Porn Industry Shuts Down Over COVID-19 Fears - Rolling Stone
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Porn Industry Calls for Shutdown Due to Coronavirus

Adult industry lobbying group Free Speech Coalition called for all porn production to halt for the rest of March.

Studio owner and porn film director Lee Roy Myers prepares paint while working on a hospital room set at his studio, Mission Control Studios, in Las Vegas. With increasing costs of doing business and a Los Angeles law requiring male actors to wear condoms, Myers moved his studio to Las Vegas last Spring and is part of the new boom in X-rated production in Sin CityPorn Goes to Vegas, Las Vegas, USA

A porn industry lobbying group calls for people to not film scenes with anyone who's “not a part of their household.”

Julie Jacobson/AP/Shutterstock

Despite the global panic surrounding COVID-19, as recently as last week the adult industry remained relatively untouched, continuing business as usual and resuming shoots — even if individual performers were wary about being on set. But as the situation surrounding COVID-19 rapidly evolves and government officials encourage social distancing, all industries are being affected, and the porn world is no exception.

On Monday morning, industry publication Xbiz reported that the Free Speech Coalition (FSC), the adult-industry lobbying group, is calling for an industry-wide “voluntary shutdown” through the end of March. The statement comes on the heels of California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s call for non-essential businesses to shut down effective immediately, and applies to all performers who are shooting with partners who are “not a part of their household.”

According to FSC spokesman Mike Stabile, the call for a moratorium is “just preemptive.” “The Governor and public health authorities have called for shuttering all non-essential businesses, so we’re doing what we can to flatten the curve,” he tells Rolling Stone. “We haven’t had a COVID-19 case we know of anywhere in the adult community.”

This is not the first time that the adult industry has issued a temporary hold on shooting. The industry last issued a one-week moratorium in 2018, after an adult male porn performer tested positive for HIV (he was later found to have contracted the virus off-set).

Porn performers are required to test for STIs every 14 days to curb the risk of on-set transmission, and Stabile notes the testing system will continue during the shutdown. “This isn’t a typical production hold, where we’ve identified a specific threat to the performer pool and are working to isolate it,” he says. “This is the adult industry responding to public health authorities and working with society at large to … protect vulnerable populations and our health care system.”

Yet as Rolling Stone previously reported, adult performers are independent contractors, meaning that they typically do not have health insurance or paid sick leave should they become ill. Like many other independent contractors in other industries, COVID-19 could have a tremendous impact on their finances, forcing them to find other means of income if they are unable to shoot.

Fortunately, many performers already have alternative forms of revenue, such as camming and making custom content for fans. “We’ve been encouraging this from the beginning, and expect we’ll see a shift in this regard,” says Stabile, adding that several companies have offered to help on-board or promote porn performers who wish to move over to those platforms in lieu of shooting. “This is an unprecedented situation, and like all industries, we’re going to have to find a way through this, and help our performers and producers survive,” he says.

Yet it remains to be seen whether everyone who is reliant on income from shoots alone will adhere to the call for a voluntary shutdown. The backlash to the adult industry shutdown is already taking place on social media. “Wow talk about over reach [sic]. This should be a performer choice,” reads one reply, while another says, “Fuck @FSCArmy.” 

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