The Condoms Have Arrived (Sort Of)

As you may remember from my article last summer for XBIZ World, I declared that the condoms were coming. That declaration was in reference to the position that Cal/OSHA had taken at the June 7, 2011, meeting in Los Angeles where a strong contingency of representatives of the industry turned out to battle their attempts to (further) mandate barrier protection use in the production of adult entertainment. It should be noted that technically, barrier protections are and have been mandated by California Code of Regulations, Title 8, Section 5193 for quite some time. However, the enforcement of such regulation has been spotty at best.

Based on the rather slow enactment of additional barrier protection regulation by Cal/OSHA, Michael Weinstein and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation decided to take their safe sex battle to a different receptive governing body, the Los Angeles City Council and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

What Does The Act Require

On Jan. 23, Villaraigosa signed into law, the City of Los Angeles Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act, hereby now requiring any production of adult content, within the limits of the City of Los Angeles, to use condoms for anal and vaginal sex while filming content involving penetration and ensuring that all ejaculate remains outside of a performer’s body. The act also requires all producers to be compliant with CCR Title 8, Section 5193, noted above.

Where Does The Act Apply (or doesn’t)

If you are not aware of the city limits of Los Angeles it may be easier to understand what cities the Act does not apply to. Remember this is a City of Los Angeles law and not a County of Los Angeles law. The Board of Supervisors of the County of Los Angeles has not (yet) adopted this law and therefore there are still numerous unincorporated cities in Los Angeles County where the act does not apply. Also, the act is not law within the 88 other incorporated cities in the County of Los Angeles.

For example Agoura Hills, Alhambra, Arcadia, Artesia, Avalon, Azusa, Baldwin Park, Bell, Bell Gardens, Bellflower, Beverly Hills, Bradbury, Burbank, Calabasas, Carson, Cerritos, Claremont, Commerce, Compton, Covina, Cudahy, Culver City, Diamond Bar, Downey, Duarte, El Monte, El Segundo, Gardena, Glendale, Glendora, Hawaiian Gardens, Hawthorne, Hermosa Beach, Hidden Hills, Huntington Park, Industry, Inglewood, Irwindale, La Cañada Flintridge, La Habra Heights, La Mirada, La Puente, La Verne, Lakewood, Lancaster, Lawndale, Lomita, Long Beach, Lynwood, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, Maywood, Monrovia, Montebello, Monterey Park, Norwalk, Palmdale, Palos Verdes Estates, Paramount, Pasadena, Pico Rivera, Pomona, Rancho Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach, Rolling Hills, Rolling Hills Estates, Rosemead, San Dimas, San Fernando, San Gabriel, San Marino, Santa Clarita, Santa Fe Springs, Santa Monica, Sierra Madre, Signal Hill, South El Monte, South Gate, South Pasadena, Temple City, Torrance, Vernon, Walnut, West Covina, West Hollywood, Westlake Village and Whittier do not have a similar law mandating condoms as a condition to receive a film permit. However, two cities in Ventura County, Moorpark and Simi Valley, are contemplating passing similar municipal laws.

Also, the act does not apply to the 144 unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. The act is not law in Ventura County or any other county in California, at the time this article was written.

The act is law only in the City of Los Angeles. However, it is the law and must be adhered to if a production is going to occur at a location that is within the City of Los Angeles. If a production is outside the limits of the City of Los Angeles, then the use of barrier protection is not a required condition to securing a permit.

Who Is Required to Secure a Permit for Production ?

If you are going to produce a commercial shoot in any of the following areas; the County of Los Angeles, the City of Los Angeles, Diamond Bar, City of Industry, Lancaster, Palmdale or Southgate you must apply for a receive a permit through a non-profit organization called FilmLA Inc. (FilmLA.com). Other cities may have their own permit process so it is imperative that you check with each city’s permit department and remain compliant with those laws. However, for purposes of this article we will focus on productions within the City of Los Angeles.

Without or without condom, it should be noted that shooting a commercial production within the City of Los Angeles without a permit is considered a misdemeanor.

Since the fall of 2009, Section 41.20 of the Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC) makes it a misdemeanor offense for production companies to film without a permit. Since the then, the LAPD’s Contract Services Section Film Unit has made arrests and filed charges against film producers for Section 41.20 violations. Under Section 41.20, an unpermitted producer’s equipment can also be confiscated until the time of the court hearing to insure that the producer appears at the court. Obviously, if the producer is renting equipment by the day this could end up being more costly that the fine itself for failing to secure a permit. Needless to say, failing to secure a permit can not only end in heavy costs and fines but also jail time since a misdemeanor offense is punishable by incarceration for up to one year in jail.

