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November 02, 2016

Only One Week Left to Defeat Prop 60

LOS ANGELES—Exactly one week from yesterday, Californians (or at least those who haven't voted early) will be going to the polls to elect a president, vice president, a few judges—and to defeat Prop 60, which has been condemned by all of the major political parties, most of the major HIV/AIDS organizations, the editorial boards of at least 45 newspapers in the state—and now, it's gotten a negative review from the Chief Executive Officer of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Sachi A. Hamai. In a report dated October 24, and only recently made public, Hamai analyzed for the Board all of the propositions that citizens will be voting on November 8, and while she recommends that the Board take no position on any of them, what she says about Prop 60 is especially telling. "The Department of Public Health reports that the implementation of Proposition 60 would further drive the adult entertainment industry underground or to places that offer few protections for adult film workers," she wrote. "DPH notes that since the enactment of Measure B, there has been a decrease in the number of entities filing for a film permit through DPH. According to DPH, this has limited the opportunity for DPH to monitor disease transmission and to provide appropriate interventions to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. In the absence of disease control measures, DPH reports that there could be an increase in the number of sexually transmitted diseases. The magnitude of the increase would be extremely difficult to determine and to react to if adult film production is driven further underground. DPH indicates that this could have the opposite of the desired effect of the ballot initiative, which is to increase the health and safety of adult film workers." Although Hamai leaves out a couple of the most important aspects of Prop 60—namely the ability of any citizen to complain about and eventually file a lawsuit against anyone who profits from non-condom movies or sex scenes, thereby exposing adult performers to harassment and massive legal expenses, not to mention giving AIDS Healthcare president Michael Weinstein a job for life as the state's "porn czar"—it's pretty clear that Hamai recognizes the "boots on the ground" problems the initiative creates for the Health Department. The "No on 60" movement heated up even further yesterday when a panel composed of adult performers, public health advocates and politicians gave a news conference prior to a noon march in front of the San Francisco Women's Building to show their opposition to Prop 60. Among the speakers were adult performers Ariel X, Verta, Venus Lux, as well as Courtney Mulhern-Pearson of the SF AIDS Foundation, and all made it clear that, in the word of APAC Board Chair Chanel Preston, "It incentivizes people to shoot on the hush rather than follow all the rules and regulations," noting that she herself was flying to Las Vegas more often now that more and more production has moved out of the state. "I would totally fear for my life," added trans performer Venus Lux, speaking of the citizen lawsuit portion of the initiative. Wicked Pictures publicist Daniel Metcalf made a similar point yesterday to Stacey Arevalo of Cal State-Northridge's The Sundial, a campus publication: "If passed, it could have devastating ramifications by allowing any California resident to sue adult performers and producers—and potentially collect damages—if condoms are not visible in every frame of a scene,” Metcalf said. The measure would impose the same liability on anyone who "aided and abetted" the production or distribution, or anyone who makes money from the sale of the film or web content. Opposition to Prop 60 is also turning up in some unexpected places. For example, on the "Freethought Blog" Pharyngula, biology professor P.Z. Myers argued that, "It sounds so well-meaning—Prop 60 would require all porn films to use condoms. That’s got to be good for the actors and actresses, right? If I walked in cold to a voting booth and saw that idea, with no prior research, I’d probably say 'yeah, sure' and punch in 'yes.' Only it turns out that you really should listen to the people it affects the most, and the porn stars are all dead set against it. I’m not even a consumer of porn, so my opinion shouldn’t matter at all, and this bill seems to be designed to cater to the prejudices and ignorance of us straight unkinky vanilla people." The link in the above paragraph is to an article on Medium.com by Chris Hall, who stated, "it’s a lousy law, the latest in a long string of attempts by the AIDS Health Foundation to profiteer off the fear of sex and the stigmatizing of sex work." "Nowadays, most performers are also producers of their own material," Hall added. "Almost any adult performer worth the name maintains a website of their own, complete with photo galleries and video clips. Many shoot and sell their own material on third-party sites like Clips4Sale or God’s Girls without the oversight of a traditional studio or producers. Independent, self-produced porn has gone from being a niche market to being one of the dominant models in adult entertainment. The day of the cigar-chomping mogul is as obsolete in porn as it is in mainstream film. "Where Proposition 60 is concerned, this reality isn’t just a matter of optics: It determines who the law punishes," he continued. "Performers who shoot and distribute their own material are subject to prosecution under the law if condoms aren’t visible in their films. The limited media coverage of this point has focused on the argument that married couples who make porn in their own homes could be sued for not using condoms. That’s a legitimate example, but it misses one of the most important points: The porn workers who are most likely to be targeted by such a clause aren’t going to be married, hetero cisgender couples, but those with the most marginalized identities." BTW, Myers' article concludes with the chilling prediction, "Oh, no. That’s all we need—a financial motivation to let yet another collection of straight-laced people to pruriently spend their time watching pornography so they can get the added thrill of passing judgment on others. Getting paid for being prudish and judgmental? Win-win for awful people!" Also earlier this week, Rose of MyErotica.com weighed in on the controversy, similarly noting, "One of the most unusual and disturbing aspects of Prop 60 is that it allows any Californian resident to file a for-profit lawsuit if a condom is not visible in a single frame of a video?—?and without having to provide evidence that they suffered any harm in doing so. Not only does this open the door to frivolous lawsuits; but it allows private citizens access to the personal information of adult performers simply by opening up a lawsuit, whether it is legitimate or not, making them easy prey for stalkers." Finally, a video has been posted on YouTube of a debate that took place recently at Pepperdine University, moderated by the Dean of Pepperdine's School of Public Policy Pete Peterson, between former performer Derrick Burts and current performer Siouxsie Q on the "merits" of Prop 60. It's well worth watching, if for no other reason than watching Burts misstate established facts while admitting that he doesn't know who's been filing all those non-condom complaints with Cal/OSHA. (Hint: Burts works for them.) Pictured: The Pepperdine panel, with (l-r) Derrick Burts, Pete Peterson and Siouxsie Q.

 
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