Monday, July 30, 2012

Porn Panic 2012: Primer On Facts Rather Than Hype: Ernest Greene Redux (2009 "Scare") -- Part Deux

[A continuation from Part One]

When we last left, Ernest Greene had just finished setting up the characters involved in that attempt to milk that 2009 HIV "scare" into their condom mandate/destruction of AIM Medical Foundation/make money gullywasher for AHF crusade. Now, he begins to give us the method to accomplish their madness.

Cal-OSHA, which would be charged with imposing the mandatory condom scheme outlined in Kerndt’s plan, has only one established standard for dealing with potentially pathogenic bodily fluids. It was written for health workers and IACB [Iamcuriousblue, BPPA contributor] summarizes nicely the more extreme and irrelevant provisions of Cal-OSHA’s blood-borne pathogen provisions:

“The last time OSHA became involved, the rules they set down were pure overkill, mandating not only condoms for high-risk acts, but use of dental dams, gloves, and, I kid you not, eye goggles for all sexual contact. They basically took the rules they've mandated for medical workers and applied this to the porn industry, without regard for context.”
Of course, as you now know, Cal-OSHA is now promulgating new regulations into the official record for imposing on the porn industry, essentially building on those very same principles of "barrier protection" from "bloodborne pathogens" and other dangerous "bodily fluid" exposure. While Weinstein has denied that the new regs will offer nothing different other than mandating condoms for all penetrative anal, vaginal, and oral sex acts; there is nothing in the regs that would preclude Cal-OSHA from also requiring goggles and face shields for facials, or dental dams for oral sex acts, or even PPE (personal protective equipment) for accidential exposure to blood or other bodily fluids. The only exception that was even considered was for oral sex...and even that was conditioned on the performers having to endure a regimen of shots for Hepatitis C and an ensurance of clearance from a licensed doctor before each act of oral sex. Emphasis on each act. And, it's only a consideration, because as of now, there are no exceptions to the requirment of "barrier protection" for any penetrative act of sex that is placed on film.

Naturally, those same requirments are also integrated in the LA County proposed ordinance, with porn performers and producers required as part of obtaining a permit to shoot porn to endure a "bloodborne pathogen/barrier protection" course, along with mandatory reports to the LADPHS tracking their compliance with the ordinance, with surprise raids and spot inspections added for good measure. The LA City law thus far does not have such stringent requirments, only calling for mandatory permits conditioned on the condom mandate..but the details of enforcement are still being fleshed out by city officials. A similar law was passed by Simi County in suburban LA, but that county is far more socially conservative and far more resistant to porn production than LA County or the city of Los Angeles.
As he says, such an unworkable regimen would be universally flouted, essentially turn a legal industry into an illegal in which state regulations were routinely violated, making producers and other performers liable for confiscatory fines and other administrative restraints clearly imposed by an agency whose agenda is not regulatory, but rather prohibitionist.

No surprise there. Members of Cal-OSHA’s staff, like those of Dr. Fielding’s department, have been unbendingly hostile in all my face-to-face dealings with them since 2004. They’re approach to performer safety is to destroy those performers livelihoods and drive the industry out of the state completely. Confronted with this prospect, Dr. Kerndt stated directly that he wouldn’t object if that were the result.
Of course, Mike Weinstein would insist that they are not interested in censorship or driving out the industry; their only interest is in the safety and well being of the performers who are simply pawns of an aggressive industry that uses women (and men) for their profit. Which totally explains why they ally themselves with the likes of Shelley "Porn Is Legalized Slavery" Lubben. Now, it may also be that some avant-garde porn producers and softcore/simulated sex producers of Showtime/Cinemax late-night "erotica" might also benefit from running explicit XXX media out of Hollywood's shadow due to getting rid of the competition for talent and content...but the exposition of that argument will be taken up another day.

And besides that, Weinstein and Cal-OSHA has made it abundantly clear that this isn't just a California mission; they are serious in planning to take their crusade for the condom mandate nationwide, either through the national OSHA extending these rules or other jurisdictions passing ordinances like LA County's. Or, as he put it: "Wherever they go, we will follow them."

But wait...it gets worse.  Much worse.
Worse, if that’s possible, than Cal-OSHA’s plan for porn would be the means through which it would have to be put in place. Cal-OSHA has jurisdiction only over employees. Independent contractors, which is how porn performers not under contract to specific companies, are currently classed under state law, would not be subject to Cal-OSHA supervision unless reclassified as employees.

