The Sex.Com Chronicles, by Charles Carreon

Identified as a trouble maker by the authorities since childhood, and resolved to live up to the description, Charles Carreon soon discovered that mischief is most effectively fomented through speech. Having mastered the art of flinging verbal pipe-bombs and molotov cocktails at an early age, he refined his skills by writing legal briefs and journalistic exposes, while developing a poetic style that meandered from the lyrical to the political. Journey with him into the dark caves of the human experience, illuminated by the torch of an outraged sense of injustice.

Re: The Sex.Com Chronicles, by Charles Carreon

Postby admin » Fri Jun 13, 2014 2:00 am


As I walked out of the Hard Rock Hotel to find a cab, the sun rose full above the eastern horizon, and the hard light scrubbed the glitter off the town. I saw the cheap stucco walls, potted oases, empty parking lots and ubiquitous billboards offering big meals, big payouts, and big entertainment. After three days of being pummeled by boring beats in smoky atmospheres flowing with free drinks, I was ready for home. As the cab rolled down sun-scoured avenues, the driver reminisced in generalities. He began with, “People in this town...” and concluded with, “They’re all into that Ecstasy.” To which I responded, “Tell me about it!”

After Vegas, communications with Gary decayed, and black tension seeped into my life. Wagstaffe’s office continued to report to me diligently, informing me about trial preparation in deferential letters. On the surface, I was cocksure and optimistic about the future, planning to continue meeting with prospective partners and helping Gary sort through their proposals. On the surface, Gary and Phil sent me e-mails about various business opportunities with industry players, soliciting my remarks. Under the surface there was little sense of interest on their part, and I felt like I was on suspension.

After Vegas, I promptly went looking for trouble and found it. I became obsessed with changing the look of Sex.Com. Everyday I checked the website to see if the changes we had agreed on back in New York had been made yet. And every day I found the same old gross-out contest. I started emailing and calling Yishai every other day or so, to ask him why the banners were still showing all the radically distasteful shit that they had always been showing. I called Wired Solutions and asked why their ads were still so raunchy -- hadn’t Yishai told them to tune it back? They told me that Yishai had said it to them, but his own banners were still as nasty as ever, so they couldn’t afford to back off the hardcore while he was still pushing it.

Feeling that I’d been saddled with this relationship with Yishai, I started insisting in emails to Gary that he had breached his promise to control the appearance of the website, and demanding that we give Yishai the required thirty-day notice of our intention to end the relationship. I tried various angles to create points of division. I told Yishai I couldn’t have Joel Dichter in the relationship. No worries, said Yishai -- Joel was not indispensable. Joel called and said he was resigning as Yishai’s lawyer with respect to Sex.Com. When I couldn’t complain about that, I came back to the nasty content issue, and wouldn’t leave it alone. After being in Vegas with all the click-mongers, I thought I knew something, and I couldn’t believe that our website was obliged to be the absolute sewer of Internet sex. We were the premier type-in domain on the entire Internet. We could do better than to spatter our white hat with mud. Boy, was I dumb.

The entire thing exploded on January 15th, Martin Luther King Day, in San Francisco. I was heading back from Reno with Tara and Ana, where we’d stayed for a few days as the invited guests of the owner of XXX.Com. He had pitched me a proposal to manage Sex.Com, and I was trying to organize a meeting so he could talk to Gary and Phil about it. Actually, I’d tentatively arranged for Gary to meet us in Reno, but he dropped off the map that weekend. He wouldn’t answer his cell phone, and when I finally got hold of him, his mood was foul. He’d spent a miserable weekend entertaining an auburn-haired woman he met in Vegas. When I asked him about the experience, hoping he’d had some fun, his answer was filled with bitterness: “Total waste of a day. She made me go and see her kid.” He sounded disgusted, convinced that once again, he’d been used for his money.

As if seeking my own destruction, I directed myself straight into the path of Gary’s anger. Knowing that he was spoiling for a fight, I told him I was coming to San Francisco to do business. I told him I had been monitoring the appearance of Sex.Com, and nothing had changed. The gross-out contest had to end. I wanted Yishai’s contract cancelled, and since our agreement required thirty days notice to cancel, the 15th was the day. I told Gary I was on my way with a letter that I wanted to send to Yishai. I might as well have danced on an old pirate’s bunions.

Tara, Ana, Gary and I met at a sushi place up the street from “Dogpatch,” Gary’s new house on 3rd Street. He was keyed up to an intense pitch, perspiring heavily. His energy had turned to iron. As we sat at the table, I tried to speak, but conversation skated off him. He was a gauche, graceless, bellowing beast. Suddenly, my cell phone rang and I answered. While I was talking, Gary devoured the sushi off my plate. The call was from a bonehead spam outfit that was trying to pressure Gary into a deal by threatening to launch their own website, which they intended to call “TheNewSex.Com.” The caller was an obvious jackass, and when I told Gary who it was, he exploded -- “Tell that guy if he calls me one more time, I’ll fucking sue him!” I ended the call, and tried to placate Gary, but he just stormed out, leaving me with an empty plate and a sense of doom.

Hungry, rattled, and humiliated in front of my wife and daughter, I followed Gary back to the office and continued to beleaguer him with demands to review and approve my letter canceling Yishai’s contract. He read it, but wouldn’t approve it. We revised it until there was nothing left, and then he told me he would write and send his own letter. Then he disappeared from his office. No one could find him, so we left and got on the freeway for home. Three hours later, as Tara and I drove north on I-5, with Ana riding in the back seat, Gary called. The conversation was short and one-sided. It ended with Gary shouting “See you in court!”
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Re: The Sex.Com Chronicles, by Charles Carreon

Postby admin » Fri Jun 13, 2014 2:02 am


“Whom the gods would destroy, they first seek to anger.”

Lucifer cast from Heaven might have been more enraged than I was after my ouster from But as his cry of rage ripped the sky, God’s favorite angel took a third of heaven’s stars with him into exile. I had only my wife and children, Peter and myself to share the sad news. Sue promptly threw her lot in with Gary, moving to San Francisco. My outrage was unbearable. Had I not triumphed? Had I not been hailed as a conqueror, with adoring crowds acknowledging my role as Gary’s general in the halls of the Venetian, while magnates inclined their heads in respect?

In two months I’d gone from unknown lawyer to top-flight litigator to porn mogul to ousted Sex.Com partner. I had been counting my millions since I first saw the pipeline of cash from Union Bank Fort Lauderdale to Wells Fargo Anaheim Hills. They were mine already, by contract, and I intended to have them. I couldn’t go back to my former life as a country lawyer. I had resigned from the list of federal public defenders, cancelled my yellow pages ads, and ended my lease with Peter.

I had made a dreadful miscalculation. My self-flattering mirror was shattered, and the broken shards reflected a frightening visage. Grim lines of determination sealed over stark hollows of grief. A mild smile occasionally softened my look of steely obsession, but no one gained my attention, because my mind was now totally obsessed with a grey chessboard of claims to be made and rebutted, allies to be gathered, and a war chest to be accumulated. I had begun to think harder than I had ever thought before, and what I thought was an unending stream of aggression. I would destroy Gary, humble Idell, and redeem Sue from captivity.

I could hear Gary taunting, “Now you find the lawyers. You pay the fees. You wait for motions to be decided, then postponed. You try facing the mechanized firepower of the hired guns! Enjoy!” And I took up the challenge, filing a lawsuit against Gary for breach of contract, and moving to withdraw as his counsel for nonpayment of fees.

One man pointed me in another direction. When I appeared in his court before the trial with a motion to withdraw as Gary’s counsel, Judge Ware’s features drooped in sympathy as he gently asked me why I was leaving now, when I had been there from the beginning. I drank up that small draft of recognition, like the last flash of water in the parched bed of a disappearing stream.

Judge Ware counseled us in chambers to mediate our dispute. We mediated. I hired an expensive and well-respected lawyer from Ashland who had once interviewed me for a job in LA when he was a partner at a New York law firm. He was not cheap, but the mediation had to be done properly, with a name lawyer. My lawyer negotiated well at the mediation, and we got up to a number that, in retrospect, would have been a good result. But on that day, I couldn’t accept it. The atmosphere was poisoned. I had imposed only one condition on the mediation - that Richard Idell not be there. But Idell ended up talking to Gary on the cell phone all day, throwing sand in the gears with one piece of negative advice after another, until we just had to get the hell out of there. My lawyer’s bill was over seven-thousand bucks for a few days of representation, so after I paid that bill, I realized I had to convince some lawyer to take forty percent of fifteen percent of Sex.Com, or the game was over.
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Re: The Sex.Com Chronicles, by Charles Carreon

Postby admin » Fri Jun 13, 2014 2:03 am


“The way leads not back, toward innocence, but onward, deeper into sin.”

-- Herman Hesse, Steppenwolf

With my law practice shut down and no money coming in from Sex.Com, I had a bit of a money problem. I’d gotten two months of fifteen percent of the profits, so I was up by ninety-grand through Christmastime, then watched the stack disappearing like a woodpile during a cold winter. I was depressed as hell, sleeping ‘till eleven every day, buying trinkets for entertainment’s sake, throwing the occasional party for local friends to brighten my mood, and researching the sex industry online for the first time. I decided to educate myself about online law and business. I started a website for my wife as an experiment, and she took to it with a lot of enthusiasm, so we spent our days pecking at our computers together, while I tried to figure out where my future was going to come from.

Spring appeared on the horizon, and in March I started looking for work. I called Steve Sweet, the man who looked so good in a bathrobe at the Pimp ‘n Ho Ball. He was up in Vancouver, the headquarters of Sweet Entertainment. When I called, he at first teased me by suggesting I actually wanted to talk to his girlfriend Jamie, but I told him that no, I wanted to talk about working for Sweet Entertainment.

Canadians have a long tradition of selling contraband to Americans. Edmonton, north of the Midwestern United States, was a bootlegger’s paradise in the nineteen-twenties, the railhead for an underground railway that delivered countless barrels of whisky to speakeasies in Chicago, St. Louis, New York, and other parched areas. Canadian banks got fat with loot deposited by Bugsy Moran, Al Capone, and Joe Kennedy.

In Vancouver, the legal, cinematic, and financial infrastructure was all in place to build a thriving Canadian adult film industry. The Canadian attitude toward sex is flexible. Canadian law forbids only the depiction of extremely degrading scenes combining violence with sex and submission. Canadian girls can be very beautiful, and in Vancouver, BC, the native film industry had familiarized many a young lad with the techniques of video production. Canadian banks maintain offshore operations in former British territories, like the Bahamas, Bermuda, Antigua, and Barbuda, thus providing one-stop money-laundering and tax avoidance services for those smart or rapacious enough to pursue such “asset protection” strategies.

Canadian pornographers operate websites in the US and charge for memberships in American dollars. Back in 2001, each American dollar bought nearly two Canadian dollars, so every thirty-dollar signup to a Sweet Entertainment website generated nearly sixty Canadian dollars. As a result, Sweet Entertainment, operating out of Vancouver’s sprawling whore-and-heroin district, hauled in very large bucks.

