Prop I Will Kill Plans for the Armory Event Center



When I first toured the abandoned Armory nearly a decade ago, I was captivated by its history and its grandeur. But it was the centerpiece of the building, the old Armory Drill Court — a space once known as the Madison Square Garden of the West — that truly captured my imagination. Last summer, our massive restoration of this historic space was finally completed, and with great pride I announced that it would finally open to the public.

Unfortunately, the Armory Drill Court is currently seen by the City as a PDR use (“Production, Distribution, and Repair”). We have an application pending with the city to change this use to “Entertainment,” which would allow us to make it a full time public event space. While we wait for this application to be approved, we are restricted to hosting only one event per calendar month.

Despite this temporary and very restrictive permit, we have nevertheless hosted several events over the past few years, including the anarchist book fair, a Gay Pride celebration, two New Year’s Eve parties, Rollerderby tournaments, a benefit for Hack Cancer, and a fundraiser for AIDS Emergency Fund. We even worked with the Mayor’s Office on an event to provide dental care to the homeless.

However, the restriction to one event per month is not sustainable. We have had to turn down any event that spans more than twenty-four hours, such as a sporting tournament, or a weekend flea market. No business can function in this manner. It is only because the remainder of the building has other uses that the plan to resurrect the Drill Court as a public venue still has legs.

Astonishingly, Prop I will block any change of use away from PDR, including the Armory Drill Court. Thus, for eighteen months and up to thirty, the plans to open the Drill Court to the public will be frozen.

I believe the Mission construction moratorium is well intentioned. We’re all looking for ways to preserve the diverse cultural life of this city. But the City’s Office of Economic Analysis has concluded that this Prop will only make the housing shortage worse, furthering Ellis Act evictions and driving rent in the city upward more quickly.

This Armory is the single biggest building in the Mission, as well as one of the most most significant. It is the striking ‘gateway’ iconic landmark that marks the entrance to the Mission. The effect of Prop I will result in the antithesis of the intention of Prop I. What is ‘gentrification’ if not the killing of a community and the loss of our culture? What is gentrification if not the elimination of living wage jobs? The Armory Drill court will generate hundreds of such jobs, part on-site, part by those promoters renting the space, and part as a result of spill over of positive effects to the local small business community.

I aim to bring back the Madison Square Garden of the West to the people of San Francisco as a matter of right. That is why I am fighting Prop I with everything I have left to fight with. It is bad policy, a mistake for the Mission and a mistake for this city.



Could The Adult Film Industry Be A Model For HIV Prevention?

Last week, Michael Weinstein of the controversial (and powerful) AIDS Healthcare Foundation, launched an attack on the Center for Disease Control, over the CDC’s endorsement of pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) drugs like Truvada which have been shown to prevent the transmission of HIV. Rather than embrace the move, Weinstein published an open letter entitled “What If You Are Wrong About PrEP?”

As someone who has endured Mr. Weinstein’s morality crusades myself, I have to ask: Mr. Weinstein, what if you are wrong about the adult film industry?

For the past five years, attacking the adult film industry over HIV has been your near singular focus. You’ve railed against producers. You’ve called performers a threat to public health. You’ve run ballot measures, initiated boycotts, and wasted millions of dollars on failed legislation. You spend public money monitoring porn for condoms, and use your valuable resources shaming anyone who doesn’t share your conservative morality. But what if you’re wrong about us? What if, rather than being part of the problem, the adult film industry could be part of solution?

Sound odd? Despite shooting hundreds of thousands of scenes, the last time there was an HIV transmission on a regulated adult set was in 2004 — over ten years ago. Our performers test for a full slate of STIs, including HIV, every two weeks, and the entire industry stops production anytime there’s even a remote possibility that an STI like HIV or syphilis might pose a risk to the performer pool. If this were any population other than porn stars, you’d be praising its incredible success. (In fact, the NY Times has called us “an unlikely model” for HIV prevention.)

