At least six sex movie performers, including a 22-year-old woman who said she had made 75 films in four years, testified Tuesday in San Fernando Municipal Court in the case of two men charged with felony pandering in the production of sex videotapes.
The group, which included well-known performers with the stage names of Tajia Rae, Tracy Adams and Stacey Donovan, said they were paid to go to a Sand Canyon home last June 18 and perform sex acts before cameras. The action was taped for a production that was to be titled either "Love Potion" or "Squeeze Play," prosecutors said.
Police and sheriff's deputies raided the home after a day of taping, authorities said.
The testimony came during the first day of a preliminary hearing for Charles Brickman, 40, of Woodland Hills, and Thomas Ingalls, 22, of Van Nuys, who are facing 17 counts of felony pandering. Each count represents one person hired to have sex on camera, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Kenneth A. Loveman.
Ingalls and Brickman each face a maximum prison term of 11 years if convicted, and could also be fined up to $10,000 on each count.
The case is the fifth in which the Los Angeles County district attorney's office has charged makers of sexually oriented movies or videotapes under the state pandering law, which mandates a prison sentence of three to six years for hiring a person to engage in a sex act.
Both state and county authorities have launched drives to suppress the sex film industry by using the pandering laws, arguing that the performers are committing acts of prostitution and it is irrelevant whether their actions are filmed.
The California Supreme Court agreed recently to consider whether the state law against pimping can be used against makers of sexually explicit films. The court agreed to review the case of an Encino sex film maker, Harold Freeman, who faces a state prison term as a panderer for hiring actresses to perform sex acts for up to $800 a day.
W. Michael Mayock, one of two defense attorneys in Tuesday's hearing, called the pandering charges a "tremendous abuse of police and law enforcement powers." To allow such a use of the law might affect the makers of R-rated and even PG-rated films with sexual content, he argued.
Most of the performers who appeared Tuesday said they considered themselves actors, not prostitutes, and that their sex scenes were demanded by the story.
One of the men, Steve Nadelman, said having sex "was just part of the description of my character. I did what I did according to the script. . . . I was there as an actor, and part of my job meant having sex."
Debra Blaisdell, whose stage name is Tracy Adams, said she was "paid to perform, but not paid to have sex."
But Kelly Howell, 22, who said she started working in sex films at age 18, said she had never wanted to be an actress. Howell, whose stage name is Stacey Donovan, said she performed at the Sand Canyon house, as well as in about 74 other films, "just for the money."
Howell, who said she no longer wants to appear in sex films, testified that she is acting as an informant for federal and county law enforcement agencies in other pandering cases involving film producers.
The hearing is scheduled to continue today before Judge James E. Satt.
Edward Ginsberg, 28, the production manager on the videotaping session, had initially been charged with felony pandering along with Brickman and Ingalls. However, charges against him were dropped in exchange for his testimony against the pair. He was scheduled to testify today.
The performers were hired by Cinderella Distributors, run by Brickman and Ingalls, the prosecution said.
The performers testified that Ingalls was the cameraman during the shooting session, and that they were paid in cash after the session. They said their daily pay ranged from $300 for Nadelman to $1,000 for Howell.