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Hotel Porn

— A young couple in their 20s checks in at the Handlery Hotel in Mission Valley and unloads their three-year-old daughter from the white SUV rental. As they drove from the airport to Hotel Circle, they passed several prestigious hotel chains, all of which offer a "family friendly" environment of swimming pools, restaurants, shops, tourism brochures, and in-room pornography.

Pornography is now available at virtually all of San Diego's major hotel chains. All you need to secure porn in your room is a credit card number and a phone.

None of the hotel managers or executives in Hotel Circle would comment on the sale of pornography to their customers. The following San Diego hotels offer in-room pornography. In some cases, the entire chain offers pornography while in others, it is permitted at the discretion of the franchisee. Most are by pay-per-view service, unless otherwise noted. They include:

--The Town and Country (Atlas Hotels)

--Doubletree Hotels

--Comfort Inns (but not the comfort Inn Sea World on De Soto Street)

--The Bahia Hotel

--The Bay Club

--Best Western Hotels (most, but not the Best Western Hacienda in Old Town)

--The Bristol

--The Catamaran

--Marriott Hotels

--Days Inns

--Embassy Suites (not to be confused with the Embassy Hotel on Park Boulevard -- they do not offer pornographic films)

--Handlery Hotels

--Sheraton Hotels

--Four Seasons

--Glorietta Bay Inn

--Grande Colonial La Jolla

--Humphrey's Half Moon Bay Inn

--Hampton Inns

--Hilton Hotels

--Holiday Inns

--Hotel Del Coronado

--Howard Johnson's

--Hotel La Jolla at the Shores

--Hyatt Hotels

--La Quinta Inns

--La Valencia Hotel (video rental only)

--Torrey Pines Lodge

--Loews Coronado Bay Resort

--Radisson Hotels

--Ramada Inn (but not at the Gaslamp Quarter location)

--Hanalei Red Lion

--The Westgate

--The Westin Horton Plaza

--The Wyndham Emerald Plaza

The desk clerk of the Mission Valley Vagabond Inn insisted that none of their franchises provided pornographic films. After several attempts to confirm that with corporate headquarters, no phone calls were ever returned. Motel 6 and TraveLodge Motels are independently owned, and it is left to the discretion of each franchisee whether or not to offer pornographic films. Customer service for both chains said that few of their franchise owners had pay-per-view movies.

At Choice Hotels International headquarters in Silver Springs, Maryland -- the company that owns Comfort Inn and several other hotel chains -- spokeswoman Ann Curtiss said that while many Comfort Inns offer pay-per-view porn, it is an option left to the franchise owner. "It's their decision based on the market. In terms of the brand, it is not the standard." Curtiss said that there was no brand standard to forbid pornography in their hotel rooms either.

In the October 23, 2001, New York Times, Timothy Egan wrote that pornography had become too lucrative for major hotel chains to pass up, as it generated more income than liquor or snacks, to the point where 60 percent of all middle- to high-end hotels offered it:

"Just under 1.5 million hotel rooms, or about 40 percent of all hotel rooms in the nation, are equipped with television boxes that sell the kind of films that used to be seen mostly in adults-only theaters, according to the two leading companies in the business. Based on estimates provided by the hotel industry, at least half of all guests buy these adult movies, which means that pay-per-view sex from hotel-room televisions may generate about $190 million a year in sales."

One hotel porn provider mentioned by Egan is LodgeNet, which does $180 million in business annually by selling room entertainment to hotels, which includes sex videos. Another company, Denver-based On Command, is worth more than $400 million. The story quotes Bill Asher, president of Van Nuys-based Vivid Entertainment Group, which at the time was the biggest provider of hard-core sex videos and adult Web content, as saying, "I've heard that in some hotels, 85 to 95 percent of all profits from in-room spending come from adult channels." At the time, only one hotel chain, Omni, had decided to drop adult films from its guest services. Omni president Jim Caldwell was quoted as saying, "I thought: What are we doing? We don't have topless waitresses in the restaurant."

Some hotels offered single viewings of adult films for as low as $9.99 while the average price seems to run between $11.95 to $16.95.

