Kink’s Porn Castle May Leave Mission for Nevada

Photo from Kink.com.

Photo from Kink.com.

 

The BDSM porn purveyor Kink.com that has been operating in the Armory Building since 2007 may soon be cracking its last whip in the Mission. It’s not leaving because of the rising cost of real estate; it’s because of the cost of producing porn.

Last week, the Planning Department released a preliminary review of a plan submitted by Peter Acworth, CEO of Kink.com and the Armory Building’s owner, that would convert the building’s production studios into office space. If approved the proposal would create more than 100,000 square feet of office space in the Civil War-era building on 14th and Mission.

In an email message to Mission Local, Acworth explained that recent and upcoming legislative changes creating stricter health regulations in adult films have made the production of hardcore pornography prohibitively expensive in California. Acworth says that he may move the production arm of Kink.com to Nevada and rent out the Armory for office use.

“The fact is that new regulations threaten to essentially criminalize the production of hardcore pornography in California,” Acworth said. “Measure B in L.A. county was just the start, and now we face AB 1576 and new draft CAL-OSHA regulations that are being proposed.”

Assembly Bill 1576, which was introduced in January, would amend the California Occupational Safety and Health Act with provisions specifically for adult films. If approved, studios would have to provide documentation that all performers use condoms during scenes involving penetrative intercourse and that all performers are tested for STIs every 14 days.

“These new regulations are not yet in place and we are disputing them,” Acworth said in his email. “We hope to prevail on the basis that our protocols include strict, mandatory testing and/or mandatory condoms for all our shoots, and based on the fact that there has not been an on-set transmission of HIV in the U.S. since 2004 on any set where testing was required — not just at Kink.com but anywhere in the industry.”

Earlier this year, two performers named Cameron Bay and Rod Daily contracted HIV during the time they were also working for Kink.com. According to Kink.com spokesman Mike Stabile, Bay was offered a condom but declined to use one during her shoot and Daily, Bay’s boyfriend at the time, used condoms during all his scenes. Acworth has stated previously that he was confident these performers were infected through encounters in their personal lives and not on set, in part, because all their scene partners tested negative following shoots with Bay or Cameron.

However, in an interview with the Huffington Post, Bay has described a more complex situation in which she felt subtle pressure not to use condoms and was severely injured while on set. Her contraction of HIV led to a brief national moratorium on porn shoots.

In response to previous OSHA citations filed against Kink.com in January, Acworth has argued that given the intensity of scenes shot by Kink, condoms can often be a hindrance to comfort and many performers prefer not to use them.

“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,” wrote Acworth in a blog post published in January. “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.”

In addition to the production studios converted to office space, Acworth’s proposal submitted to the Planning Department details converting the 39,000 square-foot drill court, which is currently used as a community event space, into a more permanent entertainment venue. In his email, Acworth explained that this is an idea he’s had for a long time and is “still dedicated to fulfilling that vision.”

Stay tuned for more updates on the Armory and more buildings facing changes in the Mission.

Update: A previous version of this article stated that neither Rod Daily and Cameron Bay wore condoms during filming of scenes for Kink.com, that was incorrect and has been corrected. We also previously misspelled Peter Acworth’s name Ackworth.

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20 Comments

  1. godzuki

    While I think imposing health regulations for the performers is a good idea for the workers, it would be unfortunate if they moved their production elsewhere. While I don’t watch porn, I think it’s good if SF “diversifies” the types of businesses here. I also think the Armory is a great community event space…It could be greater utilized as such…music events, corporate parties, etc.

  2. nutrisystem

    I’m not a fan of Kink’s sexual-sadism entertainment business and welcome their exit to Nevada.

    But this move illustrates how stratospheric rents constrain the range of activities that can now exist within San Francisco.

    Ackworth is laying out a lot of talk about regulations driving him out, but clearly it’s about money. He can make a lot more turning that huge building into office space and “entertainment venue”, AND he can pay his workers a lot less in Nevada because the housing there is much less expensive.

    Once again, we see how extreme overhead costs are slowly but surely making SF into a monoculture of guys-sitting-at-computers and the food courts to service them.

    • marcos

      At least with sexual-sadism it is all play acting there is a happy ending, with politics everyone is so serious and there are only happy endings for the ruthless.

      Kink at the Armory is the best thing that’s happened to our corner of the Mission, eyes on the streets, activated uses, etc.

      One would think that with the rise of PReP and Pep, pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis, Truvada etc, that the issue of condoms would be much less pressing now than previously, yet there seems to be a redoubling of intervention as if it were the 1980s again.

