Rubber Soul—One Man's Battle against the Porn Industry

Does Michael Weinstein have a hard-on against the porn biz
or is he genuinely concerned?

If Michael Weinstein were Mission Control and the Adult Film Industry were a Redstone Rocket, Weinstein would scrub the launch. Weinstein, President and CEO of the Los Angeles based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, struck hard against the L.A. porn industry with November 2012 Measure B, a voter initiative which created a law requiring any pornographic films shot in L.A. County to use condoms. "It's going to reduce the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases in our community," Weinstein insists. But will it really? There have been no actual studies. And while AFI maintains that one L.A. clinic conducted a study, the results are skewed to favor his argument. Weinstein maintains that of the 168 participants, 47 were diagnosed with an STD or 28%. But what he fails to mention is the fact that all of the 168 participants went to the clinic because they had suspected that they already had an STD.

What caused the bee in his bonnet remains to be seen. There have been no epidemic AIDS infections from the porn industry. In fact, there has been a marked decrease in AIDS-related deaths in that profession since the early Eighties and Nineties, when infection from the disease was fairly new and often misunderstood. The early 1990's saw an average of ten adult film stars dying from AIDS. This took a dramatic drop in 1996, since which time, the average has been approximately three per year. In 2008, there were no deaths. In 2009, there was one. 2010 resulted in two fatalities. There are no published results after that easily found. Regardless, with the advent of new AIDS treatments, it is difficult to discern when in any of those cases, the HIV virus had been contracted. It is also apparent that those who did die, did not become Typhoid Marys, rampantly spreading the disease, for had they done so, clearly, the numbers would be far greater. Playing devil's advocate, however, there are no published statistics on how many performers are walking around with HIV in their systems. But another question to ask is, of those who have been infected, did they get infected as a result of shooting porn or from sexual encounters outside the adult film industry. With the exception of women, from the more than 100 deaths of adult film stars, nearly all if not all, of the men were either gay or bisexual, which placed them in a high-risk category regardless of their profession.

Adult film regulations required that each performer be tested at least once a month. This cannot be said for barhoppers, Craigslist prowlers or even Ashton Kutcher, who apparently had extramarital, unprotected sex with a woman he had met only moments before.

The problem here is discerning Michael Weinstein's apparent obsession with porn. According to one spokesperson for AFI, no porn film should be shot without some sort of protection. Even girl-girl films should be required to make use of dental damns, which are pieces of latex about 5" square. But the adult film industry knows that no one will watch such antiseptic intercourse, and, of course, so does Michael Weinstein. Weinstein and his people state that they are only trying to protect the porn stars, who, according to them, are being coerced into their jobs due to economic conditions and the promise of a financial reward. It kind of sort of makes it seem, then, that the porn industry is only in place because of the economy, wrecked by both Bush (no, not THAT kind) and Obama. But why focus on porn? The number of porn stars in L.A. is only in the thousands. But the number of potentially at risk children who do not use condoms in Los Angeles is more than 272,000, and this does not take into account those that are home-schooled or those that attend private institutions. So where is Michael Weinstein and AFI for them? Where is his Voter Measure to prohibit the use of birth control pills among middle school and high school students (girls who take birth control pills are ten times as unlikely to use condoms)? While those in the porn industry are fearful of contracting any STDs, teens tend to view their lives as immortal. They tend not to imbibe even the thought of death or the prospect of the future. They smoke. They drink. They have unprotected sex. And many will have unprotected sex with many partners.


In 1993, the Spur Posse in Lakewood, California was comprised of a group of teenage boys, who gave themselves points for every girl they could have sex with; sex that was almost always unprotected. The girls were as young as 13. in 1996, a syphilis epidemic occurred among teen engaging in group sex in Rockdale County, Georgia. According to the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) 2004-2008, approximately 400,000 American girls, ages 15-19 give birth every year. This does not factor in those who have had abortions, and it does not take into account those who had unprotected sex who did not become pregnant. Therefore, it would probably be a fair, if not highly conservative estimate that at least half a million teenage girls are having unprotected sex every year, though the actual figure is probably several million. And for where is Michael Weinstein and AFI for all of them.

Like Gloria Allred and Jesse Jackson, Weinstein appears to be a rabble rouser. He has chosen the most controversial issue over the most important one. No porn star is making an uninformed choice about his or her career. Money is not that difficult to come by, even in such hard economic times. The adult film stars do not need Weinstein's blanket to wrap around and protect them. But children do and for them, all that he offers is some literature and condoms, which are only occasionally passed out. He apparently does not want to rake coals where parents may rise up and say that it is not his or his group's place to even give thought to the very idea of sex to their children. And parents, unlike porn stars, represent a vast community of potential donors. And while Michael Weinstein may indeed view himself as a man screaming "Fire" in a burning theatre, there are millions of children playing with matches, whom he has, for all intents and purposes, chosen to ignore.