Logan Pierce is hard at work. There’s a girl draped across the bed behind him, lying patiently among red rose petals and spotless white sheets. She pushes one of the flower bits off her thigh with a fingertip. Pierce sighs, swigs some bottled water, wipes his brow, turns back to the bed for the next take. Facing her again, Pierce smiles despite himself. He looks past the silent black-rimmed cameras trained on the prone brunette, the handful of slow-breathing crew members gathered around, watching but not watching, the dangling booms and white-hot lights, and faithfully finds his co-star’s gaze.
“And just like that,” he says, “I fall in love.”
Pierce, who is 22, finished the scene—aptly titled Rose Petals—about an hour later, its conclusion coming when he did. He’s a porn star, one of a handful of men in the adult industry to earn a reputation as something other than a prop for female performers to rub up against. Porn noticed: just eight months after he filmed his first scene, Pierce won the coveted Best Male Newcomer award at the 2012 Adult Video News ceremony in Vegas. Not bad for a Philly kid in L.A. for a post-grad internship. The accolade propelled Pierce’s rep, leading the boyish—slim build, wide-eyes, floppy brown hair—porn-fan to over 200 jobs in the past year.
Pierce says he’s successful for two reasons.
1. He loves his job. (All chime in now: Like that’s hard.) Pierce’s take on his occupation: “I shot a scene on a yacht off the coast of Ibiza last month. I didn’t just go there; I got paid to go there. And I didn’t just get paid; I got paid to fuck beautiful women.”
2. He’s romantic. “If I’m going to make love to a girl,” he tells me after wrapping Rose Petals, “I’m going to make that girl think that I’m in love with her. I’m going to worship her body.” Such on-set dedication is rare in porn, where detachment despite sex is key to maintaining any semblance of what Pierce calls a “normal emotional life” off set. Case in point: days before we met, Pierce broke up with a girlfriend of three months, who, despite being a porn performer herself, couldn’t reconcile with her boyfriend’s daily emotional investment on the job.
Pierce’s romantic nature makes him considerate, too: “I’m the only male performer who actually wipes his come off the girl at the end.” Pierce says his co-stars are shocked every time: no other guys ever bother. This makes girls clamor to work with him. Hence, popular. Hence, successful.
But things may be changing for Pierce. Lately his romanticism—or “porn-idealism,” as he puts it—has led him far from sets populated by horn-rimmed teachers and horny housewives. The stud is now plaintiff in a lawsuit to repeal Measure B, a new law that makes condoms mandatory everywhere in Los Angeles County that a male performer plans to penetrate a co-star on film. Specifically anally or vaginally, so you know. Excluding oral and other, more fetishy stuff, so you know more.
Pierce protested Measure B because if he didn’t, he worried “no one else would.” He still isn’t sure whether most porn performers don’t voice their opinions more because “they are afraid of the ridicule” of the public’s daylight-eye, “or because they have nothing to say.” Either way, unafraid and with plenty to say, Pierce decided to play the leader. To “fight for a cause I believe in.” Through December, he spoke with Kayden Kross, a female star consistently ranked in the top five of any 100 Hottest Porn Stars! list published since her first D.V.D. cover in 2006, and adult production giant Vivid Entertainment. In January, on behalf of Pierce, Kross and itself, Vivid lawyered up, retaining porn’s most celebrated judicial champ, First Amendment and criminal defense attorney Paul Cambria of Buffalo, New York.
From there things moved fast. On January 11th, Cambria—who politely prefers the industry he represents referred to as “adult,” rather than “porn”—sought an injunction against L.A. County’s Director of Public Health Jonathan Fielding, District Attorney Jackie Lacey and L.A. County itself to repeal Measure B.
His suit’s grounds? Expansive.
Foremost and “extremely important,” Cambria argues that Measure B infringes his clients’ First Amendment rights of free expression.
