Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Rebuttal Too Smart For CounterPunch To Publish: Whereas I Rebuke Gail Dines' Bullshittery

 [Since it is apparent that CounterPunch has no intention of publishing my response to Gail Dines' recent screed at their website, where she attempts one more time to malign and distort the facts of the latest HIV porn scare, as well as attempts some drive-by pot shots at her critics, including yours truly (in the process butchering the name of my personal blog), I thought that it would be a good idea to share with you the essay that I had prepared for them. The original is still up over at my Red Garter Club blog, but I figure that since industry pros read BPPA a lot more often then my personal blog, this might be an interesting read. Do with it as you will, folks.  -- Anthony]

A Rebuttal From The "Red Garter Belt" 

How Gail Dines Fails Miserably On The Latest HIV In Porn "Outbreak"

by Anthony Kennerson


Perhaps I should be grateful to Professor Gail Dines that she mentions me, or at least my Red Garter Club blog (no belts involved, I'm afraid), in passing as part of her latest essay regarding the current HIV scare in the Los Angeles-based pornography industry. Having been one of her most trenchant critics from the Left, and being both a fan and consumer of mainstream porn and an unabashed supporter of what some decry as "sex-positive" feminism, it doesn't surprise me at all that she would tend to avoid folk like me if at all possible.

The problem is, though, that Professor Dines seems to have an inverse relationship with the art of fact checking, and a continuous habit of letting her antiporn ideology get in the way of interpreting facts that don't mesh perfectly with her beliefs and assumptions about porn and its performers, producers, and consumers. This latest essay, I'm afraid, is simply an extension of those previous habits.

First, let's review the trigger mechanisms that spawned all this. In mid-August, a porn performer named Cameron Bay was verified to have tested positive for HIV, the virus associated with AIDS, through the industry's regular testing protocols. Later that week, her long-time boyfriend, Rod Daily, also a on/off again performer, but operating on the gay side of the industry, announced that he had gotten infected with the virus as well. After a two week period of testing of first generation shooting partners of Bay turned up negative, an imposed moratorium against shooting porn scenes was lifted after two weeks....but was reimposed again on September 9th after a third performer was verified as having tested positive for HIV. "Performer #3", as we will refer to her, has been verified to be intimately related with both Bay and Daily, having worked with them prior to entering the LA based industry in early June. Subsequent testing of all her partners have turned up no further infections; and based on that, the second moratorium was lifted on September 22nd. (WARNING: embedded link NSFW)

Meanwhile, the mega healthcare organization, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, under the direction of its president, Michael Weinstein, has been doing its best to exploit the panic of these infections as a wedge to advance their crusade for destroying the screening and testing system that the mainstream porn industry has been using for the past 10 years, and replacing it with a system based on mandatory condom usage and other means of "barrier protection". In effect, AHF and Weinstein wants the "straight" side of the porn industry to adapt the policies of the gay side, in which it is assumed that HIV-positive performers should be allowed to continue to shoot content, and that seromatching HIV+ performers as well as condoms are the more effective approach to preventing mass infection. Given as much as a 30% rate of seropositivity among active gay male performers, and nearly 117 deaths from gay male actors striken with HIV/AIDS in the past 10 years (as compared to only 2 confirmed infections from shoots from the "straight" side during that period), it's an open question which system has proven more effective.

But, AHF's efforts have also been reinforced by some "sex-positive" health activists and reproductive health specialists, who say that requiring condoms in porn shoots would go a long way towards their efforts in non-judgmental sex education of the masses, as well as having a positive effect by "mentoring" the common folk in the repetition of good behavior.

In addition, some of the more avant garde backers of the alternative erotic subgenre known as "feminist porn" have latched on to promoting condoms as both a prominent selling point of "hot safer sex" and establishing a more progressive and eco-friendly sexual ethic. Not all of them have gone fully towards supporting a legislated condom mandate as AHF does advocate, but many have decided to use the present crisis as a boost for their own promotion of "condom only" ethics.

