Pro/Con: Los Angeles creates law mandating condom use in porn

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On January 17, 2012 Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed an ordinance stating that pornographic actors, working within the city of Los Angeles must wear condoms.

PRO

by Wynter Eddins

Two years ago, Derrik Burts entered the porn industry, appearing in both homosexual and heterosexual films. Just months into the business, he contracted the Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and told the Los Angeles Times in an interview that he contracted it from a “known positive” actor during a scene.

Burts is not alone. According to the 2010 Annual HIV Surveillance Report by the Public Health department of County of Los Angeles , nearly 26,000 people today are living with AIDS within Los Angeles County, compared to the 15,000 cases just 10 years ago.

The new condom ordinance should have been enacted years ago. The San Fernando Valley is the nation’s porn capitol, and according to New York Daily News, California and New Hampshire are the only places where pornography production is not considered prostitution by the federal supreme court.

Since the law was enacted, adult film production companies are threatening to move out of Los Angeles, claiming that condoms would decrease viewers. Steven Hirsh, founder of the adult film company Vivid Entertainment, told the LA Times in an interview that if he were to move the company out of California he wouldn’t have to worry about the new ordinance.

In most pornographic films, the actors don’t wear condoms. The reason, according to Hirsch, is because the viewers would get distracted. Hirsch says viewers are more interested in the fantasy aspect in the films.

However, the danger inherent in unsafe sex in adult films is more important than viewers’ preferences. Last month, the Los Angeles Times reported 17 cases of contracted HIV involving porn actors, according to public officials. Besides HIV, STDs are a risk according to Shelly Luben a former adult actress who stated on her website, Pink Cross Foundation that she contracted HPV which led to cervical cancer performing in 30 films. California Watch, a news website founded by the center for Investigative Reporting,  reported in 2010 that the number of people in the adult entertainment industry who are actually infected with HIV remains unknown, since in gay adult films, the actors are not required to be tested for HIV.

It may be more enticing to watch films where there are no condoms present, but the reality is that an increasing number of people in the industry are exposed to STDs.

The nearly $5 billion porn industry has a large influence on its viewers, and with more than half of the profits coming from online, the videos are accessible to nearly everyone.  Forbes magazine indicates that every second, nearly $4,000 is being spent on the industry, and every 40 minutes, another pornographic movie is being created.

According to statistics from the Los Angeles Department of Health, those in the industry are 10 times more likely to contract an STD than other members of the population. The spread of AIDS is on the rise, specifically in Los Angeles County, and the adult industry is important in creating awareness considering the number of viewers. Porn star Ron Jeremy told the Daily Beast that he was tested every 28 days for HIV and other STDs, but the worry is when the actors have multiple sexual partners in a day, monthly testing is not enough.

The usage of condoms in the industry could also be a positive message to those who view it regularly. If the argument is that the viewer would prefer that no condom be present, then there is a solution. There are already talks of creating an “invisible condom” according to The Globe and Mail news site, which could possible serve as an alternative to the condoms used today. The adult industry can promote safe sex, and still keep its viewers.

The city of Los Angles is trying to protect the health of those who partake in a large industry and make it a bit safer. The agencies should be held accountable each time a video is aired, and if the actors are not wearing condoms then actions should be taken.

Condoms ensure that those in the industry are practicing safe sex. Just as doctors are required to wear gloves, those in the porn industry should have to wear protection. Those in the industry should be grateful that the law cares about their health. If this law was not enacted, stories like Burts’ would become reality for many others.

Wynter is a junior communications majoring in communications, minoring in journalism and VP of Radio Television Digital News Association and is a member of the CSUN Speech and Debate Team.

 

CON

by Jack Harryman

Mr. Villaraigosoa did not choose this battle out of the blue; the AIDS Healthcare Foundation has been lobbying for the law to be passed for several years. The question is, will the new law ensure a safer working environment for these adult actors and actresses? It depends on whom you ask.  Many porn stars believe that the law will simply cause the porn industry to move outside the boundaries of Los Angeles County and into the underground, creating a far more dangerous and unregulated work place.

Porn actress Ela Darling stated, in the AVN article More Performers Speak Out Against Cal/OSHA Sanctions, “As an individual and as a performer, I would rather have unprotected sex with someone whom I know for sure has been tested for HIV, Gonorrhea and Chlamydia in the past thirty days, than have barrier-protected sex with someone whose STD status is either unknown or positive.”

Until May last year, the Adult Industry Medical Center ran mandatory nationwide STD testing services that certified performers as STD-free before they began working. Michael Weinstein, head of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, backed a lawsuit against the Adult Industry Medical Center, putting the AIMC out of business and leaving a vacuum in the health and safety sector of the industry. Perhaps Weinstein believed that by ridding the industry of any health protection services, legislators would be forced to pass the ordinance.

