12 Apr 2011

Health: Working for Porn

Category: Health

On November 5, 2010, the California STD Controllers Association released a “position statement” regarding Worker Health and Safety in the Adult Film Industry. This position statement says: “Attempts to encourage the industry to regulate itself have failed, leading to the need for state and federal regulation of the industry …” and is focused on STD/HIV prevention.

My first response to the statement was one of trepidation as I am not inclined to support a legislative approach of control over a collaborative approach intended to solve a ‘shared problem’. But then I started to ask questions and I began to think about adult performers and worker safety in the adult industry more objectively.

Actors in adult films are employees and they are paid for their work; they are legal sex workers. As workers, they have a right to be protected by health and safety regulations while they are ‘on the job’.

Protection of the worker in this context is important as each time an actor ‘performs’ without practicing safer sex or without being guaranteed that their work will not result in an infection, they are being put ‘at risk’ on the job.  Sex work, sex for pay, is very different then sex pursued for pleasure.

Adult performers are actors, but there is no equivalent to the Screen Actors Guild that is available to protect adult actors during the production of adult films. Previous attempts to form unions failed and employee benefits for performers are hard to find.

Most production houses do not provide health insurance or pay for STD/HIV screening (which can cost hundreds per month) and basic protection such as workers compensation is rarely offered while most actors, in order to work, must sign releases that will discharge producers from any liability for the transmission of STDs and/or HIV.

The perspective of some that are associated with the production of adult content and sexual health can also be rather harsh. For example, when Derrick Burts tested positive for HIV in December, some in the industry responded with comments like; “it was just one case”, and ” its under control”, leaving me to wonder how would I feel if I was that “one case”. I wonder; how many infections are acceptable? If you ask me, one preventable HIV infection is too many.

The exploitation of the weak by the strong  has a history as long as human history itself, making the protection of adult performers an integral part of political and social systems that value the rights of the individual. Those most vulnerable are at greatest risk and any worker protection offered must protect the ‘least’ amongst all performers.

Some form of oversight is obviously needed, and legislature may be the answer. I would like to think that there could be some collaborative answer, where health and film producers can reach a consensus and protect workers together, but when I take into consideration the extreme range of content producers and performers it becomes obvious that not all producers would be willing to acquiesce to standards that do not come with serious consequences for violation, and not all performers are equipped to insist they be protected.

Officials in California are drawing up new safety amendments for the adult film industry. The movement for reform was spearheaded by the AHF (AIDS Healthcare Foundation) and the amendments are set to be introduced at the Cal/OSHA advisory meeting in Los Angeles on June 7th, 2011.

I believe everyone, especially those that consume adult material, have a role in ensuring the protection of adult performer’s health and safety. But I am perplexed at how that should look. I am also bemused at the concept of health and safety forcing the use of condoms and dental dams, which is, in essence, dictating what the end product will look like.

Exactly what protections for workers in the adult industry should look like, I am not sure.

What are your thoughts?

Stephan

 

 

 

 

21 comments for Health: Working for Porn

  • Anyone who works in the porn industy is a low life and deserves whatever diseases they get.

  • Seriously? Are you talking to men or you talking to boys?!

    This whole STD thing is overrated. You have risky sex you increase your chance of contracting a disease.

    They want to be sex workers. Its easy money. Stop with the remorse and trying to save them. They don’t want to be saved because if they did they would not partake in such actions.

    Bareback porn is cool if Im not doing it…lol Everybody is doing it does not mean I have to do it…

    Sometimes the things some Gay people do make me think that I am not gay at all…lol The shit that you guyz would do for dick is amazing…

    Boo hoo for them. If they contract a disease send them to the nearest clinic. NEXT!

  • i think that all porn companies/producers should get their adult performers tested for HIV/AIDS and STDs regulary. if they want to keep their actors (and their consumers) happy they should make sure that their actors health is n order. also anybody who is auditioning/considering to be an adult performer you should get yourself tested before you go to an audition. porn companies/producers should make it a REQUIERMENT to get tested before hand and it should be a REQUIREMENT for porn companies/producers to have a health care plan or benift for their actors. musicians have their instruments and without their instruments they can not perform. actors have their bodies and without their bodies they can not perform, so again if porn companies/producers want to keep their actors (and their consumers) happy they will have some sort of health plan or benifit so that their actors can perform. this isnt a situation where its a one night stand and its play at your own risk. this is an on the job problem. in any other business if someone gets hurt, injured, or sick on the job the company is held responsible. why should porn be any different? if they hire someone who has an STD or HIV/AIDS they risk passing it to the other actors and if the other actors contract it then the company gets hurt financaly.

