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June 28, 2016

APAC Press Conference Misses Its Guest Of Honor

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif.—The Adult Performer Advocacy Committee (APAC) held a press conference this afternoon, ostensibly to attempt to involve Michel Weinstein, president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), in a dialogue regarding the California Safer Sex in the Adult FIlm Industry ballot initiative, but the intended guest of honor was a no-show. The presser got started a bit late, just after noon, with the industry panel consisting of APAC Secretary Ela Darling, transgender performer Venus Lux and Free Speech Coalition Executive Director Eric Paul Leue giving Weinstein a bit of extra time to show up—but as soon it was clear that, once again, Weinstein had no interest in hearing what the adult community (which the initiative is supposed to protect) actually had to say, they proceeded. "The largest issue for performers and performer safety is that this ballot initiative would allow any California resident the opportunity to sue performers personally for performing in films," Darling began. "If we have any financial stake outside of performing, we would be at risk for being taken to court by anybody in California." She went on to say that although language in the initiative supposedly exempts performers themselves from the lawsuits, Weinstein's lack of knowledge of how the adult industry works caused the bill to target many of those same performers, since they often wear multiple hats, as producers themselves, camera operators, sound and lighting technicians, makeup artists, marketers, content traders and the like, all of which would fall under the initiative's liability provisions as "aiders and abetters." "You can't just simply be a performer," Darling said. "You can't just go to a set, shoot and leave and call it a day ... If someone were to file a complaint with Cal/OSHA and Cal/OSHA opted not to act on it, the person who filed the complaint would be able to take everybody with a financial stake in the film to court, at which point our legal names and our home addresses would be made public record." Darling then told the assemblage about one particular stalker who had called Darling's mother at her workplace and complained that her daughter was "a pornographic lesbian whore," and had sent threats to the parents' home. "This is just because he has had access to my legal name," she warned. "Imagine what would happen if he had access to my home personal address." When it came Leue's turn to speak, he expressed disappointment that no one from AHF had seen fit to attend. "I personally feel very disappointed that the proponent of the initiative, who claims to care about worker safety, is not willing to actually speak to the workers or listen to the workers' concerns," he said. Besides being Free Speech's executive director, Leue is also the campaign manager for Californians Against Worker Harassment, the organization formed to fight the initiative. He noted that APAC is entirely a performers' organization, and as such would be exactly the people Weinstein should have consulted before creating the initiative. "For AIDS Healthcare Foundation and for Michael Weinstein to refuse to speak to you, I find appalling," he stated. "This initiative is not about sexual health. Voters are being tricked into believing it is; they are being misled with their votes, thinking that they will do something good for the workers in this industry, but what they will create is an unprecedented lawsuit model that will allow the bigots and right-wing activists in this state to hunt down our workers based on who they are and what they do, and that, I find frightening." The last official speaker was performer Venus Lux. "I am a performer, a transsexual performer for the past four years," she began. "I am also a small business owner, I have a staff of seven and also have a model house. I do know that I am a good example of a person who can be greatly affected by this. ... As a transsexual woman of color, I have to struggle, I have to hustle, I have to maintain my lifestyle, and on top of that, I have other lives and heads to worry about, and I'm here on behalf of myself and my staff members and those I ally myself with, all the girls that I've tried to create a safe space for within this industry and protect their rights because they're underneath my roof sometimes." She noted that she herself had been the target of "haters," including, she said, members of the Baptist Church and others who oppose anyone who identifies as transgender. Leue noted that performers and producers had been working together to build regulations "that will guarantee choice and control and access to the best options out there for the people that want to choose them. ... We're very much for regulation; we've very much for protecting our workers, and the proponent of this initiative obviously does not care to talk to those workers directly. He's made up his mind; he thinks he knows what's best, and if we've learned one thing, that's never true." "There is no other laborer or worker in California who would be held liable if they were injured on the job," Darling added. "This would make us the only ones where, if heaven forbid we were to sustain an injury or contract an illness, we would still be liable under this initiative, and the adult industry is working with Cal/OSHA to create regulations that makes sense for us, that work within our industry but also protect us." Leue noted that several organizations, including both the California Democratic and Republican parties, oppose the initiative, and said, "It is sad that the proponent does not realize that he's heading in the wrong direction when all we do is we try and open that channel of communication again, again and again, and are being ignored." Darling then threw the floor open for performers to give their thoughts on the initiative, as well as their experiences in adult. The first to speak was veteran performer and makeup artist Julia Ann, who had written her thoughts the previous evening and read them to the audience, often through tears. She noted that for as long as she's been in the industry, performers have been tested for STDs, though that became much more thorough after the HIV outbreak of 1998. "We did regulate back then, and some companies were even condom only for those who wanted to make that choice, which that's what it's about: choice," she stated. "My safety and my life could be at risk if this initiative continues to be pushed. All along AHF has been betting on the public's lack of information on the adult industry and how it works. AHF has been betting on the public's biases that have been set in place when it comes to the adult industry and its workers." Ann revealed that she had kept a "dangerous fan file" of people who had written to her with threats of one sort or another, and that if the initiative were to pass, her real name and home address and even phone number would be revealed if she were sued, and she fears that the "hostile rants from those that don't like me for various reasons, including my working with black men on film" might lead them to commit violence against her. "I really hope, Mr. Weinstein, that you will put down your sword and move on to the people with HIV who need your help and the help of AHF," she concluded. "After all, isn't that what AIDS Healthcare Foundation is for?" Several other performers also spoke to the issues, including Ella Nova, Brock Doom, Stefani Special, Katt Lowden, Siouxsie Q and Tim Woodman, after which a short question-and-answer period was held. The conference ended just after 1 p.m.

 
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