Is Kink breaking up with SF?

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The armory.
SF Examiner photo by Mike Koozmin

Tales of local porn-purveyor Kink.com’s demise were reported early yesterday by Uptown Almanac, whose story, “Freak Flag May Not Fly Forever Over Kink’s Castle,” sounded the alarm. 

“It seems to have become not a question of if, but when there will be no more porn in our beloved Porn Castle,” reporter Jackson West wrote. To the uninitiated, the Porn Castle to which West is referring is known as The Armory, a brick fortress with histroic designation on 14th Street and Mission where the ever-adventurous pornographers at Kink.com film their wonderful smut (a term we use as endearingly as possible).

The planning department document West posted posted to his article show Peter Acworth, founder and CEO of Kink.com, requested the city to convert the basement, “drill court,” second, and third floors of The Armory into office space. The document also shows a need for an environmental review before conversion. (Side note: Gee, wouldn’t you love to be the city worker who had to inspect The Armory? “Hell of a day at work today honey, I was so tied up. Well technically, this guy wearing clothespins was tied up.”) The planning department told the Bay Guardian we could inspect the documents for ourselves tomorrow, but were unable to supply them for viewing today.

So, is it true? Is Kink.com fleeing our quickly gentrifying city?

Not to ball-and-gag West’s reporting, but we went straight to Kink.com owner Peter Acworth, who told us Uptown Almanac’s article is “half-correct.”

Firstly, the conversion of the first floor drill court into office space was a long time in planning, multiple sources (including Acworth) confirmed for us. Kink.com intends to use the space for its community center, as well as to rent to outside vendors.

But Acworth did admit that conversion of the rest of The Armory into office space was a preliminary move to vacate The Armory — but that it’s a last-ditch move he hopes he won’t need to make.

kinkac

Peter Acworth and Princess Donna. Photo by Pat Mazzera.

“I would still think of Kink.com production moving out as a question of ‘if’ as opposed to ‘when,’” he wrote to us in an email. “This move represents an insurance policy.  If the various regulations that are being considered currently in Sacramento and by Cal-OSHA become law, we will likely have to move production out of California to Nevada.”

The regulations he’s referring to are a statewide version of the recent Los Angeles condom law, AB 1576, Introduced by Assemblymember Isadore Hall, III, (D- Los Angeles), as well as new Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards legally requiring porn actors wear protective goggles to protect their eyes from STDs that may be present in ejaculate.

Kink.com was fined $78,000 by CAL/OSHA earlier this year for workplace hazard violations, according to a report by SF Weekly. Kate Conger writes, "The majority of the fines were for allowing performers to work without using condoms, while a $3,710 portion of the total fine was for additional violations, including improperly placed power cords, an absence of first aid supplies, and missing health safety training materials."

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation also told SF Weekly they filed violations because, they alleged, two actors contracted HIV in connection with their performances in Kink.com shoots. At the time, Kink.com spokespeople denied the claims had merit.

[Update 8:20pm: Shortly after this story was published, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation published a press release announcing the state bill to mandate condoms in pornography made progress today. From the release: "Assembly Bill 1576, Rep. Isadore Hall’s bill to require condoms in all adult films made in California cleared the Committee on Labor and Employment in the California Assembly in a 5 to 0 vote (with 1 absence & 1 abstention) today and now moves on to the Assembly Arts & Entertainment Committee.

“In the last year, at least two additional adult performers—Cameron Bay and Rod Daily—sadly became infected with HIV while working in the industry,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “AB 1576 expands and broadens worker protections for all California’s adult film workers on a statewide basis."]

For Acworth, the passage of either of the statewide reforms in porn would be too prohibitive to do business in California. He’d then move the whole kinky company to Nevada, as many of his fellow pornographers have already done.

“We hope this never happens and that the new regulations are reasonable, but if it does happen over the coming years, we would like the option to rent out The Armory - or portions thereof - to other users.”

The planning review process takes 18-24 months, so in the short term, everyone can calm down. But for the long term, you’ll know Kink.com is ready to move by watching the progress of statewide porn reforms. If porn actors need to wear goggles in productions, it looks like we’ll say goodbye to Kink.com.

Below we've embedded the planning department filing from Acworth, obtained by Uptown Almanac.

