Southern California’s signature and controversial adult entertainment industry may return home after the defeat of a measure that would have mandated condoms on adult film sets statewide.
When Californians voted last week to reject Proposition 60, they handed a major victory to an industry that has long been based in Los Angeles but that has been fleeing the county in recent years to Nevada, Arizona and other locations due to what many in the business see as overzealous condom requirements.
L.A. has seen a staggering 95% drop in on-location porn permit requests in the last four years, following the passage of a separate 2012 county measure requiring condoms, according to county permit data. But porn industry leaders say they are now bullish that the defeat of Prop. 60 as well as other recent condom-related victories will reverse the exodus.
“The industry is moving back to L.A. — unquestionably,” said Steven Hirsch, founder and co-chairman of L.A.-based Vivid Entertainment, one of the largest adult entertainment companies in the country. “The business has changed and has downsized. But you’ll see the vast percentage coming back to L.A.”
Momentum appears to be on the industry’s side. Measure B, the 2012 law that requires condoms on all porn shoots in L.A. County, is still in effect but is no longer being enforced after a lawsuit brought by Vivid against the county was settled in March. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or Cal/OSHA, declined earlier this year to adopt a different measure that would have mandated condoms on porn shoots.
“I am greatly encouraged,” said John Stagliano, founder and owner of Evil Angel, a maker and distributor of adult movies based in the San Fernando Valley. He said a rebound in L.A. shoots is likely and that the defeat of Prop. 60 sends a clear message about the rights of porn workers to choose not to wear condoms. “It’s amazing that in the area of sexuality, people tolerate restrictions on our rights and don’t in other areas,” Stagliano added.
The win comes as the porn industry continues to contend with dwindling revenue due to the ubiquity of free online amateur porn and rampant piracy. The business also faces considerable push-back from activists who argue that it is putting performers at risk by allowing them to engage in unprotected sex.
Prop. 60 would have made condoms compulsory in all scenes featuring sexual intercourse. The measure was sponsored by Michael Weinstein, who as head of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation has become a persistent adversary to the porn industry. Weinstein didn’t reply to a request for comment.