President of the Global Adult Industry Association Charles Lewis would have Government regulate adult night clubs or what are often referred to as strip clubs.
Lewis, who has been in the business of adult entertainment for more than two decades, has frequently articulated the bare facts of this industry and they are nothing to scoff at, especially if his facts are accurate. He has based his arguments for bringing some level of state control to the industry on economics, health, and tacitly, a sense of inevitability. He has suggested that as long as there are adults, there will be adult entertainment.
Those who object to Lewis take the high ground and look at the morality of such enterprise as well as the exploitative aspects of the business, especially as it relates to female workers.
To date, there has been no study done in Barbados to provide empirical evidence as to the degree of profitability and size of revenues gained by the players in the local industry at the top, middle and bottom of the ladder. However, Mr Lewis has previously indicated it is a multi-million-dollar business and if one is to go by the fact that police raids in the 1960s, 70s, 80s, 90s and throughout the 21st century so far, have not curtailed the business or even pushed it underground, then one can assume that those involved are not in it simply because they like running from the police.
We note too that in jurisdictions such as the United States, adult entertainment is a massive enterprise. The industry goes beyond night clubs – the present focus in Barbados – and runs the gamut of adult movies, magazines, celebrity sex tapes, DVDs, peep shows, escort services, sex shops, sex toys, prostitution and the like. More than a decade ago a Forrester Research study placed the combined revenues of the industry at approximately BDS$20 billion annually. Entities such as Playboy have expanded their scope and make millions from images of their female employees being used on apparel and other consumer items across the globe. Hustler has expanded into casinos.
The Internet explosion has also widened and diversified the industry. Manwin in Canada rakes in millions as owner of one of the globe’s largest network of adult entertainment sites. Two and a half years ago Adultmoda, an adult advertising company, reported serving four billion mobile ads at the start of the year which it then doubled within six months. Strictly Broadband, a UK video-on-demand entity reported that 50 per cent of its revenues came from sales on iPhones and the device accounted for about 30 per cent of its traffic.
In many first world countries adult entertainment is regulated with owners and operators of such enterprises contributing to the tax base of the nations in which they operate. Penalties for violating strict controls are part of the industry, especially as it relates to use of children, human trafficking, and the like. Of course, no number of controls stop criminality from creeping into such enterprises and the scourge of human trafficking, especially in some Latin and South American and European countries, is one which presents many headaches to law enforcement agencies.
In our neck of the woods the level of sophistication and the extent and depth of the adult entertainment industry are far removed from what applies in larger jurisdictions. But size, in this instance, doesn’t matter.
There is a school of thought that bringing the adult entertainment industry or the sex industry (if they can be separated) from the back rooms not only improves the financial coffers of governments, but that regulation assists health officials in combating and keeping a handle on sexually transmitted diseases. The connection between organized crime and the adult entertainment industry is also one that has been previously documented. But it has also been shown that when controls are brought to the industry, it proves less attractive for criminals.
However, the question we must ask is: Can one set of adults to impose their morality as it relates to sex on another set of adults?
In an ideal world, we could attempt to make everyone happy. But one cannot make everyone happy where morality is concerned. And we would be naive to pretend that the moral compass of a country doesn’t matter. Barbados’ moral compass – right or wrong – matters. The same moral compass used by some to frown on the adult entertainment industry is the same compass that has continued to make thousands frown on homosexuality, even in the confines of the privacy of one’s home. It is the same compass that makes us frown on the idea of same-sex marriage, even if we later ‘accept’ the personages.
Mr Lewis has introduced one pertinent point, though. Can we really afford the Royal Barbados Police Force using its resources to chase after adult strippers in February, only to chase after them again in March and April? We daresay that not all those rounded up in the night clubs will be packed on a plane and temporarily deported.
Mr Lewis is no fool. We detect that his call for regulation is one which really would automatically bring legitimacy to his craft.
Whether authorities take him seriously or stick to the moral compass which guides the country is left to be seen. But it is a subject that must be dispassionately stripped to its nakedness and not ignored because of prudish naivete.