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November 16, 2016

FSC Holds Meeting to Recap Prop 60 Fight & Discuss Plans for the Future

STUDIO CITY, Calif.—The adult industry's historic fight against Prop 60, where it faced long odds and a gigantic pro-60 war chest in achieving victory, was the main subject of last evening's industry meeting at the Sportsman's Lodge, but the poor attendance—less than 60 performers, directors and studio heads—suggested that many were tired of hearing about that success and what it will mean going forward, as important as those considerations will be. Vivid Entertainment CEO Steve Hirsch opened the discussion by lauding the major players in the fight against the proposition, including Free Speech Coalition Executive Director Eric Paul Leue, Communications Director Michael Stabile and attorney Karen Tynan, all of whom he described as "going above and beyond to make this happen." He also noted that while many donated to the No On 60 campaign, the bulk of the contributions came from five companies, including his own and Evil Angel (whose owner, John Stagliano, was also at the front of the room) and he also took the opportunity to shame one major player who didn't. "Actually, it really wasn't everybody coming together," Hirsch said. "When we look at who really supported this and who didn't, I think it's important to recognize that some of the major major people from our industry really let us down, and I think everybody here should be aware of that and when they move forward and choose who they want to do business with, to keep that in mind. The main person that comes to mind for me is Larry Flynt and Hustler. They gave exactly zero dollars, and that is after numerous attempts were made, begging, cajoling, asking to please support us. ... There were others, but to me, that just stands out." Hirsch also revealed that there was a "Plan B" if Prop 60 had indeed passed, which he said would have been financed almost entirely by Stagliano, and while he was short on details, its basis was to be a lawsuit against the state of California to prevent at least some of the aspects of the proposition—most likely the "citizen attorney general" lawsuit provisions—from taking effect. Hirsch then turned the podium over to Leue to explain "where the industry will go from here in terms of shooting and what kind of liability do we have; is Measure B still the law, especially in L.A. County; how do we get around that?" Hirsch himself had already addressed part of that, having told the Los Angeles Times last week that, "The industry is moving back to L.A.—unquestionably. The business has changed and has downsized. But you’ll see the vast percentage coming back to L.A." Leue began, however, by pointing out others in the audience who had contributed much time and effort to the anti-60 cause: Siouxsie Q, the APAC board (its chair, Chanel Preston, was present) and Julia Ann, who spent many hours creating personalized anti-Prop 60 logos for industry members to use on Twitter, Facebook and other social media. "I want everybody to recognize that there are so many heroes in this room, that some gave money, some gave energy, some gave both of it, and without that unity of all of those different confluences, none of this would have been possible," he said. Attorney Karen Tynan spoke next, thanking the (unnamed) people in the room who had agreed to be plaintiffs in the Prop 60 lawsuit if it had needed to proceed, then urged the audience to plan to attend the Cal/OSHA Stakeholder meeting in Oakland which will take place on January 31, whose main topic will be to create acceptable industry-specific health regulations. She also noted that complaints are still being made against adult companies. She also revealed, to everyone's surprise, that the largest per capita percentage of "no" votes on Prop 60 came from Lassen County, "where the volcanoes are," near the Nevada border. One continuing theme of the meeting was the question of how filming of adult content will continue, in light of the fact that Prop 60 failed and enforcement of Measure B has been enjoined until 2018, with some urging adult producers to once again apply for shooting permits from FilmLA, while others expressed concern about those permits' mandatory condom provisions. As the meeting ended, Hirsch said that he and others, including attorneys, would be discussing that issue, and would make recommendations in a few days. "Clearly, the County of Los Angeles does not want to prosecute or bother with this industry as far as persecuting us or anything like that," Tynan stated, "and Eric has built a lot of bridges to L.A. County Department of Public Health and something we're going to be working on in the next 60 days also is trying to find that common ground and move forward with the Department of Public Health so people can be confident in shooting in L.A.." "We don't see L.A. County coming after us; that is not the issue," Hirsch added. "The issue is going to be if Michael Weinstein starts lodging complaints, and how do we deal with that? But we are in a much, much stronger position than ever before." Tynan also advised that Free Speech will be updating the various record documents that Cal/OSHA requires adult producers to maintain, and Leue added that it was his intention to arrange for a medical study to update the industry's testing protocols with an eye towards including obtaining samples from performers' throats and anuses to test for disease, as part of the industry's efforts to comply with accepted health testing standards. "I strongly urge that we stop playing hide and seek and that we are the ones that attend the meetings, where we are the ones that shape the conversation, because that's how we won Prop 60," Leue said. "No on expected us to show up; nobody thought that we would put on this kind of fight, and take that energy and hold that with you all the time." Leue announced that there would be a Cal/OSHA Standards Board meeting on Thursday, November 17, at the City Hall in Costa Mesa, and urged all available industry members to attend. "Let's go and say, 'Prop 60 failed; we're still here; we still want to talk to you, Cal/OSHA; we want to be involved,'" Leue said.  