Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) yesterday filed complaints against 16 porn companies with Cal/OSHA, stating that the adult industry’s “blacklist” of condoms contributes to unsafe workplaces.
AHF president Michael Weinstein and his staff collected 58 DVDs from companies like Hustler, Anarchy, All Media Play (“This Ain’t the Partridge Family XXX“), Mayhem, Backend Productions, and Vivid (“Drenched in Cum”) featuring several scenes of condomless double-penetration and less strenuous activities that an AHF press release calls “potentially life-threatening.”
An additional complaint was filed by former performer Jan Meza, who performed as Elizabeth Rollings for two years in such films as “Hot Sexy Plumpers 14″ and “Thick ‘n’ Chunky Fat Freakz.”
AHF associate director of communications Lori Yeghiayan said that the choice of DVDs cited in the complaint was random, but that the purchases were made at traditional brick and mortar outlets.
“The collection process (of the DVDs) was not particularly scientific,” Yeghiayan said. “We wanted to get a cross-section of what was available, and picked up movies from what seemed like the most prolific companies at places like (West Hollywood’s) Pleasure Chest and a couple of places in the Valley.”
Yeghiayan said the decision to file a complaint based on unsafe practices depicted in the movies was consonant with AHF’s mission statement, “Cutting-Edge Medicine and Advocacy Regardless of Ability to Pay.”
While the adult industry does not have a formal blacklist against condom use – it rarely has a formal anything – both the market and working performers tend to agree that condoms don’t lend themselves to short-term profit.
“Condoms just don’t feel good to suck on, or to take in the ass, hard and fast,” said performer Belladonna. “If I were required to use condoms, my performance would most likely suffer, and in the end I would suffer.“
Not only that, but organizations like AIM Healthcare, the de facto STD testing facility for Porn Valley’s performers, also maintain standards that AIM is fond of saying makes porn performers less-STD-ridden than the general population of Los Angeles.
According to figures cited by DPH, there were 2,013 documented cases of Chlamydia among LA porn performers between 2003 and 2007. In the same period, 965 cases of gonorrhea were documented. Many performers suffer multiple infections. In the period April 2004 to March 2008 there have been 2,847 STD infections diagnosed among 1,884 performers in the hardcore industry in LA County. DPH attributes the epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases in the porn industry to a lack of protective equipment for partners, including condoms.
But, AHF’s Weinstein says, the DPH does not or cannot enforce its own suggestion, hence the need to file complaints over its head.
“Los Angeles County Public Health officials cannot keep passing the buck on this by playing ping pong on this with the state and the industry itself,” he said. “That is why we are filing these complaints with Cal/OSHA today.”
AIM’s safety claims were also disputed by members of an organization called the Pink Cross Foundation, which joined AHF yesterday in its caravan to Cal/OSHA’s office in downtown Los Angeles.
The Pink Cross Foundation was founded in 2008 by former prostitute and porn performer Shelly Lubben, who “conquered the horrible effects of her past and became a Champion in life through the power of Jesus Christ.” Other members of Pink Cross include Jan Meza and Michelle Avanti, whose experience in more than 100 adult scenes resulted in
“catching STDs all the time. My lower body hurt so badly and at times my private area felt like it was a blazing fire. I could no longer work because I caught so many STDs and infections. I believe that if condoms had been allowed to be used in my own films, I would not have suffered so many physical ailments and infections.”
Lubben says that consumers should be aware that porn stars are diseased.
“We want the fans to know what they’re contributing to,” Lubben told the LA Times. “They’re demanding harder and grosser porn. We want to educate them to exactly what they’re watching — diseased people [emphasis added]. It’s illegal for bodily fluids to touch skin, and yet it happens every single day in the porn industry.”
Cal/OSHA spokesman Dean Fryer said the agency would investigate the combined claims.
“They have a valid point here,” Fyer told the Associated Press. “The blood-borne pathogens standard is designed to protect workers where there is risk of transmission of diseases through bodily excretions that occur as part of adult film activity.”
Yeghiayan said that AIDS Healthcare was “not ruling out” additional complaints against larger studios or adult Internet companies.
If Cal/OSHA succeeds in making condom use mandatory and if both fans and performers won’t tolerate it, Vivid co-founder Steve Hirsch suggests a third option.
“If Los Angeles County chooses to enforce mandatory condoms,” he said, “what you’ll see is all adult production leave California. It will move to other places.”
Hirsch did not say where. but I hear Detroit could use some help. “Hotown” has a nice ring to it.
Previously on Porn Valley Observed: Inspectors visit AIM; HIV 2k9 – how the dust will settle; Strap-On Club v. Strap-On Motel
See also: Pink Cross Foundation, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Group to file complaints against 16 porn companies