Porn Condom Bill AB 1576 Goes Before Assembly Appropriations Committee Today

Let’s jump right into something that could provoke some heated debate and that is AB 1576, a bill that is going before the California Assembly appropriations committee today.

Yes, AB 1576, that pesky little statewide mandatory condom bill. It seems like it’s been going on for a thousand years. It’s been stalled, rewritten and has gone through all sorts of hurdles. Authored by Assemblyman Isadore Hall and endorsed by AIDS Healthcare Foundation, it establishes criminal penalties for those who don’t adhere to rules already in place for adult performers’ protection in Los Angeles and requires producers to pay for testing and keep medical records.

The big question is if it’s going to be shot down my Assemblyman Mike Gatto like it was last year. I say the odds are about 50-50, maybe 60-40 in favor of passage. Barring any last minute snafus, I predict that this is going to make its way to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk for signing and implementation. If this bill passes the appropriations committee today, I think it is a done deal. I can’t see Brown not signing it.

It’s truly a shame that it has gotten to this point. It never had to go this route. It’s been a one-sided issue led by Michael Weinstein and Isadore Hall. The adult industry has never been able to put up a fight. We never had a chance because the people who have been put in front have been piss poor representatives. We’ve never made good arguments and we’ve never come up with workable solutions. We’ve never had a defense and proposed our own plans. We’ve only focused on testing, which is only good for detection, not prevention.

The excuses we’ve come up with as arguments against this bill are laughable. Friction burns from condoms, keeping our private sexual lives out of the government’s hands, threats of relocating out of state. One the one hand, we strive for legitimacy, whining about Chase Bank and PayPal refusing to do business with us and then we act like petulant children when the regulation that comes with that legitimacy comes into play.

The industry wants to be legitimate, but doesn’t want to play by the rules that everyone else does. I don’t hear too many people complaining about Donald’s Sterling’s privacy rights being violated. He stands to lose a billion dollar franchise because of a private conversation that was leaked to the media. The NBA has rules set in place that supersede his individual rights for the good of the league.

The adult industry has always had the attitude that we can do what we want with no regulation and we don’t react until we’re forced to. Perfect example is the 2257 record keeping law. Back in the 70’s and 80’s there was no ID requirement. Nobody took the necessary steps to insure that performers were over 18. What happened? Traci Lords and others took advantage of that and as a result the government had to come in and do it for us. Had the industry done its due diligence and made more of an effort to verify adult performers’ credentials early in the game, perhaps 2257 would never have had to happen. We’re forced to fight the overreaching effects of the 2257 laws when we could’ve prevented them in the first place.

We fight any type of regulation in this business, but we want the freedom to produce whatever kind of pornography we make, whether it’s dog fucking videos or girls eating shit. But when we are asked to make sure performers are legal consenting adults, we fight the system set up to do that. We want to be able to do business unimpeded by a bank’s prejudice against the type of material we produce, even going so far as calling it a civil rights issue, like Tasha Reign tried to do. But when required to adhere to regulations that any other business has to, we fight it. We want to be able to express ourselves sexually in a safe workplace environment, but we fight any attempt to enforce the safety laws that any other legitimate industry has to comply with.

We defy every law that every other business has to comply with, then we complain when there are consequences. Like the immigration laws. There are countless performers who come here and work illegally from Europe, Canada and other countries and companies like Evil Angel give them directing contracts. We get away with everything you could imagine in this business. Just the fact that we’re in the movie making business, we are able to write off going the movies, going out to dinner, wardrobe, our houses as shooting locations, etc. We take all of the luxuries afforded by the Hollywood film industry, but when regulations come down the pipeline, we balk at them and cry persecution. We act like Jesus being crucified on the cross. “Help us! We’re the poor porn industry!” Then we march out a band of freakazoids and liars to represent us.

The privacy argument when it comes to medical records and making movies doesn’t apply because we are in the business of making money. Any legitimate entity that is producing commerce has to endure some infringement on their privacy. An athlete has to submit to testing for performance enhancing drugs. Actors in Hollywood have to submit to drug testing and health screening to be insured for multi-million dollar productions. It’s all a part of doing business.

So when the business says that performers wearing condoms and having to keep medical records is an invasion of privacy, it’s not. We’re talking about doing business, making money, we’re talking about OSHA standards and workplace safety. We’re not talking about the government walking up to your house and into your bedroom and making you put on a condom. What happens in your house is private. Cal/OSHA doesn’t come in and say, “Where’s the rubber? Where’s your medical paperwork? You’re breaking the law.” That’s not what happens. Your own bedroom is private. But when you attach commerce to it, that’s when it becomes subject to government regulation. That’s when it is no longer private. The industry either doesn’t understand that or doesn’t want to understand it. But if we had understood and dealt with it in the right manner, we wouldn’t be going through what we are going through now.

