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Los Angeles mayor signs porn star condom requirement

Visitors cheer for performer Phoenix Marie during the 13th annual Erotica LA (ELA) at the Convention Center in Los Angeles
Visitors cheer for performer Phoenix Marie during the 13th annual Erotica LA (ELA) at the Convention Center in Los Angeles

By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Porn actors in Los Angeles will have to use condoms on the set as a condition of obtaining a film permit under a first-in-the-nation requirement quietly signed into law by the mayor, and a nearby community was considering a similar rule.

Officials in Simi Valley said on Tuesday they were mulling their own condom ordinance out of a concern adult film producers could move shop to their more suburban community, fleeing the condom requirement that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed into law on Monday.

The vast majority of U.S. porn productions are based in Los Angeles. The condom requirement, aimed at preventing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, is perhaps the city's most forceful attempt to change the way the industry operates.

Villaraigosa signed the measure, which was approved by the City Council in a highly-watched move earlier this month, on Monday, his spokesman Peter Sanders said. It goes into effect in about 40 days.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation, an advocacy group and healthcare provider that pushed Los Angeles officials to adopt the requirement, said it was the first law of its kind passed by any city in the United States.

"The tide of history here is pretty clear, and we're not going to stop," AIDS Healthcare president Michael Weinstein said.

The Los Angeles City Council earlier this month voted to approve the condom requirement, after AIDS Healthcare qualified an initiative for the ballot that would have put that question before city voters in June. City officials said that by simply adopting the ordinance themselves, they avoided having to spend $4 million to hold the vote.

SOUNDSTAGES EXEMPT

The city's condom requirement only applies to porn productions that approach the city for a permit, but officials said a permit was not required when filming in a soundstage.

A majority of porn shoots in the city are actually done in soundstages, said Diane Duke, executive director of industry trade group the Free Speech Coalition.

"The significance of this is it's government reaching into areas it doesn't belong. It's government telling us how to produce films, and it's government regulating sexual behavior between consenting adults," Duke said.

AIDS Healthcare is gathering signatures for a ballot measure that would go before Los Angeles County voters and, if approved, force porn companies to obtain health permits, which the group said would be similar to what barber shops obtain.

If that happens, it would increase the burden on porn companies, wherever they shoot in Los Angeles County, to comply with existing California workplace laws that mandate the use of condoms by porn performers, AIDS Healthcare officials said. The state law is not specifically aimed at the porn industry and is widely violated, the group has said.

Meanwhile, the industry was exploring moving productions to other localities outside of Los Angeles.

Duke said Florida and Nevada were particularly well suited to the needs of her industry, given that they have warm weather and abundant production facilities.

There are at least 1,000 porn performers in the Los Angeles area, Duke said. "I think there are many folks out there who would welcome the revenues that come with the adult entertainment industry," she said.

But Simi Valley, 35 miles northwest of Los Angeles in Ventura County, may not be one of those areas. Next Monday, the Simi Valley City Council will vote on a proposal modeled after the Los Angeles initiative that would require condoms in porn.

"There's a very real concern in this community that industry looks toward Simi Valley as an adjacent area that may not have the same restrictions that L.A. has," Simi Valley city manager Mike Sedell said.

He added that prostitution tied to the porn industry is one of Simi Valley's concerns.

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