Planning Department File on Kink.com by FitztheReporter

Comments

I've also had lovers who were sex workers.

The sex was lousy. They had serious drug problems. They were emotionally volatile. They had no clue how to be 'friends'.

Forcing them to wear condoms at work is putting a band aid on a gunshot wound.

Posted by Maury Springer on Apr. 05, 2014 @ 7:22 pm

Condom usage is the least the government can do to help protect sex workers, and I support it.

Of course, there are other arguments for event further protections for sex workers, and I agree with many of them.

Posted by Chris Brown on Apr. 06, 2014 @ 9:24 am

Are you trying to suggest that in 2014, anyone is unaware of HIV and the minimal means with which to protect oneself from transmission?

Do you think that sex workers are too stupid to take stock of this information and make their own informed choices?

Posted by marcos on Apr. 08, 2014 @ 5:08 am

Perhaps you were a lousy fuck and they had to drug up in order to make it with your cranky, prejudiced judgemental fat ass?

Posted by marcos on Apr. 08, 2014 @ 5:09 am

You do not get to set the terms of debate without my consent and hold me to them. This is not a BDSM scene.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 05, 2014 @ 7:43 pm

If you are responding to me Marcos, then your comment makes zero sense, especially since I was responding to Greg, not you (unless you happen to suffer from a personality disorder and you believe you are both Greg and Marcos).

If you are responding to the other poster talking about his "lousy" lovers, your comment still makes no sense.

You are consensually engaging in a discussion with me, and I will discuss what I wish--you are free to participate or not.

Posted by Chris Brown on Apr. 06, 2014 @ 9:29 am

Your question begs the question resolved by PrEP and PeP.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 06, 2014 @ 9:37 am

when condoms are used correctly and consistently.

Also, some people are not good candidates for either treatment for a variety of health based reasons.

And, they both have other short-comings: Pep must be started as soon as possible after exposure to be effective. PrEp must be used consistently and it is most effective when combined with other protective measures. The FDA approved it only to be used in conjunction with other preventative measures (like condoms), not as a stand alone preventative medication.

Furthermore, neither medication protects against other serious sexually transmitted diseases, like syphilis (which is becoming significantly harder to treat due to antibiotic resistance).

Again, how does requiring condom usage prevent porn from being made. You don't want to answer the question, so our discussion is ended.

Posted by Chris Brown on Apr. 06, 2014 @ 12:47 pm

Yes, but consenting adults get to make those calls in their lives and to take those risks just as one would choose the risk you're comfortable with between becoming a subway tunneling sand hog and a computer programmer.

From the strident stentorian tone of your writing, you'd just a soon have bedroom police enforcing your public health directives on people's sex lives.

At the rate of change of the development antiretrovirals, the AIDS pandemic is on the verge of ending. Condom free pron and sex will soon be the norm again.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 06, 2014 @ 4:25 pm
Posted by Guest on Apr. 06, 2014 @ 5:16 pm

Apparently they act like they have a monopoly which, due to their size, they do. The hourly rates are poor and inflexible. Some sex workers refuse to work for them for these and other reasons.

so if kink.com is replaced by a number of smaller porn producers competing with each other, it could be good for everyone.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 03, 2014 @ 9:28 am

They won't be replaced by anybody. The regulations they're cooking up are meant to destroy the industry, not foster competition.

And to the earlier commentator... I have never associated myself with the anti-sex, Dowrkin/SAGE wing of the "left." They have more in common with the Moral Majority than with progressives. It's not about "appeasing government." You can easily have a government like in the Netherlands, where the government is there to help you when you need it and ask for it, and basically leaves you alone the rest of the time. Somehow we can't seem to wrap our heads around the concept in this country.

Posted by Greg on Apr. 03, 2014 @ 10:08 am
Posted by Guest on Apr. 06, 2014 @ 9:48 am

A number of members of any community hate any given institution.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 03, 2014 @ 10:42 am

tightly-knit so such a groundswell of distaste is significant.

If it were a mainstream business with similar monopolistic low-wage working practices, SFBG would be all over it.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 03, 2014 @ 12:09 pm

The barriers to entry to produce porn are practically nonexistent, there are no monopolies.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 04, 2014 @ 7:58 am

guy who did exactly that.

