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October 20, 2016

KPCC Asks Chanel Preston To Debate Prop 60 On-Air

PASADENA, Calif.—Adult industry actress/producer Chanel Preston was today's guest on public radio KPCC's "Air Talk," hosted by Larry Mantle, and the topic was Proposition 60, the condom mandate that will be on November's presidential ballot. The initiative has been widely criticized by all major political parties, all of California's biggest newspapers, and thousands of others for, among other reasons, the fact that it would give ordinary citizens the power to sue content producers, including performers, for not using condoms in scenes. Defending the proposition was journalist John Schwada, "communications director" for the Yes On Prop 60 campaign, and his ignorance of the adult industry was on full display. Schwada began by claiming that Prop 60 was a "workplace safety and public health measure... designed to protect the young men and women who are performers in the adult film industry from sexually transmitted diseases including HIV," to which he claimed that they were "exposed routinely and illegally" as well as to STDs. He also claimed that the main reason the industry and so many others oppose the proposition is because producers "don't believe that condoms in porn films sell those films,' claiming that such producers "sacrifice the worker health on the altar of their profits." But when Mantle asked whether there was an audience for porn with condoms, Schwada used gay porn viewers as an example of audience acceptance of condoms, omitting the fact that for many years, HIV was considered a "gay disease," and that viewers of gay material sought films with condoms so they could be assured that the actors weren't passing the disease to each other. Schwada then portrayed his ignorance of filmmaking in general when he told Mantle that, "Condoms don't have to be visible in the films, okay? We're not saying we must be able to see..." at which point Mantle broke in and asked whether they could be digitally removed? "Well, they could be digitally removed or there are other artifices that could be employed by the film industry to disguise the fact," Schwada replied, comparing such cinematic tricks to Steven Spielberg animating "dinosaurs." However, when this was first suggested in 2009, AVN did some research and found, according to experts, it would take over 100 hours of work to remove a condom from each sex scene and replace it with something looking vaguely penis-like, at a cost of $125 per hour, thus costing the average adult movie which contains at least 60 minutes of sex about $750,000. Mantle then asked about the industry's testing protocol, noting that there has been no on-set transmission of HIV in more than a decade. Schwada replied that the industry's testing protocols don't meet CDC standards, and claimed that some production companies don't bother making sure their performers are tested anyway. He was also unaware that testing, though "voluntary," is done ever 14 days, rather than the previous 30-day standard, but that in any case, performers could be infected between tests unless they used what he called "the gold standard": condoms. Mantle then gave the microphone to Chanel Preston, asking why she and others didn't support the proposition if its purpose was to "cut down on sexually transmitted infections"? "Well, Proposition 60 is under the guise of being a condom mandate; however, there are aspects to Proposition 60 that make it very dangerous for performers; it puts them at risk," she replied, adding, "It's certainly because of the 'sue a producer' component of Proposition 60." But when Mantle asked whether the industry would support the proposition if it didn't have the lawsuit component, Preston said no, in large part because "when you use condoms professionally, it's extremely different than when you use them in your personal life... In a professional setting, we're having intercourse anywhere from 30 minutes to hours on set, and it's very difficult to use condoms sometimes... It causes rashes; they break; you're still susceptible to STIs even when you use condoms in a professional setting." Preston also responded to the claim that there appeared to be no problem with using condoms in gay porn, noting that although there were changes taking place, "The testing in the gay side of the industry is—I don't want to say 'taboo,' but they're not as comfortable with it because of culturally, HIV, they don't want to reveal status and things like that, so testing for them hasn't been a priority; it's been condoms, whereas on the straight side of the industry, we use testing, it works for us. We haven't had a case of HIV transmission on a regulated porn set since 2004, so that right there shows that our testing system is extremely effective." Mantle then asked about the lawsuit component of the proposition, which Preston said would have a "huge effect" on the industry. "I just want to paint a little picture for you, because when people read 'producer,' they picture a large company, a big production... lots of people on set, employees. There are very few companies in the industry now that are able to hire performers. However, the industry is extremely saturated with performers, so if you want to succeed, you better get creative. And so a lot of performers create their own content, and so to say 'producer' doesn't mean you're a large company; it could mean that you get a camera and you are in your own home and you have your boyfriend or your friend come over, you guys make a scene and you upload it onto a clip site. You are a producer in that situation. If you webcam—anybody who webcams is considered a producer. There are hundreds of thousands of webcammers; they're all considered producers." Regarding the lawsuit aspect, Preston said, "This is an industry of sex workers, of porn performers, and we are subject to harassment, to threats; these are things that we face every day. Sometimes people say, 'Ah, it's hyperbole; people aren't going to attack you through lawsuits,' but that's not true because these are issues that we face every single day. All the time we're dealing with stigma, discrimination, harassment, and any time there's a tool that people can use to hurt the industry or hurt the individual, they will use it; it will get used, and right now, we see a way for them to get access to us and possibly hurt us, and so it will happen... If a lawsuit does occur, they will have access to our personal information, so our real names, our home addresses, and that's a very big concern for performers." For his part, Schwada put the onus on the performers themselves, calling the objections a "special pleading on the part of an industry that refuses to obey the law and then also wants to be exempt from the public exposure at a point when they have been accused of violating the law." He went on to claim that it would be difficult to find performers' addresses even if they were sued "in the regular court system... so I think some of this is scare tactics on the part of the porn industry." But when Mantle expressed concern that the "condom mandate" would drive performers out of the profession, or at least out of state, Schwada cynically replied, "This