The drive from Arizona State University’s Tempe campus to the nondescript office in an industrial park behind the Scottsdale Municipal Airport is relatively short, 30 minutes or so. But for an 18-year-old ASU freshman from a small town in Texas, it seemed to take forever – and would prove to be the most fateful trip of her life.
It was a warm September night in 2010 when the young woman, whom we’ll call Stacey, walked out of her dormitory in the heart of Tempe, hopped into the passenger seat of a car driven by a middle-aged man named Eric Whittaker, and took the short drive north. If the two talked, Stacey doesn’t remember the conversation, only that it was “uncomfortable”.
Stacey’s sense of discomfort was not misplaced. The stocky, otherwise forgettable Whittaker happened to be an amateur pornographer, one who operates at least two Scottsdale-based sites that make sport out of preying upon, and in many cases humiliating, female members of ASU’s young, often naive, and overwhelmingly attractive student body. And Stacey, a thin, leggy blonde, was on her way to his single-desk office to be his “model” for the night.
For one of Whittaker’s sites, Backroom Casting Couch, the gimmick is simple: He pretends to be a talent agent who can help young models interested in porn make thousands of dollars a day by introducing them to casting directors. The catch is they have to have sex with him on film – for free – so he has something to show these alleged directors.
In his introduction to each video, the unseen Whittaker explains, “Backroom Casting Couch is a website about the real-life interactions that occur during adult modelling interviews,” before describing in explicit detail what these models will be doing.
But then he lets viewers in on a little secret: “I’m not a talent agent… and there is no modelling job.”
In Stacey’s clip the scene starts with home-video-quality footage of Whittaker sitting alone in an office talking into a camera. He then goes into the hallway, walks outside, and finds Stacey waiting. He pretends to introduce himself – as if they hadn’t just spent 30 minutes together in a car – and invites her inside.
The two briefly make small talk before he asks to see some ID. Stacey happily displays both her driver’s licence and her ASU student ID card – a move that later would prove to be a life-altering mistake.
THE VALLEY OF THE SUN [nickname for the Phoenix metropolitan area] has become a magnet for this type of low-budget amateur porn. In addition to BRCC, there’s Amateur Allure, the Lightspeed Media network, Aziani.com, Taryn It Up Entertainment, and countless others. There are gay sites, softcore sites, and big-time production studios all based in the Valley. Porn legend Jenna Jameson even founded her Club Jenna empire in the Phoenix Valley. Why do they come to the desert to set up shop? Well, one reason is girls like Stacey: cute young coeds struggling to make tuition at one of the biggest party schools in the country. That’s where guys like Whittaker (who didn’t respond to multiple calls seeking comments) come in.
Several young women featured on Whittaker’s sites have been identified as ASU students, including some, like Stacey, so brazen as to display their student IDs. Whittaker’s other site, Exploited College Girls, is slightly less gimmicky. There’s no pretence of ignorance on the part of the women featured on the site; they’re simply there for sex. But it plays off the same general theme: giving the appearance of exploiting young women. It’s right there in the name.
Exploited College Girls doesn’t exclusively feature girls from ASU, or even from Arizona. Many come from Florida, Texas, California, and other states, but they’re often flown to Scottsdale to shoot their scenes. In each case the producer identifies the college – or, in some cases, the high school – that the young woman attends and then briefly explains why she decided to appear in a low-budget porn flick. The typical answer: money.
But while many of the girls featured on ECG claim to come from schools like UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) or USC (University of Southern California), the majority identify themselves as ASU Sun Devils [the nickname for athletes at the college].
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