Condom Use in Porn
Posted Jul 11th, 2008 03:36 PM by Will Jarvis
"No fucking condoms! No fucking way!" screamed adult movie actress Debi Diamond as she ran, tears streaming down her face, from an industry meeting back in the early 1990s; one of the first meetings held on the subject of condom use in porn.
Condom use is, to say the least, a highly personal and emotional issue for the actresses and actors in porn. We may be doing the sex for the cameras rather than for ourselves, but sex itself is still a personal issue. If an actress objects to doing anal sex, should she be forced to do it? Of course not. If she objects to using condoms, should she be forced to use them? By the director? By the industry? By the government?
These are my thoughts on condom use in sexually explicit movies. I'm not trying to tell you how to think or feel on the subject. Your thoughts and feelings are your own.
First, let's put things in perspective. What are your chances of dying in a fatal accident today? If you're the "average American," your odds are 1 in 1,743 according to the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research as reported in the Nov. 2007 issue of "Discover" magazine. Car crash. Plane crash. Killed by a vending machine falling on you. No, really; 13 people die each year by vending machines falling on them. Howcum the Government isn't poking its collective nose into vending machine safety? Thirteen more people each year die from vending machines than from performing in porn. Compared to the number of deaths from performing in porn each year - zero! - that's practically an epidemic. Isn't that a bigger problem? Isn't that a greater safety issue?
While I truly believe some of the individuals in the California government and the Health Department who advocate condom use in porn are sincerely concerned about the health and safety of the talent, as well as generally concerned with curtailing the spread of diseases, we all know that governments often use any means they can to get access to, and then regulate, various industries, groups, businesses and individuals. The porn industry must resist such government intrusion and interference, allowing participation by the government in our community only when the government can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Right now, we've got a damn good program in place for limiting the possibility of the transmission of STDs and HIV among the performers.
Ultimately, odd as it may sound, the issue of the government requiring use of condoms in adult movies is not a health and safety issue but a First Amendment one. Here's why: Any movie being created (XXX or other) is art. The copies of that movie, on DVD or VHS or whatever format, are product, and, as such, may have (under certain circumstances) some government regulation. Art, however, cannot ever have any government regulation (except art financed by the government; in such an instance a measure of control may be exercised by the government if it so chooses). Government interference in art is censorship. "You must have condoms in your movie" is the same sort of interference as saying, "You must have the color orange in your movie." Or "All adult movies must be between six minutes, twenty-three seconds and twenty-five minutes, eighteen seconds."
And then there's the bureaucracy. People in government understand bureaucracy. So let's start there. How does the government propose to monitor condom use in porn? Just because you don't see a condom on screen doesn't mean it isn't there. Could've been there in reality but later removed digitally. Is this possible. Or practical? When lobbying in Sacramento, I've had legislators ask me this question: "Couldn't you use condoms and then take them out with digital computer technology?" The answer is "No." For one, it is cost prohibitive. For another, such technology is used in movies to remove objects that need to be there for the actresses and actors to do certain things they can't do in real life. Like flying in a Superman movie, for example. The wireworks harnesses have to be taken out digitally. For the scenes of Superman walking around the Daily Planet offices in his guise as mild mannered reporter Clark Kent, however, no wires are needed. It would be stupid to hook the actor up to wires just to digitally remove them. Same with condoms in porn.
And how would this be monitored? How many tens of millions of (taxpayer) dollars would have to be spent on a review board to watch the unedited footage of movies; to send personnel to all porn movie sets to observe that condom usage is taking place; to watch all, I repeat all, live streaming video and webcam shows over the Internet? Not gonna happen. California doesn't have the money for it. Better to spend the money the State does have for education, emergency services, repairing our highways and surface streets, and other projects. Porn movies are generally shot, edited, packaged and distributed in a much shorter time frame than mainstream Hollywood movies. A porn movie can be shot, edited, packaged and released in a matter of weeks if not days. I did one once like that as an actor. We spoofed the incident with actor Hugh Grant and hooker Divine Brown. I got a phone call from a director asking if I could do a British accent. I said "Yes" (I lied, but I faked the accent okay) and he said "Good, we're shooting Huge Grant on the Sunset Strip starting in a couple of days and you're playing Huge." That was flattering. To keep it as timely as possible, the movie was released less than a month after the incident. There just wouldn't be enough time to submit that porn footage to a review board; some productions, to have the most impact, to be timely, to get the best sales, have to be done very quickly.
Plus, with the Internet, a sex scene can be uploaded in a matter of hours from the time it was shot. How could the Health Department monitor every Internet porn video upload? We're in the era of Instant PornoTM
. Any monitoring the government wants to do has to come after the fact.
(If you're wondering about the TM symbol, I had an idea back when TV shows like "Instant Comedy" and "Whose Line Is It Anyway" were popular. I wanted to do a video series of improvisational porn. I called it "Instant Porno"TM
or, in the alternative "Whose Fuck Is It Anyway"TM
, but, alas, I was unable to interest any producers in the idea. Still, I'm holding onto the TMs in the event improvisational comedy regains popularity on TV; if it does, I may again try pitching the porn idea to some producers.)
Porn is unique in many aspects and can't be regulated in the same manner as other entertainment media. For one thing, people fuck in real life as well as reel life. Very few people, in any profession, do the same thing for work that they do for recreation. For example, a police officer might use a gun for recreation, either for hunting or maybe because he enjoys shooting and goes to a shooting range on occasion. The police officer does not, however, stop a stranger on the street and tell the stranger, "I want you to go into that bank over there and pretend to rob it and them I'm gonna come in and pretend to arrest you. Just for fun."
However, porn performers fuck in their private lives as well as in front of the cameras. That should be obvious, but sometimes it's overlooked. If a person is going to do a thing anyway, what purpose is served by imposing government regulation? Shouldn't it be my choice, as a performer, what tools I use in my job? "You want lube?" "No, I'm good." I get to choose. The actresses and the actors get to choose what each one is comfortable with to do their job. Dammit! We are professionals and we should be treated as such. We know what tools we need to do the job. Do you make a carpenter use a hammer when what he needs is a saw? If some guys are going skydiving for fun and I ask them if I can video tape their jump, I'm recording something they are going to do anyway. How can the government think of regulating my recording of that? Same with porn. At its most basic, porn is simply a recording of a basic human activity that almost every one does. What's the point of regulating that?
Will "Taliesin" Jarvis is a veteran of adult entertainment with more than twenty years experience as an actor, author and activist. See him on the web at http://www.taliesinthebard.com.