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L.A. seeks to mandate condoms in every porn movie. Yeah, good luck with that. #HIV #AIDS

L.A. seeks to mandate condoms in every porn movie.  Yeah, good luck with that. #HIV #AIDS

OK, first the article.  Then my .02 cents below it.  From the NYT:

The clinic that for the last decade had monitored the health of those working in the multibillion-dollar pornography industry abruptly shut its doors in December.

Now Los Angeles has moved to fill that role.

Last week, city lawmakers voted unanimously to draft an ordinance that would require condoms to be used on the set of every pornographic movie made here.

The sudden closing of the clinic, coming after a performer tested positive for H.I.V., sent pornography actors to clinics around the San Fernando Valley, north of downtown, where the industry is based. And though the clinic recently reopened, its uncertain status again raised the question of who, if anyone, should be ensuring their safety.

“We can’t keep our heads in the sand any longer,” City Councilman Bill Rosendahl said. “These people should be using condoms. Period.”

The city law would be the first to impose safety standards specifically on the pornographic film industry, which has largely been allowed to police itself.

True, and they also had a good system in place too:

Until the late 1990s, the industry was unregulated. But after a string of actresses contracted H.I.V. and filed lawsuits against production companies, the industry created the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation.

Since 1998, the nonprofit clinic, financed by contributions from production companies, has offered health tests to sex-film performers. Producers agreed not to hire performers who had not been tested in the last 30 days, and the clinic investigated the sources of infections, coordinated halts in filming when actors tested positive for H.I.V., and hounded performers who had been exposed to get tested.

Over the years, county health officials had clashed with the clinic, accusing it of failing to cooperate with investigators and of failing to protect industry workers and their sexual partners.

Those in the industry, however, assert that the self-regulating system has worked well, pointing to just five cases of H.I.V. infection among its performers — none of them definitively tied to on-set exposure — since a 2004 outbreak shut down the industry for a month.

And then in 2010, a gay-for-pay actor named Derrick Burts threw the entire system a monkey wrench.  He made all sorts of ridiculous claims from his never having sex outside his straight relationship unless it was movie related, to AIM never properly educating him on HIV and STD’s.

I called bullshit two months ago on him, and I do it again tonight:  bullshit.  His exposure was never definitively tied to an onset performance so until he produces another performer that he was with who is positive, his cries of outrage are easily dismissible.  LA county officials are going to “step in” and legislate people’s choices.

Sounds a bit contradictory for an HIV advocate, doesn’t it?  Before you call bullshit on me, let me articulate this little stance of mine.  I’ve said it before and it bears repeating:

  • Performing in adult films is a choice – period.  Nobody is forced to do them and as a former actor (from WAY back in the day) I speak from experience.  I had choices and I chose to have sex, for cash, while being filmed.
  • I know plenty of adult film stars who not only love their jobs, they also are some of the smartest people I’ve met.  They wouldn’t perform in a film bareback and have opted to value their personal health over a quick buck when given the choice.

Now for the flip side of that argument:

  • People who perform in bareback films are making a choice.  Some of the bareback films are indeed populated with people who are positive – and know it.  It’s not safe, and being exposed to other people’s strain of HIV virus can lead to your own becoming drug resistant.  It’s a safe bet that the performers in bareback porn know these risks.  I don’t like it, I don’t approve of it, but if they’re making an informed, consensual choice I respect their decision.  As an educator and HIV advocate, I can’t ramrod the “right way to do things” down anyone’s throat.
  • Bareback porn is not going to cause the fall of western civilization as we know it.  To say that it will is overreaching and a blatantly under-informed stance on HIV and the adult movie industry.

You can’t legislate people’s choices.  There’s never been a proven instance of it being tried and being successful.  Porn has been around for 100 years, and it’s not going anywhere.  If LA county tries to legislate condoms on every single porn set the only thing that’s going to happen is a lot of movie studios that pump a ton of money into the state of California are going to head for the hills.

The result?  Performers will be out of work and an already financially fucked state will become even worse when they lose the tax revenue.  People who had the chance to work for a studio that participated in the AIM testing network just might be forced to get work at studios that really couldn’t give a damn about the health of their performers.

Am I a condom supporter?  You bet I am.  But you can’t legislate them onto a person’s cock.  The only way that condom is going to get consistently unrolled and strapped on is with education and viable, accessible testing.

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