It Now Costs $1,671 for Permission to Film a Porno

A porn set in Greater Los Angeles
A porn set in Greater Los Angeles
Gustavo Turner

In 2012 L.A. voters approved Measure B, which mandates condom use in adult video. But it has taken until now for county officials to be able to fully implement the law, mostly as a result of a court battle with the adult video industry over the constitutionality of forcing prophylactics on porn stars.

This week, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a cornerstone of the law, an adult video film permit. The $1,671 document will allow producers to make videos for two years. It also will allow county health inspectors to visit sets and make sure condoms are being used. The Department of Public Health is "empowered with regulatory authority ... including, but not limited to, inspections and investigations related to
the transmission of sexually transmitted infections," according to a memo from county health director Barbara Ferrer.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which spearheaded Measure B, claimed victory. The nonprofit's president, Michael Weinstein, said in a statement that the porn industry has "worked overtime to try and block the measure."

“We congratulate and thank the L.A. County Board of Supervisors for voting for this prudent public health resolution to protect the health and safety of those people working in the adult film industry," he said. "With enforcement mechanisms now in place, we anticipate compliance with Measure B increases and that safety on set also increases."

The requirement to pay up for filming kicks in immediately, according to the county. The Free Speech Coalition, the trade and lobbying group that represents the L.A.-based adult video industry, isn't happy. For one, the cost is outrageous, spokesman Mike Stabile says.

He says that some producers can make a whole video or at least a scene for that kind of money. And he argues the permit fee is the same for a large, mainstream production company with deep pockets and multiple shoots or for a part-time webcam performer working in her bedroom once in a while to make extra cash. "The cost is the same whether you're doing a webcam show or if you're shooting constantly," he says.

The permits are supposed to be "budget-neutral" — what the taxpayers would have to cover for administration and inspections. "The permit fee considers staff salaries based on time spent on permitting activities, operating expenses and overhead," according to Ferrer's memo.

Stabile argues that a lower-priced permit would pay for itself by encouraging more fee-paying producers to do it the right way and register with the county. A high price could discourage condom use and push video shoots underground, where inspectors can't find them, according to the FSC. "It seems out of whack when compared to other, similar permits," Stabile says.

He also alleges that the county put the measure on the Board of Supervisors' agenda and pushed it through with only a few days' public notice and little input from the adult video industry. "There was maybe an attempt to avoid input: 'Let's get this through with as little discussion as possible,'" he says.

"The Free Speech Coalition, along with performers and performer advocates, have been requesting a meeting with the Department of Public Health for over six months," according to an FSC statement on the board's vote. "They only finally agreed to meet with us last week."

The Department of Public Health responded that the fees are indeed "budget-neutral" and that all parties affected by the scheme were tapped for their opinions.

"Public Health established a health permit fee schedule that remains budget-neutral," according to an emailed statement. "Public Health remains committed to working with all community partners in L.A. County to reduce sexually transmitted infections. Public Health leaders met with the Free Speech Coalition at their convenience and will continue engaging all stakeholders to protect the health and well-being of all residents, workers and visitors."


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