Friday, July 20, 2007

Kira Kiner vs. VIVID: A Lesson On Porn And Safe(r) Sex

This case is one that fascinates me quite a great deal because of the implications of how porn studios and production companies sometimes neglect the safety of their talent for the sake of the quick buck. That makes them no worse, mind you, than the attitudes of most businesses far less stigmatized than porn is. But still, it does make one pause that an outfit with VIVID's profit margin couldn't find enough room to provde one of their star performers the basic elements of cleanliness???

The story is from the CBS Los Angeles affialate, transported by me to Nina Hartley's forum.


Porn Star Pleased To Have Sex Toy Case Behind Her

(CBS) LOS ANGELES

A porn actress Tuesday settled her wrongful termination lawsuit against an
adult film production company, which she accused of firing her for complaining
about unsanitary work conditions.

Kira Kener, 32, alleged she was infected with a venereal disease by a sex toy she used during a video shoot, according to her lawsuit filed in January 2006 that asked for millions of dollars from Vivid Entertainment Group of Los Angeles.

Vivid Entertainment identifies itself on the company's Web site as the world's leading adult film company.

Attorneys for Kener and Vivid Entertainment told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Maureen Duffy-Lewis the settlement would be put in writing in 30 days. The terms were not disclosed.

Kener said outside the courtroom that she is pleased to have the case behind her."I'm really looking forward to getting my new Web site up and running," Kener said.

According to the lawsuit, Kener tested positive for a venereal disease after shooting a pornographic video in February 2004. The director ordered her to work first with a sex toy, then with an actor, the lawsuit stated.

Kener had concerns about working with the actor, but was told to do so by the director anyway, the lawsuit stated.

Kener came to work crying the next day and refused to work with anyone else
until she was tested for venereal diseases, according to the lawsuit.

However, another director stepped in and yelled, "There's no time or money
in the budget for testing. I'll just call someone else to come in and work with
you. I'll let that person know that you may have come in contact with something,
but it's up to them if they want to work with you," according to the suit.

Kener later tested positive for the disease, the lawsuit stated."Since then, Kener is informed and believes that marital aids are a breeding ground for diseases," the lawsuit stated.

Kener was fired by Vivid Entertainment on Feb. 26, 2004, the same day she told management she was concerned about having to work with previously used marital aids, the lawsuits stated.

The lawsuit also alleged Vivid Entertainment had not paid all the money it owed her for her video shoots and had used her "Kira Kener" trademark for financial advantage without her permission.

Vivid Entertainment lawyers maintained in their court papers that Kener was
an independent contractor and not an employee, and that their agreement with her
allowed them to use her name for economic advantage.

Kener, whose former name was [name deleted our of respect for her privacy], was working in strip clubs throughout the United States when she signed an exclusive agreement to perform in adult videos for Vivid Entertainment in 1998, according to her declaration that is part of her lawsuit.

Kira Kener is now her legal name and she lives in North Carolina, steps she said she took to protect her family from exposure to the adult entertainment industry.

I'm guessing that the venereal disease she contracted was chlimydia.

Either way, it is one more example of how a progressive, sex-positive analysis of both the sex media and the talent responsible for creating it is so badly needed....neither the more libertarian Right "let 'em do it and damn the consequenses as long as they get paid" meme nor the radfem "Poor oppressed women, let us liberate them from their plight, even if against their will" doctrine can do much good to help those like Kira Kener who deserve the right to perform her craft on her terms.

BTW...Kira Kener was actually one of the porn stars featured in Timothy Greenfield-Sanders' book XXX, which profiled some of the industry's top talent. She does have a MySpace page (NSFW), which will do until her new website opens, which she promises will be soon.

17 comments:

  1. Very fucked-up and I hope she wins her case. Too often in the industry, "condom-optional" translates to "if you want to use condoms, you won't work at all". And not paying somebody for work done is simply unconscionable, whether they're an employee or "independent contractor".

