Synchronicity, Hypocrisy, Condoms and Michael Weinstein

PORN VALLEY—Ever pick up the phone to call someone and when you put the receiver to your ear, the person you were going to call is already on the line with you? That's synchronicity. Ever go, on a whim, into a bar you've never been patronized before and found a group of your friends already there? That's synchronicity.

So it was perhaps synchronistic when attorney Michael Fattorosi walked into AVN's offices yesterday afternoon and mentioned that he'd recently written a column for his website about a 2004 public meeting that had been called by then-Assemblyman, now City Councilman, Paul Koretz in the wake of the HIV outbreak in which performer Darren James contracted the disease while working in South America, and before it was detected, infected four actresses.

Koretz's office produced a report of that meeting, which was held on June 4, 2004, and lasted most of the morning, which summarized what several speakers' views were on the outbreak—one of whom was AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) president Michael Weinstein.

The report doesn't give much detail of what Weinstein said. According to the report, "Mr. Weinstein made the point that there are thousands of HIV infections occurring all over the country and the world and yet the media and Legislature are now focused on the handful of infections that have recently occurred in the porn industry. He also stated that AIM may be best suited to deliver HIV testing and prevention services to the porn community rather than other HIV related organizations like AIDS Healthcare Foundation."

AIM, of course, was the adult industry's primary testing center until it was driven out of business in 2011 thanks to a combination of two lawsuits: One filed by CalOSHA seeking the medical records of an HIV-positive person who had tested at AIM prior to his/her re-entry into performing after a long hiatus, and the other filed by Diana Grandmason (aka Desi Foxx), who alleged that her medical privacy had been violated because AIM had posted her test results online in a database accessible by adult producers, even though she had voluntarily signed a form allowing AIM to disclose just such information.

Grandmason was represented free of charge by AHF attorney Brian Chase. That suit was later dismissed in the wake of AIM's bankruptcy.

But what Fattorosi's visit did was remind us that we had attended that same meeting, and had written about it extensively, although we didn't recall that Weinstein had attended nor what he said.

Fortunately, nothing ever totally disappears from the internet, so we searched back through AVN's archives and found our multi-part report of that meeting ... and sure enough, Weinstein was there—and he had a lot more to say than is cataloged in Koretz's report. Here's an excerpt from AVN's coverage of that event:

Another panelist was Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which is the largest AIDS organization in the U.S., with 21 clinics and 120,000 clients around the world ... and even with that level of expertise, Weinstein found it appropriate to laud AIM.
"I also want to salute AIM for the work they’ve done. AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which has tested in sex clubs and other high-risk venues, has worked with AIM in some of these areas, and we certainly admire the work that they've done."
Later, he added, "It’s really hard to imagine a better set-up than to have a group that grew out of the adult film industry itself. It seems to me a lot of the success of the prevention programs is that they’re accepted and integrated into the milieu."
Weinstein spoke to one issue that had only been touched on by other speakers: The different reactions of the gay and straight communities to condom use in videos.
"In the gay porn industry, the overwhelming majority of people use condoms, and so the question is why?" Weinstein asked. "And the reason is, condom use was the community norm in the gay community in the late '80s and early '90s. And why was that? Because the gay community had been through a holocaust and therefore using a condom did not seem like a very high price to pay when you were watching your friends and loved ones die all around you. Essentially, the issue of condom use in films is a reflection of condom use in society, and unfortunately the community norm in the gay community is eroding and it is nonexistent among heterosexuals."
But while Weinstein was much in favor of pro-condom "public service announcements" at the start of adult videotapes, he was leery about requiring their use in the making of the features.
"There is no precedent in any state law for mandating the use of condoms," Weinstein noted, "and I feel we should be careful before crossing that threshold... In the end, prohibition [of non-condom sex] does not work."

How far Weinstein has come from those glory days a whole eight years ago!

First, it's nice to recall that he once knew that the fact that straight porn in those days (and still!) didn't use condoms was "a reflection of condom use in society" and that there were at least some concerns that he recognized that made him "leery" about requiring their use in adult movies—and in fact, he understood then that such a prohibition "does not work."

Of course, that's a far cry from the attacks on AIM perpetrated by Weinstein and his organization, that began over three years ago, when apparently he stopped "admir[ing] the work that they've done." It's a far cry from the petition he filed with CalOSHA to force all adult producers in California to use condoms and other "barrier protections" in adult movies. It's a far cry from his enlisting UCLA's supposedly non-partisan Reproductive Health Interest Group (RHIG) to hold public forums promoting forced condom use, even going to the length of hiring one of that group's leaders, Mark Roy McGrath, as a "consultant."

And it's a far cry from AHF spending millions of dollars on a petition drive to put forced condom use on the ballot in the City of Los Angeles—a move that was short-circuited by the City Council which, realizing that adding such a ballot measure would cost the city millions of dollars in election expenses, simply passed the measure as a city ordinance—which it still can't figure out how to enforce.

And it's a far cry from AHF mounting yet another petition drive, this time in LA County, to require the county Department of Public Health to issue "health permits" to adult companies which would require that performers not only use condoms but other "barrier protections"—dental dams, latex gloves, goggles, face shields or even hazmat suits—in all sexually explicit movies filmed in the county, on pain of losing that health permit—and therefore being prohibited from making adult movies for at least two weeks and possibly forever—and having huge fines levied on such "violators."

We might speculate what caused Weinstein's change of heart regarding condoms in porn. We might speculate that his reported partial ownership of companies that manufacture condoms might have something to do with it. We might speculate that AHF's apparent close relationship with LifeStyles condoms—protest signs featuring their condom wrappers were much in evidence at an AHF protest in front of the Hustler Hollywood store three years ago—might have something to do with it. We might speculate that taking a position requiring the use of condoms and barrier protections, which he thought were unworkable eight years ago, is a good position for AHF to take in that it helps bring in donations to that multi-million-dollar enterprise.

We might speculate a lot of things ... but what the adult industry and all industry supporters must do is Vote No on Measure B.