The Sporadic Beaver

Scott Garrett’s October Surprise

September 4, 2012

Tags: Scott Garrett, Tea Party, Congress, Lou Perretta, hardcore pornography, Swank, The Record of Bergen County, New York Post, Popstar!, politics

Several months ago, I posted a series of articles about how, according to Federal Election Commission documents, New Jersey Tea Party congressman Scott Garrett had been accepting campaign contributions from my former boss Louis Perretta, one of the largest producers of hardcore pornography in America. In these articles I pointed out the irony and hypocrisy of one of the most conservative members of Congress, a politician who you'd think would be more at home representing the reddest redneck corner of Mississippi rather than northern New Jersey, taking money from a porn king who the Republican Party says they'd like to put out of business. I speculated that Perretta's attraction to Garrett, whose district office was once in the same Paramus office building as Perretta's porn factory, was simple: Perretta wholeheartedly agrees with Garrett on cutting taxes for the wealthy, shredding the social safety net, and undermining workers and women's rights.

What made this story even more interesting is that Garrett, who’s up for reelection, seems unbeatable. The Democrats couldn’t even find a credible candidate to run against him. Instead, they settled for a sacrificial lamb, Teaneck Deputy Mayor Adam Gussen, whose campaign has raised little more than $5,000 to face off against Garrett’s $2-million war chest. Should both Garrett and Mitt Romney win in November, there’s a strong possibility Garrett will replace vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan as chairman of the House Budget Committee.

I made every effort to bring the story of Garrett’s porn connection to the attention of the mainstream media. The only newspaper that expressed any interest was The Record of Bergen County. One of their reporters interviewed me and did additional research and investigation. In the course of the interview, the reporter told me that the Democratic Party was urging The Record to run the story. This was six months ago, and the story never ran.

The Record, most likely, was unable to prove to the satisfaction of their attorneys that Louis Perretta is, in fact, a pornographer. Outside of this blog and my book Beaver Street, there was nothing on the public record that tied Perretta to porn. He’d covered his X-rated tracks extremely well, and had succeeded in portraying himself as a respectable business executive.

That changed over the Labor Day weekend. The New York Post, in a column unrelated to Garrett, identified Perretta as a hardcore pornographer. The piece, “Popstar!’s porn kin/Source: Teen magazine has hard-core ties,” by Keith Kelly, said that Popstar!, “a popular magazine for teen girls… was bought by a New Jersey publisher alleged to have ties to the hard-core adult magazine empire headed by Louis and Stephen Perretta. The Perrettas, through their Paramus-based Magna Publishing, own a host of X-rated magazines with titles including Swank, Playgirl, Lesbian Licks, Cherry Pop, Just 18, Celebrity Skin and Fox—which is billed as ‘home of the world’s dirtiest porn stars.’”

Yes, Kelly does use the word “alleged.” But still, this is the first mention in the mainstream media of the Perretta family’s ties to pornography. Can The Record or the Democratic Party do anything with this information? Could this possibly be Scott Garrett’s October surprise? One can only hope.

What's the Matter with Jersey?

March 21, 2012

Tags: Scott Garrett, Lou Perretta, Tea Party, Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, politics

Certain people whose opinions I respect have been questioning one of the ongoing stories I've been covering on this blog--the fact that New Jersey Tea Party congressman Scott Garrett has been accepting campaign contributions from my former boss, the porn publisher Louis Perretta.

It has been pointed out that I sound self-righteous in these postings, like Nicholas Kristof, the New York Times columnist who often writes about child prostitution and human slavery. It has been pointed out that the Garrett-Perretta story is not a “mini-Watergate,” as I’ve described it, because there’s nothing illegal about a porn king donating money to a Tea Party politician. And it has been said that I’m a hypocrite because I once worked in pornography and that I took Perretta’s money for the nearly seven years that he employed me.