One popular pay-per-view service is Viewer's Choice, a company in partnership with another leader in family entertainment, Disney Corporation. In Disney: The Mouse Betrayed (Regnery 1998) Peter and Rochelle Schweitzer write: "...in June 1989 Walt Disney Pictures and Television became a full partner with several cable companies in a new venture called Viewer's Choice, a pioneer in pay-per-view television...and on February 1, 1993, Viewer's Choice launched a service called Hot Choice."

Hot Choice has offered such family fare as Honey, Bikini Party, Soft Bodies, Marilyn Chambers' Desire, Wild Pairs, Erotic Heat, Video Vixens, and Garden of Erotic Delights. While many San Diego visitors are lured away to Disneyland for a day or two, the Disneyland Hotel does not offer its guests pay-per-view films.

I checked in to the Comfort Inn Airport at Old Town on San Diego Avenue. I entered room 347 only to encounter an overwhelming smell of cigarettes. On a nightstand next to the double bed was a full ashtray and an empty bottle of Budweiser. I noticed five more empty bottles in the trash can. I reached for the remote control and turned on the TV.

On the screen was a menu that read: (A) Services Internet lockout available (B) Movies lockout available and (C) TV. I pushed "B" for movies and another menu came on-screen. It read: (1) Hit Movies (2) Mature Audiences and Lock/Unlock movie access. I pressed "2" for "Mature Audiences" and the following came onscreen:

"Warning: You are about to enter an area containing adult-oriented material. You will be billed immediately upon selecting an adult movie packaged on the next screen if you proceed. There are no free previews. Push 'Cancel' to exit this area. Press 1 to proceed, 0 to cancel."

After pressing "1," a message and menu came onscreen with a photo of a woman wearing only strips of celluloid in key areas. It read "Adult Pay Per Day. Unlimited viewing noon to noon. Billing is immediate."

The selections offered were hardly subtle:

1) HOTTEST: $16.99

2) HOTTER: $14.99

3) HOT: $12.99

4) RED HOT: ALL THREE $19.99

I pressed "3" and a movie in progress came on-screen. Shot on videotape, the film shows a fat man wearing a lifeguard T-shirt reading instructions to a group of about ten bikini-clad women, none of whom look to be any older than 22. The next scene is a bedroom with three girls in it. One takes off her clothes while the other two start spanking her. The camera starts to zoom in on her genitalia.

On the printout I received upon checking out, no mention was made of the nature of the film next to the charge. It simply read, "MOVIES/INTERNET/ GAMES $13.00."

As it winds its way through City Heights and the College Area, El Cajon Boulevard is lined with old motels, most of them built in the 1950s -- its heyday for tourists and visitors.

The La Cresta Motel on El Cajon Boulevard sits wearily in near emptiness. At the front desk, Ted, a 60-ish man, acts insulted when asked if they offer adult films. "Absolutely not! We do not carry adult films because we are a family business."

Further east is Morgan's Motel, perhaps the most dilapidated-looking inn on El Cajon Boulevard. At the front-office door, shielded by a glass bank-teller window, a middle-aged man with a ponytail says that they do not offer pornography on their TV sets.

Tuan is the desk clerk at the Navajo Lodge at El Cerrito and El Cajon Boulevard. "Video is very important to some customers, like, if you're talking about hookers, but that's why they don't want to carry that here. We have TV, but it's just cable only. We don't have adult movies or anything like that."

Lieutenant Bob Kanaski works in the vice division of the San Diego Police Department. He thinks that El Cajon Boulevard may be getting too hard of a rap. "The other areas are probably equal in prostitution. One of the things you have to look at is the Internet and the escort business. There are some who are engaged in prostitution using tourist hotels as a cover or ruse for their business. Mission Valley is a good place, because there are a number of good hotels where you can pretty easily hide yourself. You see the street prostitution more readily."

Kanaski thinks that hotel-room porn is not necessary to sell a visit to San Diego, but it's become an accepted part of the mainstream. "You have to look at the tourism industry as a whole, and you have hotels that offer a wide variety and range of movies to the taste of their customers, which ranges from businesspeople on down to folks on vacation. Some people do like to watch that particular type of movie. I've gone to hotels all the way up to Seattle that have been some of the so-called 'prime hotels,' and every single one of them offered it in one capacity or another. When you go to the major chains throughout the nation, it's done off the satellites that they've got now. It seems to be something that the hotel industry may have to answer for."

