution warehouse his brother Mel headed. The latter job is one that exposed Joel to the adult marketplace, and provided income while between semesters and winter/spring breaks in the late 60’s and early 70’s.
After graduating with a marketing degree from the University of Cincinnati in 1976, he moved back to Cleveland to assist his family in handling his dying mother. His brother Mel found him a temporary warehouse position, but an upper level manager moved him to the retail store division. Before long, Joel was supervising stores in Cleveland and surrounding areas…and soon after was promoted to Pittsburgh, Pa. to run a larger retail operation.
In 1978, Joel was again promoted to San Diego to take over an ailing retail operation and open more stores for the headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio. In a matter of 5 years, Joel opened 9 stores, a discount magazine pack route, and an arcade vending machine operation.
In January of 1984, Joel was offered a district manager position in San Francisco, Ca. that would include running 16 stores. Soon after, he was instrumental in the opening of dozens of more stores including Hawaii and Australia, and along with the CEO of Bay Management was the chief architect starting GVA-West, Sin City Video, and numerous other ventures. Under his direction, which included a nearly two year stint running the operation without a CEO (prison sentence), the company grew from a few million annual revenue into the mid to high eight figure range and hundreds of employees.
In October of 2002, Joel moved to Cleveland, Ohio to assist family in a transitional time of business succession. His brother Mel was retiring and selling GVA-TWN to his daughter Rondee. Joel was offered a COO position there and the chance to work with family was enticing enough to come “home”. There, he assisted in running distribution, over 50 retail stores, opening new locations, publishing, a web division, and the purchasing of a video manufacturing business in LA.
In 2007, the company purchased the renown woman-centric retailer Good Vibrations…which Joel purchased from the company in 2008.
Joel was instrumental in turning Good Vibration’s near bankrupt condition into one of solid general business health. This led to his decision in ending his career at GVA-TWN and devoting full time attention to Good Vibrations at the beginning of 2010 as the CEO.
In summary, Joel has been involved in nearly every aspect of the adult marketplace including retail, distribution, web sales, movie manufacturing, and active in the adult legal landscape.
Joel was indicted in legal cases because of the industry he worked in and was a personal witness as a member of companies that were involved in some of the most significant cases of its time. From this, he gained first hand knowledge and experience the “threat” the adult industry is cloaked under. Additionally, he has been involved in zoning cases, has worked with cities on amending laws, and has witnessed his family’s commitment to a long running 2257 battle.
BIO & STATEMENT:
A “red diaper” baby, Mark Kernes was born in 1948 to Communist parents who successfully indoctrinated him in socialism. He went through his libertarian phase starting in his junior year as an English major at New York University in 1970, but the Bush administration managed to snap him out of it. After college, he became a court reporter and remained one for 19 years, gradually gaining the respect of his fellow reporters in the Philadelphia and Media, PA areas. He joined the ranks of U.S. political prisoners first in 1969 for possession of marijuana and again in 1984 for “willful failure to file tax returns,” the latter charge resulting in a three-month incarceration at Allenwood Federal Prison Camp, where Kernes gained a healthy disrespect for the power of government. His first review for Adult Video News (AVN) appears in its fourth issue (May, 1983), and he joined the staff full time in 1991. His forte is legal news as it affects both the adult industry and any person or institution targeted by religio-reactionary groups. He essayed the starring role in “The Secret Life of Herbert Dingle,” a 1996 XXX video feature. His main hobbies are 3D erotic photography and working to get Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, several members of his administration and several past and current members of Congress tried for war crimes.
BIO: Reed Lee is a practicing constitutional lawyer concentrating on free speech matters. He is National Chairperson Emeritus of the First Amendment Lawyers Association and he has served on the FSC Board for six terms. He has political experience ranging from grass-roots organizing to lobbying in Congress, always for the less popular or powerful as against the more. He has long felt the need to help speak truth to power and to help defend those against whom the intolerant have unleashed a culture war.
STATEMENT: “I think I bring to the FSC Board an understanding of the legal and political climate surrounding the production and dissemination of adult expression and pleasure products. I also bring my long experience with nonprofit, advocacy organizations and the challenges facing them.
We have made a good deal of progress while I’ve been on the FSC Board. In many ways, of course, we have a long way still to go. FSC remains in the middle of the social and political storms which so often accompany progress. That is as it should be.
While we continue to fight the many battles which have come our way, it is important that we also take a long and proactive view and stake out the way of our future. Organizationally, that means continuing to build FSC into the kind of organization which the adult entertainment and pleasure products industry deserves as its advocate. And culturally, that means never ceasing in our struggle for a freer, more tolerant society.