To respond to the last point first: Yes, I worked in porn for 16 years, and I endured because I needed a job, and porn paid a living wage. Like many of my colleagues, I saw it as a “survival job,” a way to pay the bills as I continued to pursue what I really wanted to do—write books. As I say in Beaver Street, much of what I did disgusted me, but I was able to carry on because I had a strong stomach. I don’t dislike porn; I dislike the kind of porn I was doing—schlocky, grind-it-out-as-fast-as-you-can, anti-erotic porn. If criticizing the people who grow wealthy by splattering this kind of stuff all over the planet while grudgingly paying me a living wage makes me a self-righteous hypocrite, then so be it. I’m a self-righteous hypocrite.

And, of course, it’s true that it’s not illegal to donate money to political candidates. What makes the Garrett-Perretta story scandalous on a mini-Watergate level is the mind-boggling hypocrisy of a candidate from a political party that wants to destroy the porn industry accepting contributions from one of the largest producers of hardcore pornography in America. Which begs a number of questions: Why is Perretta giving money to people who want to put him out of business? Because he likes the Republican platform of tax cuts for the rich and fuck everybody else? And what if the Vatican’s own anti-porn candidate, Rick Santorum, gets the nomination? Will Perretta give him money, too, just to help defeat the foreign-born, Muslim-socialist who currently occupies the White House?

I could go on indefinitely dissecting this kind of lunacy, but there’s no need to. Because the story of corrupt conservative Republicans who will stop at nothing in their efforts to destroy the porn industry is at the heart of Beaver Street.

I will say, however, in the course of my career, I’ve always written what I thought to be the truth without worrying if the people I was writing about would like what I had to say. That was the case with my John Lennon bio, Nowhere Man. That was the case with Beaver Street. And that will continue to be the case with this blog.

Hypothetical Question

March 20, 2012

Tags: Tea Party

Say you're a writer of some repute who publishes nonfiction books but, beyond a website/blog primarily used to promote those books, has no reliable mainstream outlet to publish short-form journalism. Say, in the course of promoting your latest book, you stumble upon a story that strikes you as a mini-Watergate: A Tea Party politician--a classic right-wing extremist who's up for reelection and seems unbeatable--has been accepting campaign contributions from one of the largest producers of hardcore pornography in America. Say you publish this story on your blog and traffic increases dramatically. Say you soon find out that both the Democratic Party and the mainstream media are very much aware of this story. Say you find out that the Democratic Party is dying to see this story break in the mainstream media. And say the mainstream media chooses to sit on the story for weeks, refusing to pull the trigger. What do you do?

Everybody Knows

March 16, 2012

Tags: Scott Garrett, Lou Perretta, Leonard Cohen, Tea Party, Congress, New Jersey, hardcore pornography, Beaver Street, politics



My posting yesterday about Tea Party congressman Scott Garrett's links to Louis Perretta, one of the largest producers of hardcore pornography in America, got me thinking about the Leonard Cohen classic "Everybody Knows." Like many of Cohen's songs, it's a surreal commentary on life, politics, and society. Cohen's grim message is that everybody already knows everything about everything and everybody, but it doesn’t make damn bit of difference. The dice are loaded. The fight's fixed. The war's over. The good guys lost. And there's nothing we can do about it.

In the case of Garrett, a man who’d like to put robber barons in charge of America and turn back the clock to the 19th century, I’d hope that Cohen, who has a reputation as a visionary poet, is wrong. Because despite a lack of attention in the mainstream media, everybody who cares about Scott Garret and his bid for reelection in New Jersey’s 5th district knows that he’s been accepting campaign contributions from Porn King Louis Perretta, and that for years Garrett’s eastern district office and Perretta’s porn operation were in close proximity on the second floor at 210 Route 4 East, in Paramus.

Who’s everybody? Oh, just the Democratic Party and the mainstream media. Which begs the question: If everybody knows about Garrett and Perretta, how long can this story remain an open secret, especially when you take into account that the Democrats seem to think Garrett is unbeatable and are having enormous problems finding a credible candidate to run against him?

As I said yesterday, chances are this story will break on a large scale before Election Day. But it’s hardly a sure thing. Neither the Democratic Party nor the media are known for having a backbone, and to break a story like this, even though it’s public record that Garrett accepted campaign contributions from Perretta, requires a certain amount of courage. Why? Because I am the source of this story and I am, more or less, an “unknown” who has worked in the pornography industry, which is how I know about Perretta, who’s gone to great lengths to obscure the fact that he controls a pornographic magazine, web, and video empire. (Read all about it in Beaver Street.)