“On the bases of prior restraint”—government censorship on expression before the expression is even expressed—“and content-based regulation”—expression blocked based on its substance—Cambria tells me from his Buffalo office, condoms compromise porn’s rights. By requiring actors to don rubbers while they perform on camera, the county is dictating how content creators make their films. That’s unacceptable constitutionally, according to the attorney.
And Cambria knows his Constitution—especially when it comes to after-dark entertainment. The broad-jawed, slick-locked attorney has represented nudie heavyweights since the 1970s, when pornographers like Hustler founder Larry Flynt were routinely brought up on obscenity charges. Cambria represented Flynt back in the day, saw the skin-mag icon shot in the spine outside a Lawrenceville, Georgia courthouse during an obscenity trial in 1978. Cambria has defended rapper DMX, rocker Marilyn Manson, “everyone from judges to priests” since, filling a slot on porn’s speed dial all the way.
He tells me condoms corrupt pornographers’ creativity by breaking the illusion their films thrive on.
“Let’s say this was the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, which take place in the 1730s,” he says. “And all of a sudden Captain Jack whips out a condom. It kind of destroys the movie. The whole creative process.”
Condoms could be similarly ridiculous in porn.
“What if we had a movie where a couple was trying to have a child, and they couldn’t?” Cambria asks. Desperate to get knocked up, the wife—let’s call her Darla—decides to have sex with the four other members of her husband’s bowling team. Everyone’s willing enough, Cambria explains, but every time Darla approaches a bowler, he reaches for a condom. There goes the premise.
“That’s actually not far fetched as a subject for one of these movies,” Cambria offers the silence on the other end of the line.
For Kayden Kross, rights are means to profits. The California native is likely what you picture when someone says “porn star:” tousled yellow hair, a form simultaneously toned and curved, a red upper lip as swollen as its lower sister, bright eyes that in photos play only coy or yes or surprise!
She’s also smart, and works to sound it. She navigates her sentences carefully but edged, like a woman crossing a minefield the rest of the world refuses to acknowledge.
“Legislators will never come out and explicitly say they’re going to amend your free speech rights,” she tells me, pinioning her cell between her chin and shoulder as she herds a yippy puppy into her L.A. apartment. “Instead they’ll do something like enforce condoms, knowing we have a consumer base that won’t buy condom porn, eating away at our sales and stunting our business.”
Besides, Kross continues, performers are healthy without condoms. Long before Measure B, the industry instituted a “green test” policy, she says. Every two weeks, each performer underwent a urine-based test for a host of S.T.D.s. No green result, no roles.
Kross has relied on porn’s testing procedures since her first scene six years ago. She still does, traveling out of L.A. County almost daily to film scenes bareback.
“The testing is tried and true,” she asserts. “I’ve been shooting a movie a month since I started, and I’ve never had a dirty test.”
Porn’s in-place testing has been “mandated through 100 percent of the industry” since 1998, adds Pierce. But mandatory condoms make that testing redundant, and producers won’t waste money on two safeguards. With condoms the new standard, Pierce cautions, producers will “take anyone off the street and throw a condom on him.” More random dudes in the porn pool makes for more danger of disease brought in from outside the community. Which makes mandatory condoms potentially more dangerous than porn’s testing.
“There are no protections,” says Cambria, “that are as good as the testing that had been working in the adult industry for all these years.”
If you have an afternoon to kill, ask an adult performer if they enjoy filming with condoms. Spoiler: They do not. Latex is Kryptonite to porn stars.
“We’re shooting for 45, 60 minutes at a time, in positions that are not ideal for condoms at all,” Kross explains. The “high energy, high impact” positions, invented “to open up for the camera so you can get a clear shot,” coupled with constant “switching and stretching in different ways,” says Kross, makes putting a “latex barrier in between those very sensitive organs” extremely irritating, extremely quickly.
The male perspective?