What Is a Commercial Shoot ?

Under the City of Los Angeles Planning and Zoning Code section 12.22(A)(13), which requires all producers to secure film permits, it is safe to assume that every adult production would be considered a commercial shoot and thus would require film permit, even it occurred in the producer’s own home. The one area that is still somewhat gray is whether a webcam production would require a permit. And taking the act one step further, would a webcam show involving penetration between a husband and wife for commercial purposes require a permit and, if it occurs within the City of Los Angeles, a condom to prevent the exchange of bodily fluids between two married and consenting adults? This is one area of the law that has yet to be defined.

Do Content Trades Now Require Condoms?

The short answer is yes. As you may remember from some of my earlier articles about the condom law I had indicated that any attempt by Cal/OSHA to impose condoms would not apply to content trades. Cal/OSHA is a regulatory body that only has power over employment practices. A true content trade between performers would not involve employment issues and therefore Cal/OSHA had no legal authority to enforce condoms be used in that regard. However, now that condoms are no longer tied to the issue of employment, but rather as a condition of receiving a film permit, even a content trade would be considered a commercial shoot. Condoms would therefore have to be used on any hardcore production within the City of Los Angeles. As I noted above, the Act is so far reaching even a married couple in the privacy of their own home performing on web cam together may need a permit and a condom to stay compliant of the law.

Enforcement of the Act

Over the past several weeks I have received numerous phone calls from agents, producers, directors and even performers as to how the act will be enforced. At the time of writing this article that question remains unresolved and unanswered. Since the act has been signed into law by Mayor Villaraigosa there has been discussion about forming a committee to decide how to enforce the act. Within the provisions of the act there is a language that allows the City of Los Angeles, through its contracted agency, FilmLA Inc., to charge additional fees to pay for “inspectors to ensure compliance with conditions on film permits.”

Without going into a full analysis of First Amendment law, the act may be subject to a future legal challenge based on the its lack of content neutrality. Meaning that the city should not be able to impose a tax, which is what these additional fees may in fact be, based solely on the adult nature of the productions. This is still an area of law that is in flux though.

For argument’s sake, let’s assume that the law is not challenged. The obvious question is how will the city ensure compliance? While it is not known at this point how compliance will occur, my assumption will be that it will follow the same path that the Los Angeles Police Department used to ensure permit compliance in the past.

In past years I had been called to set several times by several different clients where a “bust” by LAPD was occurring. Previously, the San Fernando Valley vice unit of LAPD was responsible for policing and enforcing the permit law in regards to adult productions. Then, towards the end of 2007 Mayor Villaraigosa started a special unit that would target unpermitted productions, mainstream and adult. This unit comprised of uniformed and plain clothes officers.

Often the LAPD permit enforcement unit would work closely with FilmLA Inc., and perform spot checks on known shoot locations. FilmLA Inc., would provide shoot location information to the unit and a patrol car would be sent to drive by the location to check to see if there was any abnormal activity at the location, meaning, if someone was shooting at that location on that day without a permit. If they suspected that someone was shooting they would knock and ask questions and in some instances, when no one answered and they would jump a fence and/or gate to investigate.

While it is impossible to say with certainty whether this will be the way to enforce the act, I would suspect that it may be. Others have talked about requiring a nurse to be on all permitted sets as well to ensure compliance. There have been rumors that the City of Los Angeles will subpoena information from the agents and producers to learn the usual (unpermitted) adult production shoot locations. I doubt that this will happen but it is certainly a possibility. This type information has been subpoenaed in the past by Cal/OSHA from talent agents in the industry.

Penalties for Failure to Use a Condom

The actual law does not contain any information as to the possible penalties for shooting adult content within the City of Los Angeles with a permit and without barrier protection. I am sure that the committee previously noted will be setting the penalties associated with the act. As for shooting without a permit, those penalties have been previously noted. At this time, I do not know if there will be an enhanced violation for shooting adult content without a permit and without a condom.

It is the opinion of this author that it is just simply too early to begin to panic over this law. It does not appear that the city has yet formed the committee to devise the manner of enforcement or the penalties associated with it. There has been discussions of a March 5 date that the law will be implemented.

Hopefully, by then there will be more information released by the City of Los Angeles. I have talked with numerous people in the industry about their desire to move to Las Vegas, Miami or Phoenix to produce. It’s not necessary to leave Los Angeles to produce. Just based on the geographical limitations of the law, it is rather easy to produce around it.

As more information becomes available I will update this article. This author hopes that by the time this article is in print, the City of Los Angeles will have promulgated rules on to how to comply with this new law and the penalties involved for violating it. In my next article I will discuss those issues as well as tips on how to avoid being found in violation of the act.

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