Politics

California Votes on Condoms in Porn

November 9th 2016

By:
Tricia Tongco

California did not pass Proposition 60, a measure requiring performers in adult films to use condoms during scenes involving vaginal and anal sex, adult film producers to pay for the actors’ testing and other STD-related health exams, and producers to post condom requirements at film sites. It would have placed more liability on producers, certain distributors, talent agents, and performers with a financial stake in the film.

In a statement, the campaign No on Prop 60, also known as Californians Against Worker Harassment, said:

"This was a tremendous victory, not only for adult performers, but for science over stigma, and facts over fear. Adult industry workers no longer need to fear a punitive law that would have allowed any resident of the state to file suit against them…We hope this marks the beginning of a new, safer era for adult film performers and other workers in California — one in which worker voices and lived experiences are included in the legislation and regulation that affects their bodies and their lives."

In 2012, Los Angeles approved Measure B, an initiative requiring porn actors to wear condoms during sex scenes shot in Los Angeles. However, the porn industry reacted by not following the law and by taking most of its production elsewhere, resulting in a 95 percent drop in filming permits for adult films. This ballot initiative (Prop. 60) is stricter than its predecessor.

In a recent blog post for the Huffington Post, gay adult film start Jesse Jackman wrote why he opposed the measure, even though he always uses condoms in his films:

"First of all, the legislation would empower any resident of California to sue a studio on the basis of a suspected violation. Should that happen, the real names and addresses of the performers in the case become a matter of public record. Prop 60 would put our privacy in jeopardy…Furthermore, the proposed law encourages bounty hunting: it provides for a reward of 25 percent of the fines collected, plus the reimbursement of legal expenses, for any individual who brings a successful lawsuit. For us performers, this is really scary stuff."

In an August interview with Mother Jones, Michael Weinstein, the president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation — who spearheaded Proposition 60 — spoke about the condom mandate: "Many young people get their sex education from performers...They get the message that the only kind of sex is unsafe."

Some who oppose the bill, however, believed Weinstein's motives were mainly financial. Other opponents to the measure claimed that there is already established protocol — namely STD testing — for protecting porn performers and preventing the spread of STDs. Jiz Lee, a genderqueer, condoms-only performer and producer, told Mother Jones about the concrete impact of enforcing the condom requirement:

"'I don't know a single active performer who is for this,' Lee says. And while Lee adds that some performers are genuinely concerned about harassment and stalking, the main issue for others is comfort—and chafing. Once, while shooting a scene, Lee's male co-star got an abrasion and began to bleed. That's what comes from having porn-duration sex with a condom—and according to Lee, it gets worse when actors shoot several scenes a week. 'There's a lot of things that the proponents didn't consider in terms of what it's really like to do the work right now,' Lee said. 'If you're an individual performer, you have to have a lot of video.'"