Irregularity Begins at Home

On July 26, 2008, when the First National Bank of Nevada failed, seemingly taking adult processing favorite Humboldt Merchant Services along with it, one of first signs of trouble on Wall Street showed up on Main Street in Porn Town: Whether you are an affiliate program, a performer, a hosting company or a credit card processor, straight, gay, bisexual, transgendered or something in between, we all reside in the same ZIP code; this hit us at home.

Of course if a swath of financial and corporate gurus, or even one fricking Senate majority, had reacted with even one tenth of the clarity and swiftness that the teams at Humboldt Merchant Services and NetBilling acted with, perhaps this whole thing could have been over before it started, or at least not gotten so capriciously out of hand. Yet “we” handled one of the opening salvos of the Wall Street Blitzkrieg far better then any group since. Maybe there is something the world can learn from us after all, but let us learn from the mistakes of Fortune 500, we are going to make them ourselves when our number comes up.

I guess the bottom line is if we do not decide what our industry can live without, we are giving up the power to someone, or something else to decide if we can even live at all.

One of the few things we know for certain even now; it was not actually the deregulation of banking fundamentals that acted as a Petri dish for the current economic epidemic. The actual economic “Typhoid Mary” proved to be the total lack of regulations at all when an almost overnight a behemoth sized new sector of economic opportunity sprouted up (think the subprime mortgage industry and default credit swaps), greed got in the better way of judgment, generating cardiac arrhythmias in the global financial heartbeat necessitating a trillion dollar crash cart.

Let’s think about that: something overnight becomes a billion dollar industry and its total lack of structure led to its collapse. The beginning part sounds an awful lot like our industry. It does not have to end like that: unless we let it. “And, but and or” are still the easy part ... it is the who, what and when of taking on our own for the betterment of us all that really makes the brain hurt. Fortunately, we have had a few crusaders already.

In 1998, former adult performer became adult reformer when Sharon Mitchell founded Adult Industry Medical (AIM), a clinic providing monthly counseling and HIV and STD screening for performers. The testing is often at the performers own expense and includes a permission to have the results released to other performers and producers prior to filming.

What truly makes Ms. Mitchell’s championing of the cause all the more commendable, is that while in 1988 the California Supreme Court declared the production of adult film to be protected as free speech under the First Amendment, under California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) regulations, citing the right to privacy, are prohibited from asking those very questions and reporting their findings. The reality is that AIM’s success has show us adult performers are willing to pay for their own testing to protect themselves and their co-workers. This was a need to be filled and Sharon Mitchell took this one on. She gave this section of our industry the structure is needed.

The Free Speech Coalition has certainly picked with the mantle with their Ethics & Best Practices but it is up to us to contribute, to pay attention, to shape and mold this idea into the same, highly tailored, uniquely adult solution for us all to use as a central point of standards that will allow us all to operate smarter, not harder.

Anyone who thinks we have seen the last of 18 U.S.C. §2257 Regulations would have bet the farm Cher was finished in 1988 with “I Could Turn Back Time.” There are some very good reasons to believe that would also be inaccurate. I guess the bottom line is if we do not decide what our industry can live without, we are giving up the power to someone, or something else to decide if we can even live at all.

No thank you, let’s uncheck that cross sell — the price is too much to pay. Regulation begins at home and we are way over do for a family meeting.