This afternoon, we received citations from the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration that total over $78,000, one of the largest fines in adult film history. While many of the citations relate to things like extension cord violations which relate to our continued overhaul of the 100 year old Armory where we shoot, the biggest fines come because we allow performers the option to shoot without condoms — or as Cal-OSHA terms it, “barrier protection.”
There are various reasons I believe condoms should be optional for performers. The primary reason is that this is the opinion of the majority of performers. Many cite issues such as discomfort, and that in the context of hardcore sex lasting several hours, condoms can lead to abrasions and tears that in some instances can make sex less safe.
What is frustrating is that Cal-OSHA’s stance appears to avoid the basic facts. Since 2004, when current testing protocols were put in place, there has not been a single case of HIV transmission on an adult film set in the US. This is known for sure, since in the rare cases a potential performer tests positive for HIV, we can halt production and retest all the partners with whom the positive performer worked. In every case since 2004, the conclusion has been that HIV was contracted by the performer in their personal lives. This is obviously something the industry cannot control, and not something any Cal-OSHA regulation will address.
The fines levied against Kink.com are not isolated. In the past few years, there have been increasing number of citations handed down to adult companies, often from inspections prompted by outside groups. Worse, Cal-OSHA is currently working on more onerous regulations which, if enforced, will essentially criminalize the production of pornography in the state of California. These regulations were written without dialog with the industry they address, despite significant industry efforts to open such a dialog. The new regulations require things like protective goggles to avoid possible eye-contact with semen, and no cum-shots on genitals or face. I hardly need to write that the industry will either move out of state or go underground — that much is obvious. My fear is that if the industry is forced into a quasi-legal state, this will result in poorer overall working conditions, and less safety. This industry badly needs to stay legal and be subject to intelligent regulation.
Lastly, it is interesting to note that these complaints were not made by employees, but by AIDS Heathcare Foundation, the same organization behind the various bills in Sacramento which would aim to legally mandate condoms in adult productions. These bills have been opposed not only by producers, but by the performers themselves.
One would hope we all have the common goal of protecting performers. I have to confess I am second guessing this is genuinely the case. I cannot help but suspect an agenda to criminalize adult production is at play. It would be wonderful if we could all come together productively — AIDS organizations, Cal-OSHA, the adult entertainment industry, and performers themselves — with the common goal of protecting performer interests and maximizing safety.