Adult film star speaks out about the industry
In high school, she was the girl every guy wanted to be with, part of the homecoming court. She graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in criminal justice. Now she has a website on the Internet dealing in X-rated videos.
Suzi Wahl isn’t ashamed of who she is or what she does for a living. She speaks fondly of the family that raised her, and her present family. And she views her business of 15 years “Video Alternatives” as a legitimate source of income.
“We are two typical Midwesterners with loving families,” Wahl said of herself and her husband. “We don’t come from any kind of abuse. So the stereotype that people have of people in this business, I am 100 percent opposite of that and so is my husband.
“I am the most next-door-neighbor-kind-of-girl you could possibly imagine. And yet I got into doing my own videos because I thought it was important to share. I don’t see anything wrong with the human body. I think it should be revered.”
Originally, Wahl and her husband wanted to be in the mail order business and work at home. That was back when the video camera first appeared and people were producing their own independent videos.
Wahl’s business provided a marketing outlet for them, a mail-order catalogue selling independent, strictly amateur, videos. Her customers began asking for X-rated videos and people started producing them, Wahl said.
People wanted to see real people, not just the films coming out of California with assembly-line actors, Wahl said.
“It’s just like any other concept of reality TV – show us who you are,what turns you on, what’s good for you,” Wahl said. “We’re not looking for pretty blondes, skinny girls with big hair and big huge lips painted up all in the same way. Our customers are looking for variety.”
Sex education is severely lacking in American society and her business capitalized on that, helping people learn from each other, Wahl said.
People shouldn’t be afraid of their sexuality, she said. They should learn about it.
“We get prosecutors and church people who want to control the way everybody else lives and they’re getting their information about our industry from the church,” she said.
“If you want to know something about pornography, you need to go to the people who do it, not to your church.”
She said church-taught sex education supplies people with prejudicial information. Also, the women who call men perverted because of their sexual needs have done men a disservice, she said.
“We are very spiritual in all of our dealings all day long,” Wahl said. “I run into a lot of men who are not allowed to be who they are. They’re not allowed to be as sexual as they are and it creates a tremendous amount of problems.
“A lot of our customers can’t admit that they want to look at a woman’s body. What kind of a screwed up society doesn’t allow a man to be the way he is?”
Men can’t change how they were created, she said.
“I’m not saying that guys should be out doing crazy things, but to call a guy a pervert who wants to have sex with himself three times a day, that’s crazy.”
Wahl said her business focuses on sex education, but the entertainment side remains viable also.
Her customers must be at least 21, an extra buffer to ensure that minors don’t purchase their videos. In Missouri, her home state, the legal age for purchase of pornographic materials is 18, she said.
Wahl said the majority of her customers are married males. She couldn’t say how many of them share their videos with their partners. A considerable amount of female customers purchase X-rated videos, she said.
The pornography industry has some growing up to do, Wahl said. California producers need to improve in areas such as worker’s rights and the treatment of women, she said. Her husband wants to lobby to improve industry standards.
“Pornography is in the mainstream now, we all know that. It’s still a little hidden and people don’t like to admit it, but it is mainstream and the dollars are in the billions. And so an industry that size needs to treat it’s people right,” she said.
The Internet is an added marketing outlet for the business, Wahl said.
Because of local politics, people in some sections of the country don’t have access to pornography. Everyone has access to the Internet.
Censorship belongs in the home, Wahl said. Parent should censor material viewed by their children, she said.
“We’re supposed to have free speech and yet we don’t,” Wahl said. “The Internet gives us that. I’m obviously an advocate of free speech. I think we hurt ourselves when we censor anything at anytime.”
From an environmental standpoint it’s good to go digital, help prevent trees from being cut down, Wahl said. The source of her environmental activism was going to college in the 1970s, she said. Her family owns two electric cars. She’s an animal rights activist. And she’s a vegetarian.
Wahl’s contrary lifestyle has led to trouble with the law.
In 1991, her hometown of Lake St. Louis, Missouri was rocked by scandal when a detective, acting on orders from the police chief, lied to a judge to get a search warrant for her home, Wahl said.
“I’m not even sure what they were alleging, possibly obscenity, but they took everything we owned, arrested us and our employees, and took us to what would have been a jail and handcuffed us to a desk because they didn’t actually have a jail; it’s a small community,” Wahl said.
Several months later the police returned her property. Criminal charges were filed against the detective who lied to the judge to get the search warrant and everybody lost their job, Wahl said.
“We have a video that shows the whole story and shows all the newsclips,” Wahl said. “We must have been on TV for a month. Everybody lost in that deal. We sued and we won and they settled on the courthouse steps and paid us off. But it hurt us and we’ve never really recovered.”
Wahl recently closed the large office they had occupied for about 10 years and reduced the company workforce down to herself and her husband. She said she’s just interested in making enough money to support her family.
“I’m not highly sexed, neither one of us are highly sexed. But we are in this business strictly as a business, as a provider of something that other people want. We don’t do it because we’re way into sex. We’re not. We never were.”