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LA County porn to become one big safer sex PSA

Posted by Tom Megginson | 7-11-2012 22:09 | Academy | Category: Behaviour Change

[via LA Times]

Last week, the LA Times revealed shocking statistics that sexual performers in Los Angeles have much higher rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) than prostitutes in Nevada:

Sexually transmitted infection rates among legal prostitutes are negligible, the report said, because brothel workers in Nevada are required by state law to use condoms and are tested weekly for disease. Since those rules went into effect in Nevada, there have been no cases of HIV infection, and their infection rates were negligible, the report said.

Last year, an HIV epidemic basically shut down the “legal” pornography industry in Southern California. As a result, in yesterday’s election, Californians voted on Measure B, legally obliging actors in L.A. County to wear condoms on adult film sets. It wasn’t expected to pass. But then it did.

In addition to mandating condom use, Measure B will require sex film producers to apply for a permit from the LA County Department of Public Health to shoot explicit scenes. The fee will finance periodic inspections of film sets, and violations will be subject to fines and even criminal charges.


The effort was spearheaded by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, and supported by a massive PR campaign. One of their primary arguments is worker safety, that “Performers in the Adult Film Industry deserve the same protections and enforcements from workplace hazards as employees in other industries.”

Interestingly, it reminds me of the workers’ rights arguments that preceded smoking bans in bars and restaurants in several jurisdictions. And just as with that legislated social change, not everyone being saved is happy about it.

James Deen, who you may remember from such classics of the genre as “Gangbanged 4” and “Joanna Angel’s Cumtastic Cookout,” is one:

“I am disappointed. Not particularly about the law but about my community of adult entertainers being continually bullied and used by others,” he wrote in an email [to Huffington Post].

“It will be interesting to see what happens next. People will most likely move production out of Los Angeles and take out tax money with us,” Deen wrote. “Hopefully this measure passing will help us get more organized in the future and that, along with Los Angeles losing our business, will allow people in politics to start seeing us as an asset.”

Mr. Deen even compared himself and his colleagues to an oppressed minority:

“We are much like the homosexual, minority or female populations,” Deen told HuffPost. “We are a community of tax-paying and law-abiding voters who are currently being persecuted. But our opinions do matter, and I hope one day we get respect as these previously-stated groups and others have begun to receive.”

However, two years ago, sex film veteran Jenna Jameson was calling for unionization of performers for their own protection. “There’s going to have to be a union put in place, and having safe sex is mandatory,” she stated.

In theory, the workers’ rights argument holds. According to Ms. Jameson, actresses have a reasonable fear of being blacklisted by the industry if they insist on using condoms, which producers feel are bad for business. And perhaps if condom use becomes more normalized in explicit sex scenes, it will be more acceptable to the sex-crazed young men who consume that kind of cinema. Time will tell.

Thanks to Monica for the tip.

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