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XCritic Interview: Casey Calvert speaks out against California Proposition 60

In just three weeks, voters state-wide in California will have the opportunity to vote in a measure that has enormous importance for the adult industry. Innocuously titled "The California Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act," Proposition 60 is actually a very dangerous piece of legislation. This bill seeks to not only mandate condom usage in boy/girl scenes, but it also poses a far more dangerous threat to the industry by allowing viewers the ability to sue content producers when they see someone perform on camera without a condom. It puts numerous restrictions on the industry that could be interpreted as a means of legislating it out of business.

One of the most tireless and eloquent voices within the industry has been superstar Casey Calvert. She wrote a detailed editorial in the Huffington Post that brilliantly lays out the case against Prop. 60. It should be one of the first places to turn for information about this troubling legislation. She also answered some questions for XCritic by e-mail.

It seems that everyone I follow on Twitter tangentially related to the adult industry has a "No On 60" icon on their social media profiles. What is Prop. 60 and why it is so important that California voters reject this ballot measure? 

Prop 60 is a California state proposition on the 2016 ballot: "The California Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act." In very brief, Prop 60 makes it criminal for producers to shoot b/g scenes without condoms. But more in depth, it contains sections about the regulation and enforcement of the legislation that are very worrying. sections that affect the state way more than just how the adult business operates here.  

While I know that the law is ostensibly about requiring condom use in adult films, my understanding is that this law goes way beyond that and there are some very serious concerns beyond compelling performers to wear condoms. Can you talk about what those are?

Yes, that's correct. To me, the least scary part of Prop 60 is about condoms. There are two things that really worry me: 

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Prop 60 contains a provision that allows private citizens to sue producers and those with a financial interest (umm... everyone participating is at least aiding and abetting if not directly profiting) in the product if they see a film without a condom. This opens up a massive can of very dangerous worms. Ignoring the absurd precedent this sets and the financial disaster this would be, it's still terrifying. Most performers these days, including myself, are also considered producers, and a lawsuit will reveal all aspects of personal information - like a home address - to a stalker, an anti-porn zealot, whomever the plaintiff ends up being. And since the Prop also dictates a financial incentive for the plaintiff, there is nothing stopping those who want to harm us. 

Also, Prop 60 contains a provision that makes Michael Weinstein (CEO of AIDS Healthcare Foundation, sole proponent of the act, man who's spent $4 mil belonging to his non-profit pushing it) the "porn czar" of California. He gets a job within the State, one that he essentially can't be removed from, for life, to enforce the act (i.e. sue porn companies and performers). 

The Democratic and Republican parties in California both oppose this bill, as does every LGBT organization I could find. It seems that the more people learn about this bill, the more they oppose it, yet polling seems to show that it stands a very good chance of passing. It seems like there's a big hurdle to climb to get people to understand the importance of Prop. 60. Can you talk about what the adult industry is planning to do in the next three weeks to educate the electorate on this issue?

It's tricky, because the simple ballot summary only mentions condoms in porn, producers paying for testing, and the estimated fiscal impact to the state. It doesn't mention any of the really awful stuff Weinstein snuck in. So, when an average Joe gets polled, if all they've read about the Prop is the ballot summary, of course they will vote yes. Who could say no to safe sex? 

We (the adult industry) have to continue pushing really hard to educate the public about what this Prop actually means for California. Having the Democrats and Republicans on our side helps a ton, because this cannot be about porn. The electorate doesn't care about porn, or condoms. But they will care about the corruption behind this act, and that's what we are going to push the hardest in the next three weeks.  

This is sort of related to the previous question, but  it seems that a lot of people were really caught off guard with Measure B passing in LA in 2012, what is the industry doing to make sure that Prop. 60 doesn't pass?

We are doing as much public outreach as we can. We are trying to educate people about how dangerous and destructive Prop 60 is. We are advertising and using social media, but also a lot of public speaking and interviews, just like this one. We are taking every opportunity we can to spread the word. 

What seems to be, in your opinion, the biggest misconceptions about what Prop. 60 does?

Unlike the past two legislative threats to our business (Measure B, AB 1576), the entire business actually seems to be pretty educated about the threats of Prop 60. But for the public, the biggest misconceptions comes from the ballot summary. The average person doesn't take the time to read the legalese of each proposition they are voting on. And like I said, who could say no to safe sex in porn, right? 

One thing I worry about with this law is that it says it will "only" hold producers liable for violations of the law, but it seems like that would only strengthen the handful of studios that can afford the infrastructure of complying with the onerous requirements. It seems like that would disproportionately affect smaller and niche studios (particularly ones that cater to LGBT tastes) and performers who want to have more control over their own content? Is that a fair reading of what the law will do?

Yes, on the surface, Prop 60 says that it will only hold producers liable, that performers are exempt. But it's important to understand who exactly is a producer. Anyone who has financial interest in the product - so anyone who has their own website, shoots content for clips sites, participates in affiliate programs, all of those "performers" are actually "producers." 

So yes, because Prop 60 is so financially onerous, I expect niche and talent-based companies to fold because they won't be able to afford to stay in business. Theoretically, the larger mainstream companies will be able to afford to stay in business and comply, or leave the state, but I still predict a fairly significant drop in production while things get figured out. Complying is a lot more complicated than just slipping on a condom. 

What should your fans outside of California know? How can they get involved or get more information? 

Everyone, no matter where they live, can research the issue here: http://dontharassca.com/, help spread the word on social media, and most importantly, donate to the cause: https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/noon60. AHF has spent over 4 million dollars supporting Prop 60, we need your help.

For more in depth information about the Prop, I suggest Ballotpedia or taking the time to actually read it.

{Interview by Sex Reed.} 

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