Tuesday, January 02, 2007

John Cornetta: The Blog Interview, Conclusion

In Part I, John Cornetta shared his early life and background in the adult business. In the conclusion, Mr. Cornetta delves deeper into the issues surrounding the opening of the Johns Creek store as well as providing a surprising endorsement of one of his adversaries.

His answers are frank with no apology. He still faces contempt of court charges with potential incarceration. He takes this battle seriously; vowing to conclude our conversation even if he would have to "hand write it and send it out from [his] cell".

Once again, all answers are unedited except for minor spelling and grammatical corrections.

griftdrift:Why open a store in Johns Creek?

John Cornetta: I bought a home in Johns Creek in 1998 or 99. I married and my wife moved in in 2000. I still own that home. It is less then 1 mile from the store. It is one of the only neighborhoods left in Johns Creek that does not have a home owners association and it never will because I will keep that home and as the land owner I will not consent... I wanted to open a store there for a long time, way before the movement to make it a city. Last year the liquor store changed hands and the new owner decided to downsize and rent out about 10,000 square feet. I was upfront with them from day one on what I wanted to do there.

griftdrift: Do you find it ironic that your Johns Creek store is located next to a rather large liquor store yet no one seems to mind that establishment?

John Cornetta: The world is [filled] with irony. I wouldn't pile on. What people do with their private life isn't my business. As long as they are not hurting others, I don't want myself, nor government, to get involved. What I find ironic is that a dance studio and a bus stop for a school seam to be the big deal here. First off bus stops are moving targets and dance studios don't qualify even under Johns Creek new adult entertainment ordinance.

griftdrift: Do you enjoy the controversy that tends to follow the opening of your stores? As a businessman do you consider it free publicity?

John Cornetta: I do not. I have lost weight ( which might not be bad ), been physically ill, had death threats. I have been picketed, my faith has been questioned, my morals etc. I would much rather live and let live. I have opened about 6 or 7 stores since Peachtree Parkway without much fan fare. I would rather have it that way. As for the advertising... I mean come on, lets not be coy, you can't buy the front page of the AJC and I don't think you can buy the opening 3 or 5 minutes on all the local channels. Yes it is free publicity, but it comes with a price.

griftdrift: Much of Atlanta's sex industry is located in less affluent areas (Cheshire Bridge Rd, Metropolitan Parkway, etc), yet you have several locations in more affluent areas. Do you think the controversy your store openings cause is a result of classism?

John Cornetta: Perhaps, I have studied the market. I am not that smart of a guy, but I still have enough to know better. In looking at the business I saw the same thing. But I noticed that if you had enough guts and money, could handle the first few volleys from the locals and or government, you could win. I will always win. It is just a matter of getting up one more time then them. I found that opening nicer stores in affluent areas has been a much better idea. It takes as much effort for our offices to manage a small 1,000 foot store as it does a 10,000 foot store yet we make much more. I see the future of my business as a merger of sorts. I envision Targets, Wal-Mart etc. A one stop shop. I like having a soft mix at about 99% of my stores. So when I decided to comply with Fulton County law and have 25% or less of my stock in trade as adult merchandise, there was no trick in it. We do very good with lube, lingerie, sheets, shoes, smoke products, cigars, etc.

griftdrift: How does working with Fulton County compare to working with other local governments?

John Cornetta: Let me tell you this straight from me, Steve Rosenberg is A-1 class all the way. He has taken a few free shots at me but most counties and locals change their attorneys monthly. Fulton has enjoyed pretty good protection over the years and the reason is Steve Rosenberg. Listen, Fulton went from 50% adult as the benchmark to 25% because of two people. Myself, and Steve Rosenberg. It is just too bad he doesn't have full control or this thing would have been handled a long time ago. If he were to run for Governor, I would back him. Now don't let Steve take a beating for this. He is not a yes man and he certainly is not on my side, he is just fair and balanced. He has his head on his shoulders. Mike Bodker by the way I think is also bright, likeable and approachable but I think he has already let power got to his head and he has let Lynne [gd: Lynne Riley, Fulton County Commission] in his ear. He is in trouble trust me.

griftdrift: What was being loaded on the panel truck on 12/21/06?

