A California state health board voted down a measure Thursday that could have required adult film performers to wear condoms, face masks, dental dams, rubber gloves, and goggles. The New York Times was there, with a few words about the actual ruling and many asides about what the porn stars who testified were wearing and looked like.

This legitimately weird story from the NYT’s Thomas Fuller tried very, very hard to write about the actual ruling from the state’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s Standards Board, which had enormous implications for the adult industry and which industry experts said could move many porn shoots out of California altogether. But porn stars were there! Wearing clothes? And that must be explored, mustn’t it:

“If you guys don’t want us here, we can take our business outside of California,” Jessy Dubai, an actress wearing a form-fitting beige dress, told the board, echoing a common threat in the long-running dispute over condoms that the lucrative business will decamp for Nevada and elsewhere if this state cracks down.

After Ms. Dubai finished her comments, she sashayed past the board in stiletto heels. The hearing ended with the board deciding to vote down the proposal as written, but to reconsider a revised version over the next year.

Elsewhere, Fuller noted that the porn performers who testified were a “parade” of “fully dressed” people—yes, that’s usually how people present themselves when they’re giving testimony—that one person wore “a three-piece suit,” while another had “a black jacket and orange-tinted hair.” The public health expert who testified in favor of the regulations wasn’t physically described. Wonder why!

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Lorelei Lee, an actor with 15 years in the adult industry, was unenthused by Fuller’s coverage. She wrote a Medium post in response chiding Fuller for his lack of professionalism:

We were not, as your article described us, “a parade.” We were not there to put on a show, and our clothes, which your article focused on — pointing out that we were “fully dressed,” as though our wearing clothes was a joke — were not costumes. How dare you gloss over the real and cogent content of our public testimony to focus on our “form-fitting” dresses and “stiletto heels.” We are not cartoons, and your description of us as “colorful” demonstrates both a bias in reporting and an utter failure to hear my coworkers’ articulate and nuanced criticism of the proposed regulation. This regulation would not have been “more stringent” as your article describes, but would have substantially weakened the state-of-the art testing system we rely on, and which your own paper has previously described as a “model for HIV prevention.” This regulation would have pushed our industry underground where workers like me have fewer resources and less protection against all manner of safety violations beyond STI transmission, and, if passed, would have alienated us from the very government body assigned with our protection.

Other adult performers were also less than thrilled by the coverage, including Conner Habib, who’s also a writer and lecturer:

And a few performers who attended the meeting also noted that they felt a fairly judgmental vibe from the board itself:

The board voted down the proposal 3-2 but is still considering additional workplace safety measures for the porn industry.


Contact the author at anna.merlan@jezebel.com.
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Lorelei Lee. Image via Getty.