One such person is long-time sex educator and feminist porn producer Tristan Taormino, who announced last week that she would in the future require both testing and condoms for anyone performing in her future shoots. This week, she was joined in her stance by another esteemed female producer, Nica Noelle, who announced her own condom only conversion on the pages of Salon.com.
While both Taormino and Noelle have been generally praised for their conversions and stances within and outside of the industry, there has been some concern over whether the timing of these conversions would serve to divide and conquer and supress legitimate questions about the effectiveness of condoms as a sole barrier against HIV, as well as the aftereffects of undercutting the present screening/testing system that has served the industry well.

Nina Hartley, perhaps known to CounterPunch readers as one of the most eloquent advocates for sexual expression, feminist porn, and sexual safety, as well as being a 30 year veteran of the porn industry as an actor, director, and producer, has posted a very effective essay in which she explicitly makes her case that the condom mandate would be counterproductive in STI prevention, that AHF's crusade is more likely to make porn production less safe by driving performers underground into more dangerous venues, and that true performer choice on whether to use condoms on porn shoots should be left to the actual performers rather than outsourced to legislators or other self-identified "experts".

Hartley's husband, Ira Levine (also known under his producer alias of Ernest Greene), is a decorated porn producer and director under his own right, as well as having been one of the architects of the screening/testing system for the mainstream porn industry during his tenure at the Adult Industry Medical (AIM) Foundation. (Both Greene and Hartley have served on its Board of Directors.) AIM was ultimately driven under due to the efforts of AHF and other pro-condom mandate groups; its functions have been taken over by the Free Speech Coalition through their Performer Accessibility Screening Services (henceforth PASS or FSCPASS). It is the latter which monitors and maintains the current screening program, which uses the latest and most accurate testing assays to isolate and screen out infected people from the performance pool. Both Greene and Hartley were also collaborators and supporters of Taormino who have been respectfully critical of her position change on condoms; see Greene's critique over at the Blog of Pro Porn Activism. (Disclosure: I am Chief Editor of that blog, and Ernest Greene is a regular contributor and commentator there.)

I have posted my own respectful critique of Taormino in two parts at my own Red Garter Club blog, and that is probably what flagged Dines to add me to her hit list, albeit without mentioning my real name and butchering up the name of my blog.

But, that I can forgive and toss out as a case of a rush to print or simply not enough sleep or the rush of deadlines. What can't be so easily forgiven is Professor Dines' slips of half truths and outright misassumptions about the actions taken place, and her rewriting of facts to fit her ideology.

For starters, she attempts to use Cameron Bay's remarks at the September 18th press conference hosted by the AHF as the gospel truth when it comes to the porn industry's alleged abuse of women. That's right, Professor, that would be September 18th, not 19th...you were just one day off.

But that pales compared to the slipshod factchecking that immediately follows:

Last month porn performer Cameron Bay tested positive for HIV, and since then three other performers have come forward, making a total of four who have been diagnosed with acute HIV infection. At first the porn industry expressed sympathy, but now they are circling the wagons and sharpening their knives, going after the infected performers who took part in an AHF press conference on September 19.

That would be partly true that four performers who were HIV+ did speak at that presser. Problem was, the four that did speak weren't the four that Dines implies were affected. Cameron Bay and Rod Daily (whom Dines neglects to mention until just in passing later, and never as Bay's boyfriend) did indeed speak....but the other two HIV+ former performers to speak were Darren James and Derrick Burts..who just so happenn to be paid employees of AHF as well as being the respective Patient Zeros of the 2004 and 2010 porn HIV "outbreaks".

Weinstein did bring forth two former performers -- one live, one via teleconference -- who made a claim that they were HIV+ due to the current "outbreak", but they made no attempt to verify any evidence that they were indeed affected at all.

