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Porn producers may set sights on Hawaii in wake of L.A. condom law

By Richard Verrier

Los Angeles Times


LOS ANGELES » Los Angeles has been a fighting a tide of runaway production of big-budget movies and television dramas.

Now it may face an emigration of another homegrown industry — adult entertainment.

That’s the specter raised by some of the hundreds of pornography producers in L.A. after voters approved Measure B, which requires performers to wear condoms and establishes a new permitting system for adult entertainment shoots.

The law was advocated by AIDS activists who argued that it would protect performers from disease outbreaks.

But the measure has been widely panned in the porn industry, which has argued that mandatory actor testing for HIV was already effective, and that the law’s real agenda is to put them out of business.

Although it remains unclear exactly how the new permit system will work, county officials have estimated that it will cost $300,000 a year to enforce. Industry executives and producers contend that will saddle them with high permit fees and force them to create entertainment for which there is no demand.

“People who enjoy adult films do not want to watch actors using condoms — period. So there’s no market for it,” said adult entertainment veteran Larry Flynt, whose Hustler publishing and adult video empire is based in Beverly Hills. “We won’t be doing anything in Los Angeles.”

Flynt said he’s already making contingency plans to shift more production to Mexico, Arizona and Hawaii. Smaller companies may follow.

“The bill will make it too complicated and too expensive to shoot in L.A.,” said director-producer Glenn King, owner of Encino-based MeanBitch Productions. “We’re a small business just like anyone else. If we can’t exist under this new law, we’ll have to look at other options.”

Some porn producers have already threatened to move their businesses from the San Fernando Valley to other California counties, or to Las Vegas, Miami and even Budapest, Hungary — Europe’s porn production hub.

“These companies are not going to take a chance of losing sales for the sake of complying with Measure B, so they will undoubtedly up and leave,” said Alec Helmy, president and publisher of XBiz, a trade publication for the adult entertainment industry. “There’s no shortage of locations when it comes to shooting porn. It doesn’t take a lot of equipment and it’s not like shooting ’Jurassic Park.’”

Christian Mann, general manager of Evil Angel Video, a Van Nuys distributor of adult entertainment, predicted that “a lot of the content we distribute will be shot in Europe or outside of Los Angeles.”

Steve Orenstein, president of Wicked Pictures, whose company has had a long-standing practice of requiring performers to use condoms, said Measure B puts a further squeeze on an already struggling industry.

“They are going to potentially charge thousands of dollars per shoot so they can manage what we’ve already been doing for 14 years,” he said. “This is a bad time to be doing this.”

Adult entertainment boomed after the advent of home video in the 1980s. A decade ago, local economists estimated that the porn industry in the San Fernando Valley generated 10,000 to 20,000 jobs annually and had $4 billion in annual sales.

But declining DVD sales and the availability of free porn on the Internet have hammered the local industry. The number of porn producers in L.A. has fallen to about 300, down from 500 at its peak in 2005, Helmy said.

Although porn production accounts for less than 5 percent of all film permits in the county, the industry is an important player in the local entertainment economy.

In all, about 5,000 adult films are shot in Los Angeles County each year in warehouses and private homes, according to industry estimates. FilmL.A., the nonprofit group that handles film permits for the city and the county, issues about 500 permits a year for adult entertainment shoots.

“I don’t know how many of the companies will leave, but there would be an impact for the region if the adult film industry were to truly pack up and leave California,” FilmL.A. President Paul Audley said.

The films mostly fly under the radar, but occasionally cause a backlash. In 2006, residents of an Encino neighborhood complained to city officials about an onslaught of porn filming in their enclave, including one during the Easter holiday.

The Free Speech Coalition, the adult film lobbying group that has threatened to file a legal challenge against Measure B, estimates that its industry generates about $1 billion a year in economic benefits to Los Angeles County and employs about 10,000 people. Among them are makeup artists, hair stylists, audio engineers, lighting technicians and other crew members, many of whom moonlight on porn shows to supplement their income from conventional film shoots.

“What’s kept the adult industry at the technical level it’s at is the fact that we’ve got access to all these people who are working on these big pictures,” said Jimmy Broadway, owner of L.A.-based Severe Society Films. “They’re going to have to find other work, or be willing to travel.”

