TV spots and billboard to be unveiled
As syphilis outbreak roils L.A.’s adult film industry, health officials, former adult film actors infected with HIV while working in the industry and safer sex advocates unveiled campaign for November ballot measure that will, “…require producers of adult films to obtain a public health permit from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health…and pay a permit fee…sufficient for necessary enforcement.”
LOS ANGELES (September 17, 2012) Medical professionals and health officials, former adult film actors infected with HIV while working in the industry and safer sex advocates formally unveiled the ‘Vote Yes on B’ election campaign for a November 2012 Los Angeles County ballot measure that will, “…require producers of adult films to obtain a public health permit from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health…and pay a permit fee…sufficient for necessary enforcement.” The campaign launch took place today in a press conference at the Sheraton Universal’s StarView Room in Universal City, CA overlooking L.A.’s San Fernando Valley—home to the multi-billion dollar adult film industry.
The ‘Vote Yes on B’ ballot measure, spearheaded by AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) and members of FAIR (‘For Adult Industry Responsibility’), comes after at least nine HIV infections believed to be industry-related were reported in two outbreaks in Los Angeles since 2004, and amidst thousands of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) occurring annually among adult performers. The ballot measure also comes at a time when an outbreak of syphilis, a highly contagious, but curable STI, is roiling L.A.’s adult film industry and shut down the entire industry for several weeks earlier this summer.
At the press conference, backers of campaign also unveiled the first two ‘Yes on B’ 30-second television commercials, the first, titled ‘Darren and Derrick,’ features Darren James and Derrick Burts, two former adult performers who became infected with HIV while working in the industry. That spot will start running on three stations (CNN, MSNBC and FOX) in greater Los Angeles in various day parts with an initial run of over 400 ad placements. In addition, the campaign will feature ‘Vote Yes on B’ billboards, which will also start on Monday September 17th; direct mail post cards targeting specific voting constituencies, a ‘Vote Yes on B’ website and other elements. A second ‘Yes on B’ TV spot, titled, ‘134 Permits,’ will also be unveiled during the press conference. Placement of this TV ad will occur later in the campaign.
“We are pleased to formally launch our ‘Vote Yes on B’ election campaign for the County of Los Angeles Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act,” said Michael Weinstein, president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation and one of the five named proponents of the ballot initiative. “This is a prudent public health and safety measure that will require adult film producers operating in the County to obtain public health permits as a condition of doing business here in Los Angeles. In order to do so, producers will have to comply with existing health and safety laws—including condom use in the films they produce—and there will be NO cost to taxpayers, as enforcement will be covered by permit fees paid by the producers. Our initial polling has shown strong support for condom use in these films and we are confident that a majority of voters will see this as the straightforward health and safety measure it is.”
The measure is modeled on County’s health permit process for nail salons, barbershops, tattoo and massage parlors and bathhouses. At present, there are 134 other categories of businesses or services that require a permit or license from Los Angeles County, and advocates from AHF and FAIR believe that it is not burdensome to require the adult film industry to get similar health permits.
L.A. County Ballot Measure B Campaign Likely to be Hard-Fought
While backers of Measure B are optimistic that the law will pass, indications are that it may be a hard-fought campaign. Last week, the Free Speech Coalition (FSC), the adult industry’s trade association, launched a ‘No on Measure B.’ In a press release announcing their campaign, FSC also announced they have hired two high-profile campaign consultants from each side of the aisle: James Lee, … “of The Lee Strategy Group, Inc. (LSG)…as…Communications Director. Prior to forming LSG, James was a director at the global PR firm Burson-Marsteller…” and has “… extensive campaign experience includes working for several conservative candidates and organizations including President George H.W. Bush and Governor Pete Wilson.”
In addition, the Free Speech Coalition also hired Sue Burnside as the “No on Measure B” Campaign Manager, who runs a “…Los Angeles-based political consulting firm specializing in sophisticated grassroots field operations, turnout programs, ground-based vote-by-mail programs and coalition building,” who has previously worked on several prominent Democratic campaigns over the years.
“We are confident that L.A. County voters will see through the false arguments the opposition will likely mount claiming free speech and potential taxpayer expense,” added AHF’s Weinstein. ‘As to free speech infringement: there is none—when an actor is paid to perform, he or she is covered by health and safety laws, which include condom use. With regard to potential cost to taxpayers, again, none: the expense of enforcement will be covered by permit fees paid by the adult producers.”
This ordinance is known as the ‘County of Los Angeles Safer Sex In The Adult Film Industry Act.’