So, how long can this story, or any story of magnitude, remain under wraps? Well, in the case of my previous book, Nowhere Man: The Final Days of John Lennon, everybody knew about it for 18 years before it finally found its way into print. And with any luck at all, in 18 years, Garrett will be little more than an embarrassing footnote to New Jersey’s political history.

In the meantime, all I can suggest is enjoy the video. And check out the Don Henley version, too. He’s a much better singer than Leonard Cohen.

The Ides of March

March 15, 2012

Tags: Scott Garrett, Lou Perretta, Tea Party, Congress, New Jersey, hardcore pornography, DCCC, politics



On a day pregnant with literary and political significance, I'm going to revisit the story I ran here in February about Tea Party congressman Scott Garrett's links to Porn King Louis Perretta. As I've come to realize over the past month, Garrett, a Republican who represents New Jersey's 5th district, is a formidable and articulate opponent--a persuasive man who just happens to be on the wrong side of every issue and on the wrong side of history.

In the above video, Garrett is questioning Jeffrey Zients, director of the Office of Management and Budget, about Obama’s health care law. Like all Tea Party politicians, Garrett believes that the United States should remain the only industrialized nation in the world where health care is a privilege rather than a right, and that only the wealthy should be entitled to it. His line of questioning—Is the health care law not a new tax on the middle class?—has Zients on the defensive; you can see the fear in his eyes as Garrett moves in for the kill. If I were rich right-wing bastard, I’d vote for Garrett based on this performance alone.

How formidable is Garrett? Well, in the month since I posted the first piece about him, a series of Democrats, including Harry Carson, the former New York Giant, have announced that they were going to run against him, and then, for vague reasons, decided not to. Another potential opponent dropped out only three days ago.

A number of people have asked me why a sordid political scandal involving a right-wing extremist and one of America’s largest producers of hardcore pornography has gotten no attention beyond The Daily Beaver and the Erotic Review. Actually, the story has reached a wider audience. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is very much aware of it, and would love to see the scandal explode in the media. And the media, too, has this story on their radar screens. Why they haven’t run with it yet it is probably just matter of certain newspapers exercising excessive caution because of the wealthy, powerful people involved. In other words, The Tea Party Congressman and the Porn King is an open secret that can’t remain under wraps indefinitely. And though the Ides of March would be a poetic day for somebody to break the story, the mainstream media has little interest in poetry.

My prediction: Something will happen before Election Day. It has to.

That Was the Month that Was

March 1, 2012

Tags: Beaver Street, Hot Type, Vanity Fair, Scott Garrett, Tea Party, Congress, Lou Perretta, New Jersey, politics

Any month that I find out that Beaver Street will be mentioned in the Hot Type section of Vanity Fair (on sale March 6), that I'm invited to do three Beaver Street events in two cities, that I unearth a sordid political scandal, and that my website reached a new high in traffic qualifies as a good month, especially when that month has only 29 days.

There’s no question that the Scott Garrett story drove the bulk of February’s traffic. I’d never heard of Garrett, an ultra-conservative Tea Party congressman representing New Jersey’s 5th district, until a couple of weeks ago. That was when I learned that porn magnate Lou Perretta, whom I’d once worked for, had been contributing to Republicans.

I’d known my former boss was a Republican since 1998, when he demanded I remove from a satiric feature titled “The Illustrated Starr Report” a reference to Kenneth Starr as a “deranged prosecutor.” (Perretta had no problem with the grotesque illustrations of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky in flagrante delicto.)

But what caught my eye as I examined the easily accessible public documents detailing Perretta’s political contributions over a 10-year period was the name Scott Garrett, which popped up repeatedly.

Some basic research revealed that Garrett, who was elected by a comfortable margin, is anti-voting rights, anti-woman, anti-worker, anti-gay, anti-environment, and anti-science. That his office was on the same floor in the same office building as Perretta’s office, and that the politics of a Tea Party Republican and a Porn King seemed to mesh in so many ways, was the subject of my two postings about Garrett.

