MORE

The End of L.A.'s Porn Industry?

Bye, L.A. (or maybe not).
Bye, L.A. (or maybe not).
Keith Plocek

Following the new law of the land that performers must wear condoms at "location" adult video shoots in L.A., some industry titans are threatening some serious coitus interruptus.

Porn magnate Larry Hirsch, head of the nation's biggest porn-maker, L.A.-based Vivid, has been giving interviews saying, for example, that the industry will leave town if the "condom police" are "ready to go at a moment's notice."

It's a threat that the adult video's leaders have been offering for the better part of a year, and it's hard to see why it's news now:

The law passed. It's happening. It's here. Stop threatening and, eh, pull the trigger.

Hirsch told Associated Press:

Ultimately I think what they will find is people will just stop shooting in the city of Los Angeles. That's a given.

Here's what he told us last fall, in response to a proposed California workplace health rule that would also require condoms in porn.

It's a possibility we will be shooting outside California.

That was nearly five months ago.

Whatever you think of adult fare, the exodus of a multi-billion-dollar industry is not one our economy needs right now. And that would be a threat worth considering seriously. But the politicians who supported this rule know that doing things without using too much teeth is an way of life in Porn Valley.

Here's the deal:

Chicas de pornografia.
Chicas de pornografia.
Ed Carrasco

Condoms are already the law. Federal law. That, at least, is the interpretation of state workplace health officials, who have, in fact, already fined porn makers such as Larry Flynt Productions for condom-less production.

But the state doesn't have the resources to truly keep a lid on this industry.

So the biz carries on as usual, with the slight threat of a relatively harmless fine.

The city of L.A.'s law, drawn up by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation as a potential ballot initiative but approved by the City Council before it could get there, basically ties condom use to location film permits.

If they fail to use condoms, producers risk not being able to get permits in the future. While that would be a true hardship, and could be somewhat of a deterrent, L.A. probably has even fewer resources to enforce and inspect than the state does.

City Hall is expected be a few hundred mil underwater next summer. We have the smallest big city police force per-capita of almost any major metropolis.

You think condom enforcement is going to be a priority. You think Porn Valley is truly sweating this?

And who's going to track the sometimes fly-by-night producers of porn? How hard would it to hire virtual subcontractors to pull permits? If they're, uh, busted, then the big houses move on to the next. Yeah?

What's more, while porn is responsible for as many as 200 permitted location shoots a month in the city, we'd say there are far more underground, off-the-record shoots than that. How's the city going to track down these digicam-holding, pro-am producers?

One more thing: California remains one of few states where making smut is truly legal. Almost anywhere else where you pay for sex it's called prostitution. In the Golden State, if you tape it and photograph it, it's protected. It's art!

(Love this state, said the California native).

You get the picture.

But ... the AIDS Healthcare Foundation isn't done yet. It wants to see actual condoms on actual porn actors.

While we don't think this city rule will make much of a dent (see how the titans are still talking, but not walking), if AHF continues to have success with its crusade it could happen.

(The industry says that you, the upstanding adult video consumer, will never, er, swallow seeing a condom-covered penis. It ruins the fantasy, they say. And the money shot, apparently. Anyway, adult leaders argue that the industry's one-a-month STD testing protocol works).

AHF's next target is a county rule that would cover all shoots, not just location productions. A voter initiative, if it gets on the ballot, would require condoms across the county, even at the so-called studio sets.

Again, however, this would come down to policing. We'll see.

But we'd call the declarations of a porn industry pull-out decidedly premature.

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