Condoms in Porn Movies
Porn legend thinks this week's vote is part of an effort to stamp out porn production in the San Fernando Valley|
By Nancy Dillon / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Thursday, January 19 2012, 4:38 AM
Legendary adult film actor Ron Jeremy, seen here hoisting Michelle "Bombshell" McGee in November, says viewers don't want to see actors using condoms in a film because, "It ruins the fantasy."
Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images
Former porn star Derrick Burts, now 25, becomes emotional while discussing his positive HIV status in 2010.
An HIV-positive adult film actor is hailing the Los Angeles City Council's final approval of a city law requiring condoms on porn sets - but veteran star Ron Jeremy thinks its dirty politics.
Jeremy, originally from New York, told the Daily News he believes this week's vote is part of a larger effort to stamp out porn production in the industry's sunny San Fernando Valley home.
"Performers don't mind wearing rubbers, but viewers don't want to see it. It ruins the fantasy," Jeremy said Wednesday.
"This will force production to leave Los Angeles, and that's really what the supporters want," he claimed.
The legendary lothario said local porn purveyors are already feeling the squeeze from a flood of overseas imports and low-budget, amateur productions - and new condom requirements will make competitive success even harder.
He said mandatory, monthly STD testing - now the industry standard - is more than adequate to keep performers safe.
He also claims he's completely disease free after appearing in more than a thousand films
"What will they require next, dental dams and latex gloves? They call it a dental dam because damn if I'd wear one. How do you create an adult film plot, or any kind of fantasy, with stuff like that?" the 58-year-old scoffed.
HIV-positive former porn star Derrick Burts, 25, offered a starkly different perspective.
Burts told The News he tested negative for HIV on Sept. 3, 2010, but then quickly contracted the disease filming a gay porn flick in Florida
The heterosexual crossover actor from Riverside County said it's "pure luck" he didn't infect any female actresses before he took his follow-up test - which came back positive for HIV - a month later.
"Luckily I didn't work with any female performers during those weeks. If I had gone to work without a condom, I would have spread it. The industry got very lucky there," Burts told The News.
"Testing is a false security blanket. It doesn't protect you. It only notifies you when you have something," he said. "Before I started in the adult industry, I never had an STD in my life. Then in a period of four months, I contracted gonorrhea, chlamydia and HIV. You can't tell me the system worked."
He said throat gonorrhea that he contracted from a female performer in southern California weakened his immune system and caused him to contract HIV during oral sex with a male co-star in Florida.
The newly approved Los Angeles ordinance, which passed with a 9-1 vote Tuesday, still requires a signature by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
If the mayor signs it, porn productions granted permits will be subjected to random spot checks, officials said.
"History has shown that regulating sexual behavior between consenting adults doesn't work. Testing procedures are already in place and have worked well for years," Steven Hirsch, co-founder of Los Angeles-based Vivid Entertainment, said in a statement.
He said his company, one of the largest porn producers, is "condom optional" and lets its performers decide if they want to use condoms or not.
"We don't believe that trying to police thousands of movie sets a year is the best use of taxpayer money," he said. "Public funds should be spent on things that matter."
Los Angeles council requires condoms in porn films
10:12 PM, January 18, 2012
LOS ANGELES - Some of the most prominent purveyors of porn say they'll start packing up their sex toys and abandoning the nation's Porn Capital if authorities really do carry through with a nascent effort to police their movie sets and order that every actor be outfitted with a condom.
That effort took a serious leap forward Tuesday when the Los Angeles City Council voted 9-1 to grant final approval to an ordinance that would deny film permits to producers who do not comply with the condom requirement. The measure now goes to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for approval.
Before the measure can take effect, however, the council has called for the creation of a committee made up of police officials, the city attorney, state health officials and others to determine how it might be enforced.
"It's going to be interesting to see how in fact they do try to enforce it and whose going to fund it and all of the time and effort they're going to spend," said Steven Hirsch, co-founder and co-chairman of Los Angeles-based Vivid, one of the largest makers of erotic movies.
"Ultimately I think what they will find is people will just stop shooting in the city of Los Angeles," added Hirsch. "That's a given."
His company, founded in 1984, would be among those that would consider leaving, he said.
Other industry officials condemned the measure as an unneeded exercise in political correctness that cannot be enforced in the city known in the industry as the Porn Capital of the country.
"The only thing that the city could potentially achieve is losing some film permit money and driving some productions away, but you can't actually compel an industry to create a product that the market doesn't want," said Christian Mann, general manager of Evil Angel, another of the industry's largest production companies.
The ordinance would require filmmakers pay a permit fee, the amount of which is still to be determined. The money would be used to pay for surprise inspections at film shoots. Who would carry out those inspections is to be determined by the committee the City Council is setting up.
Mann said smaller productions involving only a handful of people can probably fly under the radar and just ignore the permitting requirement. Larger ones, he said, will likely just leave town.
Approximately 90 percent of U.S. porn films are made in Los Angeles, almost all of them in the city's San Fernando Valley, said Mark Kernes, senior editor of Adult Video News. When films, Internet downloads, sex toys and admission to dance clubs are counted, Kernes said, it's an industry that produces about $8 billion a year in revenue.
It has been battered in recent years, however, by the recession and the increased popularity of free Internet porn, and Kernes and others say requiring condoms would further erode business.
They say consumers, particularly those overseas, have made it clear they won't watch films when the actors use condoms, complaining that it is distracting and ruins the fantasy.
Ged Kenslea, spokesman for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, said the measure is needed because the industry has failed to properly police itself. For years, he said, filmmakers have ignored state health laws mandating the use of condoms when workers are exposed to blood borne pathogens.
"Let's make one thing clear: Condom use on adult film sets is and has been the law in California under blood borne pathogens regulations," he said. "It is just a law that has not been uniformly enforced or followed. This film permit ordinance that the City Council approved today provides another enforcement mechanism to make sure that adult film producers are complying with existing California law."
The council's second and final vote to approve the law was taken without public discussion on a day when most of the porn industry's major players were in Las Vegas preparing for Wednesday's opening of the Adult Entertainment Expo, their industry's largest trade event. They said they weren't surprised to hear the news, however.
The ordinance will not affect unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, but Kenslea noted his organization is gathering petition signatures for a ballot initiative that would require condoms on porn films shot throughout the entire county. The City Council passed its condom ordinance after his group gathered enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot in Los Angeles.
If condoms are required on film shoots throughout the county, several filmmakers said they'll likely just go to neighboring counties. The Los Angeles bedroom community of Simi Valley, for example, is in Ventura County but only a 10-minute drive from the west San Fernando Valley, where many porn films are now made.
Condoms aren't needed, filmmakers say, because the industry already polices itself. Production companies require that actors be tested for sexually transmitted diseases a minimum of every 30 days when they are working.
Industry officials say no cases of HIV have been directly linked to porn films since 2004, adding they fear if the industry scatters to areas outside of Los Angeles that testing could fall by the wayside, exposing performers to more risk.
"If someone is going to catch an STD it's usually out of the business because we are tested so often," said veteran porn actress and producer Tabitha Stevens.
In her 17 years in the business, Stevens said, she has worked both with and without condoms. Although she prefers to use condoms, acknowledging they do increase safety, she said the choice should be left up to the performers and not mandated by a government agency.
"If you want to wear them, wear them. If you don't, don't. That's up to the talent to decide. It shouldn't be up to the government to decide," she said.