“I can’t tell you how much I despise wearing condoms,” Pierce tells me. “They are restricting and abrasive. They dry the girl out and dry themselves out so you have to keep reapplying them.” The hassle slows shoots down, which “amounts to male talent losing wood, everyone losing energy, needing more lube.” The naked comedy of errors continues: “Then the card’s full on the D.S.L.R. and by the time you get a new one, no one’s even horny anymore.”
“Believe it or not,” says Pierce, “there are a lot of girls in this industry who have latex allergies.”
Stocked with porn’s anti-condom rationale, I contacted reps of L.A. County’s health community. I wondered if sharing porn’s reasons would affect how the Measure B camp weighs its do-good law.
Not so much.
Paula Tavrow has been involved with Measure B since before it had a name. One mild California evening in 2005, Tavrow, the Director of the Bixby Program in Population and Reproductive Health at U.C.L.A.’s School of Public Health, heard some of her graduate advisees talking about porn. What does sexual health in the adult industry look like? the students wondered. Tavrow organized a series of speakers to fill the students in: visiting porn performers told one side, health officials another. But the two stories were irreconcilable. To porn, their industry was as healthy a livelihood as dentistry; health workers saw the barometer closer to volcano spelunking.
Piqued, Tavrow oversaw a one-day “think tank” that “brought all the players together…to see if there was a way we could bridge our differences,” she says, “and agree on a healthier way for porn to proceed in L.A.”—if necessary. Attendees included public health officials, porn stars and producers, even Paul Cambria. But porn was “very antagonistic” to the idea of safer, condomed sex being mandatory, Tavrow says, something the public health camp maintained was a reasonable suggestion. No consensus was reached by day’s end.
“That’s when the AIDS Healthcare Foundation got interested,” says Tavrow. The A.H.F., the largest community-based HIV/AIDS medical provider in the U.S., had attended Tavrow’s strategy session. They sensed a worthy cause in porn’s condoms; a publicized estimate that 22 L.A. HIV infections since 2004 could be traced to the industry soon followed. The A.H.F. drafted a proposition for the law that would become Measure B—and started fundraising immediately. Over the next six years, the nonprofit collected nearly $1.7 million. The coffer dwarfed the $118,000 raised by the adult industry to campaign against the fledgling Measure; with little trouble, the A.H.F. swayed the L.A. city council to approve their condom proposition, dubbing it the County of Los Angeles Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act. (Less of a mouthful, ‘Measure B’ is the law’s street name.)
But problem, not solved. Most porn was shot in the San Fernando Valley, well out of L.A. city limits. So the A.H.F. went county-wide, placing Measure B on the presidential ballot in November, where the act would appear before the most voters possible. By Election Day 2012, the foundation’s treasure chest had put in work: “Vote Yes on B” billboards, t-shirts and sign-twirlers dotted the county. The electorate responded; 89 percent of L.A. County presidential voters casted ballots on Measure B, and the proposition became law.
While condoms-on-set is everyone’s favorite Measure B point to yell about, it isn’t the whole law. Measure B makes porn real, a lawful business with serious safety procedures and penalties for screwing around. To wit: Before they film, producers must obtain what the Measure calls “adult film production public health permits” from the County; pay permit fees to cover salaries of “condom inspectors” (that’s a Kross-ism) who will inspect porn’s collective penis periodically; prove everyone on-set took a course in bloodborne pathogen safety.
Any violations are punishable by $1,000 fines or six months in county jail. Or both. Multiple violations are punishable as separate offenses, so multiply the fines and jail time by however many condoms or permits producers don’t provide their sets.
Then there’s an obscure bit towards the Measure’s end: “Any person or entity issued a permit for the filming of an adult film…are [sic] required to maintain engineering and work practice controls sufficient to protect employees from exposure to blood and/or any other potentially infectious materials controls, in a matter consistent with California Code of Regulation, Title 8, Section 5193.”
But the details of Title 8, Section 5193 are nowhere on Measure B.