If the Garrett story should reach an audience beyond The Daily Beaver, that would, indeed, be a bonus—an example of one of journalism’s classic purposes: to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. Because it’s frightening that a politician who you’d think would be more at home in the reddest, red-neck corner of Alabama could be elected to Congress in Bergen County. But considering my own experiences toiling for seven years on Perretta’s Bergen County porn plantation—which I’ve written about in Beaver Street—it’s not terribly surprising. In fact it’s just more proof that you don’t have to venture far from New York City to find Red America in all its ignorant, bigoted glory.

What Did the Tea Party Congressman Know About the Porn King and When Did He Know It?

February 23, 2012

Tags: Scott Garrett, Tea Party, Congress, Lou Perretta, hardcore pornography, New Jersey, Republican National Committee, Sonja Wagner, politics

According to a former staff member of Louis Perretta's X-rated magazine, Internet, and DVD empire, the people who worked for ultra-conservative New Jersey congressman Scott Garrett (Republican, 5th district) were aware that their second-floor neighbor at 210 Route 4 East, in Paramus, produced hardcore pornography. But the staff was apparently unaware that Garrett had been accepting campaign contributions from Perretta since 2006 and the Republican National Committee had been accepting contributions from him since 2000, soon after the company switched to a hardcore format from a softcore format. In that time, Perretta or members of his immediate family had donated over $10,000 to Republican candidates and committees.

The former staffer, Sonja Wagner, 74—a graphic artist who, like many of her colleagues, saw pornography as a “survival job”—was for 16 years a freelance art director on scores of Perretta’s X-rated titles before he stopped giving her work in 2009. She said that it was common knowledge among Perretta’s employees that female members of Garrett’s staff had complained about Perretta’s company, apparently to building manager Vornado Reality Trust, which maintains offices in the building on the second, fourth, and fifth floors. According to Wagner, Garrett’s staff did not want to share the second-floor bathroom with pornographers, and soon after raising the complaint they began using the bathroom on the fifth floor to avoid them.

The staff complaint illuminates one of the darker corners of Garrett’s political philosophy—one that seems to mesh with Perretta’s. Garrett, a Tea Party icon and a “birther” who, citing states’ rights, was one of only 33 representatives to vote against the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act in 2006. The act prohibits voting discrimination based on race, and 390 house members voted to renew it.

A 2010 survey by the University of Washington Institute for the Study of Ethnicity, Race & Sexuality indicated that Tea Party supporters have a 25 percent higher probability of being racially resentful than those who do not support the Tea Party.

Garrett’s staff apparently harbors a reflexive segregating impulse reminiscent of the pre-1965 Jim Crow laws enforced in all southern states of the former Confederacy. These laws demanded racial segregation in public facilities, notably “white only” and “colored only” bathrooms. In this peculiar 21st century case, Garrett’s staff wanted “separate but equal” facilities for pornographers and Republicans.

Ironically, Perretta’s company also produces a line of magazines marketed to an African American audience, including Hype Hair, Today’s Black Woman, Black Men, and Word Up. Yet Perretta has referred to his minority employees as “animals,” and in one instance said to an African American art director, “Shrink that photo—like your ancestors shrunk heads.”

Among the hardcore magazines and websites that Perretta controls are Club, Gallery, High Society, Swank, Gent, Genesis, Fox, Velvet, Just 18, and Cheri.

“It’s against house ethics for me to comment about Garrett’s campaign,” said Ben Veghte, who works in Garrett’s Washington office.

The office of Scott Garrett for Congress has so far not returned calls and so has neither confirmed nor denied that Garrett was aware that his staff had complained about Perretta’s company, one of the largest producers of hardcore pornography in America.

Vornado Realty Trust, as a policy, does not comment on tenants, and so has neither confirmed nor denied that members of Garrett’s staff had formally complained to them about having to share a bathroom with employees of a company that produced hardcore pornography.