is the second oldest profession, perhaps, in the world," thereby equating adult performing with prostitution, adding "and I suspect that they will be able to thrive even with these rules." He also poo-poo'd the idea that "everybody will be suing them," instead claiming that it would be performers themselves who would file whistleblower lawsuits against companies that prevented them from using condoms in a scene. For her part, Preston noted that non-condom porn "has been the standard for a very long time," but that as performers gain more power, they have been pushing for the option to use condoms in scenes if they want and not be "blacklisted." "I'm sure we can make that happen," she said. "We don't need Prop 60 to make that happen because that puts us at risk in other ways.... We don't need a law that leaves us susceptible to residents in California to sue us. There are other ways to deal with this problem," noting that even performers who want to use condoms oppose Prop 60." Mantle then opened up the phone lines to questions and comments, and the first question dealt with husband-and-wife performers who webcam their own sex acts, and wondered whether that couple would have to use condoms as well under the new law? "I wish I knew the answer to that question," Schwada replied, again displaying his ignorance of both the industry and the proposition he was supporting. "I think it probably would if people are paying for it. Yes, I think Chanel is right, that, yes, it would apply to them," adding, "The point is, once you engage in a commercial enterprise like this, you have certain obligations to your employees, and this industry would like to say, 'Oh, because we're small, a small producer, we shouldn't be obligated to abide by the law, and the law is you should wear condoms in these scenes." But when Mantle noted that if the couple didn't use condoms in their personal life, why should they be forced to use them on camera, Schwada admitted that he was right. Another caller asked whether the proposition would push the industry underground? Preston noted that it would certainly "create a black market for non-condom porn" that would "put performers at risk" through lack of local employment except by underground shooters, and in any case would push the industry out of the state. Mantle added that since the passage of Measure B, production permits in L.A. County has "just cratered," and wondered if that meant local production has "largely stopped"? Preston agreed that companies had moved out of state, or were preparing to do so, noting that "I shoot in Vegas more often than I ever have," adding, "There's porn being shot all over the country, so to say it's illegal, it's currently being shot in Las Vegas, New York; there's a huge industry in Florida; there's now companies in Portland! People are moving out of the state; it's already happened." Schwada further betrayed his ignorance by claiming that "We hear a lot about the industry's going to leave California. California has been so hospitable to this industry and has welcomed it, so I doubt if the industry is going to leave the state if this happens. If they do, they're going to find that other locations, the ones that Chanel has been talking about—Oregon and New York and Nevada and whatnot—that those states do not now recognize the legality of porn film production... Nobody may be being prosecuted, but if the conditions get to such a point that people start to say, 'Hey, wait a minute. What's going on?', they may end up with legislation that deals with this issue." Of course, while only California and New Hampshire and New York's Manhattan have court decisions recognizing the legality of adult production, no state has yet tried to ban it. Schwada also noted that according to the L.A. Daily News, production was still going on in the county, despite the lack of permits, and that such non-condom shoots "can be dealt with through the accountability of the distributors. The distributors are the big fish in this situation now," with Preston jumping into note that "Performers are distributors as well." Nonetheless, Schwada claimed that distributors were necessary to get the material distributed to a wide audience—he's apparently never heard of the internet—and that "if those people can be sued as well, then they're going to think twice." He also claimed that tube sites would also fall under Prop 60's requirements "if they're aiding and abetting in California the production of condomless films." "Now, if they're producing films someplace else, that's beyond the purview of Proposition 60," Schwada claimed, failing to note that a potential plaintiff under the proposition wouldn't know where the material was produced, thus forcing the producer to spend thousands on attorneys to prove the production took place out of state. In response to a question from Mantle, Schwada also claimed that foreign producers had contributed to the No On 60 campaign—a clear falsehood—noting that "seven different companies... controlled by Manwin" had made a $75,000 contribution—until Preston corrected him that such contribution was not to the No On 60 campaign. A discussion of "adult performers as stunt people" followed, with Schwada claiming that producers should be responsible if one performer infected another. "If you've seen some of these films, and I've had the misfortune of having to look at a couple of them just to make sure that I understand what's going on," Schwada added, "some of the sex scenes are absolutely reckless and I'm not opposed to porn, and this proposition is not opposed to porn, but it is opposed to unsafe porn, and what you can see in these situation is pretty reckless and there are no condoms involved." Preston then attempted to correct him by noting that what may appear "reckless" in the finished production is actually carefully planned ahead of time behind the scenes, and the "reckless" character of the scene is a combination of acting and editing. "You're not seeing any of that, and if you did, it would be a really bad porn film," she said. "It's our job to create something that might look reckless and crazy for the viewer." Finally, one listener asked about Michael Weinstein's role as "porn czar" under the proposition, and Mantle asked Schwada to explain what "enforcement role" Weinstein would have with the state? "Only under very unique circumstances," Schwada replied. "If, for instance—this gets very dull—the fact is that if no one stepped forward to defend the measure—that is, the attorney general refused to defend it because they might have political or ideological opposition to it, then the AIDS Healthcare Foundation would step forward to defend it." Preston had a different view: "I think Weinstein saw that Measure B wasn't getting enforced and so he put that component in Proposition 60; how convenient, so if the state's attorney general doesn't want to pursue this, then he's going to. It's very scary. We've had a bad relationship with Weinstein for years and to give someone like that power in our industry is terrifying." All in all, it was an engaging half-hour—which those who didn't hear it can probably go to KPCC's web page and listen (and comment) there.

 
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