The Plot Against Australia, Part IV: Jews, Porn and the Trappings of Servitude, Part 1


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October 4, 2022/4 Comments/in Featured Articles/by Jason Cannon

After an interlude, Part IV of this series picks up in the depths of Kings Cross in where the second section of Part III, left off.

Following Portnoy’s victory in 1972, obscene and sexually explicit material was riding high in Australia. The abandonment of threshold censorship by the federal government and the collapse of the enforcement of obscenity law inaugurated a twelve-year period where Australia was treated to one political backdown after another when it came to the policing of what was once considered obscene material. These were the golden years of obscenity from 1972 to 1984 which took full advantage of the explosion of the pornographic industry in America and Europe and the unleashing of sexual mores from the wider sexual revolution. People around the country set about enjoying their new-found freedoms and a whole new world of sex emerged in Australian popular culture; full nudity was appearing on television and on stages, sex could be freely spoken about on the national broadcaster, and films containing strong sexual themes were becoming normal fare for cinema-goers under the newly established R-rating. Men’s magazines had wide distributions, erotic literature and sex toys could be legally purchased, and slowly but surely pornographic films were making inroads.

Obscenity laws remained on the books for a while longer and was only fully dismantled within the Customs Act in 1984[1], but the Portnoy’s Complaint saga (alongside the watering down of the legal definition of obscenity by Crowe v. Graham) had shown that it was now unenforceable, and importation bans on obscene publications were never attempted by the federal government again. The naïve belief espoused by politicians while introducing the Restricted 18+ rating (in 1967 and 1971 for publications and films respectively) that it would not lead to more obscene content being legalized was shown to be farcical. In 1971 customs minister Don Chipp had nominated the high-brow Playboy magazine as the benchmark of permissiveness in Australia beyond which publications were not to be allowed.[2] At most it took two years before cutting-edge publications that had moved well beyond Playboy in their level of obscene content could be freely purchased in Australia.

As mentioned in Part I, the Whitlam federal government established a new federal classification scheme in 1974, and all states other than Queensland followed suit by passing liberalizing classification laws. These state laws held back on the full extent of liberalization that the federal government outlined and still attempted to prohibit more extreme content. However, prosecuting such publications for obscenity almost always turned out to be more cumbersome than it was worth, with only a slim chance of success, and would always be negated by lack of action in other states and the more liberal federal scheme. Only a brief legislative move around the country to outlaw child pornography in 1977, which had become disturbingly common among publications assessed by classification boards[3], resulted in anything that can be considered a roll-back on the trend towards liberalization.

Freed from the constraints of obscenity laws and importation restrictions, the explosion of sexual content that occurred during this period was by no means a purely Jewish affair. Nevertheless, as the final essay in the series will outline, Jews were responsible for much of the highlights, and were an ever-present fixture at the vanguard before the adult industry turned legitimate during the latter stages of the 1980s.

1965 vs 1975

An outline of the types of material authorities were dealing with in the year 1965 compared with 1975 offers an insight into how quickly obscene content had taken hold after the Portnoy victory and the further liberalizing government decisions. Putting aside the foreign books, films and magazines that the Australian government was still holding the fort against, the local publications contended with in the mid-1960s were utterly tame compared to a mere decade later. Sore points for authorities were still comic books, bikini-clad magazine covers and paperback pulp fiction which traded in indecent sexual themes. Such novels had begun to take their cue from Kings Cross, the center of sin, as a setting for their stories and used ever more risqué graphic art for their front covers.

This pulp market was dominated by Jewish-owned Horwitz Publications, the largest paperback publisher in Australia. Run by their son Stanley by the 1960s, Horwitz was founded in 1921 by Israel and Ruth Horwitz, who had capitalized on a gap in the market created by import restrictions on cheap literature coming in from America, material that was not deemed appropriate for Australian audiences as it unduly emphasized sex.[4] In 1965, the overtly sexual nature of pulp fiction had not yet been fully realized, but as noted by Nette, the change was not far off:

The dominant characteristic of Horwtiz pulp from 1967 to 1972 was its increasingly sexually explicit nature, both its cover art and contents,…books even delved into non-heteronormative sexual identities, the overt representation of which had, with few exceptions, been largely off-limits in Australian pulp publishing.[5]

During the 1970s, Horwitz turned elsewhere as the market for erotic literature declined in favor of the outright pornographic magazine, publishing the Australian edition of MAD Magazine and in 1982, the company purchased Penthouse Australia. Meanwhile at the universities, the student magazines were just getting started in their Wilhelm Reich-inspired quest to cause grief for governments, and the Film Censorship Board was still banning horror films. Underground newspapers with photos of topless women like the Kings Cross Whisper were regularly seized and publishers charged with obscenity, and copies of the American Playboy magazine were still being confiscated from the luggage of travelers.

