Steve Hirsch, Mark Kernes and Christian Mann Are Against Condoms Because It’s All About The Money

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In recent weeks we’ve been treated to a spate of impassioned, well-meaning articles and tweets from porn performers.

They’ve been telling us how they’re pro-choice when it comes to the condom issue. Unfortunately that’s not what Proposition B on the November ballot is about.

As far as the LA County vote’s concerned, you’re either for “prophies” or against them. There’s no in between. And there’s no ties going into extra innings or Sudden Death in the Rubbers Match.

So it’s fair to say that an individual taking the pro-choice stance is only playing politics, trying not to piss off potential employers, and straddling the issue.

Anyway it goes, if the condom measure is voted in, there will be lawsuits. If it’s voted against, there will be lawsuits. The only people standing to win this battle will be the attorneys.

Condoms, yes or no, the provocative question, is, will porn make good on its never-ending threat to leave LA if baggies become the law of the land?

The company owner who popularized the “we’ll take our football and go home” strategy is Vivid’s Steve Hirsch. In January, this year, USA Today ran a story after the Los Angeles city council voted 9-1 for an ordinance [later approved by the mayor] that would deny film permits to porn producers who do not comply with the condom requirement.

“It’s going to be interesting to see how in fact they do try to enforce it and who’s going to fund it, and all of the time and effort they’re going to spend,” Hirsch speculated.

Hirsch is absolutely right on that point because no one has a clue if Michael Weinstein’s Frankenstein monster will walk and talk.

Then Hirsch added what he’s said a million times already: “Ultimately I think what they will find is people will just stop shooting in the city of Los Angeles. That’s a given.” Hirsch said his company would consider leaving town if this happened.

Today, in a press release issued by AHF, Michael Weinstein called Hirsch’s bluff.

“We’ve always believed that the porn industry’s threats to leave California rang hollow, and now one of their own attorneys confirms as much,” said Weinstein who was alluding to porn attorney Michael Fattorosi.

Fattorosi in a recent article on his site observed, “While it may be desirable, in light of the condom laws in California, for the industry to move to a different state such as Nevada, Florida or Arizona doing so comes with much risks to the producers.”

Licking his skinny chops that Fattorosi was making his case for him, Weinstein eagerly continued: “Larry Flynt has a skyscraper with his name on it on the Westside, and Vivid’s Steve Hirsch, a six story building on Cahuenga Boulevard in the Valley.”

I guess size matters to Weinstein.

“We understand and respect the fact that porn is a legal industry here in California–but one that must follow all health and safety laws including condom use,” adds the AHF potentate.

“It’s heartening to read Mr. Fattorosi’s take on why the industry can’t just up and relocate out of California.”

Never mind the fact that just eight years earlier, Weinstein was singing a different tune when he declared, “There is no precedent in any state law for mandating the use of condoms, and I feel we should be careful before crossing that threshold… In the end, prohibition [of non-condom sex] does not work.”

In doing the ideological shuffle, Weinstein’s of the belief that porn’s painted itself into a logistics corner. Truthfully, it would be hard to argue with him.

Notice, though, that Weinstein’s chief opponents in print don’t even broach the health issue. To them it’s all about money. Hirsch would have to sell his six-story building, yada, yada, yada; and you notice – Larry Flynt has been remarkably silent this go-round on the condom issue.

In that USA Today piece AVN’s Mark Kernes notes that, “approximately 90 percent of U.S. porn films are made in Los Angeles, almost all of them in the city’s San Fernando Valley.”

Any statistics coming out of AVN are totally suspect. Remember, I ran that organization for a number of years when its head honch would make claim upon unsupportable claim in order to justify advertising. Kernes is no different in adopting the party line because his salary and existence depend on ad revenue.

Kernes in that article went on to say that when films, Internet downloads, sex toys and admission to dance clubs are counted, it’s an industry that produces about $8 billion a year in revenue.

Why not count transactions between Johns and prostitutes and admission fees to swingers parties while you’re at it? It still wouldn’t add up to $8B.

Channeling Ben S. Bernanke, Kernes also observes that the industry has been battered in recent years by the recession and the increased popularity of free Internet porn.

Recession? Over $300M changed hands Monday night when the Seattle Seahawks beat the Green Bay Packers in a suspect football game refereed, possibly, by Diane Duke. Recession, my foot.

Kernes makes the case that requiring condoms would further erode business. Actually that’s more of an assumption than a proven fact.

Consumers, particularly those overseas, according to Kernes, “have made it clear they won’t watch films when the actors use condoms, complaining that it is distracting and ruins the fantasy.”

I’ve always said if you’re looking at a man’s penis to notice a condom you’re fantasizing about the wrong thing.

For his part, Christian Mann, general manager of Evil Angel and FSC board member adds this to the condoms thought process:

“The only thing that the city could potentially achieve is losing some film permit money and driving some productions away, but you can’t actually compel an industry to create a product that the market doesn’t want.”

Bear in mind, two thriving adult businesses were driven into extinction under Mann’s tenure – Catalina Video and Video Team. And this was during porn’s bull market when it was impossible to fail. Yeah, that’s the guy I want to hear talking about the market.

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