SINTERVIEW with DAVE NAVARRO: Measure B, Porn, Art and more.
WHACK! MAGAZINE: I don’t know how much you know about WHACK! Magazine. We’ve been a trade adult industry publication online for a few years. We do a lot of interviews with adult entertainers of all kinds, and we’ve actually seen you at the AVN conventions.
DAVE NAVARRO: Yeah, I usually do the red carpet stuff for AVN for Showtime when they televise the awards ceremony, so that’s why I’m always there.
WM: We saw you tweeting about Measure B, and that got us interested. Personally, I’m very interested in all of that. So I wanted to talk to you about it.
DN: I think what you saw on Twitter was me and Stoya kind of talking about the election results and the voting results on [Measure] B. She wrote a pretty great little piece just in terms of what her thoughts on are on the whole matter. To be honest with you, I’m not talent. I don’t work in the industry. I wrote and directed a film years ago, but for the most part I just have a lot of really close friends in the business, and so naturally this is something that’s been brought to my attention by all of them.
WM: Yeah, I’ve been following it because for the past few years people [by which I meant the AHF] have been trying to force condom use in porn, and I know that it had already gone through in the city of LA, but now that Measure B passed, it’s county-wide. So I’m just wondering, what are your thoughts? What do you think is going to happen now that it passed?
DN: Well, first of all, let me just ask you, so I’m clear on what this all means. My understanding is that it means that condoms and dental dams will be used in future adult films. Is that correct?
WM: From what I know, the particulars are still up in the air, but what Measure B is trying to do is say that adult performers who are performing on licensed sets in the county of Los Angeles will have to use all the same protocols as they use anywhere else where there could be a biohazard in the environment. So that means they could be enforcing goggles, gloves, dental dams, condoms, and they are asking the county of LA to fund Department of Health workers to enforce this. So county officials are supposed to show up on sets and make sure that everyone is following protocol.
DN: Right. Being loosely affiliated with the tattoo industry [Editorial note: Dave is the host of Ink Master on Spike TV, and sports dozens of tattoos himself—“loosely” may have been an understatement], there’s been some serious crackdowns in that business as well, in terms of really well known tattoo artists have had to go and take courses and get certificates to continue tattooing, and upgrade their gloves and garments and so forth. So yeah, there’s a huge crackdown going on in all these different areas, and the problem that I have with it is the fact that, especially in LA, which is this huge home of the adult industry, and has been forever, one thing that people don’t understand is that for the most part, all these entertainers are going and getting tested prior to their scenes. So they’re coming in with paperwork that they don’t have any STDs, that they’re not positive for anything, and in a bizarre twist of fate, they end up being the safest people in the world, in a weird way.
My concern about it is… Well, there’s two sides to the concern. Number one is that I worry that since there’s going to be all these measures and prophylactics, that the testing won’t be as regimented and important, and ultimately cause further health problems down the line. Because if I have to wear gloves and an apron and a dental dam and a condom, I’m less likely to go down and get tested, you know what I’m saying?
DN: And that brings the danger back into the home environment, and frankly, part of… Well, I’m not a big viewer of pornography. I never have been. I’m a supporter, but I don’t watch it. I’m the type of guy that, if I’m hungry I’m going to eat a sandwich. I’m not going to watch a movie about people eating a sandwich, you know what I mean?
DN: But part of what’s appealing about adult films is the voyeuristic sense of fantasy. Once you put these into place, that’s out the window. There’s no more fantasy. With the economy right now, where security is at the forefront of America’s thinking and voting, what this does is it will hurt the adult film industry, it will hurt the actors for sure, it will hurt the sales, which are already recovering from the fact that the online, digital world has definitely hurt the industry, without a doubt. Because the fact of the matter is that your average guy watches a scene for five minutes and jerks off, and goes ahead and does his thing. He doesn’t really sit there and watch a ninety minute film.
WM: Yeah, nobody has that kind of endurance.
DN: Right? So, if a guy can get a five minute clip for free online, he’s not going to buy a DVD. So be that as it may, now we’re talking about adding all these elements that are going to destroy what is attractive about this industry to begin with, and that’s going to hurt sales even more. And that, in turn, in this economy, is going to hurt the actors and their working environment, but what I don’t think people are realizing is, let’s talk about camera guys. The people who do hair and makeup. Lighting people. Set design. People that work behind the scenes. There’s a whole slew of people who work behind the scenes, who are now going to have a tougher time with their work lives. And they’re a huge part of the California economy whether you like it or not, and these are all tax-paying people that are now going to be put out of frequent work. Potentially. I want to say potentially, because I don’t know what’s going to happen.
