Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Porn Panic 2011 Updates: Cal-OSHA Moves Closer To Issuing Condom Mandate Regulations; Mike Weinstein Prepares His Victory Lap; And Ministeress Lubben Testifies...Again

Plenty to update you on this morn, so I'll get right to it.

First off, the Cal-OSHA/AHF drive for imposing mandatory condoms on porn shoots is beginning to reach its climatic showdown slowly but surely. Another hearing was held last Thursday (March 17th), and in it Cal-OSHA's Chief Safety Engineer Deborah Gold announced that a rough draft for proposed changes to the regulations concerning treatment of "blood borne pathogens" was being prepared for issuance at the next scheduled meeting on July 7.

Mark Kernes was at the meeting, and filed his usual standard analysis for AVN.com. Snippage:


"During the advisory meeting on blood-borne pathogens and other infectious diseases, hazards in this industry were discussed," Gold told the standards board. "These other infections not considered to be blood borne include chlamydia and gonorrhea and human papilloma virus, which is associated with cancer. While the barrier methods required by Section 5193 reduce the risk of transmission depending on the specific disease, they may not completely control the risk. Therefore, additional routine and post-exposure medical services may need to be adopted to reduce these risks. Over the next two months, the division will be working on a draft of a proposal that would specifically address the hazards in this industry and plans to have that draft ready for discussion at the June 7 advisory meeting that's planned for Los Angeles, and then, depending on that discussion, the division would then start moving forward on rulemaking or not."

After Gold finished her presentation, board member Jack Kastorff brought up a subject of concern to many adult industry performers and companies.

"As I understand our function, the Cal/OSHA regs are to protect employees, and part of the question here is, who's an employee, and if they are indeed employees, who is the employer? Have we verified that?" he asked.

"We make that determination in every inspection that we conduct, not only in this industry but in every industry," Gold replied. "But there are court decisions that go to that, that have found that [performers] in this industry are employees of specific producers or production companies or whatever. And we have found in our investigations enough evidence to move forward against individual companies on the basis that these performers are employees. ... We have had the advice that generally speaking, the people who are working in this industry have an employee status, whether or not that is recognized for federal tax purposes. It's complicated legally." [cited from full AVN.com article]

Complicated?? Not really, since there is NO precedent anywhere in California law that states that porn performers (even contract performers) are in any way considered to be "employees" rather than "individual entrepreneurs". But, the condom mandators never let that stop them, now didn't they??

Kernes also noted this other discrepancy regarding the proposed regulations:


Gold's mention of non-blood-borne infections prompted board member Willie Washington to ask, since the petition (designated Petition #513) filed by AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) was specifically directed to the section of the health code dealing with blood-borne pathogens, how Gold's committee could be discussing regulations regarding those non-blood-borne diseases?

Gold responded that that had been part of the ongoing discussions of the committee, and the possibility of separating out those non-blood-borne diseases from the proposed rule changes was currently under consideration.
Of course..because this is NOT in any way about blood-borne pathogens at all...but about exploiting porn panic to impose condoms on performers against their stated will. And....getting paid.

You can tell that because the primary booster and benefactor of the condom mandate was rather quick to declare victory.

A group calling itself the American Public Health Association (APHA) immediately after the meeting sent out a press release all but congratulating the Cal-OSHA board on their stand and heartily endorsing the condom mandate, with nothing but praise for the efforts of AHF in protecting performer safety. Of course, from the language used in their press release, one could wonder if APHA wasn't an astroturf group invention of AHF itself.

The LA Weekly also posted their own article by Dennis Romero which seems to also endorse the condom mandate, though in a teasingly indirect way:



While California already requires condoms in porn (but doesn't really enforce the rule), the new language would specifically address "routine and post-exposure medical services may need to be adopted to reduce these risks" of contracting non-blood-born STDs, Gold said last week, according Adult Video News.

Sounds like mandatory testing to us.

AHF thinks condoms will be more specifically addressed. State and federal rules say you shouldn't be mixing blood at work. Sounds good to us. Cal/OSHA officials say that means condoms.

But state officials "are drafting rules that are specific to the industry" for the first time, AHF spokeswoman Lori Yeghiayan tells the Weekly

"It is our hope is that the amendments will make specific reference to condoms," she says.

The porn world in L.A. already tests its performers regularly. But that hasn't stopped diseases, including an HIV-positive scandal for one gay performer last year.
 Romero also included this statement from Mike Weinstein:

As a global HIV and STD medical care provider, we've seen it as our duty to pursue action on this issue of safety in the workplace--in these instances, unprotected sex acts taking place in albeit non-traditional workplaces--the porn sets located in the San Fernando Valley and throughout California. We heartily thank Deborah Gold for her tireless work on this issue and for speaking out publicly on Cal/OSHA's behalf last week about these proposed new safety amendments.
Of course...because going to performers' homes with syringes and vials and ordering them to give blood samples wasn't good enough, Mike??

