I recently spoke to Zachary Siegel, a journalist writing for USC’s Annenberg Media (among several other outlets). Zach wanted some insights re the possibility of porno flight to Las Vegas in the event of California’s Prop 60 — which mandates condoms in porn, civilian ability to sue those with a financial stake in production, and more — passing this November.
(pictured: a good quote)
You can read Zach’s piece (that he wrote with Faye Chen, Juliet Muir, and Joshua Payberah) — “Porn Meets Public Health: Condoms on the Ballot” — right here (September, 2016). It’s a great in-depth, multimedia piece that covers the issue from many angles — a long read, but also actually fun and informative.
You can also read my full correspondence with Zach below.
ZS: In 2015 you said, “I don’t think the industry comprehends that it is not legal to produce porn in Las Vegas or Nevada at all. That’s another struggle that’s going to happen – and another legal battle they’re going to have to take care of. I do not think running to Las Vegas and setting up shop there is a long-term solution.”
In that same article Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said there is nothing illegal about filming adult entertainment in the state. (She seems not to care.)
DrCT: Not caring about porn production and/or not persecuting people who create adult content is not the same thing as it being a legally protected workplace.
Adult content production is currently only legal on a state level in California and New Hampshire. This means that Nevada and/or Clark Country (where Las Vegas is – a lot of law and regulation around sex work is on the county level in Nevada) can choose not to look for ways to shut down porn… Or someone/something may decide at any time to pursue legal action – eg via pandering charges, which is what used to happen in California, or via obscenity, which is what happened to Max Hardcore in Florida.
So, even though lawyers may argue one million loopholes and even though all that would likely happen is an eventual reliance on precedence in CA/NH, the fact remains that someone would have to go through a whole legal process to technically get porn to be legal in Nevada. Or, voters would have to change the law (the other way laws are changed – voter sentiment or jurisprudence). Put simply, someone would have to step up to the plate and fight when/if a relevant body in Nevada decides to stop looking the other way.
ZS: But where we’re at now, in 2016, is basically the same argument. Performers and producers who oppose Prop 60 – which (as I’m sure you know) mandates condoms on all sets statewide and opens performer/producers to lawsuit if the condom rule is broken – say it will drive the adult film industry out of California. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, who is campaigning to pass Prop 60, says that will not happen, because the only other state where porn is legally allowed to be produced is (of all places) New Hampshire.
It’s evident that porn is actually filmed all over. What one does in his/her bedroom and uploads to the Internet makes it nearly impossible to enforce where it is produced.
Thus, do you think if Prop. 60 were to pass would production shut down here and move to Vegas (where no one seems to care)?
DrCT: Yes and no – a lot of production has already moved to Las Vegas, with some members of the community relocating too. It’s an obvious extension of LA’s porn diaspora because, like when people fly from LA to the Bay Area to shoot for the day, Las Vegas is both close and fairly familiar for people. But what’s also happening in LA is that people are shooting “off the grid” without permits, etc. Between the two, what’s happening is a fracturing of the industry’s close-knit community network and system of self-policing and checks and balances. This informal network, though certainly not flawless, served to protect members of the community. As this system breaks apart, people are put at greater risk. If Prop. 60 were to pass, these issues would only intensify.
ZS: I’d also like to get your thoughts on Prop. 60. Given your expertise, do you think people should vote yes/no? And why.
DrCT: California voters should absolutely vote no on Prop. 60. This is not because the adult industry can’t stand for some formal regulation. It could. Voters should say no to Prop. 60 because it is bad law that comes from a third party organization’s obsessive moralizing – moralizing that’s entirely contingent upon on voters’ lack of understanding about the industry’s internal functions and structure.
Are condoms good for your average person’s daily sex life? Probably. That message has been drilled into us as a culture for decades. But your average person’s sex practices and professional sex produced for porn are dissimilar in just about every way imaginable. The party behind Prop. 60 is relying on the general population’s emotions, social constructions, and general discomforts with sex in order to force an agenda.
Regulation of porn production needs a two-fold solution/approach. First, we need to take the time to understand the industry as an industry, a business, and a community, which no one seems willing to do. Second, we need to find a way to remove individual discomforts and “should dos” regarding sex behavior from this understanding. These are both tall orders, so in the meantime what’s best is listening to the adult industry, especially to the workers and producers most impacted by regulation. What are porn performers saying? What do producers (many of who are also performers) have to say about the impact this law will have on their business? That is key information.
Well, what do you think about California Prop 60 and mandatory condoms in porn?
Read Zach’s piece in full here.
(pictured: condom montage via USC)
* * *
Got a sociology question? Need some social justice informed life advice? Contact Dr. Chauntelle right here.