Pasties, whipped cream and an oversized dildo, not the First Amendment, are the real issues at the heart of the Dallas City Council's decision to ban the Exxxotica sex-expo from the city-owned convention center, according to the city's response to a lawsuit filed by Three Expo events, the company that puts on the porn convention.
The City Council voted last month to ban the 2016 edition of Exxxotica from the city-owned convention center, where last year's expo took place.
Exxxotica founder J Handy claims the city is violating his free speech rights; the city says Handy doesn't deserve to have his First Amendment claims heard because last year's edition of Exxxotica broke the rules Handy and the city agreed to and violated the city's sexually oriented business ordinance.
Last August, Handy hosted the first Dallas edition of Exxxotica at the convention center. The Dallas Women's Foundation didn't like it, and wrote a strongly worded letter to Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. Rawlings then also became upset but admitted he couldn't do anything about Exxxotica 2015 because the convention center already had a contract with Handy. This year, Dallas oil billionaire Ray Hunt led the push against Exxxotica, and Rawlings and seven members of the City Council passed a resolution that bars City Manager A.C. Gonzalez from entering into a contract for a 2016 sex convention with Three Expo. The seven members who voted against the ban have made it clear that they believe the city is running afoul of the First Amendment's free-speech guarantees. Rawlings and his cohort argue that the porn convention is bad for the city and porn is bad for humanity in general and that the convention is effectively a sexually oriented business operating too close to a city park. The city attorney's office has said that the convention, because it is only a temporary use of the center, does not qualify as a sexually oriented business. Because the council acted against the city attorney's advice, the city has hired outside council to fight the case.
According to Dallas' reply, Handy told the city beforehand that Exxxotica 2015 would not feature "the display of less than completely and opaquely covered genitals, pubic region, anus or female breasts below a point immediately above the top of the areolas." Many of the porn stars hawking the wares at the conference only obscured their breasts with pasties or some other form of nipple covering. The city says that wasn't enough to live up to the agreement. The city also cites many acts it claims transpired at the conference that violated a prohibition against "the fondling or other erotic touching of genitals, pubic region, buttocks, anus or female breasts." From the response:
On stage with scores of patrons watching, a nude woman “masturbated” a bottle that was made to look like a black, over-sized penis with a scrotum at one end, and then squirted whipped cream onto her bare breasts (with a tape “X” covering her nipples). She then straddled a patron that was seated in a chair on the stage, and she rubbed and bounced her bare breasts in the man’s face until the whipped cream was gone.
After that, the nude woman sat in the chair, squirted whipped cream on her pubic region, raised her feet, spread her legs in the air, and thrust about in the chair while the male customer (on his hands and knees) put his mouth into her crotch, eventually coming up with a face full of whipped cream. The woman then turned around in the chair, squirted whipped cream onto the top of her bare buttocks, and had the patron rub his face in it.
The city's response is filled with further incidents and additional claims that Exxxotica failed to appropriately check the IDs of people entering the conference: "Some attendees of Exxxotica Dallas saw a
young woman in the exhibit space who did not appear to be 18 years old," the city says. Exxxotica also didn't do a good enough job of making sure visitors who came to convention center on other business weren't subjected to unwanted peeks inside the expo whenever the door to the exhibit hall swung open.
Further, the city claims, Exxxotica violated Texas pubic lewdness laws.
"Despite Mr. Handy’s initial representation that his Exxxotica events include no lewd acts," the city's attorneys write, "video footage from Exxxotica Dallas demonstrates that conduct which involved fondling and touching of breasts and simulation of sexual intercourse by oral sodomy did occur at Exxxotica Dallas."
Handy and Exxxotica, the city says, didn't put on the conference they said they would. In fact, much of what did happen was illegal. If that's the case, Three Expo's case should be thrown out before the "narrow constitutional question" invoked by Three Expo even gets asked, the city's attorneys argue.
"In this case, Plaintiff is in no position to obtain the extraordinary equitable relief he seeks because he made repeated, significant misrepresentations to the City in conjunction with Exxxotica Dallas which took place in the City’s Convention Center in 2015," they say.
We'll get a better picture of what the case looks like in two weeks, when Exxxotica's response to the city is due.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.