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A Porn Studio Created A Performers' Bill Of Rights After The James Deen Sex Assault Allegations

The document aims to make clear the murky issues of consent.

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A porn studio has published a performers' bill of rights in the aftermath of the sexual assault allegations against porn actor James Deen, which have driven the adult industry to reexamine some of the on-set concerns surrounding the issue of performer consent.

Spurred by the recent consent and performer standards discussions currently consuming the adult industry, Angie and Colin Rowntree, long-time adult film veterans who operate sssh.com (a porn for women site) and Wasteland.com (a BDSM site), instituted their studio's first formalized "On-set Policies And Best Practices" document.

Issues of consent and conversation surrounding performers rights are well-trod territory for the industry, which has worked to define the lines on unsavory behavior and obscenity for years. The Cambria list, for example, is a well-known document that outlines 26 pornographic situations that run the risk of potential prosecution. Other larger sites, like Kink.com, a BDSM site that is at the center of the Deen allegations — Kink recently cut ties with the performer — have straightforward "model bill of rights" documents. Kink has publicly noted it plans to review the document.

With its "Best Practices" document, Sssh and Wasteland said they are taking their current principles and making them crystal clear for all parties. According to Angie Rowntree, the document, which is now publicly available on their site, "is going to be an ongoing process" and will evolve as new potential concerns pop up.

In its current form, the document offers 14 pledges to performers, ranging from straightforward logistical issues ("The nature of individual scenes and the sex acts they require will be negotiated and agreed to before the day of the shoot") to very specific performer rights ("We will supply you with a full lunch. If the shoot runs after 7 pm, you will be offered dinner. Beverages (including, but not limited to water, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, Gatorade, soft drinks) and healthy snacks are available at all times, including on-set.").

Most importantly, the standards document aims to continue to clarify the murky consent issues — such as performers who won't say no to specific sex acts for fear of being blacklisted by directors and studios, and engaging in sex that makes them uncomfortable — that are at the center of a number of Deen allegations.

Specifically, the Rowntrees' policies said that "If at any time you do not feel comfortable, you can stop any action, at any time. If you feel up to it, we will simply move forward and do something else." It goes on:

If you want to stop completely and not continue filming, for any reason, that’s fine too. It might be “our shoot,” but it’s your body and your mind; performer consent and enjoyment are paramount for both Sssh and Wasteland, so your choices and limits will always be respected and honored, without question. Again, we want you at all times to feel safe and have fun — so if for any reason you aren’t, just let us know.

The document addresses many of the concerns brought up at a recent gathering of the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee (APAC), porn's closest thing to a performer union. At the meeting, two attendees told BuzzFeed News that discussions primarily included "a series of people saying that they had ended up doing things that they really weren’t comfortable doing.” And while the performers couldn't settle on a plan, many hoped that the industry would work to codify consent concerns into some kind of unified document.

"For us that meant taking our old 'on-set policies' and adding to them the things we’ve been doing for the last few years to make sure our set was safe, that consent was clear and we were transparent," Angie Rowntree told BuzzFeed News. "Bottom-line: our goal is for everyone to have a fantastic experience, feel like part of a team and at the end of the day, I want performers to say, 'I want to shoot with them again.'"

Rowntree added, "I've never really spent time on other producers’ sets, so I can really only speak to how we do things at Sssh.com and Wasteland.com," but that "maybe something good can come out of this situation. Hopefully it will open a door and start a conversation. We need, as an industry, to support and protect our performers."

Below is an excerpt from the full document which you can read, here:

1/ The nature of individual scenes and the sex acts they require will be negotiated and agreed to before the day of the shoot.

2/ We will never ask a performer to do something that hasn’t been negotiated beforehand. As a performer, you ALWAYS have the absolute right to say “no” – even if what you’re saying no to is something you’ve already agreed to.

3/ If at any time you do not feel comfortable, you can stop any action, at any time. If you feel up to it, we will simply move forward and do something else. If you want to stop completely and not continue filming, for any reason, that’s fine too. It might be “our shoot,” but it’s your body and your mind; performer consent and enjoyment are paramount for both Sssh and Wasteland, so your choices and limits will always be respected and honored, without question. Again, we want you at all times to feel safe and have fun – so if for any reason you aren’t, just let us know.

4/ Pay rate will be set prior to the day of the shoot. While negotiating, please know that we pay a flat day rate and do not pay per scene, except where noted. We do not offer different pay rates for different sex acts or gender.

5/ We are always open to suggestions and changes to any storyline, skit or scene. We want you to “own your part”, and we love to hear feedback on how we can make your character stronger, better, and true to life.

6/ We want your chemistry with your scene partner to shine through, so if you’re not shooting with your “real life partner”, let’s talk and find a good match. If there’s someone you’ve always wanted to work with but never had the opportunity, we’ll reach out to them and try to bring them on board.

7/ Whether you have had STI tests, or are working with your real life partner, condom / barrier use is 100% up to you. We provide condoms / barriers for your use, and / or for the use with insertables.

8/ All toys and instruments you will be using for scene will be cleaned and disinfected. You also have the right to clean them yourselves, if you prefer.

9/ If you are not working with your real life partner, you have the right to see all STI tests prior to sexual contact.

10/ We provide a safe, clean and positive environment to work in.

11/ We have an alcohol and drug free set. There are NO exceptions.

12/ You must be 21 or older to appear in content for any of our websites.

13/ Any medical conditions or concerns must be disclosed and discussed prior to hiring.

14/ If you're working off a script (features only), you will receive a copy 2-4 weeks prior to the shoot.

Charlie Warzel is a senior writer for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Warzel reports on and writes about the intersection of tech and culture.

Contact Charlie Warzel at charlie.warzel@buzzfeed.com.

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