In April 2001, Sweet Entertainment was hosting the second annual “West Coast Webmasters Convention,” an event that had made quite a splash in its first year. Lawyers willing to talk to pornographers about the legal aspects of the business were big draws at these adult industry trade shows, so Steve Sweet was enthusiastic when I offered to speak at the event, and urged me to come up for the three-day bash. Sweet would sponsor my hotel room at the event venue, and there was free food and drink courtesy of the sponsors all day and most of the night. It was a two-day drive from Ashland, and the first opportunity since Vegas to see if I could get any altitude in the online sex business.

My ambivalent feelings toward porn had grown and grown. I was now facing some painfully discovered facts about the sex industry and myself. If I did not keep my hand in the sex industry, my claim to own fifteen percent of Sex.Com would evaporate. I had learned a lot from Gary about putting together an army, and like Gary, I hoped to find someone to finance my efforts to recover control over my share of the business. In the meantime, the online sex industry was the only place I could charge people three hundred dollars an hour for my work, and find clients glad to pay it.

But would anyone hire a guy who was suing his own client? More to the point -- would anyone in the adult industry risk offending Gary, the lord of Sex.Com, by hiring me? I staved off despair by remembering an aphorism of Balthasar Gracian’s: “A wise man makes better use of his enemies than a fool makes of his friends.” Behold, the new owner of Sex.Com had already made enemies in the industry. Word was, the site was turning from a supernova into a white dwarf.

Gary had no interest in networking with porn kingpins, and quickly exhausted Ron Levy’s patience with proposed amendments to the four hundred thousand per month licensing proposal. Ron retaliated by abandoning his advertising on Sex.Com, which he had been buying through a straw man at the rate of fifty thousand per month. Ron’s withdrawal from his role as a secret Sex.Com advertiser was the first vote of no-confidence that Gary received from the online sex business, and would not be the last. Gary dumped Yishai as his webhost and advertising agent, so Yishai stopped buying traffic, and there went another hundred-grand a month. After Gary implemented a redesign with zero visual appeal, Sex.Com became an industry laughingstock for its ability to scare off porn-seekers. As industry flack Kimmy Kim, a dead ringer for a used-up Joni Mitchell, remarked in my presence -- “Say whatever the fuck you want about Steve Cohen, he knew how to make money.”

Gary was becoming notorious as an industry outsider who could turn gold into lead. His background as a highly educated dot-commer made the criticism more delicious for porn insiders who, in the wake of the dot-bomb stock market crash of 2000, could brag that they were making more money online than had lost. Sex.Com seemed to be headed for what would have once seemed impossible to achieve -- obscurity.

As a result, clicks from Gary’s Sex.Com weren’t converting to paying memberships the way Cohen’s clicks had. One of the people who had lost money buying traffic from Gary was Steve Sweet. Thus, I was able to use Steve’s animosity toward Gary to jump-start our relationship.

I prepared a lecture for the Sweet event that I called “The Seven Commandments of Adult Webmastering.” I’d probably revise the lecture if I gave it again today, but it went over fairly well at the time. The gist of it was actually lifted from a principle enunciated by Napoleon Hill inThink and Grow Rich, my Dad’s favorite self-help book. Only wealth that is honestly gained can give one security, comfort, and satisfaction. I advised the assembled crowd of some eighty or ninety webmasters to let honesty be their watchword, to deal with honest people, and to be cautious with respect to the obscenity laws.

I avoided the approach followed by the established porn lawyers, who shook down some pornographers with a protection racket by promising that the Bush administration was going to crack down on Internet porn and throw all the big players in jail. While I had been very aware of my own vulnerability as a lawyer-owner of a website that was operating with blatant disregard for the obscenity laws, I saw no reason to believe that a purge of the Net-porn business was in the offing. The business simply produced too damn much money to shut down. The credit card companies would never allow it. Since porn was likely here to stay, I argued that the people who do the dirty work could gain legitimacy by acting legitimately.

There was also a future beyond porn, because those who made money in online adult would have a head start on making money in straight commerce, as it matured. I compared the early Internet economy to that of San Francisco during the Gold Rush. In 1849, most merchants sold mining tools, liquor and sex. Today, those industries still exist, but have a smaller piece of the Bay Area economy. Similarly, the Internet had discovered sex first, but its role would inevitably shrink as the Net attracted more and more straight businesses. My advice to the pornographers was to stay honest, stay profitable, stay free, and be around to harvest the really big money that would come as the Internet became the world’s global marketplace. People applauded and smiled at the end of the lecture, and a few came up to talk with me afterward.

Soon I ran into Ben from Wired Solutions, the smooth north-easterner with so much intelligence, charm and breeding. His first question was, “Did he fuck you?”

The life of a loser is full of such pleasant exchanges.

“Yes, he did,” I answered.

Ben immediately announced, “I knew it!”

Not really a fun start to the encounter, but Ben was sympathetic, and helped to lift my spirits at the convention, talking me up to everyone we met. He was a high status pornographer, and if he said I was the shit, then no one was going to argue with him. We settled down in Ben’s hotel room, crowded with wheeler-dealers networking with their cellphones, sucking down bottles of Canadian beer, and wondering where they would locate their favorite substances there in Vancouver. Ben introduced me to everyone as the incredible lawyer who had won Sex.Com and yet ended up empty-handed. It’s not the easiest intro to deal with.

As the evening’s inebriation project got underway, Ben volunteered that he was willing to testify at any proceeding on my behalf. I didn’t think Ben had been privy to anything that I would need testimony about, and had to ask him, “Testify to what?” Ben answered that, one night at a strip club in Santa Fe, while they were both wired on crank, Gary had explained to Ben how he was going to fuck Charles out of his fifteen percent of He said another lawyer was going to step in and take the credit, make it look like Charles had breached his agreements, and Charles would be cut out. Receiving this information was like adding some heavy metals to a cocktail of battery acid and hazardous waste - I hardly noticed the change in flavor, but it was possibly more bitter.

I absorbed the news and tried to balance my emotions, put on a game face, and do what I’d come to do - set myself up as a lawyer in the industry. I had only one chip to ante up, or I could go back to defending drug dealers in Southern Oregon. There was only one identifiable group of clients who would be meaningfully impressed by meeting the lawyer who won Sex.Com, and they were all around me. Using Ben as a life-support device for my credibility, I circulated among them.

I liked the people I was meeting. Almost all of them were Canadians, young, good-looking and good-humored. Like Bonnie and Russell of Streetlight Productions, Tom Sweet from Sweet Entertainment, and Zak Zarry of Porncity. Each one expressed their appreciation that I had brought a bit of justice to a corrupt business. These folks clearly weren’t going to be stuck in porn for the rest of their lives. Zak aspired to be a lawyer and seemed likely achieve his goal. Bonnie and Russell sold their business for a healthy chunk of change a year or so later. Tom Sweet and I sized each other up professionally during a brief chat outside a night club. As I understood it, he was Steve’s brother, and thus at the top of the Sweet food chain, so I tried to make a good impression.

Eventually, around midnight or so, I ran into Ben again on a dance floor where pornographers were milling about without attempting any dance steps. The lights were swirling and music was pounding all around us as he shouted into my ear that he’d just gone up to see the top porn czars way upstairs, including Ron Levy, Ron Gould, and other people whose names I didn’t know. He had told them the whole story about me and Gary, that Gary was no good, and no one should deal with him. And he would testify! He would testify! The Ecstasy was really kicking in, and I knew that whatever Ben said now, it was the dopamine talking. It was sad. In this place filled with frivolity, anxiety and greed, my best friend was a rave-drug addict with delusions of grandeur.

Later that night, as we settled into the three-til-dawn shift back in Ben’s room, and the manic waves subsided in his mindstream, he revealed why he wanted to destroy Gary Kremen, whose trip to Santa Fe to meet the Wired Solutions people had nearly derailed Ben’s sleaze career. Ben explained that Gary had invited Ben to leave Wired Solutions and go to work for Sex.Com. Ben told Gary he was interested. Then Gary, apparently deciding that he would benefit most by injecting chaos into the situation, told Ben’s boss Fernando that Ben was willing to jump ship. Fernando, seizing the opportunity to trace little incision lines on Ben’s soft belly, forced Ben to admit his disloyal sentiments and beg for his job. Endowed with a blueblood’s taste for vengeance, Ben lusted for payback, and once again, in an apparently sober condition, swore that when I needed his testimony, he’d be there. I had high hopes that perhaps, at the right moment, he would provide the testimony that would prove that Gary had in fact planned my destruction.

It was also interesting to know that the top guys were attending the Sweet event, a sure sign that the Canadian porn community was important to the industry as a whole. One prominent person who had not yet been seen at the conference was Gary Kremen. Sometime that first night, I ran into Sue, now playing Nurse Feelgood to Gary, who said Gary was in his room, in an abysmal condition, possibly near death. She was embarrassed to be seen in this role, but by disclosing confidences about Sex.Com, hoped to win my approval. She was dying to get away from him, but needed money, she said. He was paying her five thousand a month, more than she’d ever been paid as a lawyer, and she wasn’t lawyering. I wanted to hear more about Gary’s mental and physical health being on the skids. After what I’d recently heard from Ben, Gary couldn’t be close enough to death to satisfy me until he was actually in hell, roasting on a spit. She said that, given how he was abusing his body with controlled substances, she was worried about it all the time, and had a dream where he was lying dead with a mass of foam emerging from his mouth. The image confirmed my then-current impression of Gary as a huge insect that predated on warm-blooded beings.

I had to wait until the second night of the conference to see my dearest enemy at the really big bash Sweet hosted at a conference center someplace across the Lions Gate Bridge, on an island with a beautiful view of Vancouver. The party started around two in the afternoon, so I drove across the bridge and settled in early to enjoy the views across the water from the ranch-style convention center. It was much better than even the nicest lawfirm all-day picnic, with excellent free food and drinks, white tablecloths, silverware, and real wine glasses. At these affairs, rich dilettantes mingle with the techies, photographers, and financiers who spin profit out of digital images and sophisticated tracking programs. Steve Sweet was there, the big shark with the toothy grin, and briefly welcomed me to the event before going on to mingle with others.

It was fun and scary to be in this world, and not on a leash. I wondered -- could I get my spoon in here somewhere? I was free to do what I could with this wild, untamed energy, but with a few top guys controlling the big money, and most of them as eager to avoid conflict with Gary as they had been to avoid conflict with Cohen in his day, I feared I’d be blocked at every turn. I was standing outside on a deck with a view, sipping wine, when someone came up and told me, significantly, that Gary had arrived. Some people had apparently been anticipating this moment. Would we meet? Would we fight?, like a volcano with a history of past eruptions, was making noises again. Neither of us had need of a scene, however. I approached Gary as soon as I spotted him, noting without surprise that he seemed healthy as a horse. Sue had obviously been exaggerating his condition in an effort to cheer me up. We exchanged insincere pleasantries, then I returned to circulating through the crowd, sipping drinks and swapping business cards.