John Cornetta: The judge, when granting Fulton Counties preliminary injunction , error-ed. And he error-ed good. We knew it, I think Steve knew it, no one seamed to tell Mrs. Riely or Mr. Bodker based on their TV comments. He said it is a pad lock order. Then he said unless the 11th Circuit Court of appeals over rules him. Then he added, well that is unless the Love Shack has less then a " significant" portion of it's goods as adult. At this Cary Wiggins and H. Louis Sirkin, two of the three attorneys representing me on this said, uhh.. your honor could you please define significant so my client can comply.The judge said, no, my order is what it is. We were shocked! I mean talk about over broad and vague. It is like the new city of Johns Creek posting signs that say" Don't speed around here or else" with no speed limit. The judge's order is really bad. So bad that for the first time in my life in a court room, and I have to say I have been in many, the attorneys ordered a copy of the transcript right on the spot. Not just wait for the order, but to get a copy of every word said. They were high fiving each other, we looked at each other and laughed. We knew we could stay open. The laymen in the court room and the media were all confused. They were all asking us " hey what the hell just happened?".

So that day the county ( the prevailing party always does in Federal Court folks so our government can save tax dollars ) was asked by the judge to write the order as he had said. The next morning when Mr. Rosenberg sent it in, none of the judge's additional language was in it. So Judge Thrash, penned through it about ten times, hand wrote a ton of it and at the end added a star burst and had [written] that the order was good " unless the Love Shack offered for sales less then a significant amount of its stock in trade as adult. So that same day Alan Begner, the third attorney, wrote Mr. Rosenberg a letter where he stated that we intended to remove stock before the 3:00pm deadline set by the judge and add more non adult items to bring our inventory from about an already legal 18% ( the bench mark was 25% ) again down to a mind numbing 5%.... The county rejected our thoughts and said that they would consider even one DVD to be significant. Mr. Begner warned the county that comments made by Mrs. Riley were disturbing and that Judge Thrash's order was enforcible by a contempt motion only and NOT by padlock and someone needed to set her straight. They did. But through that night and in to the next morning and late afternoon, we were able to add about 30,000 purses, lingerie, magazines etc, and remove about 10,000 adult items. What you probably saw on the truck was the last of the 10,000 pieces to be removed. Trust me, I respect the legal system too much and the Constitution as a whole, to pull stuff out and bring it back and forth. It just isn't my style. I am upfront, all the way. After the inspection, the county decided that even at 5% we were in violation of the court order and filed for contempt. The judge has agreed to hear from all parties and on January 3rd, 2007 at 1:30 pm he will do so. What needs to be mentioned is that this judge never mentioned business licenses or occupancy permits or zoning. I think we won a lot more than the county did that day. He also barred Johns Creek from helping or appearing in Federal Court anymore and forbade them to assist the county further. We have however, still challenged the courts rulings in an appeal to the 11th Circuit and Friday we filed a motion for stay on the contempt hearing. I think from preliminary responses, that the circuit has a tremendous amount of interest in this case and will step up. The law of the land will change with this case and everyone here will have front row seats.

griftdrift: Have you received support from the ACLU or any other First Amendment organizations?

John Cornetta: No one. My friends Jimmy and Larry Flynt have called, emailed and text me with support ( no cash those bastards ) The ACLU doesn't have the guts, nor anyone else. I can not even count the amount of times I have given money and help to anyone who is being attacked but that's life. The store owners certainly aren't going to help each other for competitive reasons.

griftdrift: Personally what is your favorite item that you sell?

John Cornetta: I don't have one. This is a business to me. I don't even watch the videos. I rarely if ever use the products. It is just business. If I'm not in jail, on January 8th I will be in Las Vegas for the AVN adult show. It is like my 10th time. I mean how many times can you watch a beautiful women cry, thank her mom, and then accept an award for best blow job? It's kind of disturbing if you ask me.......

Thank you for the time and the respect you have shown me in allowing me to answer your questions. I leave you pleading with anyone who reads this to vote. To know who and what you are voting for. To please visit and donate to the national archives in Washington DC and look at up close The Constitution off The United States, The Bill of Rights, and all the amendments to it. These documents represent our future and past.

And as Larry Flynt once said, "If the first amendment will protect a . . . what did Grutman call me? Scumbag? Yeah. Scumbag like me, then it will protect all of you . . . 'cause I'm the worst."

Contributing to this intervew: Sara, Rusty, Amber


Anonymous said...

Good job, James.

griftdrift said...

Thanks Mike. That really means a lot.

Amber Rhea said...

Great job!! I am heartily impressed. Way to start off 2007 with some seriously kick-ass work!

Sara said...

This is very, very interesting stuff. Awesome.

Jen said...

Agree with everyone's sentiments. Just fantastic.

Steve said...

Did he give you any samples? Nice job.

Anonymous said...

Seems like a decent enough guy with a strong case. Thanks for putting this together. A front-row seat to the clash between big government, religious panderers, and small business.