B is for Condoms, and other illogical arguments

Ron Jeremy and Tera Patrick

Tera Patrick and Ron Jeremy, No on B
It’s overstepping public health nannies versus Libertarian anti-nanny ninnies in the debate over Ballot Measure B.

Formally known as the Safer Sex In the Adult Film Industry Act, Measure B’s support comes from outside the adult industry, while industry employees oppose it.

A coalition of Los Angeles-area academics, doctors, politicos, and opportunists has sponsored a county-wide Ballot Measure that, if passed on November 6, will require all porn producers operating in L.A. County to purchase and post health permits, outline an “exposure control plan,” and require performers in anal or vaginal scenes to wear condoms.

According to the Yes on B signatories on the non-partisan SmartVoter.org, the initiative is not a free speech issue but one of workplace safety and public health.

Not only that, say proponents, but condomless cocksmiths carousing carelessly whilst cornholing coeds can work out to a significant taxpayer burden.

…the lifetime cost of treating an HIV infection is more than $567,000. Since these performers are not provided health insurance by porn producers, this cost is most likely to be borne by taxpayers of Los Angeles County, as health care provider of last resort. The taxpayers are subsidizing the porn business.

This language omits some information and distorts the rest.

While it is true that most porn performers are independent contractors not provided health insurance by the companies they work for, most American workers are independent contractors not provided health insurance by the companies they work for. As such, most performers pay for their own health insurance. The suggestion that L.A. County taxpayers are “most likely” to bear the cost of HIV infections—without mentioning that straight Porn’s HIV-infected population has not exceeded single digits in 14 years—is irresponsible.

Irresponsible, also, because an HIV infection effectively ends one’s ability to perform in porn (HIV-positive partners John and Karen Stagliano of Evil Angel now make their living behind the scenes), thus most of straight porn’s HIV cases—such as Lara Roxxx, who contracted the disease in 2004 and moved back to Canada—have quietly left L.A.

Finally, that “the taxpayers are subsidizing the porn business” is a ridiculous bit of language that reads like someone wrote it to pad the word count. Has the porn industry received a federal bailout? The taxpayers subsidize the porn industry the way the taxpayers subsidize McDonald’s—by consuming the product.

Spearheaded by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the Yes on B campaign is highly organized and claims 371,000 signatures from L.A. County residents, as well as the endorsements of both the Los Angeles and San Francisco Departments of Public Health, in addition to several other organizations. It even has this video featuring HIV poster-patients Darren James (Class of 2004) and Derrick Burts (’10):

It is videos like this that insult the intelligence of a voter. Neither James nor Burts contracted HIV in the Southern California straight porn industry, which Measure B seeks to regulate. James took the disease home from Brazil, and Burts either contracted it as a male prostitute or, as Burts claims, on the set of a Florida-based gay film in which condoms were used (NOTE: An earlier version of this story said the film was a “bareback” movie). In both cases it was Los Angeles’ now defunct Adult Industry Medical (AIM) that identified the disease.

AIM closed its doors in 2011 in part because of its own administrative ineptitude (people like Burts claim the agency didn’t return phone calls), its data compromise in the “Porn Wikileaks” privacy infringement, and AHF’s aggressive attacks.

Though AHF knows that all Porn Valley’s HIV cases have come from elsewhere, Measure B proponents would have voters believe that the disease grows like In-n-Out Burgers all over the region.

As mentioned on this site before, adult industry workers oppose condoms as a personal liberty issue (“We should wear or not wear condoms based on our own choice”), a business concern (few companies, such as Wicked Pictures, shoot condom-only porn, and the rest say that condoms ruin the mood), and for their own health and comfort: porn sex is more strenuous than real-life sex that is not conducted for hours at a time under hot lights, and condoms break and chafe. In porn sex, performers argue, it is healthier not to wear condoms.

Besides, say performers Tera Patrick, Ron Jeremy, and Steven St. Croix in these videos, the risks are exaggerated.

Around :54, Jeremy appears to regard Patrick skeptically, as if her “$20 billion” claim might be sketchy. Steven St. Croix modifies that number.