The "live" addition, a gay male model named Patrick Stone, testified that he had heard of his supposed "infection" from an email sent to him by PASS saying that he was HIV positive...in complete contradiction of stated PASS policy which states that any positive testing performer be physically recalled for followup testing and counseling and informing possible partners. Stone also claimed that he had tested negative in subsequent tests, and was awaiting final testing before declaring his original results as a false positive.

The other "addition" was an unidentified performer who claimed that he had been infected "nearly six months ago"...but gave no other information about where he got his positive test or how he got infected.

For all it seems, these two new additions were just plants by Weinstein to artificially inflate the casulty count in this "outbreak" and scare people into supporting his condom mandate crusade. Yet, Dines simply accepts their claims as fact and recruits them as supports in her general war against porn.

Dines' attempt to recruit Cameron Bay as the prototype victim now under attack by the Vast Porn Corporate Lobby is equally fascinating for the misassumptions and outright lies spilled forth in almost every paragraph. For someone who claims to do detailed research, Professor, would it be a bit of a stretch to actually get FSC CEO Diane Duke's name correct?

After essentially plagarizing Kathleen Miles' Huffington Post reset of Bay's telling of that infamous shoot for Kink.com's Public Exposure,  Dines riffs thusly:

Following the press conference, The Free Speech Coalition (the lobbying arm of the porn industry) did what most industry organizations do: blame the victim. According to Diana Duke, the CEO of FSC, “While producers and directors can control the film set environment, we can’t control what performers do in private. We need to do more to help performers understand how to protect themselves in their private lives”. That the performers contracted HIV in their private lives is now the official line of the porn industry. Mouthing almost the same words, Steven Hirsch, CEO of Vivid Entertainment, is quoted as saying, “Unfortunately, we can’t control what people do off-set”.

What evidence does the industry have for making such claims? According to Mark McGrath of the AHF, “In order to definitively prove how HIV was transmitted, you would need to do detailed molecular analysis of the HIV strains of known cases. This includes genotyping the viral strains, determine nucleotide sequences, then compare these sequences phylogenetically to comparable sequences from available reference strains.” Of course, no such research has been done by the industry; it has been too busy digging up dirt on the performers.

Considering that all subsequent testing of all performers working with Cameron Bay since her last negative test have turned up negative with NO new infections, the conclusion that she got infected from activity outside of porn might have a bit more relevance and truth than what Dines will allow. Then again, if you are willing to get your information on HIV serotransmission from someone like Mark McGrath, whom is one of AHF's chief ideologues for the condom mandate, and who has been implicated in paying Derrick Burts' legal charges among others, then I guess that the truth would seem fungible.

As for Dines' attempt to turn the Public Disgrace shoot into the Point Zero of the current outbreak....well, it doesn't turn out so well. Turns out that the performer who did get his penis cut (by Bay biting down too hard, no less), did in fact offer to step aside before continuing with the scene and allow Rod Daily to fill in and complete things...but Bay decided to continue on, saying that as long as he wasn't hurt, it was all good. And, that performer -- named Xavier Corvus -- has tested negative multiple times since that shoot, as has the only other performer that Bay performed sex on (a blow job).

And, her effort of accusing The Real Porn Wikileaks of a smear campaign against Cameron Bay and Derrick Burts? Nice try, but no cigar...I'll just reference you to TRPWL themselves for that defense. (Warning, potential link NSFW)

But the real cynicism comes when Professor Dines attempts to give a left-handed smack to Tristan Taormino for her change of heart. Keep in mind that Dines has no love lost for "feminist porn" in general and especially "sellouts" like Taormino in particular, since she sees that genre as simply window dressing that cloaks the supposedly far more popular body-punishing "hate sex" that men use to degrade and humiliate women. Nevertheless, any port that can help exacerbate the storm is a good port for Dines:

Not surprisingly, Taormino, the only porn producer who has acknowledged that there may well be health risks on porn sets, is now being hung out to dry as a traitor to the industry. She was until last week the golden girl of the porn industry because she branded herself as a fun, cool, hip “feminist” who could build a female consumer base (even though she has been filming condom-free anal sex scenes for a decade and seems to have shown no concern whatsoever for the health risks until now). Now the industry is after her like a pack of wolves, arguing that her condom-only policy is a cynical PR ploy aimed at building an image of herself as a feminist pornographer who cares about performer safety.

