Friday, 14 January 2011

Talking Porn: Call Health & Safety!

The likes of the Daily Mail would have you believe that this country is in the grip of "health and safety gone mad" culture, but there are distinct pockets of the land where it seems not to apply at all. And most surprisingly they are very definitely workplaces. They are porn sets.

I once thought about arranging some rip'n'strip wrestling porn, and sought advice from the Digital Spy forums as I didn't feel expert enough on the subject. I only knew I'd need mats and trashable clothes. Only one guy engaged with me on the forums - he agreed my suspicion that I'd need to use guys who were experienced in wrestling (obstacle enough here in the UK where there is no school tradition) so that they knew what they were doing and looked convincing in a fight. But he went on to basically say "forget it" because of all the health and safety responsibilities I'd automatically take on as 'instigator'. I remember countering that, of course, I'd work some sort of waiver into the model contracts but he said that wouldn't hold up if it ever came to court.

I was never 100% convinced he wasn't just trying to put me off for his own reasons (it worked) but such concerns now always occur to me with certain types of websites.





Best example is one called "Straight Hell" which I'm sure some of you are familiar with. I have a very love/hate attitude to their antics, being simultaneously fascinated and disgusted. For the uninitiated, all the SH scenarios involve an ostensibly "straight" guy (they never specifically ask though which is a rather basic problem) being abducted and/or restrained against their will. From there they are stripped. verbally abused, gagged. beaten, spanked, pissed on, spunked on, made to suck cock/rim arse and also tortured with everything from candle wax to clothes pegs in all the 'wrong' places. In one particularly notorious scenario a guy is, quite literally, plumbed into a pub toilet, which gives a good idea of the overall tone of proceedings.

You could say the StraightHell site is the gay porn equivalent of the "Saw" franchise but there's an important difference. In all such gory films you know all the horrors are illusions, usually of prosthetics, and that no-one is really mutilated or murdered. However, one of the basics of porn is that the sex is all real and, by extension, all the SM punishment must also be real - much of it is hard to fake anyway.

Holding that thought, I must also present something that is probably the most notorious concoction by the spanking fetish masters, Sting Pictures. Here one of their models is seen to be spanked by nettles, with obvious results.





Ouch! you may indeed think as this invokes an avoidable hazard most of us developed a healthy fear of in childhood. And indeed it was a healthy fear as the rash that develops is basically an allergic reaction to a toxin, formic acid. On this one I immediately thought " did they give the model a medical before and after?" as there must be a natural risk of anaphylactic shock. What's possibly more shocking than using this as porny entertainment is that nettle spanking was apparently used in the real world from at least Roman times.

Anyway, I'm sure you get my point. What goes on to ensure the usual employer 'duty of care' in these circumstances? Not only are the employees being purposely hurt and injured but there's a fair amount that can go accidentally wrong as well.

Is there any sort of safety or medical consultation going on at any point or is it all down to waivers in the model contract? Do the models even necessarily know what they're agreeing to? It struck me that probably all the the 18-25 yo models on Sting Pictures have never been spanked in real life as they're just too young, so getting a caning may come as a shock even if it was agreed to. And what happens if a model DOES sue due to an injury that was inflicted on set? It all just seems a world away from the cotton wool of normal jobs.

Anyone have any answers/theories?


This is meant as the first of a semi-regular series where I pontificate/rant/ponder something in the current state of gay porn.

18 comments:

Jason Shaw said...

I have no answers at all, I'm cringing and laughing at the same time. The gay porn world has always had some shady goings on, that's for sure. And as the net gets bigger and the world smaller, they'll be more and more kinks and shady doings and don'tings going on.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if some of the rules are less stirct (pun half intended) if they are filmed outside UK?

Interstingly, Straighthell is often stated not to be available in UK.

Graeme said...

@anonymous

Though Sting moved to Amsterdam and then Prague I'm not sure when or where the nettle one took place. Anyways both are part of the EU and I'm sure it was they whom had a part in banning CP in the UK. I'd also imagine H&S laws are roughly similar across the EU.

As for StraightHell I have good reason to believe they are filmed here (as are others in the stable like CFNM and FirstAuditions) and that the reason they are officially barred in the UK is to save embarassment to the models.

This is also why William Higgins site is barred in the Czech Republic. I presume models are reassured that friends and family won't see what they've done, and might not go ahead otherwise, though I'm sure WH/SH fail to mention the widespread advertising that they do!

G

Anonymous said...

I understand that these are often filmed abroad, thus no requirement to satisfy any British legal requirements in the production (promotion and sale aside). Many models participate having seen and been turned on by the roleplay in previously published videos.

I'm sure that the reassurance of local restrictions plays a part in some models' minds, whatever their sexuality.

S B said...

Here we go again ..second attempt to post this :-
I was going to say that Sting were now filming in the Czech Rep'c but that has been covered along with EU H+S laws.
Can you sign away your rights under the Law.???
What about Stunt Artists who are asked to do dangerous jobs by production companies ...how do they get covered ..Could they be self employed >
One difference might be that Sting etc employees are having something done deliberately to them whereas with Stunts or Circuses any injuries or deaths could be attributed to an accident .

Graeme said...

@anonymous 1:16pm

You are very vague about what specific British legal requirements are that differ from the rest of the EU. In the case of Sting I heard it was down to a very petty ruling about schoolboy shorts. Basically in the UK - and most other places - shorts are associated with pre-pubescent pupils and they were vaguely being accused of some sort of paedophilic angle. Thus they went to Australia which is apparently one of the few places where of-age schoolboys are still obliged to wear shorts.