The No on Measure B signatories are, to a person, Libertarians who frame their opposition as an individual liberties matter. They use New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to ban large sodas in the name of curtailing obesity as a warning against a looming nanny state.

Measure B declares that adult film actors would have to wear condoms during filming. This isn’t much different than regulating the size of soda a person can buy. Do you like the idea of busybodies forcing people to do what is healthful for them?

Well yes, we like it a little. In the case of childhood obesity, for example, a fat kid’s rights extend only to the point that his bag of Doritos does not spill over into my subway seat. What Libertarians derisively call Nanny Laws often save an uninformed citizenry from its own vices.

But the adult industry is, for the most part, an informed group.

Measure B should not be passed because it falsely claims that condoms in porn are a better idea and falsely impugns the Los Angeles porn industry for outbreaks and failing to control outbreaks.

But its requirement for health permits is worth thinking about.

In addition to drawing filming permits, L.A. porn producers would also have to obtain health permits under Measure B.

Health permits for tattoo parlors in Los Angeles County, for example, cost about $443 per year. Temporary restaurants like food trucks and catering tents must pony up $166 per event. These fees are constantly under revision, but No on B activists inaccurately claim that taxpayer money will be wasted on “government inspectors,” when in fact porn producers will bankroll inspections.

L.A. restaurateurs must submit to three inspections per year to receive their letter grade, suitable for framing in their front window. Why not further legitimize the porn industry—which both sides agree is legal—by participating in regular but not onerous inspections?

As it is worded, however, Measure B is unacceptable and mustn’t pass in November. It is sad that the industry is not yet mature enough to warrant a more adult public debate, though.

Previously on Porn Valley Observed: Porn luminaries discuss condoms
See also: Measure B on Smart Voter.org, Yes on B, No on B

About Gram the Man 4399 Articles
Gram Ponante is America's Beloved Porn Journalist


  1. You ask, “Why not further legitimize the porn industry” with health permits? The answer is that public health permits are awarded (and enforced via inspections) to businesses that are open to the public. Porn movie sets are not open to the public. The government does not have an interest in regulating private kitchens, or showers, or toilets — or film shoots.

    The “secondary effects” argument in favor of public health licensing/inspection (that performers get infected on set and later transmit STIs to the general public) is also bogus, in that 1) the government is unable to prove whether common STIs such as gonorrhea and chlamydia, transmitted between sexually active persons, were actually transmitted on set; and 2) such an argument, if carried to its conclusion, would mean that every private home would also be subject to such licensure and inspections because someone might come over for dinner, pick up a staph infection on the doorknob of the toilet, and bring it home to his family.

    Thus, public health permitting is, legally, an inappropriate tool.

    In addition, public health/safety licensure of restaurants and most businesses does not impact the Bill of Rights in the same way as it would film sets. Requiring a tattoo shop to have a sink does not alter the content of the tattoo (just as requiring a construction worker to wear a hard hat does not alter the structure he’s building) — but requiring condoms in porn does change the content of the work being created by the performers and producers.

    Measure B, which applies only to adult film production, is a content-based law imposing a licensing/inspection scheme with civil and criminal penalties in an unconstitutional attempt to make an ‘end run’ around the First Amendment. It also impacts the Fourth Amendment, substantive due process and constitutionally guaranteed liberties, for what Measure B, or any similar scheme, would do is permit the government to enter private property, without a warrant, to inspect the genitals of consenting adults engaged in not only a legal activity (adult film production) but also constitutionally protected behavior (consensual sex between adults).

  2. The whole “industry” should be banned. It contributes nothing good to society as a whole and perpetuates adolescents ill concepts of sex between a man and a woman. Plus there was that guy who got crushed by his massive collection of porn magazine, video cassettes, and whatever else he had relating to his….hobby. He died from porn.

  3. Our school janitor in fourth grade died when a bunch of folding chairs fell on him. I don’t think you should ban an industry when stacks of things fall on you. But does porn often portray a comic/grotesque/cartoonish/caricaturish style of sex? Sure. But not always. There’s plenty of porn that doesn’t make the act look like an extreme sport or a cold transaction. Thinking people recognize the fantasy element just as surely as they know dragons aren’t real.

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

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