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LA Porn Industry Disappears After Condom Law

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The number of film permits issued to pornography producers has dropped 95 percent in Los Angeles County since a condom mandate went into effect last January.

Only 24 permits for adult films have been filed so far in LA County in 2013, compared with 480 filed in the same period last year, according to the Free Speech Coalition, the adult film industry trade group. Film permits are legally required for filming outside of a certified sound stage or studio backlot, whether the filming is conducted on public or private property.

The new law, which voters passed in November 2012, requires that condoms be used on adult film sets in LA County. It was authored by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which says condoms are necessary for performers' workplace safety and the only sure way to prevent the spread of STDs. The Free Speech Coalition and many porn producers oppose the law, saying that viewers do not want to see condoms in porn and that the industry's STD testing protocol adequately protects performers.

Critics predicted the law would drive porn production out of LA or underground. A year later, it appears that either one or both of those predictions has come true. Paul Audley, the president of Film LA, which processes all film production permits in LA, said the link between the condom mandate and the plunge in adult film permits is clear.

"There's no question that it was directly related to the passing of their [condom] ordinance," Audley told The Huffington Post. "It either drove [porn producers] out of LA or drove them underground and to stop taking out film permits. We honestly don't know where they're making films now."

Free Speech Coalition CEO Diane Duke said porn producers have told her that they've been filming outside LA, including in Ventura, San Francisco and Las Vegas. Others, she said, have slowed down production and are waiting for the outcome of her organization's lawsuit against the condom mandate.

For example, according to Duke, adult film company Vivid Entertainment hasn't filmed in LA at all since the mandate went into effect, and porn site Reality Kings has opened a production warehouse in Las Vegas. Vivid Entertainment declined to speak to HuffPost and Reality Kings did not respond to a request for comment.

Duke added that it's unlikely porn producers are creating films underground without permits. "They want to be in compliance," she said.

The condom law requires porn producers to purchase a public health permit once a year from the LA County Department of Public Health. Then, just as with restaurants, county officials are supposed to inspect the filming sites. If health violations are found (i.e. condoms are not used), the operation is to be shut down.

The LA County Department of Public Health told HuffPost that 11 porn companies have been issued public health permits since January. And yet there are many more adult film organizations in LA, where an estimated 90 percent of porn movies in the U.S. are made.

Industry insiders say that many adult film companies have not applied for public health permits, adding that even those who have a public health permit have yet to be inspected by the county. County officials did not respond to HuffPost's inquiry as to whether the department has conducted any inspections of porn sets.

So it could be that porn producers are still in LA and just filming without either public health or film permits. That's what Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, thinks is happening, even though industry officials like Duke insist otherwise.

Weinstein, who authored the condom mandate, has been very critical of LA County for not enforcing the law. Without enforcement, porn companies don't feel the need to use condoms on set, Weinstein said to HuffPost.

"Would people speed more," he added, "if they knew they wouldn't get caught?"

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