I’ve covered the adult film industry for almost five years now because the San Fernando Valley is home to the nation’s best known studios. The latest issue is how the new condom law, known as Measure B and passed by voters in 2012, has impacted production at Vivid, Wicked, and other well known sites in Los Angeles County. I’ve written about Measure B so many times that I wanted to have a little fun with it. There were consequences, though: Too many people focused on my use of “bow-chicka-wow-wow” and didn’t realize there was some actual news in my report. The result: The Times followed my story a week later with a straight news lede, and they were given credit by TV and radio. Ah well. That’s show biz, kid. From my article (Daily News, Nov. 4. 2013):
The pretty blonde with no name answers the door wearing scarlet lip gloss and an innocent smile.
She’d called the pizza man only a few minutes before. She just didn’t expect him to arrive so quickly, she tells him in a sweet, girl-next-door drawl.
Pizza crashes to the floor. Shirts rip off. Zippers tear open. Bow-chicka-wow-wow, and it’s a wrap.
That was once a common cinematic scene in Chatsworth, as well as across the San Fernando Valley and all over Los Angeles County. But not anymore.
That’s because a thin layer of latex has produced more drama than sex in Los Angeles’ porn industry over the last 12 months. Since voters approved Measure B a year ago, requiring adult-film performers to wear condoms during sex scenes shot in L.A. County, those in the industry say there has been a shift in where porn is made. And the long-term effect on the county’s economy, adult-industry leaders say, has yet to be determined.
“Fewer people are shooting (adult film) in L.A. County, and some have moved to other areas around California or other states,” said Diane Duke, the executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, the trade group for the industry.
In most years, there are up to 500 permits filed from adult-film studios with FilmL.A., the nonprofit that processes permits for motion picture, television and commercial production across Los Angeles. This year, a total of 24 have been filed, a FilmL.A. spokesman said.
Measure B also requires that adult-film studios apply for public-health permits. Eleven health permits were requested by adult-film studios so far this year, a spokesman with the county’s Department of Public Health said.
The industry — which has been estimated to be worth $6 billion in California and $11 billion nationwide — creates about 10,000 production jobs in the county, including makeup, lighting, carpentry, transportation, food service, payroll, web design and acting. “The industry is resilient and will continue,” Duke added. “The question is where.”
Vivid Entertainment, founded in 1984 and now one of the largest production studios in the adult-film industry, has gone outside L.A. County for some of its productions since the law took effect, said co-founder Steven Hirsch.
“We will not be shooting in L.A. under the current situation, which is too bad,” Hirsch said. “There’s a uniqueness to L.A. you can’t find anywhere such as backdrops. It’s also impacted us financially because shooting outside the county can become more expensive.”
Vivid filed suit late last year challenging Measure B, and while a federal court judge denied its request for an injunction, he also delivered a mixed ruling saying that making actors wear condoms during porn shoots doesn’t violate the First Amendment, but enforcing such a law raises constitutional questions. Vivid filed an appeal, which is still pending.
Hirsch and others said there has never been a single case of HIV contracted while shooting in the industry in the last eight years, noting performers are satisfied with the testing standards in place. The standards require performers to be tested for various sexually transmitted diseases every 15 to 30 days, then provide producers with proof of the results.
“We are not against condoms. We are just pro-choice,” Hirsch said. “The industry is immersed in this legal battle, and it is as an industry we’re fighting.”