Friday, September 17, 2004

RISKS IN THE PORN INDUSTRY

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This is interesting (emphasis added):

State officials have taken unprecedented regulatory action against the porn industry, fining two adult film companies more than $30,000 each for allegedly allowing actors to perform unprotected sex.

The citations against Evasive Angles and TTB Productions, which share the same address in the San Fernando Valley, come after an HIV outbreak earlier this year involving four actors and forcing a temporary shutdown of adult film production in Southern California.
...
The companies received citations for violating the state's blood borne pathogen standard, a regulation that requires employers to protect workers exposed to blood or bodily fluids on the job. The companies have 15 days to appeal the eight citations.
...
The citations also accuse the companies of failing to notify authorities about actors who contracted HIV on the job, as the law requires. The producers also failed to have a written injury prevention program and report a workplace accident to state officials within eight hours, as required by state law, agency officials said.
...
Health officials have been urging adult film producers to require that all actors practice safe sex during filming, including wearing condoms. It is a widely held belief among producers that showing condom use in their films would hurt profits because the customers do not want to see safe sex.

This is yet another reason why porn is bad. There is an apparent financial incentive to have the actors exposed to an increased risk of HIV and other STDs. Pretty appalling.

Some might argue that the larger studios require condom use in all of their productions, or that this risk is somehow overstated. But that seems unlikely (emphasis added):
Few of the companies provide health insurance, and most performers find
they must work without condoms if they want to keep getting jobs
. "The
fans don't like to see condoms," said performer Belladonna, reflecting a belief
that is widely held in the industry. Like many other performers, Belladonna
started in the business when she was 18, the legal minimum.
Also consider this (emphases added):
A member of the California Assembly has warned the pornographic-film industry, already buffeted by an H.I.V. outbreak earlier this year, that unless actors wear condoms while they work he will write a law requiring it.

The warning, from Paul Koretz, a Democrat who represents West Hollywood and parts of Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, came in a letter last week to 185 producers and publishers of pornographic material, advising sex performers to adopt "harm-reduction procedures" like using condoms or face the chance that the Legislature will "exercise its authority to mandate more stringent actions."

While most people in the sex industry appear to agree in principle with the idea of consistent condom use, it has long been believed here that condoms are not sexy.

"In any sexual interaction where condoms are used, consumers tend to drift from that," said Graham Travis, head of production at Elegant Angel Video, a production company that turns out as many as eight new releases a month. "What the consumers want to see is performers without condoms, something that's as real and intimate as possible."

Forcing condom use, he said, would mean that "a lot of people would go out of business." In any event, Mr. Travis said, "I don't think the will is there from the performers."
...
Sharon Mitchell, a former adult-film actress who earned a Ph.D. in human sexuality before co-founding the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation, said on Monday that condom use in the industry had gone up after the H.I.V. outbreak to 23 percent from 17 percent and that it was now back to about 17.5 percent.

"Honey, this is pornography," Dr. Mitchell said. "People don't pay attention to the Legislature. Why should they pay attention to Koretz's letter?"

A week after the outbreak became known, Dr. Mitchell said, she struck a deal with 16 production companies under which they were to insist that performers who choose not to use condoms be tested for sexually transmitted diseases every two weeks. Across-the-board use of condoms, she said, was not on the table.
And this (emphasis added):

Michelle Sinclair, star of such treasures as American Nymphette, claims, "The fans don't like to see condoms."

And this (emphases added):

The bottom line is, customers don’t like [to see] condoms,” Mark Kulkis, president of Kick Ass Pictures, told The Los Angeles Times. “When you see an action movie and you see the hero jumping out the window, you don’t want to see the wires holding him up. Nobody wants to see condoms. It’s a fantasy.”
And this (emphasis added):

The Primetime producers who had been following her noticed changes. At 18, she had said she would never use drugs, but now Primetime learned that she was sometimes high on marijuana during her scenes. She was working without condoms, though she said the risk of AIDS was never far from her mind — or her prayers. "The fans don't like to see condoms … If I would have said I want to use condoms every time, I really wouldn't get any work," she explained. She contracted chlamydia, which can make you sterile.
And this (emphasis added):

A 20-year-old porn actress who identified herself only as Brooke said the HIV scare prompted her to give up unprotected sex scenes.

"I know that a lot of people don't want to see condoms, but I would like to see tomorrow," she said.

While many in the industry support voluntary condom use, most oppose making it a law on grounds that it would drive the business underground.

Some of the larger production companies, such as Vivid Entertainment and Wicked Pictures, require condom use. The industry also relies on monthly HIV tests administered by the nonprofit Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation.
Condoms, of course, are not a foolproof guaranty against contracting an STD:

Believing condoms are sexual salvation is like trying to stop fire from being hot and from burning people who touch or are touched by the flames. In 1997, Father Jacques Suaudeau angered the condom bloc with a study showing that the possibility of contracting HIV using a condom in high-risk sexual relations is about 15 percent. That risk rises 20 percent to 30 percent when the act is homosexual, when sexual promiscuity is high or when another sexually transmitted disease is involved.
But 83% of porn industry isn't even willing to go that far. Pretty appalling.

A huge problem here is the consumers. They are the driving force for porn involving unprotected sex (at least, that's what the producers say). As long as consumers demand such a thing, there will be peple willing to cater to that market. Thus consumers are somewhat culpable for demanding a product that is hazardous to the actors involved in producing it.

UPDATE: I'm currently involved in a discussion about this issue. One participant made this rather acute observation:

I’ve often wondered why it is that prostitution is illegal but making “adult” movies is not. They both involve performing sex acts for money. What’s the difference? Does filming the act some how make it any less an act of prostitution (sex for money)?

Well, apparently in California it does. According to California’s Penal Code, section 653.20:
653.20. For purposes of this chapter, the following definitions
apply:
(a) "Commit prostitution" means to engage in sexual conduct for
money or other consideration, but does not include sexual conduct
engaged in as a part of any stage performance, play, or other
entertainment open to the public.
So, if you do it in private (with or without a condom), you can go to jail, pay a fine, or both. But if you do it in public, it’s perfectly OK, unless you forget to use a condom, in which case you can be fined. Talk about the First Amendment gone wild.