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Porn Actors Are Trying To Block Rules That Would Require Condoms For Oral Sex

Performers argue the regulations would be unrealistic and counterproductive, putting performers at risk by pushing the industry underground.

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Porn actors and producers are making a last-ditch attempt to stop California state officials from approving new rules on Thursday that would require condoms to be used on porn sets — including for oral sex.

They argue the regulations would be unrealistic and counterproductive, putting performers at risk by pushing the industry underground.

The draft rules were crafted by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), an agency that oversees workplace safety, in order to curb the spread of sexually transmitted infections. The regulations would mandate adult performers use barriers to protect the eyes, mouth, and other orifices from exposure to potentially infectious materials.

But the Free Speech Coalition, a leading pornography trade association, says the proposal overreaches — even, they say, requiring goggles and dental dams.

“I have personally never seen porn where someone used dental dams, goggles, and condoms during oral."

“I have personally never seen porn where someone used dental dams, goggles, and condoms during oral,” Eric Paul Leue, the group's executive director, told BuzzFeed News. “There are people who have a medical fetish. But I don’t think that porn will be shot that way.”

Both Leue and Siouxsie Q, a performer who works in the Bay Area, said consumers ultimately dictate the content of commercial porn; if California law bans the industry from making videos customers want, the businesses will move outside the state or operate outside the law.

“Either it will be shot underground, or in states where Cal/OSHA regulations cannot reach — it will be therefore unregulated and put workers at risk," Siouxsie Q said.

Currently, many production companies in California’s massive porn industry voluntarily have performers tested for infections before working on set under a protocol called PASS.

“I worry about shooting out of state where there are no regulations, where there isn’t a system for keeping performers safe," Siouxsie Q added. "It’s very scary to think about my life and livelihood changing so dramatically.”

The draft rules before Cal/OSHA’s Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board attempt to reduce exposure to pathogens during sex by stating that employers “shall ensure that the employee uses appropriate personal protective equipment” to provide a barrier for “the eyes, skin, mouth, and mucous membranes” when a performer could be exposed to potentially infectious materials.

“These fluids include, but are not limited to, pre-ejaculate, ejaculate, semen, vaginal secretions, fecal matter and rectal secretions," the draft regulations say.

With fines running as much as $25,000 for workplace violations, Leue said, "What we’re doing is we are criminalizing porn."

Mandating condoms in porn has long been a goal of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a health care service and advocacy nonprofit that has adopted stances that sometimes run contrary to other HIV experts. The group ran a 2012 ballot measure that required condoms in porn in Los Angeles County and has pushed for stronger rules statewide.

Neither Cal/OSHA nor the AIDS Healthcare Foundation responded to questions from BuzzFeed News about the draft regulations or their criticisms.

Although condoms are already used at times in porn, mandating their use — particularly for oral sex — is misguided, Siouxsie Q said. “I don’t see anyone making porn with condoms for oral sex. I just don’t.”

“The type of porn I often shoot — anal, for example — it can by a vigorous activity and the condom could break,” she said. If a partner isn’t being tested on an unregulated shoot, she said, “I have put my health and safety on the line.”

But testing for HIV is not a silver bullet. As the Centers for Disease Control reported Friday, a man likely infected another co-worker with HIV on set in 2014, even though he had been recently tested for the virus. However, that shoot was not in California — but in Nevada.

The Free Speech Coalition is planning to pack Thursday's meeting of Cal/OSHA with up to 150 opponents of the new regulations. The group has also been petitioning the board.

But, Leue said, the agency has shut out the group, including giving short shrift to the group’s comments at a hearing last May. He wants board members to nix the current proposal and start from scratch with the porn industry on a practical policy.

“We are telling OSHA board that these regulations create the opposite of what they were intended to do,” Leue said. “Right now, we are are a responsible industry. We employ thousands of people. It is ridiculous that we are under so much scrutiny and public attack.”

CORRECTION

The Centers for Disease Control reported that a man likely infected another co-worker with HIV in 2014. A previous version of this post said the incident was reported by Cal/OSHA.

Dominic Holden is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Dominic Holden at dominic.holden@buzzfeed.com.

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