LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors this morning moved forward with new health permit fees for adult film shoots.
The new Measure B permit fee goes into effect tomorrow for all adult scenes shot in Los Angeles County.
Eric Paul Leue, the Free Speech Coalition’s executive director, in a conference after today’s board meeting at the Hall of Administration in downtown Los Angeles, told attending adult entertainment stakeholders that their input during public comment in the hearing made a difference.
“Today the Board of Supervisors may not have heard us but maybe in the future they will,” Leue said. “And that is what we will continue to fight for. Just because we lose one battle does not mean we didn’t win the fight, and with that we will lose the war.
“So, don’t be discouraged. Keep on truckin’. We will keep up protecting ourselves better than the Board of Supervisors and the Department of Health understands,” he said. “And we will continue to make that education happen and move forward. So, don’t give up. Keep on believing. We’ve won a huge battle last year [referring to a proposed amendment to bloodborne pathogen statutes for adult productions]; this is nothing.”
Today’s meeting included public comment from a wide range of those working in adult entertainment, including adult performers Jessica Drake, Nina Hartley, Mia Li, Marcelo, Tim Woodman and Jacqui Blu, as well as cam performers Jay Taylor, Janice Griffith and Caterina Holly. Comment also came from director Brad Armstrong as well as Leue and the FSC’s Siouxsie Q, director of policy and industry relations, and the FSC’s Ian O’Brien, its scientific and regulatory director.
Representatives from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which sponsored Measure B, spoke as well, including Derrick Burts, Adam Cohen and the former Penny Flame.
The AHF was backed by about 80 hired hands all wearing “Enforce Measure B” T-shirts. Each of the 80 individuals, in unison, arose each time one of the AHF reps spoke. Some of the individuals queried by XBIZ said they got the $50 gig to attend the meeting and wear the “Enforce Measure B” shirt from a Craigslist post.
Leue, in his address to supervisors to nix the fee proposal as written, said that there were problems with it, as well as generally with Measure B.
Leue specifically mentioned “the outdated prevention science behind the measure and the exclusion of the true stakeholders from this process,” as well as “a permit fee structure that encourages compliance and increases, not decreases, our workers' safety.”
Supervisors, however, decided not to delay and moved forward with resolution for a fee structure that requires adult film producers to pay $1,672 for a two-year film permit. The motion passed 4-0.
The fee structure, developed and analyzed by the county’s Department of Public Health, comes after years of legal wrangling after the passage of Measure B, Los Angeles County’s Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act that was sponsored by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, in 2012.
The law imposes a permitting system that requires producers to obtain a newly designated public health permit for a fee before beginning production on an adult film. It also makes producers demonstrate that employees have completed a county-approved training program concerning bloodborne pathogens.
The law further requires the display of a permit while filming, forces performers to use condoms during any acts of vaginal or anal sex and comply with § 5193 of the state code of regulations in regards to occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens on film sets.
Producers also must post a notice at the film site that the use of condoms is required.
Several hours after today’s meeting, the FSC disseminated a press release, saying that it was “deeply troubled” by the decision to OK the fee structure.
“Make no mistake: this is terrible health policy, rushed through under political pressure,” the FSC said.
“Despite having five years to formulate a plan and work with stakeholders, the Department of Public Health submitted the proposal to the Board of Supervisors just over a month ago, without consulting performers or alerting the industry to the opportunity to provide public comment,” the FSC said. “This is not surprising. Dr. Ferrer, the new head of the Department of Public Health, sat during the proceedings with AHF, the controversial organization that put Measure B on the ballot.
“What we saw today from both Dr. Ferrer and AHF was disgraceful. Dr. Ferrer ignored performers when they attempted to make public comment, and performers were heckled and shouted at by members of the AHF contingent. One performer was called a whore. Make no mistake: like Measure B, this vote was done based on bias and ignorance, an attempt by moralists to punish an already stigmatized minority.”
A number of attending stakeholders who spoke at the meeting were disappointed that the Board of Supervisors did not take in consideration their testimonies at today’s hearing.
Woodman said that today’s decision “is not the end of it in either direction.”
“There will be further discussion,” Woodman told XBIZ. “We will always be here to do our best.”
Hartley told XBIZ that today's decision “reminds us that the way forward is slow — sometimes it’s two steps forward, one step back — and that we should always advocate for our position."
"We need to hear more from people who actually do this work so they don’t talk about us; we need to talk about ourselves,” she said.
Industry attorney Karen Tynan, who has participated in numerous governmental hearings advocating for performer rights but did not attend the Board of Supervisors meeting, told XBIZ that she too was disappointed with the decision to move fees forward, and she was particularly incensed by the Department of Public Health’s and AHF's actions today.
"Companies and performers deserve clarity and understanding in how to work within the law, and that isn’t what is happening," Tynan said. "Frankly, the fee is outrageous!"
"And I can’t let an opportunity go by without mentioning AHF’s tactics today," Tynan said. "We expect the 'purchased' crowds, unknowing and uneducated about the issues, and we know that tactic. The social media and direct accounts of disparaging comments and disrespect towards performers are unacceptable and disgusting.
"I hold [AHF President] Michael Weinstein and Adam Cohen and other AHF management directly responsible for the atmosphere and disrespect today," Tynan said. "They should be ashamed."
Pictured: Adult entertainment stakeholders attending today’s hearing in downtown Los Angeles