Eventually it got dark outside, and people started settling into friendly groups at candlelit tables. I hadn’t found anyplace to settle down until a tall, older guy with a craggy face and posture slightly bent at the waist, asked me if I’d like to join him and his friends for a drink, if it wasn’t beneath me to drink with some poor webmasters. This was the first reference I’d heard to any class distinctions in the big happy family of pornographers. Thus I met Ed, a humble Canadian webmaster who has no doubt by now got title to that piece of island property he was planning to buy off the coast of British Columbia. Ed was completely independent, and had an unglamorous view of the industry. He’d started out in cabinet making, he told me, but when his knees, elbows and back got creaky, he learned computer repair. He did that for awhile, then discovered it was easier and more profitable to make free porn sites, and sell the traffic to the big paysite owners. He was making $10,000 Canadian a month at that time, although as the years went by, he continually reported declines in profits-per-website, as more competitors entered his field.

Kind, good humored, and aware of his limitations, Ed figured that since he didn’t design the world, he couldn’t account for people’s inclinations. His goal was to drive porn surfers to click the “Join Now” button at a big paysite that would send him a commission. His goal was summed up in an industry aphorism -- “Tease, don’t please.” Ed explained that most webmasters made sites that were too attractive. They not only “teased,” they “pleased.” Since webmasters only earn a commission when surfers leave their website to sign up at a sponsor’s paysite, Ed wanted his sponsor’s website to look far more attractive than his own. As a result, Ed’s sites were some of the ugliest on the Net.

Sitting with Ed and his friend Carol, my drink consumption kept ahead of my paranoia and sense of alienation. For Ed, it was a presumed good that we were all alive, enjoying free beer, food, and pleasant companions. We all have stories to tell, stories worth listening to, and although at the end of the night, we each face the darkness by ourselves, we can watch out for each other along the way. As the evening drew to a close, around one-thirty in the morning, we went to the parking lot, but as I headed towards my car, Ed and Carol suggested that I ride the bus back to the hotel. He offered to meet me the next day and drive me out to pick up my Camry during lunch. I accepted his offer as the only wise choice, but one obstacle had to be overcome. Sex.Com had sponsored the bus, and Gary was sure to be on it.

Canadians, however, take driving under the influence of drink very seriously, much more seriously for example than auto break-ins, which are ubiquitous and rarely punished. Since the Mounties are known for always getting their man, I didn’t want to be that man. Once on the bus, I discovered that the only seat left was right next to Gary Kremen. I sat in it. We were both three sheets to the wind. Like two soldiers wounded in battle from opposing sides in the war, temporarily unable to kill each other, we did not talk about the battle. When I got back to the hotel, I had another beer and crawled into bed around three or four in the morning. Around lunchtime the next day, Ed drove me out to the island in an old T-bird. I picked up my car and returned to the hotel.
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Re: The Sex.Com Chronicles, by Charles Carreon

Postby admin » Fri Jun 13, 2014 2:03 am


On the last day of the Vancouver show, I wanted to hook up with Steve and Jamie, the beau and belle of the ball, but they were keeping a low profile. I asked one of their black-tee-shirted family-members, easily identifiable with their “SEG” logos in red and white, and all surnamed “Sweet,” if I could get an audience. A brief meeting was arranged, after which Tom Sweet took over as my guide. We visited the Sweet production studio in the Hastings district. The operation was housed in a two-story walkup location off a grimy street. There were two levels of buzz-through security, narrow halls, and low ceilings. The uniform color scheme was military gray. Steve’s office was narrow like a closet, and people had to practically line up to see him. Steve’s desk was a piece of second-hand furniture, and through the window behind his swivel chair you could see an industrial skyline, complete with cranes, factories and smog. The decor said loud and clear, “Don’t ask for a fucking thing.”

The studio was a single room with different “sets” on each wall, and multiple doors that locked up tight as a drum when shooting was in progress. The actresses, not the props, are the focus of attention in these productions, which were directed and filmed by the ever-affable Rey Damasco, a charming man of Filipino ancestry. Rey, who of course went by the name of Rey Sweet, could put the most skittish filly at ease with respect to her intrinsic sexual charms, the proper use of sex toys, the ease of feigning orgasm, and many other details essential to a proper adult film performance. Skilled in the use of the amazing Buttcam, a gimmick camera that Steve had designed to literally explore the inner recesses of the human body, Rey had obtained deep internal views of the elimination canals of many people. If he ever decides to go into medicine, he’ll have a head start on the other guys when it comes to diagnosing colon cancer.

Sweet’s real gimmick, though, was simulated torture. This was where Mike Sweet, whom I’d met back in Vegas, earned his keep. His dungeon was realistically created. The floor was thick with wax, the walls had been painted to simulate blood smears, and the worktables and walls were adorned with whips, hooks, and weights. From the ceiling hung pulleys and chains. The only seats available looked very uncomfortable and had straps and buckles on them. Thus it seemed I’d stumbled into the lair of a twisted family headed by a dungeon master. Not the only torturer on the payroll, however, Mike was assisted in the business of punishing the guilty by Paige, a blond dominatrix with precise and exacting skills, and a pair of blue jeans entirely stitched together up the inside and outside seams with safety pins. Paige had the unique distinction of not being a Sweet. Her stage name was merely “Miss Pain,” and in addition to running a site called, she was the official webmistress for, a scary-ass website if ever I saw one.

The Sweet dungeon tempted one to entertain strange notions, which had to be the appeal of the whole bondage and domination scene. The allure was not entirely lost on me, and I experienced brief confusion when Paige suggested that I join her for a session in the dungeon. I declined with a laugh, and told her I’d have to take a rain check. Though the safety pins had me tuned up to a responsive pitch, being hoisted off the ground in chains, even by an attractive blonde, would still have to be forced upon me. Of course, being filmed in that condition would be so damaging to my own image as a dominating male that I couldn’t entertain the notion seriously, even for purposes of career advancement. Although there is a California lawyer who is also a porn actor, and the California Bar association takes no umbrage at the fact, somehow I doubt that the Oregon Bar would adopt the same liberal attitude.

When I got back from Canada, I kept in touch with Tom Sweet, making myself available to consult on some Sweet issues. It wasn’t long before I had snagged a copyright infringement lawsuit. Steve was a big believer in pursuing copyright infringers, and a Texas company called E-Race had made the mistake of lifting about three-hundred Sweet images for their own use at a website called The E-Race partners compounded their error by failing to take Steve’s demands for settlement seriously. Sweet Entertainment Group had hired a copyright lawyer in Century City to file suit about a year before, but aside from escalating bills and demands for payment, Steve and Tom hadn’t seen much progress toward the goal of crushing their opponents.

I was in Phoenix having breakfast with my brother, his wife, and Tara, when the call came in from Tom Sweet. I was frankly elated, and my brother, a career prosecutor, was astounded. How on earth, he wondered, could I live in this fashion? He’d worked for the City of Phoenix for nearly thirty years, he said, and would be utterly lost if he didn’t have that place to go every morning. I, however, was like a bird, he said, and flapped his arms like wings to demonstrate how strange my metamorphosis into an aerial performer seemed to him. Admittedly, the whole lifestyle had an edge to it. Tom had authorized me to drop in on his LA lawyer and find out what the hell was going on.

Two days later, Tara and I were in LA, reviewing the files of Sweet Entertainment Group, Inc. vs. E-Race. Fortunately, they revealed a great deal of lackadaisical work on the part of the Sweet lawyer, and I was able to give Tom an effective and alarming pitch. The case was mired in delay, and Sweet had been billed for the cost of fixing two major errors committed by their lawyer, who had not been sending them complete reports about the progress of the litigation. Deadlines to complete discovery were running out, and the future of the case was not positive. The Sweet lawyer was politely apologetic, and while he hoped to get paid his outstanding bill, could tell that he was losing the client. I received authorization from Tom to copy the whole file and plan to take over the litigation, then pending in Orange County Federal Court. My retainer of ten-thousand dollars would be in the mail. Looking for trouble had paid off again.

During the next couple of months, I started kicking E-Race’s ass with discovery, and soon had the principals of the company sitting in their lawyer’s conference room in LA. Tom Sweet came down to savor the pleasure of observing their discomfort. Instead, peace broke out in the middle of the deposition. Frank Walley, one of the E-Race principals, and one of the best salesmen I have ever met in my life, simply stopped the show, and asked if he could make an off the record proposal. If Sweet would acquire E-Race, all the problems could go away. There was plenty of money to be made, he said, and being sued by Sweet had not been a picnic. They were ready to share. Tom was receptive, got on the phone to Steve, and got authority to negotiate once I completed the depositions. We finished the depositions relatively quickly, since their lawyer interposed no objections and let me learn the things I needed to for purposes of keeping the litigation in an aggressive posture. We were done with the testimony by four o’clock, and then adjourned to drink tequila across the street and hammer out the makings of my first porn-industry merger.

A few weeks later, Tom and I flew to Dallas to perform due diligence on our acquisition target. The first day there, we had lunch with Frank and his wife in an expensive peasant-style Italian restaurant with tasteful décor. Frank’s wife is a classic Texas blonde who can’t believe what men have to do to make money. Frank kept trying to lure us away from our homework by urging us to stop grinding the paperwork and take a trip with him out to the racetrack, where we could find out what it feels like to drive the E-Race Porsche at a hundred-and-sixty miles and hour. It was a cool smokescreen, but Tom and I stayed on task. We could see why Frank had attempted to deflect our attention from the books. E-Race had been mismanaged rather radically, and although its cashflow was good, its expenses were way out of line. Tom and I agreed we couldn’t acquire the company. The best we could do was cherry-pick the assets and leave the liabilities on the table, which ultimately is what we did.

The trip to Texas confirmed that Tom and I had good rapport, even down to little things like using the onboard GPS system in our rented SUV to negotiate the Dallas freeways. Tom is a highly ambitious intellectual, and working for Gary had been a two-year post-graduate program in how to deal with such people. A few weeks later, I received a job offer from Sweet to be the company’s General Counsel at ten thousand US dollars per month, with the hope, but not the requirement, that I would eventually move to Vancouver.
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Re: The Sex.Com Chronicles, by Charles Carreon

Postby admin » Fri Jun 13, 2014 2:05 am


I was delighted to report to my new lawyer that I had landed a job. For forty percent of my fifteen percent, I had managed to rope an old UCLA pal, Jim DeSimone, into representing me in my lawsuit against Gary. Jim had not been a close friend of mine in law school, but I respected his integrity. He had been one of the few law students to join the protests that forced the Regents of the University of California to eliminate South African investments from its securities portfolio, as part of the international movement to free Nelson Mandela and end apartheid. After law school, Jim went to work for Centro Legal, the legal aid clinic where he’d volunteered during law school. After a few years doing public service, he partnered with Ben Schonbrun to practice civil rights and employment law from Ben’s beachfront office on the Venice boardwalk. Jim and I got to know each other better after he took that job, because I did the same type of work at Mazursky, Schwartz & Angelo. We had run into each other at bar events and the courthouse, and exchanged the occasional war story.