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Wild mustard, chamise, buckwheat

— A young couple in their 20s checks in at the Handlery Hotel in Mission Valley and unloads their three-year-old daughter from the white SUV rental. As they drove from the airport to Hotel Circle, they passed several prestigious hotel chains, all of which offer a "family friendly" environment of swimming pools, restaurants, shops, tourism brochures, and in-room pornography.

Pornography is now available at virtually all of San Diego's major hotel chains. All you need to secure porn in your room is a credit card number and a phone.

None of the hotel managers or executives in Hotel Circle would comment on the sale of pornography to their customers. The following San Diego hotels offer in-room pornography. In some cases, the entire chain offers pornography while in others, it is permitted at the discretion of the franchisee. Most are by pay-per-view service, unless otherwise noted. They include:

--The Town and Country (Atlas Hotels)

--Doubletree Hotels

--Comfort Inns (but not the comfort Inn Sea World on De Soto Street)

--The Bahia Hotel

--The Bay Club

--Best Western Hotels (most, but not the Best Western Hacienda in Old Town)

--The Bristol

--The Catamaran

--Marriott Hotels

--Days Inns

--Embassy Suites (not to be confused with the Embassy Hotel on Park Boulevard -- they do not offer pornographic films)

--Handlery Hotels

--Sheraton Hotels

--Four Seasons

--Glorietta Bay Inn

--Grande Colonial La Jolla

--Humphrey's Half Moon Bay Inn

--Hampton Inns

--Hilton Hotels

--Holiday Inns

--Hotel Del Coronado

--Howard Johnson's

--Hotel La Jolla at the Shores

--Hyatt Hotels

--La Quinta Inns

--La Valencia Hotel (video rental only)

--Torrey Pines Lodge

--Loews Coronado Bay Resort

--Radisson Hotels

--Ramada Inn (but not at the Gaslamp Quarter location)

--Hanalei Red Lion

--The Westgate

--The Westin Horton Plaza

--The Wyndham Emerald Plaza

The desk clerk of the Mission Valley Vagabond Inn insisted that none of their franchises provided pornographic films. After several attempts to confirm that with corporate headquarters, no phone calls were ever returned. Motel 6 and TraveLodge Motels are independently owned, and it is left to the discretion of each franchisee whether or not to offer pornographic films. Customer service for both chains said that few of their franchise owners had pay-per-view movies.

At Choice Hotels International headquarters in Silver Springs, Maryland -- the company that owns Comfort Inn and several other hotel chains -- spokeswoman Ann Curtiss said that while many Comfort Inns offer pay-per-view porn, it is an option left to the franchise owner. "It's their decision based on the market. In terms of the brand, it is not the standard." Curtiss said that there was no brand standard to forbid pornography in their hotel rooms either.

In the October 23, 2001, New York Times, Timothy Egan wrote that pornography had become too lucrative for major hotel chains to pass up, as it generated more income than liquor or snacks, to the point where 60 percent of all middle- to high-end hotels offered it:

"Just under 1.5 million hotel rooms, or about 40 percent of all hotel rooms in the nation, are equipped with television boxes that sell the kind of films that used to be seen mostly in adults-only theaters, according to the two leading companies in the business. Based on estimates provided by the hotel industry, at least half of all guests buy these adult movies, which means that pay-per-view sex from hotel-room televisions may generate about $190 million a year in sales."

One hotel porn provider mentioned by Egan is LodgeNet, which does $180 million in business annually by selling room entertainment to hotels, which includes sex videos. Another company, Denver-based On Command, is worth more than $400 million. The story quotes Bill Asher, president of Van Nuys-based Vivid Entertainment Group, which at the time was the biggest provider of hard-core sex videos and adult Web content, as saying, "I've heard that in some hotels, 85 to 95 percent of all profits from in-room spending come from adult channels." At the time, only one hotel chain, Omni, had decided to drop adult films from its guest services. Omni president Jim Caldwell was quoted as saying, "I thought: What are we doing? We don't have topless waitresses in the restaurant."

Some hotels offered single viewings of adult films for as low as $9.99 while the average price seems to run between $11.95 to $16.95.

