: Febuary 2002: Adult films made by children
The film I'm watching
certainly isn't going to
win any Academy Awards. The camera work
is shoddy, the lighting is dismal, the pacing is clumsy,
and the plot line nonexistent. There are no
credits, and the only "label" on the video is a tattered
strip of masking tape onto which is scrawled
TICKLE MI CULO in thick black crayon. The action
is straight hetero porn: just two dimly perceived brown
adult bodies humping sweatily on what appears to be the
dirt floor of a jungle shack. The woman performs fellatio
briefly on her partner, but he does not reciprocate with
cunnilingus. The couple's screams and exclamations are
uttered in Spanish. Immediately after the male money-shoots
all over his friend's olive-hued face, the screen goes
The only thing that distinguishes
this film from the seeming millions
of other pornographic features made yearly is that it
was scripted, directed, and filmed by a four-year-old
boy. Although the video is barely eighteen minutes long,
bootlegged copies of it are reportedly selling for over
a hundred dollars on the Internet. And there are reportedly
thousands more videos just like it--adult films
starring adult actors using adult genitals--but filmed
by youngsters imprisoned in "porn camps" hidden deep within
Brazil's rain forests.
"This is the most difficult
criminal case I've ever had to investigate," says Alberto
Luis Sanchez Villareal, a police detective in São
Paulo, Brazil. A portly, greasy, rumpled little man with
sour breath and a twinkle in his eye, Villareal has been
assigned the daunting task of dismantling a lucrative
underground film industry in which homeless children are
kidnapped on Brazil's city streets, shipped up the Amazon,
and forced to create pornographic films "from scratch"
under dreary conditions. "The main misconception I'm fighting,
from both a criminal standpoint and a public-relations
standpoint," Villareal says, "is that this is kiddie porn.
Truly, I wish that it was kiddie porn, because
it'd be much easier to bring these bastards to justice.
But children are involved in every phase of film production,
EXCEPT they're not involved in the sex scenes as participants.
So it's not really kiddie porn--it's BY-kiddie porn."
Brazil's by-kiddie porn
industry involves millions of dollars, thousands of films,
and hundreds of children in a Pyramid of Oppression atop
which sit the fat-cat entrepreneurs who exploit human
suffering for profit. Up in the porn camps, armed guards
patrol self-contained jungle villages devoted to producing
erotic adult feature films. Slaving away in sweltering,
Apocalypse Now-style jungle-river compounds, children
are herded together and taught the art of film making
in a most inauspicious setting. Kids as young as three
years old are shouting "cut!" and "that's a wrap!" with
the finesse of seasoned Hollywood professionals. An entire
film is typically scripted, rehearsed, shot, and transferred
to video in the course of a morning, leaving the whole
afternoon for the children to do the village's menial
"What makes this phenomenon
almost impossible to eliminate," Villareal continues,
interrupting my train of thought, "is that they're operating
under the jungle's protective cover. These 'film sets'
are merely temporary campgrounds. If they hear that
the federales are coming, they can just break
camp and go further up the river. It's hard to keep
chasing them. The logistics are wrong."
"The logistics are wrong?"
Villareal says it'll
be difficult to prosecute the films' producers on child-pornography
charges because it's a stretch to argue that the children
are being used sexually.
"It's a legal quandary.
We can nail them on child-slavery charges, but it'd
be hard to make a kiddie-porn beef stick."
"What's a kiddie-porn
"No, no--I meant it'd
be hard to make kiddie-porn charges stick."
Since things got tense,
"THERE'S SO MUCH
INJUSTICE in the
world already," says Linda Mulgrew-Christy, chairperson
children's-rights organization Save the Damn Children,
"so when you hear about something like these by-kiddie
porn films, well, that's the straw that breaks the camel's
back. That's when you realize it's time to get involved
on all three levels--
personal, community, and spiritual." Mulgrew-Christy's
organization boasts that it's devoted to
"fighting child abuse
with the ferocity of a child abuser."
"It's inconceivable that
in this day and age, something like
by-kiddie porn films could happen," she says, leaning
back in a really nice vinyl comfy chair. "We need to
stop it, and we need to stop it now."
"I agree. How do you
propose to do that?"
She leans back and her
eyes assume a faraway glaze. "Oh--well...hmm...I really
hadn't considered that."
Instead of answering
my question, she pops in a CD featuring a female folk
singer decrying the horrors of child abuse in a manner
that some would consider unnecessarily graphic. "When
a child has no innocence, what does it have?" Mulgrew-Christy
asks me, her piercing eyes fixed on an imaginary dot
in my forehead.