You see, sexual health is integral to our business. Performers know more about their bodies — and how to protect them from STIs — than any other demographic on the planet. If a performer contracts an STI, they may not be able to work, sometimes for weeks. And in the case of production shutdown, the entire industry loses money. Even if we were the greedy profiteers you so often portray us as, we’d still have a vested financial interest in keeping the performer pool safe.

Of course, it’s not just about money. The adult industry is a small, tight-knit community, and we care deeply about what happens to our fellow performers. They are our friends, our co-workers, and, in some cases, our family. Many producers, like myself, were or are performers. That’s why we’re always looking for ways to improve the system.

This is also why I’m so bullish on Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) medications like Truvada, which promise to help reduce the risk of HIV transmissions to near zero. Because while we’ve been able to control performer safety on set, we can’t always control what happens off-set, with an untested population. A performer has to test every fourteen days; his or her boyfriend or girlfriend might not. In the past few years, several performers have attempted to return to work after contracting the virus off-set, and we’ve shut down production, initiated partner contacts and worked with doctors and public health officials to trace the genealogy of the virus (i.e., where it was contracted). A drug that protects performers off set as well as on set not only promises to keep our performers safer, it promises to keep our industry stronger.

It’s hard not to notice that the language you use in your opposition to PrEP — calling it a “party drug” and shaming anyone who uses it — is so similar to the language you use with adult film performers. With both, you talk about loose morals and drug use, and stoke fears that each is a threat to the general population. I’d venture to say that your focus on us has less to do with prevention and everything to do with (what you view as) promiscuity.

That’s why for the past year we’ve been working with HIV and STI outreach organizations, sex worker rights groups, public health advocates, and the performers themselves to develop more comprehensive protocols that talk not only about condoms and testing, but also the possibilities offered by PrEP, vaccinations and other prevention options. While you’ve been singularly focused on mandating condoms and dental dams — non-starters for many performers and consumers — we’ve been upping our game, increasing education, upgrading testing, minimizing risk. While you’ve been protesting OSHA for not toeing your party line, we’ve been working with public health advocates to develop regulations that can be effective while considering the specific needs of adult industry workers.

When I proposed adult film performers could be looked at as an exemplar for safer sex and sexual health, I wasn’t being glib. While sex is never 100% safe, our protocols — regular testing, discussions of sexual health without fear or shame, prevention methods that reflect real-life sexual behavior — would be a vast improvement over what the general population uses now. Our industry has often been at the forefront of new technologies and new freedoms. Why not sexual health? So I ask you again, Mr. Weinstein, what if you’re wrong about the adult industry?

A Strike for Justice

There are two tiers of justice in this country and I should know. I was a beneficiary of the better one.

A year ago, I was charged for possession of a gram of cocaine, which was found when police responded to reports of alleged gun use at the San Francisco Armory, home of the adult production studio,

I had a great lawyer and the charges were eventually dropped. But how would I have fared if I had not had the money, or a different skin color? Unfortunately, I think I know the answer because I witnessed it.

As with any arrest, the experience was completely terrifying.  I was taken in handcuffs to the local station and transported to the downtown jail for processing. The first indication that I was in a privileged situation came when I picked up the phone in an attempt to get bailed out. Rather than having to explain my financial situation, I was greeted with a friendly response “Ah Peter, your lawyer is already in my office.” Bail was arranged and I was out by 5AM.

The people in the cell with me were mostly people of color, mostly poor, all terrified. Since I had, in fact, been caught with the cocaine on my person, my inclination would have been to plead guilty. But my lawyer immediately advised against it.  “We can fight this.”

And we did. It turned out that while the police did their job, there were technical problems with the arrest (there were insufficient “exigent circumstances” to void the need for a warrant to enter the premises.)

