I was once told, by someone in a position to know, that the largest adult video — a euphemism for “porn” — store in the U.S. was in a suburb of Salt Lake City.
If you think about it, it’s hardly surprising. But here’s a story that is so neatly perfect along those lines that if it doesn’t strain credulity, it at least stretches the known boundaries of the irony universe.
Daniel D. Thompson’s business catered to Utah residents offended by something as racy as a PG-13 movie. Now the former film sanitizer is accused of a crime by Orem police that is far more salacious than any date movie.
Thompson, 31, and Isaac R. Lifferth, 24, were arrested in Orem this week on suspicion of having sex with two 14-year-old girls. Orem police say the teenagers wanted to earn money to move out of their homes and offered sexual favors to men.
For a while, Thompson’s company, CleanFlicks (itself a kind of racy name, no?), and a later one, Flix Club, actually edited movies without anyone’s permission and rented out the cleansed versions. You can imagine it didn’t take Hollywood too long to sue. So now CleanFlicks is a kind of Netflix for “great movies in every category that don’t need any editing to be safe and enjoyable for everyone,” as its website puts it.
Anyway, back to the 14-year-olds. Apparently the girls told an older friend, herself all of 16, that they were willing to have sex for money. The friend contacted, among other people, Lifferth, who she had had sex with “on multiple occasions,” though whether for fun or profit the story doesn’t say.
Thompson formerly operated Clean Flix – a business in Orem that edited feature films to remove or alter conduct deemed inappropriate for children or discriminating movie-goers. The store closed in December after threats of legal action from Hollywood studios.
Hard as it is to imagine, the story actually gets better.
The booking documents state Thompson told the 14-year-olds that his film sanitizing business was a cover for a pornography studio. He asked the girls if they would participate in making a porn movie, but they refused, the documents state.
Police found a “large quantity” of pornographic movies inside the business, along with a keg of beer, painkillers and two cameras hooked up to a television. … He said pornography found at the business was for “personal use,” according to the documents.
I don’t know which is better, the idea that this latter-day Bowdler, who made money by cleansing movies of anything lascivious, is himself a pornographer, or, even sweeter, that this guy who made his living by raping movies would himself be guilty of statutory rape.
It does remind me, however, to remember Freud’s theories of repression. It’s not too much of a simplification to say that according to it, puritanism is often a cover for the basest of desires, often acted upon, in secret of course. It’s no coincidence that the Larry Craigs are so often engaging in the very behavior they’re busy legislating against, or that the preachers who are most aggressive in collecting money to help the poor have enriched themselves the most.
Sure, there are plenty of puritans who are sincere in their beliefs and live saintly lives. You tend, though, not to hear about them, which is consistent with the parallel virtue of Christian modesty. By the time some family-values minister or other professional Christian has made himself into a public persona by excoriating others for not living up to piously prudish ideals, he is likely to be the furthest among us from them himself.