- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 2, 2009

The ivy-covered halls are tinged with scarlet this semester. And maybe a little purple too.

Some of the most hoity-toity universities in the nation are offering students an unusual distraction from the stress of academic life. In recent weeks, “Pirates II: Stagnetti’s Revenge” - an X-rated swashbuckler with hundreds of special effects - has been screened in campus theaters at the University of California at Los Angeles, Northwestern University, Carnegie Mellon University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Southern Connecticut University.

The University of California at Davis will show “Pirates” on Thursday evening, the University of Maryland at midnight Saturday.

“I’m always impressed by the open-minded attitude in our country’s universities. Sex is a topic which should be discussed in the open. It is no longer taboo,” said Ali Joone, who wrote and directed the film and serves as chief executive officer of Digital Playground, a California-based adult-film studio that has produced more than 300 titles.

The company is mainstreaming its racy fare, offering films to student activities offices around the country. Though policies vary, campus officials do not forbid pornographic materials to be screened for the most part, though some administrations stipulate that attendees must be older than 18.

“Numerous colleges published reviews and stories on ‘Pirates,’ sparking the healthy debate as to whether adult entertainment has a place in academic studies,” Mr. Joone added.

“Parents don’t shell out thousands of dollars for porn to be adopted into the official curriculum. Students can get that for free, with an Internet search,” said Jason Mattera, spokesman for Young America’s Foundation, a Virginia-based group that monitors the cultural and ideological bent of the nation’s colleges and universities.

“Perhaps college officials should concentrate on beefing up their students’ abysmal knowledge of American history, civics and free enterprise,” Mr. Mattera added.

Most of the screenings for “Pirates” include educational frills of some sort.

When some 800 students settle in with their popcorn to view “Pirates” at UC Davis, they will also hear a lecture on pornography as a cultural institution - drawing on the fact that X-rated films such as “Deep Throat” began appearing in the lecture halls of American universities more than three decades ago.

The University of Maryland will offer “Pirates” at the Hoff Theater on campus, complete with an introduction by Planned Parenthood representatives.

“They’re going to talk about safe sex. We think it’s important to contextualize the film before we show it,” theater manager Lisa Cunningham said.

Porn, however, does not create much of a fuss.

“Four years ago, we showed ‘Deep Throat,’ and nobody spoke up. No parents protested. Maybe they would have 30 years ago, but not any more. We also operate on our own income. We use no student activity fees to screen X-rated films,” she said.

Parents appear to be worried about other things, perhaps.

Theater personnel will be on their toes, meanwhile.

“We’re very good at manning the doors. Nobody under 18 can get in, and we require a state-issued ID. When we showed ‘Deep Throat,’ it sold out. But I’d be shocked if this one were to sell out. It’s really more of a fun event, a chance to hang out before the stress of exams start,” she added.

She compared the experience to attending the “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” a 1975 British musical parody of the horror genre that has built a solid following of obsessed fans who know every lyric, and often attend dressed as their favorite character from the film.

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