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