Weinstein's Crusade Misplaced, Adult Industry Leaders Say
LOS ANGELES — Michael Weinstein's decade-long attempt to make condoms mandatory in porn productions has, for the most part, enraged the adult entertainment industry.
Today's XBIZ.com Q&A interview with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation's leader may have elevated that rage, particularly as a bill spun up by the AHF that could make condoms mandatory in porn productions statewide wends its way to California's Senate. (The next legislative hearing on AB 1576 was slated yesterday for June 25.)
In the XBIZ interview, Weinstein said that the AHF will become "involved if necessary" to make complaints against adult studios who flout AB 1576, if the piece of legislation is signed into law.
AHF's president also noted in the piece that the Hollywood, Calif.-based organization already has filed complaints in Florida and have had meetings with state officials in Nevada about possible enforcement of OSHA regulations.
"The discussion within the industry speculating that condomless porn will be welcomed with open arms in Nevada is wishful thinking," Weinstein told XBIZ in the Q&A. "Federal OSHA bloodborne pathogen laws apply nationwide."
But Las Vegas adult industry attorney Marc Randazza isn't so sure about Weinstein's message or inference on applying legislation like AB 1576 or the current Los Angeles County "Safer Sex" ordinance to Nevada.
Randazza, who operates the Randazza Law Group, recently traveled to California's state Capitol to advocate against AB 1576 before an Assembly panel.
"Mr. Weinstein may have 'had meetings,' but I do not give good odds that they want to drive business and revenue out of the state," Randazza told XBIZ. "Nevada is run by people with a lot more common sense than California. We're pretty libertarian out here."
In the XBIZ Q&A, Weinstein defended the AHF's 10-year advocacy against condomless porn, saying that the group is motivated to take a stand because it doesn't regard anyone as disposable "including adult film performers."
But Diane Duke, the CEO of the Free Speech Coalition, told XBIZ that the real motivation behind Weinstein's 10-year drive targeting the porn production community is simply money.
"I have been asked time and time again what Weinstein’s motivation is for going after the adult industry," said Duke, pointing to a Los Angeles Times article that said "[Michael Weinstein] concedes that the campaign is a public-relations windfall: ‘We got more publicity for safer sex and condoms than we ever could have gotten any other way.'”
"Perhaps this is why Weinstein continues to report faulty numbers," she said. "In 2009, the L.A. County Health Department made it clear that there was no basis for the numbers that Weinstein was touting, so much so that they had to retract the statistics reported to the L.A. Times.
"Fast forward to 2014 and Weinstein is still misleading legislators, the media and the public about HIV and STI transmissions in the industry," she said, pointing to a correction made in a Sacramento Business article that said its reporters were provided "misleading" information by state Assemblyman Isadore Hall, the sponsor of AB 1576, over conclusive links between HIV and adult film production.
Duke said that there hasn’t been an onset transmission of HIV in more than 10 years and "all Weinstein’s smoke and mirror politics can’t change the facts."
"Weinstein has to use misinformation and mislead policymakers and the media because he knows that the real numbers will not support his crusade against the adult film community," she said. "The facts show that the adult film community’s standards and protocols work.
"The sad consequence of AHF putting so many resources to chase the non-issue of HIV in the adult film industry, is that real communities in need are going unserved. AHF doesn’t have a clinic in Hall’s district, yet Compton — from said district — has the highest HIV mortality rate in L.A. County. Perhaps they could use the AHF clinic in Beverly Hills."
Adult industry attorney Allan Gelbard agreed with Duke over Weinstein's motives targeting the porn industry. Gelbard, an Encino, Calif., First Amendment lawyer has worked on numerous high-profile cases including the obscenity trials of adult director John Stagliano and J.M. Video.
"Weinstein is using this campaign to raise money for his organization, pure and simple," Gelbard told XBIZ. "If I were a donor to AHF, I'd have serious questions about how many people with HIV could have actually been provided better access to medical attention and prescription pharmaceuticals with all the money Weinstein has wasted — and now admits he intends to keep wasting — on attacking porn."
Gelbard said he thinks Weinstein's antiporn crusade is "almost as misplaced as it is self-serving."
"He clearly doesn't give a damn about adult film performers or he wouldn't have taken part in destroying AIM," he said. "He wouldn't be opposed to Truvada. He wouldn't trot out people like Derek Burts — who he callously used as a throw-away prop — to falsely allege an HIV infection had occurred on an adult set. I would suggest Weinstein take a good look in the mirror before attacking Peter Acworth, a man I know and very much admire.
"The simple reality is this: Weinstein wants porn to communicate a safe sex message. That may, in fact, be a laudable goal. But if he wants safe sex porn, he can always make it himself — for a lot less than he is spending on Measure B — and then compete in the marketplace of ideas.
"But in this country, we are protected by the First Amendment which prevents Weinstein — through the use of his unnecessary and unconstitutional governmental takeover — from deciding what message a movie producer is obligated to include in his film.
"He's doing serious damage to the people he claims to be protecting. I remain confident that the 9th Circuit will rule that Measure B was unconstitutional and that Judge Pregerson erred in not striking it down in its entirety."
Acworth, the Kink.com owner and producer who was characterized by Weinstein as "among the worst offenders in the industry when it comes to putting performers at risk" in the XBIZ Q&A piece, called it "unfortunate" that Weinstein continues his campaign against adult producers.
"I’d like to respond with some simple questions to Mr. Weinstein of my own," Acworth said.
"Mr. Weinstein, please can you reference a single performer who you know to have contracted HIV as the result of a performance without condoms in the last decade?
"Mr. Weinstein, of those performers who were unfortunate enough to contract HIV in their personal lives, how many could have been protected if they had been using PrEP/Truvada?
"Mr. Weinstein, is it ethical for an AIDS organization to lobby against FDA approval of PrEP, and to stigmatize those who use it by calling it a 'party drug,' as you have?
"Mr. Weinstein, it has cost your nonprofit millions of dollars to campaign for, pass and defend Measure B (and now AB1576), when even the L.A. Department of Public Health cannot attribute HIV infections to adult film production. How many patients could you have treated with that money? How do you justify that expense for the nonprofit?
"Mr. Weinstein, what do you say to nearly 700 performers who have faxed, written letters and and signed petitions against AB 1576? Why are you so dismissive of their real concerns about this bill? Why do you continue to refuse to work with them?
"Mr. Weinstein, why are you so interested in attacking the porn industry? Is this really about health or do you stand by your prior comments that this is a 'PR windfall' for you?
"Mr. Weinstein, many people are calling for your resignation. Does your board of directors have confidence that you can lead this nonprofit during this important time in the fight against HIV? How do you react?"