Tag Archives: Adult Performer Advocacy Committee

Prop 60, Part One: No More Debate

by Rich Moreland, February 2017

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Everyone knows by now that California voters rejected Proposition 60 last November. So, no condoms in adult film going forward!

But questions linger. How important was Prop 60’s defeat and what does it say about political activism in porn?

At the AVN trade show I decided to ask around.

Answers varied, as did opinions, and a sampling appears here.

First, however, performer Casey Calvert provides some background on the issue that has roiled the adult industry.

Measure B to Prop 60

The ruckus over Prop 60 began a few years ago in 2012 just when she entered the business, Casey remembers. The political dustup then was Measure B that required condoms for filmed sex in LA County.

img_0515-2“My first porn shoot was in November 5, 2012. Measure B passed in LA County on Nov 6, 2012, and I watched it on TV and thought, ‘What the fuck did I just get myself into?'”

Little changed, actually. The law was never really enforced, Casey points out.

“They don’t have the money to make sure porn stars are wearing condoms. LA as a political entity and a public service entity is stretched so thin,” the native Floridian explains and adds that the law is still around but is “unenforceable as written.”

Undeterred, the Aids Health Foundation’s  Michael Weinstein, who was behind the initiative, turned his attention statewide. Next came AB 1576 that did what Measure B advocated, Casey continues, and it, too, failed in the state legislature mainly because of cost.

Finally, Weinstein went the ballot route in the election and collected enough signatures to bring his proposal before the voters.

However, it expired at the ballot box because it was flawed.

“The issue with Prop 60 was less about condoms and more about enforcement and how every private citizen in California could sue a porn production company if they watched a movie shot in the state without a condom,” Casey says.

2017-01-18-07-18-13-3Evil Angel owner John Stagliano agrees.

“Prop 60 was a horribly written law,” he says, pointing out that it established Michael Weinstein as “the porn czar” with the power to “prosecute cases and collect his expenses from the state.”

Despite the proposition’s shortcomings, effort and planning was required to ensure its demise.

Political Unity

Unwilling to take chances, the industry fought the initiative. Ela Darling, the current President of the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee (APAC) comments, “APAC and the FSC (Free Speech Coalition) and a large number of performers did everything they could to defeat Prop 60 and we won, we got it!”

Casey Calvert reminds us that this was “the first time that porn stars actually rallied for a cause and we owe a lot of that to the Free Speech Coalition.” She talks about industry people using twitter and doing interviews to get the story out.

“I wrote a piece for the Huffington Post which I heard was very impactful . . . I also spoke on the radio,” Casey adds.

Ela and Casey give performers Julia Ann and SiouxsieQ and Free Speech Coalition’s Eric Leue much credit for organizing and leading the charge.

John Stagliano steps up to put Chanel Preston on the worthy list. “Chanel did some great interviews . . . She was very effective and active [in defeating Prop 60].”

And, everyone thanks California’s Democratic, Republican, and Libertarian Parties and the LGBT organizations for speaking out against Prop 60, a rare instance of political unity.

Activism

Ela talks about the lobbying in Sacramento.

2017-01-18-09-23-25-2“We spoke to legislators, we spoke to Senators . . . anybody who would give us time. Quite a few did. I got to be the voice of the industry to speak to the caucuses and the Democratic convention in Long Beach. It’s been a really big grassroots effort,” she says. Porn people even “led a protest through Hollywood.”

“I’ve never seen the industry aligned so strongly on anything like they did on Prop 60. It was refreshing, it was empowering, and amazing.”

Performer Derrick Pierce presents an unvarnished view of the campaign.

The FSC built a winning coalition of ” both talent and producers and production teams.” People “who are typically fragmented in nature” were on the same political page, Derrick remarks, because “even though we are socially amongst each other we don’t really function in that capacity.”

He characterizes the industry’s victory as a “David versus Goliath” fight.

In doing his part, Derrick went on Facebook to check postings from major media outlets where he found lots of comments.

“I literally went through every negative or misinformed comment and rebutted it. And who knows, maybe it reached five people, but that’s what was needed from every person who had a vested interest in this.”

But he had his doubts. “I’m glad that it was defeated though I was thinking that we were going to get screwed.”

