Porn Industry Against Mandatory Condom Measure

VIDEO: Voters approve Measure B, requiring actors to wear condoms while shooting sex scenes.
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A ballot measure mandating that porn stars wear condoms in adult films passed with 56 percent of the vote in Los Angeles County this week, but the adult film industry in California says it has already has a system to curb the spread of sexually transmitted diseases -- and it's better than latex.

The Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act, or Measure B, will require performers to wear condoms during vaginal and anal intercourse, something industry leaders and their employees think is unnecessary because studios require performers to submit to mandatory STD testing every 14 or 28 days. If they aren't STD-free, they can't be entered into the industry-wide sexual health database, and they're banned from performing.

"The adult industry takes this very seriously. This is how we survive as an industry," said Steve Hirsch, who founded porn production company Vivid Entertainment in 1984 and argues that Measure B is unnecessary. "This is how these performers make a living. We're talking about their lives."

He said Measure B is a "solution looking for a problem."

Spearheaded by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Measure B also requires adult film producers to complete a blood-borne pathogen training course, post compliance signs on set, and cover fees for periodic inspections.

The Free Speech Coalition, the adult film industry trade group, has already written a letter to Los Angeles County to say compliance with measure B has "excessive costs," is unconstitutional and should not fall to local government to decide. The letter said FSC will "challenge this intolerable law in court," and may move its billion dollar industry elsewhere.

Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of California Los Angeles, spoke at an AHF press conference following Measure B's passage. He said recent surveys and studies proved that adult performers are 8 to 15 times more likely to contract an STD than anyone else. He also said current industry testing practices are insufficient because they miss herpes simplex, as well as Chlamydia and gonorrhea in the throat or anus.

"This is really a victory for common sense," said Whitney Engeran-Cordova, a senior director at AHF, during the conference. "I hope that the production directors and performers and all of the industry realize it was not only the voters who passed this. It was also customers."

Engeran-Cordova said the porn industry failed to provide a minimum protection to its performers.

Industry leaders say the L.A. County porn community hasn't had a performer test positive for HIV since 2004, and that performer didn't get it from within the community.

"During that time, we've produced over 300,000 scenes," Hirsch said. "We do a pretty incredible job when it comes to protecting the performers."

Performer Kylie Ireland, who also directs adult films, said she was "obviously" against Measure B.

"It's a ridiculous waste of time and money to regulate an industry that is already self-regulating," she said. "We've done this all on our own. … I always felt totally comfortable and I've been in this business for 17 years."

The other problem is that condoms are bad for business, industry leaders said.

Hirsch said Vivid Entertainment made condoms mandatory during the mid-2000s, before the industry testing procedures were implemented, and its sales decreased by 30 percent.

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