I actually hadn’t even thought of calling Jim until one day when I saw a news article on the Internet about a case that Mike Seplow, a younger lawyer at the firm, had recently settled for a couple million dollars on behalf of a homeless man who was picked up on the streets of LA, misidentified as a New York felon, shipped to New York, and allowed to rot in a mental hospital for two years before the case of mistaken identity was sorted out. I was working on a similar case, that of Roger Benson, who suffered a long stint in a California jail because Oregon misidentified him as a felon. Once I was on the phone talking to Jim’s partner Mike Seplow, I realized he was a very intelligent lawyer, and it occurred to me that Jim’s firm might be interested in taking on my own case.

The case was a tough sell, but Jim is ambitious, and had the employment lawyer’s skill of mastering the scores of essential facts necessary understand the case. To some extent, he was seduced by the sleazy glamour of the story and the intellectual sophistication required to master it. Jim was the number two partner at Schonbrun, DeSimone, Harris, Seplow & Hoffman, and so could put the weight of a California firm, and an agreed-upon expense budget, to work on my case. I took Bob Kuenzel, who had served as an excellent placeholder, off the pleadings, and put Jim’s firm on.

As was apparent to Jim when he signed on, in my haste to file suit against Gary, I had sped right past an important rule of California lawyer law. Before you can sue your client, you have to ask them if they’d like to engage in non-binding arbitration. If they say no, you can sue them. If they say yes, you have to arbitrate. I knew this, but I also knew there was a more general rule that in a lawsuit based on a written contract, you can sue to attach funds in a defendant’s bank account, even if you are supposed to arbitrate the dispute. I had been eager to file a motion for attachment, because I had a written contract, and there was about $45,000 per month that I was entitled to under that agreement. I had written up most of the motion, supported it with all of my evidence, and just needed to have a lawyer finish it up and file it, and Jim did file it. But my strategy produced no benefit. Richard Idell, stepping in quickly to take advantage of my mistake, moved to stay my lawsuit until the matter had been arbitrated by the State Bar. Judge Whyte put the lawsuit on hold and sent us to arbitration. Not surprisingly, he denied the motion for attachment as well. I was beginning to understand the meaning of the old saying that some things can be accomplished quickly only if you don’t try to rush them.

Jim prepared for the arbitration diligently, poring over binders of documents. He read my October 4, 1999 agreement with Gary repeatedly, and understood its provisions thoroughly. As a result, he repeatedly lamented a minor omission that was to have a huge influence on our joint expectations. The agreement failed to comply with a California statute that requires contingent fee agreements to explicitly state that the percentage fee is “negotiated, and not set by law.” Obviously, the October 4th agreement was extensively negotiated, incorporating as it did all manner of clever provisions that Gary and I had discussed in detail, including the novel financing-by-going-public mechanism. Gary himself had proposed the 15% fee, so it was particularly galling that Idell had found this Achilles heel in the agreement. And the consequence of my error was fatal, because any agreement lacking the essential language was unenforceable, illegitimate, and gave me no rights. A minor error in the fee agreement threatened to undo all my plans.

Of course, even if the agreement was unenforceable, I was still entitled to the reasonable value of my services. The reasonable value of my services would be calculated based on the skill I showed in getting the result, the amount of benefit I’d brought to my client, and the expected fee that other lawyers would charge for getting that result. That left some room for hope, even if my written agreement proved worthless. The way I calculated it, I’d helped Gary recover the world’s most valuable domain name, worth at least eight-million dollars a year. I’d helped Gary acquire the three-million dollar Rancho Santa Fe mansion. I’d shown considerable skill in saving the case from dismissal at the last moment, and prevented it from ever being dismissed again. I had rehabilitated Gary’s image from wannabe pornographer to white-hat hero. I had been sued for $50 Million and shrugged it off. I had procured the services of State Farm to stave off Cohen’s lawsuits. I helped prove Gary’s case so thoroughly that Judge Ware thought a trial unnecessary.

I had also devised the plan to have Cohen arrested, an achievement that may seem minor until you realize that civil lawyers never arrest the opposing party. Only a prosecutor can request the court to issue an arrest warrant, and in those pre-Patriot Act days, the prosecutor still had to allege that the defendant had committed a crime. Ignoring this obstacle, I devised the answer -- we would bait Cohen into doing the only thing that could get him arrested -- defying a court order to show up in front of Judge Ware. To get a warrant issued for Cohen’s arrest, I told Gary, we merely had to convict Cohen of a small misdemeanor called “failure to appear.” When a judge orders a person to show up in court, and they fail to appear, he issues a bench warrant. It’s automatic -- the easiest warrant to get. Judge Ware had manifested an interest in Cohen’s whereabouts during the November 27th hearing, so it was easy to get him to order Cohen to appear, which had the foreseeable result of Cohen failing to appear and Judge Ware’s issuing a warrant for his arrest. By the time I sat down at the arbitration table on January 22, 2002, Cohen had been a fugitive from justice for nearly a year, cementing Gary’s victory unshakeably.

Cyrano de Bergerac would have understood. Cyrano was an incomparable swordsman who looked for trouble wherever he could honorably find it, and found it everywhere. Like Cyrano, I had become rather bitter about my fate. I felt I’d won the prize, delivered Sex.Com to Gary like we’d always planned, and now I got to watch other lawyers consume my share of the pie in exchange for cutting me out of the deal. Cyrano was bitter because he won the love of his cousin Roxanne only to confer her affections upon his fellow Musketeer, Christian. Like Cyrano, who couldn’t reveal the entire truth of the affair to either Christian or Roxanne, I too was bound by duties of confidentiality to refrain from revealing secrets that might have given me leverage against Gary.

Despite or because of his repulsive physical appearance, Cyrano moved from conflict to conflict, cutting a path with sword and poetry through a world peopled by fools, knaves and lackeys. In the aftermath of my split with Gary, I too had a sufficient supply of enemies, most of whom had at least been nominal allies. Foremost among my former allies was Richard Idell, the San Francisco lawyer who represented the famously cutthroat rock impresario Bill Graham, presumably in the delicate business of cutting the legs off drugged-out entertainers who had overstayed their fifteen minutes of fame. Graham was so famously cruel that even today, twelve years after his death in a 1991 helicopter crash, you get a lot of hits if you Google “Bill Graham” and “asshole.” I am sure he found his ideological mate in Richard Idell, whose frigid soul pops open only long enough to reveal the kryptonite, nitroglycerine, and arsenic that substitute for his heart, lungs and liver.

Idell and I first met in his office on Bush Street at the greasy edge of Chinatown. These days he’s got a better address on California Street, but remains well known in San Francisco for his bulldog litigation style. Physically and temperamentally, Idell reminds me of a wolverine. He’s barrel-waisted, neckless with a short jaw line that operates a pair of lips that have never smiled in my presence, but sneer even better than Cohen’s. A graduate of Golden Gate University School of Law, he had the grit and spit of a self-made man.

The Wagstaffe team had got the memo at last, and were singing a completely different tune at the arbitration than had become their habit during the heady months following the big win. For a while, in a dim prehistory that none of the Wagstaffe team could ever recollect, there had been a wild, crazy moment when they all believed that Charles Carreon really was a fifteen percent owner of Sex.Com. That’s how delusive it got. Sanity had been restored however, and Wagstaffe’s firm had liens for hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees on Gary’s Rancho Santa Fe house. There was work in abundance as Kerr & Wagstaffe pursued every avenue of collection against Cohen, and in general satisfied Gary’s desire to pursue a policy of armed strength against all comers.

Pam Urueta had been enlisted as a sapper to undermine my character. It seemed she had recovered a memory that she had once heard me say I was burned out, and didn’t want to try the case. I snapped at her in the waiting room, and was forced to apologize and make some evidentiary concession, or it would be reported that I had assaulted her with profanity. Poor Jim was humiliated by my out-of-control antics, and gave me a lecture in the bathroom. It was really kind of funny, because he went into this whole passionate Italian advocate routine that was straight out of TV. I wondered how many of those routines I’d developed for my own repertoire of client-control mechanisms.

I was learning once again a painful lesson in litigation. Until you’ve been there, you have no idea what it will be like. I thought my achievements were indisputable. Unfortunately for me, there is no job so well done that it cannot be improved upon in retrospect by a team of lawyers, and Wagstaffe did a fabulous job of dissing me with affectionate recollections, as if I’d been Gary’s handler, a wild guy useful for soaking up Gary’s wilder enthusiasms, given to taking a boatload of unnecessary discovery, and unfortunately, responsible for a couple of acts of serious malpractice.

Malpractice? Yes, malpractice of the high-dollar amount kind. Alas, it turned out, once Gary got to running down all the bankers with subpoenas, that on November 27th,, Cohen had transferred $1.2 Million out of the Wells Fargo Anaheim Hills Branch, in violation of the orders that I faxed to Wells Fargo’s attorney in San Francisco. Wells Fargo of course was denying having received the order “in time” to prevent the transfer. This was probably true, since Cohen later told me he’d gone down to the Anaheim Hills branch of Wells Fargo in person, and transferred the money the morning before the hearing, just to be safe. Now Gary was suing me, and Wells Fargo, for the money. Those were some of Wagstaffe’s glad tidings.

Additionally, he testified, in retrospect I had screwed up by not suing NSI for “negligent damage to personal property.” Unfortunately for me, Katie Diemer’s Second Amended Complaint included a claim for “negligence” against NSI, and now Idell was arguing that I malpracticed when I didn’t carry on with that claim in the Third Amended Complaint, because, he theorized, a negligence claim would have given us an additional leg to stand on with Judge Ware.

Gary’s criticisms of my performance were bogus. With respect to the money that disappeared, I’d done everything possible to fax the order to Wells Fargo at the earliest possible moment, and Cohen had simply gotten the drop on us. That last unpreventable theft merged with all the millions that had already been piped offshore, and were also small in proportion to the large sums Gary was now receiving monthly from Sex.Com. And as far as my failure to allege negligence against NSI, I knew Gary would ultimately win on appeal, making it all a moot point.

I was keen to prove to the arbitrators that I had been the architect of victory. I knew I’d benefited Gary in a unique and thorough way that overarched the accomplishments of all Gary’s other lawyers. If my contractual entitlement went down in flames because I’d left magic words out of the October 4th agreement, I would be asking the arbitrators to award the reasonable value of my services, so it made sense to build my case around a single principle -- I did my job.

