On Monday, hundreds of adult film entertainers protested outside the AIDS Healthcare Foundation on Sunset Boulevard, below the office of CEO Michael Weinstein. Weinstein has put $5 million of AHF’s budget towards TV ads supporting controversial Proposition 60, which would require the use of condoms in adult films. That same day, many porn sites went dark in protest as well.
Weinstein was also a huge supporter of Measure B, a similar law just focused on Los Angeles that was approved in 2012. The Hollywood Reporter says Weinstein is seen by his opponents as a “megalomaniac” and states that Measure B has been largely unsuccessful as OSHA refuses to enforce it “based on its unconstitutionality.”
And so Weinstein has devised Prop 60 to “close the loopholes,” as he puts it, particularly with one key amendment that would “enable whistleblowers and private citizens to pursue violators where the State fails to do so.”
Were the proposition to pass, your average porn viewer could file a lawsuit against porn workers deemed to be in violation of it, requiring their real names and addresses to become part of the public record.
“It’s pretty much harassment,” says Alec Knight, 44, a porn actor who has also worked as an animator on shows like Family Guy and The Real Ghostbusters. “Our anonymity is very important to us.”
Prop 60 is considered poorly drafted by its detractors. The official arguments from Sen. Mark Leno, Dr. Jay Gladstein and Jessica Yasukochi, Vice President of the Valley Industry & Commerce Association, point out the potential danger of the new law:
The initiative creates a new private right of action authorizing the Proponent AND all 38 MILLION RESIDENTS OF CALIFORNIA to file lawsuits directly against adult film performers, on-set crew, and even cable and satellite television companies who distribute the films. Even injured performers can be sued directly- by anyone. No other worker in California can be sued this way.
They add that it won’t just be big industry film producers facing trouble: even married couples filming porn in their own home would be subject to the law, and potential lawsuits.
Tasha Reign is a porn star and producer who has been campaigning against Prop 60. In an interview with The Guardian, she explains that the logistics of condom use on set are complicated:
“I do acts where I literally could not use condoms, whether that be anal, whether that be double penetration, whether that be multiple guys,” Reign said. “I cannot even imagine having a group sex scene like that.”
The logistical hurdles are endless. How do you ensure that the same condom doesn’t find itself inside more than one woman? Do you stop filming while an actor swaps latex? What if the condom breaks during a particularly rigorous outing? This isn’t, she notes, regular sex, 20 or so comfy minutes and it’s over.
“It’s extremely difficult for somebody to be able to maintain an erection for 45 minutes, and to be able to pop with a condom, especially,” she said. “The bigger issue for me is that it opens up the gateway to mandate my body. I hate the idea that some man is going to tell me what I can and can’t do.”
The lawsuit provision is one of the reasons a number of organizations outside the porn industry, including the Los Angeles County Commission on HIV, Equality California and AIDS Project Los Angeles, have signed on to oppose this measure. It’s also telling that the California Medical Assn., which backed a state bill requiring condom use in the adult industry in 2014, decided to stay neutral on Proposition 60. Both the state Democratic and Republican parties are on record as opposed to Proposition 60 as well.
The crux of the matter is money. Those campaigning against Prop 60 have very little funding compared to Weinstein. THR shadily writes that he is “pouring millions in funds earmarked for AIDS patients” into his TV spots for Prop 60, and also using some of AHF’s money to buy billboards that protest the mega-structures being built around his Hollywood office.
Weinstein’s interests are suspect, but Tasha Reign states clearly why Prop 60 matters to her. She says, “I want to be able to say: I’m a sex worker. I have a choice in the way that I protect my genitals. This is a huge issue for me.”