Although I do not wish to step into the debate regarding “obscenity” what seems to be left out of it, in my opinion, is the following (which I freely admit are generalizations):
The “normal” prostitute on the street is often a victim herself. She is not engaged in this “business” as a positive choice, but rather does so under the control either of a pimp or at least a drug addiction. The manner in which law enforcement and society deal with such problems is a primary issue. In some countries the decriminalization of this “job” at least allows for a dramatic reduction in its hazards. Keeping it illegal and punishing the women (and sometimes men) of course does little to alter the core causes of the act. Naturally there will be a minority who happily and voluntarily sell themselves in this manner, but they are a small percentage of the total.
In pornography there is no doubt that many of the women, at least, are not wholly sound in their psychology. However the danger factors are not present and the line between “acting” and “prostitution” may be clear, but nevertheless a porn star still has more in common with an actress than with a street prostitute. To name a few, this includes “normal” hours, safe working conditions, contractually obligated payments and, if she is “talented” opportunities for advancement.
Naturally, as prefaced, none of this truly addresses the legal issues mentioned in the article - which were valid open questions. However just as the statement “obscenity is hard to define but you know it when you see it” is somehow acceptable. The reality that porn and prostitution are different follows the same train of thought.
Lastly, porn is a very big business in CA. To make it illegal would be a huge economic hit. That's the last thing they need right now.
What you point out are policy differences as to why prostitution *should* be illegal while prostitution should not. But here the issue being dealt with is the First Amendment, obscenity precedent, and a CA Supreme Court ruling. There is no true legal distinction between the two, as my article argues, they essentially criminalize the very same conduct. The fact is that within the State of California just over twenty years ago a case dealt with someone that was convicted for pornography under a prostitution statute. The Court specifically was dealing with arguments based on the First Amendment of the Constitution. I think your points may fare well with a particular legislator, but they don’t quite translate well when dealing with a legal principle announced in something as fundamental as the Constitution’s right to freedom of speech.
So lets think hypothetically for a moment. Let’s say you are a “adult film maker” and you decide to start a business where you could search for new talent. Complete discretion is afforded along with anonymity to wannabe male stars. They would have a private screening room with a stand alone camera recording the screening. A female “professional actress” would be provided. The wannabe male star would have to pay several hundred dollars for the screening. Following the act, the female actress and wannabe male star would review the video together and if it didn’t pass muster, it could be destroyed right then and there. If it was pretty good they could then take it to the “Director” to see if they had a promising future in the adult film industry. Would that be legal or illegal? Studio and business licenses already granted of course.