The Porn Industry Really, Really Hates L.A.'s Original Safe-Sex Organization

The Porn Industry Really, Really Hates L.A.'s Original Safe-Sex Organization
File photo by Nate "Igor" Smith/L.A. Weekly

The adult video business really, really hates the nation's original safe-sex organization, L.A.-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

The feeling is mutual.

The two sides have been at each other's throats, and not in the pornographic way, for years now, battling over the one thing adult video says it will never adopt — condoms.

AHF spearheaded the successful L.A. County referendum that requires condoms in porn locally, and it has been working on a similar statewide initiative. It also has filed complaints with state workplace health authorities, who have so far concluded that prophylactics are the law if employees are to face potential exposure to blood-borne pathogens at the office.

Folks in the adult business have responded with rumors and conspiracy theories about AHF, some of which have been pretty far out. One is that AHF wants to sell condoms to the industry and stands to profit if mandatory prophylactic rules become widespread.

Earlier this month, the porn industry asked the office of the state Attorney General to "determine if the organization’s nonprofit status should be revoked," according to a statement from adult video's trade organization, the Free Speech Coalition.

Why?

The Valley-based coalition says that AHF spent $1 million more than is allowed under nonprofit tax rules on political and lobbying expenditures in the last four years. The total spent, FSC says, was nearly $7 million.

"Over the past four years, the controversial Los Angeles–based health care organization appears to have willfully and repeatedly violated multiple laws and regulations related to political spending by a nonprofit," the adult group said in a statement. "They appear to have grossly underreported political expenditures to the IRS."

"Many people have wondered how a nonprofit like AHF could spend so much money in politics, given the strict limitations placed on nonprofit political activity by the IRS and the state of California,” added Jeffrey Douglas, chair of the coalition. “The answer appears to be: by underreporting campaign expenditures on tax forms."

AHF, founded in the 1980s, responded by practically laughing off the allegation.

"It’s not a credible complaint," said AHF communications director Ged Kenslea. "AHF is within legal bounds on all our advocacy efforts and expenditures."

AHF hit back at nearly the same time by pointing out that the industry is resisting the foundation's efforts to obtain porn-star testing statistics on how many performers have come up positive for major STDs.

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The AIDS Healthcare Foundation argues that the adult video business' voluntary testing protocol for its stars wasn't always the most private. In fact, in 2011 test results and personal details for many performers, apparently appropriated from an industry-backed testing organization, were published by a site called Porn Wiki Leaks.

But the industry is citing privacy concerns in its resistance to letting the world know how good or bad its testing program is. Porn has long claimed that the twice-a-month testing protocol catches positives long before outbreaks could occur. If a serious positive turns up, production is shut down. Players are taken out of the game. Disaster is averted.

There's some truth to the claim. HIV hasn't devastated porn, though other STDs are at least as common as they are on frat row.

The AHF has its doubts, however, and it wants those behind a lawsuit challenging the county condom law to put up the testing results, sans porn stars' names.

The Porn Industry Really, Really Hates L.A.'s Original Safe-Sex Organization (2)
Nate "Igor" Smith/L.A. Weekly

"Through legal discovery, AHF recently requested industry testing stats to prove — or disprove — claims that testing works, NOT for the identities of those individuals tested...," says AHF president Michael Weinstein. "When the rubber hits the road, it appears the porn industry is unwilling or unable to defend its testing program."

Mike Stabile, speaking for the Free Speech Coalition, says porn doesn't trust AHF with the data, even though the group is asking for results with names redacted.

"AHF says, 'Well, trust us. It's no big deal,'" Stabile told us. "The problem is, to performers a medical data leak is a huge deal."

"Performers are at high risk for stalking, outing and online harassment, so this isn't something they take lightly," he said.

Sure. Sexual harassment is a serious issue, and we don't mean to blame the potential victims here. At the same time, there are porn stars, men and women alike, who advertise their wares on escort sites, particularly when work on the set is slow.

Anyway, the industry says consumers don't want to see condom porn, and forcing it on adult video will only push production to dark and unsafe corners of the underground. AHF, of course, just wants performers to be safe. (Or maybe it wants to take over the lucrative porn star condom market).

In any case, the battle is fun watching. So long as nobody gets hurt.


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