Ladies and gentleman, it is time for you to sit down, grab your vial of smelling salts, and commence the pearl clutching: the adult entertainment industry employs over 12,000 adults in the golden state.
Not only that, but the industry pays more than $35 million in state taxes every year. That works out to roughly $3000 in taxes per person employed by the adult film industry—taxes that, among other things, go to our schools, our emergency services and maintaining our infrastructure.
There is no question that these men and women are often looked down upon by society—except when they are being ogled for personal enjoyment by the approximately 40 million US adults each year who view XXX videos online or when they are contributing monetarily to the state.
I would hazard a guess that some of those 40 million men and women who consume pornography live in Moorpark, especially because more than half of all US internet pornography is used by people making more than $50,000 per year and 35 percent by those making more than $75,000 per year.
It is true that these performers work in a field rife with serious health risks. It is for this reason that performers are required to undergo frequent and mandatory STD tests. Unfortunately, this has not completely stopped the transmission of STDs. The most serious of which, HIV, has been seen in 22 performers as of 2009.
Last year, Los Angeles county passed a condom ordinance that would require performers engaging in any penetrative act to wear a condom. This caused a firestorm of debate—both for and against the ordinance. Supporters fell into two camps: those who wanted to truly protect the health of the workers and those who wanted to see the porn industry pushed out of business in LA County.
Moorpark—a town that, as far as I know, does not have a thriving adult film industry—has taken note and is considering preemptively creating a similar ordinance. Because I am terribly naïve, when I first heard about the possible ordinance, I thought, “Ah, how enlightened! Could it be that the Moorpark community is ready to accept the fact that adult entertainment exists and, therefore, protect the workers?” Nah.
At a city council meeting, councilmember Mark Van Dam explained it as such: “What’s going to happen is . . . they’ll just keep going farther out and farther out and I’m sure we really don’t want the porn industry looking at Moorpark, with lots of vacant commercial space and industrial space, and picking us as the next spot.”
Since when did protecting the ‘good name’ of the city (whether it be Moorpark or Chatsworth) from legally employed, tax-paying workers trump their right as human beings to be protected from exposure to possibly fatal diseases? I don’t know what bothers me more—the producers of the films that would rather see their performers contract HIV than wear condoms or the people who would rather protect their city’s reputation than think about the people who are actually being hurt by the serious problems within the business.
As far as I’m concerned, the conversation needs to be about the health of thousands of legally employed workers, not about morals and city reputations. It’s true, should we preemptively pass this ordinance, it could push the producers to another city where they can continue to put their employees at risk. Why doesn’t this outrage people?
We should be pushing for a state-wide ordinance and then going after the upper-echelon producers who think it’s okay to put their employees' lives in danger. Adult entertainment is not going to disappear; It has historically been a part of human culture, and I reckon will continue to be such. As a city, we should take pride in championing for the health rights of our fellow tax-paying citizens, not twiddling our thumbs while saying, “Phew. Not our problem.”
If you use public services, it is your problem—35 million dollars (statewide) worth of your problem. And if you consume the product, you should think long and hard about the people who risk their health for your pleasure.