But to produce on the scale of kink.com is much harder. Just look at the building they have.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 04, 2014 @ 8:16 am

Look at all of those "blue collar" jobs kink.com creates behind the camera....set design, video editing, camera work, production assistance, casting...have you ever been inside the Armory during the workday? It is a hive of activity. Have you ever been outside the Armory after dark? Used to be an abandoned desolate corner under broken windows. Now it is a magnet of activity with eyes on the streets, keeping it safe.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 07, 2014 @ 5:25 am

Evil developers wanted that building to become housing.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 03, 2014 @ 9:52 am

Housing will never happen at the Armory because the historical and seismic regulations conspire to make that prohibitively expensive even for SF housing.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 04, 2014 @ 7:58 am

The lack of windows is an obvious problem.

I cannot recall why it never happened but it may have been for the usual reason - a downturn in the economy.

But all in all, offices seem like a better use especially given its central location.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 04, 2014 @ 8:17 am

How will I know who to pee on?

Posted by Chromefields on Apr. 03, 2014 @ 8:20 am

It's grand to be world famous for golden showers.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 03, 2014 @ 8:48 am

It's the SFBG in a nutshell that Kink's leaving has nothing to do with gentrification and yet that doesn't stop the writer from strategically placing the suggestion.

You have to read the whole article to realize that no, it's not; it's nanny-statism, if anything.

The SFBG, not really telling the truth to power. More like telling bullshit to the stupid. Like any half-wit right-wing radio host knows, it's easier to manipulate emotion than move intellect.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 04, 2014 @ 6:25 am

Let's turn it into an information-empowering center where we can learn how to abuse each other and practice voyeurism of same. Let's study the finer points of hair-pulling, whipping, fisting, rough sex, peeing, shitting, slapping, bruising, forced copulation, binding, knotting, abusive language and how they are all so empowering -- especially to women who will do it to each other and then later in post-activity interview, at the ripe age of 19, detail how it has allowed them to get in touch with their innermost feelings. Then let's convene a monthly forum to discuss how sex positive sex positivism is and what relativism is and how it expands our awareness and how oppressive society is when we want to discuss the negative aspect of all this is (not ban it).
...or let's just park a shitload of Google buses in the Armory and see what it's like to have sex in and around them. So white and pure with tinted windows, virginal ascendancy to a higher tech heaven where we meet Goddam It who welcomes us with His pearly white fangs and then spits us out back to a sexless world where Anonymous Bosch tempts us with visions of endless tablets of Viagra but no partners--only bound, gagged gargoyles laughing their way to the sperm bank where deposits earn them interest only in themselves and their Pinterest/Facebook/LinkedIn/Instagram
boredom.

Posted by Guesssttt Who? on Apr. 04, 2014 @ 10:39 pm

I had to stop reading as I didn't have the time or frustration threshold to deal with the comments bashing sex workers and claiming to come to their defense, as if sex workers can't speak for themselves.

I'm a former sex worker. I know hundreds of sex workers, and have interviewed, in-depth, about 100. Nearly all of them (in fact I can't think of one who doesn't) support the choice of the sex worker as to whether or not they should use condoms.

Not all performers love Kink; many have issues with their former employer (I know I do), but MOST performers I know LOVE Kink, and say it's one of their favorite places to shoot, with some of the best treatment of their employees and contractors compared to any other corporate job.

Sex workers are no more exploited than anyone working a job - some do it just for the money, some actually enjoy their work, and for most it's a combination of the two. But these are not men and women being shipped over in crates from Thailand. These are adults, and some of the most intelligent, well-rounded people I've ever encountered, and that's coming from a guy who went to Berkeley and worked at Google.

If people truly want to help sex workers out, rather than trying to "rescue" them, they should focus on decriminalization and affording the community more freedom of choice.

AND SELF-PROMOTION! You can find the list of interviews here:
http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/full-disclosure/id518543739

Posted by Eric Barry on Apr. 05, 2014 @ 4:38 pm

"Nearly all of them (in fact I can't think of one who doesn't) support the choice of the sex worker as to whether or not they should use condoms."

Of course they do. The problem is that we the tax payers have to support them if they acquire HIV/AIDS. We don't have a choice. And not just sex workers, but the audience of sex workers who get the message from porn that condoms are optional.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 05, 2014 @ 6:40 pm

Exactly like all food handlers should be required to wear nitrile gloves.

