The Tale Behind Fred Willard’s Arrest in an Adult Film Theater

Did the “Best in Show” actor commit a “lewd act” in a seedy Hollywood theater? Christine Pelisek investigates.

Last night, actor Fred Willard arrived at 7:24 p.m. at the Tiki Theater Xymposium in a seedy part of Hollywood, paying $13 to watch the adult films Follow Me 2, The Client List Parody, and Step Dad No. 2, recalls the theater’s manager, Kazi Jafor.

Clad in a white shirt and black pants, the Emmy award-nominee—whose credits include Best in Show, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, This Is Spinal Tap, and Wall-E—took a seat in the back row on the right side of the 65-seat theater, where four other customers were watching the porno films, Jafor says.

It wasn’t Willard’s night. Twenty-three minutes later, two officers who were part of a anti-prostitution law-enforcement detail popped by the 38-year-old adult theater to inspect if any of the Tiki patrons were engaged in illicit acts. The LAPD routinely monitors three adult theaters in the area, including the Tiki, which sits on a seedy stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard between a 99-cent store and a furniture shop. One of the oldest adult theaters in Los Angeles, the Tiki is open 24 hours a day.

“Police come here for routine checking,” says Jafor, a native of Bangladesh who sits in a cloudy glass ticket booth at the front of the theater house, handing patrons a yellow ticket good for four hours before they step through the turnstile (the sign above reads “Money No Back”). “They [police] have come here many many times. Sometimes four or five times a week. They are checking to see if people are drinking or jacking off.”

According to Jafor, just seconds after the officers walked into the dimly lit theater, they spotted Willard sitting in the back row, which is right next to the entrance. Jafor says the officers asked Willard to stand up, handcuffed him, and brought him outside.

Once outside, the 78-year-old comedian told detectives that he didn’t do anything wrong, Jafor says. “He was not excited or scared,” the theater manager says, adding that it was the first time he’d seen Willard at the theater. “He was telling them he was innocent and he didn’t do anything at all.”

Jafor says one of the two officers then went back inside the theater and returned a few minutes later. Jafor speculates the policeman went inside to look for evidence: “He went to see if there was any jack-off semen.”

Jafor says he overheard one of the officers telling the other one to let Willard go. Instead, Willard was arrested on suspicion of engaging in a misdemeanor lewd act and brought to the LAPD’s Hollywood Station; he was released at about 5:35 this morning on $500 bail.

"Fred received a citation, but to my knowledge has not yet been charged with any offense,” says Willard's attorney, Paul Takakjian. “When and if he is charged, I will handle the matter on his behalf." The L.A. city attorney’s office says it will make a determination sometime next week whether to charge the actor or not.

Jafor says police have stopped by the theater more than 40 times since Nov. 26, 2011, and have arrested 23 people. “It has happened many, many times,” he says. “Sometimes we see pants open.”

Jafor says business has been slow because of the police inspections—despite such film offerings as King Dong Vol. 2 and Nut Busters. “Because of the raids not as many people come,” he says.