'Porn Villa' Scandal Triggers Crackdown on Expat Content in Bali
BALI, Indonesia — A current international scandal and police investigation regarding a couple who allegedly shot and posted sex videos while visiting Bali is yet another reminder that adult performers who shoot content away from their home regions should always be aware of the laws and penalties for the production and distribution of what could be considered as “pornography” by local authorities.
The latest incident, referred in the local press as the “Porn Villa” or “Viral Villa” affair, concerns a couple posting a TikTok video that was noticed by locals.
The video contained the caption “Welcome to Our New Porn Villa,” and featured identifiable Balinese landmarks, which appeared to identify the popular resort's location in the Umalas area.
Local expat blog Coconut Bali flagged the incident in English, explaining the news had taken “Balinese social media by storm as people strongly suspect that they were taken on the ‘Island of the Gods,’ with local authorities now on the case.”
A Criminal Offense
Bali’s police commissioner told local press that the authorities are in the process of posting signs warning tourists that pornography is a criminal offense in Indonesia, the majority-Muslim archipelago where Bali is located.
According to Coconut Bali, the video in question included “motorbikes with Indonesian-looking plate numbers and design, as well as the sight of a ‘penjor,’ which is a tall tapered pole made from bamboo that is commonly seen outside Balinese Hindu homes during religious holidays.”
The Indonesian press then amplified the scandal with sensationalistic headlines claiming a “foursome sex party” had taken place, involving an Indonesian woman.
National authorities also got involved, with Jamaruli Manihuruk, head of the Bali office for the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, announcing a manhunt for the “Porn Villa” TikTokkers.
“If we find [them] we will apprehend them and coordinate with other relevant authorities,” Jamaruli told the local press.
Indonesia’s harsh obscenity law was passed as "Law 44" in 2008.
I Gusti Agung Kerta Suryanegara, chief of a Bali municipal police unit, told Vice that they were “still investigating the building permit.”
“We’ve visited the ‘Viral Villa’ several times, but it was empty,” Suryanegara said. “We will only take action once we find the villa owner or their representative to avoid acting on assumptions.”
Cops Warn Hosts to Become 'More Vigilant'
According to a report Monday by Vice, owners of villa and hotels favored by foreign tourists have been explicitly told to “be more vigilant against those who might use local properties as sets for pornographic films.”
Bali’s police commissioner told the Bali Post that the cops were “working with relevant stakeholders to educate foreigners on the importance of maintaining public order from the moment they arrive in airports, immigration offices and other places.”
Online adult content makers — part of a general trend of adventurous “digital nomads” in their 20s and 30s — often travel to various destinations to both diversify the kind of backgrounds offered in their videos, and also to show influencer “clout.” They often boast about international travel and conspicuous consumption, flaunting these escapades as an avoidance from COVID restrictions.
Not long ago, several number of Russian model/influencers and a photographer were being sought by Dubai authorities alerted by a social media post involving non-sexual nudity, which the Gulf nation still considers "pornography."
'Digital Nomad' Influencers Beware
As XBIZ reported back in March 2020, the arrest and public shaming of an American man and his Hungarian partner in Thailand for "overstaying in the country, publishing pornography and working without a permit,” was a warning sign to would-be “digital nomad” content creators.
Their arrest was heavily publicized by the Thai authorities, who clearly intended to make an example out of the foreign couple.
Last April, Indonesian media also sensationalized a video titled “Jerking Off My Guide in the Mountains, Public POV,” which was identified as having been shot at Bali’s Mount Batur hiking trail.
Many sex workers publicize social media trips to paradisiac locations like Bali, Costa Rica or even notoriously "moral police"-heavy locations like Dubai or Singapore.
Anyone looking to produce commercial pornography in those places, whether studio scenes, cam shows or clips, however, should take precautions and learn about what is legal there, and how to avoid prosecution or jail time when "paradise" suddenly becomes inhospitable to sex workers.
Main Image: Still from the video supposedly showing the “Porn Villa” in Bali (Source: Coconut Bali)