I found them on the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health site. For something not on the Measure, Section 5193 has a lot of strings. Outlining “barrier protections” from infectious materials, it’s what guarantees safe conditions for workers in medically dangerous places, like hospitals. Porn workers are exposed to the same possibly infectious materials hospital workers are, the Measure reasons, so they should be entitled to the same protections. Whether they like it or not.
That means Measure B doesn’t just affect performers. Any employee who will be exposed to infectious materials on-set—which could be anyone present, as fluids fly around porn sets at unpredictable times and angles, like lasers in Star Trek—must take the same precautions as the performers themselves, says 5193.
And the precautions are steep. Working on a porn set or in a hospital means never knowing exactly what’s in the fluid flying at your head or spattered on the floor waiting for your clean up. Better super-safe than very dead: In such an environment, all bodily fluids—all blood, semen, vaginal excretions, etc.—are “treated as if known to be infectious for HIV…and other bloodborne pathogens,” per Section 5193.
Quick question: If you were getting ready to go to work orifice-deep in HIV-laced goo, how would you dress?
I’d pack a mask. Maybe two. I’d double-up on gloves. I’d suit up hazmat-style.
Section 5193 feels about the same. It orders “personal protective” parameters undertaken when exposure to possible pathogens is likely, including safety goggles, masks, gloves; prohibiting eating, drinking, smoking, applying cosmetics or contact lenses on exposed surfaces; decontaminating exposed equipment with bleach before traveling.
Endless safety measures meant to protect workers from lazy or cheap employers who provide dangerous working conditions that might infect and kill. With Measure B, L.A.’s health department slapped a biohazard sticker on the entire L.A. County adult entertainment industry.
Ask a porn performer if they feel condoms, gloves, goggles and the rest of Measure B makes their jobs safer. They’ll say yes. I asked a bunch, and that’s what happened. But they’re quick to add that they aren’t going to gear up like Fukushima radiation screeners before work every day. No matter what health officials advise. They’d rather leave L.A. County. And take thousands of jobs with them, according to the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, the San Fernando Valley’s largest business advocacy group.
Is that what the A.H.F. wanted all along?
To the A.H.F.’s Mark McGrath, Measure B is common sense.
“I’m actually astonished at the resistance we’ve had,” McGrath tells me. He was one of Tavrow’s bored grad students in 2005, brainstorming for something interesting to research. After receiving his master’s in public health from U.C.L.A., McGrath joined a L.A. County Health Department investigative team studying an outbreak of gonorrhea and HIV in the adult industry. Then the A.H.F. came knocking. McGrath now consults for the nonprofit: he drafted Measure B’s language and its website’s talking points, and organized its campaign.
McGrath considers the adult industry “quasi-human trafficking.”
“The industry feels it has no limits,” he says, “like they could at any time conceive a scenario and put a young man or young woman in that scenario, with no liability—at least for the producer.”
So he and his provided liability: “In Hollywood, we have stunt people. They do a lot of crazy shit. But they take precautions—they have to. The person on fire isn’t actually on fire.”
“Porn does double anal penetration,” Tavrow adds. “That’s so dangerous for the woman”—only slightly less dangerous than pyrotechnics. “So we made it safer.”
But it’s not all workers’ safety. It’s financial, too. When run-of-the-mill unregulated workers suffer injuries on the job, “the county agencies, as the main healthcare resources, end up paying those costs,” says McGrath. No difference in porn: as long as adult performers have fallen ill, California medical clinics have been “subsidizing this industry’s reckless disregard for human safety,” he says.
The adult industry has higher rates of S.T.D.s like chlamydia and gonorrhea than those of the general population, says McGrath. Technically, that’s an epidemic. Measure B is the answer, he continues, “the most cost effective way to prevent exposure.” And ensure California clinics don’t burn cash treating more outbreaks than it should be.
Here’s where I cleared my throat and related porn’s reasons for rejecting the rubbery cure. But McGrath and Tavrow had heard them before.
“The free speech argument is a symptom of the adult industry’s impotence,” McGrath answers. “It’s the only trick they have in their bag. And it won’t work.”
