Money, Morals, and Condom Use: The Politics of Health in Gay and Straight Adult Film Production

Money, Morals, and Condom Use: The Politics of Health in Gay and Straight Adult Film Production Abstract This paper compares condom use between the gay and straight California adult film industries and examines the culturally embedded decision making processes that affect the use of condoms in adult films. Drawing on in-depth interviews with people in the adult film industry, I argue that those within the gay and straight adult film industries utilize condoms and HIV testing as strategic actions motivated by two separate institutional logics. Within the straight industry, I find that a logic of profit maximization motivates HIV testing with the effect of identifying and quarantining HIV positive performers. Those within the straight industry then strategically justify non-condom use stating condoms are painful and condom use is an issue of performer’s choice. Within the gay adult film industry, I find that a logic of civil rights and solidarity motivates condom use by implicitly avoiding identifying and stigmatizing HIV positive performers through mandated HIV tests. Ironically, performers in the gay adult film industry also strategically use condoms to manage their reputations and stigma by signaling to consumers that they are not HIV positive. In sum, these findings highlight the important ways people strategically rationalize and justify organizational health policies and practices while motivated by shared cultural schemas. HIV/AIDs, Culture, Organizations, Adult Film Industry, and Condom Use In August of 2013, Cameron Bay, a female adult film performer, tested positive for HIV during a routine HIV test. The Free Speech Coalition, the largest adult film industry trade association, immediately called for an industry-wide moratorium on filming in California. The Coalition then began testing performers who had recently worked with Bay for HIV (Lovett 2013; Sewell 2013). No performers who had worked with Bay on set tested positive for HIV, and the Free Speech Coalition lifted the filming moratorium after two weeks. A few weeks later it was revealed that Cameron Bay’s boyfriend Rod Daily, a performer in gay adult film industry, was also HIV positive (Lovett 2013). Perhaps surprisingly, Rod Daily’s HIV-positive status caused no such alarm or halts in production in the gay adult film industry, raising the question: Why were these responses to the same health concern so different? The straight adult film industry and the gay adult film industry are located within the same broader industry, but they have historically been separate in terms of production companies and performers (Weitzer 2010; Thomas 2010). From the 1970s through today the straight industry has centered in Southern California, while the gay industry has centered in San Francisco (Thomas 2010; Tibbals 2012). Even as gay and straight production companies have become subsidiaries of larger companies through the late 2010s—most notably under the pornography conglomerate MindGeek—the gay and straight industries largely remain separate in terms of production (Mann 2014; Wallace 2011). While some male crossover performers appear in both straight and gay films, crossover performers from the gay industry are stigmatized within the straight industry due to the perceived risk that they could introduce HIV into the straight industry (Tarrant 2016). During the late 1980s and early 1990s, HIV became a growing concern for both the gay and straight adult film industries as a number of performers became infected with HIV and died from AIDS (Burger 1995). In response, each industry adopted self-enforced health policies to mitigate the risks of occupational sexual activity (de Cesare 2005). The gay adult film industry primarily required condom use when filming anal sex, and the straight adult film industry relied on mandatory testing for HIV before filming to prevent the introduction of HIV into the industry (Tibbals 2012, Tarrant 2016). Although there is epidemiological work analyzing the differences in condom use between the gay and straight industries (Grudzen et al. 2009; Grudzen and Kerndt 2007), “in-depth sociological work on the porn industry and its workers is almost non-existent” (Weitzer 2009: 216). Specifically, previous studies have not yet explained why such different health practices between industries exist and persist over time (Tibbals 2012; Voss 2012; Weitzer 2010). In this paper, I examine and explain these differences. Sociologists have, however, highlighted the link between culture and action with regards to health practices in interpersonal relationships (Tavory and Swidler 2009). Building on this insight, here I analyze the cultural motivations and justifications that can lead to culturally embedded organizational health practices. A few points of clarification are necessary. My discussion of gay adult films refers only to adult films involving men having sex with men. In addition, my discussion of straight adult films refers to films involving sex between men and women. This decision is based on the relevance of safe sex to these two industries. For instance, although films produced in the straight industry and marketed as straight frequently include “girl on girl” scenes, these are understood to be “safer” and are peripheral to discussions about condom use and HIV transmission. I use the terms “gay” and “straight” industries since these are the terms used both within and outside of the adult film industry to label these two industries, but not necessarily performers within the industries. In my decision to focus on the two largest segments of adult film production, the gay and straight industries, I bracket off an analysis of condom use in smaller sub-sections of the adult film industry (e.g. queer pornography and fetish pornography). CULTURE AND CONDOM USE Sociologists have grappled with the “duality” of structure and action and the question of whether broader cultural values determine action or action constitutes culture (Giddens 1979; Sewell Jr 1992; Swidler 1986). Vaisey (2009) describes the difference between structure and action as a question of cultural motivation versus cultural justification. Vaisey (2009: 1687) argues, “Actors are primarily driven by deeply internalized schematic processes, yet they are also capable of deliberation and justification when required by the demands of social interaction.” Individuals can formulate posthoc rhetorical justifications for action, and perhaps even shape the direction of broader culture over time; however, underlying cultural schemas primarily motivate individual’s actions. Tavory and Swidler (2009) highlight this dual relationship between culture and action in their study of condom use in rural Malawi. They find that condoms occupy a complex semiotic space in which individuals actively signify intimacy and commitment though shared understandings of condom use. The relationship between non-condom use and intimacy is so powerful that it motivates Malawians to eschew condoms even when they are directly at risk of acquiring HIV from their romantic partner. In addition, men can strategically utilize these meanings to justify non-condom use in relationships when they do not want to use condoms (Tavory and Swidler 2009). In sum, interpersonal sexual health decisions can be embedded in cultural motivations and justifications as opposed to pragmatic health considerations. This focus on cultural meaning and health in interpersonal relationships, however, leaves open the question of how cultural meaning may impact health decisions in a rationalized organizational setting such as the adult film industry. Previous research on adult films has focused on the social or psychological effect of pornography on those who consume pornography and how images in pornography are reflections of society and culture, while the organizational aspects of the industry have been given less consideration (Voss 2012). That is, pornography is often examined from the perspective of media effects or cultural studies but rarely from the production of culture perspective. The production of culture perspective attempts to explain the creation of cultural objects as an agentive process by focusing on the systems in which they emerge (Peterson and Anand 2004). To analyze the motivations and justifications behind health decisions in the adult film industry, I must examine the context behind the sex being depicted on screen and the process by which these depictions originate and evolve. In the following sections, I begin with an overview of the history of safe sex in gay and straight adult film industries, and I then explore how cultural motivations and cultural justifications may conceptually relate to these two histories. The Origins of Health Policy in the Adult Film Industry Cultural schemas are historically embedded, and present day interpretations of meaning and practice are contingent on past events (Sahlins 1981). The emergence of HIV as a public health crisis in the late 1980s served as a historical turning point in the way people think about safe sex—especially in the gay adult film industry (Warner 2000). Despite the discovery of HIV in 1981, the industry did not adopt comprehensive safe sex measures until 1987 (Burger 1995). During the interim period between 1981 and 1987, the industry was in a state of denial and confusion regarding the reality of HIV, even as AIDS wreaked havoc on performers (Burger 1995). Concurrently, the nationwide politicization of the AIDS crisis further stigmatized and blamed individuals infected with HIV (Epstein 1996). The adoption of condoms by producers in 1987 occurred as condoms became a point of emphasis for AIDS advocacy groups promoting safe sex education, and activists saw an opportunity to use adult films to educate individuals on safe sex practices (Crimp 1987; Dean 2009; Thomas 2010). With this emphasis on promoting safe sex, by the mid-1990s most actors used condoms when performing anal sex on screen (Thomas 2010). Towards the end of the 1990s a genre called “barebacking” emerged in which gay anal sex was filmed without the use of condoms (Dean 2009; Shernoff 2006). Barebacking departed from the norm of condom use in the industry, and it represented a meaningful shift away from the impact of AIDS on the industry. Bareback videos first arose in 1997 as treatments for HIV became more effective and performers felt increasingly comfortable performing without condoms (Thomas 2010). However, there is often an assumption that performers who bareback are already HIV positive and thus not susceptible to HIV infection from participation (Thomas 2010). Today, bareback pornography is common along with an increasing acceptance of bareback sex in gay sexuality as a whole (Davis 2015; Dean 2015). Recently, the politics of bareback sex has become inextricable from the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis medications, or PrEP. In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Truvada as a daily preventive pill to reduce the likelihood of sexually acquired HIV (U.S. Food and Drug Administration 2012). Viewed by some as an “invisible condom,” Truvada occupies a complex space in gay sexuality since it breaks down the binary of HIV positive and negative and raises new questions about the acceptability of eschewing condom use (Dean 2015). By examining the cultural impact of Truvada on the gay adult film industry, I may be able to extrapolate some cultural meanings afforded to Truvada within gay sexuality as a whole. On the other hand, the history of health policy in the straight adult film industry largely begins in 1998 with a string of HIV cases caused by one male performer (Slater 1998). While it was common for performers to test for HIV before this outbreak, and there were rumors about HIV transmission occurring on set before 1998, this incident spurred the industry to establish procedures to mitigate the risk of HIV transmission between performers (Sauerwein 2001). Sharon Mitchell, a performer-turned-industry health activist, founded the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation (AIM) to establish centralized testing protocols to prevent the spread of HIV within the industry (Grudzen and Kerndt 2007; Madigan 2004). Under these guidelines, performers were required to provide proof of a negative HIV test within the past 30 days before filming, which was tightened to 14 days in 2012 (McNeil 2012). This HIV outbreak in 1998 also prompted many producers to require the use of condoms on set in addition to testing (AVN 1999; Slater 1998). These precautions were short-lived, however, as companies returned to allowing performers to choose whether or not they used condoms as producers feared condom use would hurt sales (Garthwaite 2003). Regular HIV testing instead became the accepted mode of HIV prevention within the straight industry; by 2003 AIM estimated that 95% of adult performers in the industry received monthly HIV testing (Garthwaite 2003). In 2004, health policy took on renewed importance when a male performer tested positive for HIV, and three actresses who had worked with him subsequently tested positive (AVN 2004; Meyer 2004). After a brief period of increased condom use on set, a majority of production companies once again returned to a “condom optional” policy after the incident (Houston 2005). The industry remained this way until the passage the County of Los Angeles Safer Sex Act, or Measure B, in 2012 (Birkhold 2013). Measure B requires adult film productions in Los Angeles County to obtain a permit and follow workplace bloodborne pathogen protocols; moreover, and most controversially, the measure mandates the use of condoms during vaginal and anal intercourse. While the long-term impact of Measure B is still unknown, the straight adult film industry as a whole has largely continued to avoid using condoms on set by filming without permits or filming outside of Los Angeles County (Verrier 2014). The two predominant forms of safe sex policies in the adult film industry present two fundamentally different approaches to HIV prevention. On one hand, the straight adult film industry currently uses a system of testing in which performers are tested every 14 days for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (McNeil 2012; Tibbals 2012). On the other hand, the gay industry is divided between condom-only productions and bareback productions with no standard overarching health policy (Thomas 2010). In addition, whether or not productions in the gay industry require condoms, required HIV testing by producers is sporadic (Thomas 2010). Motivations and Justifications for Institutional Condom Use The institutional logics perspective helps explain how culture may motivate these differing safe sex practices within the adult film industry. This perspective focuses on the relationship between society and culture within institutions (Friedland and Alford 1991), arguing that people and institutions are aware of broader cultural schemas and take these schemas into account in their organizational decision making (Thornton, Ocasio, and Lounsbury 2012). With regards to the AIDS crisis, Healy (2010) demonstrates how differing institutional logics can also motivate differing reactions from similar organizations. The reactions of blood and plasma donation organizations to the AIDS crisis were partially contingent on the competing logics of profit maximization and moral altruism. In this section, I explore the history of quarantine and containment in relationship with HIV and how this history may motivate acceptable organizational health practices within the adult film industry. Quarantine and containment as a public health practice was historically used to protect the larger population from an afflicted few by separating out afflicted populations (Bayer 1991). The testing system in the straight industry— in which HIV positive performers are identified and removed from the performer pool— represents a localized form of institutional quarantine and containment. However, systems of quarantine can also be used as a method of bodily control over others in the form of social exclusion (Foucault 1977) and as a justification for socially dominant groups to identify and relocate lower status groups (Cappon 1991). Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, there was a concern that testing and quarantine could be used as an excuse to infringe on the civil rights of gay individuals (Bayer 1991). These concerns led to the concept of “HIV exceptionalism” in which the rights and privacy of those with HIV were respected (Bayer 1991), and AIDS advocacy groups were able to stymie quarantine efforts by educating the public about how HIV spreads (Epstein 1996). Even today, laws requiring individuals to disclose their HIV status to sexual partners can be a source of social control over HIV positive individuals (Hoppe 2013). In this regard, condom use in the gay adult film industry may be motivated by an institutional logic of civil rights and solidarity to avoid ostracizing HIV positive performers through quarantine. This threat of bodily control through quarantine and social exclusion is less applicable to the straight adult film industry without the shared history of the AIDS crisis. Scholars contend, however, that bodily control in the straight adult film industry still happens through a separate process: the subjugation of women through extreme sex acts to maximize profits (Dines 2010; Dines, Jensen, and Russo 2013). One criticism of this literature is that it is lacking in empiricism and fails to take into account the actual experiences of performers within the industry (Weitzer 2009, 2011), and these critiques are hotly debated (Watson 2012). I examine one small part of this debate. Specifically, to what extent is non-condom use driven by a logic of profit maximization at the expense of the choices of women within the straight adult film industry? While the institutional logics perspective focuses on cognition and how broader culture can motivate organizational practices, it is important to theorize how individual people may draw from these logics to justify empirical strategic action (Vaisey 2009; Swidler 1986). Individuals use frames, or schemas of interpretation, to make sense of the world around them (Goffman 1974). With regards to organizational interactions, people act strategically with a mutual understanding of these frames and what constitutes acceptable practices (Fine 1984; Fligstein and McAdam 2012). Returning to Tavory and Swidler (2009), condoms can be strategically used by individuals as objects of expressive meaning. Given the logic of solidarity and civil rights within the gay adult film industry that seems to motivate condom use in response to the AIDS crisis, this paper examines how performers might use condoms to affirm these historical cultural norms. Moreover, this paper examines how individuals may strategically negotiate this logic to justify the increasing prevalence of bareback pornography. On the other hand, the straight adult film industry has historically relied on the self-imposed testing standards discussed above. Measure B, however, departs from this history of self-imposed health practices (Birkhold 2013), and performers, directors, and the media within the straight adult film industry have presented themselves as uniformly against governmentally regulated condom use (Hymes 2012; Kernes 2012; Stoya 2013). Given these strong stances against regulated condom use, this paper examines the motivations behind this stance and queries how performers and producers in the straight industry might use certain rhetoric to further justify non-condom use when producing adult films. METHODS To investigate this question regarding the cultural motivations versus the individual justifications for institutional condom use, I draw on 31 in-depth interviews conducted from 2013 through 2015 with individuals involved in the California adult film industry. These semi-structured interviews asked questions regarding attitudes towards health practices within the adult film industry, including personal opinions on condom use and testing for sexually transmitted infections within the industry. These interviews touched on many other aspects of working within the adult film industry, but for the purposes of this paper, I am drawing from the data related to health and safe sex practices within the adult film industry. The majority of respondents are performers and directors/producers within the adult film industry, but the sample also includes individuals involved in other aspects of the field as detailed in Table 1. It is common for those involved in the industry to work in multiple roles, such as performing, directing and producing, and several respondents had worked in various roles within the industry. The performers and producers offer first-person accounts of their decisions to utilize safe sex measures, and individuals who have worked in both industries provide a comparative perspective on attitudes in each industry. See Table 1 for a list of respondents. Table 1. Descriptive Characteristics of the Sampled Respondents Name Profession Industry Sex Holly Performer Straight Female Rachel Performer/ Director Straight Female Elizabeth Performer Straight Female Diana Performer Straight Female Angela Performer Straight Female Julie Performer Straight Female Heather Performer Straight Female Erica Performer Straight Female Jessica Performer Straight Female Chase Performer Straight Male Patrick Performer Straight Male Craig Performer Straight Male Nate Producer/Director/Performer Straight Male Cari Producer/Director Straight Female Travis Producer/Director/Performer Straight Male Aaron Producer/Director Straight Male Kelly Makeup Artist Straight Female Thomas Lawyer Straight Male Joshua Journalist Straight Male Bruce Agent Straight Male Ryan Film Crew Gay and Straight Male Michael Producer/ Director Gay and Straight Male Adam Performer Gay and Straight Male Matthew Performer Gay Male Joseph Performer Gay Male Samuel Performer Gay Male Sean Performer Gay Male Will Performer Gay Male Jake Performer Gay Male Gregory Public Health N/A Male Andrea Public Health N/A Female Name Profession Industry Sex Holly Performer Straight Female Rachel Performer/ Director Straight Female Elizabeth Performer Straight Female Diana Performer Straight Female Angela Performer Straight Female Julie Performer Straight Female Heather Performer Straight Female Erica Performer Straight Female Jessica Performer Straight Female Chase Performer Straight Male Patrick Performer Straight Male Craig Performer Straight Male Nate Producer/Director/Performer Straight Male Cari Producer/Director Straight Female Travis Producer/Director/Performer Straight Male Aaron Producer/Director Straight Male Kelly Makeup Artist Straight Female Thomas Lawyer Straight Male Joshua Journalist Straight Male Bruce Agent Straight Male Ryan Film Crew Gay and Straight Male Michael Producer/ Director Gay and Straight Male Adam Performer Gay and Straight Male Matthew Performer Gay Male Joseph Performer Gay Male Samuel Performer Gay Male Sean Performer Gay Male Will Performer Gay Male Jake Performer Gay Male Gregory Public Health N/A Male Andrea Public Health N/A Female Table 1. Descriptive Characteristics of the Sampled Respondents Name Profession Industry Sex Holly Performer Straight Female Rachel Performer/ Director Straight Female Elizabeth Performer Straight Female Diana Performer Straight Female Angela Performer Straight Female Julie Performer Straight Female Heather Performer Straight Female Erica Performer Straight Female Jessica Performer Straight Female Chase Performer Straight Male Patrick Performer Straight Male Craig Performer Straight Male Nate Producer/Director/Performer Straight Male Cari Producer/Director Straight Female Travis Producer/Director/Performer Straight Male Aaron Producer/Director Straight Male Kelly Makeup Artist Straight Female Thomas Lawyer Straight Male Joshua Journalist Straight Male Bruce Agent Straight Male Ryan Film Crew Gay and Straight Male Michael Producer/ Director Gay and Straight Male Adam Performer Gay and Straight Male Matthew Performer Gay Male Joseph Performer Gay Male Samuel Performer Gay Male Sean Performer Gay Male Will Performer Gay Male Jake Performer Gay Male Gregory Public Health N/A Male Andrea Public Health N/A Female Name Profession Industry Sex Holly Performer Straight Female Rachel Performer/ Director Straight Female Elizabeth Performer Straight Female Diana Performer Straight Female Angela Performer Straight Female Julie Performer Straight Female Heather Performer Straight Female Erica Performer Straight Female Jessica Performer Straight Female Chase Performer Straight Male Patrick Performer Straight Male Craig Performer Straight Male Nate Producer/Director/Performer Straight Male Cari Producer/Director Straight Female Travis Producer/Director/Performer Straight Male Aaron Producer/Director Straight Male Kelly Makeup Artist Straight Female Thomas Lawyer Straight Male Joshua Journalist Straight Male Bruce Agent Straight Male Ryan Film Crew Gay and Straight Male Michael Producer/ Director Gay and Straight Male Adam Performer Gay and Straight Male Matthew Performer Gay Male Joseph Performer Gay Male Samuel Performer Gay Male Sean Performer Gay Male Will Performer Gay Male Jake Performer Gay Male Gregory Public Health N/A Male Andrea Public Health N/A Female I conducted the interviews either in person or over the phone, depending on availability or what made the respondent most comfortable. Interviews lasted around an hour, but ranged from 45 minutes to three hours. Before each interview, I provided respondents with a study information sheet explaining the purpose of the project, and I received verbal consent to conduct and audio record the interview. Respondents had the option of ending the interview at any time. After transcribing the recorded interviews, I re-read the transcripts and I identified themes and topics that repeated throughout. Some of these themes were specifically guided by questions from the onset, such as opinions towards Measure B and mandated condom use. Other themes, such as whether or not performers feel like they have actually had a choice regarding condom, or the prevalence of Truvada within the gay industry, emerged as I conducted the interviews. I hand coded the transcripts with these themes and topics, allowing me to compare and contrast the different ways respondents talked about these topics. It became clear early in the project that there was a normative pressure within the straight industry to repeat an accepted discourse against mandated condom use. Respondents who were in favor of increased condom use within the industry expressed concerns about their anonymity and repeatedly made sure I would not reveal their identities. These respondents said they would receive condemnation within the industry if their opinions and names became public. As Mike, a director and producer in favor of condom use stated in his interview, “That’s why I’m flapping my mouth, because I know it’s anonymous. Because if I were to say this on the record, they would lynch me.” Given the pressure respondents in the straight industry said they felt to hide potential support for condom use, I found that in-depth interviewing coupled with promises of anonymity was the most effective methodological tool to identify attitudes towards health within the industry. A textual analysis of media articles would largely reiterate the accepted discourse the industry presents to the public, while ethnography or focus groups would be at risk of only examining the opinions those within the industry feel comfortable sharing around their peers and employers. Respondents within the gay industry were less concerned about potential backlash from peers, and no respondents in the gay industry expressed reticence regarding their opinions on health within the industry. I initially contacted respondents through email, and then proceeded with snowball sampling. Many respondents said they felt more comfortable sharing their contact information with me and meeting with me if another individual within the industry vouched for me. This was due to concerns about stigmatization and unwanted correspondence. Due to the relative small size of my sample, I cannot generalize the findings to make specific claims about demographics, attitudes, or trends within each industry. Rather, I use the interviews to identify common discourses regarding safe sex within the California adult film industry. To protect anonymity, I use pseudonyms throughout the paper, and I purposefully leave out any information that could be used to identify respondents. CONDOMS IN THE STRAIGHT ADULT FILM INDUSTRY Condoms and the Market for Adult Films As detailed in the history above, condoms in the straight adult film industry are a contentious issue, and this was evident in my interviews. The most common response for why condoms are not used in straight adult industry is because using condoms will hurt film sales. As Holly, a performer, stated when asked why the industry does not use condoms: They think it doesn’t sell. You know, condoms in porn don’t sell. I don’t know if it sells or not, but that’s the biggest thing you’ll hear all the directors saying. We don’t use condoms because it’s not going to sell. You know, this is our livelihood. Why would we want to make content that’s not going to sell? All interviewees reiterated the trope that condoms would hurt the bottom line of production companies, and that this belief drove resistance towards condom use. Respondents also explained that consumers do not want to see condoms in adult films because condoms ruin the fantasy of the depiction of sex. As Adam, a performer, stated in his interview: It’s the fantasy. To see a condom is just to ruin the fantasy. That’s part of reality. Porn is fantasy, so in fantasy these borders don’t exist. You know, it should