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Bijou Video founder Steven Toushin, originally of Brooklyn, New York, and currently the company’s president, was passing through Chicago in the summer of 1968 and planned to stay for six months. There, he obtained employment at the Aardvark Theater, an experimental avant-garde theater in Piper’s Alley and stayed beyond his initially planned six month period. Ten months after taking the managing position, Toushin had his first obscenity arrest. Later, in 1969, Toushin became a partner in the Festival Theater Corporation in Chicago, the parent company of Aardvark, the Festival Theater in Chicago, and the Festival Theater in Indianapolis (located at 5505 East Washington Street), which showed art and documentary type films. In 1970 graphic hardcore pornographic films started to be exhibited to the general public in a few of the major cities. Toushin's theaters were the first theaters to exhibit these films in the Midwest.
Based on their success, Toushin opened the Bijou Theater and sex club in 1970 at 1349 Wells Street in Chicago's Old Town district featuring gay pornographic films and a place for gay men to meet and have sexual encounters. Bijou theater is still in operation to this day. Shortly thereafter, Festival Theater Corporation grew to eight theaters, two adult bookstores and movie production. In 1975 Steven formed other companies which included a variety of massage parlors and Gay bathhouses in Chicagoand a movie theater and sex club known as "Savages" in San Francisco.
Starting in 1970, Festival Theater Corporation produced, distributed and exhibited gay and straight films. Bijou Video was formed in 1978 and has been a leading producer and distributor of gay pornographic films based in Chicago. In 1985, Images of the World (current parent company of Bijou Video) was formed to manage Bijou Video, while Festival Theater Corporation operates the Bijou Theater and sex club. Bijou Video produces and sells videos and DVDs showing explicit sexual activity between men.
Books that Steven Toushin had written, The Puppy Papers, The Destruction of the Moral Fabric of America, Puppy's Tales, The Cock Coloring Book
- BIC Productions
- Black Forest Productions
- Eagle Studios
- Hand in Hand Films (Jack Deveau)
- Films Vitruvian (J. Brian)
- Brentwood Studios (Matt Sterling, Jack Travis)
- Old Reliable (David Hurles)
- Surge Studios (Al Parker)
- The films of Steve Scott
Bijou Video directors and performersEdit
- Find This Man (1992)
- Hey Tony! What's the Story? (1993)
- Twins (1993)
- Classmates (1986)
- Below the Belt (1985)
- The Bigger The Better (1984)
- Screenplay (1984)
- A Few Good Men (1983)
- Rawhide (1981)
- Centurians of Rome (1981)
- Schoolmates 1 (1976)
- Do Me Evil (1975)
Steven Toushin and Bijou Video have been the subject of 21 federal and local government obscenity arrests and trials. The first obscenity charge was brought against Toushin in 1969 for exhibiting the film Flaming Creatures, by Jack Smith, in Chicago, shortly followed by another arrest for obscenity in 1970 for exhibiting the film I Am Curious (Yellow) in Indianapolis and in 1973 Deep Throat in East Chicago, Indiana.
The most notable charges were the result of The Meese Commission in 1987 in the wave of federal obscenity arrests across the country in "Operation PostPorn". U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese spearheaded charges against Toushin and others involved in the Bijou Video organization claiming the following pornographic films that Bijou Video sold, produced and distributed were obscene:
The Miller Test requires that obscenity be measured against community standards, which requires the trials to occur at a local level. The Meese Commission brought charges against Toushin in Tennessee, Washington, and Utah. After successfully defending these films, the United States government began negotiations with Toushin to settle the charges and drop further prosecution in Utah and Nebraska. He received a sentence of five years probation.