CANOGA PARK, Calif. — Exactly one week ago, the adult entertainment industry came away with a big victory after California’s Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board voted against new rules for the production of films.
Instrumental in rallying the performing and production communities to attend the Oakland, Calif., meeting and provide face-to face testimony to the five-member Standards Board meeting last Thursday was the newly appointed Free Speech Coalition executive director, Eric Paul Leue.
With a 3-2 vote after five hours of testimony, the board voted down a set of proposed regulations for adult film performers. These proposed regulations, developed and sponsored by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, not only included mandatory condoms, but latex dental dams to protect the mouth and eye protection such as goggles.
While the big victory in Oakland provides a rosier future for the adult biz, the adult industry faces further challenges this year as another porn ballot regulation attempt is passed on to voters for their decision in November.
In this Q&A, XBIZ spoke with Leue to find out more about the Oakland victory and learn about the next big fight for adult entertainment.
XBIZ: Being newly appointed as the executive director of FSC, what were some of the challenges of preparing for Oakland?
LEUE: Everyone is very passionate about the cause, but the greatest challenge was organizational as much as ideological. We had over 100 adult performers who wanted to come and speak, which meant organizing almost an entire plane load of them up from LAX to Oakland.
We had representatives from great organizations like the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, and the ACLU, and the St. James Infirmary and SWOP who are educated on the issues. We had to make sure the cameras and news crews were there to cover it, and that they understood the real nature of the regulations. I don’t think I slept much the week prior, but it was worth it.
XBIZ: The Oakland meeting had the largest turnout of performers and producers ever for a regulatory hearing. How were you able to achieve such an impressive call to arms?
LEUE: We spent the last several months working with performers, producers and APAC to get out the word, and FSC helped people get their tickets. I think the downside of our success fighting AB1576 and other measures was that people sometimes assume we don’t need their help.
For the Cal/OSHA hearing, we had to really stress that this was not only a danger, it was imminent. People think, “Oh, they aren’t really going to make me wear goggles, are they?” Yes, they are. We shouted it from the rooftops and people came.
But we couldn’t have done it without producers, who stopped shooting for a day to free up talent, and without the performers themselves — many of whom got up at 3 a.m. to drive to LAX, in time for a flight to Oakland. They were incredible.
XBIZ: When the Standards Board panelists went through the roll call, and adult eventually won, what was your initial reaction and thoughts?
LEUE: Disbelief, honestly. Listening to the board deliberate, it seemed like there were two wavering members. However, one of those two ended up voting “yes” on the regulations, so I assumed it would pass.
Luckily, we’d swayed one more vote that we hadn’t counted on, and, of course, we all erupted. It was tremendously emotional. People were crying. I was crying. The performers finally felt like they were being listened to. It was incredible.
XBIZ: What are you hearing from performers and producers about the Oakland victory?
LEUE: They are tremendously energized. Don’t get me wrong, we have a long road ahead of us. But the Cal/OSHA victory means we have the wind at our back. Leading up to this, many people were cynical. No one expected to win, because so often people discount what the adult industry says and is.
But when performers spoke up, they were heard. Now, everyone wants to get on board, and I’m so excited to be allowed to lead this and be part of this.
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