So what, you might ask, is so bad about that? After all, it would make them eligible for workman’s comp and provide them with a mechanism for reporting unsafe working conditions on the set.

There’s just one little hitch in this plan. It is against the law in California for any employer to require an HIV test, or even to ask about a potential employee’s HIV status, as a condition of employment. Doing so is considered employment discrimination and carries significant penalties to the employer.

In fact, if performers were considered employees rather than contractors, it would be illegal for a producer to hire [fire???] a performer on the grounds that said performer was, in fact, HIV positive. That’s right. Producers would be required to hire HIV+ performers, and if other performers didn’t like working with them, those performers would be fired while the HIV+ performers would be allowed to remain on the set until partners could be found who would work with them.

This, put simply, is insanity. In thirty-five years of legal pornography in this country, not a single clinical death has been correctly attributed to HIV transmission in the making of heterosexual porn. During that time, thousands of sexually active young Californians from very similar demographic cohorts have died of AIDS contracted in circumstances utterly unrelated to porn, including a significant number whose cases were contracted in bathhouses and sex clubs where HIV prevention has been the province of governmental oversight.

Our good fortune in porn is directly attributable to two things: constant voluntary testing and the much-derided conceit of the external ejaculation, which significantly reduces the risk of serum transmission through mucous membranes.
This is the portion that so many opponents of the condom mandate usually ignore, but what strikes fear into the heart of many performers..especially since the  2010 "outbreak" in which a bisexual performer (Derrick Burts/Cameron Reid) managed to get infected with HIV on a gay male shoot in Florida in a condomized scene, while he himself was infected with either gonnorrhea or chlamydia, yet nevertheless was able to readjust himself to become the designated "smoking gun" victim of the AIM/Porn Industrial Complex at all those AHF/Cal-OSHA hearings and press conferences...his Rentboy.com profiles and open admission of bareback swinging and escorting aside.

Indeed, my own personal theory is that the reason Weinstein (who,after all, is gay and whom has no problem with promoting bareback gay porn when it profits him, as one trip to his thrift store will show) is so hot on mandating condoms is exactly to exploit the antidiscrimination laws protecting HIV+ gay performers to allow them to cross over into the more profitable hetero porn field. Since the testing and screening process currently in place in "straight" porn would obviously get in the way of allowing gay performers that opportunity, what better way to topple it and replace it with the system of condoms only with little or no testing that assumes that HIV+ performers are there and have the right to perform...regardless of how the others feel about losing their protection and having to just trust the condom.

Of course, not all or even a majority of gay male performers are HIV+ or evern STI+, and there should be no excuse whatsoever to justify homophobia of any kind..especially not the kind of gay bashing that the original Porn Wikileaks (NOT the current site run by Sean Tompkins, which is 120% legit and prejudice-free) ran freely when it was at its peak.

And, oh, by the way?? It should be noted that under the proposed Cal-OSHA regs, facials would be banned as overexposure to "bodily fluids". Only condomized internal shots or faked-up "money shots" would be allowed if this mandate were to pass.

But wait a minute, didn’t I say that gay porn is made without testing but with condoms instead? Why wouldn’t that work in straight porn as well?

In part, because it doesn’t really work in gay porn. Though condom use has become less of an absolute in gay porn, it has been the standard for 20 years, during which time, unlike in straight porn, a number of performers have died of AIDS. This is most likely a result of imprudent behavior in their personal lives rather than on the set, but it points to an important difference between the composition of gay and straight talent pools.

An unspoken by generally accepted truth in gay porn is that many performers are already HIV+ when they enter the industry. Producers and directors make quiet but diligent efforts to pair them only with other already-infected partners, but the fact remains that testing is regarded as pointless in gay porn because, as one of the best known gay directors told me privately, “it’s just assumed that all of our talent is or will be infected and that the use of barriers is a secondary precaution.”
And given the propensity of most gay men in porn to engage in the highest risk behavior in enviroments that also include the other high-risk elements such as sharing dirty needles or unprotected sex on the "down low" with other infected individuals, it would be prudent to make such an assumption. However, as Susie Bright has recently pointed out, a gay man who is currently undergoing sero-treatment for HIV might actually be safer for sex than a "civilian", because his drug regimen has so reduced his viral load count to a level that no longer threatens infection.