Ernest Greene, a well-known director of violent porn (Roxie Loves Pain, Jenna Loves Pain, McKenzie Loves Pain) and one-time Taormino collaborator, wrote a scathing article accusing the latter of jumping ship because “she tacks with the political wind however she perceives it to blow”.  Similarly, the blogger Red Garter Belt Club denounces Taormino for putting “her own personal enrichment and political posturing above the principle of defending true performer choice and the actual facts and merits of protecting performers,” but doesn’t actually explain how performers are better served by having unprotected sex.

Ummm, Professor Dines??  I do not and did not "denounce" Ms. Taormino; I respectfully disagreed with her position for the reasons I stated in my posts. The same goes for Ernest Greene....though, considering your natural hatred for him and his wife Nina Hartley (Oops, I'm sorry...did I say some bad words, Professor??), I perfectly understand your confusion of critique for "trashing".

And, so sorry, Professor Dines, but nowhere in either parts of my posts do I defend "unprotected sex"; since I happen to believe that performers themselves, as should people in real life, should be the ones to best define how to protect themselves based on their own individual situations. Or, does Dines think that even married couples who are totally clean and monogamous with each other should be forced by the State to use condoms just for the sake of sex education?

BTW....BDSM porn is not "violent", and cherry picking three titles out of the hundreds of erotic BDSM movies that Greene has done over his 25 years of production merely because they contain the word "pain" in them, does not say much about Professor Dines' expertise. At least, nothing other than her lack thereof.

I suppose I should be pumping my chests for being mentioned as one of the industry heavyweights since I moderate BPPA and own Red Garter Club, in spite of not only not receiving ONE RED CENT from the porn industry, and actually paying $50 a month of web hosting fees to keep my blogs alive.
However, that's far from the issue, and I'd never deny Gail Dines her right to make as much money off her book or her activism, however hypocritical she may be calling herself an "anticorporatist". Or, a "radical feminist", in spite of defending a woman whom has a verified criminal record of abusing other women and threatening a fellow sex worker with "gang rape". Or, a supporter of mandated condoms as a "performer choice", in spite of defending a former gay escort whom still can't explain how exactly he managed to get infected on a condom only gay male shoot. (Warning: embedded links NSFW)

Then again, I'd much rather be working poor with integrity and decency and mutual respect, than to get rich off lies and deceit and distorting facts to fit groupthink.

And at the very least, I get the names right. It's called "owning it", Professor Dines. Some of that would do you some good.


[Anthony Kennerson is a part-time blogger on progressive and sexual expression issues who blogs on his off hours when not working his night job. He is the Chief Editor of the Blog of Pro Porn Activism (http://bppa.blogspot.com), and operates his own Red Garter Club Blog (http://www.redgarterclub.com/RGClubNetwork/rgclub3dot2).]

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Measure B Was Only A Missile, CalOSHA Drops The NUKE: Draft Of New Porn Regulations Released, And It's As Bad As It Gets..And WORSE (UPDATED)

[UPDATED: Scroll to the bottom of this post.]

A lot of people were under the impression that since Measure B is now getting assaulted under legal action, and the proposed condom mandate law died a brutal death in the California Assembly, the porn world would be safe from regulation now for the forseeable future.

Problem is, though, they forgot about CalOSHA and their ability to use regulations to do what official law might not accomplish. And, considering the not so thinly veiled collusion between CalOSHA and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in their mission to regulate the porn industry to death, or at least force "barrier protection" on them, it may have been not too wise to overlook them.

Well...can't overlook them now.