be escapism. It has nothing to do with the real world. Respondents in the straight industry stated that consumers do not want to see condoms in their pornography, and it is too difficult to sell adult films that utilized condoms because condoms ruin the fantasy porn sets out to create. This belief that condoms hurt sales sets the background for how those within the industry talk about and use condoms. Condoms as Painful In addition to talking about condoms hurting sales, those within the industry also argued that condoms are simply too painful when used in a scene. As Angela, a female performer, told me: They destroy my insides. I get absolutely destroyed …so, besides the inconvenience and having to change the condoms and deal with them, they really, really tear up my insides. Diana, another female performer, described her own difficulties when using condoms during shoots and the skepticism those outside the industry might have for these problems: Not only are condoms breaking but we’re also getting friction rash…I’ve had to cancel scenes because I’m just torn apart and I can’t work the next day. And also, anally, condoms are very rough. So that too, it just tears you apart. It’s very difficult. The predominant discourse within the industry is that condoms are used for such long periods of time in adult films that they cause pain and injuries for women. However, it is important to note that this view of condoms as injurious was not as salient to some respondents. Elizabeth, a female performer who had worked with condoms on set, downplayed the pain condoms cause: I can definitely tell when a guy is using it (a condom) and when he’s not, and I prefer it when he’s not, but it’s very minor. Jessica, another female performer, talked about how she did not experience pain when asked if condoms hurt to use in scenes: Not really. I mean you need a little more lube because the condoms dry out a little bit, but I didn’t really think that it interrupted the flow of the scene or chemistry. And Jessica went so far as to state her unequivocal preference for using condoms: David: Did you ever want to work with condoms? Jessica: Oh yeah. I would have asked for one every time. Every time I would have asked to work with a condom, but you will not get hired again if you ask for one. In addition, respondents talked about how the industry uses this rhetoric of pain to justify non-condom use and how they feel pressure to repeat this discourse. As Holly stated with regards to condoms being painful: This is a good thing that this is anonymous. Me personally, I think that it’s a cop out. I think that the industry is coming up with really bad excuses as to why they don’t want to use condoms, and I think that that’s what the female performers are saying. Anal sex and condoms hurting, I could see that…However, I would much rather use a condom if it meant it was going to protect me from a certain amount of risk. Holly argues that people within the industry use the alleged pain caused by condoms as a posthoc justification to push non-condom use. With regards to men, both male and female performers talked about the decreased sensitivity caused by condoms for men in tandem with the pressure for men to be able to maintain an erection and ejaculate on time during a shoot. Michael, who has produced and directed films in both the straight and gay industries, put this bluntly, stating: In straight porn if a guy can’t stay hard and come within three minutes, he’s out of there. He doesn’t work anymore. We have to like motion over (makes gesture pointing to a wristwatch) now, and if he doesn’t do that on camera without a cut, you’re not working again buddy, you’re done. I mean, more or less, I’m exaggerating. Since there is so much pressure for men to maintain an erection and ejaculate on cue, and using condoms makes this job more difficult, I found no evidence of male performers supporting increased condom use. Furthermore, interviewees who deemphasized the pain caused by condoms emphasized that they felt uncomfortable making their voices heard. Michael, a producer and director in both the straight and gay industries, highlighted this normative pressure when asked what he thought of condom use in the straight industry: Off the record, I think they’re very important. I think if it were up to me and I could regulate the whole thing, I’d make the entire industry condom…I can’t go on record and say that because people will be like ‘Oh my god, you’re the devil,’ you know? And in response to the argument that condoms are too painful during filming, Michael stated: No, that’s a lie. People are saying that, that’s just crazy. It doesn’t feel like anything. Painful? What causes pain? The rubber itself? Then put some lube on it. While Michael felt that condoms should be used and used condoms successfully when filming anal sex in the gay industry, he felt uncomfortable making this opinion known to colleagues in the straight industry. Condoms as a Choice Given these problems condoms cause for performers, respondents argued that it should be the performer’s right to decide whether or not they use condoms based on their own experiences with condom use. These arguments draw from a rhetoric of deregulation with respondents arguing that non-condom use should be protected under the First Amendment and the government should not regulate what enters performer’s bodies. Angela elaborated on this issue of choice when she stated: I do not think that the government should regulate whether or not we get to wear condoms. I do not think that companies should mandate whether or not we get to wear condoms. I think it needs to be performer choice, and I think that the female performer and the male performer who are doing that scene that day should be able to have a conversation about whether or not they want to use a condom. Multiple interviewees stated that performers always have a choice to use condoms, and it is up to the performer to decide what they prefer. However, this rhetoric of choice creates a paradox for women. While any performer can hypothetically choose to work with condoms, there is a widespread belief that women with a reputation for requiring condoms are not hired. In addition, since it is assumed that condoms will make men’s jobs more difficult due to decreased sensitivity, the onus of choice is put on women. Michael corroborated this reality women face when asked if he would hire women if they insist on wearing condoms: It’s like, mmm bye. We’ll replace you today because you’re not that cute…if you say you’re condom only, you’re out of here. You’re done. Kelly, a makeup artist in the industry, talked about performers being sent home from shoots if they requested condoms, stating: If you had a girl who insisted on condom only she was just sent away—plain and simple. Holly explained her concerns about what would happen if she chose to work with condoms: They want it to be the performer’s choice, but the reality of the situation is that if they made it the performer’s choice and I were to go on set and be like ‘I want to use a condom today,’ they would send me home and they would call somebody that wasn’t going to use a condom. If women such as Holly are concerned they will not be hired or not get work if they insist on using condoms, then they actually have little choice in the matter. When asked about her opinion on Measure B, Rachel, a performer, outright refused to give her opinion, leading to the following exchange: David: And then what’s your opinion on the passage of Measure B? Rachel: I’d prefer not to comment on that one. David: Everything’s anonymous. Rachel: No comment on that one (laughing). David: What do you think are general performer’s opinions? Rachel: (Shakes head) … David: Is there anything you can say about Measure B? Has there been a change from it? Have you seen people move out of LA? Rachel: No, no, (laughing). David: I didn’t know it was such a controversial topic. Rachel: No, it isn’t. I’m just not sure how I’m supposed to respond to it. David: You’re not supposed to respond to it any way. Rachel: I feel like I should ask how I should respond to it. David: You should respond to it how you really feel. Rachel: No, I shouldn’t. I’ve already responded a little bit, (Whispering) I’m supposed to respond to things very positively… It’s a very good industry. David: Are there any improvements that could be made? Rachel: I have no comment on Measure B. Next question. While Rachel did not directly comment on Measure B, her hesitancy to do so highlights the pressure performers feel to repeat what they think they should be saying. After this exchange, Rachel texted a person at the Free Speech Coalition to ask what she should say and the person simply told her to stop talking to me about Measure B. It is not within the scope of this paper to determine to what extent condoms actually cause pain for performers: the actual occurrence of pain is beside the point. Due to this motivating logic of profit maximization, women within the industry who experience pain are open about it and feel comfortable justifying non-condom use. More importantly, however, women who do not experience pain or who prefer to use condoms remain silent because they worry they will no longer be hired if they speak up. In addition, people within the industry argue for non-condom use with an anti-regulation rhetoric of choice regarding condoms. However, this argument sets up a false dichotomy for women performers within the industry. From the women’s perspective, the actual options are choosing to work without condoms or choosing to no longer work at all. This absence of choice—especially when the rhetoric of the importance of choice is so common—lends credence to the argument that the rhetoric of choice is simply a justification for condom use, not a motivating factor. I conclude that people within the straight adult film industry strategically use both a rhetoric of pain and a rhetoric of choice as posthoc justifications for the underlying logic that condom use decreases film sales. CONDOMS IN THE GAY ADULT FILM INDUSTRY Morals versus Markets Perhaps the most notable difference between the straight and gay California adult film industries is the relative acceptance and promotion of condoms within the gay industry. Respondents described how they make sense of their roles as advocates for safe sex and HIV prevention while also acknowledging the increasing production of bareback pornography. As Adam, a performer who has worked in both the straight and gay industries, stated with regards to safe sex, “The gay side is seeing morals and the straight side is seeing money. Strapping on a condom—it’s the moral thing to do.” Adam went on to say: It was always the norm. Using a condom in porn was always the norm. Nobody ever complained about it… It’s just the way it is. Respondents continually talked about the use of condoms in moral terms as the right thing to do. Interestingly, this commitment towards condom use is inseparable from a lack of HIV testing. The gay adult film industry has historically not mandated HIV testing to avoid stigmatizing performers that are HIV positive and prohibiting them from performing. Joseph, a performer, explained this argument stating, “If we test, we’re going to find out a lot of our guys are HIV positive, and if they’re HIV positive, we can’t use them because they’re a liability.” As opposed to the straight industry where the goal is to actively identify and remove HIV positive performers from the industry, those within the gay industry are particularly sensitive to excluding performers who are HIV positive. As Matthew, a performer, stated in this exchange: David: Why don’t you think there’s more testing? Matthew: I think because a lot of performers in the gay industry are positive, or a lot of people don’t feel morally correct asking people to disclose that information. Michael talked about the problems that occur when performers require their scene partners to be tested: He wants to require his scene partner to be tested, and he requests ‘I want to work with so and so, can he get tested?’ Great, he goes and gets his test. We have it all scheduled. He tests positive for HIV. Guess what? Suddenly you can’t work together. You just outed yourself by getting a test. Respondents also talked about a situation in which a high-profile studio decided to require HIV tests before filming. Once the studio started testing, performers and consumers realized which performers were HIV positive because the studio no longer hired certain performers. Condoms implicitly allow HIV positive performers to work within the gay industry without revealing their HIV status to others. Respondents also discussed recent trends towards bareback scenes and the historical relationship between HIV and condom use. Samuel, a performer, described these trends as follows: I think for a long time HIV was viewed as almost like a gay disease, and that’s how you get it, and I feel like a lot of the older bigger studios kind of made a commitment to condom use to promote a certain type of message. Many within the gay adult film industry feel a personal obligation to promote condom use, but this is increasingly difficult given consumer demand. As Joseph stated regarding recent trends regarding condom use when filming: They have to provide a product that people want to see. Nobody wants to see anyone wearing a rubber, condom, in porn. It ruins the fantasy. And so slowly that’s changing…studios are so broke that they’re having to give up that moral obligation they feel to the community and provide them with a product they actually want to see. In many ways, the gay adult film industry faces similar issues as the straight adult film industry regarding condom use. However, there is a tension within the gay industry between the potential financial benefits of filming without condoms and the moral obligation older studios feel to advocate safe sex. Choosing Condoms Despite respondents talking about the increasing prevalence of bareback sex, multiple respondents I spoke to had never filmed bareback pornography. Interestingly, these performers deemphasized the health risks associated with bareback sex but talked in detail about the stigma associated with filming bareback pornography. As Samuel, a male performer, stated in his interview when discussing why he chooses to only film with condoms: On some level I’m worried about health issues. There is also a stigma still there. It’s an added level of stigma… the problem is the general assumption that once you start doing condomless porn you’re automatically, it’s almost as if you’ve said to you’re audience ‘I’m positive.’ Samuel believes there is an additional stigma associated with filming bareback pornography, and he emphasizes that others will assume he is HIV positive if he chooses to film bareback. Matthew, another male performer, reiterated this relationship between filming bareback and perception, stating: Why would I jump over to the bareback industry now and promote that I’m okay with that?