But how would I have fared if I were poor, confused and dependent on an overworked public defender managing dozens of other cases, for a fraction of what my lawyer made for one? Watching the legal process, I was struck by all the advantages I had. At each court hearing, my case was heard first. My lawyer was able to present our legal opinion in the judges.  I was able to pay for research and briefs that made our arguments more effective.  Eventually, the case was thrown out.  My reputation was bruised, and I was humiliated but not incarcerated.

For most people in those courtrooms, however, the experience was drastically different. Some didn’t speak much English. Few seemed to have any money, let alone private lawyer with the time and resources to study the intricacies of their case. Had they, many of them might have had their cases dismissed.

Had I had a public defender, you can bet I would not have had the case dropped. With no prior record, I am guessing I would have ended up with a ‘deferment’, which entails 6-12 months of drug tests and taking classes, followed by a dismissal.  One is only eligible for a ‘deferment’ once. The second time I would have had a felony conviction which could have lead to the loss of my immigration status in the US. (I’m a British national.)

For those who are poor or have dependency issues, non-violent felony convictions can quickly add up and have a devastating impact on their lives.

In 1994, California passed a three-strikes sentencing law, which mandated a life sentence for third felony conviction — even if the crime was non-violent, like drug possession or shoplifting food.  As a result, there are currently thousands of people in jail due to (what I consider to be) grossly unfair minimum sentencing rules which apply to non-violent felony charges.  More people are in jail in the US than any other country in the world, including China. And what’s the goal again? Drug addiction is a medical condition, not a reason for a 15+ year sentence.

Seeing this differential, my wife and I decided to support a San Francisco-based non-profit, the Three Strikes Justice Center.  In 2012, voters approved Proposition 36, which allows for non-violent offenders to have their mandatory life sentences reduced. The Three Strikes Justice Center raises awareness among inmates about the changes to the law, and helps non-violent inmates get their mandatory life sentences reduced. (Many inmates don’t even have the money for postage to inquire about eligibility.) However, there isn’t enough money or lawyers to process all the claims (there are thousands) — and the deadline for appeals is this November.

So on Wednesday, August 6, we’ll be hosting a fundraiser for the Three Strikes Justice Center at the Armory Club, just across the street from where I was arrested. There will be speakers, including Alton McSween, a former NFL player who, after problems with dependency, was arrested for petty theft and given a life sentence. Thanks to lawyers like those at the TSJC, he’s now free and working on behalf of others.

I realize we have a long way to go before justice is truly blind, and those tiers of justice are leveled. But as someone who was given the benefit of strong legal counsel, and had access to that top tier, I feel it’s my obligation to help those who didn’t. I hope to see you on Wednesday, and talk with you about my experience and the help we need to give these people.  If not, I hope that you’ll consider supporting the Three Strikes Justice Center in its race against time and money.

The Benefit for the Three Strikes Justice Center will be at the Armory Club, 1799 Mission St on Wednesday August 6, from 5:30PM-8:30PM


Open Letter in response to Pride Party

Dear Readers,

I am responding to the open letter posted recently in which objections are raised about the theme of the upcoming Pride party at the historic Armory. I write to you as the owner of the Armory,, and as a one third partner in the event itself.

Firstly, let me say that I feel empathy for those who are offended. I have enormous respect for the battles that are being fought against incarceration and the statistics raised in your letter appaul me, as they should any reasonable person. I am someone who has long-since been deeply troubled by the minimum sentencing rules and the war on drugs that were started under the Reagan Administration.

I am proud to have a diverse staff and to support the LGBTQ community. If you were to visit The Armory and mingle with kink’s employee base, you would find that the LGBTQ communities are strongly represented and cherished at the core of our organization. The first thing I did when I purchased the Armory was fly the Pride Flag. We celebrate the LGBTQ community by flying their flags throughout the year.