A sample of popular Australian magazines and pulp fiction from the mid-1960s.

In 1975, the situation could not have been more bleak, and furor over the written word in pulp fiction and in books like Portnoy’s Complaint probably felt like ancient history. Authorities were instead dealing with illegal screenings of hard-core pornography in the form of movies such as Deepthroat (1972) and The Devil in Miss Jones (1973). Both had been secretly imported to Australia and screened at a number of Kings Cross venues, and could be semi-legally acquired for personal use via mail-order if you had $200 to spare (close to $1,500 AUD today). Australia-wide there was veritable explosion in all sorts of publications that would have once been immediately seized by police but could now be legally purchased from newsagents and the newly founded sex shops. A sample record can be found in Victoria in the 1974–75 Annual Report of the State Advisory Board on Publications (the second year of operation of the new Police Offences Act), which details all the publications that year that were deemed by the Victorian State Government to be restricted publications—not saleable to people under the age of 18.[6] Alongside all the literary smut (with titles like My Wet Dream, Ebony Orgasm and Two Girls and a Vibrator) one can find the Asia-Pacific off-shoot of Al Goldstein’s Screw magazine[7] and plenty of other pornographic books, magazines and newspapers attributable to Jewish-owned publishers.

Among the more notorious of these was Oceana Press, the Australian imprint for books originally published by Olympia Press, the famous French publisher of English-language erotica and other obscene literature. Founded in 1953 by Maurice Girodias (born Maurice Kahane), Olympia Press flourished by printing obscene books in more tolerant France and shipping them overseas. Famous examples include Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita (1955) and it was Maurice’s father Jack Kahane that had first published Henry Miller’s ground-breaking obscene book Tropic of Cancer (1934).

The corresponding law in New South Wales, the Indecent Articles and Classified Publications Act, began operating in December 1975, streaming over-18 publications into the categories of Restricted (not to be publicly displayed) and Direct Sale (not to be displayed at all, and only sold after a direct request by a purchaser). The classification listings circulated in the NSW government gazette positively bulge with foreign Jewish-owned publishers, including the more infamous American ventures: Eros Publishing (Rueben Sturman & Ralph Ginzburg), American Art Enterprises (Milton Luros, born Milton Rosenblatt), Marquis Publishing, Classic Publications (Marvin Miller of Miller v California fame) and Golden State News.

Lionel Murphy and Abe Saffron

It is worth also briefly broaching the nature of the Whitlam Government (1972–1975) that was busy dismantling the censorship regime and highlighting one of the more unscrupulous members of this New Left cadre re-shaping Australian society. The dedication of members of the Whitlam government to the anti-censorship cause is well understood, but less well known are the maneuverings of Senator Lionel Murphy when it came to the direct enforcement of customs law.

As Attorney-General from 1972–1975, Murphy presided over many of the other radical legal changes that occurred under Whitlam, such as the introduction of no-fault divorce laws. Persistent allegations of corruption and impropriety against Murphy over the course of the next decade led to the formation of a Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry in May 1986, seeking to investigate these claims. The inquiry was withdrawn after Murphy’s diagnosis and subsequent death at the hands of cancer a few months later; however, preliminary documents were tabled with allegations that were to be investigated, which were declassified in 2017. Of interest is Allegation #37—Direction Concerning Importation of Pornography:

The allegations were that in 1973 the Judge [Murphy] had issued a direction that Regulation 4A of the customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations, as they then stood, should be ignored with the result that pornography was imported without any written permission and thereby contrary to the regulations.[8]

As detailed in Part III, Murphy had been targeted by Abe Saffron’s blackmail operation and is now widely believed to have had a close relationship with Saffron and assisted him in a number of questionable affairs.[9] Allegation # 5 was that Murphy had also directed customs surveillance against Saffron to be downgraded. Directing Customs to ignore the law when it came to the importation of pornography would certainly have been to the benefit of Saffron, as well as for the other Jews coming to the fore. It also put all the more pressure on the state governments to reform their respective censorship laws, which could no longer handle the scale of obscene publications flowing into the country.

