Veteran Industry Salesman Bill 'Pinky' Stolbach Passes

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.—Bill “Pinky” Stolbach, a long-time salesman for such companies as VCA Pictures, Cinderella Video and Venture Video, died at his home in Scottsdale on May 3. His death was reported by the husband of one of his daughters, Corey, though the cause of death was not released.

Pinky Stolbach (almost no one called him Bill) was born March 1, 1942, in New York City, and entered the adult industry in 1985 at the age of 43 as a salesman, working with VCA sales stalwarts Marty Turkel and Ed Kail, and it was sometime early in his career that he was dubbed “Pinky” by industry legend Reuben Sturman, in part because of his florid features and in part because of his taste for loud clothing. Stolbach also attended all of the industry trade shows, including the Consumer Electronic Show’s adult section, and the Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) semi-annual shows, where Stolbach, an avid golfer right up to his death, created a golf tournament aimed at adult studio heads and employees that coincided with the VSDA summer show.

“I’ve known Pinky since I was 26, and we lived in the same apartment complex and worked together,” said Wicked Pictures saleswoman Bonnie Kail. “I was always supplied with endless amounts of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups because he knew I loved them so much. He had a larger than life personality, and I have wonderful memories of things that are probably too embarrassing to talk about publicly; very funny stuff; he was quite the jokester. These jokes were told once at his 40th birthday party; somebody got up and told some stories, and mine happened to be in there, and I was like, ‘Oh, I forgot about that and I wish I had forgotten about that,’ but everybody knew. The things that he did, some of them were incredibly embarrassing.

“And then there was his love of salt,” she added. “He put it on everything until the entire of whatever he was eating looked like it was coated with snow.”

Kail noted that “Pinky retired about ten years ago or so to Palm Springs, and then in the last couple of years had moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, which is where he was living when he passed.”

One of Stolbach’s major achievements was as one of the creators of the Free Speech Legal Defense Fund, the organization founded in 1991 which eventually became the industry’s trade association, the Free Speech Coalition.

“Bill ‘Pinky’ Stolbach was one of the very few people who galvanized the industry into forming an organization to defend the adult industry against federal criminal prosecutions,” recalled attorney and current Free Speech Board Chair Jeffrey Douglas. “There were several adult studios and leaders being prosecuted at the time—Steve Hirsch and Vivid Video, Russ Hampshire and VCA, Operation Wormwood—so the idea was to organize the industry to prepare to defend against this major assault against production companies by the federal government. Had the federal prosecutions been successful, the vast majority of production companies, manufacturers of videos, would have been out of business and the principals in prison. Fortunately, it didn’t turn out that way, but as it happened, for legal reasons, the money raised by the organization couldn’t be used to defend retailers and studios against criminal charges.

“Nevertheless, the Free Speech Legal Defense Fund did a lot to unite the industry and ultimately evolved into the trade association, Free Speech Coalition,” he added. “Pinky would continue to be an enthusiastic and active member of the Board of Directors, and one of the leaders of industry.”

Among the early Free Speech Legal Defense Fund Board members, besides Stolbach, were such industry luminaries as Al Bloom, Bob Tremont, Jim South, Lenny Friedlander, Sherry Freeman, Russ Hampshire, Mike Warner, Ron Braverman and Charlie Brickman, with Stolbach’s then-girlfriend Carol Belitz serving as the Board’s secretary. Among the early organization activities that Stolbach helped bring about were a full-page pro-industry ad in the national edition of the Washington Post, and a lawsuit filed in Nashville, Tennessee by Odyssey Group, which was owned by Tremont, which attempted to get one of Odyssey’s productions, Body and Soul, declared by a federal judge not to be obscene prior to its release.

“The attorneys involved were Mike Murray as the lead attorney, but John Weston and Paul Cambria also played roles,” Douglas recalled, “and the results were what was required by law; the judge said, ‘I can’t do that, because if I were to say it’s not obscene today, that doesn’t mean it’s not obscene tomorrow, because community standards change.”

After the suit failed, Odyssey went ahead and released the video anyway in 1994, under a new title, After Midnight.

Many other industry veterans have fond memories of Stolbach.

“I met Pinky about 25 years ago,” recalled Howard Levine of Exile Distribution, who at that time was head of sales for Vivid Video. “He had the loudest clothes on, mainly pink before it was fashionable. He was a salesman’s salesman. This guy gave out so many spiffs for us it wasn’t funny: TVs, golf bags, steak, jackets, anything to make a sale. He always had a joke and could make you laugh, even if they weren’t that funny. He got all of us to play golf.

“The last time I saw him was at Larry Field’s funeral,” Levine continued. “He was parked in front of the memorial with his car lid up. I ask if he need help. He said no; he didn’t have a ‘handicapped’ placard so he put his car there that way so he wouldn’t get a ticket. That has Pinky. He will be missed.”

AVN founder Paul Fishbein, also an early Free Speech Board member, remembered Stolbach fondly.

“Pinky was a larger-than-life character who never took anything too seriously,” Fishbein told AVN. “He made the industry fun, especially in the tough times, and was a unifying force. Always liked that guy and sorry to hear of his passing.”

Another FSC Board member, Steve Hirsch, echoed Fishbein’s sentiments.

“Pinky was a great guy. What a character!” Hirsch said. “I enjoyed spending time with him, and my condolences to his entire family.”

Stolbach is survived by two daughters, Corey and Jill, and five grandchildren. There will be a celebration of Stolbach’s life on Thursday, May 10, at a private home in Encino. The celebration will begin at 11 a.m. at 16348 Amota Court, Encino, CA.

“His girls are asking everyone to wear bright clothing as they ‘honor a life full of love and light,'” Kail quoted them as saying.

Pictured: Bill “Pinky” Stolbach in the early 1990s with Bonnie Kail—and one of the 25-pound boxes of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups he would frequently send her.

Written by: Mark Kernes

Originally published on:


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