The ballot box rather than the box office may decide whether porn producers have to require performers to use condoms in films if a health advocacy group is successful.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein announced Tuesday that his group wants to put an initiative on the June 2012 ballot that would require condoms in order for a production company to get a filming permit.
"As a citizen of Los Angeles, I have a responsibility in my own hometown to make sure we limit the spread of disease, but also to ensure the safety of performers in this industry,'' said Weinstein,
who says his group has hired a firm to gather the 41,138 needed signatures.
The proposed ordinance would apply to commercial filming of adult films, and would call on the city to charge adult film producers a fee for enforcement.
The ballot box query is the latest move in the AIDS Healthcare Foundation's longstanding campaign to require safe sex in pornography.
The group has had three unsuccessful attempts to find a lawmaker to back statewide legislation to mandate condoms in porn. A lawsuit asking a judge to mandate local health officials to crack down on
unprotected sex was also unsuccessful.
The majority of American commercial porn films are shot in the city's San Fernando Valley, where the multi-billion dollar industry has long resisted the AIDS Healthcare Foundation's attempts to
require safe sex for its performers.
Any success with the ballot initiative would likely drive more of the industry underground, said Christian Mann, general manager of porn production company Evil Angel and a board member of the Free Speech Coalition, the industry's trade association.
"AHF's end-run around Los Angeles County's previously stated position that they won't put themselves in a enforcement capacity, to do it as a ballot initiative system, will probably do what so many regulatory schemes do: fail to achieve the ambition but instead create a new problem," said Mann.
About a third of Evil Angel's productions are shot in Europe, and Mann, an industry veteran, says the initiative would make Los Angeles the only city he knows of in the world to require condoms in porn.
"At the end of the day, it winds up hurting business and driving business out of Los Angeles,'' said Mann. That makes it "more difficult for us to maintain an environment that we think is the safest possible environment for these performers that still makes it possible for saleable productions to be created."