Tavrow explains why: She’d always expected Cambria to lob a First Amendment argument. “That’s why we made it very clear in Measure B that they don’t have to show condoms in the final product,” she says. Health officials couldn’t care less if Pierce’s condom is visible as he beds Kross on film, only that it’s there. Transparent condoms, digital tweaking of tape in postproduction to remove rubbers and “tricks of the trade,” Tavrow says, like creative camera angles and contorted limb-positioning would leave the industry’s final product unaffected by Measure B.
Producers can even fake the “so-called money shot—you know, when they spray a women’s face with semen,” Tavrow continues in a voice that suddenly sounds too much like my bubbie’s to be detailing such things. “There are substances that look like semen that you can spray all over her and the public would…think it was coming out of some guy’s penis or several guys’ penises,” she tells me.
And if porn claims the fudging would cost too much—which they did, to me—Tavrow calls them savvy exaggerators. The Ph.D. has spoken to porn producers who confided in her privately that they already spend substantial time and money on digital postproduction, “weeks,” she says, “removing zits and scar lines from bad breast jobs on actresses.” Removing condoms wouldn’t be an extra burden.
But can postproduction remove hazmat suits? I ask.
What hazmat suits? McGrath replies.
According to the drafter of Measure B, porn is “fear mongering” when they say Section 5193 will make for sex scenes between cosmonauts. Gloves? Required only when fisting, McGrath says. Goggles? Only in money shot scenes, worn by the performer being shot with money—and only if his or her co-star is aiming for the eyes. No condoms in oral sex scenes either, unless there’s an open sore on either party’s pertinent part.
“Anywhere that broken skin or a mucus membrane like the eyes’ come in contact with blood” or other potentially infectious fluids, McGrath says, constitutes exposure and necessitates a protective barrier. But fluid “contacting unbroken skin is not considered an exposure,” and doesn’t require dressing up.
So Title 5193 is less severe than porn complains. No hazmat suits, gloves, goggles or masks on anyone not about to touch a questionable substance with their eye, anus, abraded anus, or wound. That means no plastic on the cameraman at all. Unless he plans on getting frisky with a sound-guy’s mucus membrane.
If it’s unwise to ask a porn star about having sex on latex, it’s downright dumb to ask a California health expert whether porn’s preemptive testing is ship-shape.
“That’s what the producers tell the performers,” McGrath says with a huff. “That they’re using the most up-to-date scientific protocols to keep them safe.” Really, as far as McGrath’s medical circle assesses, “the testing they’re doing is inadequate,” falls woefully short of “recommendations from health departments.”
Porn “should be swabbing anatomical sites, i.e. rectums and throats,” McGrath explains, “but instead they’re using urine-based tests,” which are outdated and “miss as much as two-thirds of the infections.”
As far as the S.T.D.s that performers and producers are aware of, floating down their bloodstreams or clinging to their soft pink organs, McGrath sighs, “We—they—are looking at a tip of the iceberg.”
An estimate of the submerged part of that iceberg: “Sexually Transmitted Infection Testing of Adult Film Performers: Is Disease Being Missed?” a study by Christina Rodriguez Hart, another of Tavrow’s former students, analyzed S.T.D.s treated by L.A. County clinics in 2010 and found that an adult performer is 8.5 and 34 times more likely than any other sexually active adult to contract chlamydia and gonorrhea, respectively.
“Worse yet,” McGrath said, “the reinfection rate within a year is very high—between 25 percent and 26 percent.” Even if porn’s old-school test hits on a performer’s disease and he or she is cured, they’re likely to get sick again. Quick.
“And yet,” MsGrath adds, “producers have convinced their performers that this testing is a cleansing ritual,” a biological members-only pass to a party of protected intimates. “Something that matters.”
“They’re full of shit.”
Porn remains dubious. Despite the data, Kross still flatly refuses to perform with condoms. She seems as worried about S.T.D.s on set as she is about poison dart frogs.
