Here’s some surprising news…not.
As we predicted, the California Assembly Appropriations Committee has passed AB 1576.
“After nearly an hour and a half of hearing testimony from both supporters of AB 1576, the mandatory “barrier protections” in porn bill, and its opponents, the California Assembly’s Appropriations Committee, chaired by Mike Gatto, passed the bill, though with several “nay” votes. It will now go to the full California Assembly for consideration, though just when that will occur, since the legislature is due to be on recess beginning on May 27, is not yet known.”
“In support of the bill, the committee heard from many of the same witnesses who spoke before the Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media Committee two weeks ago. Those included Isadore Hall III, the bill’s sponsor, AIDS Healthcare Foundation representative Rand Martin, former adult performers Cameron Bay and Rod Daily, as well as UCLA’s Adam Cohen. In addition to more than two dozen adult performers and support staff, opponents who spoke included attorney Karen Tynan, adult actress/filmmaker Lorelei Lee, Free Speech Coalition CEO Diane Duke, Stuart Waldman, chair of the Valley Industry & Commerce Association, and several others.”
“For a more complete account of today’s Appropriations Committee hearing, check back to AVN.com later this afternoon.”
Can’t wait for that. I’m sure Mark Kernes is working furiously on his smug condescending assessment of today’s hearing as we speak.
Let’s see what XBIZ had to say:
“AB 1576, a bill that would mandate condom use on all adult productions shot in California, has passed the state Appropriations Committee, which heard the bill this morning.”
“Today’s debate, running more than an hour, echoed previous hearings, with particular emphasis on the proposal’s economic viability.”
“The committee, which is tasked to allocate annual funds to state government agencies, was given a report this morning that estimated a special fund costs of up to $150,000 to the OSHA Standards Board for additional rulemaking for AB 1576.
However, adult industry attorney Karen Tynan, who spoke for the opposition, began her argument by declaring that “the cost of this bill is drastically undercalculated,” pointing to the high price tag of drafting new protocols and regulations, as well as the proposal to keep logs of performer’s tests, unforeseen legal costs and more.”
“HIV-positive former performer Cameron Bay delivered a pathos-suffused tesimony on behalf of the bill, and offered her own succinct fiscal assessment.”
““You and the citizens of California are paying for my HIV medication, while producers laugh their way to the bank,” she said. “Condoms cost 4 cents. HIV medications cost half a million dollars.””
“A new buzz phrase tossed around at the hearing was the notion of “forced consent,” that was apparently included in the bill’s most recent reincarnation.”
“Although the definition and interpretation of the phrase was hotly contested between both sides, the adult industry interpreted it as meaning that they would be essentially be forced to release their medical records to state officials, an encroachment on their right to privacy.”
““I don’t know what that means and how that can exist, but in what other industry would we accept forced consent as a concept?” an attorney from Mind Geek asked.
Assemblymember Tim Donnelly expressed doubt about the legality of “forced consent,” adding that he had “concerns about the idea of the government being this deeply involved in people’s private business.””
““Forced consent is not consent,” Tynan concluded. “And the forced consent language is in violation of other health and safety codes and flies in the face of our California constitutional protections for privacy.””
“Performer/director/producer Lorelei Lee also spoke at length in poignant opposition to the bill. Aside from providing a comprehensive performer’s perspective, Lee touched on the sluggishness endemic to government bodies.”
“”Because our testing protocols are developed by performers and are run by performer groups [with medical input], we can react very quickly to changes in technology and constantly be using the most advanced testing,” Lee said. “I don’t think a government agency is able to react as quickly as we are.””
“Assemblymember Steven Bradford tapped into a similar concern later in the hearing when he referenced a recent Cal/OSHA report that stated it has only two safety inspectors for all California airports. “How are they then going to inspect thousands of sets?” he asked.”
“Supporters and opponents showed up in such strong numbers that many of those who wished to give testimony were cut off mid-speech.”
““Your voice can be heard as long as your voice is brief,” Assembly chair Mike Gatto told a performer who insisted on being allowed to speak.”
“Many other industry members attended the hearing to voice their dissent, including Diane Duke, Mo Reese, Amber Chase, Ariel X, Shine Louise Houston, Jiz Lee and Emma Claire.”
“Former adult industry performers Bay and Rod Daily, who tested positive for HIV last year, spoke on behalf of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, along with AHF lobbyist Rand Martin.”
“The bill will now head to the full California Assembly for consideration.”
There you have it. Not one performer or person of any substance in the business went up there to speak. Everyone who spoke were low level nobodies. Amber Chase? Ariel X? Shine Louise Houston? Jiz Lee? Emma Claire? Mo Reese? It just showed Mike Gatto and the whole Assembly how seriously we are taking this. No industry heavyweights. Just a bunch of low level sideshow freaks. “Hi, I’m Jiz Lee, I’d like to speak.” Are you kidding me?
