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This week in Tortoise: The porn headmaster

Monday 19 July 2021


Two months ago, Alexi Mostrous, Tortoise’s head of investigations, and his team tracked down the Porn King – the elusive Bernd Bergmair, who owns a large part of MindGeek, the company behind Pornhub.

Now, for this week’s Slow Newscast, Alexi (who, by the way, won Technology Journalist of the Year at last week’s Press Awards) has found The Porn Headmaster and, in the process, revealed a great deal about the often shady business of porn production.

Alexi’s report begins with Marco and Stefano. The former makes grainy amateur videos of men being humiliated; the latter appeared in one of those videos some time ago, while homeless, on drugs and in need of cash, but regretted his involvement almost immediately afterwards – and fought to get the video withdrawn. It’s taken Stefano years, during which time he has made several attempts on his own life, to finally reach a settlement.

But that’s not the twist in the tale. The twist is that Marco’s real name is Mario Rogers and, while making some of those videos years ago, Mario Rogers was also the headmaster of a primary school in Essex, England. Until a month ago, Mario was also the governor of another school.

This story isn’t about who or who shouldn’t be able to make porn videos. But it is about the porn producers and how they behave. This is an industry that operates on the fringes of society, and, as a result, is mostly overlooked and unregulated. It is rife with exploitation and worse. Please do give the podcast a listen; it’s in the app today.

As for this week’s ThinkIns:

  • This evening, we’re asking a question of our members: How can Tortoise go local? We already have a plan to bring Tortoise to the North East of England this year, under the stewardship of Duncan Mavin, but we’d like to run that plan past you and see what you think.
  • Tomorrow, with US forces departing from Afghanistan, we’ll be joined by the former head of the British Armed Forces, General Sir David Richards, and the American journalist Edward Girardet to look back over the past 20 years in the country: Did the West do more hard than good?
  • And, on Wednesday, the very serious business of trainers. How much can a shoe really mean? Quite a lot, judging by the trainers exhibition that’s currently on at the Design Museum, as well as the prices some pairs go for in online auctions…

Of course, we will also be continuing with our Arms Race campaign this week, to help build a coalition that can deliver vaccines around the world. Some of that work won’t yet be visible: we’re looking into how we can gather better data on the roll out of vaccines. Some of it will be: please keep an eye out for a piece from India by the acclaimed journalist and author of Mountain Tales, Saumya Roy.

Allbest.

James Harding
Editor & co-founder