Why California Is Porn’s Home State

Every porn star happily and legally working in California can thank Hal Freeman and his movie CAUGHT FROM BEHIND II: THE SEQUEL.

The huge majority of professional pornography is generated in California - Los Angeles, to be exact. Some estimates say that 90% of all porn is shot in the San Fernando Valley. But why is this city the home of porn? Because of the police, of course. And a movie called Caught From Behind II: The Sequel.

Los Angeles has always been a natural home for pornography, even back in the days when ‘stag films’ were illegal to make. The city attracts beautiful young women from around the country who are desperate to make it in Hollywood; after a few months many of those young women go from ‘desperate to make it in Hollywood’ to just plain ‘desperate.’ But American porn wasn’t just the province of Los Angeles; in the 70s lots of porn was being made in New York City. Wes Craven got his start shooting porn in New York, for instance.

In 1983 director Hal Freeman made Caught From Behind II: The Sequel, a follow-up to his 1982 hit Caught From Behind, an anal sex-themed film. Apparently the LAPD found the idea of a sequel particularly offensive, and so they arrested Freeman on five counts of pandering - which is essentially pimping. The idea was that Freeman was arranging these sex acts the way a pimp arranges for a prostitute to have sex with a john.

It’s important to note that pornography had been a going concern in Los Angeles long before Freeman got busted. It was a big deal, and the porn chic phase, spurred on by Deep Throat, had come and gone. The industry flourished in the 70s largely because society just sort of didn’t give a shit at that point. But in the 80s, with the election of Reagan, the mood had changed. The Moral Majority were everywhere (you know them today as the Tea Party), and Freeman was arrested just before the Meese Report brought pornography to national attention.

Anyway, Freeman was convicted but sentenced only to parole; he appealed and the case went to the California Supreme Court. And in 1988 he won. See, the Court decided that what he was doing wasn’t pandering because he wasn’t hiring actors to pleasure himself or each other. The Court even criticized the earlier ruling, saying it was a “transparent attempt at an ‘end run’ around the First Amendment and the state obscenity laws.”

California appealed to the Supreme Court, but they denied the request. Now making hardcore porn in California is technically legal while it remains technically illegal in other states - The Straight Dope notes that Arizona prostitution law prohibits “engaging in or agreeing or offering to engage in sexual conduct with another person under a fee arrangement with that person or any other person,” which would have made Caught From Behind II: The Sequel illegal to shoot in that state.