I am at the same time, however, someone who believes in freedom of expression. I believe that my kink should be OK. I believe that if a group wants to organize a particular kind of party, they should be free to do so without shame. The purpose of this event is a celebration. It was certainly never intended to ‘trivialize incarceration’ nor ‘normalize oppression’, and I do not believe that a fantasy party could ever trivialize or normalize events in the larger world. I ask you to also consider the fact that sexual fantasy and BDSM have long been a tool used by those who have experienced real life trauma and oppression – including many members of the LGBTQ community – to reclaim the imagery and language of their experiences and alter the actual meanings of those words and images. Sexual fantasies may be catalyzed by real life events, but in no way do those fantasies represent or contain the same meaning as non-consensual, non-sexual real life power dynamics. In BDSM play, though players negotiate and consent to roles such as top and bottom, dominant and submissive – though they may request to be spanked, flogged, or shackled – this should in no way be interpreted as an actual loss of power on the part of the submissive or a gaining of power on the part of the dominant. Though players may wear a uniform or use language that is traditionally representative of cultural authority, they do so with the understanding that this play queers that representation and alters its meaning. The wearing of uniforms and the use of the tools of authority as sexual props has long been a means through which some members of the queer community have protested and reclaimed the symbols of oppression. I ask you to consider the idea that the use of the prison industrial complex as a party theme does not trivialize the experiences of the oppressed, but trivializes the assumed authority of the oppressor.

Having said that, the extent to which some groups find this theme offensive because the party is happening during the San Francisco Pride weekend has given me cause to reflect. I realize that Pride is both a celebration of LGBTQ identities and historically a time when serious issues that affect queer communities are highlighted. Had I thought that a prison fantasy party would detract from the very serious issue of the prison industrial complex in this country, I would have insisted on another theme. With the party just over two weeks away, it is not possible for us to change the theme, as we are contractually bound to WE, whose show we purchased and cannot change. Quite literally, the costumes, decor, backdrops etc, are already allocated and en route to The Armory.

We can, however, revamp the website and marketing materials to minimize the emphasis on prison language, to highlight the camp and fantasy aspects of this event and to raise awareness of the real life incarceration issues that we all find so troubling. As a 33% owner in the event, I am able to sway the course of the event to an extent, and I promise to do all I can so that Pride participants can both celebrate their sexual identities and make strides toward fighting the real life issues faced by LGBTQ people worldwide.

Yours truly,

Peter Acworth

Update 12th June. The person able to change the website is in Tel-Aviv hosting another WE party. The assets are at his home in NYC. He will update with new copy as soon as he returns to NYC this coming Tuesday.

Dear Mr. Weinstein: You’re Lying

Dear Mr. Weinstein,

I have not heard back from you regarding my open letter. Given the lack of ongoing dialog, it is clear that my attempts to open a channel of communication with you are unlikely to succeed. I am left with no alternative but to air my concerns publicly.

You and I both care about the well-being of performers in the adult industry. However, as I listened to the ongoing testimony over AB1576 and read your statements in the press, I am dismayed. Until now, I looked at our disagreement over condoms in adult film as disagreement in principle. I no longer think of you as someone with whom I have an intellectual disagreement: I think of you as someone who willfully misrepresents facts to justify a political position. In short, you’re lying. Here’s how:

1. You’re using off-set HIV infections as evidence of on-set danger.
In your post-statement press, you described Rod Daily and Cameron Bay, the two performers who testified at the hearings, as “having contracted HIV while working in adult film.” You know this isn’t true and yet you continue to say it. By using a couple who have contracted HIV in their private life as evidence of a public health threat, you’re turning what should be a healthcare discussion into a moral debate. Would you say “Magic Johnson contracted HIV while playing basketball?”. Linguistically you’ve got some plausible deniability, but please. For you, the ends may justify the means, but in reality, it stops us from educating performers about real ways they should be protecting themselves.

2. You’re using STI research that is fundamentally flawed.
The Kim-Farley and Kerndt studies you cite at hearings have been debunked, Among many fundamental flaws, these studies do not account for re-tests, do not accurately estimate the size of the population, and compare STI rates with the general population. If you compare porn stars to a group that includes pre-teens, moms and grandparents, you may get numbers you’re looking for. If you compare performers to people in their own age group? Not so much. These studies are profoundly flawed, and yet you still use them as fact. This is not only ethically problematic, it again unfairly stigmatizes porn performers.

