LOS ANGELES – Back in the 90’s, the IRS took over the Mustang Ranch brothel in Nevada. Which means for a brief moment in time, the United States Government owned a whorehouse.
It was a tale too good not to get the Hollywood comedy rub down, so veteran actor, writer and director David Landsberg went to work in making the recent film “Sex Tax.”
“They seized it due to all sorts of shenanigans from the guys who ran it. Of course, they (IRS) sent someone out there and said get rid of everything, and the myth was that he kept it open. so I went with the myth,” Landsberg told FOX411. “Always go with the myth, it is far more interesting.”
“Sex Tax,” which is now available for purchase on iTunes, also poses an interesting question: in recent years, the United States Government has bailed out several large-scale companies and banks, so why do they big ones get saved while the struggling everyday American is neglected? Why can’t a brothel, which is legal in areas of Nevada, get the bailout treatment too?
“It was a legal business; these people have the right just like anyone else to be bailed out. We’ve bailed a lot of people out, but just because this is a brothel and people don’t like it, doesn’t take away from it being a legal business,” Landsberg continued. “And the star of the movie (the IRS representative) is a really moral guy.”
Rather than attempting to go the crowd funding route or wait for a Hollywood studio to give him the green light, Landsberg went out on his own and spent $50,000 out of his own pocket to convert his North Hollywood home into a movie studio, and then put down another $350,000 more to shoot the raunchy comedy with a team of rising talents.
But the quest to make the brothel-inspired movie come to life was far from easy. After agreeing to make a distribution deal with National Lampoon in 2010, Landsberg went about putting “National Lampoon Presents” on all the logos, DVD’s, press releases and radio/television commercials. Then he says Dan Laiken, the company’s CEO, was sentenced to several years behind bars for stock manipulation, and everything fell apart.
And even though the IRS worker is the unlikely hero in the envelope-pushing plot, it didn’t stop the creator from being audited himself once production had finished.
“Well that happened,” he said. “But I do things right.”
Born in New York City, Landsberg was drafted and sent to Vietnam. After his discharge and college, he worked for an ad agency before embarking on an entertainment career – becoming an actor and starring in over 300 commercials, over 1,000 radio ads, and as a series regular in “CPO Sharkey” with Don Rickles, before serving as head writer and executive producer on “Cosby Show” and “The Love Boat: The Next Wave.”
Landsberg credits his time in the Army veteran for making him a Hollywood success.“I know a lot of people that didn’t like the draft, but being made to go in Vietnam in the Army saved my life, it saved my soul.... And it doesn’t always have to be in battle, we spent a lot of time cleaning toilets,” he added. “People say ‘you fought for your country,’ and I say ‘well, I cleaned toilets for my country.’ But if you don’t have a clean toilet, there are people who aren’t going to be happy. I told God if you get me out of here, I promised I wouldn’t piss my life away… I didn’t feel like a failure anymore. I’m a big fan of national service, especially now that people volunteer.”