The trade group for the adult entertainment industry will challenge in court the legality of a ballot initiative passed in the Nov. 6 election that would require male performers to wear condoms during filming.
The Canoga Park-based Free Speech Coalition sent a letter Wednesday to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors asking they delay enforcement of the new law.
“We believe that the law is not only unconstitutional on the grounds of forced expression, but also falls within the jurisdiction of the state of California rather than local government,” Free Speech Coalition Chief Executive Diane Duke wrote in the letter.
The FSC will host a seminar for industry professionals on the implications of the new law on Thursday.
Workplace safety has become a major issue in the adult industry in recent years following incidents of performers testing positive for HIV — once in 2009 and again in 2010. A performer tested positive for syphilis in 2012. The adult industry has been self-policing by regularly testing performers.
The Measure B ballot initiative was the creation of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) and its president, Michael Weinstein. Some area health care professionals came out in support of the measure. Opposition was made up of the FSC, some health care professionals, and the Valley Industry and Commerce Association.
The measure would require adult film producers to obtain a public health permit from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health prior to filming. A fee collected by the county would offset the cost of enforcement.
The AHF qualified in January to get a ballot initiative on mandatory condom usage in adult films to be voted on by City of Los Angeles voters in the June election. Rather than go through the expense of the election, the Los Angeles City Council instead passed an ordinance although city officials are still developing guidelines to enforce the law.
Jessica Drake, a contract performer and director with Canoga Park-based adult production company Wicked Pictures, was at a loss to understand why the county would want the expense of having an overseer on adult film sets making sure the law was followed.
“The logistics of this escape me,” Drake said.
Starting with the passage of the Los Angeles city ordinance, there was talk of adult film companies moving out of state to get away from what they considered the burdensome condom law. The approval of Measure B has spurred more talk of an exodus and a loss of jobs to the Los Angeles area, particularly the Valley, where much of the adult film industry is located.
On the sets of the films in which she performs or directs, Drake said it was not uncommon to have 20 people to 30 people working – makeup artists, hairstylists, camera operators, production managers and assistants. The adult productions are also renting cameras, lighting equipment and props, Drake said.
“The wardrobe people, they are shopping locally for wardrobe and accessories that are used in our movies,” Drake said.
That Measure B passed is an indication to Drake that the general public is not comfortable with the adult industry and the workplace safety issues it faces. Industry professionals need to do more to present a better image, she said.
“The only way to change that is getting together and showing that we are capable of policing ourselves,” Drake said.