Updated: Calif. Officials Vote Against Condom Rules for Porn Productions

Updated: Calif. Officials Vote Against Condom Rules for Porn Productions

UPDATED (11 P.M. PST)

OAKLAND, Calif. — California’s Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board today voted against new rules for the production of adult films.

The final draft of the proposed regulations, known as § 5193.1, not only required condoms for all filmed sex, but also "barrier protection for eyes, skin, mouth and mucous membranes."

The proposed regulations were initiated six years ago by Michael Weinstein, head of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

The vote on whether to issue a safety order over the rules was made by five members of the state’s OSH Standards Board, which sets standards within the Cal/OSHA program.  

The board needed four votes for the amended § 5193.1 to be included in California’s Code of Regulations.

After the vote, Eric Paul Leue, executive director of adult entertainment trade group Free Speech Coalition, addressed the jubilant crowd of talent that gathered outside of the Harris State Building auditorium in the foyer, stating that the organization is prepared to continue to fight any future drafts of proposed regulations that were like § 5193.1.

“These regulations were based in stigma rather than science and would have severely hurt adult performers,” Leue said after the vote. “We look forward to working with Cal/OSHA on sensible regulation that respects performers choices.”

Today, the board heard more than five hours of testimony from more than 100 in the adult industry urging a “no” vote on § 5193.1, many of them performers, directors, talent agents and sex experts at the hearing in Oakland.

The 10 a.m. meeting was divided into two parts — public comment, which took up the lion's share of the hearing, and business — and had three breaks, running all the way through 3:30 p.m.

It was the second-longest Standards Board hearing in recent memory, board member Dave Harrison told XBIZ.

The list of those who traveled across the state to speak in front of the Standards Board was notable. It was not just Southern California talent who traveled to the meeting; San Francisco Bay Area performers came as well.

Veteran adult stars Jessica Drake, Joanna Angel and Nina Hartley made their pleas to the Standards Board to vote against the proposal; so did Lorelei Lee, Chanel Preston and Ela Darling.

Evil Angel’s John Stagliano made the trip to speak, just like ATMLA owner Mark Schecter, as well as the charismatic actor and promoter James Bartholet.

Even Constance Penley, the professor of film of media studies at UC Santa Barbara, and David Holland, a professor at the Emory University School of Medicine, along with Courtney Mulhearn-Pearson of the San Francisco Aids Foundation, made the trek to Oakland to give their takes on how the adult industry is just fine and didn’t need the AHF-sponsored proposal that would severely limit pornography filmed in California as most know it.

Nearly all of the adult entertainment stakeholders said that if § 5193.1 were to come into play, it would force the business underground and might put an end to the industry's own requirement that actors be tested for sexually transmitted disease every 14 days.

Adult industry stakeholders also faced opposition in their comments by numerous individuals formerly associated with adult but now pledge their allegiance to the AHF, including Cameron Bay and Sofia Delgado, among numerous others.

After hours of public comment, the Standards Board was ready for a vote on § 5193.1.

It was board member Harrison who might have made the difference.

He issued words of skepticism about the proposed condom regs and noted that perhaps they should be sent back for revision. It was Harrison’s first meeting in front of the adult industry over the issue of mandatory condoms.

Harrison was joined in skepticism by another board member, Dr. Robert Blink.

When the roll was called the verdict was in: Adult had won — 3-2 (four votes were needed for it to pass) — and the idea of regulating the industry and mandating condoms and goggles would be put off for another day.

The massive contingent of adult entertainment stakeholders inside the auditorium erupted with cheers and applause, and later filed out.

FSC spokesman Mike Stabile told XBIZ on his trip back to Los Angeles that the vote “was a clear victory for adult.” He also said that he hopes the FSC can work closely in the future in crafting realistic safety requirements that the industry can accept.  

Leue, meanwhile, has sights on the next battle ahead — another one sponsored by the AHF, which reportedly spent $1.5 million to get “The California Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act” eligible for a statewide vote.

“Now we face a larger battle, which would seek to replicate and amplify the worst parts of the regulations,” Leue said. “In fact, the ballot initiative, allows private citizens to sue adult performers who do not use condoms, and would drive a legal industry underground where performers would be less safe.

“This idea — that private citizens can sue adult performers because of actions they disapprove of is outrageous, and would not be permitted in any other sector of our society.  We will fight this, and this too, we will win.”

But just hours after the 3-2 vote by the board, Weinstein said in a press release that the AHF will charge on and come out with a new workplace-safety proposal to replace the one that was sunk today.

“We are disappointed that the Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board failed to complete this years-long process, an action today that would have resulted in improved worker safety for adult film workers in California, but thank them for their work on this over the past six years,” Weinstein said.

"To be clear, condom use in adult film production in California — one of only two states in which adult film production is legal — already is required under California’s bloodborne pathogens standard.

"We are announcing today that we will immediately file a new petition with Cal/OSHA on this important health measure."

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