AB 1576 Passes Assembly Arts, Entertainment Committee

Lila Gray

SACRAMENTO — Assembly Bill 1576, which would mandate condom use in all porn productions shot in California, passed the Assembly Arts & Entertainment Committee this morning 4-1.

Assembly members Ian Calderon, Marie Waldron, Richard Brown and Jimmy Gomez voted in support of the bill, which needed four votes to pass the committee. Assembly member Scott Wilk voted against the bill and Cheryl Brown abstained.

The bill’s hearing incited heated passion from contributors from both sides and committee moderators had to ask the crowd several times to quiet down. Today’s debate focused heavily on the economic impact of the bill on California, and whether or not a condom mandate will force the adult industry — and its revenue — into other states.  

“You have been told a lot by this bill's opposition to make you question your previous decision to support your workers,” said Isadore Hall, the bill’s sponsor. “They question the constitutionality of the law and they claim the industry will leave California.”

Hall called the idea that the industry would flee to Nevada “malarkey” and posited that adult filming is illegal in all states (including Nevada), except California and New Hampshire.

Adult industry attorney Marc Randazza, who attended to present arguments against the bill, negated Hall’s claims, “I can see the good intentions that Hall has, but unfortunately he seems to have been miseducated on the state of the law. They seem to be saying sex work is a catch all phrase — it is not. Nevada has very strict and specific and strict prostitution statutes. However, filming movies in Nevada, and frankly in all 50 states, is legal.”

Randazza explained that California and New Hampshire simply clarify that filming adult movies in those states is not prostitution, but do not specifically bar adult shoots. He added that he has personally seen the move of several large companies to Nevada.

“I moved the first company from California to Nevada. That was about $25 million dollars that left California and went to Nevada,” he continued. “The Nevada political environment is very comfortable with this, very happy to have this industry. I moved to Nevada with that client, so I’m delighted to have this industry move there. My San Francisco office can serve them if they stay where they are, but if they move to Nevada, you are looking at one of the beneficiaries of it. It is simply not true that they won’t move there.”

"We don't want to go to Nevada, but we're already making plans to do just that," Kink.com founder Peter Acworth said when he stood up to oppose the bill, giving credence to Randazza's statement.   

Assembly member Brown, who abstained from voting, openly voiced her personal concerns about the bill, including its lack of nuanced consideration for performers’ bodies and comfort and the omission of oral sex under the proposed regulations.   

"Some of these performers were actually talking about how using the condom affects them in something called chafing,” Brown said. “Isn’t that putting them at greater risk? I’m wondering if we’re creating another problem.”

Several members of the audience actually shouted out "Yes" to Brown's question, causing the moderator to again ask for order.

Hall became impassioned delivering his final arguments, again refuting the notion that the porn-condom law would force the industry to relocate. Drawing on melodramatic rhetoric, he underscored the precedence of safety in the workplace over financial interest.

"We will not sacrifice the safety of our workers for a green dollar bill. And that’s what this is,” Hall said. "And god bless, if we are now negotiating the health risks of our employees for a green dollar bill, I don’t want to be part of this legislature. That is not what we have been brought here to do."

Many industry members attended the hearing to voice their dissent, including Kayden Kross, Diane Duke, Michael Chate, Lorelei Lee, Mo Reese, Acworth, Amber Chase, Ariel X, Karen Tynan, Princess Donna and others.

Former adult industry performers Cameron Bay and Rod Daily, who tested positive for HIV last year, spoke on behalf of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, along with AHF lobbyist Rand Martin.    

This is the third time that Hall has attempted to push through mandatory barrier protection; last year, he sponsored two pieces of legislation in unsuccessful bids to mandate condom use in the adult production industry. But they died on the vine.

The latest incarnation, AB 1576, makes testing mandatory 14 days before performers work on the set, and adds stipulations for training and workers comp review. It also would add a criminal prosecution element.

The bill will now head to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for further action.