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The people who went gunning for Mapplethorpe

now target some new enemies: Playboy, video
shops, the Esquire, the A CL U and WEBN-not
necessarily in that order ...
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BY MICHAEL GRAHAM
S
ave your breath, you ACLUers and
First Amendment freaks, you por-
nographers "wrapped in the flag,"
you young, "Just Do It"
LIBRRRUHLLLs ....
You'll never convince the spiritually
correct Citizens for Community Values
that they lost the battle for our hearts
and minds over Mapplethorpe.
Or that they humiliated Cincinnati in
the eyes of America-a smug, "puritan-
ical" town, John Updike called us in a
recent short story.
Or that we're a kinder, gentler nation.
Or that the vast numbers of compla-
cent and silent don't share their concern
about programming on television and
radio, NC-17 movies, video porn,
teenage sex and "raising PG kids in an
X -rated society."
As. Rev. Clyde Miller, a CCV board
membet and past chairman, surmises, "I
think a lot of people these days are
undi peer pressure; they want to appear
to be_avant-garde."
Miller, senior pastor at the First Chris-
tian Assembly of God church· in Corry-
ville, says, "If rapes are up, sexual
assaults are up, child abuse is up, then
something's wrong."
In the two years since sparking the
Mapplethorpe hellfire, CCV has shown
no signs of retreat. The group has
stepped up pressure on public officials
to crack down on video stores selling
and renting hard-core adult tapes. Last
June, they cranked up their letter-
writing machine, protesting Channel
48's broadcast of a documentary on gay
black men. The group has a new educa-
tion director, developing programs on
teen sexuality and child sexual abuse.
And they've conducted their first-ever
membership drive, one that brought
3,500 new followers into the 15,000 fold.
"The '73 Supreme Court decision said
community standards will be applied [as
a test in obscenity cases]. That's why
we're here," says CCV president Phil
Burress. "If the community's not in-
volved, then there's really not going to
be any standards-ever. We train and
educate people on where this stuff is,
and if they think it's obscene, what to do
about it."
Long before the high court poked its
nose in the issue, however, the decent
CINCINNATI February 1992 65
Phil Burress, a reformed "pornoholic, " leads the local battle against videos,
books and movies: " C-17 means X as far as we're concerned."
folk of Cincinnati were, let' s say,
assisting their fellow man in deciding
what is obscene, what books,
magazines, movies and rock music
threaten the soul of the community.
Starting in the late '40s, there was the
Committee on Evaluation of Comic
Books. Titles that met the committee's
approval were published in the
newspaper. Those that didn't were
banished to the Objectionable list. And
then along came Charlie.
I
n 1970( Charlie Keating at down
with a reporter from the Enquirer to
discuss his mission. The interview
took place in Keating's law office on the
eighteenth floor of the Provident Tower,
where the leader of Citizens for Decent
Literature presumably could stay above
it all-the 25-cent peep show booths
with semen on the walls, the dirty
bookstores and X-rated theaters, the
"flood of filth" as he described
66 Cl Cl ATI February 1991
downtown. Or could he?
It seems Keating didn't mind doing a
little research. Some years before, in an
address to a grou(J of high school
students, the young lawyer got their at-
tention by reading excerpts from three
books-Lesbian Lust, The Gay Boys
and Sex Rampage.
On this occasion, he pulled several
color photos from his drawer and spread
them on the desk in front of the
reporter.
"Let's get one thing straight," he
began. "Is this what you meant when
you said you wanted to discuss pornog-
raphy?"
The photos, according to reporter
Bob Fresco, showed young women and
pigs, well, you know, "together."
The latest imports from Denmark,
Keating explained.
Meanwhile, a man destined to become
a Keating acolyte was lost in a "maze of
perversions," no doubt some of those
same Danish imports. "When I went
public, no one had ever heard the term
'pornoholic,"' says Phil Burress.
"There are five stages you go through.
First you're exposed. You become ad-
dicted. You escalate into hard-core stuff.
You become de-sensitized to human
beings. Eventually you act out your
fetishes and fantasies."
It started when he was 14. On his way
to school he found a magazine. "No
nudes. Just women in risque clothing.
