Last month the City Council of Los Angeles passed—and Mayor Antonio Villaigarosa approved—a groundbreaking, first-of-its-kind law that will force male porn actors to wear condoms while shooting movies. This is a big deal.
While estimates vary—and the logistics of tracking such numbers brings out all sorts of skepticism—anywhere from 80% to 90% of all professionally-made porn (and not, say, the handheld kind with adorable and off-putting puppies staring at the camera in the background) is made in the LA. It’s a whole lot, is the point. It has permeated LA culture to the point where, in my seven years as a resident, I can no longer count the times I’ve had the dreaded internal debate about whether or not I should inform the person I’m with that I recognize that girl/guy, and that it’s not a “celebrity sighting” per se, but more a “last time I saw him/her they were banging on my computer screen” kind of thing.
It’s still unclear how a measure like this is going to be mandated—will there be state officers monitoring every Astroglide-stenched set to make sure rubbers never “accidentally” fall off?—but that doesn’t mean the debate isn’t one to be had.
On the pro-condom side of the ledger is the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the main driving force behind pushing for this legislation. On the [leave-their-junk-alone side](http:// http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/01/20/the-porn-world-says-no-to-condoms.html) are those actually working in the adult film industry, who unanimously disagree with the legislation—or, at least, I’ve yet to see a non-dissenting opinion—for a multitude of reasons, ranging from it being a blatant infringement of personal civil liberties to, my favorite rebuttal, that “porn sex” is so rough and takes so long that condoms are simply not built for that kind of, let’s say, traction.
But the opinion that’s been left out of the mix so far is that of the consumer. And, as everyone knows, in our capitalist society, the customer always comes first. (So to speak.)
As someone who’s taken in his fair share of watching paid performers’ genitals squashing and smashing into one another, the prospect of an all-condom porn world is distressing.
Pornography-viewing is a form of escapism. When one watches it, one knows there’s a distinct possibility that a sweaty cameraman and/or musky and mustachioed boom operator looms within ejaculating distance. Or that there’s an even more distinct possibility the people you’re viewing aren’t enjoying themselves as much as they’d have you believe. This is much the same as, in big-budget action movies, knowing that the multi-millionaire actor isn’t hanging by his fingertips from a 110-story building, but instead he’s standing on the shoulders of a union grip. The logical bullshit-detecting part of the brain is purposefully turned off. This is willful ignorance at its most absolute.
The introduction of a condom to the proceedings, then, reminds the viewer, even if only subconsciously, of the harsh, real world out there. The one full of sexually-transmitted diseases, the lingering threat of unwanted pregnancies, and, maybe worst of all, the fact that having sex with a tube of latex on your most sensitive parts isn’t nearly as pleasurable as going in unobstructed.
I’m not saying one shouldn’t use condoms in everyday life, just as one shouldn’t not wear a seatbelt while driving. But if you’re seeing the latest Mission: Impossible movie, you’re not cringing and calling for a change in legislature because Tom Cruise didn’t look both ways before crossing the street.
Plus, and this might be a more important aspect, condoms just look weird from an aesthetics standpoint. It all just looks misshapen and awkward, like the last piece of cow intestine a Lithuanian grandma’s trying to pack the rest of the cured pork into. And aren't there laws about meat handling safety?