I didn’t figure I could call a better witness on this point than Bob Dorband. Jim was incredulous when I suggested that we call Cohen’s lawyer to the witness stand. Wouldn’t his words be discounted as sour grapes? Wouldn’t he seem to be the wrong person to have as an ally? No, I assured Jim, no one would ever look at Bob Dorband and discount his testimony. His word on the subject of my skill and ability would be true, and the truth will be believed when spoken by Bob. I had received Bob’s promise to testify during a lunchbreak at the two-day trial he defended on behalf of an absent Cohen. Bob’s comments on that day made it clear he was now doubly convinced that every accusation of deception he’d directed against Gary had been true all along. He now saw exactly what he would have prophesied coming true in spades. It was telling that I was getting sympathy from a man who represented Cohen. Bob and I could have commiserated about our client-inflicted wounds, but we never have. Bob is a knight I have only met on the battlefield, encased in iron, a foe to whom mercy is alien, and yet accords me respect. His testimony was as good as I could have hoped.

JIM: Up until the time that Mr. Carreon came into the case, what was the procedural status of the case?

BOB: There had been several complaints filed and we had filed a motion to dismiss against each complaint, in turn, and basically won all those motions.

JIM: And what was your expectation as to the outcome of this case?

BOB: After the second amended complaint was dismissed, I thought that was probably going to be it, that they probably would not be able to replead it successfully.

JIM: And it was replead successfully?

BOB: Yes it was.

JIM: Who filed the third amended complaint that was pled successfully?

BOB: Mr. Carreon.

JIM: When Mr. Carreon came in the case, did you have to change the way in which you were litigating the case?

BOB: Mr. Carreon was much more aggressive.

JIM: And in terms of his aggressiveness, was it appropriate or inappropriate?

BOB: It was very appropriate.

JIM: And in terms of taking your client’s deposition, who in your estimation questioned your client most effectively in this litigation?

BOB: Of all the attorneys that questioned Mr. Cohen, I would say Mr. Carreon was the most effective.

JIM: Who propounded all the discovery to Mr. Cohen, Ocean Fund, and YNATA in this case?

BOB: As far as I can recall, it was Mr. Carreon.

JIM: And in terms of who was responding to your discovery on behalf of Mr. Kremen, which attorney was handling that?

BOB: Mr. Carreon.

JIM: There was a lot of paper in this case, to say the least?

BOB: A ton of paper.

JIM: Did you have a view as to how Mr. Carreon handled those thousands of pages of paper?

BOB: He handled it very effectively, as effectively as any attorney I’ve dealt with in cases where there’s a lot of documentation.

JIM: Were you the attorney primarily responsible for preparing the opposition to Mr. Kremen’s motion for preliminary injunction and summary judgment?

BOB: Yes.

JIM: And were there declarations submitted with attached evidence in support of those motion?

BOB: Yes.

JIM: And in terms of the attorney who was submitting the many pages of exhibits that supported those motions, what attorney was that?

IDELL: Objection -- lack of foundation, vague and ambiguous.

CHIEF ARBITRATOR: I’ll allow it if you know.

BOB: I know it was Mr. Carreon.

JIM: And the evidence submitted by Mr. Carreon, did you believe that that played a critical role in Judge Ware’s eventual ruling?

BOB: In my opinion, yes.

JIM: Did you and Mr. Carreon have a cordial relationship?

BOB: Yes, we did.

JIM: Did Mr. Carreon ever discuss with you whether he was willing to try this case?

BOB: Yes, he did.

JIM: Did Mr. Carreon ever indicate to you that he wasn’t going to be the trial counsel in the case?

BOB: No.

JIM: Did you have the impressions in your dealings with Mr. Carreon that he would be trial counsel in this case?

BOB: Absolutely.

Jim: And what did you base that impression on?

BOB: My discussions with Charles. We would actually have discussions on occasion bout actually trying the case, and in a sort of collegial way, we would talk about how fun it was going to be and that it was kind of a crazy case. And also, my observations of Mr. Carreon in terms of how he was handling the case day-to-day, he was always involved in it, as far as I can tell.

JIM: Did he ever appear to be tired or burned out to you?

BOB: I couldn’t say that. No, he never did.

JIM: You were the lawyer for Mr. Cohen at the trial in this matter, correct?

BOB: Yes.

JIM: How long did that trial take?

BOB: It was less than a day and a half.

JIM: Was it a bench trial?

BOB: It was a bench trial.

JIM: Did Mr. Cohen appear?

BOB: No.

JIM: Did you call any witnesses?

BOB: No.

JIM: Were there any liability issues on the facts tried?

BOB: No.

JIM: What issues were dealt with at the trial?

BOB: It was purely damages at that point, and all the liability issues had been decided on summary adjudication, and there were orders entered as a result of contempt sanctions that pretty much precluded our presentation of anything. It was basically, I just sat there.

Bob had flown in from Portland to give his testimony, and when he was done, we adjourned for the day. I will always remember the feeling of sympathy for the adversary I felt when Bob was worn down by the hail of lead, and Cohen left him with no case to defend. Those days were behind him, though he acknowledged without explaining too much, that they had taken their toll on his personal life. After Gary won the trial, he had sued Bob, who then left the Duboff firm to work for Safeco managing an insurance defense shop in Portland. I wished him well and bid him goodbye. My closest enemy had done me all the good he could.

Peter Carini, my closest friend, also flew into town to testify at the arbitration. Since Gary had impugned both my willingness and ability to try the case, the Chief Arbitrator allowed Peter to testify about his knowledge and opinion concerning my trial abilities. Like Bob had, Peter first testified about my willingness to try the case, that had been cast into question by Pam’s recovered memories:

JIM: What did Mr. Carreon say on the topic of whether or not he would be trial counsel on the Kremen vs. Cohen matter?

PETER: He was definitely going to be the trial counsel.

JIM: And what did he say that led you to that conclusion?

PETER: Not only what he said, but what he was doing. Oftentimes during that period of time, we’d be working up themes and working up strategies and tactics to be utilized for a jury trial, and we were working on it together. I was interested in doing the case because it was just a great case. I mean, just from a litigator’s perspective, going into court against Cohen, it was like a field day. It was incredible, an opportunity you wouldn’t want to miss if you were a trial lawyer.

Peter also gave his opinion about how well I tried cases, based on our work together:

JIM: Have you tried cases with Mr. Carreon?


JIM: What are your observations of Mr. Carreon as a trial attorney?

PETER: He’s excellent.

But it’s one’s performance as any adversary that is the most convincing test, and Peter found a succinct way to describe my abilities:

JIM: Have you tried cases against Mr. Carreon?


JIM: And that’s when Mr. Carreon was a district attorney; is that correct?

PETER: That’s right.

JIM: And during that period of time, how was his work as a prosecutor?

PETER: He was a feared prosecutor.

That’s high praise from a man as insensible to fear as Peter. I was proud to have two Oregon lawyers come down to the Bay Area to vouch for me. I had hoped to have a third Oregon lawyer show up, but Sue Whatley was hiding out in Oregon, supposedly on the lam from Gary but probably avoiding me by absenting herself from the Bay Area during the hazardous time period of the arbitration. She had promised repeatedly to come San Francisco and testify for the hearing, once after I personally delivered her a subpoena, but when the day came, she didn’t make the trip.

My ecstasy-head friend also failed to show. Ben, who had direct evidence of Gary’s admission to axing me with malice aforethought, and had sworn eternal loyalty to my cause for one blazing moment in Vancouver, had also been subpoenaed, and also absented himself. After first calling Jim DeSimone to ask for plane fare, Ben then had a New York lawyer contact us to make threatening excuses for his non-appearance. I sensed Fernando’s big, fat hand squashing my plans, while Gary looked on with delight. It was all too gross.

Cyrano knew how little a man can expect from his friends:

Watching you other people
Making friends everywhere
As a dog makes friends,
I mark the manner of these
Canine courtesies and think
“My friends are of a cleaner breed—
Here comes, thank God, another enemy!”
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Re: The Sex.Com Chronicles, by Charles Carreon

Postby admin » Fri Jun 13, 2014 2:06 am


Vancouver, BC is dominated by a half-dozen glass residential towers, which are monuments to the unique housing needs of the Chinese elite who bailed out of Hong Kong when Mao’s minions took over the metropolis a few decades back. Designed to fit the special needs of the exiles, every apartment has a solarium. In February 2002, Tara and I were living in a luxurious two-bedroom apartment overlooking a soccer field and the marina. We were alternating two or three weeks a month in Canada with an equal amount of time in Oregon, making the ten-hour drive in two-day relays. My son Josh was living at home, and took care of the place during our absence. It was a long drive, but we had fun getting our apartment together and living in a small, cosmopolitan city where we could eat out anytime, take walks by the water, and be out of the USA.

Being out of the USA had seemed like a good idea ever since the towers fell in broad daylight on that very bad day in New York City. It had been a crime so big that even after they connected all the dots, the FBI and the Department of Justice could find only one pathetic madman to charge with the crime. We were getting war instead of prosecution, and war on everyone but the people who’d crashed the planes. I asked my friends to consider what would have happened if seventeen Cubans, rather than seventeen Saudis, had piloted the hijacked airplanes?

My biggest problem came when I saw three office buildings fall neatly on that nine-one-one day, collapsing like decks of cards in the palm a demonic dealer. Because only two of the collapsing buildings had been hit by airliners. At that moment, I had the distinct perception that the emperor was wearing no clothes. Then the forensic evidence was spirited away, the landlord made a killing, and the mayor and police chief went on to mine the security industry for the new gold -- paranoia.

Yes, as I quarreled with my former partner over the spoils of an empire of smut, the world toppled over the brink. We slipped from the dot-com crash into the Enron implosion, into a new world of terror where we would never be bored again. Fox turned up the volume on the hero machine, the president girded for war, and the cheerleaders in Congress seized their pom-poms and started spouting slogans with a will. None would be last to their feet in swearing allegiance to the homeland and its protectors. The peace dividend Clinton had left behind was suddenly as safe as if Cohen had gotten hold of it. Sex had been eclipsed by death, the fire of lust by the lust for destruction.

Yes, the bad craziness was upon us, and it was eclipsing even the darkness of my own situation. There was plenty besides my missing share of Sex.Com to be depressed about in the good old USA. It was a relief to speak to Canadians, who shook their heads in woe at the unsurprising news that the Americans were on the warpath again, and this time, it was forever. And I had work to do.

Working for Sweet Entertainment Group was turning out to be quite an education in many things I probably should have learned before I signed on. Tom was not Steve’s brother, and Mike was not an elder relative. Steve was a black belt in Thai kickboxing who had taken a few months out of his porn career to help his teacher, famed in Vancouver as “The Blade,” build his martial arts school. He enjoyed eating sushi in restaurants where he affected the manner of a porn paterfamilias, buying endless amounts of everything anyone wanted. He sponsored employee trips to the local amusement park, where he would dare everyone to ride the scariest rides, and clearly had the most fun of anyone.

