COSTA MESA, Calif.—With much of the adult industry's attention focused on the lawsuit filed by Vivid Entertainment and two performers against Measure B, it's easy to overlook other developments in the fight by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) to require that performers use condoms and other "barrier protections" during on-camera sex scenes—but one of those developments took place just yesterday.
At a meeting of the CalOSHA Standards Board held in Costa Mesa, board members took up the long-standing issue of "condoms in porn," a dispute that began in December of 2009 when AHF filed a petition with the agency seeking a ruling that, under California's Health Code, performers were required to wear condoms. That petition resulted in a number of public meetings, stretching over almost two years, to discuss the issue, most of which were chaired by CalOSHA chief inspector Deborah Gold and agency attorney Amy Martin, with AHF employees and supporters in attendance, as well as personnel from all facets of adult content production.
And sure enough, AHF contractor Mark Roy McGrath addressed the Standards Board along with AHF supporter Adam Carl Cohen of UCLA's Reproductive Health Interest Group—except this time, the pair's claims were reportedly less about AHF's claims of rampant STD infections among the talent pool and more about "stressing the disparate impact [of STDs] upon female performers and the fact that sterility and permanent health impairments can occur" from STD infection, according to labor attorney Karen Tynan.
In an unexpected turn of events, and possibly aimed at burnishing its image before Judge Dean D. Pregerson in the Vivid lawsuit, McGrath claimed that AHF is a "leader" in STD testing (though its Rapid HIV test is completely unsuitable for adult industry use) and in providing treatment for infected persons—and moreover that they are available for "medical monitoring" of performers, and that the foundation can supply "personal protective equipment" to performers for less than a penny per unit, or possibly even free. (Observers were skeptical that AHF could provide not only condoms but also the Health Code-required rubber gloves, dental dams, goggles, face shields and hazmat suits for that minuscule price.)
This new AHF position is at odds with previous statements from AHF president Michael Weinstein that his organization had no interest in providing medical monitoring of the industry, nor even in being a testing facility to help screen performers for sexually transmitted infections.
On the pro-industry side, besides Tynan, Free Speech Coalition (FSC) CEO Diane Duke and labor lobbyist Kevin Bland also attended the board meeting, with Duke addressing the board members and providing them with FSC's own Bloodborne Pathogen Plan as well as the report of Dr. Lawrence S. Mayer debunking the Los Angeles County Health Department's statistical claims regarding the incidence of STD infections among performers. She also submitted a letter from barrier protection opponent Lydia Lee, founder of Adult Performers Coalition for Choice (APC4C).
Tynan also spoke at the meeting, reminding the Cal/OSHA personnel in attendance (including Deborah Gold) that the industry has tried to be involved in the process of regulations, that it has been and will continue to be cooperative with inspections while maintaining its legal rights, and that the vast majority of complaints against the industry are from AHF and not from industry employees. She also noted that at hearings called to deal with a recent complaint by AHF against Treasure Island Media, it was shown that most of the movies which AHF had claimed violated California's Health Code were actually filmed in New York, London and Berlin—and that AHF's complaint, filed without the organization's having done even minor due diligence regarding the complained-of movies, had resulted in several wasted days of hearings.
According to Tynan, Gold will likely submit a new proposed adult industry regulation, which would be incorporated into the Health Code, to the Standards Board sometime in September, and the board's staff will then have a period of time—several weeks, and even possibly several months—to evaluate the proposal, during which both sides of the issue will have an opportunity to make comments and suggest changes to the proposed regulation.