The Case of the Tenured Titillator

 

There is a report in The Free Press about Professor Joe Gow and his wife, Carmen Wilson, and their pornography side hustle. The Professor and his wife have been married 10 years, and most of that time have been filming themselves in flagrante delicto. According to The Free Press, up until last fall, these videos have been for private consumption. But, as Professor Gow was planning on leaving his position (apparently one of several) as chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, he thought, “What the heck,” and decided to post these videos online. From The Free Press report, it is unclear whether the couple had an Only Fans account before the “what the heck” moment but, at any rate, that was the means by which ten thousand subscribers could pay —

$7.99 [to] see the couple pretending to house-hunt with India Summer, Adult Video News’ two-time “MILF Performer of the Year,” who seduces both of them in the master bedroom. For slightly more—$9.99—one can purchase a compilation of the money shots.

And, sure enough, his plans for leaving his chancellor position were fulfilled when the board learned of his side hustle.

This being the 21st century, the Professor and the school are in litigation. The issue is not whether he can remain chancellor (he cannot) but whether his tenured status can be removed. Professor Gow is not young, but apparently fit. And with his exercise regimen, he might be able to educate college students for another decade or more.

“There’s the First Amendment. This is 2024,” said Gow. “There seem to be a lot of people who say they’re for free speech, but it’s only when it’s speech they agree with.

“I don’t think I’ve done anything wrong,” he added. “And I don’t think they’re going to be able to prove that. I want people to know what’s going on here.”

On June 19, Gow will address a panel of his colleagues, who will then recommend to the interim chancellor whether he should lose his tenured gig. “These are people that have worked with me,” he says of the faculty panel handling his case. “They all know all about me.”

Or at least they can really know all about him for $7.99.

At their leafy Wisconsin home with a redwood deck near the Mississippi River, Gow’s wife tells me that if the board strips her husband’s tenure next month, it’ll send a “scary” message to students.

“It definitely opens up a slippery slope of—what are people allowed to do in their personal lives?” Sitting cross-legged on a gray couch in their living room, she says that “conversations about healthy sexuality” should be welcomed at universities.

So Professor Gow is teaching psychology or health sciences? No, his instruction is in the Communications department. Here are his publications:

“Rockin’, Rappin’, and Religion: Programming Strategy on Z Music Television.” Popular Music and Society 23.2 (1999): 17-27.

“Saving Souls and Selling CDs: The Mainstreaming of Christian Music Videos.” Journal of Popular Film and Television 25.4 (1998): 183-188.

“Reconsidering Gender Roles on MTV: Depictions in the Most Popular Music Videos of the Early 1990s.” Communication Reports 9.2 (1996): 151-161.

“Political Messages in Popular Music Videos: MTV’s ‘Top 200 Ever’.” Popular Music and Society 18.4 (1994): 77-89.

“Mood and Meaning in Music Video: the Dynamics of Audio Visual Synergy.” Southern Communication Journal 59.3 (1994): 255-261.

“Music Video as Persuasive Form: The Case of the Pseudo-Reflexive Strategy.” Communication Quarterly 41.3 (1993): 318-327.

“The ‘Trouble’ with Digital Audio Tape.” Popular Music and Society 16.1 (1992): 31-48.
“Music Video as Communication: Popular Formulas and Emerging Genres.” Journal of Popular Culture 26.2

(1992): 41-70
“Writing Rock Journalism: An Interview with Charles M. Young.” Popular Music and Society 16.2 (1992): 67-74. “Making Sense of Music Video: Research During the Inaugural Decade.” Journal of American Culture 15.3

(1992): 35-43.
“Duality in Foreign Policy Reporting: A Comparative Case Study.” Media Criticism: Journeys in Interpretation.

Eds. Christine Scodari and Judith Thorpe. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 1992. 146-153.

GOW 5

“Moving Beyond Lyrical Analysis in the Rhetorical Criticism of Song.” Pennsylvania Speech Communication Annual XLVII (1991): 55-74.