But it set off something inside me," says
the 49-year-old Burress, a former
negotiator with the Brotherhood of
Railway and Airline Clerks who owns an
irrigation company in Clermont County,
where he lives. Burress became president
of CCV last April, taking over for
Monty Lobb, Jr., the young point man
in CCV's attack on Mapplethorpe who
resigned to pursue his law studies.
Burress grew up in Mt. Washington,
and until he was 19, attended the fun-
damentalist Church of God on Central
Parkway.
"I quit.. .and delved into sin, " he
wrote in a first-person article for
evangelist Billy Graham's Decision
magazine in 1988. "I put pornography
ahead of everything else-it was my
god."
Burress began hanging around the
adult bookstores downtown. If he didn't
have enough money to buy the
magazines, he would steal them. He
even broke into his brother's house
once, just to get his hands on a Playboy.
An over-the-road trucker for many
years, Burress shifted into high gear in
his 20s. Playboy and Penthouse
"weren't enough." He bought a projec-
tor to view eight-millimeter skin flicks he
picked up in Chicago. He fantasized
about rape. He admits sexually abusing
his first wife, who divorced him.
"It destroyed my first marriage," says
the father of six, who remarried. "The
other side-the ACLU, the liberals, the
people in the pornography business-
they like to talk about how we claim if
you look at pornography, you'll become
a rapist. That's not the case. It's best
''I
If Charlie Keating is the reason Cincinnati is the way it is today .. .
If he,s the reason we,re not like a Dayton or Columbus or Cleveland .. .
If we,re saying that he insisted the laws be enforced and that,s why
we don ,t have porno stores ... then thank God for him.,,
compared to marijuana. People handle
it differently. But the other side's argu-
ment is that there is no conclusive proof
that pornography is harmful. Well, it is.
I lived it."
B
urress has been with Citizens for
Community Values since going
public with his story at one of the
prayer meetings that led to the forma-
tion of the group nine years ago. A Ten
Commandments plaque hangs in his of-
fice at CCV's business suite in
downtown Sharonville. The group is
listed under Ministries in the Greater
Cincinnati Christian Busi ness Directory,
its mission to uphold a quality of life
based on "traditional Judeo- hristian
values."
" We're not a religious organization,"
stres es Burress. "We're an organization
with a lot of religious people."
Years ago, Charlie Keating got high
school students' attention by reading
from Le bian Lust, The Gay Boys and
Sex Rampage.
The founder is a preacher-Rev. Jerry
Kirk of College Hill Presbyterian
Church-as are several members of
C V' s board of directors. "It's no
problem getting pastors involved. They
see our organization as one they can
direct their parishioners to," says Bur-
ress.
Board member Thomas Grossmann, a
lawyer with Taft, Stettinius & Hollister,
is legal counsel. His father, Hamilton
County Juvenile Court Judge David
Grossmann, belongs to the thirty-nine-
member advisory board. No citizens
group would be without one, although
it's not advice they seek, obviously, so
much as the association with its implied
prestige, power, influence, credibility.
Keating' s so-called "honorary commit-
tee" at one time included the Cincinnati
mayor and police chief, the governor of
Ohio and seventy ongressmen.
Some other advisory board members
lending their names to V's cause, and
more important, to the letterhead, are
Carl Lindner Ill of American Financial
Corp; Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel
Pilarczyk; Donald Klekamp, senior
partner in Keating's old firm; Neal
Sundermann, a principal with Cline
Realtors; Hamilton County Municipal
Court Judge Timothy Hogan; James
Markley, Jr. , reti d Provident Bank
chairman; former Bengals head coach
Sam Wyche and players Jim Breech and
Anthony Munoz.
"These people are making a state-
ment," says Burress. A few, though,
were not content to let just their names
do the talking during the Mapplethorpe
controversy, which brought the advisory
board together for the first time.
Three physicians on the board-Or.
John Vester, director of research at
Good Samaritan Hospital, orthopedic
surgeon Mark Snyder and pediatrician
William Gerhardt-articulated CCV's
objections to the photo exhibit at the
Contemporary Arts Center in a column
on the Enquirer editorial page. Several
board members spoke out at a press con-
ference, while news also surfaced of a
behind-the-scenes campaign by CCV
Sheriff imon Leis, who ran Hu tier
publisher Larry Flynt out of town,
continues his porn purge.
members in the business community to
derail the show.
