Tuesday, December 14, 2010

HIV Porn Scare 2010 -- The Series (Ongoing): AHF Calls In Its LA City Council Chips; St. James Infirmary Hosts Sex Worker/Performer Forum; And DBurts Gets A Lie Detector Challenge

I wish that this wouldn't be a daily occurence, but the news is breaking fast and furious.

And today, the tornado hit the sewage plant....figuratively speaking...in LA, with perhaps the biggest threat to the porn industry's existence since the Freeman decision was handed down. From AVN.com:


L.A. City Council: Deny Film Permits to Non-Condom Shoots


In its latest bid to drive adult production companies out of business or out of the state, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) has managed to get four Los Angeles City Councilmembers to support a motion to deny filming permits to adult companies unless the permits contain special conditions requiring condoms, dental dams, face shields and/or goggles for all sex acts.


"The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has documented widespread transmission of sexually transmitted diseases associated with the activities of the adult film industry within the City of Los Angeles," begins the motion proposed by Councilmember Bill Rosendahl and seconded by members Ed Reyes, Paul Koretz and Eric Garcetti.

"The producers of all films within the City of Los Angeles, including adult films, are required to obtain permits issued by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and administered by FilmL.A., Inc. under certain contracts between FilmL.A., Inc. and the City of Los Angeles," the motion continues. "Such permits for film production within the City of Los Angeles may include conditions to protect public safety and health."

"The producers of adult films are required by California Code of Regulations Title 8, Section 5903 et seq. to employ barrier protection, including without limitation condoms, to shield performers from contact with potentially infectious material during the production of adult films."

"I THEREFORE MOVE that the City Council request the City Attorney to report back within 45 days to explain the mechanisms necessary to enable the City’s film permit process to require workplace safety in the production of all adult films."
 Quite obviously, the ringleader of this coup was totally satisfied with this development.


AHF president Michael Weinstein, whose organization pushed for the motion, lauded Rosendahl for the action.

"Tying condom use to adult-film production permits is absolutely the responsible thing to do, protecting adult film industry performers who—under the current system of testing—are routinely asked to risk their lives and health in order to continue working," Weinstein told the BusinessWire.com site. "Unfortunately, despite clear regulatory requirements and actions taken by public officials, the adult film industry remains convinced it is above the law."

Enlisting the City Council is the latest move in AHF's war on the adult industry. Wednesday, it sponsored a press conference where alleged HIV-positive adult performer Derrick Burts claimed to have been maltreated by AIM Healthcare—a charge which AIM has categorically denied—and yesterday it convinced LA Health Department director Dr. Jonathan Fielding to serve a cease-and-desist order on AIM even after the California Department of Health gave AIM 60 days (from November 30) to correct the name on its application for an operating permit as a community clinic.

At this point, it's difficult to assess what effect the Rosendahl motion will have on the adult industry. The motion itself merely calls for the City Attorney to report on how FilmL.A., Inc., the agency which contracts with the city to issue filming permits, can be made to require adult companies seeking permits to require that those companies use condoms, dental dams and face shields/goggles in their productions or, presumably, to be denied the permit. The City Attorney has 45 days to make its report, and it is unknown what recommendations the City Attorney will make.
The question of why Weinstein would also include dental dams and PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) such as gloves and goggles to such a resolution probably wasn't asked of him...but I'm sure he'll take that as long as he gets his wish of jamming condoms up the industry.

And, of course, the councilmen involved in this action are solely concerned about the welfare of the performers.  It would have nothing to do with political contributions from Weinstein, right? RIght???

Yeah, right.  Quoting a followup article from Mark Kernes at AVN.com:


Permit Bill Sponsors Got Donations from AIDS Healthcare



LOS ANGELES—An investigation by AVN has found that the author of a City Council motion to require adult companies to use condoms, dental dams and face shields/goggles during sex scenes or be denied a City of Los Angeles filming permit has received campaign donations from AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) president Michael Weinstein, as has one of the motion's co-sponsors.