County of Los Angeles Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act
- The measure would enact an ordinance to add Chapter 11.39, entitled ‘Adult Films,” to Title 11, Health and Safety, of the Los Angeles County Code.
- The purpose of the measure is intended to minimize the spread of sexually transmitted infections by regulating the adult film industry.
- The measure would require producers of adult films to obtain a public health permit from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (“the Department”) and pay a permit fee set by the Department in an amount sufficient for necessary enforcement.
- The measure would provide for a permitting process that requires application submission and proof of completion of a blood borne pathogen training course, after which a permit shall be issued. The measure also requires submission of an exposure control plan.
- The measure would require use of condoms for all acts of anal or vaginal sex during the production of adult films, as well as the posting of the public health permit and notice to performers regarding condom use.
- The measure would authorize the Department to enforce the provisions of the ordinance, including suspending or revoking the public health permit for violating the ordinance, or any other law, following notice and an opportunity for an administrative review. Prior notice would not be required if any immediate danger to the public and safety is found or reasonably suspected. Violation of the ordinance would be subject to civil fines and/or criminal misdemeanor charges.
- The measure would provide that in the event another ballot measure relating to the permits for the adult film industry appears on the same ballot, that this measure shall prevail if it receives the greater number of affirmative votes, and the competing measure shall be null and void.
- The measure authorizes the Board of Supervisors to amend the chapter by ordinance, passed by a majority vote, in order to further its purposes. The chapter may only be repealed by ordinance adopted by a vote of the electors or by an amendment of the Los Angeles County Charter superseding the ordinance.
- The measure provides that if any part of the ordinance is held to be invalid or unconstitutional, then remaining provisions shall be severable and remain in full force and effect.
Background on AHF’s Adult Film Worker Safety Efforts and STD Infections in the Industry
AHF’s move to spearhead this ballot initiative was prompted by two outbreaks of HIV in the industry and an ongoing epidemic of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in California’s adult film industry. As part of its ongoing campaign to require the use of condoms in adult films, AHF has undertaken high profile advocacy efforts directly targeting the industry, including key players like Hustler’s founder Larry Flynt and Vivid Entertainment’s Steve Hirsch; it has also publicly pressed Los Angeles County political and health officials to comply with the law as far as legal reporting of HIV and STD cases—including those found among performers in the industry—and to require the use of condoms on film sets in Los Angeles.
In addition, multiple organizations committed to protecting the public health have called for mandatory use of condoms in the production of adult films, including the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, the California Conference of Local AIDS Directors, the California STD Controllers Association, the National Coalition of STD Directors, the National Association of City and County Health Officials, AIDS Healthcare Foundation and the California Medical Association.
STDs in the Adult Film Industry in Los Angeles County
According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LADPH), workers in the adult film industry are ten times more likely to be infected with a sexually transmitted disease than members of the population at large. LADPH documented 2,013 individual cases of chlamydia and 965 cases of gonorrhea among workers between the years 2003 and 2007. In the period April 2004 to March 2008 there have been 2,847 STD infections diagnosed among 1,884 performers in the adult industry in LA County. LADPH has also observed that many workers suffer multiple infections, with some performers having four or more separate infections over the course of a year. In addition, LADPH has stated that as many as 25 industry-related cases of HIV have been reported since 2004. County health officials attribute the epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases in the porn industry to a lack of protective equipment for partners, including condoms. The agency recommends condoms be used during production, but has never taken steps to ensure their use, or to protect the performers who are essentially required to endanger their health in order to remain employed.
Summer 2012 Syphilis Outbreak Roils L.A.’s Adult Film Industry
As backers of the ‘Vote Yes on B’ campaign the County of Los Angeles Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act were developing their election campaign earlier this summer, the porn industry was also thrown into turmoil by an outbreak of syphilis, a highly contagious, but curable sexually transmitted disease, (STD) among adult performers in Los Angeles. Reliable sources suggest there are as many as nine industry-related US syphilis cases, a number that will likely grow to (while at the same time, there are a number of syphilis cases among adult performers in Eastern Europe—in Budapest—where some think the outbreak first began, which may involve more than 100 individuals).
The outbreak in Los Angeles halted film production for two weeks and prompted the Free Speech Coalition to recommend all L.A. adult performers be treated with antibiotics—prophylactically and without any testing.
“We were saddened to learn of this syphilis outbreak in the industry, but it underscores that this is not just about one industry, but about our entire community, as the spread of disease among adult film performers endangers themselves as well as their sexual partners in and outside the industry,” added AHF’s Weinstein. “This is why we are bringing the question directly to voters here in Los Angeles.”