For me, joining a pseudo-family of kooky and somewhat legendarily outrageous pornographers seemed likely to be a profitable lark. Aside from turning down Steve’s request that I adopt the name of “Charlie Sweet,” I was fully on board. At the 2001 Internext show in Vegas, I was there wearing an SEG t-shirt, adding Gary Kremen’s former legal muscle to Steve’s team. Ana, now 21, came along for the trip. She wore a Bebe pinstripe suit to the Pimp ‘n Ho Ball and when asked, told everyone she “was a pimp.” My friends vied for the right to protect her from lowlifes, and Steve had only five words of advice: “Stay out of the business.” She took his advice, but had a great time at the show, which was one big carnival to her.

The job had long stretches of what were supposed to be fun. One night during August 2001, I was sitting on the beach in Florida at night with a number of pornographers. Darrin Babbin was there with a smiling black woman who laughed easily. Darrin, who looked nerdy with a black moustache and big glasses, was drinking Jack Daniels from a 1.5 liter bottle with no apparent effect. He told me he started out playing piano for the Christian Broadcasting Network, and was now working for Sex.Com in search-engine optimization, but Gary’s scene was a zoo, and Darrin had already accepted a new job at New Frontier. There were other sleaze luminaries sitting by the lapping shore in the indolent night. Joe Elkind, a famous cokehead with the schnozz to prove it, had induced a foolish young thing to blow pot smoke down his throat, easing the labor of sucking on his own joint. Joe was briefly distracted when he had to discipline one of his bodyguards, who had gotten into a little scuffle on the hotel grounds, but it didn’t mess up his mood. Oystein Wright of Mansion Productions, a tall Norwegian in the software business, was there with a caramel-skinned beauty. It was a pleasant gathering.

At some point, between his slugs of Jack and pulls of reefer, a young man whose name I don’t remember, asked me if I really was the lawyer for Sweet. I pointed to the SEG logo on my t-shirt and told him that, yes, I was. Sweet’s most popular product was a series of short films called SweetLoads. He asked me if I’d watched Sweet Loads. I told him that I hadn’t watched the movies, just the site tour. He seemed incredulous, and with his eyebrows raised for emphasis and his face nodding, advised, “You should watch them. They’re incredible. I’ve watched them all two or three times.”

So, the next time I had a high-speed connection, I watched a couple of the Sweet Loads vignettes. It was my introduction to the POV genre, for point-of-view, which in porn, describes the practice of shooting your own video with a handheld camera while having sex. In each movie, the set was simply Steve’s grey office. The first victim was a big blonde with large tits, who reminded me of a cow. Her mascara and the whites of her eyes showed large below her pupils as Steve insisted that she keep looking up at him. It went on and on, looking like difficult work for the woman. The girl looked miserable and humiliated. I watched another video, and it was just the same. I stopped at two, and couldn’t understand how anybody could watch them all, much less twice. There were dozens of them, and Tom later told me that not a one of the girls got paid a penny to do Sweet Loads videos. They were “auditions” for movies that Steve never intended to make.

One day in early February 2002, Steve got all excited about a new deal we had to pursue with a self-made pornstar named Max Hardcore. I had never heard of Max, but Rey had explained to me that his content was hugely famous on video, and had the raw qualities that would make it a natural for a co-marketing deal with Sweet. Sweet, I realized, was a leader in all things gauche, and had pioneered such innovations as shoving baseball bats, large fruits and vegetables, and other household items into the sexual orifices of their models. I could hardly imagine what tremendously novel way of using women’s bodies Max had devised that would drive Steve’s interest in him to such a pitch. But I would soon see, because Steve had bought plane tickets for us to fly down to LA and meet him the next day.

Max Hardcore was the most charming misogynistic bastard I have ever met. Steve and I flew into LAX on an early flight, then jammed down the freeway in a tiny SUV to arrive early at Max’s house in the Pasadena hills east of LA. It was a beautiful morning, and the weather was lovely. Max’s webmaster met us, showed us the house and the hot tub. It was pretty good-sized, nicely laid out, no porn in evidence anywhere, and the feeling of sex everywhere. Max, I learned from the webmaster, was a fucking machine who scripted, performed and directed the shooting of all his own work. Right about that time, the great man rolled up in his lowered white pickup truck, wearing a white cowboy hat and mirrorshades.

He and Steve hit it off famously. It wasn’t a question of whether they would do a deal, but of what it would be. Max described some of his signature screwing styles, which included of course pissing on his partner, using surgical equipment like a speculum to dilate her vagina, and having her drink milk from the cup so created through a length of clear surgical tubing. He had a favorite model to work with, named Catalina, about whom he couldn’t say enough good things. She had my silent admiration. Anyone who could make a career out of fucking a jerk this big had to be tough. Max always referred to women as sluts, even Catalina, in marked contrast to Steve, who always called them content, and liked to give lectures about “how to treat your content.” Very impressive, unless you’ve watched SweetLoads.

Like Steve, Max liked to register his intellectual property. He had registered his own trademark, “Max Hardcore,” which he proudly displayed, pulling the official registration from a file folder to display the gold-embossed treasure he’d received from the US Patent & Trademark Office. He also assiduously copyrighted everything, designed all of his own video covers, and retained all of the rights to his work. He only licensed his productions for a term of years, and never sold a title, because, he explained, porn never gets old. “Take it off the shelf for a few years and then reissue it, and the sales come right back.” I had to admit, I was getting an education from a guy who had managed to beat the odds by a considerable length -- male porn stars are utterly disposable, but this man was in control of his career.

Still, it was scary to be sitting there in Max’s study watching him get on with Steve as if they were father and son. They spoke each other’s language. They liked the same things. They had each dominated hundreds, maybe even thousands of women with their voices and their looks, their air of command. I was learning secrets I had never wanted to learn.

Once I asked Steve directly, “You’re the devil, aren’t you?” In return, he only gave me that sharklike grin. As I watched Steve and Max magnetizing each other with mutual admiration, I asked myself what my mother would think, seeing me here with these men. I asked myself why I was cementing deals between two misogynists who had their own unique reasons for hating women, and only needed me to seal the deal with contractual language. Sure, I could do it, but did I want to broker a merger that would flood the Internet with more nasty shit? Suddenly, the words burst into my mind, “Can money be this important?” I was seriously pondering this question when the Mexican maid came up to let us know that lunch had been served.

It was a lovely lunch. She had laid out a spread of cold cuts, cheese, fresh sliced tomatoes, lettuce, and open jars of mayonnaise and relish. The plates and silverware were sparkling clean, and the lettuce was crisp and freshly rinsed. There was good bread. By way of enjoying what good there was in life, I put together a tasty sandwich and bit into it. Delicious. Steve was headed for the kitchen table when his cell phone rang and he stopped. He stepped outside to take the call.

A short while later Steve returned to the kitchen, very pale. The police had raided the shop in Vancouver. The employees were all standing in the hall in handcuffs, while the cops searched and seized. We had to go back to Canada immediately. We hurriedly excused ourselves from the meeting with Max. As we were leaving, Max made a touching offer. Did we, you know, need anything? I assumed he meant a little session with a mirror and a straw, which we declined. He didn’t detain us any further then, just encouraged Steve by saying that he’d been to jail more than once, and to hang in there, that it would all come out right.

Although I thought Steve should think twice before flying back that night, because he might be arrested at the airport upon arrival, Steve is too much of a field commander for that sort of thing. After a little dithering about his own safety, and much more anxiety about what his troops might be thinking, he overruled my cautionary advice, and we flew back to Vancouver on the first available flight. It is not, I realized, that the devil has no character. It is just that he has a different agenda.

There were no cops at the airport when we returned, just Jamie and her brother Thor, a serious, sedate geek who seemed to work at Sweet so he could keep an eye on his sister. The next day we went to the shop, and everyone was there. We rejoiced that no one was in jail, assessed what was lost, and started figuring what it would take to get back to work. A lot of equipment had been seized and had to be replaced. But no one had given any incriminating statements to the police. Steve rose to the occasion like a wartime leader standing in the ashes of his fortress. But my time with the organization was effectively over.

A week after Steve and I returned, I got word that my dad had passed away in the Eastern Star Nursing Home in Phoenix after two years of silently taking his meals through a tube in his stomach. He had never understood the meaning of Sex.Com, or how it had kept me from visiting him more than a few hours in his last two years of life. We made a quick round trip from Vancouver to Phoenix to attend the funeral, then packed up the apartment and returned to Oregon. It had taken only ten months to exhaust my fifteen minutes of shame.
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Re: The Sex.Com Chronicles, by Charles Carreon

Postby admin » Fri Jun 13, 2014 2:06 am


On August 13, 2002, Judge Alex Kozinski took the bench in the Ninth Circuit courtroom in downtown San Francisco to hear oral arguments in Kremen vs. Cohen. Kozinski is a maverick, which was apparent to everyone when Reagan appointed him to the Ninth Circuit bench in 1985. Widely admired for his brusque rhetoric, he had graduated from UCLA Law School a mere ten years earlier, thus becoming the youngest appointee to the U.S. appellate bench. Born of Rumanian immigrants in Los Feliz, a Latino suburb northeast of LA, he was known for writing clever, biting opinions, and suffering fools with very poor grace.

Perhaps foreshadowing the outcome of the case now before him, about ten years earlier Kozinski had authored the blunt opinion that gave Cohen a pyrrhic victory in his appeal from the San Diego bankruptcy fraud convictions. Kozinski’s opinion reversed one of the three convictions and remanded him for resentencing by Judge Judith Miller. The same Judge Miller who Cohen had called a “cunt,” something she probably hadn’t forgotten when he stood before her again a couple of years later. Despite Cohen’s appellate victory, Judge Miller sentenced him to the same term of years as she had at the conclusion of trial. For some reason, Cohen thought his first encounter with Kozinski boded well for the outcome of the Sex.Com case.

Cohen had taken up the habit of calling me occasionally to incite my animosity toward Gary and to share his plans for causing Gary pain and expense. Sometimes, when he was very proud of his cleverness, he would disclose his litigation plans, and in such a mood he told me about his lawyer’s theme for the appellate argument. It didn’t sound like a good theme, and I was sure he’d never use it, so I was surprised when Cohen’s lawyer stepped up to the podium in the beautiful Ninth Circuit chamber and spoke his opening line.

The atmosphere was hushed and decorous for what those involved knew was a momentous hearing. Several reporters, and bigwigs like Phil Sbarbaro of NSI, were in attendance. The appearance of the courtroom was truly splendid, the most dazzling I have ever seen. The stonemasons and cabinet-makers of the FDR era had outdone themselves creating a temple of justice. Everywhere the eye wandered it settled on sculpted marble and fine woods carved with complex designs. The lights were concealed behind stained glass. The three judges, with Kozinski in the middle, sat in high-backed leather swivel chairs, black-robed and charged with power, surveying the lawyers and the gallery from their exalted position.

