Thursday, May 30, 2013

More AB 332 Blowback: Could There Be A Statewide Initiative On The Horizon??

Well...after the California Assembly's Appropriations Committee decided to put the statewide condom mandate bill, AB 332, on temporary ice via "suspense", you got the typical reactions from both sides of the condom debate.

First, this from the Free Speech Coalition, via their director, Diane Duke:
“We are grateful that lawmakers have chosen the best interest of California’s taxpayers and the adult industry over AB 332’s misguided legislation,” Free Speech Coalition (FSC) CEO Diane Duke said. “The adult industry creates a tremendous amount of revenue and jobs for California. We have effective, successful standards in place to protect performers. This ridiculous bill was a solution without a problem.”
 What also gives opponents of the condom mandate some encouragement is the reason Appropriations Committee Chairman Mike Gatto gave for tabling AB 332 (from here, via here):
“Passing a bill, of questionable First Amendment validity, that would certainly subject the state to expensive lawsuits, would simply cost too much for California right now,” he said in a statement.
Needless to say, Michael Weinstein of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and Isadore Hall III, the Assemblyman who sponsored AB 332, have a radically different spin....errrrr, perspective on the bill's future prospects.  And, they are not too happy with Assemblyman Gatto, either. First, here's Assemblyman Hall's brief response, as quoted to the Rock Hill, CA, HeraldOnline website (and reposted by Lydia Lee at her blog):

“No vote was taken today on AB 332 and the bill is not dead. In a two year legislative session, there is plenty of time for this important public health measure to move forward. At this point, one thing is clear. Assemblymember Mike Gatto has put porn profits above the need to protect workers in California. He gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘money shot’.”
Of course, the reason why no vote was taken was because originally at the first Appropriations Committee hearing Hall himself had requested that the bill be pulled, and then Gatto acted to put the bill under "suspense"....and Hall didn't challenge it because he probably realized he didn't have the votes to override Gatto's decision.

But, oh, that was secondary to the reaction from Mike Weinstein of AHF....and he added a thinly veiled threat to take the battle to the next level. From AHF's official statement:
“We are still in the early rounds of the fight for protection of porn performers. You don't win every round. We won't stop. There are still 3 months in this legislative year, which is more than enough time to successfully provide statewide protections for adult film workers,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “Access to clean needles for drug users took more than a decade to enact. Since it is apparent that a powerful politician like Assemblyman Mike Gatto favors pornographers over performers we may in the end need to take this issue directly to California voters. We have no doubt that they would overwhelmingly approve condoms in porn the way that L.A. County voters did.”
Forget for a minute the Big Lie of AHF claiming to represent "protection of porn performers" (especially in the face of almost universal opposition from the overwhelming majority of active performers). It's the threat of a public statewide referendum (a la Proposition 8) that should get people's attention. Obviously, they really do think that they own enough of California that they can browbeat the Cali Assembly into submission like they did the City of Los Angeles, who most recently modified their own condom mandate to follow the tougher edicts of Measure B, the Los Angeles County based condom mandate that passed via referendum last year.

Notice also the strained comparison Weinstein makes to the clean needles exchange program...which, if I recall correctly, was an initiative of ACT-UP in the 1980's-1990's in the face of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Considering AHF's long history of opposing harm prevention and self-cure remedies and measures such as this due to wanting more "behavior modification" strategies, it seems a stretch for them to take such huge credit for enabling drug addiction.

Unless, of course, the real idea is to allow HIV+ performers (read that to mean HIV+ gay male performers such as Derrick Burts) to escape the testing regime and use mandatory condoms and the antidiscrimination laws in Cali as a blanket of employment protection for crossover gay men who might be HIV+?? Between that and the megabucks of proper condom placement and NGO funding, could that be the real initiative behind AHF wanting to blow up the existing testing/screening regime that hetero adult porn has survived on?

Now, imagine what would happen in such a regime where testing is thrown out and condoms (and other such forms of "barrier protection" as face shields, gloves, goggles, and PPE) are totally relied on as the principal means of "protection"...and an infected performer just so happens to shoot a scene where his partner has no means of knowing whether he is clean or infected. Now...imagine what happens if the condom happens to break, or the performer, in his state of arousal, decides to remove it before the scene.