Not to mention that not all adult talent, especially the girls, are… Well, you know, the word porn “star” gets thrown around pretty loosely. A lot of girls do adult films, but there’s a handful of porn “stars,” I would say. You know what I mean? Someone that’s a star, like your Jesse Jane or Jenna Jameson, or whoever comes to mind. So a lot of them are going to be fine, but another problem that’s going to happen is, let’s go ahead and pull the covers off this whole thing: a lot of these girls will turn to escorting as a way to supplement their income.
WM: Right, and there’s no regulation on that.
DN: There’s no regulation on that. And who knows what’s going to happen. Someone’s going to show up for an escorting gig, and they’re not going to be wearing a lobster bib. I mean, come on. What’s crazy about this is that it’s going to hurt jobs and potentially cause a greater health risk down the line, I believe. Which could also, frankly, if you really want to play devil’s advocate, it’s going to bring a greater health risk down the line that’s going to work its way into mainstream America, because the guys who hire the adult entertainers for out calls are going to go home and have sex with their wives the next day. I’m one of those guys that can follow this thing the whole way down the rabbit hole, back to the people who created the measure.
WM: And I’m sure some people in government dip into that pool.
DN: And just so I’m not pointing fingers here, I’m an adult filmmaker, and I’ve also had my time with plenty of escorts in my day. I’m not pointing fingers—or outing anybody—that I’m not pointing at myself. I just think that it has to be well thought through, and I think that in some kind of attempt to overthrow the industry, or whatever the local government officials and the voters are trying to do, what they’re not aware of is that it’s going to affect the economy, and it’s going to be a health risk statewide.
WM: I feel like there’s a gut reaction that people have. If you see something that says, “Do you want to protect adult entertainment workers?” then automatically you say, “Yes! They should be protected.” But people don’t understand the testing protocols and what’s at stake there.
DN: Yeah, and that’s the thing. The general voter has no idea what goes on in terms of the testing protocol that’s in place. And not everybody’s perfect. And it’s going to take a lot of jobs out of the state. That’s the craziest part. It’s going to get made anyway. It’s just not going to be in California.
WM: That is the scariest thing to me. I have a lot of friends in the industry also, and a lot of filming might just move elsewhere. LA is a very safe place to make porn. And if you have to move your operations to another place, you might end up getting arrested for doing something you’re not supposed to do there, and there won’t be the same protocols in place for testing in other places. I think it could get really ugly.
DN: Listen, if California supported the adult industry and found a way to banish pirating and free online downloading, and supported testing and really supported the industry, and legalized marijuana… we could be driving on streets paved with gold. We really, really could. The tax incentive for Californians to do all of these things is so obvious. The fact is that all they’re doing is setting us all back. And meanwhile, abortions are ok now. It’s so backward.
WM: It’s like the rest of the country is going more blue and California decided to get more red.
DN: I don’t understand it. Not to mention, I can count the one or two cases of gonorrhea in the past year, where there was like a scare going on or whatever. But that’s an antibiotic.
WM: Yeah, it happens.
DN: I don’t know if I’m answering any of your questions on the matter. Not to mention that my entire dating pool is going to move to Nevada now, which is terrible.
WM: Everything about Nevada is terrible, as far as I’m concerned. [Laughing]. Well right before the interview, I was reading some other interviews you’ve done. Right around the time your adult film came out, you were saying that you saw it as an artistic outlet where you could be a little edgier and push the envelope more than the music industry was really allowing at that time. You were making a really good point that doesn’t get brought up very often. And it seems to me that there’s a parallel here. Porn is the wild west, is what people always say. It’s where you can do really edgy things. But as far as Measure B being passed… What do you think might happen to that artistic freedom?
DN: Here’s the thing about art and porn being artistically compelling or not. Ultimately, I believe that the nature of art, and one of my favorite things about all forms of art, is that it has the ability to take the admirer out of the moment and out of his own reality. Right? Wouldn’t you say that?
WM: Yeah, of course.
DN: You listen to music and you drift off somewhere else. You watch a film and it takes you to another land. You look a painting and it hearkens in to some kind of melancholy feeling. Whatever the case may be. When you look at an adult film, certainly it can enhance somebody’s sex life, it can excite someone who’s alone. It’s still doing the same thing. It’s taking the viewer out of his own reality for that amount of time. You can argue whether or not it’s art, but ultimately the same result is taking place. Wouldn’t you agree?
WM: Yeah, that’s a really good point.
