LOS ANGELES—Nina Hartley was a guest on the John Phillips/Alexis Garcia radio program on KABC 790 this afternoon, invited to discuss Prop 60 from the adult industry perspective. The hosts of the show, on what is normally a somewhat conservative talk station, gave Hartley free rein to explain Prop 60 to the listening audience, and she didn't disappoint.
"My take on Proposition 60 is that it is an ego-driven power grab by Michael Weinstein and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, targeting a community of workers that is of no threat to the general public and little threat to ourselves," she began. "But he has a messianic attitude and he wants to come and be our overlord and our daddy; he wants to be the condom police, and we just don't think that is the best way to handle something that is an important thing on behalf of sex workers."
"I think you're right," Phillips responded. "I think it's one dude who wants to flex his muscle and they are swimming in money, because who's not gonna give to an AIDS charity? I get hit up by people all the time; I'm doing the AIDS Walk; I'm raising money for this fundraiser, raising money for that fundraiser, and you write a check because no one want anyone dying of AIDS."
"But that's not a problem in our community," Hartley interrupted, "because of the testing regimen we have developed over the years. It's community-based, community-originated harm reduction model that has been extremely effective in reducing STIs in general, and reducing on-set transmission of HIV to zero in California-made pornography. From 2004 to today, not one case—not one case of HIV has been transmitted on set. Tens of thousands of scenes have been shot of all kinds of behaviors; not one case of HIV. In the same time period, from 2004 to now, tens of thousands of new HIV cases have been documented in LA County, so Michael Weinstein is certainly trying to create a solution without a problem, and at the same time, there are neighborhoods and part of the Los Angeles County area that have high instance of HIV and no outreach by AIDS Healthcare Foundation and no offices and no clinics.
"So it's clearly a bad law; it puts me and all my friends in direct line for nuisance lawsuits, personal danger by stalkers or ex-boyfriends or girlfriends, or disgruntled fans," she continued. "Nuisance lawsuits are hugely expensive in a state that's broke—we need police, we need firefighters, we need teachers—and this is not a problem. And generally, the adult entertainment population does not mingle freely with civilians, because our sex culture is different; we want to be with us, and we have difficulty with civilians because of the nature of our work, so we keep to ourselves, we test regularly, and we're not a threat to ourselves or the general public, despite what Michael Weinstein likes to think."
"Just to play devil's advocate here, what's the big deal? Just slap on a condom and get to work," Garcia stated. "How does that really affect [performers]?'
"Oh, yes, I'm glad a woman asked me that!" Hartley responded. "Like Donald Trump, Michael Weinstein has been extreme heavy on the mansplaining... We talk about condom burns, friction burns from these condoms over long shooting scenes, which create microabrasions in delicate areas which make me more susceptible to getting a disease, and Michael Weinstein has said, 'Ha-ha-ha, there's no such thing'; you spend a couple of hours with Joe 'Hung Like a Pony' Smith and you tell me how that feels afterwards, 'kay? So don't forget, regular intercourse among civilians lasts between 20 and 30 minutes tops, starting and starting, you change the condom; 'I like you, you like me; we're having a good time,' versus ten o'clock in the morning; we're on a set; 'We have to be out of here by two o'clock; and go!' Making it mandatory is bad for the economy; for me as a woman, it's paternalistic, it is all kinds of things. I would like to see true choice. For some performers, they would like to use condoms all the time, and they certainly have the right to do so, and because many of us shoot our own content, said people can actually shoot all the condom videos they want. What I want to say to Michael Weinstein is, 'You're a $200 million a year organization; if you want to create condom-only porn, you go; you have at it; yay you! And you don't have to make a profit because you have $200 million a year to work with. We do not; we have to keep ourselves safe and we have to also earn a living, and being able to sell to our audience and our fans, so we do take a great deal of care.'
"And what people never seem to recognize or accept about the testing system is, we have a large population of rather rebellious young people who are taking an active interest in their health, and they're testing," she continued. "They're looking at my test, they're asking for my test; I'm asking for their test. It is a purely voluntary, 100 percent compliant system by and for performers, tailored to the needs of our particular line of work," adding that the various "rapid tests" offered from various organizations "is not accurate for our business. They have a six-month window, and so we have a test that shows the HIV protein within two weeks of infection, so we can catch it, if it happens, very, very early."
Phillips asked where most porn is filmed these days, noting that most customers of XXX like "bareback porn," and suggested that if Prop 60 passes, "Guess what? They're not going to watch any of the porn that's made in California; they're gonna all ship those jobs to Nevada or Arizona or Florida or New York." Hartley responded that the testing clinics are here as is the social support among talent, notably the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee (APAC).
"Disseminating the business around the country will decrease safety," she charged. "First, when a new person comes in, there's no one to tell them about testing. Secondly, something happens on a set; there's no place to go and say, 'Hey, this happened. This George Smith guy, he's a jerk; don't work with him.' So when we can stay together in a relatively close location, where they can support each other, where they can help each other, where they can advocate as a group effectively at the state level—we've been going to the state capitol now for almost 20 years doing advocacy and outreach and education of the legislators."
However, Hartley incorrectly stated that California is the only place where filming adult movies is legal—besides California, New Hampshire and New York City have court decisions allowing it, but it's not been affirmatively banned anywhere in the country—though she is correct that outside of California, "local police can just have whatever kind of fun they want with us, so we do need to stay here."
"I understand that, from the outside, it's 'Ohmigod, condoms! People's safety!" she added, warning, "Not in industrial situations."
Phillips suggested that Prop 60 was a "solution in search of a problem" created by "these dotcom weenies" and "guys with billions of dollars with a lot of free time on their hands... and they make it their cause and they turn it into a moral issue and they go destroy some industry for their own..."
"They use the public health angle to pass unneeded regulation," Garcia jumped in.
"They destroy an industry for their own satisfaction," Phillips charged.
"I appreciate people wanting us to be safe, and honest to God, we want it, too," Hartley said, adding later, "We're entertainers; we're competitive; we're sometimes aggressive, and we are different than the average bear. We somehow like being on camera without our clothes on. Let us entertain you. Let us be the people that help you with your fantasies and help you see something on camera that you can turn to your partner and say, 'Does that look interesting at all to you?'
"Here's what I would like people to know about consuming pornography," she added. "First, if you are worried as a consumer that you're helping some young woman be abused, you must pay for your porn and buy American-made, preferably California-made pornogrpahy. Why is that, you say, Nina? Because if you watch California-made porn, you know the person was of age, gave consent, was tested and was compensated, so you can watch it guilt-free."
After Hartley's segment ended, Phillips and Garcia took phone calls, and none of the callers voiced support for the proposition, with most assessing it as an invasion of personal privacy and an overreach by government, indicating that at least among KABC's more conservative listenership, the "No On 60" votes will be coming in loud and clear.