WIA Profile: Karen Tynan

WIA Profile: Karen Tynan

Each month, industry news media organization XBIZ spotlights the career accomplishments and outstanding contributions of Women in Adult. WIA profiles offer an intimate look at the professional lives of the industry's most influential female executives.

Industry attorney Karen Tynan deserves the earnest praises from the adult entertainment community for her legal work and advocacy.

Since AIDS Healthcare Foundation continues to send representatives to Cal/OSHA appeal hearings and board meetings, there is no sign that Michael Weinstein is letting up.

Last year, Esquire magazine referred to her as the “Erin Brockovich of porn,” tirelessly working for the rights of adult businesses and performers.

Brockovich, of course, was the legal clerk-turned-environmental activist who was instrumental in a class-action settlement against Pacific Gas and Electric over groundwater contamination in the early 1990s.

Tynan, like Brockovich, is easily be viewed as a crusader. In fact, the Healdsburg, Calif., attorney is a dom when it comes to adult entertainment and the law.

Tynan entered into the adult biz by accident in 2009. She received a phone call from Jeffrey Douglas, another industry attorney and Free Speech Coalition board chair.

Douglas explained that Cal/OSHA had subpoenaed the AIM Health Care Foundation, which conducted HIV and STI tests for porn performers, demanding that it disclose medical information, including the identity of a female performer who’d tested positive for HIV.

Douglas later put Tynan on retainer, and she eventually helped win a permanent injunction that prevented Cal/OSHA from accessing adult film performers’ medical records.

Clients started rolling in, with adult studios Falcon Studio Group, Treasure Island, Kink, Raging Stallion and Evil Angel enlisting her services over regulatory grievances.

“Whenever people got inspected by Cal/OSHA or had employment-law issues, I seemed to get the calls,” Tynan told Esquire at the time. I think it wasn’t a plan, but once I sensed it start happening, I embraced it.”

XBIZ is pleased to profile Tynan, who was named of WIA Woman of the Month.

XBIZ: What is your approach or philosophy to winning or representing a case?

Tynan: What works best for me is collaboration with clients. It’s a team effort and a real professional partnership especially considering I’m a solo practitioner, answering my own phone and drafting each and every legal document myself.

I like to work closely with management and ownership to not only win the legal aspects of any dispute or case but also to provide a win for the business. Lawyers can’t just litigate or advise in a vacuum; instead, they need to be part of a winning business philosophy.

XBIZ: What are some of the hot legal issues that adult company owners should be concerned with going into 2018?

Tynan: After the election, our reflexive response was to become worried about a new conservative administration and possible prosecution for obscenity or 2257 compliance.

That hasn’t played out yet … 2018 will bring us investigations and enforcement of Measure B requirements in L.A. County, continued litigation of 2257, and continued Cal/OSHA investigations based on AHF complaints.

XBIZ: Michael Weinstein, executive director of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, for years has attacked the adult entertainment industry’s well-oiled protocols for workplace safety. What’s in it for him and the AHF?

Tynan: I tell you Rhett, that man is sure fixated on the adult business.

Since AIDS Healthcare Foundation continues to send representatives to Cal/OSHA appeal hearings and board meetings, there is no sign that Weinstein is letting up. I believe that Weinstein and AHF need an adversary.

He needs an “antagonist” if he is to be the “protagonist” in his imagined story. It’s clear to me he is not interested in the health or welfare of performers or supporting the testing protocols.

He’d rather spend money on campaigns and cliched messages about performers instead of focus on prevention of HIV and people living in the world with HIV.

Frankly, I find Weinstein and his cavalcade of zealots to be offensive, uninformed and hateful people.

XBIZ: During the fight over Prop 60, Esquire called you the “Erin Brockovich of Porn.” How did that mainstream interview come about?

Tynan: Jeremy Lybarger contacted me about Prop 60 and some quotes. I found out he was calling around about me, talking to clients and production companies.

He really went in-depth for the Esquire story. I didn’t know what the title would be, but I had hoped it would come out before the election and help defeat Prop 60. Don’t forget, we couldn’t really afford polling, so we were not confident about the outcome or defeat.

Having a few photographers and producers as friends sure helped with the photo.

FiveStar envisioned the shoot, and they dressed me up and hired a cute guy as a prop. I remember the article came out the Friday before the election.

XBIZ: Do you think there will be any obscenity prosecutions while Jeff Sessions is in office as AG?

Tynan: I’ll answer that question with a question: Can these guys find their ass with two hands? The morning after the election and continuing up through Jeff Sessions confirmation hearings, I was extremely concerned. I was contemplating what this ultra-conservative Alabama redneck would do against the adult industry.

However, since the new administration, no one has seen any indication that prosecutors have come up with a policy, strategy or plan for attacking adult content.

It may come in a year or two. We just don’t know. I will say that I continue to closely watch the Mastercard/Visa rules for any tightening or tilts towards more conservative directions.

XBIZ: In your time not focusing on law and adult, what do you like to do?

Tynan: I have a husband …. He requires some care and maintenance. (Smiles …) Last year we went to Scotland on vacation. We have three dogs that love the beach and the Russian River. I volunteer for a couple of non-profits. I’m lucky to have my home office in the wine country while I can travel whenever and wherever I need on Southwest airlines! We do love having company on the weekends so that I can go winetasting and do the fun tourist activities every now and then.