District 11 Councilmember William "Bill" Rosendahl has received $1,000 in campaign contributions from Weinstein personally: $500 in 2004, when Rosendahl was first running for City Council, and two further contributions of $250 each in the spring of 2005 to Rosendahl's general campaign fund. In addition, Weinstein also contributed a total of $600 to District 5 Councilmember Paul Koretz: $500 in January of 2009, two months before Koretz, who had "termed out" as a state assemblymember, stood for his first election to City Council in March of 2009, and $100 one month after Koretz's election.
Now...if the name Paul Koretz sounds faintly familiar to you, it might be because of the following blast from the recent past:

Koretz, it will be remembered, held a public meeting in 2004, shortly after one industry performer who had worked overseas proved to be HIV-positive and infected three other performers before being detected by AIM Healthcare Foundation's regular testing regime, and later wrote an "open letter" to adult producers calling for  condom use during adult productions and intimating that if condoms were not "voluntarily" mandated, that the state assembly would require their use.
That, of course, was the Darrin James/Lana Roxx scare of 2004. James has reemerged as a critic of AIM and a backer of the condom mandate, but somehow he's escaped becoming a henchman for Weinstein the way Derrick Burts and Shelley Lubben have become.

Now, nothing has happened as of yet, and the resolution would allow for a 45 day period for recommendations from the LA City Attorney's office to the full City Council to require FilmLA (the governing board for movie production in LA) to "enforce" the proposed laws. What's so funny is that none of the regulations proposed would be enforced against mainstream films, where the risk of bodily fluid and hazardous material contact is a bit greater than mere kissing or fucking or sucking. (And I wonder how the hell would they enforce these rules against softcore films, exactly??)

Nevertheless, merely the threat of such regulation was enough to place the industry on alert.   Now that the threat is now out in the open, maybe it may be time for performers to get off their butts and defend their rights before they are taken away from them??

Fortunately, some are beginning to fight back.  Or, at least talk about fighting back.

The St. James Infirmary in San Francisco has been one of the premier resources of sex-positive activism for quite a long time; providing testing and support services in the Bay Area for sex workers, pornographer, and other sexual activists. Today, they announced, in association with the sex worker activist blog Bound, Not Gagged, the formation of a special forum to be held at SJI on December 18th specifically for porn performers to discuss the "shut down" of AIM and the overall climate for mandating condoms and other regulations. Quoting Stacey Swimme, the forum creator and blogmistress at BnG:


Background: The California Occupational Health and Safety board have been reviewing studio practices based on complaints made to them, some from performers, some anonymous. The Aids Healthcare Foundation has been lobbying hard with limited input from people who actually work in the industry. In June of 2010 AIM applied for a community clinic license and on December 9th they received a cease and desist order after that application was denied.
We’re concerned that performers are being under- and mis-represented in these discussions and that it is critical for a diverse range of workers to come together to establish a unified voice to advocate for a rights-based approach to regulation.
Of course, our ultimate goal is for all performers to be as healthy and prosperous as possible! Please join us and share how you think these issues can best be approached. Please spread this message far and wide.
More information on how performers can get involved with the forum can be found over at BnG's blog via here.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Derrick Burts/Cameron Reid saga gets weirder and weirder.

Now it seems that DBurts has gotten a bit of a challenge from porn producer Mark Spiegler, who used a post on the porn gossip blog LukeIsBack.com to call out Cameron as a phony out for the quick buck and whom is using the porn industry to cover up his own extracurricular activities. Basically, Spiegler all but dared DBurts to take a lie detector test to prove that he was infected on a "straight" porn set. Strangely enough, Derrick has been quoted to have agreed to this.

Lie detector tests are notorious for masking the truth as much as illuminating it, which is why they are not considered viable in jury trials...but it still makes for great theatre while we get to the bottom of this affair. I guess we all should stay tuned.

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