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Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch
Taking a stand.
PORN WARS

California won’t force porn stars to wear condoms—or goggles—after all

By Aamna Mohdin

California is home to the San Fernando Valley, also known as Porn Valley as it’s the hub for the massive (sorry) US adult industry. And performers there can rejoice—they won’t be forced to wear condoms, dental dams, or goggles while making porn.

The state’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards board failed to get enough votes to push through regulations that were fiercely opposed by performers and producers in the industry. The panel required four votes out of five in favor to pass a measure—but only got three.

Over 100 adult performers turned out to testify and protest the regulation, according to the adult industry’s trade association, the Free Speech Coalition. They were keen to emphasize their opposition to these specific regulations and not regulations in general. Under the current standards promoted by the Free Speech Coalition, adult performers are tested for sexually-transmitted diseases every two weeks.

“We are the most tested population on the planet, and we care about our sexual health” Siouxsie Q, a journalist and adult performer, explained. “But regulations that prohibit 90% of contact between adult performers only pushes us to the margins, and makes our work more dangerous.”

Adult performers told the board that, by forcing the them to wear condoms—referred to as “personal protective equipment”—the porn industry may leave California (paywall) or be forced to operate underground.  Adult performers had previously argued that the regulations have the potential to damage an industry that is already been battered by unregulated free porn on the net.

The industry’s economic crisis, which first emerged in 2005, has only worsened with the growth of piracy. The rise of Internet porn was coupled with the decline of in DVD sales, driving expensive production houses out of business. That said, the porn industry has had remarkable tendency to adapt to technological changes. The adult industry is currently leading the shift to mobile media; new data from Pornhub shows that the US watches the vast majority of porn on their mobile phones.

The battle is far from over for the porn industry. The regulation stems from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which first filed a petition to the state in 2009. Following the vote, the foundation promised to file a new petition.

And California will vote in a statewide ballot on the use of condoms in porn films in November.