    I get more cynical about the increasing use of "independent contractors" in the workforce all the time. I'm working under that status right now, and it basically it translates into low pay and no benefits. Other than lack of protections, I really can't much tell the difference between that and being a simple employee.

    As for Vivid, I hear a lot of stories like that coming from that company. If you're Jenna Jameson or somebody with that status, you have some say about what your pay and conditions are. On the other hand, if you're new or otherwise lower on the totem pole, you pretty much don't have much say at all, and their can even be pressure from the management as to getting breast implants, doing acts you wouldn't otherwise do (eg, going from f/f only to doing m/f scenes), etc.

    It kind of disappointed me when Eon McKai signed with Vivid and brought some of the other alt-porn directors with him. That really did seem like giving in to the corporate behemoth. On the other hand, he clais that Vivid-ALT is pretty much its own little island and that the Vivid brass pretty much leaves them alone. I haven't heard much from the Vivid-ALT actresses about working conditions, though.

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  2. Actually, IACB, the case is over; she and VIVID settled for an undisclosed amount, plus the release from her contract.

    The issue really wasn't about "condom optional", since Vivid already had such a policy in place at the time of Kira's firing. The issue was really about her being forced to perform with what she considered to be an unsafe sex toy that had not been properly sanitized.

    The other issue was that Kira, as a contract girl for Vivid at the time, was bound somewhat by her "Vivid girl" contract, which is notorious for being over-restrictive on what the girls can do or even their looks. Strangely enough, the original Vivid girl, Ginger Lynn [Allen], actually got a much sweeter deal, including royalties and some creative control over her image, than most present day Vivid contract girls get today...but then again, Ginger did get to screw the founder and CEO, Steve Hirsch. Fancy that.

    Just as strangely enough, Vivid actually tends to stifle the more...ummm, earthy forms of sexual tastes in their contract women; only mostly coupled or solo, straight, vanilla sex scenes are allowed in their movies; no kink or group scenes, and definitely none of the "circus sex acts", are allowed there. They do tend to push hard on the boob implants and the traditional body type, though.

    Personally, their attempt to crash into the alt dot porn craze by hiring "Fashionistas" guru Eon McKai did raise some eyebrows...but that's the usual with big biz consuming smaller fish which seem to capture a consistent audience for the profits.

    As for the "independent contractors"....well, that didn't start with porn, but with more mundame retail businesses attempting to get around labor laws. There's nothing that says that porn can't treat their talent the same way as the other businesses...yet they get all the flak because of the nature of their profession.


    Anthony

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  3. "Actually, IACB, the case is over; she and VIVID settled for an undisclosed amount, plus the release from her contract."

    Hope she got some worthwhile bucks for her trouble.

    "Personally, their attempt to crash into the alt dot porn craze by hiring "Fashionistas" guru Eon McKai did raise some eyebrows...but that's the usual with big biz consuming smaller fish which seem to capture a consistent audience for the profits."

    Yeah, I pretty much see it as the equivalent of major record labels buying up indie labels and acts. Its in the nature of capitalism, after all.

    Also, I don't think Eon McKai had anything to do with "Fashionistas". That would be John Stagliano, and as far as I know, he's with Evil Angel.

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  4. jesus fucking christ. testing nothing, if it's from sex toys, how the hell much less trouble would it be to just frigging sterilize the damn things between usages, if you can't be bothered to provide fresh ones? (gah, shudder)

    ...for that matter...jesus, talk about pennywise and pound foolish.

    yeah, see, it's THAT sort of thing that is definitely up for critique in my book.

    and yeah, iacb is right about "independent contractors," and the increasingly general fucked-over'd-ness of the workforce.

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  5. "yeah, see, it's THAT sort of thing that is definitely up for critique in my book."

    Yup, in mine too.

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  6. "more libertarian Right "let 'em do it and damn the consequenses as long as they get paid"

    You talkin' to me?

    Then again, I am not a big fan of vivid...the tales I've heard about them seriously pressuring performers into surgery and other such things do NOT impress me...this story is a similar one...Like they can't AFFORD safer conditions....

