Porn Capital of America Under Fire: Will the condom legislation force porn out of California?

After much work on the part of the Pink Cross Foundation, the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA), and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the nation’s largest hub of commercial pornography may be shutting down. Right now the San Fernando Valley (called “San Pornando Valley” by some) is the home to companies that produce 90% of the nation’s porn supply. But a 9-1 vote from the LA city council on January 17 might be changing that.

The porn industry may be required to have all their performers use condoms.

Enforcing this law puts porn producers between a rock and hard place. The rock would be their blatant violation of workplace health laws. The hard place would be the demands from porn consumers: no one, apparently, wants to see condoms in their porn films.

Recently I asked Shelley Lubben, founder of the Pink Cross and a former porn actress, what this vote could means for the porn industry.

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LG: Currently, much of the porn industry in California violates Cal/OSHA’s requirements, correct? What specifically is the violation?

SL: The California Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers to provide a safe and healthful workplace for employees, and pay the costs of their health and safety program. This same act gives Cal/OSHA jurisdiction over virtually all private employers in California, including employers in the adult film industry. Employers must comply with all relevant regulations, which are contained in Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations.

Directly applicable to the porn industry there is a Bloodborne Pathogens Standard for all employees exposed to bodily fluids.

LG: So, if they are already in violation, what is the significance of the Los Angeles city council recent vote?

SL: Cal/OSHA has continually said they are not able to enforce the standard and the laws due to low staff so LA City Council has agreed to help enforce the workplace laws by making it mandatory to wear condoms in order to get a film permit.

LG: What sort of public support does this law have?

SL: Over 70,000 LA Voters signed the initiative to make condoms mandatory.

LG: Just how bad is the porn industry when it comes to health risks?

SL: No other industry exposes workers to bodily fluids more than the porn industry. Most of the movies are filmed in private location with young 18-, 19-, and 20-year-old girls on a mostly male set. There is no supervision and anything goes on the porn set.

LG: The next step is approval from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Is there any confidence he will approve it?

SL: Yes, he supports the initiative.

LG: I know there’s a concern about enforcement of this law. What would the cost be to enforce this? How difficult would it be?

SL: The new rule would require porn producers to pay a fee to fund surprise inspections. This would reasonably cover the enforcement costs.

LG: So, let’s say most of the big porn purveyors decide to leave LA (as some of them have already indicated). Where would they legally be allowed to set up shop?

SL: First of all, they threaten to leave but porn stars would never leave their precious Hollywood, all their prostitution clients, and their LA lifestyle. The only place they can set up shop in the United States is New Hampshire and Pink Cross along with AIDS Healthcare Foundation vows to bring the initiative there as well as also educate New Hampshire on the illegally operating porn industry. They could go to Europe to shoot but again they will run into the health laws. They really have nowhere to run.