WEST HOLLYWOOD – The group began gathering in front of the Hustler Hollywood store at 8920 Sunset Boulevard shortly before 9 p.m., but by 9:30, the group had swelled to about 30 protesters, some carrying signs supplied by condom manufacturer Lifestyles — three-foot square "condom wrappers" in red, yellow and blue – and others carrying homemade legends such as, "Condoms Work," "Porn Producers: Do the Right Thing," "Actors Deserve Protection" and "Mr. Flynt: Why Won't You Protect Your Employees?" — and one protester repeating into an electronic megaphone, "What do we want? Condoms! When do we want it? Now!"
"Those darn Lifestyles people," sighed Theresa Flynt, vice president of operations for Flynt Management Group. "I won't sell their condoms because they show up and picket here and at our building at 8484 Wilshire all the time, so they don't seem to go away."
Indeed, few were paying attention to the protesters, and business inside the Hustler store seemed unaffected, although at least three news crews from local television stations shot a few minutes of the protesters marching in a tight ellipse in front of the store, and did a short interview with Flynt.
When one reporter noted that he had approached some female Hustler Hollywood customers earlier in the day and asked their opinion of condoms in adult movies, and they had said that they "would only prefer to watch unsafe sex because that's their fantasy," Flynt replied that, "There are studies that our consumer does prefer to watch adult material without a condom but there are production houses that make it with condoms so the choice is up to the consumer as to what they want, either way."
Indeed, as AVN reporter Scott Ross found out earlier on Monday, few performers want to use condoms, and most companies are happy that they feel that way because, as former Video Team owner Christian Mann said of his company's brief condom-only policy back in 1998, "It just killed the sales because it's not what the consumers want to see."
"It's up to the performer; they choose," Flynt told AVN. "There are some production houses that use condoms and some that don't. It's up to the performer. But I feel that with the protocol that we've followed through AIM and through the appropriate testing procedures, if that's followed, then they're good to go. When we follow that and we're diligent about it, it catches cases like this and that's what happened. We caught this incident and it's the first case that's been reported in the past five years."
Indeed, in a press release sent to the media by Flynt Press Relations head Owen Moogan, it's unclear just how many HIV cases have surfaced in the adult industry over the past five years because although the Los Angeles Times claimed 22, "we have seen no documentation proving the accuracy of that claim," Moogan wrote. "The known exposures affecting the heterosexual adult industry involved only the 2004 performers, and the most recent exposure involves a single actress. With respect to the remaining 16 positive HIV results the L.A. County public health officials have attributed to adult entertainers, we have no information actually connecting these individuals to the adult entertainment industry or proof that they ever performed for an adult production company, yet certain media sources have repeated this allegation anyway. AIM Healthcare tests not only performers, but also civilians outside the industry, and the additional cases claimed by public health officials could be those of individuals who sought private testing or who desired to obtain work in the adult industry but were precluded from doing so by positive HIV/AIDs results discovered by testing mandated by adult entertainment companies. Assuming that is the case, industry testing protocols may have benefited public health officials by alerting them to positive HIV results of which they would otherwise have remained ignorant."
"We definitely care about the health of everybody," Flynt added, "and we feel that AIM and the process that we have currently in place works, and it was that process that caught this single case that we're talking about."
AVN stayed at the scene until nearly 10 p.m., as did Free Speech Coalition Executive Director Diane Duke, Membership Director Joanne Cachapero and Board member Tom Hymes, as well as Protecting Adult Welfare head Bill Margold, who got into an animated discussion with two of the protesters. The protest was continuing as we left, with no sign of letting up – nor of any official spokesperson for AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which sponsored the protest, on-site giving a statement of the group's purpose to the media.