On HIV, Ordinances and Bulletproof Vests: An Op-Ed

CHATSWORTH, Calif.—As everyone in our tight-knit little adult industry community is painfully aware, Michael Weinstein's AIDS Healthcare Foundation has dumped millions of dollars into a single-minded crusade to save adult entertainers from themselves by way of business-crippling legislation dressed up as worker safety ordinances.

You see, Michael Weinstein is so concerned for the poor, defenseless workers of the adult trade that he feels he must swoop in like an unsolicited Michael Landon to shepherd them—kicking and screaming if need be—onto the Highway to Porn Heaven. There's HIV out there, after all, and if he doesn't intervene with his almighty hand of political maneuvering and greenbacks, they are sure to just let it run them over roughshod. His efforts are remarkably altruistic.

One must wonder, though, if Michael Weinstein is truly the patron saint of adult entertainers he fancies himself to be, why he isn't devoting at least some of the vast resources at his disposal to protecting them from an arguably more concrete and certainly more terrifying specter: gun violence.

Wednesday night, a dancer at Spearmint Rhino Rialto was shot in the face by an obsessed customer during a lap dance. The latest report (from the LA Daily News) says she remains in critical but stable condition. This was not an isolated incident. At all.

Just since December, there have been reports of strip club dancers in Miami, San Antonio and now Rialto suffering gunshot wounds inside their places of employment. Going back just a little bit further to last August, one was killed by a shooter at a club in Dothan, Alabama. And that doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of the number of shootings that have occured just outside strip clubs everywhere.

Now there may not yet have been any shootings, at least anytime in recent years, on a porn set, but there's nothing to stop one from happening, if say a disgruntled, out-of-work director were to take it into his head to show up on one and let everybody know who was boss. For instance.

So how might this clear and present epidemic be curbed? Obviously, the U.S. Senate has no intention of enacting stricter gun control measures any time soon, so what to do? Well here's an idea: mandatory bulletproof vests.

That's right: Let's appeal to the Michael Weinstein machine to get the wheels turning on some legislation that will give a little real protection to adult entertainers in the workplace by shielding them from the very genuine, very deadly threat of being shot. Mandatory bulletproof vests on all strippers and porn performers, at all times—it's the only answer.

We imagine Mr. Weinstein might find this suggestion ridiculous, and attempt to argue that condomless sex poses a far greater danger to adult entertainers than does the possibility of taking a bullet, but we would beg to differ. Let's look at the cold, hard facts:

Number of adult entertainers (on the straight side of the business) who have contracted HIV at the workplace since 2004: 0

Number of adult entertainers who have been shot at the workplace since August: 4

Number of those who died from the shooting: 1

It's pretty cut and dry. Michael Weinstein, you have squandered millions of dollars on trying to protect adult entertainers from the wrong thing. It's not condoms you should be forcing them to wear, it's bulletproof vests. Because statistically speaking, their risk in indisputably and markedly higher of being stricken with a bullet than with HIV.

OK, let me put my cards on the table now: I do not seriously wish for Michael Weinstein or anyone else to drum up legislation mandating that strippers and porn stars wear bulletproof vests. But I do wish to transmit this message into the ether: Nobody can be Holden Caulfield. No matter how wide your reach or how strong your might, you cannot save all of the children from all of the evils in the world. So stop trying, Michael Weinstein. Train your forces for good on harnessing the things you can, and let go of the ones you can't. Because in the end, you'll save a whole lot more of the children that way.