Police seized a film from a downtown Salt Lake theater and pulled video tapes from the shelves of two shops Wednesday night.
Members of the Salt Lake Police Vice Squad entered the Blue Mouse Theater, 260 S. First East, about 10:05 p.m. Wednesday, minutes after the X-rated feature film, "Cafe Flesh," started.The officers produced a search warrant and ordered the projectionist to shut off the film. Another officer announced to the crowd of 36 people that Wednesday's installment in the theater's second annual U.S. Erotic Film Festival had just ended.
"The film is in violation of the obscenity statute and involves several physical acts," Vice Squad Sgt. George Vaughn said.
The confiscation was part of a nine-month undercover smut sting. Vaughn said members of the vice squad had earlier viewed the film and found that it had four of five scenes depicting explicit sexual contact.
A judge issued a search warrant based on a description of the film provided by the vice squad. It had played three consecutive Wednesdays at the theater and was scheduled to end its run May 18.
After the projection lights dimmed, most of the audience stayed to watch the second film of the double feature, "Emmanuelle The Joys of a Woman," also X-rated, while others asked for a refund of the $3.50 admission.
"Why can they show violence and have problems showing a simple film like this?" said Mike Kim-ball as he left the theater with his date. "They should re-evaluate what is supposed to have a detrimental effect on society."
The theater's owner, manager, ticket sales person and projectionist could all be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which could result in $1,000 fines or one year in jail, Vaughn said.
The manager of the theater declined comment on the police action. The film confiscation is the first since two X-rated theaters were closed in December 1986.
Earlier Wednesday, Salt Lake and West Jordan police confiscated six video tape titles from Video
Time shops at 110 N. Ninth West and 1690 W. 90th South. The films contain explicit sexual material, said Vice Detective Terry Orton.
Orton has headed the ongoing nine-month investigation. Nine officers have been viewing videos, films and pornographic magazines in Salt Lake County.
Other raids are likely to result, along with continued monitoring of businesses, Vaughn said.
Officers are pleased that they are taking action, "but it has been a long nine months of looking at nothing but garbage," Orton said.
Vice Squad Detectives M. Asker-lund, D. Timmerman, G. Smith and M. Humphries assisted in the raid.