AirTalk for October 3, 2012

LA voters could put a condom on every porn actor

peachy92/Flickr/Creative Commons

Los Angeles adult film performers may soon be required to use condoms for some film shoots.

In January, Los Angeles became the first city in the nation that requires adult film actors to wear condoms during filming. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which sponsored the city initiative, has put a measure on the November ballot that would make the ordinance apply to all adult film production in Los Angeles County. The “Los Angeles Porn Actors Required to Wear Condoms Act” aims to protect members of the adult film industry, and their partners, from HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases.

RELATED: Click to read all KPCC coverage on the Los Angeles condom proposal

But many of those in the industry strongly oppose the measure. Actors find the requirement uncomfortable and unnecessary. Some say that if the condom proposal is passed, the new law might send the porn industry – and the roughly $1 billion in business it generates ... out of Los Angeles. According to No on Measure B's communications director James Lee, workers in the industry are careful.

"These are industry performers that work with other performers, that shoot their scenes, do the work on the set, and they go home," he explained. "It's their career. There's a financial incentive for them to stay clean."

Current industry standards, Lee says, call for frequent testing as it is; each performer is tested every 14 to 28 days. Lee added that the percentage of industry workers racked with STDs is minuscule compared to the general public.

"If we lived in a world where everybody in the population was tested as often as often as porn performers were tested, we wouldn't have problems like STDs," he said.

To Lee, the best way to approach the safety issue is comprehensive testing and adopting the most recent treatment technologies.

"Where we ought to be going is better testing, better treatment, and improving the system, not creating another layer of government beaureacracy that's going to cost tax payers, that’s going to drive the industry underground, that’s going to force more people away from testing," he said.

Michael Weinstein, executive director of the AIDS Health Foundation said that the industry's attention to vigorous testing is laudable, but not foolproof.

"We test in order to find people who have the disease and test them and break the chain of infection. But the best form of protection, according to every authority, is condoms," he said.

Weinstein added that every sexual transmitted disease has a window period where it's undetectable, and even those who test negative could have contracted something bad. He said that with over 90 percent of the industry strives in California, business concerns are a non-issue.

To Weinstein, it is a pornography performer's right to have safety on the job. "This is the only legal industry where people are required to go to work and contract diseases," he continued.

How has the adult film community complied with the city-wide ordinance so far? Has it been difficult to enforce? How would expanding the law change things for the porn industry, and those who make their living by it? Do the health concerns outweigh the potential economic hit for the city?


Guests:

James Lee, communications director for No on Measure B

Michael Weinstein, executive director, AIDS Health Foundation


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