By Sharon Bernstein
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) – California politics got a bit more racy on Wednesday, as producers and actors in the adult film business said they had formed a political action committee, or PAC, to fight a ballot initiative to require the use of condoms when shooting explicit sex scenes.
The move by an industry association representing California’s busy pornographers – a $4 billion industry in California whose loss could cost the state tens of millions in tax revenues and up to 20,000 jobs – is the latest chapter in a years-long skirmish with public health advocates over how best to prevent sexually transmitted disease among performers of pornography.
Los Angeles, and especially the San Fernando Valley area, has historically been a hub of porn production. A number of high-profile X-rated performers in the area have suffered HIV infections, shaking the industry and local health officials.
Nearly a dozen performers were infected with the HIV virus between 2004 and 2014, according to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which is backing the ballot initiative.
It opens up the door to extortion and harassment of a predominantly female performer base and small business owners by those outside the industry.
The group’s measure, which will appear on the November ballot, would require the use of condoms and lubricants on adult film sets. It requires producers to provide the condoms and to offer free vaccinations and tests for sexually transmitted diseases to all performers.
The measure also would allow performers or other individuals residing in California to ask for a state investigation into whether a particular adult film or video was made using condoms. If the state declines to investigate, that person can sue.
Porn producers have focused on that section, saying it would lead to the harassment of actors.
“It opens up the door to extortion and harassment of a predominantly female performer base and small business owners by those outside the industry,” said Mike Stabile, a spokesman for the Free Speech Coalition, the porn industry association.
The new PAC, dubbed Californians Against Worker Harassment, is just beginning to raise funds, Stabile said. State records show that no contributions have yet been reported for its cause.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which is backing the initiative, has already contributed $1.5 million to promote it to the public, state records show.
Los Angeles County passed a local ballot initiative also backed by AIDS Healthcare Foundation requiring condom use on porn shoots in 2012. But even though it has proven difficult to enforce, Stabile said the measure has led producers of sexually-explicit movies to film elsewhere.
(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein, editing by G Crosse)