Tonight, CalOSHA, using the tried-and-true method of leaking to friendly supporters of their crusade (read, Mike South's blog), released their draft copy of proposed "bloodborne/sexually transmitted pathogens" prevention regulations that they plan to submit to the federal branh of OSHA for final approval.

I have converted the original .doc file to .pdf and will be uploading the file here ASAP for your personal viewing and analysis...but trust me on first reading, it is as bad as it gets...and WORSE.

Here's the quick Cliff's Notes summary of the proposed regs:

1) A new category of "sexually transmitted pathogens" is created in order to justify mandating condom usage, assuming that ALL porn performers are essentially carriers of STI's and are incapable of protecting themselves.

2) Condoms and other forms of "barrier protection" are now mandatory for ALL vaginal and anal penetrative sex, and any contact of semen/vaginal fluids with the face or internal body organs are now prohibited. Translation: no more facials or swallowing, no creampies, and no pop shots to the ass or near the vag, either. The back, the breasts, and anywhere below the knee is still apparently OK, though.

3) There is a exception from condoms (and I assume dental barriers for women) for oral sex, but that is conditioned on verification that the performers involved have undergone a stringent vaccination regime for HPV, Hepatitis A, and Hepatitis B, and is cleared by an approved physician....and that exception is invalidated by January 1, 2018.

4) All porn production studios are now required to have Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) -- as in safety gloves, goggles, aprons, and other mandatory equipment -- in use and accessible. In short, porn studios and personal residences are now forced to endure regulations more suited for hospitals or drug testing facilities...even though STI infections in porn are below that of the general population.

5) All porn production studios will be forced to provide a licensed physician at all shoots to verify that these regulations are being enforced, and to report any violations and/or possible infections to the local health authorities.

6) Vaccines for Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and HPV will be required of all performers, at producers expense, and even if a testing/screening program is in place that clears the performer. (What..no Hepatitis C or syphilis??)

7) Porn production companies must provide at their own expense a program of medical services and followup treatment for possible exposures. (This is a direct attack at the PASS protocols, since their screening system doesn't include as of yet followup for treatment. I'm guessing that AHF is chomping at the bit to provide those "services" through their inferior yet "free" tests, right??)

That's the bad part...here's where it gets progressively WORSE:

8) Producers are now required to log every scene, including every scene performed within the last 30 years, including personal medical information about everyone involved with each and every scene....and that includes the performers' stage and real names, addresses, and other personal info. And, they must make such info available upon request to any federal or state authority, and must maintain such information for no less than five years. (This is 2257 on steroids, y'all. Can you imagine someone like Michael Weinstein getting his hands on such a database of personal private information?? Imagine no more, because it's more than probable that AHF will take over the monitoring and the testing AND the enforcement of these regulations, and thusly will have control over this "database". NSA will have nothing on THIS.)

9) Furthermore, even if the production company should go out of business, it would be required to immediately transfer these required records to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (the federal branch of OSHA) within 3 months.

All in all, this is nothing less than an AHF/OSHA coup against the adult industry to impose their own standards and drive the industry underground or completely out of business...and all for AHF and the condom companies to have free ad placement. Other than the tube sites and illegal pirates who will now thrive on the sale of bareback porn that will, if these regulations come to fruition, suddenly become a commodity like gold, and the mainstream "simulated sex" genre who may get a boost from elimination of the hardcore competition, it's going to be pretty damn hard for any aspiring producer to survive, let alone make a profit.

Don't say that we didn't warn you of this happening.

UPDATE: I've now posted the full text .pdf version of the draft regs on Scribd. Here's a copy of the transcript:




UPDATE #2 (11-5-13) AVN has now confirmed with Cal-OSHA that the document as opposed is only a first preliminary draft document, not the final regulations. Quoting from them:

UPDATE: AVN has confirmed that the proposal referenced below was officially issued by CalOSHA, but in its current form, it is described as a "draft" rather than an actual "proposal."