Derrick interprets the victory as more than just a defeat for  poorly written law and its sponsor AHF.

“It wasn’t so much that prop 60 and us moving to Vegas or another place was necessarily the problem, it’s that it set precedent. That’s huge because, there’s no more debate.”

In other words, should similar issues arise with CAL/OSHA and safety regulations,”Now you just have to implement what’s already been said.”

Know the Process

Next Derrick sticks a dagger in the heart of deceit.

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“I would love to see what Weinstein’s real issue is. I know what he’s written and some of the things he’s said and I know who his donors and backers are.”

Moreover, the top male performer understands what spurs politicians and reformers.

“Anything to do with the adult business is a wonderful soapbox. You stand on it and preach to the people this is immoral, we have to protect these people [porn performers] that don’t know any better.”

He also calls out talent to educate themselves.

“Half the people don’t know what our testing process is. You should know because if you’re going to argue the point then you should know what the hell it is we’re doing. [Most performers] don’t know how many tests are done on us every two weeks . . .and they should.

“Know the process and how it works so  you don’t sound like a bumbling idiot when you talk about it.”

Derrick asserts that just screaming performer rights  “doesn’t mean anything” when it comes to debating health issues.

A Reminder of Reality

Finally, Briana Banks brings up a point that may have swayed some voters. She’s happy, of course, with the outcome but there is bit of reality that may have been missed when assessing the defeat of condoms.

Briana shot for the condom-only Vivid for eight years and her movies sold well, she says. But when she put up a recent condom clip she did for her website, her fans panned the scene.

2017-01-19-04-27-29-2“My fans were disgusted. They really were. We’ve put it out there so much of not using condoms that now if you use a condom, people watching porn can’t get past it.”

But there is something else at work here, Briana thinks.

The condom is a shock because of the reality it represents.

“Seeing a condom makes them think of STDs and HIV that they don’t think of when watching a porn movie.”

Condoms remind fans of the risks they take in their own lives, Briana believes. “To watch a porn star use a condom makes them think about the reality of life in general.”

Interesting. Maybe it’s something everybody missed in this battle. Porn is just fantasy and Prop 60 was about to take that away.

For the industry, however, there could be a darker underlying message hidden within this victory. Does it suggest that some fans may unconsciously regard porn performers as expendable?

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Next we’ll look at how the defeat of Prop 60 is seen as a game changer for the industry, if indeed it is.

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A Spark of Activism

by Rich Moreland, July 2014

In her recent Huffington Post article “Why I Don’t Want Condoms: A Porn Performer’s Perspective,” Casey Calvert explains the irony of AB 1576, the condom legislation that will alter California’s porn production landscape should it become law. Casey argues that the bill would lessen her sexual well-being at work because its provisions are less rigorous than the current industry requirements. At present, she points out, the Free Speech Coalition’s Performer Availability Scheduling Services (PASS) updates an actor’s status and protects everyone by identifying those who are not cleared to shoot. The system is based on a fourteen-day protocol that tests for seven infections including HIV, gonorrhea, and Chlamydia.

Casey goes on to discuss the realities of condom use. The downside of lengthy penetrations can negatively affect female talent’s availability if condoms are required, a fact apparently ignored by Michael Weinstein and the AIDS Health Foundation. Friction creates soreness and irritated vaginal and anal corridors can limit a girl’s work schedule.

In her argument, Casey repeats what everyone connected with the business fears if AB 1576 becomes a legal reality. Some companies will go underground to avoid compliance while others will depart for friendlier confines (Las Vegas heading the list), or go out of business altogether.

Self-Explanatory Photo Courtesy of Casey Calver

Self-Explanatory!
Photo courtesy of Casey Calvert

It’s not so much what Casey has to say that is the attention-getter. Rather, it is what her article reveals about performers that could spell changes for the future.

Michael Weinstein’s machinations aimed at curtailing adult film production is a call to action. He has pushed to the industry to the wall and there are hints that moving forward in a political way is more than just a discussion board topic. The testimony against AB 1576 in Sacramento is an indication of what porn people can do when they demonstrate a modicum of organization.

