Ah, Utah. I loved the time I spent there, but you always had the pervasive feeling that the State wasn’t letting you bxa grown-up. While I was there they tried to prohibit pay cable stations from showing anything remotely sexy – there are channels like HBO, which the cusyomers go out of their way to get, not basic cable. The bill flopped. They also tried to prosecure for fornicaion, but that failed too.
Whemn I arrived in 1983, there were three movie theaters showing X-rated movies in Salt Lake City (One had been operating when I passed through in 1980). Within a few years they were all closed down, but I believe it was for non-porn issues, the same way the Jocord Bar, wit its strippers, was shut down for having asbestos on its premises. Prosecutors got creative when it was demanded of them.
Nevertheless, sex continued and continues to sell in Utah. The magazine stores on Main Street openly sold Playboy, Penthouse, and harder fare, and used-book shops sold back issues. There were also places up near Roy Utah, near the Air Force Base, that sold such things, all without interference. When Vanna white showed up on the cover of Playnboy, the magazine store in Salt Lake filled the front window with them.
And there were strippers in SLC and Roy and elsewhere. They just couldn’t strip very far – they could basically peel down to a bikini (although one creative stripper still managed to pick up her dollar bill yips with her unaided breasts, even with a bra on.) The places couldmn’t serve anything stronger than 3.2 beer. This shows how desperate people were. Wendover, Nevada – which, I’m convinced, was in business because it was the closest place to Salt Lake on the Nevada border – was a two hour drive across the Salt Lake Desert to gambling, alcohol, and shows featuring scantily=-clad women (but not prostitution, which was illegal there)
In Salt Lake itself, they bowdlerized the plays. I saw Amadeus at Pioneer Memorial Theater with the lnguage slashed considerably, which was absurd – the point was that Mozaart WAS childishly potty-mouthed. If you cut that, there’s not much of a issue. What’s Salieri got to complain about? KBYU, the Brigham Young University-affiliated PBS station, cut sections out of shows, including Sherlock Holmes (!). KUED, the University of Utah station, didn’t.
But you could get magazines and books. Video stores carried surprisingly hard “R” rated films. There was even a semi-underground set of escort services. adult industries existed in Utah, but pared down and toned down or very sub rosa.