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  7. Thanks for posting this, Anthony.

    See, this is why it's so crazy-making to me when anti-porn folks completely dismiss my position as YAY PORN, IT'S ALL ABOUT THE MEN, I HATE WOMEN.

    It's seriously headdesk-inducing.

    Because, this is the kind of thing I am very concerned about, and this is where I think a truly sex-positive, worker-centered approach to change is needed. It's not about OMG TEH SEX, which is what so many people seem to get hung up on; it's about safe working conditions, and employment policies that are fair to both employer and employee.

    This is the kind of thing that concerns me about the porn industry. It's a workplace issue; not a "sex is so degrading" issue.

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  8. Ahhhh...no, Henchwoman, I wasn't specifically targeting you...I meant those who call themselves libertarian but in reality are more Right (wing) than libertarian.

    I believe that you have clearly established yourself as NOT being in the "do whatever you want, and damn the consequenses" category.


    Anthony

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  9. hey! i'm going to cali this weekend and won't be back until september...here is the website i was talking about where i made extra summer cash. Later! the website is here

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  10. the thing about libertarian wrt this is...look, the point is supposed to be about "free choice;" "do this unsafe thing or you lose the gig and don't make rent" really isn't a free choice. I mean, i suppose -everything- is; technically, "your money or your life" is a -choice- (cf Jack Benny, "I'm thinking, I'm thinking...") but...eh, I look at it as checks and balances. The "market" is no more benign or unlikely to consolidate power for itself than is the government, or the Church. or the "mob," for that matter. You need counterweights to prevent this sort of thing.

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  11. I am in agreement with the what appears to be the consensus view among the regular yay-pornies here that safety and fair treatment does concern us.

    It really is a shame that Vivid, with deep pockets, doesn't even take the same level of precaution that many take in our own bedrooms. I even go so far as to autoclave most of my sex toys (which requires they be made of suitable materials).

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  12. or for god's sake, at -least- they could slap a damn condom on them. yeah yeah yeah i know, the customers, they want bareback. well shit, it's a toy; it's ALREADY latex or silicone; so...

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  13. belladona: Yep, condoms on toys would help and they don't interfere with the obligatory cum shot.

    Kinda odd that porn tends to require tangible proof that the man cums and not the woman.

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  14. "Kinda odd that porn tends to require tangible proof that the man cums and not the woman."

    Believe me, if women normally ejaculated or had some other highly visible "proof" of an orgasm, porn would be all over it.

    Personally, I've never understood at all how the male cum shot became such a central part of straight pornography, considering that the main audience this kind of thing is made for is other heterosexual men, but there it is.

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  15. Quoting IACB:

    Believe me, if women normally ejaculated or had some other highly visible "proof" of an orgasm, porn would be all over it.

    Actually, considering the latest craze with "female ejaculation"/"squirting", you could say that porn is already all over it....so to speak (I know, bad pun).

    But otherwise, it is pretty difficult to do a woman's orgasm or to effectively do cunnilingus, so understandably, they have to rely on overacting and facial expressions...unless the woman is really excited and comes more easily.

    Personally, I've never understood at all how the male cum shot became such a central part of straight pornography, considering that the main audience this kind of thing is made for is other heterosexual men, but there it is.

    Well...first off, it's the definitive proof that the man did indeed get off. Secondly, it's an effective protection against unwanted pregnancies, which may occur with internal shots. And third; why have the male actor have to go through all that thrusting without release...since no one likes having blue balls.

    I will agree that showing more female pleasure would do the industy some good....you would think that that would be the central point from the very beginning.


    Anthony

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  16. "Because, this is the kind of thing I am very concerned about, and this is where I think a truly sex-positive, worker-centered approach to change is needed. "

    Right on, Amber. It puzzles me too that some people seem to think that "team YAYPORN" is all about not caring that shit like this happens.

    O.o Buh?

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