California’s OSHA (CalOSHA) has been holding hearings and has released a 17 page draft document that may soon require the use of “barrier” devices in the production of adult films. Currently about 90% of the adult films produced in the United States come from California. In Northern California, the Northridge area is the home to most of the major adult film studios in the U.S.
A small number of isolated cases of health problems with a few adult performers have appeared over the years, with one more recent performer in all male Gay films who complained to health authorities that a health office meant to support adult entertainers gave him poor medical service and didn’t always immediately answer his phone calls. Now, California’s OSHA is drafting new rules that might force performers in adult films to wear barrier devices such as condoms, dental dams or latex gloves in films, which is something that neither adult film companies want or consumers of adult films want to see. New OSHA rules in California will likely force the industry to operate outside of California or else even go underground in filming. This would be a serious change for an industry which operates entirely legally and takes out all required licenses and movie permits to film.
California’s adult industry also feels unfairly targeted by any new CalOSHA rules as many martial arts sports events can involve some bleeding or mainstream films can involve the exchange of bodily fluids such as kissing scenes, although sex scenes in mainstream films are of a simulated nature with no actual penetration taking place. A few independent films have experimented with actual sex scenes such as THE BROWN BUNNY where actress Chloe Sevigny performs an uninspiring oral sex scene on actor/ producer/director Vincent Gallo who whines like a little girl during the sex act. It’s really not much of a sex scene by any means compared to almost any adult film standards, but it’s one of few mainstream films to incorporate an actual sex act into the film. But, such scenes could be regulated by new CalOSHA rules as well if filmed in California if the new rules become part of labor law in the state.
The American adult film industry has survived obscenity crackdowns mostly staged during Republican presidencies, and lost millions of dollars of assets confiscated to the government after some successful convictions, but still the adult film industry has survived mostly intact. Now, that the industry is viewed as mostly legal, the industry is facing problems with a bad economy eroding sales and new OSHA rules that could further gut the industry. What damage that obscenity prosecutors couldn’t do to the adult film industry since the historic 1973 Supreme Court decision, some little pieces of latex could actually damage the industry far more than ever expected.