The "no glove, no love" principle may soon be made law for adult film actors in Los Angeles, where roughly 90 per cent of U.S. pornographic films are made.
The measure is currently before Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and a statement from his aide suggests he is supportive of the condom requirement. On Tuesday, city council approved an ordinance that would deny film permits to producers who do not mandate the use of condoms on set.
A committee of police, city and health officials may be created to plot enforcement mechanisms.
Industry players are not taking the news lying down. Many have decried the measure as an unneeded exercise in political correctness that cannot be enforced in the city known as the porn capital of the country.
"It's going to be interesting to see how in fact they do try to enforce it and who's going to fund it, and all of the time and effort they're going to spend," said Steven Hirsch, co-founder and co-chairman of Los Angeles-based Vivid, one of the largest makers of erotic movies.
Adult film purveyors also argue that:
Consumers complain that condoms are distracting and ruin the fantasy.
Filmmakers will just stop shooting in the city of Los Angeles, thereby dispersing an industry that produces an estimated $8 billion US a year in revenue.
The new law would be bad for business at a time when free internet pornography and recession pains have cut into profits.
Testing is the local norm, as actors are tested for sexually transmitted diseases a minimum of every 30 days when they are working.
Defenders of the ordinance argue the industry is not doing enough to police itself.
Ged Kenslea, spokesman for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, said filmmakers have long ignored state health laws mandating the use of condoms when workers are exposed to blood-borne pathogens.
"Let's make one thing clear: condom use on adult film sets is, and has been, the law in California under blood-borne pathogens regulations," he said. "It is just a law that has not been uniformly enforced or followed."
Veteran adult film actress and producer Tabitha Stevens, who has worked with and without condoms, counters that the choice should be left up to the performers and not mandated by a government agency.
"If you want to wear them, wear them. If you don't, don't. That's up to the talent to decide. It shouldn't be up to the government to decide," she said.