Deborah Gold, the Deputy Chief of Health and Engineering Services for CalOSHA, recently stated in an email, "I believe that what is being circulated is a draft, not a proposal, and it was/is our intent to post it to the advisory committee webpage... With health regulations, Division staff sends draft proposals to Board staff for their review. Then those proposals, with comments, corrections etc. are sent back to Division staff, until a final proposal is reached.  What is being circulated is only a preliminary draft. The Board released it pursuant to a public records act request... We have had six advisory meetings which led to the current draft."

Gold also said that she is no longer the lead contact on this issue, and that those responsibilities have been assumed by Senior Safety Engineer Amalia Neidhardt, who noted in an email to AVN that the current draft has been edited from an original draft created in June, 2011. She also noted, "This draft has been sent to the Board staff for their review. It is not a rulemaking proposal at this time."
So, it seems that this draft proposal wasnt really intended to be released to the public, but was only done so through a "public records act request". So, who requested it?? Mike South??  AHF?? AVN??

Did AHF and South simply jump the gun to announce these regs as "final" even though they were clearly intended to be merely preliminaries to be adjusted for the final proposal?

And....considering that it took nearly TWO years for CalOSHA to revise their original 2011 preliminary draft document to this version, what does it say about the interagency warfare now going on within CalOSHA to tweak these proposed regulations? You'd think that if they were following the AHF template to the letter, they would have released a final edition by now....but there must be some ongoing infighting going on now.

In any case, the process is still ongoing, and we will still keep you updated should anything happen.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

"Adult Performers Are Adults. Lets Try Treating Them That Way." Just Another Ernest Greene Essay

[Note by Anthony: BPPA Contributor Ernest Greene asked me to post this new essay here as a followup to his original post critiquing Tristan Taormino's change in condom policy; and also addressing the recent announcements of produer Nica Noelle (who annouced that she will require condoms for her future films, in effect adopting Taormino's new policy), and producer Axel Braun (who announced this week that he would raise minimum age of eligibility for performer in his films/videos to 21 from 18). As always, the views expressed are his alone, but you are totally free to support or oppose them on their merits as you wish. I have added embedded links for background reference and research support, but the words are as Ernest typed them.]

Adult Performers Are Adults. Let’s Try Treating Them That Way.

As expected, since I raised my objections to Tristan Taormino’s declaration via CNN that she would henceforward require performers to use condoms in all scenes she directed, I’ve been getting the usual barrage of incoming bullshit that follows any attempt to take a reason-based stand on this issue. I’ve been called all sorts of things by all sorts of people who seem united only in their rancor toward me. The ranting of Rob Black and the newly retired (how could they tell?) Gene Ross, who even AHF won’t touch with a barbecue fork, is no surprise. I’m a bit more amused by Gail Dines chiming in on CounterPunch to offer her concurrence with my view that Tristan’s new stance is politically motivated (after making sure her readers knew me as a “maker of violent pornography”). Thanks for the recognition, Gail, and since you’re so fond of primitive Anglo-Saxonisms to demonstrate that you’re not a pearl-clutching prude, I’m sure you’ll know what I mean when I suggest you take your sarcastic glee in setting one pornographer against another and stick it right up your bum. I’m not going to be drawn into rebutting your lies and nonsense any more than I would be the verbal pollution of Ross and Black, with whom you share a common contempt for the truth and an adolescent need to shock.

Now, as to those who actually think that any position I’ve taken ever in my 30 years in this industry opposes the use of condoms, get real. I was among the very first directors to speak up for condom use back in 1993, when most of this business thought of latex as an ingredient in house paint. At that time I declared that I would never work for any company or on any production that would not allow performers who wanted the right to use condoms to do so. I have never wavered a millimeter from that position and I never will. One reason I endured a decade of bureaucratic bullshit from Adam&Eve is their condom-friendly policy. I am absolutely not against performers using condoms whenever, wherever and with whomever THEY choose. I’ve got miles of footage to prove it. And BTW, I’ve recently been confronted with earlier statements in which I rejected the contention that condom porn is unsellable when, in fact, I’ve sold literally millions of dollars worth of it and still believe, as I did when I said as much to the odious Luke Ford, that condoms are nothing more than a creative challenge for good directors and not a menace to the bottom line outside of certain particularly hardcore genres.  But they are a menace to some performers, particularly female performers, as Nina has explained in her own widely quoted explanation of why she, like me, favors a condom-optional policy depending on who does what to whom and how they feel most safe doing it.

