AHF’s Mark McGrath: “The free speech argument is a symptom of the adult industry’s impotence”

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AHF consultant Mark McGrath was interviewed recently by Jacob Weis at www.projectwordsworth.com So far I would rate Weis’ article as the most rational down the middle examination I’ve seen to date of the Measure B argument. Weis writes:

To the A.H.F.’s Mark McGrath, Measure B is common sense.

“I’m actually astonished at the resistance we’ve had,” McGrath states.

McGrath was a grad student in 2005, brainstorming for something interesting to research.

After receiving his master’s in public health from U.C.L.A., McGrath joined a L.A. County Health Department investigative team studying an outbreak of gonorrhea and HIV in the adult industry.

Then the A.H.F. came knocking. McGrath now consults for the nonprofit: he drafted Measure B’s language and its website’s talking points, and organized its campaign.

McGrath considers the adult industry “quasi-human trafficking.”

“The industry feels it has no limits, like they could at any time conceive a scenario and put a young man or young woman in that scenario, with no liability—at least for the producer.”

“In Hollywood, we have stunt people. They do a lot of crazy shit. But they take precautions—they have to. The person on fire isn’t actually on fire.”

But it’s not all workers’ safety. It’s financial, too. When run-of-the-mill unregulated workers suffer injuries on the job, “the county agencies, as the main healthcare resources, end up paying those costs,” says McGrath.

No difference in porn: as long as adult performers have fallen ill, California medical clinics have been “subsidizing this industry’s reckless disregard for human safety,” he says.

The adult industry has higher rates of S.T.D.s like chlamydia and gonorrhea than those of the general population, says McGrath. Technically, that’s an epidemic. Measure B is the answer, he continues, “the most cost effective way to prevent exposure.”

“The free speech argument is a symptom of the adult industry’s impotence,” McGrath says. “It’s the only trick they have in their bag. And it won’t work.”

McGrath is asked about the issue of hazmat suits.

What hazmat suits? McGrath replies.

According to the drafter of Measure B, porn is “fear mongering” when they say Section 5193 will make for sex scenes between cosmonauts. Gloves? Required only when fisting, McGrath says.

Goggles? Only in money shot scenes, worn by the performer being shot with money—and only if his or her co-star is aiming for the eyes. No condoms in oral sex scenes either, unless there’s an open sore on either party’s pertinent part.

“Anywhere that broken skin or a mucus membrane like the eyes’ come in contact with blood” or other potentially infectious fluids, McGrath says, constitutes exposure and necessitates a protective barrier.

But fluid “contacting unbroken skin is not considered an exposure,” and doesn’t require dressing up.

So Title 5193 is less severe than porn complains. No hazmat suits, gloves, goggles or masks on anyone not about to touch a questionable substance with their eye, anus, abraded anus, or wound. That means no plastic on the cameraman at all. Unless he plans on getting frisky with a sound-guy’s mucus membrane.

If it’s unwise to ask a porn star about having sex on latex, it’s downright dumb to ask a California health expert whether porn’s preemptive testing is ship-shape.

“That’s what the producers tell the performers,” McGrath says with a huff. “That they’re using the most up-to-date scientific protocols to keep them safe.”

Really, as far as McGrath’s medical circle assesses, “the testing they’re doing is inadequate,” falls woefully short of “recommendations from health departments.”

Porn “should be swabbing anatomical sites, i.e. rectums and throats,” McGrath explains, “but instead they’re using urine-based tests,” which are outdated and “miss as much as two-thirds of the infections.”

As far as the S.T.D.s that performers and producers are aware of, floating down their bloodstreams or clinging to their soft pink organs, McGrath sighs, “We—they—are looking at a tip of the iceberg.”

McGrath states that, “the reinfection rate within a year is very high—between 25 percent and 26 percent.”

Even if porn’s old-school test hits on a performer’s disease and he or she is cured, they’re likely to get sick again. Quick.

“And yet,” McGrath adds, “producers have convinced their performers that this testing is a cleansing ritual,” a biological members-only pass to a party of protected intimates. “Something that matters.”

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