Porn production is actually fleeing L.A.

In the wake of on-set condom mandates, data shows porn production is leaving its home -- or going underground

Published August 7, 2014 2:26PM (EDT)


Following the 2012 passage of Measure B, a mandate requiring the use of condoms on all porn sets in Los Angeles County, the adult film industry has started leaving L.A. -- or going underground, as data could also suggest.

According to the most recent estimates from FilmL.A. Inc., a nonprofit group that oversees film permits for the city and county, the number of permits issued for porn productions has plummeted in the past two years. Just 40 permits were issued in 2013 -- a 90 percent decrease from the number issued in 2012 -- and this year, only 20 have been issued so far, the Los Angeles Times reports:

The decline in permitted shoots for adult entertainment comes at a time when L.A.'s workforce has been hammered by one of the state's highest unemployment rates. The entertainment industry has also been hurt by the flight of mainstream movies and TV shows to other cities and states offering tax breaks and rebates.

Although critics say it's unclear how many companies may be filming illegally without permits, porn producers say they're taking their business to other counties in Southern California, as well as Nevada, Florida and Eastern Europe, where they say they face fewer regulations. The industry also has been forced to downsize amid declining DVD sales and free porn on the Internet.

Porn permits make up a small portion of the total number of film permits FilmL.A. issues each year, but the adult industry still contributes hugely to the local economy:

A decade ago, local economists estimated that the porn industry in the San Fernando Valley generated 10,000 to 20,000 jobs annually and had $4 billion in annual sales.

As many as 5,000 adult films were shot in Los Angeles in warehouses and private homes in 2011, according to industry estimates.

If the porn industry's exodus from L.A. is indeed the result of Measure B, it could also indicate that the mandate is pushing the adult film industry underground. Proponents of the measure suggest that porn films are still in production in Los Angeles, but that they're simply happening without permits. According to opponents of the measure, that could have dangerous consequences for the physical and social well-being of adult performers if it's true. 

”When our jobs are illegal, they not only become more dangerous, they also become more stigmatized,” adult actress Lorelei Lee told Salon earlier this year. “In a time when porn performers already face the abrupt closing of our bank accounts, discrimination in hiring and in housing applications, and a risk of firing from other non-sex-work jobs we might obtain, the question of our livelihood moving underground becomes one of survival.”

By Jenny Kutner

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