LOS ANGELES—The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) announced today that it would be filing complaints with the California Labor Commission against nine licensed adult talent agencies, claiming that each agency has violated the California Labor Code by "send[ing] or caus[ing] to be sent, any artist to any place where the health, safety, or welfare of the artist could be adversely affected, the character of which place the talent agency could have ascertained upon reasonable inquiry."
Similar complaints apparently are not being filed against talent agencies representing professional football, boxing or other sports-related players, where blood-to-blood contact is common, nor against agencies which recruit medical personnel for hospitals and other healthcare provider facilities, where such workers are exposed daily to airborne communicable diseases.
"Most workers in the adult film industry, including those represented by [fill in name of talent agency], perform sexual acts without any protection from exposure to communicable diseases that may be contained in bodily fluids and discharges," wrote AHF President Michael Weinstein to State Labor Commissioner Angela Bradstreet. "The Los Angeles Department of Public Health ('LADPH') estimates that condoms and other protection are used in less than 20% of hardcore heterosexual pornography."
Of course, Weinstein omits the fact that all talent working in the hetero side of the adult industry are given "protection" by the fact of being tested on a monthly basis for HIV, chlamydia and gonorrhea, and less frequently for syphilis and hepatitis. There have been no reported cases of on-set transmission of the as-yet-incurable HIV virus within the hetero acting community since 2004, and on average, less than 2 percent of performers test positive for any other tested STD in a given month. Moreover, the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation (AIM) provides vaccinations against the cancer-causing HPV virus and various forms of hepatitis on a regular basis.
Finally, the Centers for Disease Control maintain statistics on sexually transmitted diseases, and for 2008, the most recent year for which statistics are available, the rate of chlamydia infection per 1,000 California residents was 19.56 cases for ages 20-24, 9.66 cases for ages 25-29 and 4.35 cases for ages 30-34; and for gonorrhea, 2.69 cases per thousand for ages 20-24, 1.67 for ages 25-29 and 0.99 cases for ages 30-24. AIM's statistics are in line with the stats for the California population at large.
And as for whether agents do send their clients to a place where their "health, safety, or welfare ... could be adversely affected," agent Shy Love of ATMLA told the Los Angeles Times, "They tell us what they want to do, we find those jobs and present it to them. We don't force them into anything."
Love also noted that, although having performed in more than 2,000 scenes over the past decade, 95 percent of which were condomless, she has never contracted a sexually transmitted disease.
Moreover, AHF claims that talent agencies violate Labor Code §1700.9, which prohibits agencies from conducting business "[i]n a place that would endanger the health, safety, or welfare of the artist."
The question is, however, what does "place" mean in the Code?
"I'm in Studio City," responded A List Talent owner September Dawn when asked. "I'm at Laurel Canyon and Ventura. I've never seen or heard of a mugging or a shooting anywhere near my offices."
Most of the other talent agencies noted in AHF's "hit list"—ATMLA, Gold Star Modeling, LA Direct Models, Lisa Ann's Talent Management, Metro Talent Management, SpieglerGirls.com, Type 9 Models and World Modeling—are similarly located in less violent areas of the city.
Obviously, AHF wants to interpret "place" as the movie set where performers do their work, but in fact that's not where most talent agents perform their services.
Even more egregious is AHF's claim that the talent agencies violate the Labor Code's prohibition on issuing "a contract for employment containing any term or condition which, if complied with, would be in violation of law, or attempt to fill an order for help to be employed in violation of law."
"After reviewing the business practices and websites of these nine talent agencies, it’s clear that the agencies are violating California State Labor Code,” said AHF Assistant General Counsel Brian Chase in a press release. "It appears that the State of California is giving out licenses to businesses which then turn around and send people out to get sexually transmitted diseases."
But considering the industry's testing procedures, its low infection rates and the fact that most ejaculations occur outside the performer's body, the idea that agents are sending their clients "out to get sexually transmitted diseases" is just ludicrous.
When contacted by the Los Angeles Times, the Free Speech Coalition issued a statement saying that the Labor Department complaints were in line with AHF's pattern of filing "frivolous lawsuits" against the industry.
"Whatever AHF's motivation is for singling out the adult industry, it seems targeting the industry creates a lot of publicity for their organization," the FSC statement said. "One could only imagine what could be accomplished if they put their efforts toward the prevention and treatment of HIV."