May Leave California Because of Stricter Rules

SAN FRANCISCO — The push to make health regulations stricter in adult films is forcing the hand of

The company's chief executive let it be known this week that he's contemplating a move out of San Francisco's fabled Armory building with plans to relocate his BDSM studio to Nevada.

Stricter health rules could mean higher costs and possible criminal prosecution for adult filmmakers in California if AB 1576 passes. The bill inched forward today on a 5-0 vote by a labor committee at California's Legislature.

“The fact is that new regulations threaten to essentially criminalize the production of hardcore pornography in California,” CEO Peter Acworth recently told San Francisco's Mission Local. “Measure B in L.A. County was just the start, and now we face AB 1576 and new draft Cal/OSHA regulations that are being proposed.”

Acworth's company, which produces primarily BDSM content, recently submitted plans with San Francisco's Planning Department that would convert the building’s production studios at The Armory into 100,000 square feet of office space.

The Armory's expansive 39,000 square-foot drill court, meanwhile, would be converted to an entertainment venue, something Acworth has envisioned for a while.

At today's panel hearing in Sacramento over AB 1576, questions arose about whether porn production could flee California in a meaningful way.

Jeffrey Douglas, board chair of the Free Speech Coalition, answering questions from the legislative panel, noted that was one of several major production companies preparing to move out of state. He said that one of the largest talent agencies already has moved to Las Vegas.

Legislators at the panel hearing also were made aware of formal objections by MindGeek and VICA over AB 1576's potential effects of porn production moving out of the state.

"Where the impact of [this bill] will be felt the most is on small businesses and the thousands of workers who work directly or indirectly for California's adult entertainment industry," MindGeek officials said in a written statement.

"Adult film production in California directly employs thousands of actors, directors, camera operators, gaffers and other trades people and support staff. In addition, there are countless jobs indirectly generated from production, with recent data showing that for each direct job we create, approximately three other jobs are created indirectly."

VICA, the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, wrote it opposed AB 1576 because the bill is "clearly fueled by alternative motives to force the adult film industry out of California."

"This $6 billion industry generates millions in state and local tax revenues annually. Adult film production is also responsible for a sizeable number of jobs in the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles County, including sound technicians, prop masters, costumers and craft services that would otherwise be out-of-work due to runaway mainstream film production," VICA officials wrote.

"These jobs have depleted since the passage of Measure B, L.A. County's version of this legislation; a statewide mandate will be the final straw."

AB 1576 next will be weighed and put to a vote by the Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism, and Internet Media Committee. If approved, the bill would move on to the full Assembly.