Yup....you got it. And that's before we get to the STI's that condoms don't provide protections against.

Now, Hall and Weinstein has been more than coy about their positions on testing; on the one hand, they say that they are not against testing at all, as long as condoms are still mandated; yet, their stated policy has been that condoms would render testing unnecessary; and that testing is simply a failure of will by the "pornographers" who put their evil profits above the "protection" of the performers. Not to mention, the proposed standards for testing and "barrier protection" for "bloodborne pathogens" that is currently being proposed by Cal-OSHA, the statewide agency for workplace protection, specifically ignore testing for STI's, preferring condoms and other forms of "barrier protection" as their main, if not exclusive, form of protection.

And remember, folks....this isn't just for big time porn production studios. If you own a pay website or a webcam, and have live sex on screen or online, you are or will be or potentially could be affected by this bill....just as you will ultimately be by Measure B if you live in Los Angeles County.

And...what passes California will probably be imposed nationwide, too. To remind you of Mike Weinstein's solemn oath: "Wherever they go, we will follow."

Shooting some pennies to APC4C.com and StopCondomLaws.com would be a good idea indeed. Supporting your favorite porn performers who speak out against AB 332 and Measure B would be even better.

Friday, May 24, 2013

AB332. It Be Officially DEAD. (At Least For This Year.)

Well....the industry and true performer choice just dodged a nuke for this legislative year.

The California Assembly's Appropriations Committee just decided to table Isadore Hall's bill, AB 332, which would have mandated condoms and other "barrier protections" for all porn productions statewide; effectively killing it for the legislative session this year. (Today was the final day for bills introduced to be considered for this year's session.)

Needless to say, it probably isn't a happy camp over at AIDS Healthcare Foundation today.

On the other hand, the Free Speech Coalition, which has been roundly pilloried by some as being so uneffective, actually gets to boast a victory. Here's their press release issued on the heels of AB 332's defeat, via XBiz.com:

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Assembly Appropriations Committee voted today to stop Assembly Bill 332 from moving forward, the FSC reported.

AB 332 would have mandated barrier protection use in adult film productions in California.
  
“We are grateful that lawmakers have chosen the best interest of California’s taxpayers and the adult industry over AB 332’s misguided legislation,” FSC CEO Diane Duke said. “The adult industry creates a tremendous amount of revenue and jobs for California. We have effective, successful standards in place to protect performers.

Duke called the bill “a solution without a problem” and told XBIZ that the FSC would have been able to block the legislation from becoming law should it have moved on to the senate. According to Duke, legislators recognized the flaws in the bill and decided to oppose it.

“We support choice for performers, as well as the successful testing system that has been in place since 1998, which have resulted in no on-set transmissions of HIV in nine years, nationwide,” Duke said. “It is encouraging to see that legislators recognize the hard work that the adult industry has done to safeguard performers and that our hard work will not be lost to an unnecessary bureaucracy created from unnecessary legislation.”

Terry Schanz, the press secretary for Assemblyman Isadore Hall, who introduced the bill in February, told XBIZ that AB 332 is not dead and no vote was taken on it today. He added that in a two-year legislative process, there is "plenty of time" for the bill to move forward.

"At this point, one thing is clear: Assemblymember Mike Gatto has put porn profits above the need to protect workers in California," Schanz said. "He gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘money shot’."

FSC has spearheaded opposition to AB 332, Measure B and continues to oppose legislation that threatens the adult industry. FSC also upholds industry-appropriate self-regulation that includes STD testing for performers.

Mike Gatto, for those who might not recognize his name, is the head of the Appropriations Committee.

Ernest Greene had called it in the comments earlier.

Funny, I had a feeling this would happen, much as it did with the Leslie bill back in 2004. Grandstanding measures that obligate the state to spend undetermined amounts of taxpayer money for no reasonable return have a way of expiring in committee. This one could get out to a floor vote if AHF can figure out some kind of backhanded maneuver to short-circuit the process, but I suspect that will prove a bridge to far even for them.

Sacramento plays by its own rules and has its own influential constituents to please. I doubt Michael Weinstein is on their radar as anything but a minor nuisance. He can try bullying these guys and undoubtedly will, but I don't expect them to be terribly impressed.