Then again, AHF has not exactly been known for its enlightened policy towards actual treatment or developing effective vaccines; as Weinstein's recent whining and bitching about Truvada being approved by the FDA as a trial HIV vaccine clearly shows.

Our model in straight porn is to try and keep the talent pool disease free rather than simply accept the permanent presence of infected performers as a necessary work-around. If you visit the web site that lists all the porn performers who have died during the past twenty years, you’ll find that the overwhelming majority of them were gay male players who died of AIDS. The risk of a similar situation in straight porn is what Fielding, Kerndt, Weinstein, et al would subject us to in the interest of setting a better example for our audiences.
Given the essential fact that there has been NO cases of any straight performer getting infected with HIV from shooting a porn scene (and no, Derrick Burts still doesn't count, because even he admitted that he got infected off camera) since the Darren James/Lara Roxx "outbreak" of 2004, I'd say that the regime of testing by AIM has been an unmitigated success...in spite of all the distortion and lies put forth by AHF, Cal-OSHA, and the Holy Ex-Porn Sluts of the Lubbenite Order. And, it should be noted that even in that scare, only two more performers were confirmed to have been infected in that instance.



Thanks but no thanks to that noble sacrifice. For uninfected female performers, not only are condoms in the absence of testing a more dangerous approach than bare-backing with tested performers, it actually puts them at greater risk. To understand why, it’s necessary to recognize that sex on camera is quite different from sex in private.

As a director, I allow two and a half hours to shoot a typical boy-girl sex scene. That’s over two hours of intercourse in various positions with constant stops and starts during which male performer’s erections rise and fall, condoms frequently tear or unravel and the degree of latex abrasion on the internal membranes of female performers’ vaginas lead to micro-abrasions that make them more vulnerable to all kinds of STIs. Most condom-only female performers eventually abandon condom use, not under pressure from producers, but rather because of the constant rawness and end-on-end bacterial infections produced by countless hours of latex drag.
Now, here is where the "sex-positive" wing of the pro-condom mandate crowd would shout in unison: "But...but...b-b-b-b-b-b-but....that's nothing that lots of lube can't prevent!! You're just making excuses not to wrap up for the good of mankind...and you're a selfish traitor who puts your own profits and pleasure above everyone else's safety!!!" And on the side, you will find that minority of performers (such as legend Brittany Andrews) who will add: "Oh, yeah?? What about those of us who would love to perform with condoms for safety's sake, but are pushed aside by greedhead producers who won't hire someone like me because we insist on condoms?? We're for performer choice here..as long as they all insist on wrapping up!!!"

Their concerns are totally legitimate and should be addressed seriously by anyone opposed to the condom mandate as I am (and Ernest Greene is and has been). It should be a given that NO performer who wants to insist on condoms should be blackballed or denied gigs merely because they prefer their partners to be wrapped. Our point, though, is that the same right of choice should also go to those performers who would prefer unwrapped dick, and insist on other means of protecting themselves, such as frequent testing and verified clean tests using the most up-to-date technology and a commitment to responsibility for their profession and craft.

Condoms are fine for ordinary folks having a quick bang, but they’re not suited to effective use in porn. I know whereof I speak because I refuse to shoot as a director for any company that won’t allow performers to use condoms if they wish and have probably shot more condom footage than any straight porn director alive. I began doing so way back in 1993, when all we had was the elisa test, which though still regarded as the so-called gold standard outside of porn because its antibody detection screening is virtually never wrong when it comes to detecting active HIV cases (if you’ve got HIV antibodies in your bloodstream, you’ve got HIV, no doubt about it), may not detect a case for as long as six months, while the PCR-DNA test has a window period no longer than two weeks. That’s still too long, and I would personally prefer twice-monthly testing to reduce the false-negative results that contributed to the situation in 2004. But it’s a lot safer than a six-month interval during which a newly infected person would be at his or her most contagious, having the highest viral load because antibodies had not yet begun to fight the progression of the disease process. From having shot so much condom footage, I would estimate the condom failure rate at about 15% in any given encounter.
The industry has since then adopted even stricter standards of testing (thanks to the newly created APHSS replacing AIM) and better testing procedures (such as the Abbot and Aptima RNA tests), and performers are also more adept on requiring more stringent test verification (with most performers requiring clean 2-day past tests) or reducing their on-screen or online sexual partners to those who they trust. One of the main issues with Cal-OSHA, also, is that they still utilize the old ERISA test for verifying HIV infection, even to the point of offering that particular test free of charge. By contrast, APHSS (as did AIM before them) requires more modern tests and protocols that, while they do cost money, are far more effective at tracking down and verifying infections much quicker. The actions of porn conglomerate Manwin in creating a pool for funding performer tests will go a long way towards making those tests more accessible to more performers.