3. You say that porn is illegal outside of California (and New Hampshire)
This has been repeated at every hearing we’ve been at with you, and it confounds us. We are a national industry, and have been for decades. We shoot legally in nearly every state in the country, and many large companies are based in states like New York, Nevada and Florida. It may be politically expedient to tell legislators that performers and producers can’t set up shop out of state but, like so much else, it’s something that you know to be untrue. If your argument was truly strong, you wouldn’t have to fabricate your case.

Frankly, I think that disagreement is good and that we should always be talking with performers about how to make the system safer and more responsive to their needs. I also think that you do genuinely believe that what you’re doing is for the greater good. However, the ends do not justify the means. I ask that you listen to the performers who are so angry about this bill. I ask that you use facts that will help performers understand how to better to protect themselves. To knowingly misrepresent facts only hurts performers, because it clouds meaningful discussions we could be having about STIs.

So, please, Mr. Weinstein, stop misrepresenting the facts in this desperate manner to push your condom agenda through. Please retract statements you know to be untrue. Please let’s come back to the table with honest, accurate dialog.


Peter Acworth

Open Letter to Michael Weinstein, President AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

Dear Mr. Weinstein,

I have great respect for the work AHF and other AIDS charities do. Indeed, I have been a long time supporter of SF based AIDS charities and have hosted fundraising events. The views expressed below are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of the industry or the Free Speech Coalition.

You have spent valuable donor money battling the adult video production community for many years as what appears to be your priority. This dates back to lawsuits you filed against AIM (the much cherished performer-created testing facility and database) which eventually put them out of business, to your lobbying efforts with Cal/OSHA, to numerous complaints you have filed against my and other production companies, to Measure B which mandates condoms in LA, to various bills you have sponsored with Assemblymember Isadore Hall, and on-going PR attacks on the industry.

If the current direction continues, I believe it to be inevitable that what remains of the adult video industry will leave the state. Worse, I believe the safety protocols the industry already has in place will become jeopardized. AB 1576 will attempt to force 14 day testing and mandatory condoms, plus record keeping that invades performer privacy; new Cal/OSHA regulations propose to require condoms for oral and protection of other mucus membranes such as eyes. I’m afraid it is just a brutal reality that the industry will leave California under these regulations. Abroad, standards are lower than what the industry already self-imposes here in the US. Additionally, I fear smaller production companies will shoot underground and that we will see a reduction in the safety on-set that the industry has worked very hard to build over the last decade.

I come to you as a more reasonable person than you might imagine. Back in 2004, when the last verified on-set transmission on an adult video set in the US took place, I went on CNN saying I felt condoms should be mandatory. I then attempted, along with other companies such as Vivid, to shoot with condoms required. Various product lines had to be shut down, but it was actually pressure from the performers themselves that eventually persuaded me to relax our policy back to condom-optional. In a survey I conducted in 2005, a majority of both female and male performers wanted this policy returned. Ten years later, with testing now improved and not a single on-set transmission on a testing-mandatory set, I stand by this decision. I could not, in good conscience, write this letter did I not believe in the track record of the industry.

I trust you believe you are doing the right thing and I agree to disagree with you. However, I am the eternal optimist and I am writing this in the hope that there is still a chance for common ground which will allow the industry to function while staying in California, and yet go a long way towards alleviating your concerns. There are various measures I believe in, and I would like to list them below:

Firstly, I believe performers need to be protected, but with the flexibility offered by either using the current 14-day testing regimen OR condoms approach. The adult industry is made up of diverse communities: kinky, gay, straight, couples, large studios and small webcam operations — and a one-size fits all approach is disastrous. Many gay studios, for instance, use condoms because they believe that testing violates hard-fought medical privacy rights, just as straight performers rely on testing because of the discomfort caused by condoms. If a performer doesn’t want to use a condom, I believe they should be regularly tested before performing, as those in the straight industry have for the past fifteen years.

