SILVER STRAND — He may have toned down the wild sex parties at his beach house, but adult-video producer Stan Brunt said he's still making movies and will fight any attempt to run him out of business.
Brunt was told last month that he could no longer shoot videos and live sex shows in his palatial home because Ventura County zoning laws in his neighborhood prohibit it. Though he has refused to stop completely, he said Monday that he now uses just three or four people in a video instead of 40 or 50. And he said he no longer stages live sex shows.
"Nobody is giving me a filming permit, but they can't stop me from making a living," said Brunt, sitting at the bar of his spacious living room. "The county can't just come in and tell me what to do."
The county says it can, and Supervisor John Flynn wants Brunt cited and shut down.
"I am outraged," said Flynn, whose Oxnard-based district includes the unincorporated beach community where Brunt lives. "He cannot still be doing this. He's not acting legally.
"The sheriff needs to shut him down."
Flynn recently handed out 13 certificates to residents of Hollywood Boulevard, on which the home is located, for their parts in trying to shut down Brunt's operation. The supervisor sees Brunt's admission that he is still filming as a slap in the face.
"If this is what freedom of speech means then I wonder about it," Flynn said.
Meanwhile, Brunt has turned the issue into a rallying cry for the 1st Amendment. He said top adult-film producers are backing him and he has begun holding barbecues at his house twice a month for those supporting his right to make videos and host an adult Web site from filming in his home.
County officials say the zoning regulations are clear--no commercial filming is allowed in the harbor and beach area. Private videos can be shot, but not sold. Film permits that Brunt had received earlier were a mistake, officials say.
"If you are shooting your grandmother's 100th birthday party and it will be placed in the family archives and not packaged and put on the shelf of a video store, then that is legal," said Todd Collart, manager of the county's zoning administration.
If zoning officials document that filming is continuing, they can issue a notice of violation, Collart said. If Brunt ignores that, the matter can be referred to the courts as a criminal violation, he said.
"At worst it's a misdemeanor," he said. "The hard part is proving it."
Brunt, 38, moved into the pink, three-story home in October from an apartment in Canoga Park. He and his wife, Kim, 27, have been making adult videos since 1990, Brunt said.
They own Raw Talent Productions and run a Web site featuring explicit sexual activities going on at what they call "The House of Sex."
Until last month, those who paid the $34.95 monthly fee could attend sex parties at the house and be filmed if they could produce a health test showing they had no sexually transmitted diseases, Brunt said.
But after neighbors complained about noise and people hanging around outside, Brunt was told he had been given the film permits by mistake.
He stopped the sex parties and live Internet sex broadcasts, but said doing videos with just a few people is not a nuisance and should not be prohibited. He sells those videos to distributors and on the Internet.
"Everyone who knows me has been supportive," he said. "They keep saying, 'Keep up the good fight.' I still have people over for the party, but we stopped having sex and there is no filming at the gatherings. I won't put people at risk."
The former personal trainer from New York City says the county's effort to shut him down has been the best thing that has ever happened to him. He says his Web site is getting between 50,000 and 100,000 hits a day and that he is talking to a lawyer who wants to challenge the county's position.
His $500,000 home sits in a densely packed neighborhood near Channel Islands Harbor. It has spartan furnishings and Ansel Adams prints on the wall.
The filming is done on the third floor, where Brunt has hung blankets and heavy curtains to muffle the noise. There is a bed near the wall with two tall lights at the foot. Brunt uses a small video camera for his work.
"It's work, and work is work," he said. "It can take the fun out of sex sometimes."
A female house guest from England, who declined to give her name, said neighbors harassed her recently when she left the home. The woman said she was over "to do some scenes" with Brunt.
"They yelled, 'We know what you are doing in there!' " she said.
Neighbors say things have quieted somewhat, but they still don't like what goes on in the home. Some say it would be fine if Brunt lived there and did the filming elsewhere.
Lauri Koenig, 41, lives a few doors down. At one point, her 10-year-old daughter, unaware of what was going on inside the neighbor's house, went over and sold some Girl Scout cookies.
"They have gotten quieter," Koenig said. "[But] you still have people lost, drunk and loaded wandering around.
"It's not so much a matter of what they are doing inside, but it's an adult business in the neighborhood. I am concerned what kind of people it brings into the neighborhood. I am concerned about my children."
Marge Peet, 84, lives across the street.
"They ought to go into an industrial area to do that," she said. "It's not the place for that kind of business."
But Bill Lyon of the Chatsworth-based Free Speech Coalition said Brunt is trying to keep things low-key and should be left alone.
"If he is making an effort to tone down the show and he is not hurting anyone, why should the county get involved?" asked Lyon, whose organization is the trade association of the adult-film industry.
Collart, of the county zoning administration, said neither content nor free speech is the issue.
"You could be filming for the Discovery Channel and you still can't do it at this location," he said.