THE BLOG

Why I Don't Want Condoms: A Porn Performer's Perspective

06/03/2014 06:29 pm ET | Updated Aug 03, 2014
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My decision to do porn wasn't an easy one. I spent months debating and talking to people: girls, agents, directors, my parents, my boyfriend at the time. I made many pros-and-cons lists. At the top of every con column? Sexual health.

Eventually, obviously, I decided that the reward was greater than the risk. And I was right. I feel sexually safe every time I go to work. But California's A.B. 1576 is going to change that.

A.B. 1576 is a California Assembly bill sponsored by Michael Weinstein of AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) and introduced by Assembly Member Isadore Hall. It requires that condoms be used for all vaginal and anal scenes and includes a government mandate on STD testing and disclosure of results.

Right now I very rarely use a condom at work. If the company requires it (which some do), or if my scene partner would prefer it, I don't argue. But let me make it very clear that I prefer shooting without them.

Now, I'm sure you're wondering how I could feel more at risk when I'm using a condom. Let me explain.

I trust the testing system we have now. It's not perfect, but it works. It's called Performer Availability Scheduling Services (PASS), and it's run by the Free Speech Coalition, the trade association for the adult entertainment industry. Every 14 days or fewer, every performer gets tested for HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, hepatitis B and C, and trichomoniasis.

If everything is negative, the performer gets a green checkmark next to his or her legal name in the PASS database, which can only be accessed by agents, producers, and other performers. If there is a positive result, that performer gets a phone call from the testing facility notifying them of the result. Gonorrhea and chlamydia are treated immediately, and the performer retests after seven days. If something more serious shows up, in addition to the performer getting treatment, we have an industry-wide moratorium to address it.

When performer Cameron Bay contracted HIV off-set last August, she came in to test so that she could shoot. The test came back positive, and there was never a chance for transmission to her coworkers. Despite AHF's claims to the contrary, there has not been an on-set transmission of HIV in 10 years. Weinstein conveniently ignores this fact when he uses Bay as an example.

Like I said, I trust the system. I don't trust condoms on set. (At home it's a different issue, and I use them regularly.) Condoms aren't designed for the rigors of adult performance. The average at-home sex encounter is maybe 10 minutes, whereas the average adult scene takes about an hour. That's a lot of in and out, a lot of friction.

It's not uncommon for a condom to tear, or even completely break, during a porn scene. It's also not uncommon for the director to want to really see the action, which often involves the penis coming completely out of the orifice and then plunging back in. This invariably leads to what we call "fishing": searching inside said orifice for the condom that has completely slipped off. Once the condom breaks or comes off inside me, it completely defeats its purpose of preventing the transmission of STDs.

After fucking for 45 minutes to an hour without a condom, my insides are sore. With a condom, they are rubbed raw. The extra friction from the condom causes micro tears in the walls of my vagina and anus. Besides the fact that they just plain hurt, they take time to heal. There is no way I could work as often as I do if every scene required a condom. The micro tears also leave me more vulnerable to STDs when the condom does fail, again completely defeating the purpose.

Hall and AHF have included a testing provision in A.B. 1576; the law states that we would be required to get tested and wear condoms. However, the testing guidelines that the bill calls for are less rigorous than what the PASS system requires, including an HIV test that needs a significantly longer incubation time to show a positive than the test we use now.

Maybe now you're thinking that if we are still getting tested, why do I care if the condom fails? It's because condoms make my job harder. The pain from the friction leads to less endurance (condoms can chafe a penis as well; the men have a similar problem). We have to take time stopping and starting, fishing, applying a new condom. It can be exhausting work as it is. We don't need something making it even harder.

The scenes filmed under the requirements of A.B. 1576 will simply not be as good as the scenes we film now, and the porn audience is extraordinarily particular. There is very little loyalty. If they aren't completely satisfied with the product, they will go somewhere else. They don't want condoms, and they don't want lackluster scenes. If this bill passes, companies have three choices: move out of the state, go underground, or go out of business.

I really like my job, and I really like living in L.A. I have no intention of moving to Vegas. So if there's a mass exodus out of the state, I guess I'm working less or spending a lot of time on planes. But the problem is if companies decide to stay in California and flaunt the law, A.B. 1576 will make my job unsafe. We self-regulate our health very well right now, but that's bound to fall apart if we have to do it in secret. I'm not going to work if I don't feel safe.

As a whole, the adult performer population feels the same way I do. We are not anti-condom. We are against having the choice taken away from us. Over 600 performers have signed a petition voicing opposition to the bill. That might not sound like a lot of signatures, but in an industry as small and insular as ours, that's a huge consensus.

Hall and AHF argue that performers are employees, and that just like any other employee, we deserve protection for our health and safety. I agree. But just like stunt workers or professional athletes, we risk our health for the purpose of entertainment. We employ the best safety measures that we can while still producing a product that our audience wants to see.

A.B. 1576 makes it very hard for us to do that... and maybe that's the whole point.

For more information on A.B. 1576, please visit ab1576.org.