Some performers with sex-positive feminist leanings—Casey, Nina Hartley, Tasha Reign, Jiz Lee, Chanel Preston, and Lorelei Lee to name a few—have never shied away from their political opinions. Now we have the addition of a delegation that recently visited the Compton offices of Assemblyman Isadore Hall, the bill’s sponsor. Led by Nina Hartley, the group, which included Alex Chance, Anikka Albright, Mia Li, and Charli Piper, made the performer case against AB 1576 to a staff aide representing Hall. The account of their appearance can be found here.

Performers are learning that activism is possible in an industry unaccustomed to touting its political side beyond the work of the Free Speech Coalition (FSC).

Incidentally, should AB 1576 become law, the studios may be forced to regard performers as employees rather than independent contractors. If defined as employees, porn talent would then have organizational options. How much of a political voice they can muster may determine outcomes that are beneficial to them.

Organization demands leadership and its vital components, intelligence and commitment. Performers are exploring that scenario now with a new entity, the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee (APAC). Using education as its tool, APAC has established worthy goals that include the creation of a safe, professional work environment and a knowledgeable, respected performer.

Will APAC consider a more formal direction in giving porn talent a greater voice? The discussion has come up before. Industry vets will remember performer, director, and producer Ona Zee and her support for unionization some years ago.

Of course, talk of formal organization is problematic in an industry that tends toward libertarianism; porn performers value their unwavering independence and in the end, APAC may amount to nothing. But the specter of Sacramento, with its rules and regs, now looms over everyone and unless there is a dramatic shift in direction, the future is going to demand greater political involvement.

With a law on the books enacted under the auspices of AB 1576, would not performers be better off with a strong organization that would exclusively represent them? How, for example, is the law to be enforced on the set, who takes the blame if condoms are ignored, and how would workman’s comp issues be handled?

Nina Hartley, who believes organization is a good thing, once told me in a moment of frustration that performers lack an institutional memory about the business. They often assume that the way things are now in adult film is the way they have always been. Some performers do seem to get it, however. Like the outspoken Casey Calvert, they can become powerful activists if they choose to explore that possibility.

Here’s an example of the attitude needed for success. Casey says in her article that if studios “stay in California and flaunt the law,” AB 1576 will result in unsafe working conditions. Underground production is the easiest way out and sets up a scenario in which testing protocol evaporates and a host of problems can arise, endangering everyone.

“We self-regulate very well right now, but that’s bound to fall apart if we have to do it in secret. I’m not going to work if I don’t feel safe,” she declares.

What a feisty Casey does not say is she’ll leave the industry and she is adamant that she’ll not shoot underground. The Florida native and others will fight for all porn performers and their spirit of activism, evident in Sacramento’s legislative halls and in online articles and social media, will take up residence in APAC.

Positive changes begin with a spark, an attitude, and almost always a fed-up person. Remember Norma Rae and Erin Brockovich? Porn women are just as gutsy.

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Postscript

At the hearing from left to right, Sid, Owen Gray, Jiz Lee, Chanel Preston, Casey Calvert, and Lorelei Lee Photo courtesy of Casey Calvert

Performers making a statement by attending the hearing. From left to right:  Sid, Owen Gray, Jiz Lee, Chanel Preston, Casey Calvert, and Lorelei Lee
Photo courtesy of Casey Calvert

On the day of the Senate hearing, Casey and others from the industry appeared in the chamber to offer their views. Though each person was recognized, Casey reports, only designated speakers were allowed to make statements. The FSC’s Diane Duke and Kink.com-based performer and director Lorelei Lee presented arguments against the bill; the remaining interested parties were allowed a brief individual moment.

“We all got a chance to go up to the microphone, but all we were allowed to say was our name and that we oppose,” Casey states. As for the other side, “There were some people there to support the bill, but not as many as we had,” she adds. “The oddest one was Jessie Rodgers, who was literally in tears because she got herpes on set.”

Casey later mentions that herpes is “fairly common” in the industry and is often considered a “nothing disease” whose danger is hyped by drug companies. “It can’t hurt you at all,” she says and questions why Jessie was so over-the-top about it.

Former performers Sophia Delgado and Cameron Bay endorsed the bill along with Jessie Rogers, whose personal view on AB 1576 and the industry abuses she perceives harms all porn talent can be found here.

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