But the Cal-OSHA meeting had its other moments as well. As usual, the industry was completely shut out, with only a rep from the Free Speech Coalition there to give the anti-condom mandate position any airtime. As usual, last year's HIV scare involving Derrick Burts was quoted as the main justification for issuing the condom mandate. As usual, the "22 performers tested HIV+ since 2004" Big Lie meme was quoted as fact, regardless of the real evidence.

And, as usual, Shelley Lubben was there to testify in her own special way for the "rescuing" of porn performers. (Hopefully, in a better state than her Cambridge debate debacle.) Quoteh Mark Kernes:


During her speech, Lubben claimed that she was "still suffering from the long-term effects of these sexually transmitted diseases and the other traumatization [sic] from the adult film industry. I was involved in many high-risk, unprotected sex acts filmed in private locations with totally unsupervised and unregulated porn sex where anything goes. I was coerced and forced into sex acts that involved things like double penetration, double anal, double vaginal, repeated facial ejaculations. I was required to work without condoms in order to maintain employment. When I complained, I was threatened with no pay, lawsuits, verbal and physical threats."

Although Lubben never complained to authorities about the alleged "forced sex acts" even after completing her short stint in the industry—17 movies between 1993 and 1995—she nonetheless told the standards board, "The scenario for young women is not unlike today, and actually, the work conditions are much worse."

"I know what these performers go through, and that's the reason why you don't see many of them here today: Because they're frightened," Lubben claimed. "Why is it for the past year when we've been having these meetings, only maybe a few female adult performers or even non-performers come? They're afraid for their lives, they're afraid they'll lose their jobs. Right here in Van Nuys, I've personally invited the porn industry to come face this meeting, and where's the female porn actresses to speak on their behalf? They're not here because they know that they're going to be threatened, and they're going to be blacklisted for telling the truth about what's really going on, and a lot of them honestly don't know that it is illegal for this kind of treatment."

Lubben went on to describe many current performers as "young, dumb females who couldn't read a contract," and who "can't even understand words like 'litigation' or 'arbitration.'"
 And...she brought some reinforcement, too.


The board also heard from another Lubben acolyte, Jennie Case, an ex-performer with a career even more brief than Lubben's: 13 movies over two years between 1994 and 1996—although she claimed that she been "in the sex industry for most of my adult life," leaving attendees to wonder how she spent the past 15 years after making movies.

"I performed in many adult films," Case claimed. "During that time, I contracted chlamydia, which caused pain in my abdomen, bacterial infections, urinary tract infections, a damaged cervix so bad that Planned Parenthood interns had to come take a look at it in the room, the examination room. Condoms were never used during this time, any time that I did any filming, there were no condoms used whatsoever. I thought I was safe, and of course, you can't complain, it's part of the job. The  job does require you to have other—many bodily fluids inside and outside of you including semen, and I fully support the blood-borne pathogens laws that apply to everyone, that you apply to the adult film employers in the adult film industry as well."
You'd think that Ministeress Lubben could find some performers that were a bit more recent??

Between this and the .XXX debacle, this may be a long year for the adult sexual media industry. 

1 comment:

  1. As I've said before, I don't think any victory laps are in order, nor will they be. AHF and Co. are full of mandates they want enacted, but have not as yet disclosed any proposals for implementing them. That's where the whole idea hits the wall. Enforcement will be impossible, and the attempt very expensive. I don't think the politicians who will eventually have to ante up the public's money for this whole package, or any significant part of it even, will ever get around to appropriating the money, especially in the face of a powerful legal challenge I'm pretty sure is just waiting on the release of the new regulations.

    AHF will doubtless claim victory for getting the regulations enacted, even if they don't work, are never applied and end up endangering the health of performers far more than the existing system AHF has worked so hard to destroy.

    On another note, I find it interesting that the LA Weekly piece seemed more exercised about mandatory testing than mandatory condoms. This is the first place, outside of this forum, where I have read anything about the implications of legally mandated HIV testing in any occupational setting, but it suggests that serious push-back would be forthcoming if the new regs include any testing requirement at all. This would suggest a second court challenge from a different quarter, the HIV-AIDS serving community itself, where AHF has plenty of detractors.

    So between the industry litigating over mandatory condoms and the community litigating over testing, the most likely outcome is a return to the era in which we had neither, a result of which I have warned consistently since this whole thing started.

    Some victory.

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