DN: That’s the object of great art. Whether you’re a fan of adult films or not. I don’t watch them, but I understand. But in terms of what’s going to happen, but I can tell you for sure that watching an amazing sex scene while everybody’s strapped up and protected is not going to take me out of my own sense of reality. And I’m certainly not going to put hard-earned dollars toward watching something like that.
WM: It makes me feel like they’re saying that adult performers should be responsible for teaching the rest of the world about how to have safe sex.
DN: Why is that? Who’s saying that?
WM: Well it seems like lawmakers are saying that pornographers should be promoting condom use to promote the “right” message.
DN: That’s an argument. An age-old argument that’s been slapped on music and films since art was being made. I’ve had people say that to me. The purpose for me to write a song it’s because I’m inspired to, it’s not because I’m trying to spread a message. And you could say the same thing about violence in Hollywood films. You could say the same thing about almost any form of art. If you look at television, it’s getting more violent, more sexually fueled. Language is getting more colorful. So why people are starting to look at this one industry as the one place the example is to be made… First of all, anyone who’s watching adult films should be old enough, legally, to have learned those lessons. And, frankly, people who watch adult films are watching them to ignore the examples they’ve been taught. It’s an escape. It’s escapism.
At the end of the film, if I’m watching a scene and it’s a boy/girl/girl scene, and the end of the scene, they all turn to the camera and go, “And remember! Only you can prevent forest fires!” I’d want my money back! You know what I mean? Like, what is this, like “The more you know” in porn?
WM: I feel like it’s a tacit acknowledgment of the fact that people are letting their kids learn about sex by watching porn, which is ridiculous. Instead of just saying, “Hey Jimmy, that’s not what sex is really like most the time,” they’re expecting kids to learn about safe sex from porn.
DN: That’s a parenting issue, not a porn issue.
WM: I agree.
DN: Here’s another interesting point about that. If that’s the message, then why don’t all major motion pictures, in all Hollywood lovemaking scenes, show the guy stop and get a condom? Big Hollywood blockbuster: Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio on the Titanic. They finally get together. They’re holding each other. And he rolls over and reaches into the dresser drawer and pulls out a condom. Like, that’s not what it’s about. Let the major motion pictures in Hollywood teach that lesson, because they don’t!
WM: Well, it’s a lot easier to roll over the porn industry than it is to roll over Hollywood.
DN: Yeah but it’s completely hypocritical. Last night I watched an episode of American Horror Story, where the lead character hikes the skirt up of another character and has sex with her in a Laundromat. He didn’t put on a condom. And that’s on public airwaves.
WM: Yeah, that’s pretty intense.
DN: See what I’m saying? We didn’t see insertion, but it’s the same principle. And that’s the stuff that kids are watching. Because if I’m a parent, which thank god I’m not, but let’s say I’m a parent and I know what’s out there because I’m not a fucking idiot. I’m going to take measures to make sure my kids do or do not watch the material that I think is appropriate. It’s on me. It’s always been like that. It’s notlike it’s getting worse. I remember watching porn when I was like seven.
DN: Kids are gonna get their hands on stuff. Did Ryan Gosling break out a condom in The Notebook? I don’t think so. It’s one of the most beautiful stories of all time, you know what I mean? And that’s about love. This is about sex. I don’t know. Don’t get me too wound up about it.
WM: Well I’m pretty wound up, myself. I think it’s really condescending to say that the voters know what’s best for people in the porn industry. But most voters don’t know anything about the porn industry. How can you say what those people should do?
DN: I understand. There’s probably, now that you mention it, I don’t know of any other industry that’s targeted on the ballot.
WM: There’s something about people being involved in sex work in any way that other people just assume that they’re being victimized. Assume that people would never do that of their own free will, and that they therefore need to be protected.
DN: Well, I hope that anything I told you is usable.
WM: I think the next few months will be interesting.
DN: The other thing is, like maybe it will go back underground. And then, who’s to say where it was shot? “Oh, we shot this in Wisconsin.” You know what I mean? How are they going to regulate that?
WM: Yeah, most porn shoots don’t get licenses in the first place.
DN: I would just lie about it if I was a filmmaker. And there you go, then you’re gonna add deceit into the mix. I would shoot a film the way I want it to be done. And then if someone said, “There’s no condoms in this scene! And California says you need to have condoms!” I’d say, “Well I didn’t shoot this in California.” What are you gonna do?
WM: I think that will happen a lot.
DN: Well, I appreciate your time. Thanks!
WM: Thank you so much. This has been a really fun conversation for me!
DN: Me, too. Anytime!