LOS ANGELES—The Southern California-based adult entertainment industry awoke today to the inescapable reality that a majority of Los Angeles County voters had decided in favor of Measure B, which requires adult producers in the county to procure a new health permit in order to shoot, and adds criminal sanctions to producers who fail to ensure that barrier protection is used by adult performers shooting sexually explicit scenes. AVN contacted a number of companies and individuals to get initial reaction to this significant development.
“I knew it would pass," said Hustler publisher Larry Flynt. "Americans have a knee-jerk attitude about sex, however, this does not change the adult entertainment industry in the least. We will continue to shoot in Mexico, the desert, Hawaii, etc., with no additional expenses, because, instead of shooting one or two girls a week, we’ll shoot a dozen. The people need to look behind the effort driving this movement. You’ve got a right-wing nut [AIDS Healthcare Foundation president Michael Weinstein] trying to be a sexual arbitrator, and he should be dismissed for what he is—nothing.”
Peter Acworth, owner of San Francisco-based Kink.com, told AVN, "The way measure B was written seemed appealing to voters at first sight, so this was always going to be an uphill struggle to win at the polls. I want to congratulate Diane Duke, the FSC and its supporters on a hard fought battle," he said, adding, "If upheld by courts and enforced, I fear a mass exodus to friendlier jurisdictions such as Las Vegas."
Christian Mann of Evil Angel said, "It's not the end of the world, but it's not good. I hate this kind of a regulation under any circumstances. I think that the language on the ballot was so deceptive to begin with, that we were already dealing from a handicapped point of view. It talked about pornography, which in many ears is a pejorative. It talked about protecting performers when a more honest statement would have been, 'This is the measure that will drive performers away.' When you read the language on the ballot, it's unfortunate that we weren't able to mount a challenge to the wording that was used on the actual ballot, because it seems that people don't really read the sample ballots and the pros and the cons, and the rebuttal, so if the only thing a person read was the ballot language, it was very difficult to fight against that, because that language was deceptive and incomplete. So I learned a lot."
In terms of its impact on the company for which he is General Manager, Mann added, "It's going to affect our business as far as Evil Angel distributing movies; it's possibly going to affect the ratio of locally-shot productions to out-of-town-shot productions, keeping in mind that about a third of what we do is actually produced in Europe, so it could conceivably affect that ratio, and as far as our directors, it's going to affect them potentially a lot once we know what implementation looks like when implementation happens; what does it mean? And what do our directors choose to do? Are they going to shoot in LA County with permits and condoms? Are they just going to go outside of the county? And what does the landscape look like outside of the county? Is this something they're able to do in outlying areas? Are they going to go way out of town? There's just too many question marks. So as far as Evil Angel is concerned, we roll with the punches. We can't make any decisions until we know what happens next. "
Dan O'Connell, owner of Girlfriends Films, also weighed in. Asked how requiring latex "dental dams" for girl/girl sex would affect his company, he said, "That is basically unacceptable for girl/girl content. We will probably follow the industry wherever it goes. If the industry ends up going to Las Vegas, we'll have to shoot there, or Ventura County or Riverside County, Orange County—we'll end up going wherever the girls go on this. And fortunately, we had been planning for this situation ever since it came up, and we probably have six months worth of content shot that we can put out before we have to figure out what we're going to be doing. We want to remain shooting, of course, but I don't want to risk being thrown in jail, of course, so we'll see what happens. I have a feeling we'll be shooting elsewhere, and I'm hopeful on some short of challenge to the law; not sure what it would be, but obviously, everybody in the industry is very upset about it and I think AIDS Healthcare never really had the interests of the performers in mind when they did this or they would have approached us more on a friendly basis, but they've been adversarial from the very beginning. "
Joanna Angel, a performer as well as the owner of her own production company, Burning Angel Productions, said, "I'm appalled that so much time, energy and money was spent to screw over a bunch of people who just want to make good movies to masturbate to. It's very sad. I'm not sure what the industry's next move is, but like every other challenge we face, we will fight this and we will find a solution."