…It’s not because I think I’m going to get AIDS or HIV…As an actor or performer, I feel like it’s much more responsible to continue to push safe sex as something that’s sexy. Given the choice, Matthew preferred to keep an image as a performer who advocates for condom use. Historically, bareback studios were viewed as less prestigious; the more prestigious condom-only studios often refused to hire performers who had filmed bareback scenes. As Joseph stated: I was just told when I entered the industry that if you do bareback you’ll be blacklisted from a lot of studios and that’s sort of changed. I’m not opposed to doing bareback…I guess I’ve just worked consistently with enough condom studios that there’s a part of me that’s hesitant to cross over ‘cause maybe these condom studios won’t use me anymore. As more high-profile studios begin to film bareback scenes, the stigma associated with filming bareback seems to be fading. Sean, a performer, explained how opinions regarding bareback sex have changed since he started in the industry in 2008: In the industry there’s a negative connotation with bareback sex… There’s a negative connotation that when somebody is willing to have bareback sex that they’re sort of automatically HIV positive, or it’s something that they do every day in their daily routine… It’s becoming less and less negative as more mainstream websites are all going bareback. As more mainstream studios film bareback scenes, Sean talks about how the stigma associated with bareback sex has decreased. These comments highlight an implicit tension within the industry. On one hand, performers express feelings of solidarity with other performers who are HIV positive, stating that HIV positive performers should not be excluded from the industry. On the other hand, performers state that they choose to film with condoms to avoid being labeled as HIV positive and to film with more prestigious studios. As such, condom use is not simply motivated by historical schemas of solidarity and civil rights emerging from the AIDS crisis; stigma and reputational management also play a significant role in the ways performers strategically choose to use condoms. Condoms as Painful Given how many performers within the straight industry said their decision to not use condoms was because condoms are painful, especially during anal sex, I asked members of the gay industry if the pain caused by condoms during anal sex influenced their decision to use condoms. Multiple respondents expressed confusion in response to my questions regarding condoms as painful, and only understood the question after I explained the pain performers in the straight industry talked about when using condoms during anal sex. When I asked Sean, a performer, what it was like to use a condom when filming he responded: A condom’s a condom. Sex is sex. Obviously filming a scene where you’re with somebody for 6 or 7 hours in different positions and camera angles is different, but a condom’s a condom. And when I explained that performers in the straight industry talk about experiencing pain from filming anal sex with condoms, Sean responded: I’ve never had, I’ve never had a condom, I mean, there’s times when I’ve been uncomfortable but it’s probably because of the performance and not because of the condoms. That’s the first I’ve ever heard of people having problems with condoms or condoms causing pain. When I asked Samuel, a performer, about his experience with condoms causing pain from filming, we had the following exchange: Samuel: I don’t feel like it hurts during filming. No, I don’t feel like that’s an issue. David: Have you ever heard of performers on the gay side complaining about condoms hurting at all? Samuel: Not really…if you’re working for a condom company you have no say. It doesn’t matter if you complain. It’s just not that big of an issue, like you know what you’re getting yourself into before you even start shooting, you know? While these performers talk about experiencing some discomfort from condoms, they also emphasize that this discomfort is not an issue. With that being said, Joseph did talk about experiencing pain and chafing when using condoms during shoots. With regards to the issue of condoms causing pain, Joseph stated, “I think people really had this mindset that it’s more important that we advocate safe sex…but it does hurt for men, and I haven’t heard a lot of men complain about physical discomfort, but it’s an issue for me and I know it’s an issue for some.” The common understanding that the industry promotes condom use offsets whatever pain condoms cause for performers. Whereas members of the straight industry use the pain caused by condoms as a justification for their logic of profit maximization, those within the gay industry do not speak of pain caused by condoms; condoms as painful is not part of their cultural toolkit. With no reason to justify non-condom use with a rhetoric of pain, those within the gay industry treat any discomfort caused by condoms as secondary to other motivations for condom use. In the opinion of the respondents, one recent development that has, in fact, influenced condom use in the gay industry is Truvada. Truvada use is popular with every respondent mentioning how common it was. Joseph talked about how he thinks Truvada has changed attitudes towards bareback sex, stating: It’s very big in the gay porn industry right now because it’s this pill that people are taking. You take it if you have HIV and guys are taking it now as preventative… people are looking at it as just a free pass to go out and have irresponsible reckless sex, and that may be the case in some situations, but at the same time it’s completely going to change HIV. Truvada has given performers increased control over their risk of acquiring HIV, but performers also talked about a possible false sense of security by trusting that others are following the Truvada regimen. However, by trusting Truvada, performers are able to perpetuate this logic of civil rights. Truvada is important not simply because it prevents the spread of HIV; it prevents the spread of HIV without having to reveal one’s HIV status. Condoms have multiple cultural meanings within the gay industry separate from the straight industry. First, condom use is motivated by a commitment made after the AIDS crisis to promote safe sex practices. Condoms within gay pornography allow performers to perform without revealing their HIV status, and it avoids excluding HIV-positive performers. This is consistent with the position that it is morally questionable to quarantine men who are HIV positive, as the straight industry – through its practice of HIV testing – does. Yet, ironically, condoms also serve as a status symbol among performers in that bareback studios are seen as less prestigious compared to condom-only studios. With regards to reputational management, performers can also perform with condoms to avoid being labeled as HIV positive. DISCUSSION Cultural sociology has a tradition of explaining how supposedly rational decision making is culturally embedded and how culture interacts with what constitutes acceptable decisions (Zelizer 1978). Building on research on the dual nature of culture (Vaisey 2009; Swidler 1986) and on the cultural meaning of condoms (Tavory and Swidler 2009), I have highlighted the complex cultural motivations and justifications that can influence organizational health practices. If one were to focus singularly on epidemiological or legal concerns regarding health risks associated with condom or non-condom use, one would risk ignoring the multifaceted cultural and economic dynamics that go into decisions to use or not to use condoms in the adult film industry. With regards to the straight adult film industry, I conclude that the primary motivation for non-condom use stems from an institutional logic of profit maximization. In turn, members of the straight industry utilize a rhetoric of pain and a rhetoric of choice as posthoc justifications for non-condom use. Subsequently, performers in support of condom use keep their opinion silent out of fear of not getting hired. Privately supporting increased condom use while publically remaining silent is an example of preference falsification, defined as “misrepresenting one’s genuine wants under perceived social pressures” (Kuran 1997: 3) This preference falsification in the straight industry results in a largely unanimous public face against increased condom use while privately the issue is more contentious. One important policy implication of this research is acknowledging this preference falsification and knowing that those who want to use condoms are reluctant to share their opinions. This is gendered, as the onus of choosing to work with condoms is placed on female performers, who are both more physiologically vulnerable to contracting AIDS and other STDs in a heterosexual sex act (Nicolosi et al. 1994), and also rightly fear they will not get hired if they insist on condoms. With that being said, it is possible that the idea of a man insisting on condoms in the straight industry is so unusual, and male performers are viewed as so replaceable, that requests for condom use from men are not taken seriously or treated as nonexistent. Within the gay adult film industry, the moral concerns emerging from the AIDS crisis did initially motivate condom use. In articulating these moral concerns, the men I interviewed evoked a form of solidarity among gay men in the industry and gay consumers of pornography. Indeed, it is possible that these commonalities amongst gay male performers and consumers – in contrast to the differentiation between male consumers and female performers in straight porn – facilitates this solidarity and sense of morality in the first place. Returning to work on the power differentials between men and women in pornography (Dines 2010; Dines et al. 2013), these findings indicate that male performers in the gay industry are afforded a level of respect for their individual choices that are not afforded to female performers in the straight industry. Within the straight industry, women’s choices regarding condom use are secondary to concerns about profits and male consumer preferences for certain fantasies. Future research may examine what impact lesbian films— in which women are not exposed to the same safe sex choices and HIV risks— have in how women think about their own health and safety and career choices while filming. While performers in the gay industry use moral arguments to justify condom use, the motivation behind condom use has become increasingly muddled. Some performers outlined their motivation to use condoms as an issue of status, in that higher profile studios tend to be condom only. Performers also talked about being motivated by reputational management to prevent audiences from assuming they are HIV positive. Interestingly, the pain caused by condoms during anal sex neither served as a motivation nor as a justification for non-condom use. In addition, by largely eschewing required testing, an implicit motivation for condom use is protecting the civil rights of performers by not forcing them to reveal their HIV status. Future research may further examine the role of consumers in the health practices of adult film production. For producers and performers in the straight industry, it is taken for granted that condoms will ruin the sexual fantasies of consumers, but research has in fact indicated the important role of fantasy for those who consume pornography (Barker 2014). There is also a historic educational basis for condom use in the gay industry in light of perceived consumer pressure, and this history is important in light of increasing awareness of the sex education role pornography may play, purposefully or not, for consumers (Albury 2014). While this paper focuses on how and why producers and performers choose safe sex practices, future research can bridge these supplier justifications with the actual demands of sexual fantasy or educational value from consumers. This paper has practical implications. For instance, the history of quarantine and containment and HIV policy has made mandatory-testing protocols unpalatable among gay performers. This is unlikely to change and highlights how successful regulations for the California adult film industry need to be flexible. In addition, excluding performers based on HIV status—as is common in the straight industry—falls within a legal grey area. According to Deborah Gold, the former Deputy Chief of Health with Cal/OSHA, HIV positive performers are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act and employers need to demonstrate there is no reasonable method—such as condom use—to avoid excluding HIV positive performers (Gold 2015). While no HIV positive performers have sued a producer for discrimination (Gold 2015), producers in the gay industry may avoid testing out of concern that they could be held liable under these laws. At the same time, there are important changes afoot. Notably, Truvada now provides protection against contracting HIV from having sex with a person who is HIV positive (Dean 2015). By asking about a performer’s Truvada status—as opposed to HIV status—producers and performers alike can avoid requiring performers report their HIV status. Future research may examine whether or not Truvada has this same avoidance role in interpersonal gay sexual relationships. This paper also builds on previous work on cultural sociology and health. By parsing out some possible motivations and justifications for condom use in both the gay and straight adult film industries, this paper has highlighted how cultural schemas can impact institutional health practices. While these health practices were culturally embedded in overarching institutional logics, people within each industry used justifications strategically to make sense of these institutional logics. In this regard, health practices within organizations are not singularly utilitarian choices made to protect one’s health but can be strategic actions by which people within organizations signify and extract meaning. One can imagine cultural factors interacting with health and safety practices in multiple organizational settings, such as injury prevention in professional sports or even industrial settings such as the use of hard hats or gloves in construction. For example, whereas concussions may have once been an accepted part of American football, they are increasingly receiving attention as a serious medical concern within the sport. Future research may analyze these health policy transitions from a cultural perspective. In sum, this research demonstrates how it is not enough to treat certain health or safety decisions as simply the best or correct, as one must also consider the broader cultural motivations and justifications for organizational health decisions. 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Money, Morals, and Condom Use: The Politics of Health in Gay and Straight Adult Film Production