So, if we give up universal testing in favor mandatory condoms, what we would have is a large group of internally compromised female performers having sex with a number of men whose HIV status would be unknown.

I ask anyone reading this who is HIV- if he or she would knowingly have penetrative intercourse with someone who they knew for a fact was HIV+, condom or no condom. I’m betting the honest answer for the overwhelming majority of readers would be “no way.” That is just plain common sense.

The choice is pretty simple and pretty stark: condoms or testing. It is legally impossible to have both. At the investigative hearings in 2004, lawyers for the ACLU made it clear that numerous challenges to the anti-discrimination laws sought by specific professions to weed out HIV+ potential employees were successfully resisted in court challenges and that the ACLU would vigorously resist any attempt to gain such a waiver for the porn industry.

I repeat: testing or condoms: that is the choice. If you’re HIV-, it’s pretty much a no-brainer.
Also...simply to say that porn performers are by nature of their profession more likely to engage in "dangerous" high-risk sexual encounters, or encourage their regular viewers to engage in "dangerous" bareback sex, when people have been engaging in those same acts for centuries, if not millenia, before they even had the possibility to watch such acts on screen or on line, sounds a lot like the kind of scapegoating and targeted group witchhunting more prone to a reactionary campaign, not a progressive one.

You don't ban professional wrestling or force pro wrestlers to wear protective gear just because a kid watching WWE Smackdown! decides to attempt The Rock's patented Rock Bottom closing move and thusly cracks his elbow; you repair him and remind him that Dwayne Johnson is a professional sports entertainer trained to perform his craft, and that you shouldn't really attempt such moves yourself. You don't ban shows like MTV's Jackass just because some idiot decides that it would be a good idea to catapult himself off his roof; you laugh at his stupidity and remind him that what he sees isn't quite what is really going on.

Porn, contrary to the ramblings of some wannabe Grundys and self-appointed Samaritans, is not supposed to reflect dominant political tastes or invoke official social ideology.  It is intended to do only one thing: get people horny. As long as no one is hurt, forced against their will, or otherwise denied or not fully conpensated for his/her labor of love or lust, ultimately, what consenting adults do or how they do it should be none of our concerns. When someone gets hurt or coerced, on the other hand, that's when government or the proper authorities should step in and adjudicate the situation and address relief for whatever injuries are sustained...but otherwise, there are far more pressing issues for people to deal with than micromanaging how they engage in consensual sex.

I will end this with Ernest Greene's concluding paragraphs, since they speak for themselves why we do NOT need, and should oppose, any attempt at a government mandate at forcing condoms or any other form of "barrier protection" on performers under the guise of "protection".

Instead, whatever we do, there will always be some risk associated with sex among groups of young people whose behavior off-set cannot be entirely controlled.

Personally, I’ve always thought the term “safe sex” was something of an oxymoron. Whatever measures are taken, physical intimacy is never completely free of risks of various kinds. It is from that understanding that the current harm-reduction approach, which has saved countless lives over the past decade by acting as an alarm system rather than a policing operation, evolved as it has.

No matter what we do, we will find ourselves back here from time to time, dealing with the worst outcomes as they inevitably arise.

No occupation is without hazard. When compared to things like commercial fishing, mining, logging, construction, fire-fighting and, of course, military service, porn rates very low on the list of dangerous occupations according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s no accident that porn is as safe as it is. The porn community’s own efforts, free of the ignorant and sometimes malicious attempts to interfere with them, have kept it that way.

But three is no absolute guarantee that any system will always work, and attempting to require that guarantee in porn, when it is not required in any other occupation, carries with it the prospect of truly catastrophic failure.

The existing system is not perfect, but it is far superior to any of the schemes proposed to replace it.

That is where we are and that, no matter what happens, is where we’re likely to end up staying.
Feel free to spread this to anyone living in Los Angeles County...and then let them make the decision what to do with it when they go to the polls. At the very least, they will get the rest of the story that AHF and well paid propaganda shills won't tell them...and that might just make a difference come November.

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