Many of these pornographic performers and producers, like Ela Darling, have nothing against the usage of condoms in their films, but rather oppose regulation of condom use throughout the state or city because it does not necessarily guarantee the decrease of HIV and AIDS in the industry. This makes the $4.4 million ordinance, paid with taxpayer money, one big failure in ending the spread of HIV and AIDS.

Just like the movie industry, the adult film industry is taxed on every movie they make. The adult film industry, as a whole, is a multibillion dollar industry. Currently 90% of all pornographic films are made in Los Angeles County. If the porn industry moves, is the city of Los Angeles really prepared to lose the tax revenue from a multimillion dollar industry at a time when the state of California is on the verge of bankruptcy?

But not only is the AIDS Healthcare Foundation spending Los Angeles and California’s scarce financial resources, they are also squandering their own funds. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation has spent millions of dollars putting an ordinance in place, yet the ordinance only encompasses one city.  That money could have been spent on HIV and AIDS education or research, which would benefit numerous counties across the state.

Furthermore, according to adult film performer and director Lorelei Lee, during the decade in which the Adult Industry Medical Center was up and running, only six out of thousands of performers tested positive for HIV and AIDS, and only three of them contracted their diseases on the set. Studies from the International Planned Parenthood Federation show that condoms are only 80% effective against the spread of HIV or AIDS, while testing is nearly 100% accurate. Despite the facts, Weinstein insists on advocating condoms over testing.

Besides the backing of the ordinance being a complete waste of resources, it does something far more sinister—it legislates morality and in doing so, forces needless government intrusion on the lives of private citizens.

Individuals of consenting legal age video taping their sexual escapades can and should understand what they’re getting themselves into by engaging in what amounts to private, consensual sexual activities. As free citizens of the United States of America, we should take responsibility for our actions instead of resorting to criminalization and government enforcement to do it for us. Do we really need one more law that forces us to put a jacket on in the rain?

Jack is a sophomore majoring in geology and is a member of the CSUN Speech and Debate team.


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  • Jon Soto 952

    It’s government overreach in a time we’re losing jobs.

  • http://trpwl.com/ sean

    Did you use info provided by a person who claims god healed her from herpes…?? 

    • http://twitter.com/mrwhiteacre Michael Whiteacre

      You are referring to Shelley “The Rebel Prophet” Lubben, whose long-forgotten career of 17 confirmed (not 30) porn scenes spanned 1993-94, before the AIM clinic even existed.  Lubben claims to have contacted herpes in porn in 1994 (she claims she *must have* contracted it during her brief porn career, and NOT her 8 years as a prostitute, of course), but says she no longer has it and can offer no proof that she ever had it. Her assertion is that G-d spoke to her in 1996 and told her He had cured her.

      Around the same time, Lubben — an admitted drug addict and alcoholic — was also diagnosed with bi-polar disorder.

      Lubben now calls herself a “rebel prophet”, claims that G-d and Jesus speak to her every day, and have given her a mission to “take down” the porn industry.  As for her HPV — HPV is so common that, according to the CDC, 50% of sexually active people will contract it during their lifetime. Lubben says her doctor told her she likely caught it from having “multiple sex partners.” Where would Lubben have had more sex partners — in 17 scenes or her eight year career as a prostitute?

      Lubben and Pink Cross Foundation, the “charity” group which pays her (according to tax returns, nearly 40% of all cash goes to her salary alone), have been widely discredited. 

      The testimony of an ex-porformer who suffered in her care:

      The testimony of an anti-porn advocate who was associated with Shelley and her group longer than anyone:

      http://www.thehealingdiaries.blogspot.com/2012/01/why-i-left-pink-cross-foundation-part-1.html

  • http://profiles.google.com/anthonyk6319 Anthony Kennerson

    To add to Ms. Darlings concerns and to directly rebut some claims by Ms./Mr. Eddins (my apologies for the gender confusion):

    1) It is not known exactly whether or not Derrick Burts contracted HPV from sex during a porn shoot or from extracurricular sexual activity related to his outside activity as a swinger and an escort. And also, the scene where he claims he was infected with HIV was a gay condomized scene in Florida, in which Burts engaged in unprotected sex outside of shooting.  So, not even condoms prevented his infection.

    2) There is no reliable and indisputable evidence that porn performers are exposed to STI’s any more than the general population…mostly because the available evidence is conditioned on the fact that performers are tested at least every month, while the general population could go a lifetime without testing until they are found to be infected and treated.

    3) The “AIDS is on the rise in the adult industry” meme simply is NOT true. There have been three cases in the last three years of a performer having been tested positive for HIV…but in all three cases it was found that no other performer was infected in the process of shooting scenes…and the last incident (last year) was found to be a false positive due to a sampling error. In fact, there has been no case of HIV being spread through “straight” porn shoots based in LA since the 2004 outbreak affected 4 performers…and before then, the last major outbreak was in 1994. In short, there is no epidemic.

