Porn's Condom Problem Keeps Growing
File photo by Nate "Igor" Smith for LA Weekly
A proposal that would make porn stars use condoms on-set passed a key hurdle in the California legislature yesterday.
A similar bill died in a committee last year, but this time around there seems to be more support for the legislation by Assemblyman Isadore Hall of L.A. His AB 1576 passed the Assembly Committee on Appropriations with 9 votes in favor and 3 opposed.
We're told that local Assemblyman Mike Gatto, who the bill's supporters blamed for blocking the similar proposal last year (his people denied it), ...
... voted in favor of it on that committee yesterday. Interesting.
The legislation does have powerful detractors who can pull some levers in Sacramento, including the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, which says mandatory condoms will make billions of dollars generated by the adult video industry in California disappear.
The proposal will go to the full assembly, likely next week, where all it would need is a simple majority - 41 out of 80 votes - to pass there.
Hall called the vote ...
... a strong reaffirmation of the California Legislature¹s commitment to protect workers in the state, regardless of the type of work performed. For too long, the adult film industry has thrived on a business model that exploits its workers and puts profit over workplace safety.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation has spearheaded the legislation, as well as both L.A. city and county laws that require condom use for adult performers. The group argues that federal rules designed to protect employees from blood-borne pathogens should apply to the San Fernando Valley-based porn business.
Whitney Engeran-Cordova, senior director of Public Health for AHF:
... The industry has not been able to persuade anyone but themselves that the industry should be able to profit on their performers' work without providing basic protection.
File photo by Gustavo Turner for LA Weekly
The industry has fought mandatory condoms tooth-and-nail and argues this bill would go beyond prophylactics by also requiring dental dams, goggles and gloves, which Hall's people says is untrue.
The adult video trade group known as the Free Speech Coalition says the requirement would force porn out of the state and into the underground, where working conditions would be less safe. The FSC touts a twice-a-month STD testing protocol for performers.
In a statement yesterday the FSC said the bill "denies performers control of their own body, their own sexuality, and their own privacy."
The group said it would ultimately be victorious in its fight against condoms:
Make no mistake - we will fight it, and we will win. Hall's attacks have unified the producers and performers in a way we haven't seen since the culture wars of the 80s. We can not allow politicians to treat adult performers as disposable, to disregard very real concerns in favor of a paternalistic bill that criminalizes adult film.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss LA Weekly's biggest stories.