I'm not counting any chickens yet, but AB 332 seems pretty likely to fall off the legislative calendar.
On the other hand, there are these words of caution from AVN's Mark Kernes:

Yes, the existing bill is dead, since today was the last day that action could be taken on bills that had already been introduced, and since no action—that is, no up or down vote—was taken today, the bill is effectively dead. But as some have pointed out, AIDS Healthcare Foundation is heavily invested in forcing adult performers to wear "barrier protections" during sex scenes, regardless of the fact that they are tested regularly for STDs and generally in good health—and AHF is unlikely to let a little thing like a bill being prevented from moving forward by the California Assembly stop them. So expect the same or similar bill to be introduced during the next legislative session, because they know they've got money to burn for things like this, and the publicity surrounding such issues gets them loads of donations, while the adult industry continues to struggle from the ongoing recession. So rest assured, this fight isn't over.
 But at least, that will be one less battle to worry about this year for the adult entertainment industry. And perhaps, maybe we will see the implosion of Measure B as well??

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

More Education On Performer Choice: Nina Hartley Raises The Bar (Video For APC4C/Stop Condom Laws)

Damn, but Lydia Lee does not play.

Barely 48 hours after she releases her own video for APC4C and StopCondomLaws.com, the porn star emeritus/ass kicker formerly known as Julie Meadows goes and gets Nina Hartley to do one of her own. And, as usual, Nina raises the bar beyond the reach.

This was just released to Lydia/Julie's YouTube channel earlier this evening. I hope I didn't beat Lydia to the punch this time before she releases it to her blog. If I did....well, it's worth it.





Original video can be found at Lydia Lee's Julie Meadows YouTube channel and at Lydia's blog.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The BEST Educational Video On Adult Performer Choice EVAH: Lydia Lee (fka Julie Meadows) For Adult Performers Coalition For Choice (APC4C)

If there was a need for a video like what I am about to show, it is now.

And if there was a more eloquent spokesperson to spell out the arguments for genuine performer choice not ceded to either government or special interest groups like AHF, it can't get much better than Lydia Lee.

She originally introduced this video to her YouTube channel and her blog, but it is so comprehensive and so devastating that it deserves a wider audience. So, with her permission and that of APC4C, I am reprinting it here.



Copyright 2013, Julie Meadows Entertainment; used with Lydia Lee's permission. Originally posted to her blog and her YouTube channel. Also props to APC4C and StopCondomLaws.com.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Nina Hartley's "Pornified Nation" Interview: Why She's Porn's Most Eloquent Female Advocate

I know that I often sing the praises of Nina Hartley a lot here, because no other porn performer has been so eloquent an advocate for female sexuality or for sexual entertainment as she has been for the past 30 years.

In this interview that she did for Jordan Owen's newly crafted YouTube series Pornified Nation, though, Nina proves beyond a doubt that she's not quite ready to just slide silently into the sunset. Here, among other things, Nina breaks down her nearly 30 year career as a professional sexual performer, her progressive attitude towards her profession and her fans, and she gets in some significant and righteous kill shots at antiporn actiivists who dismiss her and her mission....with special venom towards her major antagonist Gail Dines and the antiporn feminists.

But...why listen to me, when Nina and Jordan can speak for themselves. Watch...and learn.



The original interview can be seen here at Jordan's YouTube channel.

Also catch the previous two episodes of Pornified Nation featuring Michael Whiteacre and Siri.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

AB332 Gets The BAHLOCK Dropped On It By California Assembly Appropriations Committee; Placed "In Suspension" Until Further Notice (Updated)

Scroll to bottom for updated information.

Well...funny how things turn on a dime.

Last week, it seemed that AB332 was on a smooth path to victory once it passed the California Assembly's Health and Labor Subcommittee.

After today, when it was scheduled to face the more powerful Appropriations Committee?  Not so much.

AB 332 Stalls in Appropriations Committee

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Assembly Bill 332 stalled in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Wednesday after the bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Isadore Hall (D-Compton), waived the opportunity to speak about the legislation.

Karen Tynan, the attorney representing adult industry opposition to AB 332 was not able to deliver her statement regarding the potential economic repercussions of the bill, as well as its intrusion into Cal/OSHA’s affairs.

