Porn Star Condom-Use to be Mandatory at Most Los Angeles Adult Video Sets, City Council Votes | The Informer | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly
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Porn Star Condom-Use to be Mandatory at Most Los Angeles Adult Video Sets, City Council Votes

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Tue, Jan 10, 2012 at 4:30 PM

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Updated at the bottom with official reaction from the porn industry. First posted at 12:53 p.m.

The L.A. City Council today said that yes, porn stars must wear condoms when performing within city limits.

The 11-1 vote means that a costly ballot initiative asking you, the voter, to approve just such a rule can be avoided.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation organized that initiative and today sounded triumphant:

In an historic move, during today's City Council meeting, the Los Angeles City Council adopted the proposed ordinance, 'City of Los Angeles Safer Sex In The Adult Film Industry Act,' a ballot initiative that has recently qualified to be placed on the June 5, 2012 election ...

The group noted that the City Council's approval seems to defy a move by City Attorney Carmen Trutanich to block the initiative in court.

The City Attorney's office filed suit against the foundation's measure, saying it would supersede the state's authority over workplace safety enforcement.

The AHF measure called on the city to tie mandatory condom use on-set to city film permit approvals for porn shoots.

The industry is against condoms, arguing that you, the lovely consumer of such fine entertainment, won't go for it and that, if required, production will simply flee the city and perhaps go underground, where things would be more dangerous.

The measure would need a second, final approval next week to become law, with only 8 votes needed at that time. The law would then go into effect in 90 days.

We're told that the lone no vote was from Councilman Mitch Englander.

Read our cover story about the issue here.

[Update at 3:37 p.m.]:

Our industry source, producer Michael Whiteacre, was right when he said this law will not apply to studio shoots and will only affect off-site and "location" production. [Added: We changed the headline to reflect this].

But, as AHF chief Michael Weinstein told us in a telephone press conference this afternoon, "A majority of filming for adult films is not done in studios."

Indeed. They're always in some rich guy's house. With a winding staircase. Not that we'd know.

Weinstein told reporters that FilmLA, the city of L.A.'s motion picture permitting organization, issues about 200 permits a month for porn productions.

He said that as part of the council's move today it voted unanimously to have the City Attorney drop its suit against the AHF ballot initiative, which would be moot anyway since it's not headed to voters after all as a result of the council's other vote.

The body also unanimously approved a "working group" to explore how to enforce this thing. It will include members of the City Attorney's office, police department, and perhaps even state workplace health officials and porn industry leaders, Weinstein said.

AHF officials said that there would likely be "spot checks" of permitted porn shoots to ensure condom use and that fines wouldn't be the result of the rules are broken: Rather permits would be pulled and some producers could be banned from getting such approvals if they repeatedly violate the law.

Onetime performer Darren James, who contracted HIV in 2004, setting off perhaps the industry's worst outbreak, commented in favor of the law:

A hell of a victory. I'm just stunned right now.

Weinstein said AHF's work is not over. He called the city law just one leg on a three-legged stool that will include state regulation and county enforcement.

The state is expected to weigh in the coming months with a rule specifically requiring condoms on porn sets.

The county has tried to avoid wading into this, but the AHF is aiming a similar ballot initiative at countywide voters. That would require condoms on all sets in L.A. county, not just at location shoots.

[Update at 4:30 p.m.]: Diane Duke, executive director of the adult industry trade group known as the Free Speech Coalition, sent the Weekly this response to today's votes:

Performer health and safety is a priority for the adult film industry, which is why the industry's standards and self regulations have been successful as represented by the industry's low rate of STI transmission and no transmission of HIV in the industry in more than 5 years! Government regulation of film making would likely undermine existing health and safety efforts and industry standards that are effective as well as take the government into dangerous new territory.

This approach betrays our Constitution; it betrays the hard lessons we've learned in the 25-year fight against HIV/AIDS; and it betrays aggressive health and safety efforts in place that are proven and effective.

[And]: The Daily News Rick Orloff today spins the condom ordinance vote as "a compromise with City Attorney Carmen Trutanich" in which he "agreed to drop a lawsuit he had filed challenging an initiative circulated by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation that would have required actors on adult film sets to use condoms ... "

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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