Porn Industry Appears to Admit it's Breaking the Law

A 2012 meeting on condoms in porn.
A 2012 meeting on condoms in porn.

In 2012 Los Angeles County voters approved Measure B, an initiative that mandates condom use in porn production.

After the vote, adult video industry leaders said they were fleeing L.A. Much was made of an exodus to Nevada. But, in reality, the porn business, long based in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley, didn't really go anywhere.

Porn is only explicitly legal in California and New Hampshire. Otherwise it's prostitution.

The Hollywood-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation this week is pointing to an apparent admission by an industry leader that porn is defying the county condom law, which requires producers to obtain permits through Film L.A. that come attached to a prophylactic mandate.

Mark Kernes, the board secretary for the industry trade group known as the Free Speech Coalition, wrote on adult news site AVN that producers are allegedly "lying on their health permit application or simply not getting a filming permit. Most have chosen the latter course, possibly because lying on an official government document can be worth up to a couple of years in prison."

The Kernes-penned AVN piece was about a discussion about porn's condom woes on KPCC's AirTalk With Larry Mantle. On the program, AHF, which spearheaded the county condom initiative, had public health consultant Adam Cohen speak for it. He said:

The adult film industry doesn’t take out film permits. Measure B requires health permits taking [sic] out, and in order to get those health permits, you have to essentially promise that you’re going to use condoms. If you don’t take out a health permit, you don’t get a film permit, so the industry said, "You know what? We’re just not going to take out any permits at all and just continue filming." In fact, we were able to prove that seven large companies are still producing content in our backyards in Los Angeles even though they say they’re not filming here anymore.

Film L.A., which administers film permits for the city and county of Los Angeles, says filmmakers caught without paperwork can be arrested, fined and lose their equipment.

What's more, it would appear that the legal border between prostitution and porn is a permit, or else every John with an iPhone would claim immunity from the law.

The AHF, which recently said it had more than enough signatures to get a prophylactics-for-porn initiative before voters across California next year, says it believes that Kernes called into the same program last week, identifying himself as Mark and saying:

There definitely has been some flight to Vegas, but the industry in general, I think, does not want to move to there because frankly, they like the atmosphere in Southern California, you can shoot outdoors for longer periods during the year.

And, of course, we have a California State Supreme Court decision that says shooting pornography is legal in California, and there are only a couple of states that had decisions that said that. So, no, they don’t want to leave L.A.

Some of them have been shooting outside of L.A. County, though, but that’s kind of a far trek, because the studios are based in L.A. County, so they don’t like to do that. Many of them are simply shooting as we might call it 'underground' in the county.

AHF alleged in a statement that "the industry is breaking the law by not using condoms on adult film sets and by not taking out required film and public health permits."

Free Speech Coalition executive director Diane Duke didn't deny any of it when we asked for her response. Instead, she focused on the AHF's statewide initiative, which would allow everyday citizens to file complaints about condom-free porn:

The real story from Larry Mantle show was that AHF admitted that under their proposed ballot measure, any citizen of California can bring a lawsuit against a performer for not wearing a condom in a film. It's unfortunate that the AIDS Healthcare Foundation has so little public backing for their sue-a-performer condom initiative, that they're left paying for press releases about things that they heard on a radio call in show.

The industry has argued previously that consumers don't want to see condoms and that, if forced to deploy them, producers would go underground, where porn stars would be even less safe.

The business uses a voluntary system of twice-a-month STD testing for performers that it says works.


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