Hollywood Porn Workers Take to Streets to Protest Condom Measure: "It's Harassment"

Seth Abramovitch; David Livingston/Getty Images
Los Angeles porn workers protest Prop 60 on Sunset Boulevard; Michael Weinstein, the measure's controversial architect (inset)

Prop 60, the latest legislation from controversial AIDS Healthcare Foundation CEO Michael Weinstein, would allow porn viewers to blow the whistle on adult actors caught without a condom on.

"He’s basically building a utopia and we’re all going to pay for it," says Julia Ann, 47, one of the most sought-after "MILFs" — a popular acronym signifying mature women — in the adult-film industry. 

"He" in this instance refers to Michael Weinstein, the 63-year-old CEO of AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), a billion-dollar nonprofit that runs a chain of pharmacies and thrift stores throughout Southern California. 

On Monday, Ann and several hundred other porn workers took to a stretch of Sunset Boulevard — 21 floors beneath Weinstein's posh corner office at AHF's Hollywood headquarters — to protest Proposition 60, a measure on the Nov. 8 General Election ballot which would require Los Angeles' porn actors to use condoms.

One of the most controversial and well-funded figures in the L.A. political arena, Weinstein, who has been described by former co-workers as a "megalomaniac," has poured $5 million in AHF funds into TV spots to get Prop 60 passed.

Weinstein also has diverted AHF revenue lately toward another of his pet causes: overdevelopment, taking out billboards around town protesting the construction of mega-structures around his Hollywood offices. 

But it's Prop 60 that has the city's adult-film workers fuming on this drizzly afternoon. If it sounds familiar, that's because Weinstein has already gotten a similar condom act, Measure B, approved in the 2012 election.

Government agencies like the Department of Public Health, however, have refused to enforce the law based on its unconstitutionality.

And so Weinstein has devised Prop 60 to "close the loopholes," as he puts it, particularly with one key amendment that would "enable whistleblowers and private citizens to pursue violators where the State fails to do so."

Were the proposition to pass, your average porn viewer could file a lawsuit against porn workers deemed to be in violation of it, requiring their real names and addresses to become part of the public record.

"It’s pretty much harassment," says Alec Knight, 44, a porn actor who also has worked as an animator on shows like Family Guy and The Real Ghostbusters. "Our anonymity is very important to us." 

"You’re incentivizing the viewer to sue us," adds Tommy Gunn, 48, another porn star who appeared on a 2010 episode of Entourage.

The "No on 60" camp has virtually no funding to combat Weinstein's deep-pocketed efforts. Even so, condemnation of the measure has been widespread. A recent op-ed by the Los Angeles Times called it "heavy-handed," adding that it is killing a multibillion-dollar industry for L.A. County, which is losing production to places like Nevada and Orange County.

Fifteen California newspapers in all have voiced editorial opposition to Prop 60, including the San Francisco Chronicle and Sacramento Bee. And the California Democratic Party and California Republican Party have found common ground over condoms in porn: Both oppose the measure.

Weinstein, meanwhile, is pouring millions in funds earmarked for AIDS patients to air TV ads featuring two former porn performers, Derrick Burts and Cameron Bay, both of whom claim to have been infected on licensed porn sets in L.A. County.  

"After just three months on the job, all I got was HIV," says Bay, who blames a partner on a Kink.com production for her infection. But that actor, Xander Corvus, remains HIV negative to this day — a fact AHF concedes. Burts, meanwhile, claims to have contracted HIV from oral sex, but none of his screen partners, neither male nor female, has tested positive for the virus.

The last recorded HIV outbreak in the L.A. porn world was in 2004, when four actors — one man and three women — tested positive, leading 30 companies to halt production. 

Update: An AHF employee responds, "The California Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have both published statements confirming an on-set transmission of HIV in 2014." The case in question, however, involved two male performers on an unregulated set in Nevada — exactly the kind of shoots opponents of Prop 60 say the measure will encourage.

A previous version of this story cited the Occupational Safety and Health Administration as refusing to enforce Measure B in L.A. County. It is the L.A. Department of Public Health that refuses to enforce it.

 

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