Axel Braun of Axel Braun Productions commented, "Measure B could not be implemented as written without being deemed impartial. To function without prejudice, it would have to also apply to all mainstream media with sexual content (movies, reality shows, cable dramas, etc...) beyond hardcore, and include scrutiny against the threat of STDs as well as HIV. The battle is far from over."
Dan "Porno Dan" Leal of Immoral Productions told AVN, "Before anyone overreacts they should consult an experienced adult industry attorney, like the one I use, Mike Fattorosi. The fact remains that production of adult films is only legal in two states, California and New Hampshire. This law only applies to Los Angeles, which leaves countless municipalities within the state of California where this law does not apply and where we would be welcome."
independent producer Jordan Septo, who runs Septo Studio, commented, "I really can't imagine shooting in Los Angeles under those circumstances. We're sure we'll be looking to shoot elsewhere in the near future, and perhaps moving everything there as well. We'll be hoping to find someplace to relocate in the near future.
"Of course," he continued, "we [in the adult industry] had more information than the people out there. What I found disturbing is, you know all those pamphlets they send to you about how you should vote, from the different organizations; not necessarily from the democratic Party or the Republican Party; they're from some third party or whatever—I must have had 10 of those come to my house, and only one of them said to vote no on Measure B. What was disturbing was, some of them had so little information on them about Measure B. One in particular that I can recall didn't even say what Measure B was; it just said something like, 'for the health of the citizens,' or something like that, and I'm like, 'Wow, that's wonderful; they don't even tell you what it's about!' And I had neglected to open up my voter pamphlet that they had sent me before any of this. But once I looked at it, the way they worded it, I started to get very nervous, because if you glanced at it quickly, you could definitely be under the impression that it was just making us get some kind of health permit, and you think, 'Well, what could be wrong with that? It was very deceptive. I don't know if it was intentional, or someone that just doesn't know what they're looking at puts the first line of it in there or whatever the case is, but once that happened, I really—my feelings changed.
"These parodies that we do, how are we going to pull those off in the wake of Measure B?" Septo asked. "How are we going to get a studio to shoot in? It's going to be really hard to do, and it might even change what we have to shoot if we have to do it here. And if we move, which I'm afraid will be eventually, I think we'll have to keep that low-key as well because I don't think we need to advertise what we're doing wherever we end up."
We also got a comment from Wicked Contract Performer jessica drake, who said, "While I am let down that Measure B passed, I think it's important that we maintain a united front. This measure is about much more than safer sex, and the way that it was passed concerns me greatly. As performers we have to stand together, represent the business well, and educate the public."
Performer Tara Lynn Foxx sent in the following comment: "First, I would like to say thank you to Rick Garcia, Prince, Alia Janine, Nina Hartley, Kylie Ireland, Andy Appleton, LA Porn Tours, Moxxx, Michael Fattorosi, Michael Whitacre, and all of the people that stepped up and became a voice against Measure B," she said. "I'd like to show my gratitude to all of the news stations who covered the story, and to the small army that took time and voted NO.
"It pains my heart to think of all of the damage Measure B will cause, not only on the LA porn scene, but the voters of LA County,' she continued. "What the 55 percent who voted Yes failed to realize; this was not just about condoms. With every political election comes many agendas. I'm not saying the people who got this measure on the ballot didn't have good intentions, but they were severely misinformed. I wish AHF really did care about the well being of the performers, but they don't so their greed is apparent. The reality is that NONE of the active performer I know of, wanted this measure to pass. That says something when the majority of supporters are so far removed from the actual issue at hand.. So Instead of dealing with this "Public Health Crisis," AHF/YESonB spent MILLIONS campaigning to basically make LA Porn Extinct. It's unfortunate, but I am confident Measure B will be the precedent case that changes the lives of AMERICANS next. You (LA County Voters) decided it was a good idea to take our rights away.... Yours could be next. I just hope AHF uses all of these funds raised to finally educate the LA country residents and offer them services to actually handle this 'crisis.'"