Lindner, the son of financier Carl
Lindner, is also a strong supporter of the
National Coalition Against Pornog-
raphy, which Kirk organized after get-
ting CCV on line in I 983. Rev. Miller
recalls attending a Coalition meeting at
which the young Lindner made a
"significant pledge on behalf of the
family." Says CCV president Burress,
"He supports us, but no more or no less
than anyone on [the advisory board].
. . . We have some people who give us big
dollars once in awhile. In the middle of
Mapplethorpe, for instance, someone
gave us a check for $10,000 who had
never given us money before." But
CCV's $250,000 budget is funded mainly
through "small monthly gifts," accord-
ing to Burress.
CCV has a foothold in eight Greater
Cincinnat i counties, with chapters in
Butler, Clermont and Warren, plus in
ATI February 1992 61
Indiana and Northern Kentucky.
"We like to refer to our mailing list as
15,000 families," says Burress.
Butler County Prosecutor John
Holcomb believes there are several times
that number of CCV "sympathizers."
Rev. Miller, who made headlines a
few years ago by complaining to police
about a Penthouse issue featuring nude
photos of Madonna and a lesbian
layout, estimates CCV's numbers at
300,000. "These people, by and large,
represent the religious community."
T
hey're the new generation of smut-
busters. But they've been called
other names.
Born-agains.
Religious fundamentalists.
Red necks.
Prudes.
ensors.
Arbiters of conscience.
"We're perceived as that. But we're
not doing that," replies Burress. "We
never say what is obscene. We never said
Mapplethorpe was obscene. What we
said was, let's make everybody aware of
what's there, let the voices rise up and
the dust fall where it may. Anyone who
calls us censors does not understand the
word censorship. It 's impossible for us
to censor. That can only happen when a
person is in control of the material. In
effect, what we're saying is censorship
has already happened when the law was
passed, when the Supreme ourt said
obscenity is not protected by the First
Amendment.''
That's a copout, counters Louis
Sirkin. The incinnati attorney suc-
cessfully defended the CAC and director
Dennis Barrie against obscenity charges
in the Mapplethorpe ca e. A specialist in
First Amendment law, Sirkin has
represented rap groups and owners of
video stores, massage parlors, adult
bookstores and theaters, which puts him
squarely on the Other ide.
"The CCV walks away saying, 'We
didn't do it. We didn't indict, the grand
jury did.' Let's at least have the integrity
to say what we're doing. It bothers me
that some local group is in a position to
intimidate a prosecutor."
Sirkin continues.
" If SOfT\Jbody comes to you and
asks-' Are you for co munity
values?' -well of course you are.
Everybody is. I'm for community
values. But it's a matter of interpreting
what those community values are.
Maybe [CCV] is looking in the wrong
place.
" I'd like to know, for instance, their
position on the Equal Rights Amend-
ment, equality in the workplace, affir-
68 Cl ATI February 1992
Rev. Clyde Miller: " If rape are up,
exual a aults are up, child abu e i up,
then something's wrong."
mative action. I'd like to know how
many of them belong to the RA. To
me, a gun is for one purpose. To kill.
That certainly is more evi l than looking
at a naked woman or man."
Sirkin brings up a Ku Klux Klan
march in Oxford that happened to be
held the same day the A was indicted.
"The KKK had the proper permit and
the right to parade, but not once did the
V say to the public, 'You ought not
to go,' that this demonstration was not
really consistent with contemporary
community values, that the KKK
preaches a certain amount of hate and
discrimination.
" When I pre ented this fact to the
general counsel for the CV and
asked-'What's your position on
this?'-he said it wasn't the group's con-
cern, that they're concerned with how
much sexuality is being discussed or may
be available in the community."
Okay, cal l them anti-pornography
fanatics following in the footsteps of
Keating, who was profiled in a Rolling
Stone essay as "representative of a
Western strain of yahoo Christian en-
trepreneurial boobism." Keating may be
a dirty rotten S&L scoundrel, but he will
forever be revered by those fighting his
holy war back home in Cincinnati.
