LA Direct: Testing in the Adult Industry – Truths and Myths Revealed

Dec 14, 2015
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Testing in the Adult Industry – Truths and Myths Revealed

Testing Policy Myths Debunked 

The truth about testing policy every producer, and performer should know 

Events that have occurred over the past couple of weeks have revealed to us that even some of the industry’s most senior members are still shockingly uninformed about testing policies within the adult film business. There are many misconceptions, misunderstandings, false information, and flat out lies that are still, to this day, being repeated around the industry regarding testing policy.  We hope to provide a service here by setting the record straight for performers, directors, producer, and agents alike who may be unaware of what the truth is and what the law says in regards to STD testing within the adult industry.

The History 

For approximately two decades, the self-imposed standard in the adult industry was that performers tested for STDs once per month, and were expected to have a test no older than 30 days at the time of shooting.  This was not a law. In fact there is no law to this day,- federal or state,- that requires the adult industry to test at all.  This was a measure of self-regulation by the adult industry, and most would agree that the policy served the industry very well for many years.

Over the years the numbers of tests performed at each clinic visit increased steadily to what we now know as a ‘full panel’ today.

In September of 2013, Diane Duke of the Free Speech Coalition (FSC), under pressure from AHF (the organization responsible for Measure B,- ‘the condom law’), decided to put forth a unilateral decree that all producers should switch to a 14 day testing standard.  It is important to keep in mind that the FSC is a completely unelected organization, who does not participate in any actual adult film production what so ever.  Furthermore, Diane Duke/The FSC put forth this mandate without consulting anyone actually involved in production.  There was no discussion or input from models, producers, agents, directors, or anyone else that might be affected by a change in testing policy prior to such recommendation.   So then what we had was, one woman from a completely unelected organization, who is not involved in production or medical testing, telling the whole industry what their testing policy should be.  Not only that, but she did so without consulting anyone within the industry about how such a change in testing would affect their business.  The decision had no basis in science, and in fact Diane Duke had spent the previous three (3) years defending the industry’s long standing 30 day protocol, arguing publicly on numerous occasions how effective it was.

To top it off, since testing twice a month costs twice as much, it was just assumed that performers were going to be the only ones responsible for paying for this doubling of the testing costs.  So, overnight, without any input from performers themselves, an unelected body that has nothing to do with production, decided that performers were going to go from spending $155 a month on testing, to spending $310 per month on testing.  This has also had the ancillary effect of costing producers thousands of dollars, when they encounter silly situations such as having to collapse entire shoot days when a performer’s test is 15 days old, not 14.

Ask yourself, would this be acceptable in any other situation?  Would you ever allow someone completely uninvolved in production to dictate what your testing/production policies need to be, without ever even consulting you? As a performer: do you think it’s ok for someone outside of the business to tell you that you have to pay twice as much for testing all of a sudden, without so much as asking for your input? Do you feel that paying twice as much for testing makes you twice as safe ? In our opinion this wasn’t fair to directors, production companies, or talent especially who were just expected to agree to, and pay for this.  A decision like that should have involved a discussion by members of the adult community who are actually involved in producing the content the FSC was trying to regulate.  A plan for how to pay for this policy should have been put in place, and there should never have been an assumption that it was OK to dump the financial burden solely onto performers.

Performer Testing Assistance 

In response to this, several agencies, in an effort lead by Direct Models, devised a policy to assist models to pay for this increase by requiring that producers setting a 14 day testing standard contribute $20 per shoot towards the performer’s testing.  So, for every scene a performer shoots, for which they are required to have a 14 day test, producers pay talent a $20 medical testing fee, which is credited to the performer by the agency, and serves to help pay for this 14 day testing policy.  We believe, that if producers would like models to double their cost of testing, they should be willing to, at the very least, make some small contribution to paying for such policy.  This is not intended as a ‘penalty’ for 14 day testers.  It is intended as a means by which to involve production in taking on some of the cost to ensure that their employees are tested according to their chosen protocol and standard.

It is the adult industries responsibility as a whole, to ensure that performers are tested, and that testing is both effective and affordable for performers.  Unfortunately, not all agencies have implemented this policy on behalf of their talent and many have refused to implement the program as a result, depriving their model clients of even this small financial relief, but doing so in the belief (in some cases) that producers will bias against hiring of their models if implemented, –  so some of the agencies state. Direct Models has found no producers requiring 14 day tests unwilling to contribute $20 per scene toward such increased testing cost for performers.