When it came Stabile's turn to talk, he informed the crowd that in fact, the polling on Prop 60 had been worse than had been admitted, and that at one point in the campaign, we were losing by about 30 percent, but managed to turn that around thanks to everyone's hard work. However, since the industry's win, he said he expected mainstream press to continue to contact industry members for comment, and he offered to hold training sessions on how to interact with the media in a positive way. "Our strongest asset is that there are so many of us and we're so smart and so passionate about what we're doing," he said. "Our weakest asset is that there are so many of us, and sometimes, we don't—the media reaches out to whoever they're going to reach out to, and ... what I want to make sure, as we go forward with the Cal/OSHA meeting coming up in January, and throughout the year, that we're as unified as possible and that everybody knows what's going on." As part of that, he said, he wanted to create a volunteer video production company to create short videos and ads supporting the industry's views and explaining how the industry works, some of which could be supplied to mainstream media in response to their requests. "Any time we give the press incorrect information, AHF pounces on it and says, 'These people don't know what they're talking about.' They're getting misinformation. I want to limit that," he said. Stabile also touched on the results of the recent presidential election, and he (and others) expressed concern regarding what would happen to adult once the U.S. Department of Justice is under Republican leadership. "One thing has not really come up a lot with the transition team is the anti-porn attitude of this administration," he noted. "They've already had as part of their platform, 'porn is a public health crisis.' What they mean by that is that it's corrupting children, which is an old argument, but also that it causes addiction, things that we know not to be true that are based in moral arguments and based in other concerns, but this going to be a real possibility. Trump signed a pledge that said, 'Obscenity is not part of the First Amendment and I am going to make porn illegal.' ... What we've seen in the transition team that he appointed is that he's appointed people that not only dislike porn but would like to have it outlawed. Anybody who has gone through the '80s or the '90s may remember that there were many prosecutions and people were going to prison for interstate commerce for sending a DVD. There is already pressure on people to keep porn off of wifi networks in hotels. Ed Meese, who was the architect of President Reagan's crackdown on adult material, a crackdown that drove people out of the country and put people in prison for years just for selling vanilla porn videos, he is on the transition team, as is Ken Blackwell, who is from the Family Research Council; they want pornography outlawed... We may be in a perfect storm from where somebody starts going after that, and that may be blocking credit card processors, as we started to see with Operation Choke Point; that may be with outright free speech incursions; that may be with public health, things of that nature." "I think one thing that is definitely important is that the fight really moves now to Cal/OSHA; it's really about Cal/OSHA and supporting our efforts when it comes to that," Hirsch added. "If we can get them on our side and come to an agreement with them that says, okay, no condoms but testing, however that agreement comes about, I think it is positive for this industry; it's going to make it extremely difficult for them to really go after us... In terms of porn going forward, we were prosecuted in the '90s and we've gone through attorney generals, we've gone through conservative administrations and we've gone through some massive conservative administrations. "I think what's different this time, in my opinion, is that it's going to be pretty tough to get an obscenity conviction," he continued. "I think if you look at where society is, where I think juries will be, and what is considered a community—I mean, the community is really the whole country now—I just think it's going to be difficult, so I think in my opinion, what they're going to do is try to chip around the edges, and that's some of the stuff that Mike was saying, and that's the stuff we need to be careful with and we need to be vigilant about... all of these little steps that they can take that they don't have to deal with a jury asking if something's obscene. To me, that's really where the fight is going to be, but I think we're going to be okay and this industry is going to stick together." Leue next opened the floor to questions, and that led to a discussion about the complaint that Leue had filed with the Internal Revenue Service regarding AIDS Healthcare's overspending on political issues, which he said might lead to "defanging" AHF president Michael Weinstein, and noted that the complaint might make clear to some of Weinstein's funding sources that he had misused those donations. Several other subjects were also discussed, and the meeting ended after about 90 minutes.

 
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