  • NO ONE IS MAKING THESE GROWN ASS ADULTS DO ANYTHING THAT THEY DON’T WANT TO ALREADY DO:

    WHICH IS TO GET FUCKED AND GET PAID…

    For this reason I am careful who I have sex with in LA.

    Condoms is always on the MENU!

  • oh great, yeah just bring uncle sam into it, the government will ensure everyone’s safety. yeah right.

  • Anyone who thinks they can regulate the porn industry is out of their mind.

    If the major American producers of what I will call “legit porn” are suddenly regulated to the extent that the on-screen action becomes “compromised” or “sanitized” I think the fans of bare porn (etc) will gravitate toward underground, amateur or foreign product, which is not subject to any domestic regulations. Or else, perhaps, they will simply revisit previously released, unregulated product. We have already seen older material being marketed as “pre-condom.”

    Without wanting to come across as insensitive – and I realize that I might – I liken porn actors to stunt performers, astronauts and nuclear power plant workers. They know what the risks are and, apparently, they are okay with those risks. AFAIK people aren’t being forced to do porn.

    It’s true that those other industries have unions and/or benefits and – yes! – I’d love to see that happen for porn actors. But unions don’t form overnight. They have to say “no” and they have to mean it. The problem is that porn actors probably know that if they were to go on strike, there are many others who are eager to become porn actors and will do anything to make that happen. The vacuum would be filled. And that “new talent” would probably be cheaper.

    So, perhaps the relative certainty of unemployment is more unnerving than the slight possibility of acquiring HIV.

    Unfortunately, for porn actors, porn acting is not widely regarded as a unique form of talent – everyone can fuck. True, some of us may not have what it takes to perform on-camera. But, apparently, a lot of us do – witness the limitless amount of amateur porn on the web – and note that people are, in fact, getting off to that porn.

    The monthly tests that are reportedly already happening in the adult film industry are about all anyone can reasonably expect. And I’m sure everyone in the industry is aware that there is still a chance that sero-conversion could still take place in between the time of a negative test result and the shooting of an actor’s next scenes. Testing mitigates the risk, but does not eliminate it. The same is true of those other industries I listed earlier – they do what they can to minimize risk, knowing full-well that there are no guarantees. Very bad things can happen. Porn actors, astronauts, etc, are all playing the odds that WHEN (not “if”) something bad happens, it won’t happen to them.

    Of course, there’s nothing stopping them from taking matters into their own hands. What I would suggest to porn actors who are concerned about STI’s is that they only work with other actors that they know and can reasonably trust. It’s less likely that an actor would knowingly put a dear friend at risk. And, if I were a porn actor, I’d take out personal health insurance and save some of that “porn star” money for a rainy day. A lot of us “mere mortals” are doing just that.

    I wish them all the very best.

  • The protection of adult film actors should fall mostly on the actors themselves. The resources it would take to apply a legislative oversight on pornography could be better used elsewhere. The primary occupational hazard in doing porn is the potential STIs one can catch from a fellow actor. Common sense dictates that using the same precautions you would in safe sex could be exercised if you are working in pornography. If a male actor decides to bareback, he should accept responsibility for that decision. HIV/Aids is nothing new to this generation.

  • At the very least, as with ANY industry, all employees need a full-fledged union so that they collectively can protect themselves and collaborate with management, as well as, in this case, make sure STD testing is routine (at no cost to workers), including counseling, and that comprehensive health care benefits are provided/supported in some manner.

  • Government intervention never results in positive results. It just doesn’t.

    Although I largely agree that some safety measures should be implemented, the truth of the matter is that if a “performer” wilingly participates in unsafe on-camera sex he/she does so knowingly that there is a higher level of risk involved.

    If they proceed with such risks being obviously present and “perform” for pay – arguably they have accepted the risks involved and have no one else to blame or cry foul to.

    Government intervention on any topic is a slippery slope. Concentrate efforts on a finding a cure instead!!!

  • @Will : I dont think that this is a way of talking about people. Your comment is very “low-life” too !
    For each is own life dude, respect !
    Dave

  • @ WILL, ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS?????? YOU ARE A WASTE OF A HUMAN BEING!!

  • It’s ludicrous to think that the safety of every worker in America can be safeguarded. Clearly, some jobs are riskier than others, and certainly the porn industry faces its risks. However, those risks can be minimized with some regulation and education, as opposed to absolute control.

    This is not to say that every worker will be safeguarded. Are we to stop an industry that is clearly in demand just because perhaps a few out of the thousands in the industry can get a disease? I don’t think any of us would consider ending coal mining, construction, or shutting down the meatpacking industry just because some workers lose their lives or limbs while on the job.

