Thanking Gloria Leonard, who encouraged me along the path: 1940-2014

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Feb 06, 2014 Thanking Gloria Leonard, who encouraged me along the path: 1940-2014

I reserve blog entries for those who have passed away to a select number of people. Today, I sing the praises of Gloria Leonard, who left her body three days ago.

Gloria reportedly had a very serious stroke on January 30. On that same day, she posted a brief comment to one of my Facebook entries referencing my blog entry on going to court vibrating highly and with positive energy. As she often did, Gloria encouraged me onwards with her comment.

Gloria had a fascinating story, and I probably only know a fraction of it. She worked in the financial world, for many years as High Society’s publisher, and with 900 phone service in its infancy. She is a past president of the Free Speech Coalition. She was a feminist who believed in robust Constitutional protection for adult entertainment, and made clear her differences with the feminists who advocated otherwise. Gloria acted in several adult films, or more, starting in the days of actual celluloid adult films in the mid-1970’s, before VCR’s and commercial videotapes became widespread home purchases, and long before the Internet burst full force onto the scene. She also had some mainstream screen roles.

Here is the backdrop to how I met and spent time with Gloria Leonard:

One day in 1999, my now former law partner Jay Marks and I were talking at the end of the day how I might start to get clients from the adult entertainment industry, which was in line with my First Amendment zealotry. Jay had great idea: “Why don’t you call Dr. Phil Goode?,” the nickname for Phil Guye, whose local company provided strippers for parties, and who was covered a little over a year earlier in a lengthy Washington City Paper article. Within minutes, I found Phil’s company in the yellow pages (before Google was as reliable as today so as to make the yellow pages obsolete), and he answered on my first call. When I told Phil that I was interested in meeting people in the adult entertainment industry, he suggested I give a call to former adult film actor Bill Margold, then a board member of the Free Speech Coalition, the main trade association for the adult entertainment industry. Claiming that “God created man/William Margold created himself,” Bill told me about a soon upcoming fundraising party for the Free Speech Coalition that he had arranged in Atlantic City. I went, and this fundraising party turned out to be just part of a much larger event, which was the annual and later defunct East Coast Video Show (VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED, image-wise, before opening the foregoing link, posted by my creatively brilliant brothers Scott Huffines and Tom Warner).

The rest of the story of my entry into adult entertainment legal representation and ultimate main focus on criminal defense is here.

Two organizations were important to my start and continuation in representing members of the adult entertainment industry, those being the Free Speech Coalition and the First Amendment Lawyers Association. I deeply appreciate that with the FSC, I was given a particularly warm welcome by Gloria, Bill Margold, and FSC board chair Jeff Douglas. With the First Amendment Lawyers Association, I received a particularly warm and encouraging welcome by such people as David Wasserman, Jeff Douglas (the same one with the FSC), Reed Lee, and Larry Walters.

Soon after attending the 1999 East Coast Video Show, I met Gloria Leonard after she spoke on a panel at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. about First Amendment protection for adult entertainment. She was at the time the president of the Free Speech Coalition.

I next met up with Gloria in 2000, when we spoke in Washington, D.C., on separate panels of the so-called Thornburgh Committee, which committee was exploring ways to limit children’s access to online adult entertainment. Gloria and I, among others, of course were advocating for robust free speech online.

After Gloria’s morning panel appearance, we went to lunch together at the now-former top Galileo Italian restaurant, taking a scenic detour en route through Hains Point, which at that point had the great Awakening sculpture, which now looks much less magnificent ever after its transfer to the very commercial National Harbor. Without question, I was very delighted to get together for lunch with this woman who had such a fascinating story. I soon learned that even without such a colorful story, she was a wonderful and very interesting woman.

I saw Gloria again in 2001 at the annual Adult Video News awards ceremony in Las Vegas, and for the last time later that year at the Free Speech Coalition’s annual awards event in Los Angeles. At some point she moved to Hawaii. Around a year ago, I received a Facebook message from Gloria, after many years having lost contact, and we then re-established contact from there. She invited me to visit her in Hawaii when in that neck of the globe.

I have never seen any of Gloria’s films. To me, she was always much more than her films, but never shied away from them, either.

I first learned yesterday about Gloria’s stroke and passing through a Facebook posting of another First Amendment Lawyers Association member, whose pre-lawyer resume includes being a cameraperson for adult films. His Facebook posting linked to a Daily News obituary. I thought that certainly her obituary merited New York Times coverage — not only because she grew up in New York City and lived there for many years of her adulthood — and she received it later in the day yesterday.

Gloria always welcomed me, and always encouraged and cheered me on. I have wonderful memories about Gloria.

Deeply thanking and bowing to Gloria Leonard.

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