Another performer, Sarah Shevon, who has been an active opponent of the measure, told AVN, "The approval of Measure B is very disappointing to our industry; however it's not going to change anything, especially any time soon. The measure makes no sense."
Then, apparently referring to Weinstein's attempt to petition CalOSHA to get that agency to force performers to use condoms, she noted, "Did that go in Weinstein's favor? No! We will continue to rebel and fight AIDS Healthcare Foundation's agendas just as we have been."
Talent agent Mark Spiegler responded succinctly, saying, "Measure B, as written, is overly broad and it will not withstand legal scrutiny."
On the other side of the ledger, veteran performer/director Nick East has been a consistently vocal supporter of the measure, and in the aftermath of its passage, posted to his Facebook page, "To all my good friends!!! THANK YOU!!! Measure B PASSED!!!!! Thank you for caring about us!!! Now the real work begins!!!! Multimillion dollar companies DO NOT have the right to put their employees health at risk and thumb their noses at worker safety issues!!!!!!"
Adult star Brittany Andrews is also a supporter of Measure B, and expressed her opinion last night on her Twitter feed before and after it was clear the measure had passed, at one point posting, "[It's] simple common sense. You Fuck Strangers - You Use Condoms. Not sure how the talent lost sight of that."
Performer Anikka Albrite sent in the following comment late Wednesday afternoon. "I am really disappointed about Measure B passing," she wrote. "It shows how ignorant Los Angeles voters can be. I am very grateful, however, for the No on Measure B efforts by everyone in the industry, and our friends, family and fans in L.A. They did a good job at banding together to raise money and raise support in our cause. I hope it gets knocked down in the appeals court. If it doesn't, I'll just continue to save my money and go wherever the industry goes. I hope for a positive outcome though in the appeals court."
Attorney Michael Fattorosi gave AVN the following comment early evening Wednesday: "In order for this law to take effect in Los Angeles, Glendale, Malibu or any of the 85 independent towns and cities in Los Angeles County," he said, "each one of those cities will have to independently debate, vote on and then pass or adopt Ballot Measure B as the law in their town. How long that will take is anyone’s guess at this point in time, and it isn't even certain that all 85 independent towns and cities will choose to adopt the measure.
"But while there still is a lot of uncertainty as to Ballot Measure B," he continued, "what is certain is that this fight has only begun. I do not anticipate that the industry will just accept Ballot Measure B and move on; I see opposition to B moving toward a city-by-city fight and/or a legal challenge."
Director B. Skow of SkowDigital sent in the following comments Thursday afternoon.
"The bottom line," he said, "is that the public does not want to see condom-porn, and any producer, distributor or retailer who's ever sold an adult DVD knows it.
"So whether Proposition B, if ultimately adopted by the various cities in the county, will actually help further protect adult performers is really a moot point. It simply will not, because production will move outside to wherever condoms are not required. And the same goes for dental dams, latex gloves or full body suits with hoodies and footies.
"By way of an overview, the adult industry does a thorough and admirable job of policing itself. Testing for all performers is required every 14 to 28 days. Since 2004 there have been absolutely no HIV infections found to be acquired or transmitted in the adult industry, yet in the county's general population there have been over six thousand such cases!
"The adult database is quite advanced and updated daily. Systems to check for document veracity are widely accepted and utilized. When the rare breach is discovered, production is halted, partners are notified, an investigation is commenced and corrections are made to make the system even more fool-proof.
"Further, the adult industry employs more than 10,000 people and is a real revenue generator for the city and state. At a time when schools and police and firefighters need money, why would we force the adult revenue engine to relocate...just to accommodate an over-regulating and under-performing measure?
"No one doubts that Proposition B is a well-meaning effort," he concluded. "It is just a misguided and flawed one as well, and one that will not have the desired effect. It is a shame than Michael Weinstein and AHF did not choose to work within the system to improve testing and systems and performer education in such a way that would affect genuine change, rather than simply effect a move out of the city by adult producers, actors and crews."
We will update this article with additional comments as they come in. Some companies, it should be noted, have decided against commenting at this time.