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Pros and cons of Prop 60: Mandating condoms in adult films

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California’s controversial Prop 60 would make it mandatory to use condoms in adult films.

Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in L.A. is behind the measure, which would put language into state law creating a mandate for adult film actors to wear condoms in pornographic films.

Current worker safety laws already allude to condom use, and requires employees to be protected from bodily fluids that could cause infections. But this hasn’t always been enforced among adult film producers.

Prop 60 has stirred opposition from the porn industry. Many performers and studios argue that alternatives to condoms should be used to protect actors, including frequent testing for sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) and prescribing PrEP, an HIV prevention pill.

But shouldn’t adult film performers want to take advantage of every option to protect themselves?

According to Chanel Preston, chair of the Adult Film Actors Association, the measure would do more harm than good because it would leave performers open to lawsuits. Under Prop 60, Cal/OSHA, a workplace enforcement agency, would be able to sue producers if condoms are not visible in adult films.

Larry Mantle spoke to Preston and the John Schwada, the spokesperson for the Vote Yes on Prop 60 campaign, to hear both sides of this highly controversial issue.

3 points of tension between proponents and opponents of Prop. 60

On adult film actors being subject to lawsuits if Prop. 60 passes

Chanel Preston: This is an industry of sex workers and film performers and we are subject to harassment and threats everyday. Sometimes people say that this is hyperbole, that people won't attack us through lawsuits. But that's not true. . . anytime there's a tool that people can use to hurt the industry or the individual, they will use it. If a lawsuit does occur, they would have access to our personal information, and that's a really big concern for performers.

John Schwada: This is special pleading on an industry that refuses to obey the law and wants to be exempt from the public exposure when they are accused of violating the law. Every other individual knows that when people are sued, and people are charged with criminal conduct, their names are made public. Often in cases you can find the names, but you can't find the addresses of the accused parties. I think some of this is scare tactics on the part of the porn industry. 

On the chilling effect the measure could have on the porn industry

Schwada: I suspect that [the industry] will be able to thrive with these rules. . . The thing that they're really afraid of in this industry is that their own performers will sue them, and [performers] will be whistleblowers.

Preston: There's an assumption that performers don't have power in the industry and that's not true. . . As an organization we've been working on ways for performers to use condoms without feeling like they're blacklisted. . .We don't need Prop. 60 to make that happen.

On whether condoms are the best way to prevent STDs

Preston: In a professional setting, we're having intercourse anywhere from 30 minutes to hours on set. And it's very difficult to use condoms sometimes. . . It causes rashes, they break, you're still susceptible to [sexually-transmitted infections]. And so performers don't necessarily feel like that's the best means to protect themselves. . .We haven't had a case of HIV transmission on a regulated porn set since 2004, so that shows that our testing system is extremely effective.

Schwada: The industry doesn't like condoms and that's the gold standard for protecting the workers from STDs and HIV. The business doesn't like condoms because they don't believe condoms in porn films sell those films. So they basically sacrifice worker health on the altar of their profits. . . also condoms don't have to be visible in the films.


John Schwada, communications director and spokesperson for the Vote Yes on Prop 60 campaign

Chanel Preston, adult film performer and chairperson of the adult performer advocacy committee; she has been campaigning for the No on 60 campaign

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