LOS ANGELES — With new editorials by the Los Angeles Times and Daily News arguing a no vote, the media tide has swung decisively against Measure B, the mandatory-condom initiative that Los Angeles County voters will decide this November, but that doesn't mean that everyone with a vested interest in the outcome is opposed to the proposed new law that contains civil and criminal sanctions against producers who violate it.
Adult performer Aurora Snow, who is not actively performing at the moment, took such a position today in a thoughtful opinion piece posted to the Daily Beast that managed to state her case with conviction without disparaging the motives of people who may believe differently.
"I would prefer to have both condoms and testing in porn," she wrote in her opening. "It doesn’t have to be one or the other; it makes sense to have both. This is not what a girl in the industry is supposed to say, but it is what a lot of us think when quietly eyeing Los Angeles County’s ballot initiative—known as Measure B—mandating condoms in adult films.
"Safety isn’t sexy," she continued. "Wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle makes me feel like a dork, but I do it because I know what’s at risk if I don’t. No one feels or looks sexy wearing a safety hat or knee pads. That’s what the condom is for the porn industry, it’s our safety hat."
To support her position, Snow recounted two anecdotes from her career—which began in 2000 and spans about 600 scenes, most of which were shot without condoms—one of which involved a fellow female performer who could not "find" her STD tests, and another in which the male performer refused to produce his test. In each situation, she declined to perform and despite, in one case, a hissy fit by the director, the scenes were either shot without the untested performer or not shot at all. The downside of the one not shot at all, she wrote, was that she "didn’t get a kill fee, neither did the male performer, the director lost out shooting a scene that day, not to mention the location fees he paid."
Two problematic experiences (and of course there could be more) over such a long career does not indicate a huge problem, but Snow's general attitude is that it's better to be safe than sorry.
"Knowing that a person I am working with is tested doesn’t always mean they are STD free," she argues. "Not everyone that works in porn has sex within the industry, nor do they always use condoms in their private lives, which increases the STD transmission risk from performer to performer between tests. Some of the industry men I know often date three or four girls at a time: there is the main squeeze, the distant girlfriend, the mistress, and the random one-night stand. I have been one of those girls, and not known I was one of a crowd."
Snow intimates that her opinion is quietly shared by "a lot" of other performers, but it's hard to know how accurate that assertion is if these other alleged pro-mandatory condom performers are not inclined to speak out. It could be that Snow—who said she was "so removed from the Los Angeles porn scene that I didn’t have to check my calendar and start calling every partner I’d had in the last two weeks to see whether I was at risk" during the recent syphilis outbreak—feels more emboldened than she would otherwise to speak her mind without fear of reprisal.
On the other hand, her self-proclaimed insistence to "speak up for my own safety concerns" when issues arose on set implies that she would state her convictions in any case, even if it meant losing work. The fear, she writes, is that "the idea of losing money is sometimes enough to make a performer overlook little things like double-checking a scene partner’s test. And, of course, the money at stake sometimes has made other performers fake, doctor, or bluff their tests."
Snow wants voters to ask themselves, "If I were your girlfriend, your sister, your mother, or your daughter, what would you want the law to be?" It's a fair enough question, even if the industry as a whole believes that the testing regime works fine most of the time, and wants to avoid at all costs a situation in which jail time and outrageous fines are on the table for failing to use condoms.