The Tea Party Congressman and the Porn King

February 14, 2012

Tags: Scott Garrett, Tea Party, Congress, Lou Perretta, hardcore pornography, Joyce Snyder, New Jersey, Republican National Committee, Federal Election Commission, politics

Scott Garrett, Republican congressman from New Jersey.
According to Federal Election Commission (FEC) records, ultra-conservative New Jersey congressman Scott Garrett (Republican, 5th district) has, since 2006, accepted campaign contributions from hardcore pornography magnate Louis Perretta. Garrett is apparently aware of Peretta's operation, as the X-rated production company and Garrett's eastern district office were for years in close proximity to each other on the second floor of an office building at 210 Route 4 East, in Paramus.

Garrett, a Tea Party icon and a “birther” who is up for reelection this year, is known for his extreme right-wing positions. He received a perfect 100 rating from the American Conservative Union and a 0 rating from the Sierra Club.

Citing “states’ rights,” Garrett has opposed the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, an extension of unemployment benefits during the recession, a woman’s right to choose an abortion in cases of rape and incest, and emergency aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Perretta, of Saddle River, NJ, publishes such hardcore pornographic titles as Club, Gallery, High Society, Swank, Gent, Genesis, Fox, Velvet, Just 18, and Cheri. Though most of these magazines were “softcore” when he began acquiring them in the early 1990s, he switched them all to a “hardcore” format in 1999, and is now one the largest producers of hardcore pornography in America. (In the world of pornography, “hardcore” refers to images that show vaginal, oral, or anal penetration.)

Perretta also produces a line of hardcore DVDs and controls the X-rated websites associated with his magazines.

Perretta, either directly or through members of his immediate family, donated over $10,000 to Republican candidates and the Republican National Committee (RNC) since 2000, soon after switching to the hardcore format. But his contributions to Garrett stand out both because of the proximity of their offices and because their politics seem to merge so seamlessly.

Perretta, who has referred to minority employees as “animals,” once told an African American art director to “Shrink that photo—like your ancestors shrunk heads.” In the past decade, he has systematically fired his most senior editors (this reporter was one of them) and art directors, most of whom began working for him in 1993, when he acquired all the titles belonging to Swank Publications. He has also closed down Great Eastern, his printing plant in Poughkeepsie, New York, eliminating dozens of jobs and outsourcing them to a printer in Canada in order to enhance profits and to avoid problems associated with exporting hardcore pornography from the US into Canada.

Perretta is currently being sued for age-and-sex discrimination by former employee Joyce Snyder, while Garrett was given the worst rating of any NJ congressman by the Business and Professional Women’s Foundation.

Garrett’s other right-wing positions include opposing a ban on assault weapons; opposing child safety locks on handguns; supporting a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage; opposing restrictions on price gouging by oil companies; supporting oil drilling off the NJ shore; supporting the teaching of “intelligent design” in public schools; and opposing stem cell research. He has also voted against numerous animal protection laws, including a ban on slaughtering horses for human consumption.

Perretta is listed in FEC records as a “self-employed business executive” with the Great Eastern Lithographic Corporation.

Both Garrett’s office and the RNC’s have so far not returned calls, and so have neither confirmed nor denied that they were aware that Perretta is one of the largest producers of hardcore pornography in America.

The Teabagging of Orrin Hatch

June 10, 2011

Tags: Orrin Hatch, pornography, Anthony Weiner, The Daily Beast, Tea Party, Elisa Florez, Missy Manners, politics

All has been quiet on the Orrin Hatch porn-investigation front for the past few weeks. Perhaps the embattled Utah Senator, who thinks “pornography is a cancer on our society,” can blame Congressman Anthony Weiner for providing more pornographic distraction than any concerned citizen can handle.

The other day, however, The Daily Beast ran a piece that explains Hatch’s strategy, porn-wise. It seems the senator is a target of the Tea Party—they think he isn’t conservative enough, and want to replace him with somebody even more right wing. Clearly, Hatch’s call for the Justice Department to launch a vigorous porn investigation is his attempt to show the Tea Party that he can be as idiotic as any politician.

But is the Tea Party even aware of Hatch’s relationship with Elisa Florez, who became the porn star Missy Manners after working for Hatch? Not that I’d ever want to do anything to help the Tea Party, but really, Teabaggers, if you want to run a politician out of Utah, all you’ve got to do is point out his links to the porn industry. It’ll work every time.