The Law Offices of Michael W. Fattorosi, P.C. is boutique law firm located in Woodland Hills, California that represents various clients in the adult entertainment industry. Mr. Fattorosi has represented in public record clients such as Exxxotica Expo, Teagan Presley, James Deen, Gianna Michaels, Joanna Angel and many others. I was delighted to have the opportunity to speak with Mr. Fattorosi about his fascinating specialty and his experiences working with the adult entertainment industry.
C.J. Asher – How long have you been an attorney and how long have you specialized in adult entertainment law?
Michael Fattorosi – I have been a practicing attorney since 1997. My first encounter with the adult industry was at the 2003 AVN Show in Las Vegas. I went with a friend/client who was considering opening his own adult production company. Though I would say that I started to specialize in it about two to three years later.
C.J. Asher – What made you decide to specialize in adult entertainment law?
Michael Fattorosi – Circumstances actually. It was never a type of practice I even considered until AVN in 2003. My friend who was not only an actor but also a writer for Playboy TV decided that he wanted to open his own adult production company and came to me for advice. At that time, I had represented mainstream studios such as Fox, Warner Bros and Universal. I knew very little about the adult entertainment industry or porn. But during law school I did happen to date the granddaughter of the man who founded the industry in the San Fernando Valley back in the 1950s, Milton Luros. I was able to get to know Mr. Luros very well over my visits to his home and would talk to him about how he started the porn business in Los Angeles. He was one of the first defenders of the First Amendment. He had three United States Supreme Court cases he brought in the interest of the First Amendment and adult entertainment. His stories fascinated me, but even then I never really considered a career in adult entertainment law. I didn’t even want to specialize in entertainment law, much less adult entertainment. But, after going to AVN and talking with another adult entertainment attorney at that time, I realized there was a lot of opportunity for growth in porn. It was at a time right before content production in Los Angeles exploded because of a still strong DVD market and the emerging Internet demand for content. So I made the decision to start marketing my firm to the industry.
C.J. Asher – How has your specialty impacted your personal and professional life?
Michael Fattorosi – My involvement in adult cost me my first marriage. My wife at the time did not like the idea of my representation of adult companies and stars. She was not able to handle it nor should she. It was not what she signed up for. Being in the industry, in any fashion, is not something that is easy for those not in the industry to understand. Though my current wife, an AVN Hall of Famer, is also in the industry and has been a performer, a director, a producer, a webmistress, a videographer, a photographer and now she is also a dominatrix. It makes it a lot easier when the person you’re with is also in the same industry, especially in adult entertainment.
C.J. Asher – Do you handle or specialize in other areas of law as well?
Michael Fattorosi – Not really. Most of my practice is centered on adult entertainment of one form or another. I have a few mainstream clients now, but they know what I do and they don’t mind it. Actually, I think they like it. I have gotten them passes to the AVN Show and Adult Entertainment Awards in Las Vegas and I think they are very open to adult entertainment. They certainly seem to like it.
C.J. Asher – What types of clients in the adult entertainment industry have you had and are currently working with?
Michael Fattorosi – I have represented all types of clients such as performers, studios, dating sites, cam sites, tube sites, membership websites/programs, escorts, escort directories, adult expos, directors and even talent agents.
C.J. Asher – What is the greatest legal challenge currently facing the adult entertainment industry?
Michael Fattorosi – It’s difficult to pick one; I would say the top three are piracy, OSHA regulations and legalization of prostitution.
C.J. Asher – What is the most high-profile case you’ve handled and what was the outcome?
Michael Fattorosi – I litigated a copyright case for a Latin Grammy winning pop star and her famous manager/husband in Los Angeles. She and her husband had their wedding night photos in Las Vegas stolen from their home and sold off to a celebrity magazine by the thief. The magazine printed all the photos and we filed suit. We lost at the District Court level, mostly because the judge in the case was against us from day one. The Honorable Manuel Real was our judge and he is the most overturned judge in the Ninth Circuit. He had it out for my clients. I don’t think he cares much for celebrity. However, we appealed and I handed off the appeal to my associate who then went on to win the appeal despite the magazine’s fair use argument.
C.J. Asher – One of the biggest issues in adult entertainment law news is lawsuits by exotic dancers wanting to be salaried employees of gentlemen’s clubs as opposed to independent contractors. What are your thoughts on this issue and how it will play out in the courts?
Michael Fattorosi – Almost no one is an independent contractor. Few people truly are and that is exactly how you have seen it play-out in the courts. The dancers and the lawyers who bring these cases are usually successful.
C.J. Asher – What types of cases have you turned down?
Michael Fattorosi – I have turned down a felony murder case. I do some lower level criminal work but I won’t try to take on felony murder, rape or drug trafficking cases. I also don’t do family law or bankruptcy or real estate.
C.J. Asher – How is the fight by porn production companies against Internet piracy going?
Michael Fattorosi – Not very well, but no one is really trying anymore. Most of the larger companies are now content partners with some of the largest tube sites. It has very much become the “if you can’t beat them, join them” mentality for many of the midsize to larger studios.
C.J. Asher – Do you find your work in adult entertainment industry law to be as fun and exciting as we could imagine it would be?
Michael Fattorosi – Well it’s not fun and exciting, it’s just not as boring as most legal work. I have good and bad days.
C.J. Asher – What is the current status of government efforts to enforce mandatory condom usage by adult film performers?
Michael Fattorosi – No one in the government really wants to enforce condoms in porn. AHF just recently had to protest against CalOSHA just to get them to notice the fact that CalOSHA has been delaying having hearings on re-writing 5193 the California Blood Borne Pathogen law to make them industry specific. There are numerous people that are serious hurt and or killed on a daily basis at work in California; CalOSHA has enough to deal with in that regard. They really don’t have the person-power to watch hundreds of hours porn every week and to send inspectors out to do surprise inspections on set. The California government has a budget crisis they are dealing with. There isn’t enough money to pay court reporters for our courtrooms, but the state should pay for dozens of porn set inspectors?
C.J. Asher – Based upon your career and experience, what impact would widespread legalization and regulation of prostitution, as is currently being practiced in the brothel system in Nevada, have on sex trafficking and other related crimes?
Michael Fattorosi – Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t know if one has to do with the other one. It’s like saying legalizing all guns would stop the spread of illegal handguns to criminals. I think women who are not sex trafficked but want to be an escort will have better life, but I don’t think it will stop illegal human trafficking. Human trafficking is a huge problem but not only in the adult industry. There are many who are forced into regular labor such as garment sweatshops and restaurants. Legalized prostitution will have zero effect on that type of human trafficking.
C.J. Asher – What issues based on gender discrimination do your female clients commonly face?
Michael Fattorosi – Finding suitable, gainful employment after a career in porn outside the industry. There’s a lot of discrimination against sex workers and porn stars in particular.
C.J. Asher – Do you find there is a stigmatism/bias against adult entertainment by the legal system due to the nature of their products and services?
Michael Fattorosi – Not in Los Angeles where the majority of my litigation is. We are the home to the industry and there are few judges or other lawyers that don’t have a “porn” story for me once they find out what I do. In LA, it’s always “I know someone who knows someone in the porn industry.” It’s less than six degrees of separation.
For more information about The Law Offices of Michael W. Fattorosi, P.C., please visit http://www.AdultBizLaw.com.