Burress: " If Charlie Keating is the
reason Cincinnati is the way it is
today ... lf he's the reason we're not like
a Dayton or Columbus or Cleveland . . . lf
we're saying that he insisted the laws be
enforced and that's why we don't have
porno stores ... then thank God for
him."
They call complacency and silence
"the two greatest enemies of high com-
munity standards," followed by
organized crime, the A LU, Dr. Ruth
and WEBN, to name just a few.
" WEBN, " explains Miller , "is not as
bad as they think they are, but they posi-
tion themselves that way."
Like the EPA, anti-porn groups have
a long list of polluters. Earlier this year,
for example, CCV joined a national
boycott of K-mart organized by Rev.
Donald Wildmon' s American Family
As ociation, which labeled the discount
chain "one of the largest retailers of
porn magazines" for selling Playboy,
Penthouse and other publications
through its Waldenbooks subsidiary.
Boycotting, it seems, is the Family
Association's business. In a recent
newsletter, subscribers were urged to
write their local Pepsi bottling company
to protest Pepsi commercials with "free-
sex guru" Dr. Ruth. The newsletter
reads like a supermarket tabloid.
"AT&T, Toyota, ABC offer homosex-
uality, more perversions in family-time
movie. " "Coca-Cola sponsors obnox-
ious Bart. " "McDonald's supports pro-
fuse profanity on illicit sex sitcom."
"They're going after a lot of broad-
casters and advertisers," explains Bur-
ress. "Finding out who's sponsoring
sex, violence and anti-Christian pro-
gramming"-concerns shared by CCV,
whose followers can be spotted by
bumper stickers that proclaim Protect
the Family: We Shop Stores That Don 't
Sell Pornography.
VI
hen Kirk organized CCV in 1983,
barely four years had elapsed
since the closing of the Royal
Theater, the last of the local X-rated
movie houses. Simon Leis had run
Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt
out of town, capping a relentless eight-
year Purge of Porn he began after mov-
ing into the Hamilton County pros-
ecutor's office in 1971. Keating and
Citizens for Decency Through Law, as
his organization was renamed, had
taken a new address in Arizona. The
Queen City appeared to be in ship-
shape. Or was she?
Kirk worried about the children of the
Sexual Revolution, "the wounded," he
called them.
"Jerry had a church member pushing
him to read The Death of Innocence,"
recalls Rev. Miller, pointing to the book
on the shelf in his office. " Its premise is
that children used to have a latent period
of innocence, the junior age-9, 10 and
!!-when the boys hated the girls and
vice versa. But with the advent of TV
and ready accessibility of sex informa-
tion, children today see more than they
really are ready for. They don't have
that period of innocence anymore. From
childbirth they're shot directly into the
sexual world." A world tuned into the
Playboy Channel if Warner cable had its
way, warned the CCV back in '83. The
company finally withdrew the channel,
citing technical difficulties.
Kirk gathered together Miller and
other clergymen who had assisted him as
chairman of the 1977 Billy Graham
Crusade in Cincinnati. " He called one
day" says Miller, "and asked if I was
concerned about what's happening to
morality in America. I had to say yes."
Today, Kirk serves as president of the
ational Coalition on Pornography,
which grew out of C V, and chairman
of the powerful Religious Alliance
Against Pornography. He remains,
however, "very interested in the local
situation," says Miller.
V neatly outlines its agenda on
white volunteer cards. Recruits can join
"task forces" on video stores, hotels
and motels that offer pornographic
films, soft-core pornography in the
"family marketplace" (i.e., Playboy
and Penthouse at the corner conve-
nience store), indecent public broad-
casting on TV and radio, and theaters
that allow minors into R-rated movies
and show C-17 films. " -17 means
X as far as we're concerned," says Bur-
ress.
Linda Prince, a Sharonville home-
maker and former CCV board member,
until recently headed up the letter-
writing team.
"We simply want to raise our children
in at least as decent society as we were
raised in," says Prince, who got in-
volved in 1984 after finding Penthouse
on display within child's reach at a local
discount store. "It was the first time I
ever asked to speak with a store
manager."
