Ballot Measure Mandates Condom Use for Adult Films
Tension is rising in Los Angeles as voters make a hard choice this Election Day. But it isn't just political leadership that has the county tied up in knots. Instead, by voting for Measure B, citizens will be rapping up a law requiring pornographic movie performers to use condoms on the set.
"The testing program is the nation's best and toughest," notes James Lee, chief spokesman for the "No on B" campaign of the industry standard, which requires STD tests every two to four weeks.
Measure B, or the "Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act" has been supported widely by the public health community but decried as a job-loser by production companies and local business organizations alike.
Pornography performers are divided, with some worrying that there will be fewer job opportunities if the measure passes, and others claiming they will feel safer with the law in place.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the largest community-based HIV/AIDS medical provider in the nation, has raised $350,000 in support of Measure B, while the pornography industry production companies have raised $111,375 to counter it, through a "No on Government Waste Committee." Calling the measure frivolous, opponents of the bill say the industry's existing testing standards are enough to keep workers safe.
But that may not be enough, said Dr. Jeffrey D. Klausner, former director of STD prevention and control services in San Francisco, who supports Measure B.
"The testing is inadequate, and misses two out of three existing sexually transmitted infections," said Klausner, who teaches Medicine and Global Health at UCLA. He notes that the permit requirement is particularly important, because it allows for the establishment of more rigorous testing standards.
But Lee says that at the end of the day, voters will be swayed by the threat of job loss over concerns about public health.
"In 1998 the industry switched to exclusively using condoms by choice after an HIV-infection was reported by a performer," Lee told EDGE. "They found sales dropped by 30 percent, because consumers of these products don’t want to see condoms."
The "No on B" campaign snagged support of several area newspapers, like the Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles Daily News, along with political groups like the county Republican Party, Log Cabin Republicans and the local chambers of commerce. The Times editorial said the loss of jobs could cripple the local entertainment economy.
"Porn is estimated to be a $1-billion to $2-billion industry, employing thousands of sound, lighting, stage, technical and other crew members and post-production workers in between gigs in more-mainstream film and television productions," read the editorial.
The Valley Industry and Commerce Association reiterates this claim, noting that the local entertainment industry is already hurting for jobs.
"We are concerned about the potential job loss in the San Fernando County," says VICA president Stuart Waldman. "Everyone knows someone who has lost a job of some kind as the entertainment industry has increasingly left Los Angeles, so people will vote with their pocketbooks."
As for the actors, some, like Darren James and Derrick Burts, both of whom are HIV-positive, have supported the measure, while others like Jessica Drake and James Deen have been outspoken critics, noting that they fear pornographic production will leave Los Angeles if safe sex becomes the norm.
"They are split right down the middle in the porn industry," said Michael Weinstein, the president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "These people are dependent on their producers to work, but at the end of the day, no worker on a construction site would really prefer to dangle 30 stories above the pavement."