Bay Area Porn Companies Slapped With Fines for Not Using Condoms
Mike Koozmin Kink.com, headquartered in San Francisco's Mission district, faces $78K in Cal-OSHA fines.
On Thursday, the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a whopping $78,710 fine to local porn company Kink.com for workplace safety hazards. The majority of the fines were for allowing performers to work without using condoms, while a $3,710 portion of the total fine was for additional violations, including improperly placed power cords, an absence of first aid supplies, and missing health safety training materials.
The fine is one of several that OSHA has issued to local porn companies recently, and follows in the wake of several HIV scares in the industry.
A fine against Treasure Island Media was upheld after appeal on January 8. Initially, OSHA proposed a $20,485 fine for Treasure Island Media's condom-less porn production; however, the appeal judge lowered the fine to $8,670. Local porn company Factory Videos was cited for numerous safety violations in September 2013, including lack of condom use on sets, and fined $44,940. Scott Morris, president of Factory Videos, confirmed that the company has appealed its fines.
Porn production was forced to halt industry-wide several times last year, after performers tested positive for HIV, including Cameron Bay, a performer who worked at Kink shortly before her diagnosis.
Although the complaints that sparked OSHA's investigations into Kink and Treasure Island Media are sealed to protect the identities of whistle-blowing employees, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation has publicly stated that it filed complaints against both companies. Its complaint against Kink claims Bay may have contracted HIV on set:
"We have reason to believe that on 07/31/2013 adult film employees were exposed to bloodborne pathogens and other potentially infectious materials. ... An employee from this production named Cameron Alexandria Adams (AKA Cameron Bay) tested positive for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) as early as 08/19/2013. ... Ms. Adams engaged in acts considered high-risk for the transmission of HIV, including multiple sex partners and acts resulting in trauma to vaginal, oral, and anal mucosa. Additionally, a large group estimated at 10-12 individuals, including production staff, are likely to have been exposed."
Kink alleges that Bay was not exposed while performing at their studios. Kink spokesperson Mike Stabile says, "The complaints weren't filed by anyone on set, as would normally be the case in an OSHA complaint. AHF even acknowledges that this wasn't a case of HIV transmission on set, as there hasn't been in the industry since 2004, which is why we believe it's not really so much about protecting performers from HIV, but rather using Kink as a convenient target in a larger political crusade."
Kink CEO Peter Acworth noted AHF's involvement, stating, "The complaints which prompted the inspection were not made by actual employees, but by outside groups with a long history of opposition to adult film." He added, "The fines are excessive and, we believe, politically motived."
AHF did not respond to questions about whether Bay had involvement in its complaint. (It also appears to have backpedaled its claim that Bay might have contracted HIV on set -- AHF's spokesperson told the Associated Press, "That's neither here nor there.") Bay did participate in an AHF press conference regarding her HIV status last September.
Stabile told us, "The fines were not related to a particular incident, but rather about our policy of leaving the choice to use a condom up to the performer."
AHF indeed has a history of advocating for condom use in adult film production -- the organization backed 2012 legislation that mandated condom use on porn sets throughout LA County.
Since condom legislation went into effect in LA, the porn industry advocacy group Free Speech Coalition reported a 95% drop in permit applications to film in the county. The statistic suggests that porn producers are simply moving elsewhere to avoid the condom requirement.
The current industry standard, outside of LA County, is to allow adult film actors to perform without condoms. However, performers are required to take biweekly STD tests before being cleared to work on set. State legislators voted against a bill last fall that would have mandated condom use in porn statewide, but OSHA requires employers to protect workers from bloodborne pathogens -- so even though performing without a condom is legal, production companies can still be fined for allowing it.
Stabile added, "The AIDS Healthcare Foundation in LA initiated the OSHA complaints as part of their political campaign to mandate condoms in porn. AHF hasn't been able to get legislation passed in Sacramento, so it's been using OSHA to harass adult businesses across the state."
Cal OSHA does not regularly inspect porn studios for condom use; a complaint or accident must occur before an investigation is triggered.
Even in the face of the $78K fine, Kink's troubles may be far from over -- OSHA lists three investigations into the company as still pending, which means more fines may be coming.
Here's the full list of citations and fines against Kink.com:
Here's the full list of citations and fines against Factory Videos: