A handsome delivery man arrives offering more than just a pizza. A pretty young woman opens the door. Flirtation ensues. Clothes are cast off. Then out come the goggles.
Porn stars could soon be forced to don far more protection than just condoms in California. New rules proposed last week by the state’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health Standards (OSHA) would require adult film actors to wear eye gear for many scenes. The rules, which have yet to be completed, would also impose strict hygiene standards and outlaw common porn practices.
Porn companies, actors and even some health advocates say the new rules are unnecessary.
“These are regulations designed for medical settings, and are unworkable on an adult film set – or even a Hollywood film set,” said Diane Duke, CEO of the Free Speech Coalition, a trade association for the adult entertainment industry. She said the rules would stigmatize performers and risk “shutting down an entire industry.”
For decades, California has produced the vast majority of America’s adult films. Recently, however, critics have pushed to crack down on the state’s porn industry. In 2012, Los Angeles County passed a controversial law requiring condoms on porn sets. As a result, production in the county plummeted by more than 90 percent.
Technically, current health regulations require porn stars across California to use condoms, but critics say the rule is almost never enforced. California and New Hampshire are the only two states in the U.S. to explicitly permit adult film production, although other states tacitly allow it.
Los Angeles County’s condom law is credited with pushing porn business to other locations including Las Vegas and South Florida.
Now porn companies fear that the proposed rules will kill California’s adult film industry for good.
The proposed rules are largely the work of one man: Michael Weinstein, president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. For years, Weinstein has attacked the porn industry for what he calls dangerously poor testing procedures and its refusal to use condoms. Five years ago, Weinstein submitted a formal request to OSHA to impose stricter hygiene standards and crack down on condom dodging. His organization was also behind LA County’s condom law.
“This is really about worker protection, and what the Cal/OSHA Standards Board is for,” he said during the public hearing last week, according to the Los Angeles Daily News. His group claims that “at least four adult performers … have become infected with HIV while working in the adult film industry, while thousands of other adult performers became infected with thousands of other sexually-transmitted diseases.”
But the Free Speech Coalition disputes that, arguing that not a single porn star has contracted HIV “on a regulated adult set” since 2004. The porn industry says its testing procedures are safe and that performers shouldn’t be forced to wear condoms, although they can if they prefer. Some porn companies have accused the state of asserting control over actors’ bodies.
“We’re absolutely opposed to the new regulations proposed by Cal/OSHA,” Michael Stabile, a spokesperson for San Francisco porn company Kink, told SF Weekly. “They’re based in stigma and threaten to make working conditions less safe for adult performers. Because everything we do at Kink is based in consent, we can’t support regulations that remove performers’ control over their bodies or forces performers to disclose medical information, for instance. It’s important to note that these are regulations to which performers have been vocal in their opposition.”
Weinstein said he was “pleased” the state was considering the harsher rules after five years of inaction. “The process is designed to give everybody a say,” he said at the hearing. “I think it was conducted fairly.”
Porn companies and actors beg to differ.
They say that the new rules are ridiculous. If condoms and dental dams dampen the fantasy of adult films, then wearing goggles will drown it once and for all (although fans of doctor and woodworking fantasies might beg to differ).
“All equipment and environmental and work surfaces shall be cleaned and decontaminated after contact with blood or (other bodily fluids) at the end of each scene, and no later than at the end of each day of production,” according to the proposed rules.
“Employers shall ensure that cleaning and disinfection methods that are used for sex toys and other objects that may have contact with an employee’s genitals, eyes, skin, or other mucous membranes do not cause irritation or other harm to the employee.”
The new rules wouldn’t just sanitize porn. If adopted, they would also outlaw many practices common in adult films. Under the rules, “all bodily fluids shall be considered potentially infectious materials.”
That means a ban on the – shall we say – dramatic flourishes at the end of many porn films. In other words, no matter how sexy it might seem, the pizza delivery man won’t be spilling his sauce.