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Condoms in porn: Moving industry out of state could be difficult

January 19, 2012 |  7:12 am

Porn filmmaking
Threats by porn firms to leave California after the L.A. City Council voted to mandate condom use in porn films could be difficult because such filming is legal in just two states -- California and New Hampshire.

A ruling by the California Supreme Court effectively legalized the making of adult films in a landmark 1988 case, which came just as VCRs allowed people to watch explicit movies at home.

New Hampshire’s highest court made a similar ruling only recently, in 2008.

The California ruling is a key reason why L.A. became the capital of the multibillion-dollar porn business. The justices defended the right of film producers to recruit people to act in sexually explicit movies, making it impossible for police and district attorneys to prosecute producers of pornography on charges of soliciting people to engage in prostitution.

The California case stemmed from the conviction in 1985 of Harold Freeman, who had faced a possible prison term for hiring actresses for up to $800 a day to perform explicit sex acts in a movie called “Caught from Behind II,” according to Times coverage at the time.

The court dismissed prosecutors’ argument that the porn performers were prostitutes. Rather, the justices ruled they were being paid to act for the purposes of making a film, and not to sexually arouse or gratify the film producer, which is an element of prostitution.

Meanwhile, the New Hampshire Supreme Court in 2008 said a person who was recruiting talent for a porn film should not have been prosecuted under anti-prostitution laws.

Those court rulings are one reason why the president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Michael Weinstein, said he finds it unlikely that the porn companies will move out of California.

But attorney Marc J. Randazza of Las Vegas, whose clients include a porn firm, said he finds it entirely possible that adult film companies in L.A. could relocate to Nevada.

Randazza said he would find it hard to believe that a district attorney in Nevada would target porn producers in a state that permits legalized prostitution in some areas.

But if many porn productions did move to Sin City, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation promised to take the condoms-in-porn issue there.

“When the industry says, ‘We’ll go to Nevada,’ we vowed we will follow them,” said foundation spokesman Ged Kenslea.

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-- Rong-Gong Lin II

Photo: An editor works on a video at porn firm Vivid's headquarters in 2007. Credit: Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times

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