Porn Permits in L.A. Plunge, but Has Production Just Gone Underground?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

California hands out tens of millions of dollars a year in tax breaks to keep film and TV productions in the state, but not a dime of it goes to the billion-dollar porn industry.

In fact, lawmakers at the state and local level are being downright inhospitable to businesses that have made the state a world-famous leader in adult entertainment. Los Angeles County passed Measure B in November 2012 requiring actors in X-rated movies to wear condoms, and the number of porn filming permits plunged 90%, from 485 that year to 40 in 2013. Only 20 producers have taken out permits so far this year.

The Los Angeles Times cited the numbers from FilmL.A. Inc., the nonprofit that handles permits in the city and county, in proclaiming, “Porn Production Plummets in Los Angeles.” FilmL.A. President Paul Audley lamented, “It is a cause for concern that people who are manning the cameras, lights and other things on those sets are not working anymore. . . . It's not helpful to have another segment of the industry leave the region.”

John Rogers at the Associated Press found a few folks who think they might not have gone far. “A lot are simply shooting in out-of-the-way places where they won't be caught,” Adult Video News senior editor Mark Kernes said. “Normally it's in people's homes who are willing to rent them out for a day. Sometimes it's out in the woods. There are vacation cabins far away from anything that you can shoot a movie at.”   

Porn producers like to shoot in California for the same reasons a lot of the legitimate film industry is still in the state despite being wooed elsewhere with tax credits. But they also know that their audience won’t watch videos in which males wear condoms. So do lawmakers.

Diane Duke, executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, told Rogers that she was aware of some productions moving to Las Vegas. But one company that hasn’t made the move, Vivid Videos, is the $7-billion industry’s largest. That could change if state legislation expands and extends oversight.

Measure B raised concerns over sexually-transmitted disease, HIV in particular, in the workplace—and morality. So does Assembly Bill 1576, which stalled in the Senate this week after clearing the Assembly in May. It would require the use of condoms statewide, regular testing for sexually-transmitted diseases and disclosure to the state of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing. The bill also requires porn production companies to keep confidential employee health records indefinitely and provide workers with a safety training program.

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

L.A. Porn Permits Fall but Films Keep Being Produced (by John Rogers, Associated Press)

Porn Production Plummets in Los Angeles (by Richard Verrier, Los Angeles Times)

Senate Appropriations Committee Puts AB 1576 in Suspense File (by Mark Kernes, Adult Video News)

Why Porn and Condoms Don't Mix (by Jim Newton, Los Angeles Times Op-Ed)

State Analyst Warns of Film Tax Credit “Race to the Bottom” (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)

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