One popular pay-per-view service is Viewer's Choice, a company in partnership with another leader in family entertainment, Disney Corporation. In Disney: The Mouse Betrayed (Regnery 1998) Peter and Rochelle Schweitzer write: "...in June 1989 Walt Disney Pictures and Television became a full partner with several cable companies in a new venture called Viewer's Choice, a pioneer in pay-per-view television...and on February 1, 1993, Viewer's Choice launched a service called Hot Choice."

Hot Choice has offered such family fare as Honey, Bikini Party, Soft Bodies, Marilyn Chambers' Desire, Wild Pairs, Erotic Heat, Video Vixens, and Garden of Erotic Delights. While many San Diego visitors are lured away to Disneyland for a day or two, the Disneyland Hotel does not offer its guests pay-per-view films.

I checked in to the Comfort Inn Airport at Old Town on San Diego Avenue. I entered room 347 only to encounter an overwhelming smell of cigarettes. On a nightstand next to the double bed was a full ashtray and an empty bottle of Budweiser. I noticed five more empty bottles in the trash can. I reached for the remote control and turned on the TV.

On the screen was a menu that read: (A) Services Internet lockout available (B) Movies lockout available and (C) TV. I pushed "B" for movies and another menu came on-screen. It read: (1) Hit Movies (2) Mature Audiences and Lock/Unlock movie access. I pressed "2" for "Mature Audiences" and the following came onscreen:

"Warning: You are about to enter an area containing adult-oriented material. You will be billed immediately upon selecting an adult movie packaged on the next screen if you proceed. There are no free previews. Push 'Cancel' to exit this area. Press 1 to proceed, 0 to cancel."

After pressing "1," a message and menu came onscreen with a photo of a woman wearing only strips of celluloid in key areas. It read "Adult Pay Per Day. Unlimited viewing noon to noon. Billing is immediate."

The selections offered were hardly subtle:

1) HOTTEST: $16.99

2) HOTTER: $14.99

3) HOT: $12.99

4) RED HOT: ALL THREE $19.99

I pressed "3" and a movie in progress came on-screen. Shot on videotape, the film shows a fat man wearing a lifeguard T-shirt reading instructions to a group of about ten bikini-clad women, none of whom look to be any older than 22. The next scene is a bedroom with three girls in it. One takes off her clothes while the other two start spanking her. The camera starts to zoom in on her genitalia.

On the printout I received upon checking out, no mention was made of the nature of the film next to the charge. It simply read, "MOVIES/INTERNET/ GAMES $13.00."

As it winds its way through City Heights and the College Area, El Cajon Boulevard is lined with old motels, most of them built in the 1950s -- its heyday for tourists and visitors.

The La Cresta Motel on El Cajon Boulevard sits wearily in near emptiness. At the front desk, Ted, a 60-ish man, acts insulted when asked if they offer adult films. "Absolutely not! We do not carry adult films because we are a family business."

Further east is Morgan's Motel, perhaps the most dilapidated-looking inn on El Cajon Boulevard. At the front-office door, shielded by a glass bank-teller window, a middle-aged man with a ponytail says that they do not offer pornography on their TV sets.

Tuan is the desk clerk at the Navajo Lodge at El Cerrito and El Cajon Boulevard. "Video is very important to some customers, like, if you're talking about hookers, but that's why they don't want to carry that here. We have TV, but it's just cable only. We don't have adult movies or anything like that."

Lieutenant Bob Kanaski works in the vice division of the San Diego Police Department. He thinks that El Cajon Boulevard may be getting too hard of a rap. "The other areas are probably equal in prostitution. One of the things you have to look at is the Internet and the escort business. There are some who are engaged in prostitution using tourist hotels as a cover or ruse for their business. Mission Valley is a good place, because there are a number of good hotels where you can pretty easily hide yourself. You see the street prostitution more readily."

Kanaski thinks that hotel-room porn is not necessary to sell a visit to San Diego, but it's become an accepted part of the mainstream. "You have to look at the tourism industry as a whole, and you have hotels that offer a wide variety and range of movies to the taste of their customers, which ranges from businesspeople on down to folks on vacation. Some people do like to watch that particular type of movie. I've gone to hotels all the way up to Seattle that have been some of the so-called 'prime hotels,' and every single one of them offered it in one capacity or another. When you go to the major chains throughout the nation, it's done off the satellites that they've got now. It seems to be something that the hotel industry may have to answer for."

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