But the longer we speak, the more her script slips. Turns out Kross isn’t fully reassured by porn’s testing procedures or some biophysical trust built between performers. She’s secure most of all because she’s popular.
Kross, who is 27, has killed it in porn since she first unzipped for the camera. Hot enough to land video and magazine covers, Kross says she “has a lot of pull with the fans.” Which translates into pull on set. If she “asked for the moon,” she laughs, producers would “hand it to her with a fucking bow on it.”
Kross’s pull leverages her healthy choices: she picks whom she performs with and when. Less popular performers risk their jobs if they refuse to work bareback with a co-star who hasn’t been tested in nearly month; top stars like Kross don’t. She says no thanks, producers find her another warm body.
Kross offers an analogy to connect her popularity to her Measure B aversion: “Let’s say Major League Baseball was thinking about introducing a new rule to require protective vests for pitchers” so they aren’t killed by line drives to the chest. “And the high end, valuable players said they didn’t want the rule. But the little people in the minor league who sit on the bench all day said they did want it. Are you going to pass this law because the little people who are barely in the sport at all want it?”
Unfortunately for Kross, the answer to her rhetorical question is, apparently, yes. The law passed. Seems the “little people” had some pull, too.
Logan Pierce’s case for Measure B also slips lower the longer he makes it. The more we chat, the more he talks about the tougher days in porn, like the November afternoon he partook in a six-man-one-girl gangbang.
“That was a fucking weird experience,” Pierce exhales. He was a porn rookie, and had never done anything remotely orgy-tastic before. But ready or not, the cameras started rolling. “At least the girl was into it,” he says.
“I love it,” Sarah Shevon ogles into the camera lens a foot from her face. She’s perched on the edge of a teacher’s desk, the chalkboard behind her blank. Her dark hair, thick-framed glasses, red mouth and white blouse, top two buttons open, convey some conflation of teacher and asking for it. It’s been a year and a half since her last gangbang, she confides in the camera, all lashes and dimples, “and I’ve really been itching for more.”
“What do you want to accomplish here?” the cameraman persists.
“I just want to be busy,” Shevon shrugs, miming stroke-motions in the air around her head. “Get as many cocks in me as I can.”
Cut to that happening.
Shevon loses her shirt and skirt, masturbates at the head of the class, then hops down and crawls between the students’ desks, fishing under them for those male parts she mentioned. It must be a night class for adults, because some of her students are at least 45. No worries. Shevon seems, as Pierce says, “into it.”
Shevon’s game-day attitude got Pierce through. Barely. To turn himself on, he still had to tap into “those dark fantasies everyone has,” he says, “throw all romance aside” and give in to the “subconscious, visceral, primal.” Not a place Pierce often likes to go.
But it worked. The day was successful because he connected with his co-star.
That’s what Pierce hoped his lawsuit would do, he explains, segueing so fast my eyes cross. Pierce wanted the suit to connect the porn community, give it a cause to rally behind.
I first spoke to Pierce three weeks after Cambria filed his suit. Three months later, Pierce’s enthusiasm is faded. “I haven’t heard dick from those people,” Pierce says. “Not one word from those lawyers since my name was written on that bill.”
After all the frantic fundraising, press calls, wide-eyed commercials series, “Vote No On B” bannered buses, solemn Ron Jeremy YouTube spots, swarms of platinum-blonde and goateed picketers in front of Hustler Hollywood chanting “Keep my wienie free/ No on Measure B,” countless interviews and tweets and retweets by everyone from M.I.L.F.-niche-staple Lisa Ann to perpetually eye-brow-cocked porn boy toy James Deen; and after hiring Paul Cambria—who don’t come cheap—porn has done nothing?
Unless it was a play, I offer.
A ruse. A firestorm of feigned outrage because outrage is interesting and what’s interesting grabs eyes. What if porn’s lawsuit against Measure B was never a fight the industry planned on winning—or even seriously waging? Was just another role up for hungry takers, another set with more thoroughly clothed actors and even droller writing, where the only real difference was what the performers meant when they said briefs?
