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LA Times Looks at Porn’s Waning Permits

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Film permits issued for X-rated films in Los Angeles County have dropped this year to almost zero in the wake of a law requiring condom use during porn shoots.

Only two permits have been issued for pornographic filming so far this year, far off pace for an industry that typically gets about 500 permits annually, said Paul Audley [pictured], president of FilmLA, a nonprofit that oversees permitting throughout L.A. County.

“It’s a steep drop,” Audley said, adding that “both of those applications came in January.”

Coupled with an apparent increase in adult films being shot in nearby Ventura County — where one politician says residents have complained about “moans and groans” echoing from film sets — the permitting decrease has been seized on by porn producers who have long claimed condom regulation would cause them to leave, harming the Los Angeles economy.

“We’re not surprised by this,” said Diane Duke, chief executive of the Free Speech Coalition, a porn industry trade group. “Movie companies are beginning to look for other areas” outside of the San Fernando Valley, the longtime base for most of the industry.

Duke said that Measure B, an ordinance passed by L.A. County voters in November that mandated condom use during film productions, has created hardship for the industry because most consumers want to see scenes without condoms. She added that many porn studios are delaying production as they wait on a lawsuit expected to be heard this year in U.S. District Court that challenges the measure on free speech grounds.

Michael Weinstein, president of the Aids Healthcare Foundation, which like many other public health groups advocated for the condom law, said porn studios in Los Angeles simply need to bend to the will of voters. The industry’s prediction of a filming exodus that would create a deep economic hole was “heard by the voters in L.A. County, and 57% voted for Measure B,” Weinstein said. “We live in a democracy.”

Weinstein added that there was no evidence that the industry has started filming elsewhere, nor was their evidence that nearby states such as Nevada were keen to host X-rated filming.

The industry doesn’t appear to be moving to Orange County.

“It’s not something that has come up,” said Shawn Nelson, who heads the Orange County Board of Supervisors. And it’s not “something I care about,” he said, explaining that regulating movie-making doesn’t square with his limited-government beliefs.

But parts of Ventura County are clearly grappling with a reaction to the law.

Last last month, Camarillo placed a 45-day moratorium on the issuance of new permits for adult films, a move meant to give the city’s leadership time to consider adoption of some form of condom regulations. “This happened after we received three phone calls in March inquiring about permits, and one asked if we had a condom ordinance,” said Camarillo City Atty. Brian Pierik, who added that the city hasn’t had porn filming in the past.

In an unincorporated area of Ventura County not far from Camarillo, residents were recently surprised to find a porn shoot at a hillside home on a normally quiet street.

“It’s really disturbing,” said Tim Gray, a 56-year-old father of four. “We were eating dinner and we heard these loud sounds outside, like something really bad had happened. I went outside and heard, well, the typical sounds you’d hear in a porn movie. It was echoing all over the neighborhood. Later I asked my daughter if she heard it. She said ‘yeah, I was doing my homework and I just turned up the music to drown it out.’ ”

Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks said that since Measure B passed she has been getting emails and phone calls from constituents upset by an uptick in porn shoots. She said the constituents aren’t just hearing “moans and groans” from nearby houses, they’re “seeing naked people.”

Parks, who represents communities in the southeast corner of Ventura County near Los Angeles, said she was planning to introduce countywide legislation modeled on Measure B.

Meantime, Assemblyman Isadore Hall III (D-Compton) has proposed an Assembly bill similar to Measure B that would cover all of California.

The decline in permits was first reported by the Daily News.


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