If we had the right people speaking on this and not inept organizations like Free Speech Coalition running the show, this bill would not have gone as far as it did and these issues would have been resolved years ago. We shouldn’t have performers speaking about health issues who are not qualified to do so, like Nina Hartley. Nina Hartley, who claims to be a registered nurse and says that using condoms is more dangerous than barebacking because they chafe the vagina and make it more susceptible to infections. If that were the case, Jessica Drake and every Wicked girl would be brimming with STDs. But they’re not, because Nina Hartley is not telling the truth. There is a not a single “registered nurse” or any other qualified medical professional who will say that it is safer to have sex without a condom than it is wearing one. It’s an absolutely asinine statement to say that someone shouldn’t use a condom because of vaginal irritation and that a bimonthly test is a safer option. When we allow people like Nina Hartley to make these ridiculous assertions, we paint the entire industry as a bunch of misinformed idiots.

When they had a hearing in Sacramento last year, we had a bunch of cretins and freaks represent the industry. People like Lorelei Lei and the Kink contingent of tattooed misfits went up there and made us look like a circus sideshow. The newspapers even reported that it was a freak parade. Kink.com represents everything that is unsafe about working conditions, from barebacking crossover performers to having untested people from the street engaging in intimate contact with performers and abusing them as with what happened with Cameron Bay when she got her breast implant ruptured during a Public Disgrace shoot. Yet, these are the people who are tasked to discuss safety issues with state legislators.

We have people like Nina Hartley and Lorelei Lee deliver ludicrous medical misinformation and bring people to meetings that make our industry look like more of a cartoon than it is. We should have had people like Jessica Drake. Someone who could offer a sensible perspective of condom use in the industry. Wicked Pictures has been condom mandatory for over 15 years and they are still in business making millions of dollars. We should have had Steve Orenstein, Brad Armstrong, Stormy Daniels speak on the condom issue. They should have been part of the debate. They should have been the people who negotiated with Michael Weinstein and AIDS Healthcare Foundation and worked out a solution that was agreeable to both sides, instead of Cocaine Cowboy Peter Acworth delivering a feeble compromise letter after the fact.

It would have been fairly easy to enact condom legislation that had exemptions and loopholes. It would have been good public policy to voluntarily commit to a condom mandate and had exceptions made for certain circumstances like monogamous couples or a strictly quarantined testing regimen. We could have established protocols with health officials and legislators that worked for the industry and addressed the concerns of the public and of Michael Weinstein. Instead, we huffed and puffed and folded our arms like spoiled kids and said we’ll do what we want and you don’t let us, we’ll take our toys and go home. Like Eli Cross and others did at the Cal/OSHA meeting back in 2011.

Everybody knew this was gonna happen. Everyone knew that Michael Weinstein was gonna be up our asses and wasn’t going to let up. Back room deals could have been made. Instead of sitting down with Weinstein and coming up with a workable solution, we demonized the man and people like Mark Kernes wrote insulting, condescending articles about him and AHF. Now Michael Weinstein is going to get what he wanted and the adult industry is going to have to play ball by his rules. If the people in charge of this business say they didn’t know that this was going to be the outcome, they need to be excommunicated from this business tomorrow, because they have failed us. They have no business leading us anymore.

We all knew this was coming and we did nothing. Instead, we just waited for the hammer to come down. Michael Weinstein has been on a mission to put condoms on this industry for years. Remember, Weinstein was working with Sharon Mitchell back in the day at AIM. Had that dialogue continued, an outcome that would have been beneficial to both parties could’ve been achieved. But we drew lines in the sand and engaged in a battle that we had no hope of winning.

We used to have regulation in this business. People like Russ Hampshire would bring company owners together and get everybody on the same page. It wasn’t the Wild Wild West that it is now. There wouldn’t be companies like Kink.com bringing negative attention from the state and things like Public Disgrace endangering the safety of performers.

People like Phil Harvey from Adam and Eve could set standards that the industry would have to adhere to, because owners need him to survive. Larry Flynt could establish protocols, because they need his cable outlets to survive. Frank Koretsky from IVD could step up and say this is how it’s gonna be and people would have to listen, because they need him to survive. But we don’t get these people. Instead we have Lorelei Lee and Nina Hartley spouting nonsense and making arguments that a five year old could poke holes through.

Now it’s too late. The mandate is coming down and wearing condoms in porn is going to be the law in California. It won’t be an issue of Cal/OSHA inspecting sets, they will simply be able to take a movie where the performers are not wearing condoms and bring charges against the producer for violating the law. Agents who send girls on condomless shoots will lose their licenses because their license stipulates that they cannot send their talent to an unlawful situation.

There’s no grey area here. This will be a law. If you break it, you will be penalized. If an agent lets his talent break the law, he is an accomplice and will be charged. If this bill passes and Jerry Brown signs it, shooting porn without condoms and not maintaining proper records will be a crime.

This is serious. If this bill goes through the appropriations committee today, this industry is fucked. Unbelievably fucked. You can thank Nina Hartley, you can thank Peter Acworth, Diane Duke, Free Speech Coalition. All of the people who knew this was coming for years and sat back and allowed it to happen. You’ve heard nothing from the industry heavy hitters or from the competent lawyers. All you’ve heard from are talent who are either freak shows or just compulsive liars.

That is sad. But that is the state of the adult business and the state of AB 1576.

Follow Rob Black on Twitter @RealRobBlack Email: rzblack@yahoo.com

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