The People Vs Prop 60: The Adult Film Industry Speaks Out On The Controversial Condom Law

10.27.16 1 month ago 19 Comments

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Prop 60, which would force male porn performers to wear condoms, isn’t just about condoms. Yes, at the center of this controversial California bill on the ballot this November is the ongoing battle over the adult film industry’s use of condoms to prevent sexually-transmitted infections and diseases, but there’s far more to Prop 60 than meets the eye.

Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, is the man behind Prop 60, or more specifically the “California Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act.” His name is hardly new to adult film producers and performers, as he was also behind 2012’s Measure B, which imposed strict penalties in Los Angeles County for pornographic productions that didn’t use condoms. If it passes, Prop 60 would not only impose the same penalties on productions throughout the state of California, but it would also promote Weinstein to the status of “porn czar.” That proposed power is why the state’s Democratic and Republican parties are both urging Californians to vote no on 60 on November 8.

They’re hardly alone. The state’s biggest newspapers oppose Prop 60, with the Mercury News calling this “the daft idea of giving a California porn czar the power to override the state attorney general.” The San Diego Union-Tribune calls Weinstein’s proposition “excessive” and further details the problem with giving one man the authority to take any case to court himself, should the state refuse to “defend its legality.” Weinstein, both publications argue, would have unimaginable power and to remove him it would take “a majority vote of each house of the Legislature when ‘good cause’ exists to do so.”

The Sacramento Bee calls Prop 60 “well-meaning,” accusing the adult film industry of having “exploited the vulnerable,” but it also commends the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) for doing its best to police the industry in recent years. Ultimately, the Bee is concerned over Weinstein lining his pockets with taxpayer money, calling Prop 60 “a legal overreach and too hardcore.”

The San Francisco Chronicle writes that Prop 60 “invites legal bounty hunting,” because average citizens can file lawsuits and earn a nice payday as whistleblowers. And the Los Angeles Times labeled Prop 60 as “heavy-handed” and touched on the other significant issues, well beyond the idea that this is just about performers using condoms. At risk here are the “small-time performers,” the blue collar pornographers if you will, who would not only be crushed financially by the court fees from even one lawsuit, but also personally exposed to people who want to hurt them.

“Privacy is a huge concern for the performers because of the nature of our industry,” explains Chanel Preston, a performer and chairperson of the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee. “We’re prone to people and organizations wanting to attack performers or the industry overall. Anytime there is a tool people can use to hurt the industry, they will use it. When we say this to people, they think we’re exaggerating, but we face threats like this every day. One of the ways they do it is blasting our private information – I’ve had my entire family’s information put on the Internet. I don’t know what people’s obsessions are with revealing our personal information, but they love to do it and any way they can get it and exploit it, they will do it.”

So, why, if both political parties and the state’s major newspapers oppose Prop 60 (some smaller newspapers are in support), is it still favored by voters? Because the adult film industry, despite the revenue it produces, both for the companies and the state, is still the underdog in this fight. Very few politicians are willing to stand up for porn, and Weinstein’s “war chest” is considerable, which is perhaps why he is so positive that Prop 60 will pass.

This is an uphill battle that is, for once, uniting a very divisive industry, and everyone — from the industry’s biggest producers to those blue collar performers — is fighting back to make sure voters know what is really at stake. Whether they’re passing out flyers on college campuses, protesting on the streets, or even blocking porn sites from use in California, they want voters to know that Prop 60 could mean the end of “Porn Valley.”

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