In a blow to San Fernando Valley porn execs and bareback aficionados, the L.A. city council has officially approved an ordinance requiring porn performers to wear condoms during shoots. While the law only applies to porn shoots in Los Angeles, the nine-to-one vote represents a huge victory for performer safety advocate groups like the L.A.-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, who have been rallying for lawmakers to mandate condom use in the porn industry for years. 

Although the debate over requiring performers to wear condoms on set has been going on forever, lawmakers have largely remained uninvolved, dismissing advocacy groups' pleas to crack down on on-set practices. A few months ago, however, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation started gathering signatures from voters asking them to pass an ordinance that requires adult filmmakers applying for a film permit to make their performers wear condoms. "It's a great day for the performers and safer sex in our society," Michael Weinstein, head of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, told the LA Times Tuesday. "This is the first legislative body to take up the issue and the near-unanimous support is very gratifying."

Not everyone, however, shares Weinstein's enthusiasm for the new initiative. Porn-industry execs, for instance, have traditionally relied on regular, industry-wide testing to screen performers for sexually transmitted diseases, adopting more stringent measures in August after a performer tested positive for HIV, prompting a temporary industry shutdown. Producers also argue that condom use negatively affects sales. "If the market would accept condom-positive movies, that's all we'd be making. The fact is consumers don't want that," Christian Mann, manager of Evil Angel Productions, told ABC News a few months ago.

Some performers also object to the measure, on the grounds that lawmakers have no business interfering with industry practices on set. "This is government overreach," Diane Duke of the lobbying group Free Speech Advocates told the Times. "It's not about performer health and safety, it's about government regulating what happens between consenting adults."

So what do we think about this, porn-watchers and sex-havers? Should the safety of the performers be the industry's first priority, or does the government's involvement in the debate over condom use have some troubling implications? Does the ordinance infringe on freedom of expression, or is forcing a porn actor to wrap his shit up on the job like making a window washer wear a harness on the fifteenth floor, or telling a restaurant worker to wash his hands after pooping?

Commentarium (4 Comments)

Jan 18 12 - 4:29pm
DingLordo

The porn industry did itself a major disservice by allowing "Dr." Sharon Mitchell to be the mouthpiece of safe sex practices in porn and by claiming that condoms actually harm female performers. How about they just admit that it is about money and that porn shoots would take longer. Come off it. Seriously.

Jan 18 12 - 4:36pm
dave1976

Date: Wed 1/18/12 2:32 PM

Porn lover here. And while I agree that it's hotter seeing them go sans condom; at the end of the day I think safety has to prevail since it's still a job (so yeah, harnesses for window washers, soap on the hands after you poop, etc.).

And the porn industries anti- arguments are pretty flimsy:

"The law is impossible to enforce." Um, whatever task force is charged with enforcing it simply has to watch the pornos. No condoms, producer gets a fine. Or simply let consumers file complaints with an agency. Either way, it's relatively easy to enforce. The porn industry is acting like the state will have to fund condom-cops, busting down the doors to porn sets.

"Performers should be able to choose." Really? How many employees keep their jobs once they start making demands upon their bosses? Since there's already enough actors willing to go without, they'll more than make up for the few girls/guys who insist upon condoms.

"Freedom of speech, man!" Putting aside the fact that porn isnt protected under the first amendment (although I do think it should be), this is a workplace safety issue. You dont have a 1st amendment right to smoke in the work place, even if it's your way of telling the world how much of a badass you are. Likewise, you dont have a 1st amendment right drop a hot steamy herpes infected load in (or more likely on) some unsuspecting girl/guy who's just trying to do their job.

"L.A. will lose all that porn revenue, cause porn will relocate to somewhere else." So be it. L.A. made the choice to lose that revenue. Take your porn money someplace else where there's tons of good looking girls/guys, with no discernible skills, who will do (literally) anything for a relatively meager paycheck and miniscule taste of fame.

Jan 18 12 - 6:36pm
Bob in Tampa

Ok, let's call this vote what it is...symbolic. Great move politically and it raises the issue of safer sex (in and outside a movie set.)

But, the pure fact of the matter is that this ordinance is for LA only. That means they can shoot a porno in any of the 3,140 other counties in the United States. No need for enforcement, bareback studios will drive 1 mile outside LA county and let loose the lube!

Worker safety? Um, calling porn performers (calling them actors is a stretch ahah) is like calling professional boxers workers? Hmmm...2 huge men beating each other up VOLUNTARILY for the entertainment of those watching (and who paid a fee to watch). Can you imagine the outrage of boxing (or MMA) fans if Las Vegas passed a law that boxers had to use oversized pillows for gloves and headgear was mandatory?

Oh, and according to blazinggrace.org, more than 11,000 porn movies are shot in the US every year. Since most studios are in the LA area, can you imagine the outrage in LA county when they have to hire full time employees to watch gay porn so they enforce this law? Really? The line of people applying for that job would be longer than those for American Idol auditions.

Ok, next question: How many documented cases of STD transmission can be presented to justifiy this law? We know of one case where an actor tested postitive for an STD for sure...and before you scream at me, one infection is one too many.

But how about a dose of reality. According to LA County Health officials, 61 people died of a food-bourne illness in 2010. There are 1,300 inspectors in LA - they cover restaurants as well as all food-related businesses (fish markets, etc) - and yet 60 people still died of food poisoning?

Again, this is a powerful statement being made, but it really is more of a tempest in a teapot when you take into consideration the reality of it's effectivness!

Jan 18 12 - 8:18pm
Manda

Porn-watcher here, and I personally think it's hotter when they ARE using condoms.

Weird, right? No, it's just that I never get into the 'fantasy' of porn. I'm always conscious of the fact that it's just two people who are near-strangers having sex. I'm grossed out when there's no condom present, because I know exactly what these people are potentially exposing themselves to. I wouldn't go bareback with a random, so I don't get off on seeing it in porn.

It's great that the workers get tested. Thing is, a lot can happen in that month between tests. Heck, HIV takes up to 3 months to show up. All it takes is one infection and there could be an epidemic. I'm all for tighter restrictions.