Secondly, we need education. If a scene is shot without condoms, we should remind viewers that the actors have been tested, and encourage them to do the same. We should also make sure that anyone entering the industry knows how to protect themselves, and what the risks are.

Thirdly, condoms truly need to be optional on-set, even if everyone has been tested, and performers need to know that they can request one without discrimination. In response to performer feedback, we use a double-blind condom system at Kink, and explain to all performers that it is their right to request a condom at any time, for any reason — and many do. But the majority, for reasons that range from discomfort to confidence in the testing system, don’t. If you want to protect performers, let’s empower them to make that choice.

Lastly, I know you have mixed feelings about PrEP, the new medical regimen that can help prevent HIV transmission. It’s not well-understood yet by performers, but I believe we owe it to the communities we serve to evaluate this on its merits. The fact is, none of the performers you bring to your press conferences would have been protected had AB1576 been passed ten years ago, because no California condom law is going to protect performers during their personal lives, or shooting on unregulated sets overseas. PrEP, if it works as advertised, could do just that. In fact, we’ve recently begun working with HIV and sex worker health organizations to develop an educational program about PrEP specifically targeting adult performers — it would be great if you could be a part of it.

Please, Mr. Weinstein, take this letter at face value. There is no hidden agenda. I am reaching out to you and AHF in the hopes of a day where we may sit across the table from one another and agree on common goals and strategy on protecting performers, as opposed to continuing this battle. I hope to hear back from you.


Peter Acworth
Founder and CEO,

Plea to register and vote , JUNE 3rd, for David Campos!!

Dear Fellow Kinkster,

If you love San Francisco for its diversity and its acceptance of alternative sexualities and alternative lifestyles, I plead to you to support David Campos in his bid to represent San Francisco in the state legislature.

David Campos will support cherished San Francisco traditions such as Folsom St. Fair, our affinity with Burning Man, our quirks, our differences, and frankly, the heart and soul of what we have come to love as San Francisco, and, yes, he will support ‘fringe’ small businesses such as and the Armory Community Center, along with the myriad of gay production companies here in town.

That culture, that ‘heart and soul’, is currently coming under attack. For better or worse, we face an unprecedented influx of transplants into our city. New construction is taking place at break-neck speed and the real-estate markets are white hot. Large corporate interests are becoming more powerful and their word will start to rule.

There are three reasons I believe David Campos to be the best candidate to preserve San Francisco’s culture:

1) David Campos is literally the only politician who has proactively reached out to me and initiated contact. You might think that as an employer of 130 people and the owner of the biggest building in the Mission, this would be expected, but it has never happened before! Most politicians are scared of any association with sex work of any kind. If David Campos will meet and listen to me, he will work with you, regardless of race, color, sexual orientation, gender identity, or your profession.

2) David Campos supports entertainment. He supports a 4am optional closing time, a relaxation of the current liquor license restrictions. This is in stark contrast to David’s opponent who has sided with the ABC on a midnight closing time in some cases. Do you want to live in a boring city where everything closes early? I most certainly do not!

3) David Campos is not only gay, he’s open minded and progressive about a myriad of issues regarding sex and sexuality. At a time when some of our most cherished institutions are threatened, we need a legislator who embraces our city’s rich sexual culture. I believe David Campos will not only support LGBTQ issues, but champion them with legislation.

Donate to David Campos’s campaign.

Register to Vote.


Peter Acworth,
Founder, CEO of

Why We’re Fighting the Cal-OSHA Citations

This afternoon, we received citations from the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration that total over $78,000, one of the largest fines in adult film history. While many of the citations relate to things like extension cord violations which relate to our continued overhaul of the 100 year old Armory where we shoot, the biggest fines come because we allow performers the option to shoot without condoms — or as Cal-OSHA terms it, “barrier protection.”