    We have workmen’s compensation laws that will, to a limited degree, compensate workers who get hurt, even killed, on the job. There are also work-place safety regulations that minimize the risk to workers without outright banning employers from hiring workers in high-risk positions.

    Certain jobs require a higher level of risk than others, including those of sex workers. However, to require every sex worker to practice safer sex in the porn industry will not just destroy the industry in this country, it will indeed force it to go overseas or underground. This will for all intents and purposes put the industry out of the reach of regulations and result in placing the sex workers in even higher risk than they are in today.

    Let’s not kid ourselves. Government can set the rules and regulations, but it should not, in its endeavor to protect everyone, lose sight of its mission, which is to safeguard as many workers as possible without destroying the industry they work for or the jobs they so desperately need to support themselves and their families.

  • While i understand that good hearted people of looking out fot there fellow man, we are talking about an industry that by it’s very nature is risky behavior. Unions or the feds will not solve the problem no matter how you slice it(amtrak,post office and several other oranizations have both) I boils down to take responsability for your own actions. I glove up with my boyfriend and we been seeing each other for a year, wouldn’t you do the same if you were a porn actor???? i would

  • No One deserves to get sick. No One. Condoms don’t always work either. And don’t even get me started on all the lying dudes out there. That’s how I got HIV. Better to be honest. The problem is people don’t want to hear honesty anymore.

  • Regulating the porn industry is a good idea because the workers should be protected. But the industry is so far flung how can it be regulated? Not all porn comes from a studio in Hollywood. Fuck flicks are made everywhere and anywhere from professional studios with million dollar budgets, to amateurs fucking on the internet in a basement in the sticks. What about the shit filmed in other states even if Cally does pass a law? The real action has to be taken by those of us who watch it. If we could get political while we’re jacking off and quit watching BB and other dangerous shit, it would nolonger be profitable and producers would quit making it. What you see is only what’s selling.

  • They should be protected by being tested before they go to work at least every year.

  • You said it Gr8t4t8! Also, people here forget that there are A LOT of people out there with a strong hatred and disgust of the porn industry. I can’t imagine what would happen if people found out that the federal government and their tax dollars were being used to regulate this industry. Yes, tax dollars would be used to fund this. And it would somehow leak that part of the money was going to fund testing for porn actors, and an uproar would ensue.

    I’m not wanting to come across rude or hateful. I’m probably one of the nicest guys you’d ever meet, just trying to be rational.

  • This is part if the OSHA Record … I have re-dacted my full name and address and ID. I hope this brings another voice to the debate ….

    Bloodborne Pathogens in the Adult Film Industry
    Cal/OSHA Advisory Meeting
    Tuesday, June 29, 2010, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
    Cal/Trans Building, 100 S. Main Street, Room 1.040 A, Los Angeles

    Re: Petition File No.: 513 (General Industry Safety Orders Chapter 4, subchapter 7, section 5193, bloodborne pathogens)

    To: Deborah Gold, OSHA Standards Board

    Madam, Sir’s

    I am a resident of California in the City & County of San Francisco. I am a California State certified HIV testing counselor who has been practicing at the Magnet Men’s Health Center & the St. James Infirmary in San Francisco after receiving my certification in December of 2008. I would like it noted that I speak as a concerned clinical worker and HIV test counselor & not on behalf of Magnet or the St. James Infirmary.

    I wish I could address the advisory board directly, but I am unable to travel to Los Angeles at this time and so I would like to make the following comments regarding the petition # 513 by Mr. Michael Weinstein and the Los Angels AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

    I would like to address what I feel is the most obvious deficiency in this proposal. The use, or in this case the non-use of barrier methods for performers in the AFI is a result of what the public wishes for its viewing consumption. The hope that by putting a regulation in place requiring that all AFI productions use condoms or other barrier methods is just not a reasonable goal or is it even a reasonable expectation. The result of this part of the petition being implemented will just drive the production and the performers to other locations outside California where the practice will continue without Cal/OSHA oversight and all the problems that Mr. Michael Weinstein and the Los Angels AIDS Healthcare Foundation contend will still happen, they will just happen there. Then the performers will return home to California where we will have to deal with a problem we now have no input in mitigating infection rates or in improving education for both performers and producers. The AFI is a $4 Billion a year industry the state cannot afford to lose as a revenue source, and that will happen, and we will be left without the needed tax revenue for these programs or the local input to help make improvements to the working conditions and lives of the performers.