      The odds of a straight porn male top seroconverting are so minimal as to not be a basis for sound public policy. Odds are they were infected while not doing straight and top sex.

    • Old Mission Neighbor

      You are telling the owner of Kink.com the reason why he’s making his business decision? He says it’s because of regulations, and yet you seem to know better.

      Come on, not everything fits the narrative rattling around in your head.

      • nutrisystem

        The porn-busting AB1576 is just a bill at this point. Even if it passes in its current form, it would likely be years until condom restrictions were enacted.

        Yet Ackworth has already submitted the paperwork to convert the armory to 100,000 square feet of office space.

        As much as he can earn with his broomstick-rape porn, he can probably make 10 times more renting office space to brogrammers.

        • Old Mission Neighbor

          Do you have any information about how long it takes for such a proposal to get approved?

          To use your own words, “[The proposal] is just [that] at this point. Even if it passes in its current form, it would likely be years until [office space permits] were enacted.”

          (:

          • nutrisystem

            True, permits to turn the parade ground into an “entertainment venue” will move at a glacial pace.

            But 100K feet more of office space? My guess is that the Lee administration will see to it that permits will be approved quickly.

          • marcos

            My bet is that the Lee Administration and Rahaim’s Planning Department would humbly request that the project sponsor double the proposed office space to 200K ft/2.

  3. John

    No, Ackworth is also the owner of the Armory building and so rents are not a concern to him.

    What would concern him much more would be the running costs of a 150 year old building of that size.

    I suspect he just figures you can make porn anywhere and the hassles would be less in a State that is already very friendly to the sex industry.

    • nutrisystem

      I’m aware that Ackworth owns the building.

      In economics it’s called “opportunity cost”… in the current rental climate, it “COSTS” him money to use it for film production compared to what he could make renting it out as Tech offices.

      • John

        Oh, I get opportunity cost perfectly. It’s the cost I incur by not Ellis evicting a long-term rental tenant paying a small fraction of the correct rent.

        • Kay O. Sweaver

          “Correct rent?” I assume you mean “market rate” when you say that. What’s “correct” is subjective and open to interpretation.

          • Mojo

            It’s almost — and bear with me here — it’s almost like John was making a subjective interpretation. It’s almost like — and I know this is hard — it’s almost like he was conveying his personal frustration with rent control laws in San Francisco.

          • John

            Kay, yes, in this context, the correct rent is the rent that would be freely obtained if not for artificial constraints, regulations and restrictions.

            I believe that is what nutrisystem means by the phrase as well.

  4. Lulu

    Unless Acworth can get the law changed in Nevada, I’m pretty sure that it is illegal to shoot porn in Nevada. The laws on the books for legalized prostitution are only in a few small areas of the state and they require that all condoms are used.

    Another thing that Acworth will have to contend with if he moves to the Las Vegas are is the fact that he will have to deal with the unions there.

    I love that he claims that condoms are a hindrance to the productions at Kink, yet all of their gay oriented websites use condoms and as far I know it’s not an issue for them.

    In other words, he implies that HIV is really only a gay issue.

    • marcos

      My understanding is that the choice to use condoms or not is one of downstream distribution where certain distributors only handle certain kinds of material. Condoms are required for enough distro in that gay market while not in the het market that Kink produces accordingly.

      • marcos

        To clarify, I seem to remember that certain online credit card processors also placed conditions on the content for which they’d process payment.

  5. I don’t believe it’s a claim about HIV being only a gay issue. I believe it is a sincere response to the fact that gay porn watchers accept the use of condoms and watch with a more “reality centered” emotional response, while heterosexual males hate watching condom use in their porn and watch with a much more “fantasy” based mindset. You can’t sell responsible het porn in America. Most of the consumers (and studies show heaviest consumption of porn in right wing/ conservative states with high religious consumption) want their porn to reflect their desire for worry free, easy sex with no consequences, no morality judgments, and lots of pretty young girls. Condoms are eschewed when possible- and the young adult het males truly believe that *they* don’t have to worry about HIV (especially if they only interact with “nice girls”), hence, they do not want to see the use of condoms or the inference that condoms need to be used between heterosexual “pretty people”.

  6. BillMarston

    First dealing with the soulless Mission tourists (techies) I have to deal with pouring in and out of that heinous monstrosity called NEMA all day long and now 100,000 sq feet of new cubical space on the same street!?

    Stick a fork in it, this neighborhood is done.

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