Mike Mayock, who had argued Cohen’s criminal appeal years before, addressed his opening line directly to Kozinski. To my immense surprise, he said just what Cohen had told me he would say: “Judge Ware was sucker-punched.”

Kozinski’s brow immediately furrowed, and a cloud gathered over his head. While Mayock was drawing his breath, Kozinski checked his advance with an abrupt response: “Wait a minute. You can’t come here and call the District Judge a sucker.”

Mayock tried to dig his way out of the hole Kozinski had put him in. He hadn’t called Judge Ware a sucker, he pleaded.

Kozinski kept him on the hook. Yes he had called the judge a sucker.

When a judge speaks to a lawyer that way in open court, it’s like being hit in the forehead with a fencepost. His brain stalls. If he’s lucky, he does the right thing from pure instinct. Mayock wasn’t lucky. His instincts failed him, probably because there was no right thing to do. A sucker punch hits the sucker before he has a chance to defend himself, and it was obvious to everyone in the opulent chamber that Mayock had been suckered by a master. Kozinski finished him off with a dose of disdain, demonstrating utter disinterest in his argument, allowing him to drown in disgrace. Cohen told me that Mike had a heart attack a short time later. Unlike past occasions when Cohen had reported that he or his lawyer had suffered a heart attack, this time I think it was true.

Jim Wagstaffe was up next, arguing for affirmance of Judge Ware’s verdict against Cohen, and a reversal of the summary judgment for NSI. The atmosphere in the court relaxed as Wagstaffe efficiently recounted the story of how Cohen had stolen Sex.Com, laundered the proceeds through offshore banks, and was living in Mexico, a fugitive from Judge Ware’s arrest warrant. Machiavelli said that victory makes everything all right, and it certainly was true of Gary’s case against Cohen. Gary had gone from fighting an uphill battle to coasting downhill, and the nods from Kozinski and his fellow judges made it clear that Wagstaffe had little to worry about from Cohen’s appeal.

Wagstaffe moved on to the appeal against NSI. Judge Ware had concluded that domains were a form of intellectual property too evanescent to form the basis for a conversion claim, because they weren’t “merged with a document.” Thus, Gary’s search for a “document of title” had expanded. In the trial court, I had pointed to the registration documents Gary filed to obtain Sex.Com, and the falsified documents Cohen submitted, combining Gary’s name with Cohen’s email address to “spoof” NSI. They had looked like “documents of title” to me, but Judge Ware had not even considered them. Wagstaffe took my argument further, pointing to the entire Whois database as the fundamental document that makes all domains a form of personal property.

Through Gary’s growing influence, he had gotten a variety of cutting-edge legal organizations to support his fight, like the Electronic Freedom Foundation, that had never been interested in the cause before. Kozinski and his fellow judges had received numerous amicus briefs attacking NSI’s arrogant position, but more than scholarly legal opinion was in the air.

A wind of change was blowing through the courtroom, as the barometer of public opinion came into harmony with the facts of Internet life. What had been esoteric in June 1999 when I joined the case, and remained obscure in May 2000 when Judge Ware dismissed NSI, had since become common knowledge. Computer printers were on every desktop, ready to turn online documents into hardcopy. In truth, printing itself was irrelevant, as electronic documents had become ubiquitous. Our society had moved beyond reading its email to drowning in spam. The very word “document,” was losing meaning as people Googled for facts they once would have looked for in books, newspapers, libraries or archives. Taxes were filed online, paper airline tickets were an anachronism, and even the federal courts were requiring lawyers to learn the new “e-filing” system. By fall, 2002, Internet domain names were being registered at a rate that was accelerating exponentially, generating millions of dollars in registration revenue. Meanwhile, NSI was still trying to hide behind the lack of a “document.”

The danger of Internet fraud had also ceased to be theoretical. Newbie websurfers everywhere were falling prey to Nigerian inheritance scams, offshore casinos, and phishing scams that forged whole financial websites to extract precious personal data. Identity theft had become the fastest-growing crime in the nation, aided by insecure databases and loose verification procedures. Forgery and false impersonation were becoming the signature crimes of the computer era, and the courts were beginning to see more cases like Gary’s, where con artists directed their deceptions not to the owner of property, but to those in charge of their property -- the banks, the credit reporting agencies, and of course, the domain name registries.

The domain name business had also changed. NSI had lost its monopoly on domain registrations, and with it the mystique of being a government contractor performing a unique function. Nor was it any longer a wet-from-the-womb dot-com brimming with electronic cash. It was a mere small-cap subsidiary of a big company called VeriSign, for which domain registrations were a drop in its revenue bucket. New companies like Godaddy and eNom had made mincemeat of NSI’s registration business by cutting prices and providing a decent level of customer service. NSI’s argument that it would be too burdensome and costly to impose oversight obligations on registrars had been shown to be ridiculous.

Kozinski received Wagstaffe’s arguments welcomingly, asking questions that brought out the strongest points in Gary’s favor. When Dave Dolkas stood up to argue NSI’s defense of Judge Ware’s decision, Kozinski’s mood changed. When Dave said there was no document of title, Kozinski’s response wasn’t polite. What about the Whois database? NSI had total control over that record. It was printable. It recorded the names of domain name registrants, and all of their information. Why wasn’t it a document? Wasn’t it NSI’s property? Wouldn’t NSI have a claim if someone injured that property? Dave seemed puzzled. Maybe, he ventured, it would be trespass? Kozinski seemed appalled by the response. Dave’s habitual thinking patterns had apparently reached the limit of their utility.

Kozinski’s questioning then moved Dave further into unfriendly territory -- the topic of the forged letter. Ellen Rony’s analysis finally received its due. Citing what Ellen had called “red flags” that should have raised questions, Kozinski rejected Dave’s argument that NSI couldn’t have discerned fraud from the face of the letter. He pointedly asked if it wasn’t strange that a company called “Online Classifieds” would lack an Internet connection, as the forged letter asserted. As the pace of Kozinski’s attack on NSI’s position moved to a brutal conclusion, Phil Sbarbaro, his bald spot jerking and his pin-striped suit a jumble of conflicting lines, began shifting uncomfortably in his seat. By the time Dave sat down, NSI’s position had been utterly rejected by the enfant terrible of the Ninth Circuit. Phil sprang from his seat and darted from the courtroom, pushing through the massive red leather doors without reverence for the dignity of the court. Although I called to him as he blew past, “Hey, Phil,” he was not interested in exchanging pleasantries with an old enemy, and ignored me completely.

After the hearing, I congratulated Wagstaffe on his argument, and maneuvered my way around Idell. I was standing by the ornate elevator, wrapped in an old-fashioned cage, when Gary came out.

Gary swung his bulk a little side to side and tossed me a question, “Whaddja think?”

I answered politely, “I think it was good for you.”

Tara, who had appeared at my elbow, leaned forward to interject “I think it was great for Charles!” Like giving a vial of nitroglycerine a sharp rap, her remark had an instantaneous effect.

Gary’s eyes exploded into bulging orbs of rage as his reply flew forth from his goatee-encircled mouth: “Well, you really fucked up Wells Fargo! Idell has the proof!”

Ah yes, the bittersweet pleasure of hedging your bets. Gary’s victory over NSI was tainted by the painful thought that he had just lost leverage against me. I had been vindicated by Kozinski’s endorsement of my reasoning. The court could now lift the stay of my lawsuit, and he would no longer be able to accuse me of malpractice for not filing a stupid negligence claim against NSI. Negligence! How absurd. For after all, what could NSI have negligently damaged but Gary’s property? As I had always said, Sex.Com was either property, or it was nothing.

Jim DeSimone was delighted to hear about Kozinski’s performance, whom he reminded me was UCLA alumnus. I took a few calls from clueless reporters who didn’t know how to read a docket sheet and still thought I was Gary’s lawyer. Cohen called, but when I told him about Mayock’s terrible performance, he still expressed optimism, and looked forward to reading the opinion. Cohen didn’t have long to wait, but the panel’s unanimous opinion couldn’t have been worse for him. If there had been a baby in the bathwater that Mayock had presented to the panel, they ignored it entirely, because all of his arguments were sent unceremoniously down the drain with a one-line opinion published in early October 2002. “In light of Cohen’s status as a fugitive from justice and his egregious abuse of the litigation process, we exercise our discretion to dismiss his appeal.” In response to this news, Gary told Wired magazine, “It shows sometimes justice prevails.”

I was hoping that I, too, would receive a little justice from the Ninth Circuit, in the form of an opinion vindicating my position on the property character of domain names, but the distance from the cup to the lip once again proved elastic. When Kozinski’s opinion came out, it was not unanimous, and it was not what I had hoped. The other two silent judges apparently got the memo that NSI was supposed to win the case, and tried to derail Kozinski’s common-sense efforts to treat NSI like any other civil defendant. In an opinion that didn’t attempt to conceal his outrage, Kozinski revealed that his two fellow robe-wearers had decided that the issue he saw as an utter no-brainer -- that domains were property under California law -- was actually a great big open issue that required them to solicit an opinion from the California Supreme Court. He was livid, because these judicial nincompoops had actually forced him, the panel leader, to “certify a question” to which the answer was utterly clear. Kozinski thus loaded the certification with an extended rant that listed all of the reasons why the California Supreme Court couldn’t be bothered with such a ridiculous request, like its backlog of death penalty appeals, and implied that the matter would now take another three years to resolve simply because his fellow-panelists refused to interpret well-settled California law.

Kozinski and I got the last laugh, though. The California Supreme Court followed Kozinski’s advice, refused to certify the question, and kicked the case back to the Ninth Circuit within a couple of months. Kozinski swiftly issued a new, unanimous opinion, that established that Internet domains are property in the State of California, and throughout the Ninth Circuit, from Alaska to Arizona.
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Re: The Sex.Com Chronicles, by Charles Carreon

Postby admin » Fri Jun 13, 2014 2:06 am


By summer 2003, I had been litigating against Gary for longer than I had litigated against Cohen. The bar arbitrators concluded I’d saved Gary’s case from certain catastrophe, and performed everything I’d promised in the October 4th agreement. However, they held the agreement legally invalid for lack of the magic words, and awarded me what they figured was the reasonable value of my services. I didn’t agree with the results of their estimations, and rejected the award.

Jim DeSimone and I prepared to march forward to trial, but increasingly he was playing Sancho Panza to my Quixote, cautiously asking whether I hadn’t considered the possibility that a jury might not award much more than the arbitrators? Wondering if we’d even get a jury, since during the years the case had been pending, invalidating fee agreements had become increasingly popular with the judges. Jim was urging me to wake up and smell the coffee. Schonbrun, DeSimone had spent over twenty-thousand dollars on the litigation, and they weren’t eager to throw more cash at a quixotic quest. His partners thought we needed to settle.

