Porn industry may leave LA if city OKs condom use

Whether you use condoms may rest, in part, on your age and ethnic group. When it comes to vaginal intercourse, Caucasians reported using them less than African-Americans and Hispanics. But overall, teens seem to be getting the safe sex message, especially males. Seventy-nine percent of young men between 14 and 17 said they used condoms. That was 21 percentage points higher than than their female counterparts.People over 40 have the lowest rates of condom use and it declines rapidly with age. Only 5 percent of men over 60 years old are using them.Older people may be less concerned about pregnancy. They may also be in need of remedial education about sexually transmitted diseases. iStockphoto

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(CBS/AP) Porn vendors in Los Angeles are threatening to pack up their sex toys and leave the nation's porn capital if authorities carry through with their effort to require condoms on adult film sets.

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On Tuesday, the Los Angeles city council voted 9-1, granting final approval to an ordinance that would deny film permits to producers who do not comply with the condom requirement.

Before the measure can take effect, however, the council has called for the creation of a committee of police officials, the city attorney, state health officials and others to determine how it might be enforced.

"It's going to be interesting to see how in fact they do try to enforce it and who's going to fund it, and all of the time and effort they're going to spend," said Steven Hirsch, co-founder and co-chairman of Los Angeles-based Vivid, one of the largest makers of erotic movies.

"Ultimately I think what they will find is people will just stop shooting in the city of Los Angeles," added Hirsch. "That's a given."

Other industry officials agree with Hirsch, condemning the measure as too politically correct, and one that cannot be enforced in the city known as the porn capital of the country. Approximately 90 percent of U.S. porn films are made in Los Angeles, almost all of them in the city's San Fernando Valley, said Mark Kernes, senior editor of Adult Video News.

The porn industry, including films, internet downloads, sex toys and admission to dance clubs, produces about $8 billion a year - but it has been battered in recent years by the recession and the popularity of free online porn. Kernes says requiring condoms would further erode business.

What do consumers think? Many, particularly those overseas, have made it clear they won't watch films when the actors use condoms, complaining that it is distracting and ruins the fantasy.

"You can't actually compel an industry to create a product that the market doesn't want," said Christian Mann, general manager of Evil Angel, another of the industry's largest production companies.

Ged Kenslea, spokesman for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, said the measure is needed because the industry has failed to properly police itself. For years, he said, filmmakers have ignored state health laws mandating the use of condoms when workers are exposed to blood-borne pathogens.

The industry already does its own policing, filmmakers say, requiring actors be tested for sexually transmitted diseases a minimum of every 30 days when they are working. They say no cases of HIV have been directly linked to porn films since 2004, adding they fear if the industry scatters to areas outside of Los Angeles, testing could fall by the wayside, exposing performers to more risk.

"If someone is going to catch an STD, it's usually out of the business because we are tested so often," said veteran porn actress and producer Tabitha Stevens.

In her 17 years in the business, Stevens said, she has worked both with and without condoms. Although she prefers to use condoms, acknowledging they do increase safety, she said the choice should be left up to the performers and not mandated by a government agency.

"If you want to wear them, wear them. If you don't, don't. That's up to the talent to decide. It shouldn't be up to the government to decide," she said.

According to the CDC, latex condoms are "highly effective" at preventing HIV transmission, and have been shown to reduce the risk of other sexually transmitted diseases including, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis. A lesser degree of protection is provided for genital ulcer diseases -including herpes and syphilis - or HPV, because these infections may be transmitted by exposure to areas that are not covered or protected by the condom.

  • CBS News Staff

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