    4) The notion that porn performers are by nature “promiscuous” and have multiple sex partners, and thusly are a greater threat to infect others, is essentially a distortion and a smear. Most porn performers tend to be more sexually active than people in general…but they also are smart enough to make precautions to protect themselves from infections. Also, the majority of performers only do scenes with their significant others, require far more recent testing clearance from their performing partners (some as recent as a 2-day clean test), or already use condoms in performances.

    5) The idea that only seeing condomized sex will encourage the general public to engage in safer sex using condoms flies in the face of the reality of skin-on-skin contact, the fact that the majority of the general population is infection free and has no risk of infecting others, and the free marketplace that has shown without doubt that most porn consumers will not purchase condomized sex en masse, and will simply shift their viewing and spending habits towards those outlets supporting bareback sex. Or, they will simply resort to viewing and trading of the tons of bareback porn already out there.

    And finally, as to Shelley Lubben’s tale of having acquired HPV and herpes from unprotected sex acts in porn: I defer, as has Ms. Darling, to the documentary that Michael Whiteacre produced, which debunks fully her claims to represent porn performers.

    This law sets a dangerous precedent of having government intervene in the intimate affairs of consenting adults engaging in sexual activity, and it scapegoats and defames a select group of people (porn performers) and denies them of their right to their livelihood and their right to choose their method of protection..and all for a highly questionable social gain that can be better obtained through other, less drastic methods.

    Anthony Kennerson
    Lafayette, LA

    http://bppa.blogspot.com
    http://www.redgarterclub.com/RGCluibNetwork/rgclub3dot2

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NCUWVUY5CPXWW2P5XK2G6FIA2A Paul

    The STD counselor on a Herpes support site herpesdateonline. com said herpes
    doesn’t live outside the body for long..and you can not catch it from inanimate
    objects in a VERY RARE case if someone with herpes uses a towel after the shower
    and rubs enough of the “virus” off and someone uses it immediately after there
    is a VERY slim chance of them getting is since the towel is still damp.. but
    that would be a very rare occurrence.

    Don’t upset by Herpes. 1 in 4 get STD in USA. Most of people on ==== ”
    herpesdateonline. com” ===== said it is just a minor virus. And they can deal
    with it during their se life. I am curious to know the details.

  • http://twitter.com/ElaDarling Ela Darling

    Eddins-
    1. You’re quoting a radical group of religious fanatics, The Pink Cross Foundation, as though they’re a legitimate organization respected by anybody in the porn industry. They’re not. To learn more about Shelley Lubben: http://www.thedevilandshelleylubben.com/

    2. “Last month, the Los Angeles Times reported 17 cases of contracted HIV involving porn actors, according to public officials.” 17 over a span of how many years?

    3. “The usage of condoms in the industry could also be a positive message to those who view it regularly.” It is not the responsibility of pornographers to tell people how to have sex any more than it is LA County’s job to tell me to have sex on/off camera. Porn is made to make money.

    To quote Danny Wylde’s interview with former AVN editor and current adult producer/director/cameraman Eli Cross, “Everybody
    tried it, and nobody bought the movies. And the problem is, it’s not
    like we can just say, ‘All porn is going to be condom only.’ Guess what?
    Europe is never going to shoot with condoms. It’s not going to happen.
    Suddenly now, miraculously, European porn was outselling American porn,
    three, four, five to one. Nobody went back to shooting without condoms
    because they wanted to. They went back to shooting without condoms
    because they had to.”

    4. If you ask the majority of people in the porn industry, we will tell you we don’t want condoms. Porn sex isn’t like normal everyday sex. It takes longer and is much more intense, and condoms only make it more physically taxing. The friction from the latex causes vaginal irritation which actually puts the performer at greater risk of infection.

    We get tested for HIV, Chlamydia, and Gonorrhea every four weeks. I’ll restate my quote from Harryman’s piece:

    “As an individual and as a performer, I would rather have unprotected sex
    with someone whom I know for sure has been tested for HIV, Gonorrhea
    and Chlamydia in the past thirty days, than have barrier-protected sex
    with someone whose STD status is either unknown or positive.”

    Above all, the idea that a governing body is making it their business to tell me how to have sex infuriating. I’m a grown ass woman, I chose this career with full understanding of the risks involved, and I don’t need Villaraigosa or Bill Rosendahl of the LA City Counsel telling me how use my vagina or do my job.

    If you’re interested in the LA Condom mandate, you might find this article interesting:
    http://therealpornwikileaks.com/the-questions-la-city-councilman-bill-rosendahl-was-afraid-to-answer/

    Ela Darling

  • David the small-L libertarian

    Comments up and running again?!

    Why not just make them wear OSHA-approved haz-mat suits?

  • Achilles

    Way to drive yet another industry out of Los Angeles.