Associated Press - January 18, 2012
LOS ANGELES, (AP) - Some of the most prominent purveyors of
pornography say they'll start packing up their sex toys and
abandoning America's porn capital if authorities carry through
with a nascent effort to police adult film sets and order that
every actor be outfitted with a condom.
On Tuesday, the Los Angeles city council voted 9-1 to grant final
approval to an ordinance that would deny film permits to
producers who do not comply with the condom requirement. The
measure now goes to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for approval.
Before the measure can take effect, however, the council has
called for the creation of a committee of police officials, the
city attorney, state health officials and others to determine how
it might be enforced.
"It's going to be interesting to see how in fact they do try to
enforce it and who's going to fund it, and all of the time and
effort they're going to spend," said Steven Hirsch, co-founder
and co-chairman of Los Angeles-based Vivid, one of the largest
makers of erotic movies.
"Ultimately, I think what they will find is people will just stop
shooting in the city of Los Angeles," added Hirsch. "That's a
His company, founded in 1984, would be among those that would
consider leaving, he said. Other industry officials condemned the
measure as an unneeded exercise in political correctness that
cannot be enforced.
Approximately 90 percent of U.S. porn films are made in Los
Angeles, almost all of them in the city's San Fernando Valley,
said Mark Kernes, senior editor of Adult Video News. When films,
Internet downloads, sex toys and admission to dance clubs are
counted, Kernes said, it's an industry that produces about $8
billion a year in revenue.
It has been battered in recent years, however, by the recession
and the increased popularity of free Internet porn, and Kernes
and others say requiring condoms would further erode business.
They say consumers, particularly those overseas, have made it
clear they won't watch films when the actors use condoms,
complaining that it is distracting and ruins the fantasy.
"The only thing that the city could potentially achieve is losing
some film permit money and driving some productions away, but you
can't actually compel an industry to create a product that the
market doesn't want," said Christian Mann, general manager of
Evil Angel, another of the industry's largest production
Ged Kenslea, spokesman for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, said
the measure is needed because the industry has failed to properly
police itself. For years, he said, filmmakers have ignored state
health laws mandating the use of condoms when workers are exposed
to blood-borne pathogens.
"Let's make one thing clear: Condom use on adult film sets is,
and has been, the law in California under blood-borne pathogens
regulations," he said. "It is just a law that has not been
uniformly enforced or followed. This film permit ordinance that
the city council approved today provides another enforcement
mechanism to make sure that adult film producers are complying
with existing California law."
The council's final vote to approve the law was taken without
public discussion, on a day when most of the porn industry's
major players were in Las Vegas preparing for Wednesday's opening
of the Adult Entertainment Expo, their industry's largest trade
event. They said they weren't surprised by the news.
The industry already does its own policing, filmmakers say,
requiring actors be tested for sexually transmitted diseases a
minimum of every 30 days when they are working. They say no cases
of HIV have been directly linked to porn films since 2004, adding
they fear that if the industry scatters to areas outside of Los
Angeles, testing could fall by the wayside, exposing performers
to more risk.
"If someone is going to catch an STD, it's usually out of the
business because we are tested so often," said veteran porn
actress and producer Tabitha Stevens.
In her 17 years in the business, Stevens said, she has worked
both with and without condoms. Although she prefers to use
condoms, acknowledging they do increase safety, she said the
choice should be left up to the performers and not mandated by a
"If you want to wear them, wear them. If you don't, don't. That's
up to the talent to decide. It shouldn't be up to the government
to decide," she said.