Social Problems , Volume 65 (3) – Aug 1, 2018

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Abstract

Abstract This paper compares condom use between the gay and straight California adult film industries and examines the culturally embedded decision making processes that affect the use of condoms in adult films. Drawing on in-depth interviews with people in the adult film industry, I argue that those within the gay and straight adult film industries utilize condoms and HIV testing as strategic actions motivated by two separate institutional logics. Within the straight industry, I find that a logic of profit maximization motivates HIV testing with the effect of identifying and quarantining HIV positive performers. Those within the straight industry then strategically justify non-condom use stating condoms are painful and condom use is an issue of performer’s choice. Within the gay adult film industry, I find that a logic of civil rights and solidarity motivates condom use by implicitly avoiding identifying and stigmatizing HIV positive performers through mandated HIV tests. Ironically, performers in the gay adult film industry also strategically use condoms to manage their reputations and stigma by signaling to consumers that they are not HIV positive. In sum, these findings highlight the important ways people strategically rationalize and justify organizational health policies and practices while motivated by shared cultural schemas. HIV/AIDs, Culture, Organizations, Adult Film Industry, and Condom Use In August of 2013, Cameron Bay, a female adult film performer, tested positive for HIV during a routine HIV test. The Free Speech Coalition, the largest adult film industry trade association, immediately called for an industry-wide moratorium on filming in California. The Coalition then began testing performers who had recently worked with Bay for HIV (Lovett 2013; Sewell 2013). No performers who had worked with Bay on set tested positive for HIV, and the Free Speech Coalition lifted the filming moratorium after two weeks. A few weeks later it was revealed that Cameron Bay’s boyfriend Rod Daily, a performer in gay adult film industry, was also HIV positive (Lovett 2013). Perhaps surprisingly, Rod Daily’s HIV-positive status caused no such alarm or halts in production in the gay adult film industry, raising the question: Why were these responses to the same health concern so different? The straight adult film industry and the gay adult film industry are located within the same broader industry, but they have historically been separate in terms of production companies and performers (Weitzer 2010; Thomas 2010). From the 1970s through today the straight industry has centered in Southern California, while the gay industry has centered in San Francisco (Thomas 2010; Tibbals 2012). Even as gay and straight production companies have become subsidiaries of larger companies through the late 2010s—most notably under the pornography conglomerate MindGeek—the gay and straight industries largely remain separate in terms of production (Mann 2014; Wallace 2011). While some male crossover performers appear in both straight and gay films, crossover performers from the gay industry are stigmatized within the straight industry due to the perceived risk that they could introduce HIV into the straight industry (Tarrant 2016). During the late 1980s and early 1990s, HIV became a growing concern for both the gay and straight adult film industries as a number of performers became infected with HIV and died from AIDS (Burger 1995). In response, each industry adopted self-enforced health policies to mitigate the risks of occupational sexual activity (de Cesare 2005). The gay adult film industry primarily required condom use when filming anal sex, and the straight adult film industry relied on mandatory testing for HIV before filming to prevent the introduction of HIV into the industry (Tibbals 2012, Tarrant 2016). Although there is epidemiological work analyzing the differences in condom use between the gay and straight industries (Grudzen et al. 2009; Grudzen and Kerndt 2007), “in-depth sociological work on the porn industry and its workers is almost non-existent” (Weitzer 2009: 216). Specifically, previous studies have not yet explained why such different health practices between industries exist and persist over time (Tibbals 2012; Voss 2012; Weitzer 2010). In this paper, I examine and explain these differences. Sociologists have, however, highlighted the link between culture and action with regards to health practices in interpersonal relationships (Tavory and Swidler 2009). Building on this insight, here I analyze the cultural motivations and justifications that can lead to culturally embedded organizational health practices. A few points of clarification are necessary. My discussion of gay adult films refers only to adult films involving men having sex with men. In addition, my discussion of straight adult films refers to films involving sex between men and women. This decision is based on the relevance of safe sex to these two industries. For instance, although films produced in the straight industry and marketed as straight frequently include “girl on girl” scenes, these are understood to be “safer” and are peripheral to discussions about condom use and HIV transmission. I use the terms “gay” and “straight” industries since these are the terms used both within and outside of the adult film industry to label these two industries, but not necessarily performers within the industries. In my decision to focus on the two largest segments of adult film production, the gay and straight industries, I bracket off an analysis of condom use in smaller sub-sections of the adult film industry (e.g. queer pornography and fetish pornography). CULTURE AND CONDOM USE Sociologists have grappled with the “duality” of structure and action and the question of whether broader cultural values determine action or action constitutes culture (Giddens 1979; Sewell Jr 1992; Swidler 1986). Vaisey (2009) describes the difference between structure and action as a question of cultural motivation versus cultural justification. Vaisey (2009: 1687) argues, “Actors are primarily driven by deeply internalized schematic processes, yet they are also capable of deliberation and justification when required by the demands of social interaction.” Individuals can formulate posthoc rhetorical justifications for action, and perhaps even shape the direction of broader culture over time; however, underlying cultural schemas primarily motivate individual’s actions. Tavory and Swidler (2009) highlight this dual relationship between culture and action in their study of condom use in rural Malawi. They find that condoms occupy a complex semiotic space in which individuals actively signify intimacy and commitment though shared understandings of condom use. The relationship between non-condom use and intimacy is so powerful that it motivates Malawians to eschew condoms even when they are directly at risk of acquiring HIV from their romantic partner. In addition, men can strategically utilize these meanings to justify non-condom use in relationships when they do not want to use condoms (Tavory and Swidler 2009). In sum, interpersonal sexual health decisions can be embedded in cultural motivations and justifications as opposed to pragmatic health considerations. This focus on cultural meaning and health in interpersonal relationships, however, leaves open the question of how cultural meaning may impact health decisions in a rationalized organizational setting such as the adult film industry. Previous research on adult films has focused on the social or psychological effect of pornography on those who consume pornography and how images in pornography are reflections of society and culture, while the organizational aspects of the industry have been given less consideration (Voss 2012). That is, pornography is often examined from the perspective of media effects or cultural studies but rarely from the production of culture perspective. The production of culture perspective attempts to explain the creation of cultural objects as an agentive process by focusing on the systems in which they emerge (Peterson and Anand 2004). To analyze the motivations and justifications behind health decisions in the adult film industry, I must examine the context behind the sex being depicted on screen and the process by which these depictions originate and evolve. In the following sections, I begin with an overview of the history of safe sex in gay and straight adult film industries, and I then explore how cultural motivations and cultural justifications may conceptually relate to these two histories. The Origins of Health Policy in the Adult Film Industry Cultural schemas are historically embedded, and present day interpretations of meaning and practice are contingent on past events (Sahlins 1981). The emergence of HIV as a public health crisis in the late 1980s served as a historical turning point in the way people think about safe sex—especially in the gay adult film industry (Warner 2000). Despite the discovery of HIV in 1981, the industry did not adopt comprehensive safe sex measures until 1987 (Burger 1995). During the interim period between 1981 and 1987, the industry was in a state of denial and confusion regarding the reality of HIV, even as AIDS wreaked havoc on performers (Burger 1995). Concurrently, the nationwide politicization of the AIDS crisis further stigmatized and blamed individuals infected with HIV (Epstein 1996). The adoption of condoms by producers in 1987 occurred as condoms became a point of emphasis for AIDS advocacy groups promoting safe sex education, and activists saw an opportunity to use adult films to educate individuals on safe sex practices (Crimp 1987; Dean 2009; Thomas 2010). With this emphasis on promoting safe sex, by the mid-1990s most actors used condoms when performing anal sex on screen (Thomas 2010). Towards the end of the 1990s a genre called “barebacking” emerged in which gay anal sex was filmed without the use of condoms (Dean 2009; Shernoff 2006). Barebacking departed from the norm of condom use in the industry, and it represented a meaningful shift away from the impact of AIDS on the industry. Bareback videos first arose in 1997 as treatments for HIV became more effective and performers felt increasingly comfortable performing without condoms (Thomas 2010). However, there is often an assumption that performers who bareback are already HIV positive and thus not susceptible to HIV infection from participation (Thomas 2010). Today, bareback pornography is common along with an increasing acceptance of bareback sex in gay sexuality as a whole (Davis 2015; Dean 2015). Recently, the politics of bareback sex has become inextricable from the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis medications, or PrEP. In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Truvada as a daily preventive pill to reduce the likelihood of sexually acquired HIV (U.S. Food and Drug Administration 2012). Viewed by some as an “invisible condom,” Truvada occupies a complex space in gay sexuality since it breaks down the binary of HIV positive and negative and raises new questions about the acceptability of eschewing condom use (Dean 2015). By examining the cultural impact of Truvada on the gay adult film industry, I may be able to extrapolate some cultural meanings afforded to Truvada within gay sexuality as a whole. On the other hand, the history of health policy in the straight adult film industry largely begins in 1998 with a string of HIV cases caused by one male performer (Slater 1998). While it was common for performers to test for HIV before this outbreak, and there were rumors about HIV transmission occurring on set before 1998, this incident spurred the industry to establish procedures to mitigate the risk of HIV transmission between performers (Sauerwein 2001). Sharon Mitchell, a performer-turned-industry health activist, founded the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation (AIM) to establish centralized testing protocols to prevent the spread of HIV within the industry (Grudzen and Kerndt 2007; Madigan 2004). Under these guidelines, performers were required to provide proof of a negative HIV test within the past 30 days before filming, which was tightened to 14 days in 2012 (McNeil 2012). This HIV outbreak in 1998 also prompted many producers to require the use of condoms on set in addition to testing (AVN 1999; Slater 1998). These precautions were short-lived, however, as companies returned to allowing performers to choose whether or not they used condoms as producers feared condom use would hurt sales (Garthwaite 2003). Regular HIV testing instead became the accepted mode of HIV prevention within the straight industry; by 2003 AIM estimated that 95% of adult performers in the industry received monthly HIV testing (Garthwaite 2003). In 2004, health policy took on renewed importance when a male performer tested positive for HIV, and three actresses who had worked with him subsequently tested positive (AVN 2004; Meyer 2004). After a brief period of increased condom use on set, a majority of production companies once again returned to a “condom optional” policy after the incident (Houston 2005). The industry remained this way until the passage the County of Los Angeles Safer Sex Act, or Measure B, in 2012 (Birkhold 2013). Measure B requires adult film productions in Los Angeles County to obtain a permit and follow workplace bloodborne pathogen protocols; moreover, and most controversially, the measure mandates the use of condoms during vaginal and anal intercourse. While the long-term impact of Measure B is still unknown, the straight adult film industry as a whole has largely continued to avoid using condoms on set by filming without permits or filming outside of Los Angeles County (Verrier 2014). The two predominant forms of safe sex policies in the adult film industry present two fundamentally different approaches to HIV prevention. On one hand, the straight adult film industry currently uses a system of testing in which performers are tested every 14 days for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (McNeil 2012; Tibbals 2012). On the other hand, the gay industry is divided between condom-only productions and bareback productions with no standard overarching health policy (Thomas 2010). In addition, whether or not productions in the gay industry require condoms, required HIV testing by producers is sporadic (Thomas 2010). Motivations and Justifications for Institutional Condom Use The institutional logics perspective helps explain how culture may motivate these differing safe sex practices within the adult film industry. This perspective focuses on the relationship between society and culture within institutions (Friedland and Alford 1991), arguing that people and institutions are aware of broader cultural schemas and take these schemas into account in their organizational decision making (Thornton, Ocasio, and Lounsbury 2012). With regards to the AIDS crisis, Healy (2010) demonstrates how differing institutional logics can also motivate differing reactions from similar organizations. The reactions of blood and plasma donation organizations to the AIDS crisis were partially contingent on the competing logics of profit maximization and moral altruism. In this section, I explore the history of quarantine and containment in relationship with HIV and how this history may motivate acceptable organizational health practices within the adult film industry. Quarantine and containment as a public health practice was historically used to protect the larger population from an afflicted few by separating out afflicted populations (Bayer 1991). The testing system in the straight industry— in which HIV positive performers are identified and removed from the performer pool— represents a localized form of institutional quarantine and containment. However, systems of quarantine can also be used as a method of bodily control over others in the form of social exclusion (Foucault 1977) and as a justification for socially dominant groups to identify and relocate lower status groups (Cappon 1991). Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, there was a concern that testing and quarantine could be used as an excuse to infringe on the civil rights of gay individuals (Bayer 1991). These concerns led to the concept of “HIV exceptionalism” in which the rights and privacy of those with HIV were respected (Bayer 1991), and AIDS advocacy groups were able to stymie quarantine efforts by educating the public about how HIV spreads (Epstein 1996). Even today, laws requiring individuals to disclose their HIV status to sexual partners can be a source of social control over HIV positive individuals (Hoppe 2013). In this regard, condom use in the gay adult film industry may be motivated by an institutional logic of civil rights and solidarity to avoid ostracizing HIV positive performers through quarantine. This threat of bodily control through quarantine and social exclusion is less applicable to the straight adult film industry without the shared history of the AIDS crisis. Scholars contend, however, that bodily control in the straight adult film industry still happens through a separate process: the subjugation of women through extreme sex acts to maximize profits (Dines 2010; Dines, Jensen, and Russo 2013). One criticism of this literature is that it is lacking in empiricism and fails to take into account the actual experiences of performers within the industry (Weitzer 2009, 2011), and these critiques are hotly debated (Watson 2012). I examine one small part of this debate. Specifically, to what extent is non-condom use driven by a logic of profit maximization at the expense of the choices of women within the straight adult film industry? While the institutional logics perspective focuses on cognition and how broader culture can motivate organizational practices, it is important to theorize how individual people may draw from these logics to justify empirical strategic action (Vaisey 2009; Swidler 1986). Individuals use frames, or schemas of interpretation, to make sense of the world around them (Goffman 1974). With regards to organizational interactions, people act strategically with a mutual understanding of these frames and what constitutes acceptable practices (Fine 1984; Fligstein and McAdam 2012). Returning to Tavory and Swidler (2009), condoms can be strategically used by individuals as objects of expressive meaning. Given the logic of solidarity and civil rights within the gay adult film industry that seems to motivate condom use in response to the AIDS crisis, this paper examines how performers might use condoms to affirm these historical cultural norms. Moreover, this paper examines how individuals may strategically negotiate this logic to justify the increasing prevalence of bareback pornography. On the other hand, the straight adult film industry has historically relied on the self-imposed testing standards discussed above. Measure B, however, departs from this history of self-imposed health practices (Birkhold 2013), and performers, directors, and the media within the straight adult film industry have presented themselves as uniformly against governmentally regulated condom use (Hymes 2012; Kernes 2012; Stoya 2013). Given these strong stances against regulated condom use, this paper examines the motivations behind this stance and queries how performers and producers in the straight industry might use certain rhetoric to further justify non-condom use when producing adult films. METHODS To investigate this question regarding the cultural motivations versus the individual justifications for institutional condom use, I draw on 31 in-depth interviews conducted from 2013 through 2015 with individuals involved in the California adult film industry. These semi-structured interviews asked questions regarding attitudes towards health practices within the adult film industry, including personal opinions on condom use and testing for sexually transmitted infections within the industry. These interviews touched on many other aspects of working within the adult film industry, but for the purposes of this paper, I am drawing from the data related to health and safe sex practices within the adult film industry. The majority of respondents are performers and directors/producers within the adult film industry, but the sample also includes individuals involved in other aspects of the field as detailed in Table 1. It is common for those involved in the industry to work in multiple roles, such as performing, directing and producing, and several respondents had worked in various roles within the industry. The performers and producers offer first-person accounts of their decisions to utilize safe sex measures, and individuals who have worked in both industries provide a comparative perspective on attitudes in each industry. See Table 1 for a list of respondents. Table 1. Descriptive Characteristics of the Sampled Respondents Name Profession Industry Sex Holly Performer Straight Female Rachel Performer/ Director Straight Female Elizabeth Performer Straight Female Diana Performer Straight Female Angela Performer Straight Female Julie Performer Straight Female Heather Performer Straight Female Erica Performer Straight Female Jessica Performer Straight Female Chase Performer Straight Male Patrick Performer Straight Male Craig Performer Straight Male Nate Producer/Director/Performer Straight Male Cari Producer/Director Straight Female Travis Producer/Director/Performer Straight Male Aaron Producer/Director Straight Male Kelly Makeup Artist Straight Female Thomas Lawyer Straight Male Joshua Journalist Straight Male Bruce Agent Straight Male Ryan Film Crew Gay and Straight Male Michael Producer/ Director Gay and Straight Male Adam Performer Gay and Straight Male Matthew Performer Gay Male Joseph Performer Gay Male Samuel Performer Gay Male Sean Performer Gay Male Will Performer Gay Male Jake Performer Gay Male Gregory Public Health N/A Male Andrea Public Health N/A Female Name Profession Industry Sex Holly Performer Straight Female Rachel Performer/ Director Straight Female Elizabeth Performer Straight Female Diana Performer Straight Female Angela Performer Straight Female Julie Performer Straight Female Heather Performer Straight Female Erica Performer Straight Female Jessica Performer Straight Female Chase Performer Straight Male Patrick Performer Straight Male Craig Performer Straight Male Nate Producer/Director/Performer Straight Male Cari Producer/Director Straight Female Travis Producer/Director/Performer Straight Male Aaron Producer/Director Straight Male Kelly Makeup Artist Straight Female Thomas Lawyer Straight Male Joshua Journalist Straight Male Bruce Agent Straight Male Ryan Film Crew Gay and Straight Male Michael Producer/ Director Gay and Straight Male Adam Performer Gay and Straight Male Matthew Performer Gay Male Joseph Performer Gay Male Samuel Performer Gay Male Sean Performer Gay Male Will Performer Gay Male Jake Performer Gay Male Gregory Public Health N/A Male Andrea Public Health N/A Female Table 1. Descriptive Characteristics of the Sampled Respondents Name Profession Industry Sex Holly Performer Straight Female Rachel Performer/ Director Straight Female Elizabeth Performer Straight Female Diana Performer Straight Female Angela Performer Straight Female Julie Performer Straight Female Heather Performer Straight Female Erica Performer Straight Female Jessica Performer Straight Female Chase Performer Straight Male Patrick Performer Straight Male Craig Performer Straight Male Nate Producer/Director/Performer Straight Male Cari Producer/Director Straight Female Travis Producer/Director/Performer Straight Male Aaron Producer/Director Straight Male Kelly Makeup Artist Straight Female Thomas Lawyer Straight Male Joshua Journalist Straight Male Bruce Agent Straight Male Ryan Film Crew Gay and Straight Male Michael Producer/ Director Gay and Straight Male Adam Performer Gay and Straight Male Matthew Performer Gay Male Joseph Performer Gay Male Samuel Performer Gay Male Sean Performer Gay Male Will Performer Gay Male Jake Performer Gay Male Gregory Public Health N/A Male Andrea Public Health N/A Female Name Profession Industry Sex Holly Performer Straight Female Rachel Performer/ Director Straight Female Elizabeth Performer Straight Female Diana Performer Straight Female Angela Performer Straight Female Julie Performer Straight Female Heather Performer Straight Female Erica Performer Straight Female Jessica Performer Straight Female Chase Performer Straight Male Patrick Performer Straight Male Craig Performer Straight Male Nate Producer/Director/Performer Straight Male Cari Producer/Director Straight Female Travis Producer/Director/Performer Straight Male Aaron Producer/Director Straight Male Kelly Makeup Artist Straight Female Thomas Lawyer Straight Male Joshua Journalist Straight Male Bruce Agent Straight Male Ryan Film Crew Gay and Straight Male Michael Producer/ Director Gay and Straight Male Adam Performer Gay and Straight Male Matthew Performer Gay Male Joseph Performer Gay Male Samuel Performer Gay Male Sean Performer Gay Male Will Performer Gay Male Jake Performer Gay Male Gregory Public Health N/A Male Andrea Public Health N/A Female I conducted the interviews either in person or over the phone, depending on availability or what made the respondent most comfortable. Interviews lasted around an hour, but ranged from 45 minutes to three hours. Before each interview, I provided respondents with a study information sheet explaining the purpose of the project, and I received verbal consent to conduct and audio record the interview. Respondents had the option of ending the interview at any time. After transcribing the recorded interviews, I re-read the transcripts and I identified themes and topics that repeated throughout. Some of these themes were specifically guided by questions from the onset, such as opinions towards Measure B and mandated condom use. Other themes, such as whether or not performers feel like they have actually had a choice regarding condom, or the prevalence of Truvada within the gay industry, emerged as I conducted the interviews. I hand coded the transcripts with these themes and topics, allowing me to compare and contrast the different ways respondents talked about these topics. It became clear early in the project that there was a normative pressure within the straight industry to repeat an accepted discourse against mandated condom use. Respondents who were in favor of increased condom use within the industry expressed concerns about their anonymity and repeatedly made sure I would not reveal their identities. These respondents said they would receive condemnation within the industry if their opinions and names became public. As Mike, a director and producer in favor of condom use stated in his interview, “That’s why I’m flapping my mouth, because I know it’s anonymous. Because if I were to say this on the record, they would lynch me.” Given the pressure respondents in the straight industry said they felt to hide potential support for condom use, I found that in-depth interviewing coupled with promises of anonymity was the most effective methodological tool to identify attitudes towards health within the industry. A textual analysis of media articles would largely reiterate the accepted discourse the industry presents to the public, while ethnography or focus groups would be at risk of only examining the opinions those within the industry feel comfortable sharing around their peers and employers. Respondents within the gay industry were less concerned about potential backlash from peers, and no respondents in the gay industry expressed reticence regarding their opinions on health within the industry. I initially contacted respondents through email, and then proceeded with snowball sampling. Many respondents said they felt more comfortable sharing their contact information with me and meeting with me if another individual within the industry vouched for me. This was due to concerns about stigmatization and unwanted correspondence. Due to the relative small size of my sample, I cannot generalize the findings to make specific claims about demographics, attitudes, or trends within each industry. Rather, I use the interviews to identify common discourses regarding safe sex within the California adult film industry. To protect anonymity, I use pseudonyms throughout the paper, and I purposefully leave out any information that could be used to identify respondents. CONDOMS IN THE STRAIGHT ADULT FILM INDUSTRY Condoms and the Market for Adult Films As detailed in the history above, condoms in the straight adult film industry are a contentious issue, and this was evident in my interviews. The most common response for why condoms are not used in straight adult industry is because using condoms will hurt film sales. As Holly, a performer, stated when asked why the industry does not use condoms: They think it doesn’t sell. You know, condoms in porn don’t sell. I don’t know if it sells or not, but that’s the biggest thing you’ll hear all the directors saying. We don’t use condoms because it’s not going to sell. You know, this is our livelihood. Why would we want to make content that’s not going to sell? All interviewees reiterated the trope that condoms would hurt the bottom line of production companies, and that this belief drove resistance towards condom use. Respondents also explained that consumers do not want to see condoms in adult films because condoms ruin the fantasy of the depiction of sex. As Adam, a performer, stated in his interview: It’s the fantasy. To see a condom is just to ruin the fantasy. That’s part of reality. Porn is fantasy, so in fantasy these borders don’t exist. You know, it should be escapism. It has nothing to do with the real