You just can't be too careful!

Posted by Maury Springer on Apr. 05, 2014 @ 7:26 pm

At a sushi feed last night, I saw a chef who has been a long time source of the raw fish wearing those nitrile gloves. This highly trained professional who has worked in an industry where people have worked with their bare hands for centuries was reduced to practice his craft inhibited by latex.

I do not want to live a life where all risk has been preemptively mitigated on my behalf. I want to risk skinning my knee so that I can bike fast, risk the food poisoning that never happened as my sushi chef shucks the gloves and to go out into the world without it being choreographed as One Big Play Date.

Yes, you CAN be too safe.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 07, 2014 @ 5:27 am

...an example of safety being taken to a ridiculous level.

To the earlier commentator who makes the worn old argument that society has to pay for it if the performer gets HIV, that's neither true nor valid. We could make that argument about anything -fatty foods, not wearing sunscreen, soda (actually some are making that argument -yikes!). The point is that if we extend it to its logical conclusion, then we quickly devolve into a society where so much of our lives is legislated that we lose something just as important as security -freedom. There needs to be a balance, and that balance should recognize that adults should be able to make risky choices for themselves. We all make risky choices. We're better off if we recognize that and then come together to take care of each other when those risky choices sometimes go wrong.

Unfortunately it's not even true in our society that we all pay for it. It's not like we even have socialized medicine.

Posted by Greg on Apr. 08, 2014 @ 7:55 am

Under Obamacare, everyone has to pay their own freight on health insurance premiums and the insurers have to pay for whatever anyone comes down with.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 08, 2014 @ 8:15 am

Thanks for that. Good to hear the perspective of someone who actually works in the industry.

Posted by Greg on Apr. 08, 2014 @ 7:57 am

I've read a ton of comments on here talking about how this law is going to be better or worse for the performers, and/or how good/bad Kink.com treats its performers.

...How many of y'all have actually asked us, the performers, how we feel about all of this?

I know my position on the matter. Kink.com is an absolute fantastic company to work for. They pay very well, treat me with absolute respect, and make me feel safe. I come home glowing every time I visit The Armory for work.

This law makes me incredibly sad. I absolutely appreciate what it is trying to do. I really do. Sexual safety is so important. However, I do feel as though it's going about it in the wrong way. Kink.com pays for me and the other performers to get tested before every shoot. I have the right to request the results of my scene partner's test(s) before we shoot. If people are falling through the cracks of that system (and the personal accounts I've heard have a lot of contradictions with what has been reported), then that is an issue that needs to be addressed. But safety goggles? Really? How about, the day of the shoot, that mound of paperwork we fill out includes a copy of our scene partner's test results, which we then have to sign in acknowledgment?

I have yet to speak to another performer who is for this law. It doesn't matter that the law adds that safety gear does not have to be visible in the final product of the scene. Are they supposed to CG cum all over a performer's face? The law is not realistic for this industry. It's true that wearing condoms is not a porn-killer; porn with condoms can be sexy, too. But this law takes it to such an extreme that it will bring death to the industry.

I can already tell you; if this law passes, I will also leave the state. I love California, but this is the sort of law that stems from panic. I get it. I understand where that panic derives from, but I also see how the stories have twisted and changed and the public outcry is so passionate after only knowing a fraction of the truth. I think it's awesome that people are standing up for performer safety, but this is not the way to do it. Require legal acknowledgement of test results between performers, not safety goggles and chemical suits.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 11, 2014 @ 3:27 pm

I work for Kink currently and it's and amazing atmosphere. Everybody is so nice and they make the work fun for the performers. It's a fetish if you don't like kink then don't go on there site. The owners worked there butt off to make this company one of the biggest adult industries in the United States!! I hear people comment that we get paid junk haha I won't go into what I make but it's dam good money. It seems to me reading all your comments that none of you took a tour or experienced the armory. I've been there now for some months and I still find myself walking around looking at the beautiful art. I've worked a lot of jobs and currently i'm in the Army Reserves as we'll and let me tell you there is no other place I rather work for then Kink that's the truth. Not to mention everything the owners and that building has done for the community. Everybody goes out of there way to make every person that walks through that door feel at home!!

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Posted by Guest on May. 13, 2014 @ 1:23 pm

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