"The people within my [local] bank have urged me to downplay the nature of my business because corporate frowns on it," said one long-time industry veteran.
The issue seems to be reaching a boiling point, though. Earlier this week, Marc Greenberg, founder of the soft porn studio MRG Entertainment, filed suit against JPMorgan Chase in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging the bank violated fair lending laws and its own policy for refusing to underwrite a loan for "moral reasons".
Greenberg says he was approached by a representative of the bank about refinancing an existing loan. But once he started the process, he says he saw repeated delays for four months. That's when he said he reached out to a JPMorgan vice president for an explanation.
The vice president "was evasive in his response to plaintiff's application status requests and finally informed plaintiff during a telephone conversation that plaintiff's loan application was refused due to 'moral reasons,' because of JPMorgan's disapproval of plaintiff's former source of income and occupation as an owner of a television production company that produced television programs that dealt with the subject of human sexuality," the complaint reads.
(MRG was sold to New Frontier Media in 2006 for $22 million. Related: The Power Brokers of Porn)
Greenberg's attorneys claim they were told by the vice president that the application was denied because of the potential "reputational risk" to the firm.
The rejection, noted the suit, was confounding since Chase had long held the original deed of trust on the home, without any comment on Greenberg's career.
"JPMorgan purports to be so ashamed of nudity and human sexuality that it cannot process a refinance of a home loan of plaintiff, secured by plaintiff's house, because plaintiff's source of income six years ago included production of television programs that contained nudity and human sexuality," the suit reads.
JPMorgan Chase declined to comment on the accusations due to the pending litigation.
Preston noted she, too, has been denied a loan because of her profession—though at a different bank.
"[The loan officer] asked me 'are you affiliated with the adult entertainment industry?' When I said yes, she said 'We will not give you a loan.'," she said.
Whether the decision to deny Preston's business account or Greenberg's refinance application is discriminatory lending is a matter of debate—and, in Greenberg's case, something the courts will have to decide.