CA Voters Will Put Porn Performers at Risk in 2016

CA Voters Will Put Porn Performers at Risk in 2016

September 15, 2015 | By Kristina Dolgin

AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s (AHF) leader Weinstein got the “California Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act” on the 2016 ballot and, knowing nothing about the industry except stigma and prejudice, voters will likely go for it. This is pretty major and scary, as it will drive independent porn performers/producers out of business and subject performers to privacy violations and abuse.

But you don’t hold prejudice and stigma against sex workers, right?? Then if you’re the type of person who votes (and is allowed to vote!) in California these are the reasons why you should VOTE NO on Proposition 60.

This proposition will:[1]

1)   Mandate the use of condoms in all porn produced in California. Violations will subject producers to fines, which range from $10,000 to $30,000.[2]

Impact: Institutionalizes the notion that porn performers and sex workers are vessels of disease that must be specially regulated. This ballot measure is the fourth attempt of mandating condoms in porn despite disavow by porn performers and producers.[3]

2)   Require all porn producers to save and send a ton of private information about performers including legal name, contact information, and HIV and STI medical evaluations to a newly created state agency under (presumably) Weinstein’s control. Producers must also send a fee of $100 per SCENE. Failure will result in fines from $5,000 to $15,000. [4]

Impact: There are two major issues with this provision. First, as most porn producers are independent performers creating content in their own homes this will cause tremendous economic disincentive to working independently, driving them out of business. For independent performer/producers there is no guarantee of monetary return on creating any scene, so $100/scene will start them at a loss with the likelihood of not earning much more. Independent producers/performers tend to earn profits by volume, which means they need to produce many scenes in order to accrue a return.

If independent performer/producers are driven out of California, what then? The only porn producers that will be financially able to operate will be big, mainstream studios. That means the only porn performers that will find work are those that fit into mainstream ideals of gender, race, body size and type, etc., who will have little power in combating big businesses that often use racist, classist, and transphobic marketing tactics.

Second, by requiring porn producers to save and send sensitive information about porn performers, porn performers much needed anonymity will be vulnerable to exposure. In 2011, the database for a health clinic that runs STI tests for California porn performers was stolen, resulting in the leak of 12,000 current and former performers names and contact information. Many performers reported subsequent harassment from anti-porn crusaders and predators, loss of mainstream jobs, and family fallout. By having each porn producer stockpiling this information could result in these harms happening again.

3)   Require all porn producers to pay ANOTHER $100 with an application to the newly created state agency for a “health license.” Failure to apply would result in fines up to $50/day of operation without a license.[5]

Impact: Again, independent producer/performers will receive the brunt of this economic hardship. Independent performer/producers not connected to larger porn production networks or unable to access legal information will likely not be aware such requirements exist, which means $50/day fines probably rack up pretty high before they are notified. (Ex: 30 days would be $1,500.)

4)   Allow ANY California resident to sue producers for violation of this Act with the incentive of receiving 25% of the money award and recovery of attorney fees.

Impact: As AVN staff recently wrote in response to the provision: “For many performers, of course, stalkers are an everyday threat. In addition to the profit incentive, any lawsuit against a performer would expose the performer’s legal name and home address, and give a stalker access to the performer through court appearances. Stalkers could also use the threat of a lawsuit to coerce a performer.” [6]

Footnotes:

[1] Full text of the California Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act can be found here.

[2] proposed California Labor Code Section 6720.0(a) and 6720.4(b)

[3] See the St. James Infirmary’s statement against AHF’s third attempt here.

[4] Proposed Labor Code Section 6720.1.

[5] Proposed Labor Code Section 6720.2.

[6] Read article here.