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L.A. Porn Production Down Following Mandatory Condom Law

Permits for adult films dropped 90 percent last year amid a law requiring performers to wear condoms.
 
 
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Pornography production in Los Angeles appears to have plunged in the wake of a law which compels performers to use condoms.

The number of permits issued for adult films fell 90% last year to just 40 permits compared with 2012, when the law was introduced, the Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday.

“We’ve seen a dramatic drop in permits,” Paul Audley, president of FilmLA, told the paper. “It is a cause for concern that people who are manning the cameras, lights and other things on those sets are not working anymore.”

Voters in LA County backed the ban after the Aids Healthcare Foundation, an advocacy group, argued that unsafe sex on sets spread HIV and other diseases.

The industry protested in vain that it conducted regular health screenings and that audiences and performers tended to prefer porn without condoms.

The state senate is due to vote this month on whether to widen the ban to all of California.

Most porn production takes place without permits – a film can be shot in a few days in a private house – so it was unclear to what extent the 90% fall in permits represented a wider flight.

Several porn producers said they had moved production to other parts of southern California, as well as Nevada, Florida and eastern Europe, where there is less regulation.

Penthouse Entertainment, which produces up to 80 movies a year, has halted local shoots. “This month we’re shooting 10 movies in Brazil,” said Kelly Holland, managing director for Penthouse Entertainment. “Last month, we shot five movies in Europe. It’s just too complex to shoot here.”

The exodus follows the migration of mainstream Hollywood feature films and TV dramas to states and countries with lower costs and generous tax breaks. The “runaway production”, as it has been dubbed, has left LA’s once formidable army of grips, electricians, camera operators, set decorators and caterers struggling for work.

“It’s not helpful to have another segment of the industry leave the region,” said Audley.

A decade ago San Fernando Valley’s porn hub was estimated to have produced more than 5,000 films annually, generating 10,000 to 20,000 jobs and $4bn in revenue, according to the LA Times. “Losing an industry like that is going to have hugely negative consequences,” said Stuart Waldman, president of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association.

Free internet porn has also wrought a toll on the industry.

The adult entertainment industry’s advocacy group, the Free Speech Coalition, has attributed occasional HIV infections among performers to off-set behaviour.

It said condoms were unnecessary – because of regular health screenings – and unpopular.

With bright lights and prolonged periods of penetration condoms aggravate friction, causing discomfort and making it more difficult to maintain erections, Diane Duke, the group’s CEO, told the Guardian last year. “And yes, consumers seem to prefer non-condom movies.”

 

Rory Carroll is a US west coast correspondent for The Guardian based in Los Angeles.

 
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