Let’s be serious here. In order for that position to be ethical, it’s necessary for performers to have such a choice unconditionally. In the same way I’m opposed to AHF, Cal-OSHA and any members of the porn community attempting to make condom use mandatory under threat of either legal sanction or economic hardship, I’m unalterably opposed to any producer or director refusing to allow performers to use condoms or doing so only after a lot of whining and then scratching the condom performer from the list of potential future hires. The choice to use condoms must be meaningful for all performers. If there is to be an industry-wide position on condom use, and eventually I suspect one will emerge, it must be one of complete acceptance of performer choice regardless of all other considerations. The choice to use or not use them must not subject the performer to economic discrimination on future productions. Nothing less can be justified if we care to preserve the credibility of our oft-repeated insistence that performers do what they do with full consent. Full consent means consent to every act they’re asked to perform and to the use of barrier protections in addition to continued universal STD testing if they so desire. 

In 1993, I favored mandatory condom use for all because we did not have effective, quick-response testing of the type we have now and understood that those performers who wanted to use condoms would be kicked out of the business unless condom use were made a universal standard. It’s not 1993 now. We do have amazingly accurate testing available to all and have proven over a dozen years, during which the het side of this industry has still seen exactly two documented instances of on-set HIV transmission in the shooting of tens of thousands of bareback sex scenes, that screening and partner tracing have reduced the danger of the most serious STD transmissions in the workplace to a vanishingly rare phenomenon. At this point I’m perfectly comfortable shooting tested performers with or without condoms, but I’m not the one in front of the camera and I’m not the one who should be making that call for those whose bodies are on the line. No one else should either. I don’t care who seeks to do this or toward what end. It’s an invasive, infantilizing affront to the intelligence and judgment of consenting adults, and consenting adults are who work in front of the cameras in porn, full stop. I do not presume to know better than they do what they need, but I can tell you with absolute certainty what they don’t need, which is anyone else telling them how to do their jobs safely under threat of whatever consequences said somebody can impose.

This industry needs to accept condom use and get over it. Those both inside and outside the industry must accept that condom use is the performer’s business only and get over it also.

I hope this dispels any misunderstanding of where I stand on this question and though I know it won’t silence all the lies and distortions surrounding that stand, I am nonetheless clearly on the record as having taken it, acted on it and pledged to continue to do so regardless of what anyone else says or thinks about it. Clear enough for the various low-information individuals who have attempted to misrepresent it in every way possible? I hope so but I’m not optimistic. Neither am I optimistic that the majority of production companies, who have sought to defend themselves against the threat of intrusive governmental regulation by insisting that they support performer choice as an alternative, will actually follow through on making their claim credible by their actions on the set. Nevertheless, they should and if they don’t they’ll eventually end up regretting it.

It is a medical fact that STDs exist in the population as a whole. It is a medical fact that porn performers, however thoroughly tested and closely monitored, possess no special immunity to these diseases. There have been instances of STD contagion, usually of the more minor sort, in porn production and there will be more in the future no matter what measures are taken. No protection is foolproof. Testing is not foolproof. Condoms are not foolproof. Even combining the two is not foolproof, as not all STDs are transmitted in the same way. Unless this industry cares to be subjected to the kinds of irresponsible, politically driven attacks that occur every time someone catches a cold on a set that have become commonplace, the nudge-nudge-wink-wink approach to the condom option must be replaced by meaningful performer choice, or the idea of performer choice is, in fact, just exactly the meaningless dodge porn’s critics allege. The FSC’s insistence on performer choice is only defensible where performer choice exists.

