ROC TALKS WITH MIKE DIANA

by: Scott Pfeiffer


ROC: Do you see something healthy in getting ugliness out in the open?

MCD: I think you should be allowed to be with it if you want to, to be able to see it. I think it would do more good than it would harm. If people tried to understand it.

ROC: Nude bars, adult book stores, etc., operate throughout Pinellas County. It seems far-fetched that anyone would be sexually aroused by your art. Do you think your trial was really about sex, or were there other political motives?

MCD: I think they just thought I was being anti-authority. They had this big thing in court where they were saying that I had a problem with authority they kept bringing up, which was a bunch of shit anyway cause I never broke the law. They thought I was being a smart-aleck or showin' off, trying to be an asshole by printin' it and drawing that stuff. They used obscenity law, even though I don't think they actually thought it was sexually obscene like the law says. They knew if they could get a jury in there and ask them, "Is this obscene?", they would say it is, no matter what the law was. 'Cause the law says if it's art, then it's allowed to be obscene. It has artistic value, or political value, or whatever. We showed that my stuff had artistic value because I spent all this time doing it and working on it. I went to art school. Even the Prosecutor's witness that was there to say that my stuff wasn't art ended up saying himself that I was a good artist. You can't get six uptight old people around Florida that are retired here to look at this art and say that it is or isn't obscene. So it was just a whole bunch of shit right from the start. I think it was kinda political reasons, that the prosecutors were prosecuting it, they just wanted to get popular, win a big case like that so it would be on the news.

ROC: Do you think any of the motivation might have been to put a chill on the burgeoning zine movement?

MCD: I think it should. Just so people realize that they are up against something else. It's kind of like I was testing the freedom of expression. So I don't know how many other places if you actually do something explicit that people aren't gonna like...I don't know where else you could be that they could do that. Probably anywhere, if they really wanted to.

ROC: Is there any connection between zines such as Boiled Angel and music that is apt to be censored, such as the 2 Live Crew? They were supposedly busted because of sex, but some thought it was actually because they were breaking down racial barriers and disturbing the status quo in Florida.

MCD: They were trying to get them with the same thing, with breaking the obscenity law. They said it was because of pornographic music and all that shit. Yeah, I think it was probably just that. The guy that was the governor at that time, Martinez, that was so much against 2 Live Crew and started all that against them, was against abortion, a big-time pro-life guy. He was all for the Christian people and keeping "family values" and all that shit. I don't think he liked a black band singing about that.

ROC: The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is helping to fund an appeal. Many anti-censorship folks feel that if the Supreme Court abolished obscenity laws, that would go a ways toward eliminating censorship. would you like to see that as a result of your case if it gets to that level?

MCD: Yeah, yeah, I'd like to for sure. I'd be glad that I would be able to help like that. To keep it freer for everybody.

ROC: You have a new comic book out called Superfly. Could you tell us about it?

MCD: That's already got done from the printer so it's all done now. It has a front / back cover on color, so it's printed nice, better than the Boiled Angel stuff that I was just printing myself. It's just a bunch of comics about whatever sick things you could think of. Kinda like the stuff that the State of Florida was against so much, the same type of thing is in here. It's just stuff of mine, comics that I did myself, rather than a collection of other people's.

ROC: Have you had any searches yet to make sure you're not drawing?

MCD: Not yet. I had to clean all my "obscene" stuff out of my apartment. Make sure there was nothing in there they'd have a question about.

ROC: That's great that you're not lettin' them stop you from puttin' stuff out. You must have a certain nervousness about it, though.

MCD: I'm still nervous about it, because I was in jail for four days. They can put me back in jail anytime they want to, really. Just say I did something wrong.

ROC: What was in the head of that judge to put you in jail over the weekend, in the maximum security section?

MCD: The case was getting so much news coverage that he felt he had to make an example of me. As soon as I lost, and the jury found me guilty, news cameras were there, and they were taking pictures of me being led away in handcuffs and all that. Dramatic, you know. My girlfriend crying on camera. They wanted to make an example and have a big show. Show everybody they can't do that.

ROC: What can readers of THE ROC do to help you?

MCD: It helps buying a copy of the Superfly comic book. That would get the word around. There's an article in there about the beginning of the case. Help us pay for some of the legal shit. If anybody has extra money they wanna donate they can send it to me, help pay off the fines and all that probation and shit I got. Right now I have to pay off a $3,000 fine. I gotta pay $50 a month probation. I gotta pay for the psychiatrist report and that's $1,200. The court figured I was nuts so they told me I had to see a psychiatrist and get treatment. I went to him, still haven't gotten the results yet.

ROC: And you also have to pay for a journalism ethics course?

MCD: So I can be a serious journalist. If you look up what journalism ethics is, it's a pretty advanced course. I don't even know if I could get into it.

ROC: Is there else anything else you'd like to say?

MCD: I hope this is just the beginning, 'cause I'd like to try and stay in trouble with this kind of stuff for awhile (laughs). Maybe start doing film or something, got a lot of free publicity there. I wanna win in the end. As long as I win in the end. I won't have to be sad about free speech not being there.

Let Mike Hear From You.

Write: Mike Diana, POB 254, Largo FL 34649

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