Porn actors must now suit up

November 7, 2012

Measure B, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation-driven proposal to require LA County porn shoots to feature condom-clad actors, passed by a wide margin yesterday.

The new law follows a similar ordinance passed by the Los Angeles City Council in January of this year, passed under threat of facing a Proposition in the city ballot.

Known as the Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act, the new law requires producers of adult films in the county obtain health permits and requires that male actors use condoms while filming vaginal or anal intercourse.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation has argued that the use of condoms will help protect performers from sexually transmitted diseases.

"Our goal is to protect performers," said Michael Weinstein, executive director of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

Leaders of the adult film industry, which is centered in the San Fernando Valley and generates an estimated $8 billion a year in revenue, strongly opposed it – and continue to do so.

Los Angeles County estimates the initial start-up costs for the inspection and permitting program would come to more than $300,000 per year in administration, salary and benefits for county inspectors.

Film LA, Inc., the film-permitting arm for Los Angeles County, estimates less than 480 permits issued for all adult film shoots and claimed the program could start losing money from its launch.

In Los Angeles County from June 30, 2008 to June 30, 2011, there were 6,447 new cases of HIV reported according to the California Dept. of Public Health. Opponents of the measure pointed out that the threat to performers’ health was miniscule.

Two of those cases were adult performers – who did not contract it on-set.

Still, the porn industry was thrown into turmoil by an outbreak of syphilis among adult performers in Los Angeles during the summer.

The outbreak in Los Angeles halted film production for two weeks and prompted a call from Mr. Weinstein for LA adult performers to be treated with antibiotics—prophylactically and without any testing.

“We were saddened to learn of this syphilis outbreak in the industry, but it underscores that this is not just about one industry, but about our entire community, as the spread of disease among adult film performers endangers themselves as well as their sexual partners in and outside the industry,” he said at the time.

When the City passed its ordinance this year, many adult film companies threatened to pull up stakes and leave Los Angeles rather than comply with the law, causing the Valley Industry & Commerce Association (VICA), the San Fernando Valley's largest business group, to declare a potential emergency.

"The real results of this ballot measure… will be a loss of thousands of jobs. The industry employs more than ten thousand workers in production-related jobs such as make-up, lighting, carpenters, transportation, food service, payroll processing, web design and actors," said VICA President, Stuart Waldman.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation disagrees, with Mr. Weinstein saying, “This is a prudent public health and safety measure that will require adult film producers operating in the County to obtain public health permits as a condition of doing business here in Los Angeles.”

The organization – the world’s largest HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention agency – compared the law to the County’s health permit process for nail salons, barbershops, tattoo and massage parlors and bathhouses.

According to Mr. Weinstein, “There are 134 other categories of businesses or services that require a permit or license from Los Angeles County, so I don’t see it as burdensome.”