“My testimony was meant to explain and emphasize the incredible waste of taxpayer money that will result if AB 332 is enacted,” Tynan said. “Cal/OSHA has a process where they have stakeholder meetings and attempt to create feasible regulations. We are still in that process with the draft regulations pending revisions. AB 332 demands that the state legislature throw out all that work and start over with the AHF plan.”

“Committee members with adult entertainment businesses in their districts should be reminded that these businesses create jobs, pay taxes, and should have a voice in this process,” Tynan added.

Other industry performers and professionals attended the hearing, including Peter Acworth, Kink.com founder and Free Speech Coalition board member. Acworth was not able to deliver the testimony he prepared.

“We got here at 5:30 a.m. and spent most of the day,” Acworth said. “But we’re happy the bill has been put in suspension. I hope this is the end of the bill. I remain a strong advocate for performer testing and the APHSS.org database system.”

Representatives from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation were not present at the meeting, the FSC reported on its blog.

AB 332 was introduced by Hall in February and mirrors Measure B, which makes condoms mandatory for porn shoots in Los Angeles County.

Apparently, the main stumbling block was, strangely enough, money....as in, the potential costs to the state for enforcing AB332's condom mandate statewide. Quoting Mark Kernes of AVN:
The fact that the bill was not heard today means that it goes "on suspense," meaning that the Appropriations Committee can take it up at a later date, which according to an Appropriations Committee employee will likely be May 24.

"The committee takes up bills on suspense after it has heard all the other bills on the agenda," he explained.

However, if the bill is not taken up on that date, it is unclear whether it can be held over for the following year's legislative session.

"Clearly, [AB 332 sponsor Isadore] Hall didn't have the votes today, because the bill would cost the state at least $150,000," Tynan assessed, "so bills with that much of a fiscal impact, if they're not considered right away, go on suspense, and it's my impression that the bill has lost momentum, I understand."

And where did that $150,000 figure come from?

"That's the figure the Appropriations Committee had," Tynan stated. "That's the figure that the Appropriations Committee evaluated that the bill would cost—a minimum of what the bill would cost the state."

Indeed; for a government agency or an outside contractor to put together a task force and then attempt to track down adult filming locations everywhere in the state would likely cost far more than $150,000. 

By comparison, Los Angeles County Health Department head Dr. Jonathan Fielding has estimated that just to set up such a task force within his own department and hire investigators to enforce compliance with LA County Measure B would cost, for the first two years of operation, more than $580,000, though some of that cost would supposedly be offset by the cost of the public health permits adult producers would be required to buy.
Given California's revenue troubles, that would probably raise too much of a red flag for even those supportive of Hall's bill....so he basically punted for now.

So, the next date to mark down will be May 24th, when all of the "on suspense"/"suspension" bills are taken up by the Appropriations Committee. I'm guessing that AHF and Hall are already on the phones, lobbying their forces.

If the bill is not passed on to the full Assembly by then, it's essentially dead for this year, and probably for the next fiscal year as well. Still, not a good idea to let guards down, since AHF's money still has some juice in Sacramento. Updates as warranted, of course.

UPDATE:

Seems like the BAH-LOCK dropped on AB 332 may be a bit more permanent than I even expected. This was just posted at TheSword.com, a gay porn blog (Caution: Link NSFW; bolded emphasis added by me):

Kink.com CEO Peter Acworth joined other San Francisco studio reps and performers along with attorney Karen Tynan in Sacramento today to testify against AB 332, but it turns out they didn’t need to. The bill to mandate condoms in California porn has failed.

After passing the Labor Committee last month, the bill was put before the Appropriations Committee today where it was soundly rejected (committee members having recognized there is no state money to fund it). In fact, the committee didn’t even hold a formal vote on AB 332 since its sponsor, committee member Isadore Hall, likely knew there wouldn’t be enough votes for it to pass.

“Hall didn’t have the votes,” attorney Karen Tynan tells The Sword. “So, there was no vote, and the bill is now considered ‘on suspense,’ or in other words, in limbo. None of our San Francisco contingents needed to testify against the bill, and no one from (sponsor) AHF even showed up to testify in favor of the bill, probably because they knew they didn’t have the votes.”

