SAN FERNANDO VALLEY, Calif.—AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) president Michael Weinstein is lambasted in one of the front-page articles about California's adult entertainment industry in the current issue of the San Fernando Valley Business Journal, with reporter Mark R. Madler noting, after a quote from Vivid Entertainment co-chair Steven Hirsch questioning Weinstein's motives in getting mandatory "barrier protection" laws passed, that, "Others who have locked horns with Weinstein are less kind, saying he has an overbearing ego, is a bully and is turning the adult industry into the enemy for fundraising purposes."
If only one could find that amount of truth in other L.A.-area mainstream publications!
Madler's article begins by detailing AHF's opposition to the FDA's approval of HIV treatment/prevention drug Truvada, noting that Weinstein has argued that approval of the drug would be a "reckless" decision because it would allegedly encourage people to "feel emboldened to engage in unprotected sex." But it quickly becomes apparent that one of Madler's points is that Weinstein, whose organization gets nearly $40 million in federal Medicare funding annually for treatment of HIV, often takes these positions because he expects his public obstinance to lead to larger contributions/donations from concerned citizens.
"To generate money in an organization like his, you need an enemy, something to generate fear and outrage," said Free Speech Coalition (FSC) Board Chair, attorney Jeffrey Douglas. "He has picked us, which is most regrettable."
By Madler's figuring, AHF spent $2.3 million gathering signatures to put what some have described as the "hazmat suit bill," Measure B, on the Los Angeles County ballot last November and promoting its "Yes on B" campaign, and it's likely that he spent another $1 million gathering signatures for and promoting the City of Los Angeles ordinance requiring adult companies to affirm their use of barrier protections before they can be issued a shooting permit by FilmLA, the agency charged with issuing such permits.
Sadly (but accurately), Madler takes the adult industry to task for the failure of some "porn production companies with deep pockets" to donate more to fight the Measure B ballot initiative, but he fails to note that if L.A. County voters had known that the measure was much more than just a "condom bill," it's unlikely that it would have passed with the 57 percent majority that it got. He also fails to deal with the likely costs to the county of setting up its health permit program and monitoring adult producers' compliance with it.
One point that is prominently made, however, shows up in the jump-page headline of the article, which reads, "Adult: Industry Considers Moving Out of State," and in that segment of the article, Madler talks about how many fewer shooting permits the industry has sought in the wake of Measure B's passage. He then quotes Douglas as saying, "It may well be companies are taking a wait and see approach to the status of the [Measure B] litigation six months from now before deciding to go through the effort of relocation," adding, "That seems prudent."
Though noting that there hasn't been an HIV transmission on an adult movie set in California since 2004, Madler repeats Weinstein's claims that there is an "epidemic of STDs—chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis—in the adult industry," though Madler adds that it's "a notion scoffed at by industry representatives," and even quotes from the 2011 report by epidemiologist Dr. Lawrence S. Mayer, who noted of the L.A. County Department of Public Health's statements regarding STD rates in the industry, "They do not document the methodology used to derive their estimates. In the absence of this detail, it is not possible to confirm the validity of their results."
Madler then writes that performers in the industry are tested every 14 to 28 days, which he notes is "more often than the general public," the majority of whom have never been tested for an STD. He also has FSC CEO Diane Duke explaining that "while the stereotype image among the public is of actors and actresses indulging in promiscuity and drug use, the reality is different," and that "The adult community tends to be a tight knit group where performers get involved with other performers because they understand the profession."
"Their body is their livelihood and they take care of them," Duke stated. "Those outside the industry just do not know."
Such ignorance was particularly on display during Wednesday's hearing on AB 332 before the state Assembly Labor and Employment Committee, where the bill's sponsor, Isadore Hall III, asked an AHF representative what the industry's testing procedures consisted of, and Duke promptly took a seat at the witness table and told the committee, "What do they know about industry testing procedures? They've never even been on an adult movie set!"
Madler also quoted British actress Tanya Tate to the effect that she would want whomever she decided to have sex with "to get tested until I felt comfortable to sleep with them without a condom," adding that Weinstein "should be spending money on treating [AIDS] and educating regular people about how to protect themselves instead of going after a small community that is aware of the risks."
The article referenced above is available to San Fernando Valley Business Journal subscribers here.