On Monday The Huffington Post conducted interviews with attorney Michael Fattorosi, AHF’s Mark McGrath, FSC’s Diane Duke, male performers Steven St. Croix and Danny Wylde on the prospects of AB 332 going into law and the porn industry threatening to pull out of California if it does. At one point Duke warned of the threat of the industry’s having to use hazmat suits.
“Nobody is talking Hazmat suits other than your Industry,” McGrath, the policy and research analyst at AHF told Duke.
McGrath first had the floor.
“I support Measure B because this industry has had a repeated history of poor health and poor work place safety. It’s festered since 1998 when we had our first clusters of HIV transmission. It’s a well documented fact that performers in this industry are- on orders of magnitude- are more likely to be infected with a sexually transmitted infection than the general public.”
According to McGrath, Measure B is a minimum standard and that animals in Hollywood films are treated better. This got a loud chuckle from St. Croix.
“It’s simply a matter of fairness that adult film performers should not only be provided access to condoms but should be allowed to use them on set,” McGrath continued.
St. Croix’s was asked for his response and said the Michael Mann production on HBO which saw several race horses killed was real support of McGrath’s argument about humaneness.
St. Croix’s been in the industry over 20 years and has performed in well over 1600 scenes. According to St. Croix, in that time he’s had one infection for Chlamydia.
St. Croix said the public needs to be aware of the state of the art testing for performers and that the times when infections have come into the industry pool were when certain performers started new relationships or had one-night stands with “civilians”.
“Some of us have relationships outside the industry,” St. Croix concedes noting that he makes it a point, personally that the person he’s with gets tested “so we can enjoy sex, the intimacy, the way it’s designed to be experienced.”
Fattorosi was asked if companies are moving out of the LA area and not purchasing permits.
“I think there’s some confusion as to the discussion of permits in regards to- I think the [newspaper] story mentioned two permits that have been acquired in 2013- I think what they’re referring to in that story is the Dept. of Health permit. [The condom permits.] From my understanding there have been two Dept. of Health permits for condoms that have been issued so far.”
Fattorosi says he’s got clients who have pulled more than two permits this year for shooting.
“I think there’s a discussion between porn permits and filming permits and county of heath permits. There have been more than two permits pulled by the industry since the beginning of the year.”
Fattorosi has had one client who’s pulled at least eight permits so far this years and that there’s been a lot of discussion in the industry about where it’s going to go and if it’s going to leave California.
“There have been directors and producers that have either made a move or are thinking about making a move. But there are producers and performers that are staying put in Los Angeles.”
Fattorosi said there’s talk about moving to other counties in California but not necessarily out of the state.
Wylde’s been driving farther to shoots due to the fact that production companies are shooting outside of LA County.
“No one really wants to adhere to this measure.” The farthest he’s driven said Wylde is Mesa, California.
“That makes my 20 minute commute to work nearly two hours. Most of the companies are now shooting outside Los Angeles County to get around the measure.”
Wylde couldn’t say whether those other counties welcomed the porn business.
While Fattorosi noted Simi Valley has passed a measure similar to Measure B and that Ventura County is considering a similar law.
Duke added, “We’re looking to get adult entertainment out completely. I think some of the areas are using this as an excuse to censor adult entertainment. This is censorship. When you start looking at adult entertainment and start limiting it so it can’t be produced, we’re talking censorship.”
Addressing the argument that the industry represented a large part of the LA County economy, Duke wanted to clarify the permits issue.
“In order for you to file for a permit with Film LA, you have to go through the county healt dept., and apply for and get the Measure B permit. Only two producers have applied for the Measure B permit which means Film LA can only give permits to those two producers. One of those producers has a sound stage.”
Asked if it cost more to shoot outside of LA, Fattorosi said it depended on the talent.
“Companies that shoot outside the state and have to fly talent in, they’re raising their costs of production because of transporation and food. To a certain degree, yes.
“But if you’re making Danny [Wylde] drive two hours they’re not paying for his gas. It’s not not good for the performers because they’re losing time and effort and money; a lot of times performers used to do two scenes in a day. Now they’re getting paid the same rate to drive and double the amount of time they’re on set.”
St. Croix said the revenue that’s being lost is the state income tax that is generated by the industry.
“Many of the people that are behind the scenes- crew- they also work in mainstream; they supplement their income when network and industry shows take a while to get going.
“In between those jobs they supplement their income by working in the industry. There are hundreds of people that work behind the scenes in the offices for the companies- shipping- that are affected.”
St. Croix also contends that the industry is being criminalized and the sexual activity of the professional people in this industry are being criminalized.
With the industry having a history of starting in “a black market territory,” Wylde is asked if we would continue to take part if it moved in that direction.
“I do fear that to a certain degree,” said Wylde. “This has become my career and I plan on it being a career at least for several more years if not the rest of my life.”
Wylde said he doesn’t want to leave a community he’s living in.
“But if all the companies go somewhere else I have to follow unless I start at the bottom of some other industry.”
Wylde acknowledged that he wasn’t around when the condom experiment was first tried in the industry- with failure- some claim.
“If the end product is not something you believe you can sell, what good is it to pay people; and if you can’t pay people, how do you think that affects me as a performer? We’re testing more often than any other population in the world.”
Wylde said the industry has minimized the risks to make it safe enough for the job he performs.
“But do you think it’s safe for me to be unemployed or live in poverty?”
McGrath wanted to make it clear that condoms were required in California.
“Condoms are currently the law. The industry’s testing protocols are woefully inadequate and they have not met recommendations that have been set forth by San Francisco and LA County.”
McGrath noted that the performers are paying for the tests where producers should be paying for them.
“They should be following current state law that mandates the use of condoms. Measure B is simply a rearticulation of current state law.”
When Duke brought up the whole issue of hazmat suits claiming that porn performers were being mandated to follow the same plan emergency rooms techs had to follow, McGrath jumped all over her.
“Think of Steven and Danny with hazmat suits on, with lab coats. I can promise you that won’t sell many videos,” said Duke.
“Very good theater, Diane,” said McGrath. Duke then wouldn’t allow him to get a word in.
McGrath said the notion of hazmat suits is ridiculous. Duke in turn said neither the AHF, the city council of LA, Assemblyman Hall, nor the county has never come to the industry and asked what works for them.
“We haven’t had a transmission of HIV since 2004.”
Duke said LA County has put out a 252 page report talking about the risk factors of HIV in LA County.
“The adult industry was not even mentioned.”
According to report, Duke said, the Latino and Afrcan American communities presented more risk and asked what AHF was doing to drop those statistics.
McGrath was looking at a report from a Cal/OSHA advisory meeting minutes with Duke’s name on it.
“The county of Los Angeles states that since 2004 there have been 22 known infections of HIV.”
A 2010 investigation, according to McGrath, revealed that a performer worked with two known positives.
St. Croix suspects those numbers McGrath cited included people who were trying to get into the industry were tested and were found positive.
According to McGrath, the CDC conducted an investigation in Los Angeles 2010 of a performer who worked with 15 other performers.
“They were only able to clear six of them because of lack of industry cooperation.”
Duke said AHF was trying to create a bureaucracy and regulation within an industry they know nothing about.
“They are doing that. So is LA County. We are challenging that in court and we’ll see what happens.
“We’ll see what happens, won’t we?” replied McGrath.