There are various reasons I believe condoms should be optional for performers. The primary reason is that this is the opinion of the majority of performers. Many cite issues such as discomfort, and that in the context of hardcore sex lasting several hours, condoms can lead to abrasions and tears that in some instances can make sex less safe.

What is frustrating is that Cal-OSHA’s stance appears to avoid the basic facts. Since 2004, when current testing protocols were put in place, there has not been a single case of HIV transmission on an adult film set in the US. This is known for sure, since in the rare cases a potential performer tests positive for HIV, we can halt production and retest all the partners with whom the positive performer worked. In every case since 2004, the conclusion has been that HIV was contracted by the performer in their personal lives. This is obviously something the industry cannot control, and not something any Cal-OSHA regulation will address.

The fines levied against are not isolated. In the past few years, there have been increasing number of citations handed down to adult companies, often from inspections prompted by outside groups. Worse, Cal-OSHA is currently working on more onerous regulations which, if enforced, will essentially criminalize the production of pornography in the state of California. These regulations were written without dialog with the industry they address, despite significant industry efforts to open such a dialog. The new regulations require things like protective goggles to avoid possible eye-contact with semen, and no cum-shots on genitals or face. I hardly need to write that the industry will either move out of state or go underground — that much is obvious. My fear is that if the industry is forced into a quasi-legal state, this will result in poorer overall working conditions, and less safety. This industry badly needs to stay legal and be subject to intelligent regulation.

Lastly, it is interesting to note that these complaints were not made by employees, but by AIDS Heathcare Foundation, the same organization behind the various bills in Sacramento which would aim to legally mandate condoms in adult productions. These bills have been opposed not only by producers, but by the performers themselves.

One would hope we all have the common goal of protecting performers. I have to confess I am second guessing this is genuinely the case. I cannot help but suspect an agenda to criminalize adult production is at play. It would be wonderful if we could all come together productively — AIDS organizations, Cal-OSHA, the adult entertainment industry, and performers themselves — with the common goal of protecting performer interests and maximizing safety.

Response to The AHF Press Conference

Our hearts go out to the performers who were part of the AHF press conference this morning with Michael Weinstein’s AIDS Healthcare Foundation. The performers were brave to talk about their experiences. We as a community have a duty support performers to increase education, healthcare and services, regardless of HIV status. Unfortunately, Weinstein’s press conference conflated and misrepresented facts, particularly regarding HIV transmission.

While it’s true that there were six HIV positive performers at the conference, Weinstein suggested that their infection was the result of out of control sets. Except for Darren James, who tested positive in 2004, these all appear to be private transmissions.

None of those that performed on straight (testing mandatory) sets contracted nor transmitted HIV on set. We know this for sure as all performers with whom the individuals performed have since tested negative several times.

In gay shoots, performers with HIV are allowed to shoot as long as they use a condom. is condom-mandatory and testing optional for such shoots. This has been standard policy for over two decades in most gay production companies. Any performer can request tests for his partners in order to make an informed decision.

On the straight side of the industry, 28 day testing is mandatory. If someone fails a test, they don’t work on a straight set. Period. Patrick Stone’s booking confirmation with us was tentative because we did not yet know his status; in order to shoot with Kink he would have had to retest clean. Anything else is either a misunderstanding or a misrepresentation.

More troublesome was the overall representation of what goes on on a Kink set: how the shoot is managed and how decisions are made. To an outside observer, BDSM can seem uncontrolled and dangerous. It’s far from the case. All of our models are informed that they request a condom at any time, that they can stop a shoot at any time, and that they control the scene. These are central tenets of BDSM, and we take consent and safety seriously.
You can read more about our model bill of rights here:

and Kink’s shooting protocols

That said, Ms. Bay’s shoot caused us concern long before the subject of HIV came up. While HIV was not transmitted on set, there were incidents on that shoot, including some of the same ones that Ms. Bay identified, that have caused us to reevaluate what we permit on shoots involving members of the public, even when it’s consensual. BDSM is a physically demanding and consensual practice, and we constantly work to balance authenticity with safety.

