California's enaction of strict laws mandating the use of condoms for certain sexual acts in porn films has seen the number of productions shot in the state fall by 95%, it was revealed this week. Rather than adopting the safer sex practices intended to protect performers, the industry has found a new base in Las Vegas, where there is currently little support for similar measures.
Las Vegas was hit hard by the recession and the move is being welcomed by many because of the number and diversity of jobs it will create. It's a move that suits the industry not only because of the condom issue but also because filming costs are much lower there. Some production companies are struggling to make ends meet due to falling DVD sales, a consequence of the ease with which free pornography can be accessed over the internet.
Porn star James Deen, who recently appeared in Brett Easton Ellis adaptation The Canyons, said that he doesn't think the move will fix any of the problems related to HIV and thinks those who made the Californian law have failed to understand the industry. Several former porn stars who are now living with HIV, however, have expressed concern about how the industry treated them.
Last year the Californian industry suffered three major health scares, with productions being shut down and performers given emergency tests after actors tested positive. The apparently early identification of those affected stemmed from a rule requiring that performers be tested every two weeks in order to minimise the risk of the illness spreading. Industry trade group director Diane Duke stressed at the time that the infections had been acquired off set. "Adult performers - like all of us - have personal lives," she said. "We cannot control, and should not look to control, people’s private lives. What we can do is make sure that HIV is stopped at the gate by testing protocols."
It is currently unclear whether or not testing protocols will be applied in the same way in Las Vegas.