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Monday, May 5, 2014

Porn Gets Political: Kink.com Hosts David Campos Fundraiser

Posted By on Mon, May 5, 2014 at 10:33 AM

click to enlarge A flyer advertises Kink's fundraiser for David Campos.
  • A flyer advertises Kink's fundraiser for David Campos.

A porn company featuring BDSM hosting a fundraiser for a state assembly candidate is just the type of soiree that might arouse community outrage in Anytown, USA.

But in San Francisco, it's just another night on the town.

Tonight, Kink.com is hosting California Assembly candidate David Campos for a fundraiser, with tickets prices costing between $50 and $300. The invitation for the event is playfully discreet, offering attendees a peek at "Kink's special brand of entertainment" as well as a meet-and-greet with the current District 9 Supervisor.

See also:

Kink.com, Local BDSM Porn Company, May Leave S.F. Over Condom Requirements

Bay Area Porn Companies Slapped With Fines for Not Using Condoms

Although the fundraiser likely won't get anyone riled up, it just might attract attention in Sacramento where a bill requiring condoms in adult film production is moving through the Assembly. That same piece of legislation is being lobbied against by Kink workers, who say the current system of routine STD testing is enough to keep them safe.

Assembly Bill 1576, introduced by Los Angeles-based Isadore Hall III, is the assemblyman's third attempt at a statewide condom mandate expanding on a similar one he helped get passed in L.A. (His first two state bills, AB 640 and AB 332, perished en route through the Assembly's numerous committees.)

Hall argues that condoms ought to be required in order to protect porn performers from STD transmissions onset. "For too long, the adult film industry has thrived on a business model that exploits its workers and puts profit over workplace safety," Hall says. "Legitimate businesses protect their employees from injury in the workplace. This legitimate, legal business should be treated no differently."

The current iteration of Hall's proposed condom law has faced persistent opposition from Kink and other adult film companies. Several Kink employees and performers spoke against the bill at a recent hearing before the Assembly's Committee on Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media, which passed the bill in a 4-1 vote. The bill is now headed to the Appropriations Committee for a hearing.

Kink.com, which is currently appealing $78,710 in Cal-OSHA fines for not using condoms during production, has also stated that it will pack up its Mission District headquarters (where a portion of the Campos fundraiser will be held) and move its business to Nevada if the bill is approved.

Assembly hopeful Campos has now entered the condom debate, telling SF Weekly he was unaware of AB 1576, but that he's always supported condom use in the past. "And that's not going to change," he says.

Rather, Campos explains, the fundraiser isn't about Kink's political stance, but about its position in the local entertainment community. "One of the things we've talked about is how we want to preserve the nightlife and quirkiness of San Francisco," Campos says. "It's the idea of promoting nightlife and entertainment."

Regardless of Kink's other Assembly interests, spokesperson Mike Stabile says the company hasn't brought the pending legislation to Campos' attention. Rather, he says, the decision to host Campos is "more about the community than it is about business."

Stabile says that suggesting a connection between the fundraiser and AB 1576 is far-fetched. "There's something to having an LGBT candidate from S.F. who understands the nuances of sex and sexuality," he continues. "This is an honest situation where Peter [Acworth, Kink's owner] does believe in his candidacy and wants to support it."

Even if Kink hoped to see Campos put a stop to the legislation, it's uncertain whether he'd make it there in time to affect the outcome of AB 1576. Although the next hearing of the bill has yet to be scheduled, it will be the last hearing before the bill hits the Assembly floor for a final vote, and Campos' election wouldn't happen until November, that is assuming he defeats fellow Supervisor David Chiu (both are likely to advance through the June primary).

However, Stabile says Kink hasn't hosted political fundraisers like this in the past. So why the sudden political interest?

The opposition to AB 1576 is multifaceted. Some businesses worry that condom requirements will affect their bottom line, while performers voice comfort and privacy concerns (the bill requires producers keep records that some performers worry will include their confidential health information).

Independent porn producer and performer Courtney Trouble writes in an email that, if AB 1576 does become law in California, she will comply. "But I also think it's completely unconstitutional and unfair to require that artists and performers adhere to a mandatory safer-sex law," she adds. "I'm pretty sick of people who don't perform in porn making assumptions about what it's like to perform in porn or how we need to be protected. I wish the government would spend more time listening to the issues that American sex workers do have about labor laws and try to give us what we need, which is the federal decriminalization of sex work of all kinds, proper health coverage, the right to unionize, et cetera."

However, she also notes that condoms can be an issue in the adult industry. "I can't pretend that all porn producers are being ethical about safer sex. They aren't. Many performers early in their career just simply don't have the option to request condoms AND make a living/advance in their careers," she writes. "But the real problems around performer agency don't get fixed by governmental condom regulation, they get fixed by good old-fashioned feminism and labor rights movements that will fight for sex workers to have agency and legal protections around their own work decisions."

Tickets are still available for tonight's fundraiser on David Campos' website.

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About The Author

Kate Conger

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Kate Conger has written for SF Weekly since 2011.

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