Anyway I found this on EU-wide H&S at work (which also refers to WHO)

http://www.eurofound.europa.eu/areas/industrialrelations/dictionary/dictionary8.htm

I found this bit most instructional:

"In other words, the minimum requirement is a Community minimum standard, which is to bind all the EU Member States and is not determined by the lowest standard established in Member States."

G

Anonymous said...

Going "abroad" is not limited to the EU.

UK legal requirements stretch beyond the Daily Mail's concept of H&S. Some of these films also contain S&M which, whilst consensual, may be illegal in the UK, either in its practice or in the ownership of pornography which depicts it.

Quoting from spannertrust.org regarding the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act;

"This law makes it illegal to possess pornographic images which show an act which threatens a person’s life, an act which results, or is likely to result, in serious injury to a person’s anus, breasts or genitals."

Filming abroad enables S&M porn to be made without the potential of breaching this new law.

S B said...

Graeme said : "In the case of Sting I heard it was down to a very petty ruling about schoolboy shorts. Basically in the UK - and most other places - shorts are associated with pre-pubescent pupils and they were vaguely being accused of some sort of paedophilic angle."

I am sure Sting said that the reason they went to the Czech Rep was because of pending UK legislation re "severe Porn " ..can't remember the exact name of it and they were afraid they would fall foul of that when it was enacted ...Who said they moved to Australia ..That's wrong .
As for the shorts issue I don't ever remember that being mentioned .You schoolkids can ( well did ) wear shorts well after puberty surely .
I hear most things relating to Sting and I am certain of what I write re the move .

Graeme said...

@S B

they most certainly moved to Australia temporarily to film something that featured contemporary schoolboys in shorts, though I know that wasn't their permanent location

G

S B said...

Yeah .They did feature a film called Discipline Down Under but I thought you meant they had an extended period in Oz..

As for shorts I think now most of the guys they use are a bit old for shorts ..lol

Graeme said...

I'm sure that the 'severe porn' legislation was one of those aspirational/populist/illiberal things that New Labour didn't get through (and who knows whether it applies to Scotland or not anyway),

But you're missibg the central "Health and safety at work" theme which is fairly universal across the EU.

G

Anonymous said...

Some random responses

The consent issue must be important here. These scenes can be fairly strong (not sure how much is "acting") but I suspect a professional boxer sustains more serious and deliberate injuries, but health and safety does not seem to stop that.

I also wonder if the actors are free lance - self employed rather than employees. Is that also relevant perhaps?

xpozure4u said...

@anonymous:-
as for them being self -employed they probably are classed as that,bearing in mind their nationality ( the newer ones are from the Cz Rep aiui) ..they'll likely sign a contract/model release and be paid a fee gross and left to deal with any tax liabilities themselves .

Graeme said...

Meant to comment on the stunt-man analogy yesterday but got a bit behind. So I'm combining responses to several here.

I think in the case of a stuntman or a boxer their whole job description involves taking specific risks. Firefighters and service personnel would be other more necessary examples.Without those risks their job wouldn't exist (this applies in varying degrees to a lot of other sports) so I assume it's accepted that, short of banning those professions H&S is somewhat over-ruled.

However, that doesn't mean they don't apply or expect some employer 'duty of care', even in warfare. You only need look at the uproars regarding poor service equipment and procedures. And there have been cases of stuntmen taking former employers to court for damages when reasonable expectations of safeguards were not honoured. A lot of what stuntpeople do isn't inherently as dangerous as it looks, but does require training. Often actors will choose to do their own stunts, and when they don't it's often more to do with their insurance not covering it.

Things can still go wrong and I guess it's up to the individual whether they take action or not, presumably on how serious the accident is and whether it impinges on their future income/employment. In many cases taking it to court would be more of a risk to that.

G

Graeme said...

(contd) Probably not the greatest example but Matt Smith apparently burnt his hand filming a scene in "The Eleventh Hour" when a prop sonic screwdriver exploded a little too much - he probably had every right to take some legal action relating to insufficient safety precautions but he just had it bandaged up and carried on.

I think this may be the closest parallel to porn and may be the nearest I come to an answer. Yes, they are all fully covered by H&S but no-one ever complains about a job they've agreed to do and are paid for.

As for the self-employed/free-lance/consent thing I think that's a red herring - you only have to extrapolate to wider employment to see that that wouldn't really change their rights to a safe working environment - "Oh we got a temp in - so we can put her in the room with asbestos". So many jobs now are contract based that it would completely undermine having any H&S laws.

Perplexed as to where tax liabilities came in?

G

xpozure4u said...

Only mentioned the tax thing in relation to the self -employed otr not part that was mentioned above ....I think you are flogging (lol) a dead horse trying to find a definitive answer to this one ...
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Your last replies have shown up more than once above

Chris Ashford said...

Following an exchange a chat on Twitter, Graeme suggested I post a few thoughts here. When it comes to the regulation of pornography, the law on both sides of the border is something of a mess but the arguments about health and safety are over-done. health and safety law is what you make of it. Provided you follow risk assessments and so on, there's not usually an issue. That said, there's usually someone who thinks they can make some money from a claim. That's just the world we live in.

That said, for the last 20yrs or so the law has focussed upon criminalising not only child porn, but also so called 'extreme' or 'violent' porn and that's worth keeping in mind.

EU law is also a bit of a red herring. 'EU law' is a sort of starting point in most cases for individual states - which then adopt and adapt law if required to do.

Any contract involved in a shoot will also specify the jurisdiction to be relied upon for disputes - the same as when you shop online (check out the small print, the next time you're on Amazon!).

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