Last summer Prince' s team went to
work, firing off complaints to President
Bush and the Federal Communications
Commission after Channel 48's broad-
cast of Tongues Untied, the documen-
tary 011 gay blacks. A other letter-
writing list targeted the vice president of
Dairy Mart, the executive vice president
of Thriftway, JACOR chairman Terry
Jacobs, Butler County Sheriff Richard
Holzberger, local prosecutors and Gov.
George Voinovich.
Dairy Mart was asked not to display
soft-core magazines on its shelves. (CCV
staged a one-day picket of local stores
last December in conjunction with the
Cincinnati's Rev. Jerry Kirk met with
the Pope last month, planning their
international war on porn.
American Family Association' s nation-
wide boycott of the Dairy Mart chain.)
Thriftway received a thank-you for
pulling "mainstream" magazines with
"semi-nudes."
Jacobs was reminded his flagship sta-
tions, WLW and WEBN, "have been
known to broadcast indecency
regularly."
Holzberger was encouraged to in-
vestigate video stores in his county.
Voinovich was informed of the need
for a state-wide help-center to assist
local prosecutors being "outgunned by
slick defense lawyers."
W
hat shoultl concern us about
CV and groups like them is that
they are "demanding their way,"
says irkin, drawing upon his courtroom
experience.
"There have been a couple of obsceni-
ty trials in Dayton that have ended in
either acquittals or hung juries. The
American Family Association, which
has a chapter there, wrote letters to the
judge saying he conducted the trial im-
properly, that he was biased against
good values, that he let the lawyers run
the courtroom, that he allowed im-
proper voir dire in picking the jury.
They said, 'Here's the right way to do
it.' These are laymen beginning to do
that. The letters said they would do
anything and everything to assure the
outcome is consistent with the way they
believe. That's frightening to me. The
outcome should be in accordance with
the law."
Chief among Burress's duties for the
C V is the courtship of prosecutors and
police chiefs. As he puts it, "We want to
let them know they're not alone out
there."
Two hundred and fifty citizens turned
out for a CCV rally in Hamilton last
May, sparked by a survey of stores that
found more than 6,000 adult videos
available in Butler County. Sheriff
Holzberger , up for re-election next fall ,
stood before hi s constituents and
threatened to arrest store owners within
thirty days if they didn't remove the
videos from their shelves. Prosecutor
Holcomb, a twenty-year office holder,
said Ohio should make possession
~ of-not just the sale of-obscene
"" materials a crime. But the most impas-
~ sioned rhetoric spewed from Hamilton
o Mayor Adolph Olivas, who looked out
~ upon the baby-stroller crowd, the kids
8 playing on the courthouse lawn, the
Sons of God of ew Jerusalem motor-
cycle club, and proclaimed, "Butler
County, you are sick!"
Three days later, a store owner was
posed on the front page of the Hamilton
paper, standing in front of his X-rated
stock with arms folded in defiance. And
within a week, an opposition group
materialized. Stop Censorship in Butler
ounty turned out to be a "yuppie with
a computer,'' as icolas Martin-a new-
comer to the area-was characterized.
Martin set up a hotline in his Fairfield
apartment, circulated petitions, manned
a booth at the county fair where he
passed out "Clean Dick" Holzberger
masks and published a newspaper from
his desktop. The cover of his "special
edition" showed a dark cloud hovering
above the courthouse with snapshots of
Holzberger, Holcomb and Olivas, the
''video Ayatollahs.''
The flareup fizzled out after the
sheriff and a few of the video store
owners reached an agreement calling for
the removal of only six tapes. But CCV
has fought the video war, unswayed by
hung juries, dropped cases and other
legal setbacks over the years. Burress, in
his list of Myths and Answers to the
Most Often Asked Questions about
Hard-Core Sexually Explicit Videos,
says, "The pornographers would like
for you to believe if they have a hung
jury, or win one case, that the communi-
ty standards have been established. The
fact is, as long as there are adult
videotapes available, prosecution must
never let up. Each tape is decided one at
a time."
At that rate, the holy war could go on
for a long time. 0