“I honestly wouldn’t put it past them,” Pierce says with a sigh. Over the last fourteen weeks, once the phone stopped ringing with Cambria or Vivid C.E.O. Steven Hirsch on the line, vetting Pierce to make sure he “wasn’t a moron, didn’t represent them poorly,” he says, Pierce’s righteous chest deflated. He wondered why a kid who’d just entered the industry was entrusted such a representative role. “What about the guys that have been in porn for 20 years? Shouldn’t they have a voice?” he asked himself.
Unless those industry vets were seasoned enough to know what this was from the start: A noisemaker for its own sake. Maybe Pierce took the role—“which was casted for, by the way; Vivid wanted one female and one male,” Pierce tells me—not because he was brave, but naïve.
Pierce now suspects his bosses “just wanted something on paper that they could spit out and make into a public statement.”
Kross is less concerned. From the beginning, putting her name on the suit was a no-lose scenario, however it turned out in court. “Being a plaintiff let me do N.P.R., B.B.C., big mainstream interviews,” she says. Thanks to the highly publicized protest, “my name got exposure, which furthers my brand, which makes me more valuable to Digital Playground,” Kross’s main employer. “It’s a self-helping loop.”
The more work a porn performer does outside of adult content, the more currency she banks within the agency, Kross explains, extending the popularity lesson she gave me before. Landing mainstream roles (like playing a porn star in an episode of The League, as Kross did in 2011) means making new fans who will trail the star back to porn. The Crossover Star of the Year award, one of the A.V.N.’s “most coveted,” says Kross, recognizes the performer with the most mainstream currency. Kross has been nominated, but never won. She has high hopes for 2014.
Unlike Kross, Pierce was still new by Measure B’s birth. He didn’t understand as she did that the game is Exposure: porn star with the most by day’s end wins. Or that lawsuits are in-bounds. To him, porn wasn’t a job or a business, but a fun way to pass time that he incidentally was paid for—how lucky. So he stayed buoyant, romantic. Fell in love every day. Signed onto suits he believed in, causes he felt were worth fighting for.
But while his name lines the top of porn’s suit, producers are probing escape routes. Kross travels out of L.A. County by car, Pierce himself is flown to Ibiza. Even Cambria, who maintains that things are progressing as planned—“We have filed challenging constitutionality and our motion for a preliminary injunction is pending,” he recently wrote me—says “company after company is stopping production, moving somewhere else.”
Why should they stay? The opposition is surging: in mid-April, a Central District of California judge granted the A.H.F.’s Measure B wing, Yes on B, “Leave to Intervene” in Cambria’s suit, putting the foundation—and its “huge lobbying money,” per Cambria—officially in the fight. Two weeks later, California Assembly Bill 332, a statewide version of B, cleared the state’s Committee on Labor and Employment in a unanimous, bipartisan vote. Any further and the barebacked porn dude is an endangered species.
Even Kross, jaded, doesn’t think porn’s suit stands a chance. And she’s its female lead.
“I don’t think we’ll win. That’s how it is,” she tells me. “That’s the world.”
The A.H.F. sure doesn’t mind porn’s fatalism. To the foundation, thousands of porn jobs fleeing the County is a healthy sacrifice.
“I don’t give a shit about their jobs,” McGrath tells me. “Are these the types of jobs we need in California?”
Pierce is flagging at work. Porn is familial—its intimacy fast and deep—but not communal, the average performer departing forever after three months. It’s fun, but only until abuse rears or profits wilt. He loves the play, and for him the going is still good, so he’ll linger for now. But he’s learned from Measure B, from its loud, limp suit. And he’ll reposition.
“Imagine every day you fuck a girl and fall in love,” Pierce tells me as he turns onto a dusky L.A. highway and I fail miserably for the hundredth time to fathom what he asks.
“But it’s just a fantasy world, and they throw it away when they’re done.”