These are real people’s lives. But rather than figure out solutions with us, the performers, and the industry, Mr. Weinstein would rather play loose with facts and generate hysteria around HIV. He and AHF continue to push for mandatory condoms at all costs, regardless of the facts. Four out of the six performers who spoke today already worked on condom mandatory sets. All but Darren James, who tested positive in 2004, were stopped from working on sets by the mandatory testing protocol.

We need to work together to make sets safer for performers, provide better education, and do a better job of giving a voice to performers via surveys and press conferences. We need rational conversations about the realities of STDs and other risks in the context of adult entertainment, and then identify real steps that can be taken to improve the workplace for performers. I welcome any and all constructive debate on this issue, based on facts and the feedback of the overall performer community.

On’s Shooting Protocols

Last week, a performer tested HIV+ through the industry PASS (Performer Availability Screening Services) system. We immediately halted production while performers could be re-tested and protocols examined. We take the health and safety of performer’s extremely seriously, and no matter where the performer contracted HIV, it’s our responsibility to make sure our safety protocols are inviolable.

In this case, as they have for Kink’s entire history, the protocols worked. (Despite filming thousands of scenes each year, the straight adult industry itself has not seen an on-set transmission of HIV in the United States since 2004.) But that hasn’t stopped fear-mongering, HIV hysteria or willful misunderstanding of what happens on a Kink set.

I do not want to attack those who are concerned about condoms on adult sets or those who believe that our protections are not enough — those people, too, are concerned with safety of adult performers. But it’s important for me to talk about how we conduct ourselves at Kink.

For’s gay sites, all shoots are condom-mandatory. On the straight side, we only work with performers shown cleared for work in the PASS (formerly APHSS) database. This means they have tested negative for a slate of STIs in the last 30 days, including HIV via the highly sensitive RNA test.

All of our performers have the right to ask for a condom to be used at any time during a shoot, for any reason. Earlier this year, in response to performer feedback, we instigated a double-blind condom policy. Performers confidentially choose whether they want condoms to be used, and when directors hire a performer, they do so without knowing that performer’s condom preference. (Some of our biggest stars, like Lorelei Lee, consistently use condoms.)

On sets like Public Disgrace, which are open to non-adult performers, we do not allow anyone who has not been tested to do anything that might transmit an STI. If a performer has indicated in writing that he or she is comfortable with it, we allow these persons to perform activities such as touching, slapping or fondling, but this is entirely up to the performer. Negotiated consent is the central tenet of BDSM, and it’s part of the foundation on how we built

These past few years, we have worked closely with the STD Prevention and Control division of the SF Department of Public Health on training for employees and providing a safe workplace. We also host free bi-annual screenings and STI counselling for all local performers whether from a studio or independent. We have documented Blood Borne Pathogen and IIPP protocols which include rigorous cleaning of all toys used etc. We carry worker’s compensation insurance which covers all performers. And we’ve worked with Cal-OSHA to do on-set inspections. We are committed to helping keep our community stay safe and healthy.

This particular performer performed at on July 31st. She tested negative on July 27th via the most sensitive HIV tests available, and was thus shown as cleared for work in the PASS database, as were all those persons she performed sexually with. Additionally, those same people she performed sexually with tested negative for HIV again after that July 31st shoot.

Anytime someone tests positive for HIV — whether an adult performer or not, whether through sex work or not — it is devastating for the person concerned. However, that doesn’t mean it should be a reason to demagogue from either side, to blame the victim, people’s sexuality or what they choose to do for a living. We work hard to protect our performers, and it’s important to us that anyone in the Kink family — fans, performers or staff — know the truth about our protocols and standards.

If anyone has any questions about the particulars, I’m happy to answer them. But the issues are too serious to allow opinion, speculation and politics to take the place of fact.