The Assembly looked at these people and must have thought that the regulations in the bill were fine because no one showed up who mattered to the business. They must have thought the condom bill was a good thing for the industry. Look at Wicked Pictures. Look at Axel Braun. Assemblyman Hall even talked about a director who recently came out for mandatory condoms, although he didn’t mention Braun by name.
When it comes right down to it, this condom mandate doesn’t really matter to the filmmakers in this business. It only really affects the envelope pushing gonzo garbage that comes out of studios like Evil Angel. They are the ones who have the most to lose by passage of this bill.
Do you really think Phil Harvey at Adam and Eve gives a fuck? If he has three or four big movies a year come out with condoms in them do you really think it’s gonna affect his bottom line? He has a multi-million dollar mail order business. He sells sex toys, lingerie, lotions, etc. He doesn’t have to produce movies at all. Adam and Eve has the largest mail order catalog in the world.
You think Hustler and Larry Flynt give a shit? They have cable channels that are on Comcast/Time Warner. A publicly traded juggernaut that was formerly known as New Frontier Media. Flynt has multiple channels, any one of which could be converted into B movie or Cinemax type programming. Do you think he wants to deal with being cited by Cal/OSHA like when my cousin Mark Zane was directing for them for shooting without condoms and permits?
The Assembly Appropriations Committee see that none of the heavy hitters are there and instead they’re talking to Jiz Lee and Mo Reese. They know the industry wasn’t taking this seriously. If they were, there would have been people like Steve Orenstein or Phil Harvey speaking. Remember, Phil Harvey spent millions fighting the government back in the 80’s for selling condoms through his mail order.
They didn’t see heavyweights today. Instead, they saw soccer mom attorney Karen Tynan, who represents people like pimp Derek Hay. The Assembly saw people like Mo Reese and Lorelei Lee and they laughed. They saw that the heavy hitters are already adjusting to the regulations and are still going to make millions in spite of the new rules.
You don’t think Isadore Hall goes on websites and sees that Axel Braun, the biggest director in the business is going all condom and Smash Pictures just put out a press release for a new all condom Donald Sterling movie that they are producing? You don’t think they know about Porno Dan and all the other producers that are already going all condom?
When the committee doesn’t see heavy hitters, they know that they are already adapting. That’s what multi-million dollar companies do. They adapt. Those who don’t adapt fall by the wayside and eventually go out of business. Let’s face it. Companies like Evil Angel are on borrowed time. Christian Mann was the one who was holding that company together. Unfortunately, he will not be able to keep it afloat any longer, as he has his own problems to deal with.
Of course, Free Speech Coalition and Diane Duke are defiant to the end:
“Today, Isadore Hall and Michael Weinstein forced a bill on adult performers despite the vociferous opposition of the performers themselves. AB 1576 denies performers control of their own body, their own sexuality, and their own privacy. Over five hundred performers have bravely come out in public opposition to this bill, despite Hall’s endless shaming. For the past few months, Hall has portrayed performers as a public health hazard, using discredited studies that read like Victorian pulp novels. This isn’t about protecting performers; this is a morality crusade aimed at driving a legal, regulated business out of the state and underground.”
“Hall never approached performers to find out what they wanted—he gave them what he wanted. That’s why the Harvey Milk Democratic Club, the Transgender Law Center, the Erotic Service Providers Union, the Center for Sex and Culture and the Adult Performers Advocacy Committee and others joined the Free Speech Coalition in its opposition to a bill that strips performers of vital protections.”
“This bill will now go to the State Assembly. Make no mistake: we will fight it, and we will win. Hall’s attacks have unified the producers and performers in a way we haven’t seen since the culture wars of the ’80s. We cannot allow politicians to treat adult performers as disposable, to disregard very real concerns in favor of a paternalistic bill that criminalizes adult film. Hall has never been on an adult film set, he does not know how the industry works, he does not understand the concerns of adult performers—and he does not care. He has what he thinks is a political winner on his hands, and he’ll continue with it until he destroys what he claims he will protect.”
“It’s worth noting, of course, that AHF and Hall have spent millions of dollars and several years fighting alleged HIV in adult film, despite the fact that there has not been on-set transmission of HIV on a regulated adult set in over ten years. Meanwhile, Hall’s own district has one of the highest rates of HIV mortality in the country, and does not contain one of his sponsor’s clinics. Crusading against porn stars may make for good headlines, but it makes for lousy policy. We didn’t ask for it, but we look forward to this fight.”
The fight is over, Diane. You’re not gonna win. The bill will pass the full Assembly and will go to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk to be signed. I suspect your six figure salary will soon be over as well. That may the best thing to come out of this entire debacle.
Follow Rob Black on Twitter: @RealRobBlack Email: [email protected]