The Golden Years of Obscenity

With the law on the back foot (and Murphy apparently directing customs to turn a blind eye to pornography), publishers and importers were emboldened, and more often than not they were ignoring the classification schemes. Now that the federal government had taken a step back from policing the border, the onus fell on the states to control the avalanche of foreign smut. Alongside their disquiet about the increasingly depraved nature of the publications they were assessing, the 1967–1977 Annual Report of the State Advisory Board on Publications in Victoria noted that many publications were simply not being sent to the government for registration, and the board would only find out about them once they were already on sale at shops.[10]

The case of Gold Star Publications, a prominent sex publisher during these early post-Portnoy years, typifies the emboldened nature of local Jewish publishers in the wake of the backdown. Gold Star Publications was founded in the late 1960s by Gerald “Gerry” Gold, the brother of U.K.-based publisher David Gold, who arrived in Australia in 1954 from London. Gold Star published pulp fiction and other more legitimate works but entered into the new world of smut and “sexology,” delivering to the Australian market titles like Nympho, House of Pleasure, Girls in Love, and Female Sex Perversion. In February 1973, police raided the offices of Gold Star in the Melbourne suburb of Hawthorn, where they found and seized just under 38,000 pornographic books and magazines, with an estimate resale value of $150,000.[11] Ostensibly seized on the grounds of obscenity, Victoria Police was later forced to hand the magazines back to Gold Star, as they were declared restricted material instead.

David Gold was also notable as a publisher of porn magazines in the U.K. through the vehicles Trident Publications and Gold Star Publications—not to be confused with the Australian variant founded by his brother with the same name. Gerald imported and published remaindered books from David’s U.K. business under the imprint Knight Books, and many of his U.K. pornographic magazines made their way to Australia as well. Gerald’s son Geoffrey Gold, a former student radical at Monash University in Melbourne, also entered the world of publishing after a brief tenure at his father’s company. Under the imprint Widescope International, Geoff Gold published a number of books by members of the Whitlam Government during the mid-1970s and later took over the left-wing political magazine National Review in 1978. By 1984, he was publishing Video and Cinema Magazine which was doing its best to legitimize pornography by giving out awards for the “erotic” category,[12] and launched Video-X in 1985, the first Australian trade publication for X-rated VHS tapes.

Sex Shops

Resistance from mainstream bookshops and newsagents severely limited opportunities for stocking the more hardcore content, but this was quickly rectified with another innovation picked up from abroad. The first sex shops in Australia were appearing just before the federal government issued its final backdown on Portnoy’s Complaint in June 1972. No zoning laws existed to prohibit these shops, and, short of taking the owners to task for publicly displaying goods in shopfront windows or selling the sort of extreme publications that could still get you into trouble with the much-weakened law, they were allowed to flourish. Such shops became the focal point for the nascent Australian sex industry, places where customers could pick up their monthly porn magazine or peruse through the collection of smut and sex toys.

The arrival of the sex shop also took the wind out of strip clubs, which were previously the most depraved sexual attraction the general public had access to. Many of the purveyors of these shops launched their own local publishing companies to supplement imported publications, or in the case of Jan Domabyl and Terry Blake (the founder of the underground newspaper Kings Cross Whisper) came into the process in the reverse. Part III of this series noted the central role of Abe Saffron in the adult entertainment industry in Kings Cross, the logical location for their conglomeration, and that many of the first sex shops around the country were established in Saffron-owned buildings. Saffron himself was obviously not involved in the day-to-day operation of these outlets—this task was left to other entrepreneurial Jews, who easily made up the majority of early sex shop proprietors.

One of the earliest sex shops in Australia can be attributed to a Czech Jewish migrant called Jan Domabyl, which opened in 1972 in a Saffron-owned arcade on Darlinghurst Road in Kings Cross. Under the company name Adult Products Pty Ltd, a family venture which included his wife and his daughter Nelly Vandergroot, Domabyl grew his business throughout the 1970s into a chain of sex shops in Sydney. Domabyl also founded the sex newspaper Searchlight, which doubled as a sex-contact magazine. Before Jews in America created hook-up apps like Tinder and Bumble, such newspapers could be utilized to discreetly organize sexual liaisons via personal advertisements. Domabyl moved back to the Czech Republic in the early 2010s, where he became somewhat of a minor “sex-celebrity” in his country of birth, appearing on local television shows and boasting to Czech newspapers that he had been with over 10,000 sexual partners.[13]

Australian Sex Magazines of the Early 70s.

