Los Angeles' New Adult Film Condom Law Has Holes

A new Los Angeles law that requires porn actors to wear condoms goes into effect this week. However, the ordinance is filled with enough loopholes and questions surrounding its enforcement to render it nearly symbolic for the time being.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed the law into effect in January. The rules mandate condom use on adult film shoots outside of licensed sound stages but within city limits. A portion of the fee collected for adult film permits would go to periodic inspections of sets to monitor compliance.

The law was pushed by the the L.A.-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, but Ged Kenslea, a spokesperson for the group, acknowledges that very few adult film companies actually get film permits. Kenslea estimates that 50,000 porn films are made each year in the city but only 200 permits per month are issued.

Because of this, if the law is to have any teeth, health officials will have to show up at sets, and law enforcement will be required to take action when condoms are not used. The law gave everyone six months to figure out the best enforcement protocol, and so far, the status of this is under a tremendous cloud of doubt and confusion.

The L.A. City Attorney's Office has been rather reluctant to commit resources to the endeavor. Before the mayor signed the ordinance into effect, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation led efforts to put the question of whether condoms should be mandated to voters in a ballot measure, an action that drew a lawsuit from the city's DA office. The lawsuit called into question whether the state, and not the city, had exclusive legal authority to mandate condoms. California's health chief disagreed with that assessment, saying the city law was not preempted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

If enforcement does come, the law could spark further legal action from adult studios or actors in the business, perhaps challenging the measure on 14th Amendment grounds. The Free Speech Coalition, which represents the interests of many adult entertainment studios, has strongly objected to the new law.

"Mandatory condom regulation will not increase performer safety, it will diminish the successful standards and protocols already in place and compromise performer health," said FSC executive director Diane Duke at the time of the law's passage. "Government regulation of sexual behavior between consenting adults is, and has always been, a bad idea. The government has no business in our bedrooms — real or fantasy.."

E-mail: eriqgardner@yahoo.com

Twitter: @eriqgardner

comments powered by Disqus