Gary, I realized, had the resources to engage in a forever war, and as I viewed the mounting debts I was accumulating, I realized I did not. Because the whole matter was so convoluted and insoluble, one evening at home, I turned to an old friend for advice. I grabbed three pennies and my favorite edition of the I Ching, a birthday gift from a friend in LA. Tossing the three pennies six times, and recording the results in a series of six lines, I deciphered the oracle and read the advice that King Wen and the Duke of Chou recorded in antiquity for the guidance of society. While it may seem strange to consult an oracle, rumor has it that the Japanese were winning the war in the Pacific until they stopped consulting the I Ching. That story may be apocryphal, but it has the ring of truth, and whenever I have faced a big legal career decision, I consulted the big Chinese book.

I had made my first big legal career decision twenty years earlier, reading the I Ching by the light of a kerosene lamp, in a little yurt in the middle of a big, muddy field in Southern Oregon. The children and my wife were asleep and it was as dark outside as if there were no cities anywhere on earth. There was no electricity or running water in the yurt, where we had lived for nearly three years in continuous poverty. The I Ching delivered an oracle that encouraged me to enter the legal profession, predicting that I would reach the heights of what it called “the way of the inferior man.” This seemed like a mixed blessing, but the oracle explained that if I wanted to obtain power, I would have to learn the way of the inferior man, because I lived in corrupt times, when inferior men control the heart of society, and superior men have small influence. As somewhat of a consolation, I should know that Heaven favored my following the way of the inferior men, so I could not be blamed. Ever since, whenever I’ve been offered an opportunity to change jobs, I’ve usually consulted the I Ching to get an understanding of the options before me.

When I consulted the oracle about my lawsuit against Gary, it told me that by continuing my chosen course, I would arrive at a complete disaster. After an understandable feeling of letdown, I began to feel relieved. There had been something behind that sense of doom that had hung over my battle with Gary. It had been an ill-advised campaign, conceived in the worst crucible of all -- pride and passion. Sun Tzu advises but one way to deal with an overpowering adversary -- don’t fight them. I had ignored that teaching for three years. I’d been in darkness so long, it was as if the sun had stopped on the wrong side of the earth. Now that the oracle had warned me in the clearest terms, I could sheath my sword and make peace.

In June of 2003, Gary and I sat in Wagstaffe’s conference room, drinking Bushmills Irish whiskey from big, square water glasses. The settlement documents were being finalized by Wagstaffe, Idell, and Jim DeSimone. My escape was pre-planned. I had booked two flights to Europe for departure the following week and told everyone that Tara and I were going on vacation, and I was settling the case before I left. The gambit had worked. Everyone came to the table and bargained hard. Only Idell seemed pained over the demise of the conflict. Another few months, he was sure, and he could have crushed me. I wasn’t giving him the chance. I saw an exit, a bright light at the end of a very long hallway, and I was walking towards it like a condemned man waking from the dream of his execution.

As I sat in Wagstaffe’s conference room, I threw the I Ching again. Sitting there, tossing my pennies and writing out the lines, I received a positive oracle. The bright, shining lines advised me to make the most of my situation, to enjoy abundance and bestow warmth like the sun at midday. The oracle had guided me to this place, and now it confirmed my decision to make peace. I hadn’t spend much time thinking about how to make peace until then, but in the future, I decided, I would explore this new land. Hidden in the changing lines of the oracle lay a reminder that the sun always passes from its zenith, that summer gives way to fall, and abundance is followed by austerity. I knew that must be true, but austerity seemed far away as I contemplated what the settlement would bring. I was ready to rule a peaceful domain.

I got up from the conference table, went downstairs, walked across the street, sat down next to a beautiful young blonde at a fancy bar, and ordered a beer. She was a Stanford student, an aspiring environmental consultant, and she was having one of those light blue drinks that beautiful young women sometimes drink. I chatted with her for about a half hour about the exciting career she was planning on having. It was great to have not a care in the world. I left the bar after finishing my beer, and walked to the corner market to buy a fifth of Bushmills.

When I got back to Wagstaffe’s office, details were still being hammered out by the two Jims, but I was ready to relax, and poured myself a splash of the reliable Irish whisky. Gary asked me for a drink. I hadn’t even offered him one, because he doesn’t much like to drink, so I knew he was trying to be friendly. I poured him a good shot, and we sat sipping the warm, amber fluid as the sun went down and the spherical lights of the bridge turned to the scalloped hem of a dress edged with pearls.

When the agreement was ready to sign, Gary and I drew out our pens and signed a new agreement, one that put all disputes to rest. It had been a long time since there had been peace between us. It felt good. We decided to have another shot and go eat dinner.

Our lawyers looked at us like we were crazy. After a settlement, the clients do not leave the building together, carrying a fifth of whiskey and wandering out to find a new adventure. But that was Gary, and that was me. We left our lawyers in the glass tower, signed out with security, and walked out past the huge brass propeller screw that dominates the entryway of Wagstaffe’s office building.

We picked up my car from the parking lot, and I drove us to Joe’s, an all-night cafeteria where Gary and I had often eaten among cabbies and nighthawks. We stood in line for roast beef, mashed potatoes, cole slaw and dessert. We set the plates down on red and white plastic tablecloths, and ate just like we had in years past. Joe’s is like that -- it never changes, so time kind of stops there. As in years past, Gary spoke to me in sharp, clipped, phrases, as if we’d never stopped being mutual venturers in the world of profit and loss. As if the years wasted in anger had been nothing more than a record skipping a groove, that we had put right at last so we could hear the rest of the song. Things were just like they’d always been, as the juggernaut of a San Francisco night spun around us, heavy with aborted dreams. In the general destruction of everyone’s expectations, the fracture of our relationship had been less than a minor matter. Still, we had marked one stone in the edifice of civilization with the scars of our striving.

We finished our food, and Gary invited me to spend the night at his place, so I drove to his house on Third Street. We were pretty tired, so after talking, we agreed it was time to crash. He insisted that I take his room and use his bed, and he would sleep on the couch. There wasn’t any brick dust anywhere, and his room was pretty clean. The bed was unmade, but looked fine, so I poured myself some whiskey, and shut the hall door. As I looked around the room, I saw that Gary’s room hadn’t changed much, except that he now had a row of porn videos on his shelf, many still in the shrink wrap. There was a book by Jared Diamond he’d once borrowed from me and never returned. I felt a silly desire to reclaim it, but let the impulse go.

There was nothing to do, so I turned off the light, and went to sleep with the bay breeze billowing the curtain over the sliding window, wide-open to the west.

When the brightening sky filled the room with soft light, and I awoke in Gary’s room, I knew there had been a miracle. It was barely six in the morning. Gary was sleeping on the couch. I wrote him a note and left it in his room, thanking him, wishing him well, and saying I’d decided to make an early start of it. I put my things in my car, carefully backed it out of his narrow garage, and drove north on Third Street. As I sped past the empty dockside warehouses, long, dark shadows alternated with blasts of sunlight that flooded the car with brightness. I got on the freeway onramp, pulled onto the eighty west, and headed for Oregon.
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Re: The Sex.Com Chronicles, by Charles Carreon

Postby admin » Fri Jun 13, 2014 2:07 am


Steve Cohen was arrested by Mexican police on Friday, October 27, 2005 in Tijuana, while trying to renew his visa. He was turned over to U.S. authorities, who arrested him on the outstanding civil warrant issued by Judge Ware. He refused to comply with Judge Ware’s orders directing him to account for and return the stolen Sex.Com money, and remained imprisoned for contempt of court until May 5, 2007.

Yishai Hibari runs Profit Plantation, and continues to focus on delivering porn to dialup users at a high markup.

Richard Martino and his brother Daniel pled guilty in February 2003 to stealing over $650 Million from Internet and telephone users seeking adult entertainment, psychic readings, and other services by billing them for undisclosed charges. As part of his plea agreement, Richard admitted to being a Gambino crime family “capo de regime.” On January 30, 2006, he was sentenced to nine years in federal prison.

Gary Kremen settled with NSI for an undisclosed sum in April 2004, and sold Sex.Com for fourteen million dollars to a company called Escom, LLC in January, 2006. He continues to make efforts to recover some portion of the sixty-five million dollar judgment he obtained against Steven Michael Cohen, but so far has been only marginally successful. Gary sued ARIN, the Association for the Registration of Internet Numbers, in part because ARIN refused to implement a court order to give Gary the IP addresses formerly assigned to Cohen. ARIN claimed the IP addresses are not property.

Susanne Whatley moved to Florida to become the paramour of Internet porn mogul Serge Birbrair, and got breast implants so large that they were referred to in the industry as “the Twins.”

Steve Sweet was acquitted of all obscenity charges by a British Columbian magistrate, who concluded that, while the content was disgusting, it did not offend contemporary community standards in Vancouver. His alliance with Max Hardcore was solidified, and Max’s videos are now marketed through the Sweet website.

Tom Sweet settled his lawsuit with Steve Sweet and started a project to raise a million dollars to start an environmentally sustainable business using web-based marketing and billing. The project is well on its way to success.

Max Hardcore, aka Paul F. Little, was convicted on June 5, 2008 on ten counts of obscenity by a Florida Federal jury.

Alex Kozinkski was elevated to Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on November 30, 2007. In June, 2008, he was forced to recuse himself from sitting as a trial judge in a Los Angeles obscenity trial after the L.A. Times revealed he had posted titillating images on his son’s website.

Phil Father ended his partnership with Gary Kremen. According to Phil, his two percent of Sex.Com did not provide him with any substantial monetary payout.

Tara Carreon retired from the law business and became the webmistress of, which features, among other things, political philosophy, muckraking, satirical erotica, and spiritual cinema.

Maria Carreon was hired as a legal secretary in New York City by one of the lawyers whose clients were subpoenaed by Ana Carreon, thanks to Sue Whatley, who talked the other lawyer into hiring her. Maria recently gave up her legal secretary career, and now attends The New School for Social Research. Her blogs about life in the Big Apple appear at

Ana Carreon applied to Stanford and was admitted to the Classics program, where she put in two years as a straight-A student. She returned to her home in Ashland to attend Southern Oregon University, where she is studying photojournalism. She maintains a website of her work and photos at

Peter Carini survived the departure of Maria Carreon as his secretary, hired two lawyers to work for him, and became the undisputed DUI king of Southern Oregon. He bought a large house in a tony neighborhood in Medford, Oregon, becoming the first Italian family to achieve the honor.

Joshua Carreon, the only son of Charles and Tara Carreon, and a loving brother to his sisters Ana and Maria, was a kind, gentle man, and a very talented graphic artist. His roots were in graffiti art learned as a skater kid in Santa Monica. He loved to buy stacks of t-shirts that he hand-silkscreened with political art. He also created prints on industrial materials and on fabric, often enhanced with bright painted calligraphic strokes to create striking works of visual art. Joshua was the head designer and reporter for the Ashland Free Press, and took hundreds of videos of musical, political and social events in Southern Oregon. He was killed in an automobile accident on February 16, 2007 in Dunsmuir, California, at the foot of Mt. Shasta, near Castle Crags, and is deeply missed by many friends and family.
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