While the statewide bill to force porn studios to use condoms in their productions is now considered dead, this doesn’t solve the ongoing drama between porn studios and LA County over AHF’s other condom law, Measure B, which mandates condom use in porn shot in Los Angeles.

Tynan and reps from San Francisco-based studios plan to continue their outreach to California legislators about the potential financial impact of AB 332—on both the industry and the state economy—to ensure that similar bills aren’t brought to committee in the future.
Keep in mind, however, that AB 332 was thought to have been killed by the Health and Labor Subcommittee earlier when the first vote there didn't get enough votes to pass...but that was reversed later that day when some abstainers switched their votes in favor of the bill to pass on. Never underestimate the power of AHF's bank.

Though, if The Sword's account is verified, the industry may have dodged another nuke. At least, for now.

 

Finally, An Organization For The Good Guys/Gals To Protect Adult Choice: APC4C Emerges To Fight Measure B And AB 332

The fact that this probably should have been formed, like, three years ago, doesn't lessen the importance of it being formed right now. It was and is way, way, waaaaaay past time that porn performers coalesce and stand up for their rights and defend themselves against the Weinsteins and Lubbens and Dineses of the world who would infantalize them for their own profits.

Best to simply repost the full XBiz.com article and let you read for yourself.

And, yes, that would be THIS Lydia Lee.

APC4C Formed to Combat AB 332, Measure B

Former adult actress Lydia Lee and the FSC’s Diane Duke and Joanne Cachapero have formed the Adult Performers Coalition For Choice (APC4C), an outreach organization dedicated to toppling Measure B and barring the passage of AB 332.

“FSC does a lot on its own, but they are constantly wrapped up in [litigation over federal record-keeping law] 2257 and other pursuits far more specific to the legal side of things,” Lee told XBIZ. “They don't always have the time to reach out to every specific group. Having spent some time with these two great ladies ... it became our understanding that performers should have a coalition of their own.”

The trio has been working on the project since the last AB 332 hearing on April 24, inspired by the performer turnout there and at previous legal battlegrounds concerning AB 332 and Measure B, Lee said.

She added that, as a result of the draconian language of bill AB 332 “that references dental dams and hazmat suits,” industry talent is leaving Los Angeles County to pursue opportunities elsewhere, explaining that APC4C will work to reverse this trend by giving a voice to performers who have been “systematically ignored.”

APC4C released its first official post yesterday that included the backing of major industry players, including Alana Evans, Amber Lynn, Jessica Drake, Kylie Ireland, Nina Hartley, Steven St. Croix, Tanya Tate and Tasha Reign.

“The simple fact is that no one speaks for the intelligent, responsible community of performers that I’ve known since I entered the industry 15 years ago,” Lee said. “APC4C represents the voices of performers who are tired of being disrespected and spoken for by people who don’t even view them as a species above caged animals that get thrown a treat for performing a trick on camera. I’m proud to stand up against harassment and insults with the people I care about.”

The coalition’s immediate goal is twofold: to attract members to sign up online and to fax Assembly members to urge them to oppose AB 332, Lee said.

In the future, APC4C plans to organize lobbying efforts and fundraisers.

According to Lee, antiporn activism and its propaganda are nothing new, and she has been watching its battle against the industry for years.

“I remember Diane Duke having to bully her way into a UCLA panel discussion in November 2010 when industry people weren’t invited to add their invaluable input to the conversation,” Lee said. “Just two weeks ago I was at the AB 332 hearing while someone from UCLA was counseling a group of students in a corner of the waiting area, comparing porn performers to animals in mainstream films.”

Lee said APC4C will work to abolish such stereotypes and insert performers’ input into legal discussions concerning the industry.
And no better timing, either, since AB 332 is scheduled for it's next legislative hearing with the California Assembly's Appropriation Committee today. This would be the last stop before the bill goes before the full Assembly.

Oh, for those who think that the former Julie Meadows isn't fully committed to this battle? Read this interview at her blog she did with AVN's Mark Kernes. Then, watch this YouTube video interview with performer Melissa Monet. Then, surf the rest of her blog.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

BREAKING: Manwin And ICM Registry Settle On [Dot]XXX TLD; What Next??

