Redacted Documents Show Public Library Wasn’t Ready for Porn Shoot

Motherboard obtained documents related to the investigation of the Ocean Park library porn shoot that shook Santa Monica earlier this year.
June 30, 2020, 1:00pm
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Earlier this year, a video appeared online of two people walking into the Ocean Park branch of the Santa Monica Public Library and having sex in the stacks.

At the time, the porn clip starring performer Ellie Eilish and her unidentified scene partner and cameraman (it was titled "Eilish Caught Fucking in a Crowded Public Library" on Pornhub, but has since been deleted by the uploader), stirred up outrage and disgust around the small community library. Redacted documents about the incident obtained by Motherboard show how the small library scrambled to respond to its sudden and unexpected virality.

"That is wrong, it is completely wrong," resident Felipe Herrador told NBC Los Angeles at the time. "It’s a public place, a library where there are children. How will the city or people allow that?"

In February, local news coverage by CBS Los Angeles reported that the 10-minute long porn video was filmed during the library's regular business hours and posted to several porn hosting sites in December, but has since been removed from most of those sites.

"This video is deeply disturbing," the city of Santa Monica told VICE in a statement in February. "Lewd acts in the public library are a violation of library rules and against the law. Staff did not have knowledge of the incident when it took place. The Santa Monica Police Department is investigating."

Motherboard filed a public records request with the city of Santa Monica, requesting emails, texts, police reports, and any other records related to the incident. The city recently sent back those documents, including a mostly-blank police report and heavily redacted email threads between librarians discussing the incident.

The Santa Monica police report, filed February 19, contains little beyond the date and it being a "priority 4" call, meaning there was a request made for police response, but mainly for investigative purposes. Motherboard has reached out to SMPD for updates on this case, but so far, there's been no new reports of Eilish or her co-star being apprehended.

Principal Librarian Susan Lamb wrote in an email to Assistant City Librarian Erica Cuyugan on February 16 that she'd heard on the KNX radio station that Santa Monica police were investigating reports of a woman exposing herself who purportedly exposed herself in front of John Muir Elementary, and having sex with a man inside the Ocean Park Library.

"Needless to say this caught my attention," Lamb wrote.

But the librarians were talking about this incident as early as January.

"Hi Karen, I got your message about a possible video circulating regarding a couple doing something in the Ocean park branch while the library was closed," Cuyugan wrote in another email on January 28. (The "something" that couple was doing, as it turned out? Fucking in the library, while it was open.)

Almost all of the rest of that email, and the reply from Ocean Park branch manager Karen Reitz outlining some of the buzz around the story on Reddit at the time, is redacted—as are the bulk of emails back and forth between library management. What isn't redacted is focused on discussing how to deal with the influx of comment requests from media they started to receive in February.

Even with as much of these emails redacted, seeing how a small library gets rocked by a couple deciding to shoot some porn in between its shelves is interesting. What little correspondence isn't obscured shows talk of a huddle, regrets about not sharing talking points with library staff sooner, and strategizing about how to respond to all the press attention.

As VICE noted in February, filming porn in public places can have serious consequences for the venues involved. The Milwaukee, Wisconsin gas station that was the unwilling setting of a viral porn clip risked losing its license. And the COVID-19 lockdown orders haven't stopped people from making messes with public sex: Last week, a mass of 500 people embarked on a night of drunken debauchery in Barbican, Plymouth in the UK, leaving behind "urine, excrement, used tampons, used condoms, broken glass, blood, [and] piles of rubbish," according to local reports.

If you're going to fuck in public, maybe don't do it in a library or a gas station's snack aisle or as a giant group during a pandemic. Follow the advice of people who have pulled it off safely, instead.