LOS ANGELES—The Los Angeles Times' Ted Rall took out his editorial pen today to weigh in on the news that film permits for porn productions in Los Angeles County have reportedly fallen by 95 percent following the passage last year of Measure B, the so-called mandatory condom law that is being challenged in court.
An esteemed editorial cartoonist as well as writer, Rall's column, titled "L.A.'s condom law sends porn industry packing," leads with a cartoon depicting a Los Angeles freeway on-ramp with a sign directing drivers to the San Fernando Valley. As a car heads onto the on-ramp, a barely clad man and woman stand on either shoulder holding signs. The woman's sign reads, "Will do pretty much anything on camera for food"; the man's reads, "Will cover up for food." The cartoon is captioned on top, "After L.A. County passed a law requiring condom use in porn movies, x-rated film production dropped by 95%," with a smaller caption at the bottom that reads, "Help these porn actors."
Noting in his written editorial, "Apparently, the business has migrated from the San Fernando Valley to Ventura County," Rall observes that the apparent dissolution on the SFV-based porn industry makes for comedy with an edge.
"When an industry collapses," he writes, "the first thing I think of as a cartoonist is of panhandlers with 'Will ____ for Food' signs. So that's where I started with this cartoon. Because the aesthetics of porn tend toward the undignified side, a story like this is comic gold. These things pretty much draw themselves.
"Still," he adds, "this is serious business."
What's serious business? "The county is losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual tax revenue," he observes. "As for the purpose of the law—to encourage safe sex—this measure appears to be completely ineffective. The movies are still being made, those rascals still aren't being wrapped and viewers won't get the voter-desired safe-sex message. As far as I can tell, the only thing that Measure B accomplished was to scoot the sets a few miles north and west."
He then quotes performer Lily LaBeau, who told Slate in 2012, "I wouldn't mind using condoms more. It's just not what people want to see."
Rall concludes, "There's no empirical data to support or deny that claim. But that's clearly the mainstream view within the industry—and they're voting with their feet to prove they believe it."
This is not the first time Rall has brought his pen to bear on the subject of mandatory condoms in porn. In September of last year, he satirized Measure B in an editorial cartoon that, as we wrote at the time, implied that "the AIDS Healthcare Foundation-backed proposition ... is a slippery slope that will lead to increasingly ridiculous government oversight."
Ted Rall's personal website is here.