Just to show you that we here at BPPA don't just cover the Condom Mandate drama...

Today was also the day that a blockbusting breakthrough was reached on that other issue that has been tying the adult online industry in knots: the new [dot]xxx domain that was intended to either protect (according to supporters) or to ghettoize (according to opponents) adult online content.

Many of you have heard of the lawsuit filed by the porn conglomerate Manwin (and its child production company Digital Playground) against the ICM Registry, which originated and owns the [dot]xxx domain top level domain (TLD).

When [dot]xxx first was approved in 2011, it faced a world of opposition from many in the adult industry; including concerns that ICM was essentially price gouging performers and owners of adult sites by forcing them to pay exorbitant fees for setting up [dot]xxx sites, lest that the usual content theives would swoop in and buy [dot]xxx domains for pilfering legitimate adult [dot]com sites. There was also the fear that politicians would exploit the making of a "safe space" through legislation to force all of adult content from [dot]com to [dot]xxx, for ease of censorship through filtering. (The Religious Right opposes [dot]xxx, though, for the diametrically opposite reason of wanting to legislatively censoring adult content altogether.) That was the main impetus behind Manwin's original suit, filed in December of 2011.

Well....today, after about a year and a half of judicial wrangling, the two sides decided to call it even and reach a settlement. Here's the basic details, courtesy of XBiz.com:

According to the deal announced today, Manwin said the company negotiated a lower price for newly created .XXX domains created this month.

 ".XXX domains will be made available to registrars at a substantially discounted wholesale price of $7.85, which is the current wholesale price of a .com. ICM will run similar price promotions in future years as well," Manwin said. 

"Furthermore, ICM has agreed to contribute $2 for every new .XXX domain name registration created after April 30. The monthly contribution will be made to a fund designated by Manwin to support the adult entertainment industry. These funds are in addition to ICM's contributions to IFFOR."

With the agreement, Manwin said that it will now permit content from or advertising for .XXX websites on its tube sites.

"In addition, Manwin related properties will allow websites hosted on .XXX sites to participate in any of its affiliate and promotional programs generally available to other website operators."

ICM Registry, with the deal, acknowledges that websites hosted on their adult -specific TLDs are not the only responsible and safe adult content websites, Manwin said.

"Both parties feel that these arrangements will set precedent for trade and consumer benefit and protection for the online space," Manwin said.
I would assume that the fund that Manwin says that ICM would contribute to probably means the Free Speech Coalition...but we'll see.

It's not too surprising that within minutes of the announced settlement, ICM Registry was bolting out emails to anyone and everyone associated with the adult industry (moi included) selling [dot]xxx domains for low, low, low prices during the month of May. The average warehouse price for [dot]xxx TLD's was running near $62 per domain; the special "sale" slashed those prices down to a base of $7.85, plus the regular kickback for the domain register. As a quick look around the ICM Registry [dot]xxx registration page shows, the average is around $8-10 to purchase a domain.

Another byproduct of the settlement is that it would clear the way for ICM Registry to move forward with its attempt to create new adult oriented TLDs, such as [dot]adult, [dot]porn, and [dot]sex (the latter in competition with another group called Internet Marketing Solutions, Ltd.). ICM promises that when those TLD's are approved, those who purchase [dot]xxx domains would be allowed to be grandfathered to them at no cost.

However, as much as this development does resolve many issues about adult domains, it also raises a few more questions. Like: how long will ICM allow for this crash sale of [dot]xxx TLD's before they go back to their old price gouging ways of charging nearly $50-60 per TLD?? Will the slashed prices create a rush of legitimate adult site owners to buy clone [dot]xxx copies of their [dot]com sites in order to beat the cybersquatters and content thieves waiting in the wings? Will Manwin use their pull to attempt to rip off independent performers through clickjacking and other means of stealing their content? How would this affect home-grown adult websites that don't have Manwin's bucks? Will the ensuing condom mandate affect the purchase of [dot]xxx sites for storing and illegally selling bareback porn?? And, will this stimulate political attempts at ghettoizing adult content by forcing [dot]coms to these new adult TLD's?

Plenty of questions yet to be resolved..but at least the threat of price gouging is thwarted, for now.