"You took the words
right out of my mouth," she says, winking.
I ask her why she got
involved in helping to protect children from sexual
and financial exploitation. "As long as one child
somewhere is unhappy," she says, "I'm unhappy."
"I would think you'd
be unhappy a lot."
are involved in every phase of film production, EXCEPT
they're not involved in the sex scenes as participants.
So it's not really kiddie porn--it's
AN ENERGY and
magic to pornography that adults simply don't have,"
says Ray Lee Bernstein, webmaster of bykiddieporn.com,
a site devoted to the by-kiddie porn phenomenon. "They
bring a fresh, bright vision to adult cinema. These
kids are writing amazingly well-paced scripts. Since
kids tend to be short, they come up with some interesting
camera angles. It's refreshing to see how much talent
was laying dormant amid homeless street waifs from
São Paulo." Bernstein is a former film critic
for the Missoula Messenger who was forced to
leave that paper under dark whispers of scandal. He
is one among a growing number of critics who find
artistic merit in the by-kiddie films. He mentions
the canon of the legendary "Mario," a six-year-old
Brazilian boy whose films such as Amazon, Tu Es
Mi Corazon and Mas Leche, Mi Mama have
received critical acclaim from such unlikely sources
as The New York Times, Variety, and PDXS.
"Mario deserves the appellation of auteur,"
Bernstein says. "His films
display an emotional complexity almost unknown in
mainstream cinema, much less pornography. His
use of the jungle's natural lighting is almost heartbreaking
in its evocative power. It's fair to call him the
Hitchcock of By-Kiddie Porn."
also features a page devoted to a strange subgenre
of the by-kiddie porn movement: anal slapstick comedies
such as Tickle Mi Culo and Chupa Mi Verga.
"The kids just love everything poop-related," Bernstein
says, smiling. "They just love a good ass joke. They're
very playful with anal themes. And they're making
their presence known in the ass-porn marketplace.
Children have already cornered the market on scat,
and they're making inroads on anal."
MY RIVER GUIDE JULIO
steers me up the evil demon Amazon which spares
no man. Our boat skims beneath the banana trees.
We're up in the lair of the wild mosquito. Up in
the land of muddy water and hot, still air. The
land of wild, scary jungle cats with big teeth.
Poisonous snakes, too.
By greasing a few
palms and calling in a few favors, I was able to
arrange a meeting with Augusto Hector Del Fuego,
the so-called "Pimp Daddy of By-Kiddie Porn." Del
Fuego has allegedly made over thirty million dollars
by overseeing a web of by-kiddie-porn camps in the
Brazilian outback. For all his power, though, I
am unimpressed when I finally meet him in a small,
poorly ventilated shack along the Amazon. He is
a fat man. A charmless man. A man who emits a sharp,
"The kids are so
much cheaper to use," Del Fuego explains. "For starters,
they're little. They don't eat as much as an adult,
and you can fit more of them into a bamboo hut.
It doesn't really take much to teach them to push
the PLAY button on a camera. All things considered,
the overhead is preferable when using children.
The kids help the bottom line. Do the math, Einstein--kids
are simply more cost-effective. It's not a moral
issue--it's a financial issue."
"But it IS a moral
issue," I insist.
He stares at me with
cold slits of eyes. "Do you know I could have you
killed right now?"
I feel stymied by
the heat. Intimidated by his armed guards. Scared
of encountering cheetahs and leopards in the underbrush.
Worried about giant mosquitos and what diseases
they might carry. Terrified of finding a tarantula
in my sleeping bag. So I refuse to answer his question
and ask Julio to get the boat ready.
I quietly leave Del
Fuego's haunts, happy to be alive. Happy to be headed
back to the city. Happy I'm not a small Brazilian
about this injustice. We need to save the children.
We need to save the children. WE NEED TO SAVE THE
CHILDREN. How many times do I need to say it? If
we can save one child--just one little fuzzy canary
of a child--it'll all be worth it.
The events of 9/11/01
brought us all a little closer together. It even
brought us closer to the Amazon rain forest, where
children suffer unimaginable indignities while
filming pornographic features. We all need to
keep our kids safe and ignorant about sex for
as long as we can. There's plenty we can do. You
can do something. I can do something. We can all
do something. Together, we can do something.
If we can stop
one more by-kiddie porn film from being made,
one day we can look down at our OWN kids with
confidence and say, "Nobody will ever kidnap YOU
and take you up to the Amazon jungle where you'll
be forced to make porno films starring adult actors.
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