world. Respondents in the straight industry stated that consumers do not want to see condoms in their pornography, and it is too difficult to sell adult films that utilized condoms because condoms ruin the fantasy porn sets out to create. This belief that condoms hurt sales sets the background for how those within the industry talk about and use condoms. Condoms as Painful In addition to talking about condoms hurting sales, those within the industry also argued that condoms are simply too painful when used in a scene. As Angela, a female performer, told me: They destroy my insides. I get absolutely destroyed …so, besides the inconvenience and having to change the condoms and deal with them, they really, really tear up my insides. Diana, another female performer, described her own difficulties when using condoms during shoots and the skepticism those outside the industry might have for these problems: Not only are condoms breaking but we’re also getting friction rash…I’ve had to cancel scenes because I’m just torn apart and I can’t work the next day. And also, anally, condoms are very rough. So that too, it just tears you apart. It’s very difficult. The predominant discourse within the industry is that condoms are used for such long periods of time in adult films that they cause pain and injuries for women. However, it is important to note that this view of condoms as injurious was not as salient to some respondents. Elizabeth, a female performer who had worked with condoms on set, downplayed the pain condoms cause: I can definitely tell when a guy is using it (a condom) and when he’s not, and I prefer it when he’s not, but it’s very minor. Jessica, another female performer, talked about how she did not experience pain when asked if condoms hurt to use in scenes: Not really. I mean you need a little more lube because the condoms dry out a little bit, but I didn’t really think that it interrupted the flow of the scene or chemistry. And Jessica went so far as to state her unequivocal preference for using condoms: David: Did you ever want to work with condoms? Jessica: Oh yeah. I would have asked for one every time. Every time I would have asked to work with a condom, but you will not get hired again if you ask for one. In addition, respondents talked about how the industry uses this rhetoric of pain to justify non-condom use and how they feel pressure to repeat this discourse. As Holly stated with regards to condoms being painful: This is a good thing that this is anonymous. Me personally, I think that it’s a cop out. I think that the industry is coming up with really bad excuses as to why they don’t want to use condoms, and I think that that’s what the female performers are saying. Anal sex and condoms hurting, I could see that…However, I would much rather use a condom if it meant it was going to protect me from a certain amount of risk. Holly argues that people within the industry use the alleged pain caused by condoms as a posthoc justification to push non-condom use. With regards to men, both male and female performers talked about the decreased sensitivity caused by condoms for men in tandem with the pressure for men to be able to maintain an erection and ejaculate on time during a shoot. Michael, who has produced and directed films in both the straight and gay industries, put this bluntly, stating: In straight porn if a guy can’t stay hard and come within three minutes, he’s out of there. He doesn’t work anymore. We have to like motion over (makes gesture pointing to a wristwatch) now, and if he doesn’t do that on camera without a cut, you’re not working again buddy, you’re done. I mean, more or less, I’m exaggerating. Since there is so much pressure for men to maintain an erection and ejaculate on cue, and using condoms makes this job more difficult, I found no evidence of male performers supporting increased condom use. Furthermore, interviewees who deemphasized the pain caused by condoms emphasized that they felt uncomfortable making their voices heard. Michael, a producer and director in both the straight and gay industries, highlighted this normative pressure when asked what he thought of condom use in the straight industry: Off the record, I think they’re very important. I think if it were up to me and I could regulate the whole thing, I’d make the entire industry condom…I can’t go on record and say that because people will be like ‘Oh my god, you’re the devil,’ you know? And in response to the argument that condoms are too painful during filming, Michael stated: No, that’s a lie. People are saying that, that’s just crazy. It doesn’t feel like anything. Painful? What causes pain? The rubber itself? Then put some lube on it. While Michael felt that condoms should be used and used condoms successfully when filming anal sex in the gay industry, he felt uncomfortable making this opinion known to colleagues in the straight industry. Condoms as a Choice Given these problems condoms cause for performers, respondents argued that it should be the performer’s right to decide whether or not they use condoms based on their own experiences with condom use. These arguments draw from a rhetoric of deregulation with respondents arguing that non-condom use should be protected under the First Amendment and the government should not regulate what enters performer’s bodies. Angela elaborated on this issue of choice when she stated: I do not think that the government should regulate whether or not we get to wear condoms. I do not think that companies should mandate whether or not we get to wear condoms. I think it needs to be performer choice, and I think that the female performer and the male performer who are doing that scene that day should be able to have a conversation about whether or not they want to use a condom. Multiple interviewees stated that performers always have a choice to use condoms, and it is up to the performer to decide what they prefer. However, this rhetoric of choice creates a paradox for women. While any performer can hypothetically choose to work with condoms, there is a widespread belief that women with a reputation for requiring condoms are not hired. In addition, since it is assumed that condoms will make men’s jobs more difficult due to decreased sensitivity, the onus of choice is put on women. Michael corroborated this reality women face when asked if he would hire women if they insist on wearing condoms: It’s like, mmm bye. We’ll replace you today because you’re not that cute…if you say you’re condom only, you’re out of here. You’re done. Kelly, a makeup artist in the industry, talked about performers being sent home from shoots if they requested condoms, stating: If you had a girl who insisted on condom only she was just sent away—plain and simple. Holly explained her concerns about what would happen if she chose to work with condoms: They want it to be the performer’s choice, but the reality of the situation is that if they made it the performer’s choice and I were to go on set and be like ‘I want to use a condom today,’ they would send me home and they would call somebody that wasn’t going to use a condom. If women such as Holly are concerned they will not be hired or not get work if they insist on using condoms, then they actually have little choice in the matter. When asked about her opinion on Measure B, Rachel, a performer, outright refused to give her opinion, leading to the following exchange: David: And then what’s your opinion on the passage of Measure B? Rachel: I’d prefer not to comment on that one. David: Everything’s anonymous. Rachel: No comment on that one (laughing). David: What do you think are general performer’s opinions? Rachel: (Shakes head) … David: Is there anything you can say about Measure B? Has there been a change from it? Have you seen people move out of LA? Rachel: No, no, (laughing). David: I didn’t know it was such a controversial topic. Rachel: No, it isn’t. I’m just not sure how I’m supposed to respond to it. David: You’re not supposed to respond to it any way. Rachel: I feel like I should ask how I should respond to it. David: You should respond to it how you really feel. Rachel: No, I shouldn’t. I’ve already responded a little bit, (Whispering) I’m supposed to respond to things very positively… It’s a very good industry. David: Are there any improvements that could be made? Rachel: I have no comment on Measure B. Next question. While Rachel did not directly comment on Measure B, her hesitancy to do so highlights the pressure performers feel to repeat what they think they should be saying. After this exchange, Rachel texted a person at the Free Speech Coalition to ask what she should say and the person simply told her to stop talking to me about Measure B. It is not within the scope of this paper to determine to what extent condoms actually cause pain for performers: the actual occurrence of pain is beside the point. Due to this motivating logic of profit maximization, women within the industry who experience pain are open about it and feel comfortable justifying non-condom use. More importantly, however, women who do not experience pain or who prefer to use condoms remain silent because they worry they will no longer be hired if they speak up. In addition, people within the industry argue for non-condom use with an anti-regulation rhetoric of choice regarding condoms. However, this argument sets up a false dichotomy for women performers within the industry. From the women’s perspective, the actual options are choosing to work without condoms or choosing to no longer work at all. This absence of choice—especially when the rhetoric of the importance of choice is so common—lends credence to the argument that the rhetoric of choice is simply a justification for condom use, not a motivating factor. I conclude that people within the straight adult film industry strategically use both a rhetoric of pain and a rhetoric of choice as posthoc justifications for the underlying logic that condom use decreases film sales. CONDOMS IN THE GAY ADULT FILM INDUSTRY Morals versus Markets Perhaps the most notable difference between the straight and gay California adult film industries is the relative acceptance and promotion of condoms within the gay industry. Respondents described how they make sense of their roles as advocates for safe sex and HIV prevention while also acknowledging the increasing production of bareback pornography. As Adam, a performer who has worked in both the straight and gay industries, stated with regards to safe sex, “The gay side is seeing morals and the straight side is seeing money. Strapping on a condom—it’s the moral thing to do.” Adam went on to say: It was always the norm. Using a condom in porn was always the norm. Nobody ever complained about it… It’s just the way it is. Respondents continually talked about the use of condoms in moral terms as the right thing to do. Interestingly, this commitment towards condom use is inseparable from a lack of HIV testing. The gay adult film industry has historically not mandated HIV testing to avoid stigmatizing performers that are HIV positive and prohibiting them from performing. Joseph, a performer, explained this argument stating, “If we test, we’re going to find out a lot of our guys are HIV positive, and if they’re HIV positive, we can’t use them because they’re a liability.” As opposed to the straight industry where the goal is to actively identify and remove HIV positive performers from the industry, those within the gay industry are particularly sensitive to excluding performers who are HIV positive. As Matthew, a performer, stated in this exchange: David: Why don’t you think there’s more testing? Matthew: I think because a lot of performers in the gay industry are positive, or a lot of people don’t feel morally correct asking people to disclose that information. Michael talked about the problems that occur when performers require their scene partners to be tested: He wants to require his scene partner to be tested, and he requests ‘I want to work with so and so, can he get tested?’ Great, he goes and gets his test. We have it all scheduled. He tests positive for HIV. Guess what? Suddenly you can’t work together. You just outed yourself by getting a test. Respondents also talked about a situation in which a high-profile studio decided to require HIV tests before filming. Once the studio started testing, performers and consumers realized which performers were HIV positive because the studio no longer hired certain performers. Condoms implicitly allow HIV positive performers to work within the gay industry without revealing their HIV status to others. Respondents also discussed recent trends towards bareback scenes and the historical relationship between HIV and condom use. Samuel, a performer, described these trends as follows: I think for a long time HIV was viewed as almost like a gay disease, and that’s how you get it, and I feel like a lot of the older bigger studios kind of made a commitment to condom use to promote a certain type of message. Many within the gay adult film industry feel a personal obligation to promote condom use, but this is increasingly difficult given consumer demand. As Joseph stated regarding recent trends regarding condom use when filming: They have to provide a product that people want to see. Nobody wants to see anyone wearing a rubber, condom, in porn. It ruins the fantasy. And so slowly that’s changing…studios are so broke that they’re having to give up that moral obligation they feel to the community and provide them with a product they actually want to see. In many ways, the gay adult film industry faces similar issues as the straight adult film industry regarding condom use. However, there is a tension within the gay industry between the potential financial benefits of filming without condoms and the moral obligation older studios feel to advocate safe sex. Choosing Condoms Despite respondents talking about the increasing prevalence of bareback sex, multiple respondents I spoke to had never filmed bareback pornography. Interestingly, these performers deemphasized the health risks associated with bareback sex but talked in detail about the stigma associated with filming bareback pornography. As Samuel, a male performer, stated in his interview when discussing why he chooses to only film with condoms: On some level I’m worried about health issues. There is also a stigma still there. It’s an added level of stigma… the problem is the general assumption that once you start doing condomless porn you’re automatically, it’s almost as if you’ve said to you’re audience ‘I’m positive.’ Samuel believes there is an additional stigma associated with filming bareback pornography, and he emphasizes that others will assume he is HIV positive if he chooses to film bareback. Matthew, another male performer, reiterated this relationship between filming bareback and perception, stating: Why would I jump over to the bareback industry now and promote that I’m okay with that?