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Porn's Condom Law to Get Important Hearing

Porn's Condom Law to Get Important Hearing

Ron Jeremy and friends by Gustavo Turner for LA Weekly

A law that would require porn producers to protect performers from STDs was recently amended to delete the word "condom" and instead include the term "personal protective equipment."

What does that mean? Backers of the law say not much - that it's still a mandatory condom rule.

The proposal, AB 1576, heads to the powerful state assembly Labor and Employment Committee for its approval (or denial) tomorrow:

Amended language includes: 

Each time an employee performing in an adult film engaged  in vaginal or anal intercourse, a condom or other protective barrier  personal protective equipment was used to protect the employee from exposure to bloodborne pathogens. This paragraph shall not  be construed to require that the condom or other protective barrier personal protective equipment be visible to the consumer in the finished film.

A spokesman for local Assemblyman Isadore Hall, who's sponsoring the bill, told us the language was changed simply so that it would fall in line with state Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) regulations.

The industry has argued that AB 1576 would require goggles, gloves and even possibly biohazard suits on-set. 

The Labor and Employment Committee analysis notes that current rules require employers to make available "gloves, gowns, laboratory coats, face shields or masks and eye protection, and mouthpieces, resuscitation bags, pocket masks, or other ventilation devices" to protect workers from blood-borne pathogens.

However, Hall's office insists his law wouldn't mandate this in porn.

"No goggles," the representative told us. "No biohazard suits unless that is part of the film's storyline."

Spokesman Ged Kenslea of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which backs the bill, says the new language "has NOTHING to do with masks or gloves, like opponents will likely claim. The amendment simply makes the language in the bill harmonious with existing Cal/OSHA regulations."

Meanwhile, Hall's office said that performers Cameron Bay and Rod Daily, who contracted HIV last year, will testify on behalf of the proposed legislation at tomorrow's committee meeting.

See also: Porn Star Cameron Bay's HIV+ Status Confirmed by Additional Tests

The porn business contends that consumers don't want to see condom porn and that requiring it would force production out-of-state and possibly underground, where workers would be less safe. 

The industry says its twice-a-month STD testing protocol works.

The bill is opposed by the Valley Industry and Commerce Association. The adult business' main trade group, Free Speech Coalition, is a member of the association. Stuart Waldman, president of VICA, told us:

AB 1576 is creating a solution where there is no problem. The adult film industry is one of the most successfully self-regulated industries out there, and all this bill serves to do is drive more business out of the state. Los Angeles County already saw its adult film permit rate drop by 95 percent because of Measure B, the county measure that AB 1576 is modeled after. That's a $6 billion industry the San Fernando Valley lost. The industry wants to stay here, but if the bill passes, the productions will absolutely will leave in droves.

Of course, as Waldman noted, condoms are the law of the land in Los Angeles County already. And while far fewer permits are being pulled, the biggest adult production houses in America are still here.

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Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow LA Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.