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PMINZ wrote:
Why dont they just move to the south pole I don't want them here in Hawaii!
on November 16,2012 | 03:11AM
Grimbold wrote:
Porn is the evil in disguise and unworthy of humans.
on November 16,2012 | 03:41AM
Grimbold wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on November 16,2012 | 03:42AM
al_kiqaeda wrote:
I think we can do without Larry Flynt's business.
on November 16,2012 | 08:40AM
ejkorvette wrote:
Great, another opportunity for Hawaii to sink into a new level of debauchery. It doesn't surprise me that Hawaii's business sleaze bags would look at the dollars rather than the family values. I hope the Japanese tourism shrinks to nothing, and the military greatly reduces its presence in Hawaii so the so-call lawmakers will feel the pressure and go broke and poor. This will teach them not to Prostitue the Aina, the Ohana, and the Hawaiian blood. What makes matters sickening is the people making the business, revenue and profit decisions are non-Hawaiian. A curse upon all of them and their families and generations of families.
on November 16,2012 | 04:49AM
Oye_Como_Va wrote:
Just what we need here in Hawaii. It will surely attract more of the pervs from Japan and other asian countries.
on November 16,2012 | 04:50AM
adri1456 wrote:
*refuses to comment to show how informed he is in adult videos*
on November 16,2012 | 04:51AM
st1d wrote:
good news for staradv as it means an uptick in their sports section adult industry advertisements.
on November 16,2012 | 05:27AM
allie wrote:
yikes...but I guess Hawaii needs the jobs.
on November 16,2012 | 05:29AM
st1d wrote:
ironic, how tightly the censors are holding on to this thread. it's as if they never go to bed.
on November 16,2012 | 05:29AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Well, you got to admit that the jokes just write themselves. They have to, 'cause all my bon mots have been sent off to neva-neva land and they were actually polite and clean for a change.
on November 16,2012 | 07:53AM
st1d wrote:
it's just trying to penetrate the virtue of the high men in charge of this thread. after the first time it gets easier.
on November 16,2012 | 02:35PM
false wrote:
They will not do much filming in Hawaii... the union will want too big a "piece" of the action. LOL LOL LOL
on November 16,2012 | 05:32AM
Publicbraddah wrote:
Screwed by our politicians, unions, and big business. Why not?
on November 16,2012 | 05:42AM
Publicbraddah wrote:
Screwed by our politicians, unions, and big business. Why not?
on November 16,2012 | 05:43AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
The Hawaii Film Commission has lobbied the Legislature for a tax break already.
on November 16,2012 | 07:54AM
hawaiikone wrote:
This is a relatively minor intrusion by government into our lives. Now that we've voted to allow increased control there will be many more to come. far more severe.
on November 16,2012 | 07:12AM
hawaiikone wrote:
SA is a joke
on November 16,2012 | 07:14AM
grantos wrote:
you complain and pay a subscription, that's the joke
on November 16,2012 | 08:01AM
hawaiikone wrote:
you pay taxes. right? so who's the joke?
on November 17,2012 | 06:21AM
false wrote:
Act 221, which provided 200% tax credits for investments in "high tech" industry, was used to make filming pornography in Hawaii free. In many ways, Hawaii is a chain of islands of the coast of Southern California, a suburb of L.A.. An inevitable consequence of having a fledgling film industry here will be projects to keep them employed and generate profits. Of course, that includes making pornography. Hasn't there always been an erotic undertone in the selling of Hawaii to tourists?
on November 16,2012 | 07:29AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
This could lead to a mjaor upgrade of the Tats and Tanlines feature.
on November 16,2012 | 07:51AM
al_kiqaeda wrote:
Hey Larry, I think we're doing fine over here WITHOUT your company.
on November 16,2012 | 08:02AM
7yearTribulation wrote:
Galations 6:7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. Everybody will give a account of their life before God ALMIGHTY. The people who allow this perversions to come to Hawaii will pay for it .
on November 16,2012 | 09:00AM
hanoz808 wrote:
come to hawaii and give us the business
on November 16,2012 | 11:59AM
hanoz808 wrote:
seriously! my comment needs approval
on November 16,2012 | 12:00PM
st1d wrote:
apparently they are all being measured, closely examined and put in only if the censor feels it's right.
on November 16,2012 | 02:45PM
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