Current Cal OSHA, County and City Regulations 

Currently and in all the years of the adult industries operation thus far, there has never been a specific set of standards set in place by Cal – Osha for the adult industry,

The industry has been subject to the Blood Borne Pathogen Regulation of 1992, the same as any and all other industries in which saliva, body fluids, blood or OPIM (other potentially infectious materials) may be exchanged.

In the last five years there have been many hearings and a review by Cal Osha with the intent to change the regulation specifically focused to the adult industry and such recommendation by them to the Federal Standards Review Board has now been received by that board and with certainty will result in implementation of a new standard, the time line of which is unknown currently but expected to be in the first half of 2016.

That new standard expected to be revealed in the first half of 2016, is expected to require specific testing – solely paid for by the employer and will require universal use of condoms for all penetrative acts,

To be clear no such standard is currently in place nor has even been. 

The County of Los Angeles has its own regulation that requires producers of adult films producing within the County to adhere to the following:

  • Obtain a Health permit
  • Mandatory use of condoms for all penetrative acts
  • Employer must be trained for health and safety on film sets, including basic first aid.

Film LA is the authority for issuance of film permits in the County of Los Angeles, which all film producers and productions are required to have if shooting in LA County.

For an adult film producer to be issued a film permit for ‘non simulated sexual activity’ the producer must sign documentation binding them to the issuance of the permit, conditional on their adherence to the use of condoms.

In fact, LA County Health has to sign off on the issuance of such permits for ‘non simulated sexual activity’ confirming to Film LA that the petitioning producer is the holder of a ‘Health Permit’ a necessary pre-requisite to the issuance of the Film Permit.

In fact – an adult film producer shooting today in Los Angeles who has a Health Permit, and a Film Permit and uses condoms for all penetrative acts is not required to have the performers have any kind of medical test whatsoever.

The writer chooses to make clear this is not a suggestion and certainly not a recommendation, but that is how the regulations currently stand in combination, between the City of Los Angeles, The County of Los Angeles and the State of California.

So any talk of ‘you must have a 14 day test ‘ is nonsense.

Misconceptions: We’d like to take the opportunity to address some common misconceptions we hear – even from veterans of the business.

  • “All producers in the adult business require a 14 day test. This is the ‘industry standard’. No one accepts a 30 day test” – This is completely false.  Many well-known producers accept a 30 day testing standard.  We at Direct Models would estimate that approximately 50% of our producer clients operate  a 30 day testing protocol. Many of them never switched to 14.

Some of them switched to 14, realized it didn’t make sense for them, and switched back to 30.

  • “14 day testing is a law”  –  This is something we’ve heard even from some of the most experienced directors/performers in the business.  It is completely false.  14 day testing is not a law.  There is actually no law whatsoever that requires performers to test for STDs to work in adult films.  Testing for STDs in our industry is a self-imposed regulation.  We of course believe that models should have to test for STDs to work in the adult business, – but it is factually incorrect to say it is a law.
  • “The Free Speech Coalition (FSC) has the power to make laws” – The FSC holds no legal authority whatsoever.  Their recommendations are not law, and carry no legal weight at all. Producers are not required to say “how high” when the FSC says “jump”.  Deciding not to implement FSC policies is not illegal, and carries no legal penalty.
  • “The Free Speech Coalition (FSC) is in charge of testing” – Again, totally false.  The FSC originally had nothing to do with testing at all, and at some point they decided (without anyone ever asking them or electing them so to do) that they were going to control testing.   We believe people who are actually involved in some form in the production of adult films should regulate testing on behalf of the industry.  Perhaps a testing facility, just as AIM (Adult Industry Medical)  used to do very well, previously.
  • Every producer uses the PASS system” – This is also false.  In fact, the vast majority of producers do not use the PASS system.  In addition, PASS originally intended, and did in fact for a period of approximately six months, – exclude Talent Testing Services in an attempt to force performers to test at CET (a cynical act motivated by a desire to monopolize testing)  and which exclusion was  only rescinded after a sustained period of pressure from a coalition of agents and other industry stakeholders  that included LADirect.

We hope this has been useful to you as adult industry professionals.  We encourage producers, directors, agents, and performers alike to think critically about policies that are imposed on our business, and consequently themselves.  We encourage you to question whether or not those people imposing them are educated, elected, authorized and have the best interests of the business at heart in seeking to impose such regulation.

We encourage producers to decide for themselves what makes sense for their companies, for their productions, to ensure the health of the performers they employ, and to realize that the FSC does not make laws, and does not have the power to tell you what to do with your business without consulting you.

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