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October 17, 2016

Adult Industry Protest Against Prop 60 Considered A Success

LOS ANGELES—More that 200 adult industry members and supporters gathered just before noon at the LGBTQ Center on Shrader Boulevard in Los Angeles in preparation to walk to 6255 W. Sunset Blvd., the headquarters of AIDS Healthcare Foundation, to protest Proposition 60. Prop 60 is the ballot initiative that would allow California residents to file a lawsuit against any adult content that appeared, to the untrained observer, not to be using condoms during sexually explicit conduct—and which would install AHF president Michael Weinstein as California's "porn czar." At the LGBTQ Center, protest organizers handed out large signs saying "No On Prop 60," "Our Bodies, Our Choice," "Don't Let Weinstein Own My Body," and "Women Against Weinstein," among several other slogans. The march then proceeded down to Sunset Boulevard and followed that road for about six blocks to AHF headquarters. Upon arrival, the group gathered in front of the office tower and on its steps to hear various speakers explain to passersby what the protest was all about, and to express the industry's outrage at the fact that, despite several pleas on social media and in petition form, Michael Weinstein still has refused to meet with industry leaders to discuss better ways to keep everyone safe that don't trample on their personal choices. Weinstein failed to make any appearance at the protest, which was being covered by several local and national news organizations. Amid cries of "Where's Weinstein? Where's Weinstein?", Californians Against Worker Harassment treasurer Eric Paul Leue exhorted the crowd, saying, "We have an amazing community, yes?" "Yes! " returned the crowd. "Michael Weinstein does not speak for us, yes?" "Yes!" "We have the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee, yes?" "Yes!" "And they represent the performers, and they're not the ones who were spoken to! Michael Weinstein ignored all of you! He never spoke to you—so what do we say?" "No On Prop 60!" came the universal reply. Several others also spoke through the makeshift sound system, including APAC President Ela Darling, who stated, "We asked Weinstein to talk to us. What did he say? We asked him to have a conversation about the laws he's trying to make about our bodies; what did he do?" "Nothing!" the crowd responded, and soon began chanting, "Where's Weinstein?" Next up was actress Vanessa Veracruz, who began by saying, "For the past year, Michael Weinstein has refused to deal with the workers of this industry. He has ignored our voices. He has ignored our concerns about this dangerous proposition, so we come here today to demand that he listen. Prop 60 would allow anyone in the state to sue and harass us. It would provide a cash bounty for those who do so successfully. It would leave us terribly vulnerable to stalkers, harassers and profiteers. Prop 60 would give Michael Weinstein, a man with a long history of harassing adult performers, power over our bodies, our jobs and our lives. He's spent $4 million of this organization's resources; $4 million that should have gone to education, prevention, outreach and treatment and not attacking us for the type of work that we do. Prop 60 would push us underground and out of state where working conditions are less safe. To truly protect performers, we must respectfully do and work with us, not against us. We are nto opposed ot safer sex and we are nto opposed to condoms, but we are opposed to a law that woudl allow anyone in the state to pursue and harass us merely because of how we do our jobs. And thousands of performers like me demand that Michael Weinstein stop his hurtful attacks on the adult performers and that he meet with us for an honest conversation about the dangers of Prop 60 to adult performers, and I ask everyone watching this and listening to my words to please vote no on Prop 60." Veracruz then repeated the entire speech in Spanish, for any Latins who might be listening. Also speaking at the event was Julia Ann, who noted, "I've been in this business since 1992, so Michael Weinstein does not know more about this business than I do. For those of you at home, we are often silenced; our voices are not understood or heard. That is disheartening and painful. Some people forget that we are human. We have a right to be heard. Today I ask you to see me not as just an adult performer. I ask you to see me and the other performers as women. See us as girlfriends, lovers, daughters, sisters. See the men as husbands, boyfriends, fathers, sons and brothers. See us as Californians, taxpayers, Americans. This is about our lives, our safety, and we are terrified. Please, vote no on Prop 60. Don't give one man the power to harass us!" Leue next introduced "A and J," a northern California couple who run a webcam business, who had been interviewed by the Sacramento News & Review earlier this month, and who had said that if Prop 60 were to pass, it would "ruin our lives." "This man, Michael Weinstein, he's got billboards saying 'Pornographers Vote No On Prop 60,' like we're some sort of disgusting monsters out there ... to corrupt your children," J said. "That's bull. We are actors; we're your sons and daughters and friends and family, parents; we are just people, and we demand the same respect as everyone else." Both Leue and No On 60 Communications Director Siouxsie Q read off the names of the organizations that have come out against Prop 60, including the Democratic, Republican and Libertarian parties, the editorial boards of at least 20 state newspapers, and most of the HIV/AIDS treatment organizations in the state. He also lauded the 1,800 Prop 60 opponents who had taken to social media to spread the "No On 60" message. "Prop 60 is a terrible and hateful piece of legislation," Leue declared. "It would push a legal workforce into the shadows, and make every Californian, in the words of the L.A. Times, a 'condom cop.' We are not a state that stands for the harassment of workers, and harassment is not a California value. Prop. 60 is the power grab by one man, and one man only: Michael Weinstein," at which point the crowd began to chant, "Shame! Shame! Shame!" Several others spoke, including Venus Lux, Tasha Reign, actor/director Brad Armstrong and Dr. Hernando Chaves, an industry supporter who had also spoken at the last Cal/OSHA Standards Board meeting. Also adding her views was UC-Santa Barbara Prof. Constance Penley, who stated, "I'm here to support all the workers in the adult industry. I've been inviting them to my class at UC-Santa Barbara for nearly 25 years and I and my students listen to them, and that's how we know why everyone is here today." After gathering for about an hour and a half, the group returned to the LGBtQ Center, this time taking the "high road": Up Vine Street to Hollywood Boulevard, where they displayed protest signs and gave out brochures explaining how Prop 60 would affect both the industry and Californians in general. Besides those noted above, other participants in the protest were actor/cameraman Jake Jacobs, agent Mark Schechter and wife, UC-Santa Barbara Prof. Constance Penley, as well as performers/directors Melissa Monet, Eric John, Tommy Gunn, Kylie Ireland, Andy Appleton, Brad Armstrong, Scott David, Cherie DeVille, Mark Spiegler, Nina Hartley, Abella Danger, Layla Price, Lily Cade and spouse, Tasha Reign, Evan Stone, Juelz Ventura and dozens more. However, just as the industry's protest was ending, AIDS Healthcare convened its own telephone press conference, under the direction of AHF Communications Director Ged Kenslea. Present were the "usual suspects": former escort Derrick Burts, who implied that he had contracted HIV, gonorrhea and chlamydia on an adult set in 2010; Cameron Bay, who contracted HIV in her personal life after being in the industry for three months in 2013; her husband, Rod Daily, who also contracted HIV in his personal life in 2013; and Dr. Adam Cohen, AHF's Director of Policy & Advocacy, who incorrectly claimed that it was settled law that the First Amendment plays no role in whether or not performers should be required to use condoms, and also claimed, again incorrectly, that performers would not be the subject of condom lawsuits if Prop 60 passes. Interestingly, after the speakers were done and Kenslea asked if there were any press on the line who wished to ask questions, no one at all responded. All in all, it was one hell of a day for the adult industry.

 
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