Thursday, February 25, 1999. No. 374

Nicola Luksic

p. 18.

Hustler was hated

'Kiddie pornographer' filmed sex with live-in lover

Five "fucked-up" years have passed since 28-year-old hustler Matthew McGowan was charged with making obscene material.

"The experience ate up a lot of my life," McGowan says of the year and 10 months he lived through before the case was thrown out. "I got so fucked up on drugs and alcohol during the whole process. From there, everything went downhill."

Now he is trying to pick up the pieces and move on.

Arriving early for the morning interview, McGowan had made himself comfortable with a cigarette and a latte. he's freshly shaven and wearing a neatly pressed Ralph Lauren button-down, covering regretted tattoos on his arms.

"In the last little while I've been busy making myself well again," he says, saying that he's been clean of street drugs and alcohol for seven consecutive days. "It's like hitting a brick wall with no airbags."

When McGowan was 23, police got their hands on a copy of a home-made video of him having sex with two 14-year-old boys — one of whom was his then-live-in boyfriend.

Luckily for him, he wasn't charged under the child porn law (which unequivocally says that sexual depictions of anyone under 18 are illegal), but rather under the obscenity section of the Criminal Code (because the film was made before the law came into effect).

Child pornography laws don't correlate with the age of consent. "It doesn't make much sense. If I can have the real thing, why can't I have a photograph of it?" McGowan asks.

The charge were tossed out at a preliminary hearing on the grounds that the acts were not "obscene" — no violence, degradation, or coercion were involved. "It was obvious that us three young men were having a good time," he says.

But the victory did not save him from the hatred of others. "My life was just turned upside down," McGowan says, pointing out that his photo was published across Toronto in major daily newspapers. "I had people come up to me — total strangers — and call me a fucking didler."

"Once you're charged, the press has free reign and they'll twist it to suit their purposes. Hey — sex sells."

Most "mortifying "for him was having the video screened in an open court room during his bail hearing.

Since then, McGowan hasn't made any more videos, nor had relationships with young teenagers.

"I regret making the video. Let me rephrase that. I have some regrets because it got me into a lot of trouble. But in turn I met some great people through it and I learned to stand up and fight for myself," he says.

He commends the Sex Workers Alliance Of Toronto (SWAT), for which he currently volunteers, for providing him with a great deal of support.

Over the course of the last four weeks he's been attending the Beat The Street literacy program to prepare himself for the secondary school General Equivalency Diploma. He's also been going to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings, which he says was a big step for him.

"My biggest fear was to walk into a gay and lesbian AA meeting and for people to say, 'Oh, there's that paedophile," he says. "You'd be surprised to find how many people remember things that took place forever ago."

But his fear was quickly forgotten. "Once I did it, people were really supportive and they wanted to help," he says.

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Created: February 27, 1999
Last modified: January 31, 2001
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