Friday, 13 January 2012

From VICE - Want to watch DVDs of people fisting each other?


By Joshua Haddow

Last week, some men in suits threatened your God-given freedom to wank over videos of men fisting each other's anuses, pissing in each other's mouths and punching each other powerfully in the balls. That you may not have put aside time in your busy schedule to do these things any time soon is beside the point. This is your freedom we're talking about – it's the difference between flying and falling (out of love with the idea of having a fist up your ass).
Luckily this guy, Myles Jackman, and others like him were not going to let The Man have his way. Myles is a lawyer specialising in extreme pornography and obscenity cases. Whilst extreme pornography may not be your cup of tea (though if it's not, that's a pretty confusing array of tabs you have open), Myles and his friends are not going to just sit back and watch you get censored up the arsehole while you're not looking. Especially if you'd rather have a fist up there instead, like Michael Peacock, the man who stood in the dock facing the ire/ confusion/ mirth of the British legal system last week.
Back in 2009, Michael had his house raided and was charged with distributing obscene DVDs after an undercover police officer saw an ad for them online and went to purchase one from Peacock's home in Finsbury Park. However, after watching Michael and other men fisting each other for hours on end, the jury found him innocent (yay!), lighting the way towards a more tolerant and less patronising sexual future for everyone, etc.
Michael raising a "victory fist"
I caught up with lawyer Myles to try to discuss the minefield that is Britain's obscenity laws. I started the interview feeling vanilla and intimidated, but Myles was jovial throughout. He was also extra-happy to talk candidly, having just done an interview with BBC Radio 4, who wouldn't let him say “fisting” or “watersports” on air :(
I tried to find some images to accompany the interview, but even though I looked really hard I couldn't find any images depicting hardcore sex on the internet. So instead, I've peppered throughout the transcript thinly-veiled pop references to fisting that have managed to slip through the morality net and out, onto the verdant plains of mainstream culture.
VICE: Hey Miles. I came across you whilst reading up on the Michael Peacock case. You seem to be the go-to guy when it comes to extreme porn and the law, is that right?
Myles: Well, yeah, I have a niche interest in sexual obscenity and extreme pornography law.
So you've seen a few things, then?
Sure, have you heard of the “Tiger Porn” case in Mould in Wales?
No. What happened there?
I defended that case. The defendant was prosecuted for two viral clips; one of which allegedly showed a person having sex with a tiger.
That sounds dangerous.
Yeah, when the clip was played back with the soundtrack, which the prosecution hadn't listened to, it turned out the tiger was a man in a costume who turned to the camera and said: “That beats advertising Frosties for a living.”
Hilarious. I didn't stumble upon that one, but while I was researching the trial last week I...
Do you mean the trial or the actual obscenities? [laughs loudly]
Erm. The trial.
Yeeeah... [laughs again]
What was your specific involvement in the trial?
I was the litigator for the defence.
Cool, what does Michael Peacock's innocence mean?
We now have an entirely new situation. It's a huge victory for sexual liberties, for consent, for adults. It shows essentially that the Obscene Publications Act of 1959 is not fit for the internet age.

Were there any highlights during the court proceedings?
I think the quote of the trial was when the prosecutor asked one of our experts, “Would you welcome an anal prolapse?”
It was fucking awesome.
Did the jury have to watch Michael's DVDs?
The jury and the judge did. The public gallery were allowed to, as well.
What was their reaction to the fisting?
I think to start with they were uncomfortable with having to watch a number of hours of gay fisting in front of 12 complete strangers. By the end, though, they were thoroughly bored.
They were bored by the fisting?
Yeah, I had to watch the full amount at Charing Cross police station, too. After 13 and a half hours, I discovered it's probably better in 20 or 30 minute bursts. Frankly, after 13 and a half hours, it began to get a bit too much.
Was it all male-on-male fisting?
It was all, in inverted commas, “gay”; so yeah it was all male-on-male. There was no vaginal fisting, or women fisting men.
Would vaginal fisting have been OK, too?
The prosecution and the police have said they wouldn't have distinguished between anal fisting and vaginal fisting.
What measures were previously in place to regulate this kind of thing? When does fingerbanging become fisting, for example?
Pornographers tended to follow the “four finger rule”.
There's a “four finger rule”?
There was a “four finger rule” that pornographers operated by, where it would be difficult for them to represent fisting of five fingers beyond the wrist. So they had a rule where four fingers was OK, but five: bang out of order.
Kit Kat was fine, but you couldn't lose your watch?
Good lord, no. It was a simple rule of thumb.
Look at this guy, he's full of gags.
Yeeeah... [laughs again]
Let's get serious for a second. Michael's case was like a "test case", right? If the jury had returned a guilty verdict last week, what would the consequences of that been?
The Crown Prosecution Service would have continued to prosecute the distribution of representations of acts that are listed on their website, such as fisting, watersports and some BDSM material. They would now be illegal to distribute.
You said some BDSM?
That's a really complicated question...
I have all day.
It's related to the offence of Actual Bodily Harm, which denotes something greater than harm that's deemed to be transient or trifling. Essentially they draw the line at drawing blood, so stuff like knocking out a tooth or a cut which requires stitches would be illegal.
Why do the fuddy-duddies at the Crown Prosecution Service keep trying to stop people watching what they want?
They simply do not understand it. They don't get porn.
So what is still illegal? It's still against the law to have sex with a dead body, right?
Actual necrophilia is prohibited, and I have no problem with that because a cadaver can't consent. You've got cadavers, animals, children and people of a mental incapacity, none of whom can give effective consent. Also, the age of consent is 16, but unless you're 18 you can't be on film. So if two 16-year-olds have sex: no law broken; if they make video on their phones they have produced child pornography, if they send it to a friend they have distributed child pornography. Why is that?

You tell me.
Theoretically, they would be in possession of child pornography. It's to do with international treaties on the age of sexual representation. In some countries, like Australia, if you look under age it is illegal to be depicted having sex.
What? How does that work?
They have a breast law in Australia. Women with small breasts are deemed verboten. It's “breastist”, you could say.
I'd say it definitely was. You must have a real beef with the state of the law on all this?
All obscenity is inherently ridiculous in the sense that it's so arbitrary, it's so conflicted when we're talking about representations of consensual adults. Why is it that I could watch al-Qaeda beheadings, but previous to last week I would be committing an offence if I distributed fisting pornography, which is about consent and sex and love?
How did you get to be an obscenity lawyer, by the way?
I think the way that society defines itself through sexual representation is fascinating. I've always had an interest in visual representation, in the erotics. All media has been driven by sexual content from cave-paintings to the battle for VHS formats and between Blu-Ray and HD DVD, or whatever the hell it was called. I used to make films as well. One of them was set in a future where everything was synthetic and a manufacturer started making penis flavoured condoms. I made another one that was about self-harm.
Do you just love pornography?
Whilst I am pro the right to pornography, that doesn't necessarily mean I agree with the means of production or all of the finished products. Classifying all pornography as the same is like condemning all music because you don't like opera.
I can see what you're getting at.
In the Lady Chatterley case it was remarked “You wouldn't want your women or servants reading it,” and the internet has changed all of that and deeply confused the authoritarian classes. Now almost any consenting adult has access to pornography. Besides, I think it's important that we discuss sexuality and pornography for many, many reasons.
I guess that's a point we can all get behind. Thanks, Myles.
Myles Jackman is a solicitor with a niche practice in obscenity at Hodge Jones and Allen. He tweets@ObscenityLawyer.

This article originally appeared in VICE UK here: and is re-posted with kind permission.

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