“The Relationship Between Violent and Sexual Images and the Popularity of Music Videos.” Popular Music and Society 14.4 (1990): 1-9.

“Whatever Happened to DAT? The Development and Suppression of an Innovative Music Recording Technology.” Popular Music and Society 14.1 (1990): 35-45.

“The Rhetoric of Conflict: CNN’s Crossfire.” Pennsylvania Speech Communication Annual XLIV (1988): 35-46.

So that’s a big “no” on sex education. To get that from Professor Gow, you need to pay some extra tuition, say $7.99 a month to his Only Fans account. But, to be fair, Gow’s wife does have a Ph.D. in counseling psychology. She is not doing instruction anymore — except for the $7.99 on Only Fans.

According to The Free Press report:

The two met about a decade ago at a conference for the state’s university system, when Gow was at La Crosse and Wilson was heading a satellite campus, the University of Wisconsin–Rock County. He invited her to dinner and found himself taken with her independence.

So that would be 2014, right? But according to a Milwaukee Sentinel story:

In 2006, when Wilson was an associate professor of psychology [at UW-La Crosse], she chaired the search committee for a new chancellor to lead the university. The committee ended up picking Gow.

She was Gow’s chief of staff in the chancellor’s office from 2008 to 2011.

Wilson then left to become chancellor at UW-Rock County, but that position was eliminated as part of a budget-cutting action in 2016. Thereafter she worked at other institutions as well, but:

As Gow’s spouse, Wilson served as an “associate to the chancellor” under the terms of his contract. The formal appointment is unpaid and complements the chancellor’s public-facing role leading the university.

So — no chancellor position, no associate position. And I don’t find any mention of Wilson being tenured at UW-La Crosse.

And even though The Free Press report sounds like their side hustle is only recent, the Milwaukee account includes this:

Wilson and Gow appear in videos on several porn websites using “Sexy Happy Couple” as the account name, a moniker also used on at least two social media accounts promoting their videos.

The videos feature the couple cooking vegan dishes with adult film stars. The couple’s account on X, formerly Twitter, notes: “Visit our LoyalFans and OnlyFans sites for fully explicit scenes!”

The couple also published two books under pseudonyms detailing their experiences in the adult film industry. Both books and the social media accounts feature photos clearly showing Gow and Wilson.

The couple published two books together under the names Geri and Jay Hart. The author bio on Amazon states the names are pseudonyms for “a married woman and man who serve in executive positions at two well-known organizations in the U.S.” An author photo shows Gow and Wilson.

The books don’t reference La Crosse, Wisconsin, or any work for a university. But they do allude to the couple’s status in the community and the tension they felt between the expectations of their “establishment” careers and their desires to be more open about their sex lives.

The couple noted they were “fairly certain a scandal would ensue if our peers were to know about what we’ve been doing. … Our careers likely would be ruined.”

That book ends with the couple’s first experience being in a “professionally produced sex video” just before they got married. Their 2018 book, “Married with Benefits: Our Real-life Adult Industry Adventures,” describes additional experiences creating pornographic videos and collaborating with other adult performers.

So things aren’t exactly as they represented to The Free Press, an outlet that Gow and Wilson knew would be sympathetic to the free speech framing of their story. I think of myself as a free speech absolutist, but I am having trouble believing that losing tenure because of your pornographic side hustle is a violation of the First Amendment.

Change my mind.

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There are 11 comments.

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  1. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    I have no problem with your belief that pushing along several decades of pornographic videos is not conduct becoming of a Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin.

    In five years time, if things don’t change, there might be a requirement that Chancellors of state universities be prolific in  the release of  their porn videos. (Of themselves. With minors.)

    • #1
  2. Fritz Coolidge
    Fritz
    @Fritz

    The couple are certainly entitled to their exercise of “expression” but there is no constitutional right to tenure. The wife’s remark about what people do in their “private lives” seems to miss the mark altogether once they start posting their not-so-private lives on the internet.

