Adult film actress Riley Reyes was preparing for an “especially physical” scene last week when she learned of a proposed government action that would impose tough new rules on her industry.
“I was completely shocked,” said Reyes, who is among the “hundreds of thousands” of cast members whose bill originally sought fingerprints, background checks, and mandates for educational programs under a new licensing scheme. “It was strange going to work and acting sexy and normal after I found out.”
Reyes shoots hardcore sex scenes on the iconic sets of the San Fernando Valley, long known as the “Porn Capital of the World”. She also chairs the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee, one of the few organized labor and labor rights groups that regularly meets with lawmakers on industry issues.
None of them knew of Assembly Bill 2389 until it was introduced. The nudger has resumed a bitter argument over who speaks for adult artists in a state where lawmakers have long sought some control over the industry. After a decade of proposed pornozars and failed condom codes, strippers, adult movie actors, and webcam performers are looking for new ways to monitor them.
An industry attorney called it a “scarlet letter law”.
“It is my goal that the training required by AB 2389 leads to a certification process similar to that of other industries,” wrote MEP Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) in a statement on February 20, two days after its introduction Invoice. “For example, the food service industry needs a training course for grocers in which employees complete a training course and at the end complete a quiz. After passing the quiz, they are certified grocers in that state. ”
On Thursday, Garcia introduced changes to fingerprint waste requirements and scaled back the business licensing mandate in favor of a certificate program.
However, experts said such a system “misunderstood the way the industry works”.
“The industry just doesn’t compare to any other job that requires a permit,” wrote Heather Berg, Assistant Professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Washington University in an email. “There is also a long history of sex workers who oppose mandatory registration with the state.”
Garcia said the bill was proposed by the International Entertainment Adult Union, an umbrella organization for industrial guilds. But these guilds represent a small fraction of the adult entertainers – most of whom are not unions – and their leaders said they were designed by a “rogue officer” behind their backs. The official, union secretary Amanda Gullesserian, told The Times that she went to lawmakers alone.
“Who would draft an invoice without talking to us?” said Mike Stabile of the Free Speech Coalition, an industry trade group that works regularly with state officials. “Nobody even consulted us – we talked to the other big artist groups and nobody had any contact with the lawmakers who worked this out. Everyone was pretty outraged. ”
The game was sudden.
“This doesn’t protect the performers – it basically treats us like criminals,” said Alana Evans, president of the Adult Performers Actors Guild. “We get into the adult industry because we have to buy diapers and feed our children. … you will use this to scare people off. “
She and other performers were particularly concerned about the demands that a nationwide database of adult entertainers seemed to create without addressing the stigma and discrimination that many face. Many compared AB 2389 to SESTA / FOSTA, a 2018 federal law targeting online sex trafficking that, according to adult animators and sex workers, destroyed occupational safety and changed their lives.
“AB2389 is a bill that, like SESTA / FOSTA, is designed to protect adult entertainers when in fact it seeks to continue criminalizing it,” wrote Antonia Crane, founder and director of Soldiers of the Pole, a labor stripper movement in California. “The bill allows the state to register, ie fingerprints, records, ID cards and the police, the most vulnerable workforce in the world.”
Others feared the bill would stigmatize gig workers who rely on erotic work as a sideline.
“These are not just the pornstars in the Valley anymore, they are your neighbors,” said Jennifer Allbaugh, vice president of the Adult Performers Actors Guild. “Good luck with this license and trying to find a real job after you decide to retire.”
After an industry outcry, MP Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) said she would take her name from the legislation she originally co-sponsored. Even the architect of the bill tried to distance herself from the proposal.
“It’s completely misspelled,” said Gullesserian, who first approached Garcia with bullet points for AB 2389. “It just needs to be deleted and repaired – and it will be.”
Indeed, Garcia amended the bill, promising “a collaborative process with all parties involved”.
However, critics say the process is long overdue.
Many see AB 2389 as part of a pattern of legislative effort to restrict California’s adult entertainment industry. Several compared it to LA’s mandatory testing law for 2012 and the failed Proposition 60 of 2016, which would have required condoms for all adult content filmed in the state. Similar proposals have each died in legislation.
“Do sex workers need to take classes, have a fingerprint and be identified? Come on! No sex worker will want this ridiculous law, ”said Corey D. Silverstein, a well-known lawyer in the industry. “I believe this bill will ultimately fail, but California has done everything possible to make adult content production impossible. They are chasing people out of the state and forcing adult content production to return underground. ”
Gullesserian, the secretary of the International Entertainment Adult Union, said she envisioned an education law designed to protect young artists from abuse and manipulation. And while most want legislation to be passed by the State Assembly, others see value in a limited program.
Some pointed to the recent dusting of an explicit clip involving a young actor apparently filmed in the Ocean Park Branch of the Santa Monica Public Library while unsuspecting visitors rummaged in the background. Sex in public is a California offense.
“As the barriers to entry for adult films have decreased, producers have to do more extreme things to: a [paying] Audience, ”said David Schieber, assistant professor of sociology at Northwestern and ergonomist in the adult entertainment industry. “Someone with more experience could say, ‘This is illegal, I don’t do this.’ ”
Reyes, the workers’ advocate, warned that only in such cases could a statutory education program make so much.
“The things models need most are education about their rights, sexual health, and financial planning,” Reyes said. “But people’s work is so diverse that one wonders whether one can standardize an educational package … and whether this is something that should be mandated by the state.”
It is unclear whether the Congregation with the Bad Stars bill can be revised to achieve this goal. Regardless of whether amendments were drawn or passed, experts believe that the effects will likely continue to be felt in the future.
“Nobody would do this to a teacher or a nurse,” Reyes said. “I think we must have heard our voices this time.”