Will Tech Solve the Condom Debate?

Stephen Yagielowicz

One of the most contentious issues to hit the U.S. adult entertainment industry has been the highly politicized moves to mandate condoms and other protective barriers.

Enforced under current workplace safety rules, these measures would no doubt help to increase performer safety, but at the cost of a tremendous economic disincentive as many consumers seek porn for its fantasy value, not to see the reality of condom usage.

What if there was another alternative — a technological solution that allows the use of condoms in order to comply with the law and protect performer safety?

This situation has led many operators in California — ground zero for America’s porn industry and the playing field for this debate — to consider a move elsewhere, to a jurisdiction without these problems on the plate. This isn’t a realistic solution, however, as the forces that worked so tirelessly to push condom legislation in Los Angeles County have vowed to chase the industry wherever it goes.

What if there was another alternative — a technological solution that allows the use of condoms in order to comply with the law and protect performer safety — but one that removes the visual appearance of the condom, and thus preserves the fantasy and hence the profitability of the production, making us ask if technology will be able to solve the debate over condoms in porn?

XBIZ recently received an email from “Robert” (his last name omitted), that was sent to both Wicked Pictures and UFO International Productions. Robert chose these firms as Wicked Pictures is a major adult studio producing content with talent wearing condoms, while “UFO is the outfit that makes all of those CGI (Computer Generated Imaging) special effects laden films for the SyFy Channel.”

Robert recommends a combination of efforts where CGI is used on adult films to digitally delete condoms that are employed to prevent unwanted pregnancies and STDs.

“Further, why stop there? You might be able to use CGI bitmapping of your thespians images to CGI simulate sex acts, without any actual physical contact, while the thespians do voiceovers for the sound track,” Robert offers, adding that “Nobody ever caught an STD from a CGI character!”

Although those are practical concerns that could help adult producers comply with evolving legislation and regulatory demands, other applications boost the bottom line.

“Try expanding the CGI to create new genres of porn,” Robert advises, “[Such as] invisible man sex, realistic anime characters with the real thespians images modified to have the big eyes, etc., and sex with angels, demons, robots, unicorns, the whole fantasy creatures gamut, and make a ‘Plush Wankers’ series, with realistic CGI moppets, which could fly as well.”

That sums up a lot of opportunity that can only (or at least best) be realized through more advanced uses of digital technology in adult productions, where the imagination of the producer (and his or her budget) is the only limiting factor.

While neither Wicked Pictures nor UFO International Productions responded to XBIZ’s request for comments, one company to embrace a technological solution to the condom issue is Falcon Studios, whose recent release “California Dreamin’ 1” was shot with condoms that were obfuscated through creative lighting techniques or later digitally removed from the film’s final cut.

According to director Tony Dimarco, this movie is intended to be “a throwback to the classic, pre-condom Falcon poolside movies from the 1970s and 1980s,” when condom use was a rarity.

“With this movie I really wanted to capture the essence of that time, when life seemed more carefree and spontaneous,” Dimarco explains. “In keeping with this concept, I felt that condoms need to be addressed.”

It is an effort combining artistry with responsibility and story telling with technology.

“I wanted to give the impression of a pre-condom movie, but use condoms as we do in every scene we film,” Dimarco added. “I found a way to film the movie safely and effectively, while giving the experience that I had intended and using the hottest modern stars.”

Although some reviewers report a slight blurring in the area where the condoms were erased the effect is effective and points the way to the future, where the technology will only improve.

According to Falcon president Chris Ward, “California Dreamin’ 1” will go down as a defining moment in the production of safe, top-quality male erotica.

“The innovation and use of technology to make condoms less ‘in your face’ is something that allows us to appeal to all porn fans while protecting our actors’ health,” Ward stated, outlining the importance of developing a technical solution that satisfies all stakeholders while maintaining the economic impetus for further production.