    • #2
  3. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    And I thought tenure was only supposed to be related to academic stuff anyway.

    • #3
  4. Headedwest Coolidge
    Headedwest
    @Headedwest

    kedavis (View Comment):

    And I thought tenure was only supposed to be related to academic stuff anyway.

    Tenure is supposed to be granted for excellence in (1) research, (2) teaching, and (3) service (to the profession, to the public, etc.)

    I suspect they are implicitly arguing that their videos are part of their service obligation.

    • #4
  5. Susan Quinn Member
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    These people are sick. If they knew a “scandal would ensue,” why did they come out. Stupid. No mercy.

    • #5
  6. MiMac Thatcher
    MiMac
    @MiMac

    If it wasn’t for double standards, then left would have none.

    Private lives for me (and my allies) but not for thee….

    When a Virginian Democrat candidate for the House of Delegates was found to have an only fans account where she & her husband would perform sex acts for a fee, the left decried the invasion of her privacy when it was publicized. Apparently, your private life involves commercial transactions that you put online- But when Barack Obama needed to sleaze his opponent in his first run for the Senate- “sealed” custody  records from a divorce where unsealed despite both parties to the divorce opposing it b/c, you know, the public’s right to know is paramount. In fact, the ex-wife of the GOP candidate (Jack Ryan-his wife was Star Trek actress Jerri Ryan) endorsed him: “In response to the rumors that have been circulating, there was never any physical abuse in our marriage–either to myself or to our son–nor, to my knowledge, was he ever unfaithful to me. Jack is a good man, a loving father, and he shares a strong bond with our son. I wish him all the best, both in his life and career. I have no doubt that he will make an excellent senator.”

    We also know that not only is the statute of limitations not a barrier to prosecute the right- see the last 2 Trump trials, but also high school years books are to be diligently scanned for evidence of thought crimes decades after the fact [Mitt Romney & Judge Kavanaugh]. Oddly no one looked at the college & Med School  yearbooks of Gov Ralph “Blackface”Northam and AG Mark “Blackface” Herring -but both were saved by the fact that the Lt Gov, also a Virginia Democrat, was credibly accused of rape by two women-and we can’t let things like rape cause the party to hand over the reigns of power to real criminals-you know, Republicans….

    • #6
  7. Henry Racette Member
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    I guess I’d want to know what the Priapic Professor’s employment contract says before I formed an opinion about the merits of his case.

    • #7
  8. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    I guess I’d want to know what the Priapic Professor’s employment contract says before I formed an opinion about the merits of his case.

    Very perceptive. Whatever terms the board will rely on to strip him from tenure will likely not be as specific as “engaging in sex in front of a camera for public consumption and personal profit is grounds for removal of tenure”. 

    • #8
  9. Headedwest Coolidge
    Headedwest
    @Headedwest

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    I guess I’d want to know what the Priapic Professor’s employment contract says before I formed an opinion about the merits of his case.

    Very perceptive. Whatever terms the board will rely on to strip him from tenure will likely not be as specific as “engaging in sex in front of a camera for public consumption and personal profit is grounds for removal of tenure”.

    Yeah, they don’t want that in the university document archives.

    • #9
  10. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    I guess I’d want to know what the Priapic Professor’s employment contract says before I formed an opinion about the merits of his case.

    Very perceptive. Whatever terms the board will rely on to strip him from tenure will likely not be as specific as “engaging in sex in front of a camera for public consumption and personal profit is grounds for removal of tenure”.

    Yeah, they don’t want that in the university document archives.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some kind of “morals clause” they can use.

    • #10
  11. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    Having seen photos of the husband and wife fully clothed on NRO, I cannot imagine a less interesting porn film to watch than that pair. I would sort of be like watching your grandparents going at it. Yuk!

    • #11
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