Another prominent figure in the growing sex shop industry was Gustav Herstik of Visual Enterprises Ltd. Born to a Jewish family in Hungary, Herstik and his wife operated the Love Art network of sex shops and were also the owners of Herd Publishing, which published a variety of pornographic magazines. These included some of the earliest Australian-produced homosexual porn magazines, Stallion and Apollo, the former established in April 1973.

However, arguably the biggest Jewish players were Harry and Hannah Strum of Venus Enterprises, the “Mr and Mrs Big of sex shops.”[14] The pair set up the Venus Shop chain, the largest brand of sex shops by the late 1970s, operating in Kings Cross and elsewhere in Australia. Their publishing company Venus Publications churned out titles like Moist and Ready and published the sex magazine Kings Cross Venus. The Gandali family, minor Jewish property developers and Kings Cross venue operators,[15] also had interests in adult theaters and sex shops like the Pleasure Chest Down Under (later called the Down Under bookshop) on George Street, Sydney. In 1976, David Gandali was convicted for attempting to bribe a vice squad detective $5,000 a month to ignore the pornographic films he planned to screen at the Gandali-owned Barrel Theater in Melbourne,[16] a venue name shared with their strip club in Kings Cross.

Stag Films and Early Video Porn

It was at these sex shops that many Australians also got their first tantalizing glimpses of pornographic films that were now moving into the realm of the general public. With the availability of personal video cameras, amateur pornographic tapes called “stag films” had found a small underground market throughout the 1950s and 1960s, both of the locally produced and illegally imported varieties. These were generally short 5–15-minute sequences of sexual intercourse that were passed around through criminal or other informal networks, and screened only at private showings or on odd occasions at strip clubs, which kept them largely out of view of vice squads.

According to testimony given to the Joint Select Committee on Video Material by a Mr. and Mrs. Somssich, these stag films were

sold in sex shops, exhibited in small unlicensed theaterttes. They were hired out to “bucks parties”, clubs for “private showing” etc. We know of one particular person who owned a large collection of these movies and hired them out.[17]

Multiple sources attest to the fact that Abe Saffron had been showing imported stag films at private parties since the 1950s, and he was a voracious importer and collector of sexual paraphernalia. It doesn’t take much to hypothesize who this “one particular person” likely was.[18]

By the mid-1970s, these stag films and other early hard-core productions were finding their way into sex shops, where they received wider audiences. After having been suitably warmed up by the magazines on display, toward the back of the shop customers could find private viewing booths which screened stag films for a small fee. At intervals of between 20–40 seconds, the projector would break off and demand payment via a coin slot. Upon receiving the desired 20- or 50-cent piece, the film would start up again, and give the purchaser another short period of viewing. New innovations like coin-operated “peep show” machines provided another somewhat more public vehicle for this kind of entertainment. By taking advantage of the viewer in a state of arousal, it is not hard to see how profitable such simple arrangements ended up becoming.

Interior of a Kings Cross sex shop, showing the shelves of porn magazines and coin-operated sex video machines.[19]

Pornographic films continued to fester throughout the latter half of the 1970s, resulting in the emergence of adult theaters, which had evolved out of the viewing booths at sex shops. It was illegal to publicly screen films beyond an R rating (or films without classification) at any theater, let alone an “adult” branded one, but such laws were constantly and easily ignored. Deepthroat and other theatrical-length American and European hard-core films found showings, as did locally produced “sexploitation” films that barely scraped through with an R- rating, films like Fantasm (1976) and The True Story of Eskimo Nell (1976). Both were produced and distributed by Filmways Australasian Distributors, the largest independent film company in Australia during the 1970s. Founded in 1971 by Polish-born Jew Mark (Meyer) Rosem, many of the other foreign sexploitation films of the era also came to Australia via Filmways. Overall, the public nature of theaters and viewing booths left much to be desired, meaning that magazines (which could be taken into the privacy of one’s home) were still the main pornographic vehicle for consumers. This market saw the release of the Australian editions of Playboy and Penthouse magazine in 1979, but as the decade drew to a close, the world of pornography was about to radically change.

Source: https://www.theoccidentalobserver.net/2022/10/04/the-plot-against-australia-part-iv-jews-porn-and-the-trappings-of-servitude/



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