Now, that’s my position and I’m sticking to it, so those who insist that it’s something else are hereby cordially invited to sit down and STFU.  I do not believe that condoms are necessary for safe porn production thanks to the testing system and I don’t believe the majority of performers want to use them for all the reasons they’ve stated. However, those who do want to use them should be able to without losing work or taking crap over it from anyone. Likewise those who choose not to should suffer no repercussions from members of any opposing camps.

And while I’m defending real performer choice, I want to make it clear that I am not backing away from my objections to directors appointing themselves in loco parentis to make decisions of the most personal nature for consenting adult sex workers. I note that director Nica Noelle has fallen in line behind Tristan Taormino in insisting that her performers use condoms whether they want to or not, also in the full knowledge that these same performers will be working bareback on some other set the next day so they are really made no safer overall by such unilateral decrees in such limited circumstances. I find these heartfelt declarations no less self-serving and hypocritical regardless of the source and still find them mendacious and cynical given that such limited policies are unlikely to protect anyone to any significant extent.

Likewise I find Axel Braun’s declaration that he will use no performers under the age of 21 in his productions to be risible. Again, seemingly operating under the assumption that performers can’t be trusted with their own futures, he declares that 18-year-olds are not in a position to weigh the long-term consequences of performing in porn, an ability they will magically acquire in the following three years. This is utter nonsense. At eighteen, anyone is free to enlist in the any branch of the U.S. military, the long-term consequences of which can include maiming and death. At eighteen anyone can work in any of the ten most dangerous trades listed by The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which remain the following:
 1. Fishing
2. Logging
3. Aircraft piloting
4. Refuse and recyclable material collection
5. Roofing
6. Structural iron and steel work
7. Construction
8. Farming
9. Truck driving
10. Mining
Workers under twenty-one have been injured or killed in every one of these occupations but no one seriously suggests that they be barred from entering them until they (presumably) have their wits about them at age 21. In porn, like it or not, economic advantages accrue to early adopters. For many performers their best earning years will 18-24. Why should they be deprived of the opportunity to make the most they can out of their time here by artificially handicapping them from pursuing their ambitions starting at the same age as someone enlisting for military service or shipping out on a fishing boat? This kind of thing may make it easier for directors to don the laurels of nobility, but it accomplishes nothing of value for performers whatsoever.

 Young performers would be better served by full disclosure of the possible repercussions of their decisions going in. I doubt that Marine recruiters take 18-year-old prospects on tours of V.A. hospitals, but perhaps they should. I doubt most agents, producers and directors take new talent to a sit-down with Gauge, who retired from porn early, educated herself for three different trades and found herself excluded from those trades when her past porn activities became known.  Perhaps they should. But realistically, the most serious long-term hazard porn performers face is the lasting stigma attached to them by people who regard porn as vile and that hazard can only be mitigated by broad social change.  I see that change as no more likely than a reduction of the far greater dangers of military service by a universal rejection of war as an instrument of policy.

Young people facing hard choices in a time of declining economic mobility will not be able to avoid those choices no matter who presumes to “protect” them by interfering with their ability to make a living. That is a reality with which performers, producers, directors and politically-motivated outsiders must learn to cope. I wish the world were a gentler place that provided safe, well-compensated employment to all, but it never has been and will never be.

This does not acquit anyone of the decent responsibility to insist on reasonable standards of protection and realistic minimum ages for participation in fields having the potential to make life difficult later. But in the end, if there is to be this thing we call individual freedom, individuals must be free to make decisions they may later regret. The best thing we can do is provide them with the most complete knowledge at our disposal of what future costs they may incur as a result of making their own decisions and then getting the fuck out of the way and letting them make those decisions. They’re the ones who will have to live with them and the hard choices rightfully belong only to them.