I am privileged to serve on a diverse Board filled with extremely capable and accomplished members. Since I think I can continue to contribute to the work of the Board and FSC, I most humbly ask for your vote for another term.”
BIO: As the founder and CEO of Wasteland.com, the Internet’s oldest and most popular alternative sexual community, Colin Rowntree is a true pioneer of the online adult entertainment industry. Since launching Wasteland.com in 1994, Colin has developed a network of sites that encompasses the full breadth of adult business sectors, from content production and distribution to affiliate program management, mobile content delivery to transaction processing, just to name a handful.
Colin’s stature within the adult industry is reflected by the many honors and recognitions he has received over the years from adult industry media outlets and trade organizations, including his 2011 induction to the Adult Video News (AVN) Hall of Fame and 2010 XBIZ Award for Excellence in Alternative Erotica. Colin was also the recipient of the 2011 Leadership Award from the Free Speech Coalition (FSC).
Most recently, Colin is co-founder of Boodigo.com. The first privacy and anti-piracy search engines for adult which was developed in direct response to Google, Bing and other mainstream search and media sites harvesting surfer data, and ghettoizing the legitimate adult industry. Launched on Sept 15, 2014, Boodigo.com serves over 2 million search results per day which support the viability and livelihood of the adult industry.
An eloquent, witty and thought-provoking commentator, Colin is a frequent contributor to industry trade publications and websites, including Adult Video News and XBIZ. He has been interviewed by and featured on BBC Television, the Fox Network, HBO, Wired magazine, Cnet.com and Bnet.com.
STATEMENT: “My primary motivation to be on the FSC board would to focus on free speech issues as they relate to mainstream corporate media. Over the past several years, the ghettoization of adult by such entities as Google in search, and the mainstream media outlets such as Huffington Post have done great damage to the adult industry being able to be on a somewhat even playing field for internet marketing, site operations and the like. Although I fully realize that such corporations are not under any of the first amendment requirements as the Federal and State governments in the US, I see the FSC as a potential driving force to hold mainstream accountable for its actions through proactive attempts to work with mainstream to at least mitigate some of this, and to keep those entities in the public eye for some degree of accountability to the public.”
BIO & STATEMENT: “I plan to bring fresh, innovative ideas to the Free Speech Coalition Board of Directors table. With 20 years of experience as talent and management in the adult business, I have a unique perspective of working in the trenches. As co-owner of Fallen Angel, I understand the details required to running a business in the adult industry today. I have high work ethic skills and would cherish the opportunity to be a voice of positive action and to contribute to in a logical and sensible solutions for the issues that the industry faces. Being inducted into several Halls of Fame reflects my respect and dedication to my work. My devotion, reputation, and love for the adult industry can be beneficial and valuable to the Free Speech Coalition.”
BIO & STATEMENT: Lynn Swanson is a true veteran of the Adult Entertainment business. With a resume spanning practically every facet of the industry, Lynn offers over 30 years of experience including retail (Goalie Entertainment), distribution (General Manager of M&M Sales), and now cosmetics manufacturing (Classic Erotica). As a current Board member of the Free Speech Coalition, Lynn offers a broad understanding of the entire industry.
As a long-term member of the industry, Lynn understands the many obstacles and challenges we face today. Her dedication to the cause of free speech has been a priority, and she understands that decisions she helps make today will have far-reaching effects on the industry in the future. With her vast knowledge and long-standing relationships with members of the domestic as well as foreign adult marketplace, her voice on the Board resonates with the wishes of the many, rather than the few.
Lynn is running for re-election to the Board, and her goal is to help lead the industry into a future that is free from government intervention, and the strengthening of our First Amendment rights.
BIO: Having been an active member of the FSC since 1991, my career has evolved from performer to director/producer at Adam & Eve, Internet blogger, and the proud business owner of Fallen Angel. I have a unique and empathetic knowledge of both the evolution of our industry, and the needs of the FSC membership including talent and company owners.
STATEMENT: “I am extremely interested in running for the Free Speech Coalition, Board of Directors. Thank you for the honor of being nominated. I believe my election will have a significant impact on creating a stronger, more cohesive adult industry coalition. My platform will focus on intelligent, ethical, decision making in matters of building community, addressing piracy, defending liberty, and protecting our rights.
If elected, my agenda will be to build a stronger, more effective adult community based on honesty, integrity, education, hard work, and commitment.”