…It’s not because I think I’m going to get AIDS or HIV…As an actor or performer, I feel like it’s much more responsible to continue to push safe sex as something that’s sexy. Given the choice, Matthew preferred to keep an image as a performer who advocates for condom use. Historically, bareback studios were viewed as less prestigious; the more prestigious condom-only studios often refused to hire performers who had filmed bareback scenes. As Joseph stated: I was just told when I entered the industry that if you do bareback you’ll be blacklisted from a lot of studios and that’s sort of changed. I’m not opposed to doing bareback…I guess I’ve just worked consistently with enough condom studios that there’s a part of me that’s hesitant to cross over ‘cause maybe these condom studios won’t use me anymore. As more high-profile studios begin to film bareback scenes, the stigma associated with filming bareback seems to be fading. Sean, a performer, explained how opinions regarding bareback sex have changed since he started in the industry in 2008: In the industry there’s a negative connotation with bareback sex… There’s a negative connotation that when somebody is willing to have bareback sex that they’re sort of automatically HIV positive, or it’s something that they do every day in their daily routine… It’s becoming less and less negative as more mainstream websites are all going bareback. As more mainstream studios film bareback scenes, Sean talks about how the stigma associated with bareback sex has decreased. These comments highlight an implicit tension within the industry. On one hand, performers express feelings of solidarity with other performers who are HIV positive, stating that HIV positive performers should not be excluded from the industry. On the other hand, performers state that they choose to film with condoms to avoid being labeled as HIV positive and to film with more prestigious studios. As such, condom use is not simply motivated by historical schemas of solidarity and civil rights emerging from the AIDS crisis; stigma and reputational management also play a significant role in the ways performers strategically choose to use condoms. Condoms as Painful Given how many performers within the straight industry said their decision to not use condoms was because condoms are painful, especially during anal sex, I asked members of the gay industry if the pain caused by condoms during anal sex influenced their decision to use condoms. Multiple respondents expressed confusion in response to my questions regarding condoms as painful, and only understood the question after I explained the pain performers in the straight industry talked about when using condoms during anal sex. When I asked Sean, a performer, what it was like to use a condom when filming he responded: A condom’s a condom. Sex is sex. Obviously filming a scene where you’re with somebody for 6 or 7 hours in different positions and camera angles is different, but a condom’s a condom. And when I explained that performers in the straight industry talk about experiencing pain from filming anal sex with condoms, Sean responded: I’ve never had, I’ve never had a condom, I mean, there’s times when I’ve been uncomfortable but it’s probably because of the performance and not because of the condoms. That’s the first I’ve ever heard of people having problems with condoms or condoms causing pain. When I asked Samuel, a performer, about his experience with condoms causing pain from filming, we had the following exchange: Samuel: I don’t feel like it hurts during filming. No, I don’t feel like that’s an issue. David: Have you ever heard of performers on the gay side complaining about condoms hurting at all? Samuel: Not really…if you’re working for a condom company you have no say. It doesn’t matter if you complain. It’s just not that big of an issue, like you know what you’re getting yourself into before you even start shooting, you know? While these performers talk about experiencing some discomfort from condoms, they also emphasize that this discomfort is not an issue. With that being said, Joseph did talk about experiencing pain and chafing when using condoms during shoots. With regards to the issue of condoms causing pain, Joseph stated, “I think people really had this mindset that it’s more important that we advocate safe sex…but it does hurt for men, and I haven’t heard a lot of men complain about physical discomfort, but it’s an issue for me and I know it’s an issue for some.” The common understanding that the industry promotes condom use offsets whatever pain condoms cause for performers. Whereas members of the straight industry use the pain caused by condoms as a justification for their logic of profit maximization, those within the gay industry do not speak of pain caused by condoms; condoms as painful is not part of their cultural toolkit. With no reason to justify non-condom use with a rhetoric of pain, those within the gay industry treat any discomfort caused by condoms as secondary to other motivations for condom use. In the opinion of the respondents, one recent development that has, in fact, influenced condom use in the gay industry is Truvada. Truvada use is popular with every respondent mentioning how common it was. Joseph talked about how he thinks Truvada has changed attitudes towards bareback sex, stating: It’s very big in the gay porn industry right now because it’s this pill that people are taking. You take it if you have HIV and guys are taking it now as preventative… people are looking at it as just a free pass to go out and have irresponsible reckless sex, and that may be the case in some situations, but at the same time it’s completely going to change HIV. Truvada has given performers increased control over their risk of acquiring HIV, but performers also talked about a possible false sense of security by trusting that others are following the Truvada regimen. However, by trusting Truvada, performers are able to perpetuate this logic of civil rights. Truvada is important not simply because it prevents the spread of HIV; it prevents the spread of HIV without having to reveal one’s HIV status. Condoms have multiple cultural meanings within the gay industry separate from the straight industry. First, condom use is motivated by a commitment made after the AIDS crisis to promote safe sex practices. Condoms within gay pornography allow performers to perform without revealing their HIV status, and it avoids excluding HIV-positive performers. This is consistent with the position that it is morally questionable to quarantine men who are HIV positive, as the straight industry – through its practice of HIV testing – does. Yet, ironically, condoms also serve as a status symbol among performers in that bareback studios are seen as less prestigious compared to condom-only studios. With regards to reputational management, performers can also perform with condoms to avoid being labeled as HIV positive. DISCUSSION Cultural sociology has a tradition of explaining how supposedly rational decision making is culturally embedded and how culture interacts with what constitutes acceptable decisions (Zelizer 1978). Building on research on the dual nature of culture (Vaisey 2009; Swidler 1986) and on the cultural meaning of condoms (Tavory and Swidler 2009), I have highlighted the complex cultural motivations and justifications that can influence organizational health practices. If one were to focus singularly on epidemiological or legal concerns regarding health risks associated with condom or non-condom use, one would risk ignoring the multifaceted cultural and economic dynamics that go into decisions to use or not to use condoms in the adult film industry. With regards to the straight adult film industry, I conclude that the primary motivation for non-condom use stems from an institutional logic of profit maximization. In turn, members of the straight industry utilize a rhetoric of pain and a rhetoric of choice as posthoc justifications for non-condom use. Subsequently, performers in support of condom use keep their opinion silent out of fear of not getting hired. Privately supporting increased condom use while publically remaining silent is an example of preference falsification, defined as “misrepresenting one’s genuine wants under perceived social pressures” (Kuran 1997: 3) This preference falsification in the straight industry results in a largely unanimous public face against increased condom use while privately the issue is more contentious. One important policy implication of this research is acknowledging this preference falsification and knowing that those who want to use condoms are reluctant to share their opinions. This is gendered, as the onus of choosing to work with condoms is placed on female performers, who are both more physiologically vulnerable to contracting AIDS and other STDs in a heterosexual sex act (Nicolosi et al. 1994), and also rightly fear they will not get hired if they insist on condoms. With that being said, it is possible that the idea of a man insisting on condoms in the straight industry is so unusual, and male performers are viewed as so replaceable, that requests for condom use from men are not taken seriously or treated as nonexistent. Within the gay adult film industry, the moral concerns emerging from the AIDS crisis did initially motivate condom use. In articulating these moral concerns, the men I interviewed evoked a form of solidarity among gay men in the industry and gay consumers of pornography. Indeed, it is possible that these commonalities amongst gay male performers and consumers – in contrast to the differentiation between male consumers and female performers in straight porn – facilitates this solidarity and sense of morality in the first place. Returning to work on the power differentials between men and women in pornography (Dines 2010; Dines et al. 2013), these findings indicate that male performers in the gay industry are afforded a level of respect for their individual choices that are not afforded to female performers in the straight industry. Within the straight industry, women’s choices regarding condom use are secondary to concerns about profits and male consumer preferences for certain fantasies. Future research may examine what impact lesbian films— in which women are not exposed to the same safe sex choices and HIV risks— have in how women think about their own health and safety and career choices while filming. While performers in the gay industry use moral arguments to justify condom use, the motivation behind condom use has become increasingly muddled. Some performers outlined their motivation to use condoms as an issue of status, in that higher profile studios tend to be condom only. Performers also talked about being motivated by reputational management to prevent audiences from assuming they are HIV positive. Interestingly, the pain caused by condoms during anal sex neither served as a motivation nor as a justification for non-condom use. In addition, by largely eschewing required testing, an implicit motivation for condom use is protecting the civil rights of performers by not forcing them to reveal their HIV status. Future research may further examine the role of consumers in the health practices of adult film production. For producers and performers in the straight industry, it is taken for granted that condoms will ruin the sexual fantasies of consumers, but research has in fact indicated the important role of fantasy for those who consume pornography (Barker 2014). There is also a historic educational basis for condom use in the gay industry in light of perceived consumer pressure, and this history is important in light of increasing awareness of the sex education role pornography may play, purposefully or not, for consumers (Albury 2014). While this paper focuses on how and why producers and performers choose safe sex practices, future research can bridge these supplier justifications with the actual demands of sexual fantasy or educational value from consumers. This paper has practical implications. For instance, the history of quarantine and containment and HIV policy has made mandatory-testing protocols unpalatable among gay performers. This is unlikely to change and highlights how successful regulations for the California adult film industry need to be flexible. In addition, excluding performers based on HIV status—as is common in the straight industry—falls within a legal grey area. According to Deborah Gold, the former Deputy Chief of Health with Cal/OSHA, HIV positive performers are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act and employers need to demonstrate there is no reasonable method—such as condom use—to avoid excluding HIV positive performers (Gold 2015). While no HIV positive performers have sued a producer for discrimination (Gold 2015), producers in the gay industry may avoid testing out of concern that they could be held liable under these laws. At the same time, there are important changes afoot. Notably, Truvada now provides protection against contracting HIV from having sex with a person who is HIV positive (Dean 2015). By asking about a performer’s Truvada status—as opposed to HIV status—producers and performers alike can avoid requiring performers report their HIV status. Future research may examine whether or not Truvada has this same avoidance role in interpersonal gay sexual relationships. This paper also builds on previous work on cultural sociology and health. By parsing out some possible motivations and justifications for condom use in both the gay and straight adult film industries, this paper has highlighted how cultural schemas can impact institutional health practices. While these health practices were culturally embedded in overarching institutional logics, people within each industry used justifications strategically to make sense of these institutional logics. In this regard, health practices within organizations are not singularly utilitarian choices made to protect one’s health but can be strategic actions by which people within organizations signify and extract meaning. One can imagine cultural factors interacting with health and safety practices in multiple organizational settings, such as injury prevention in professional sports or even industrial settings such as the use of hard hats or gloves in construction. For example, whereas concussions may have once been an accepted part of American football, they are increasingly receiving attention as a serious medical concern within the sport. Future research may analyze these health policy transitions from a cultural perspective. In sum, this research demonstrates how it is not enough to treat certain health or safety decisions as simply the best or correct, as one must also consider the broader cultural motivations and justifications for organizational health decisions. 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Social ProblemsOxford University Press

Published: Aug 1, 2018

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