    The next deficiency I noticed in the petition that the source dates are from 2004-2008 and the specific data on the “outbreak” of HIV infection was in 2004. So very much has changed in the world of HIV treatment. Our knowledge of the factors that make Harm
    Reduction training and counseling a major source of infection reduction has been validated as being as effective in preventing new HIV infections.
    The use of Anti-retroviral medications has shown in now 2 major studies to be effective in reducing infection between partners of different Sero-status, and the use of Sero-sorting is effective since the original fear of “super-infection” or the infection on someone by more than 1 unique genome type has been shown to be statistically improbable with only 44 confirmed cases world-wide. There are harm reductions measure that the “other stakeholders”, not reflected in Mr. Weinstein’s and the Los Angels AIDS Healthcare Foundation petition information.

    Their proposed new subsection (i)(1) which “would require engineering and work practice controls be maintained to prevent exposure to blood or OPIM, which would include but not be limited to those listed in subsection (i)(1)(A) through (i)(1)(E). These controls include: A) simulation of sex acts, B) ejaculation outside worker’s bodies, C) provision and use of condoms for vaginal and anal sex, D) provision of condom-safe lubricants, and E) plastic and other disposable materials to clean up sets” is not practical, not effective and will only make the productions go elsewhere or underground where OSHA will never be able to enforce.

    I whole-heartedly support the proposed subsection (i)(4) which “would require the provision of information and training in compliance with existing subsection (g)(2) but would permit training provided by another employer or third party within the previous twelve months. It would also exempt employers from the requirements in existing subsection (g)(2)(13) regarding signs and labels”. The possibility that we could get counselors and organizations like the St James Infirmary onto sets or into direct face-to-face meeting with new performers and maybe even their producers to talk about the proposed scene and what steps might be taken to reduce any risk to all involved. Giving the producers a legal opportunity to protect themselves from lawsuits by making a meaningful, consistent and reviewable policy guide for their performers we could educate a large number of the AFI in proven harm reduction & safer sex practices.

    I also applaud the proposed subsection (i)(5) which “would require that workers exposed to blood or OPIM be provided with 1) prophylactic treatment for HIV, 2) testing for other STDs, and 3) treatment for subsequently diagnosed STDs”. We need to assist any & all persons with their preventive and proactively assist post-exposure individuals with all the information and treatment we can. It helps keep the AFI performers safer and gives individuals a greater say in their own heath care.

    I think there needs to be much more input from other stakeholders such as people from Magnet and the St James Infirmary as well as those producers involved in making these productions where non-barrier acts are performed. So much of the production is now outside the USA and amateurs with digital cameras are making even more productions outside the AFI and their guidance. Cal/OSHA is about safety and helping educate the workers about the risks they may be exposed to or involved in. OSHA needs to help educate, coordinate and hopefully influence the evolution of better industry practices. This petition in its current form will not help, it will harm by driving non-barrier productions out of state or further underground where we, the “other stakeholders” will be left to pick up the pieces with reduced funding, staff and industry support since … well, there won’t be a viable AFI in California anymore.

    I would like to volunteer to be part of any further discussion on these issues and will make all efforts to be able to attend any meeting wherever they are. I have worked in, lived with, counseled people in the AFI. This issue is important to me and I believe that the petition in its current form should be denied.

    Thank you for your time, and for your considerations of my words.

  • I don’t think you guys realize the type of guys who are going into porn. Many of them are from the foster care system, or have been homeless. They see porn as a way to solve thier problems and they will do anything to not go back to being without help. They are very vulnerable. Those that weren’t in foster care were sometimes at their wits’ end trying to make ends meet and have some independence. It’s hypocritical to criticise them and then enjoy their work even if you aren’t admiting to it. Let’s face it most queens like to see bb porn. If they didn’t it wouldn’t sell, but sell it does and very well at that. So shut up ragging on porn stars because none of you have walked in their shoes.

  • This is kind of like trying to make a job as a stuntman as safe as possible.

  • FIRST of all — the whole “we need to legislate” really is about power and control by extending the jurisdiction of public health in a way that crosses a major line including everything from civil liberties to disability rights.

    I’m only going to address the m4m porn industry here:

    All the bullshit about “workman’s com” and such does not apply. These men are CONTRACTORS, not EMPLOYEES. Porn models typically work for more than one company. I know many porn “stars” and it is nearly impossible to to make an income that one can support themselves. Most do it a few times, and that’s it. A select few make a name for themselves, use their porn career as an infomercial, and then charge high rates for their sex work as escorts.

    A typical porn model might get paid $1,000 for a scene. After deducting: tanning sessions, gym membership, muscle supplements, and more …. you’re lucky to break even.

    AHF is pure evil. Don’t claim to be our non-profit saviors and advocacy mouthpieces while conducting sex-negative and HIV-stigmatizing lobbying on the side. It’s disgusting.

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