Your Porn Valley HIV Digest

For the second time in as many years, an adult performer has tested positive for HIV, resulting in a quarantine of the performers he has worked with and a general slowdown in filming across Porn Valley.

Those performers shooting this week, including Rocco Reed and Diamond Foxxx (playing JFK and Marilyn Monroe in “Here Cums the President”) are using condoms.

But the incident has also become a filter through which the various agendas of porn’s supporters and detractors can be seen.

Porn As Public Health Menace

Word leaked out on October 11.

On October 13, shortly after Adult Industry Medical (AIM), Porn Valley’s de facto STD testing facility, confirmed to the LA Times that a performer had been infected with HIV, L.A.-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) officials appeared in local media demanding Los Angeles County step in to mandate condom use in the porn business. It was an on-message, coordinated response on AHF’s behalf that again left Porn Valley, devoid of its own designated spokesperson, on the defensive.

Vivid quickly announced a suspension of shooting, as did Wicked, which alone among porn companies was already a condom-mandatory studio.

“We will wait for all of the facts to emerge before [we] resume production,” said Vivid co-founder Steve Hirsch.

“How many more people have to be infected with HIV before Los Angeles County steps in to do its job and protect performers’ and the public’s health?” said AHF president Michael Weinstein.

AHF has been the one of the porn industry’s main antagonists, especially since last year’s HIV outbreak, in which a female Patient Zero, an infrequent performer who contracted the virus outside her performing duties, became the first case of HIV in the porn industry since 2004’s Darren James Incident. James had brought the virus back from Brazil.

AHF has enjoined CalOSHA and the state’s Department of Public Health to mandate condom use in the porn industry, but has so far been thwarted in its legal endeavors.

Money, parts I through IV

  1. And amid the oft-quoted and poorly-vetted $14-billion figure thrown around suggested as porn’s annual take, Hirsch threw in that Vivid spends $250,000 a month making four movies. This can only be true if 90 percent of each movie’s budget goes into the Recruit Nadya Suleman Fund.
  2. Though Wicked’s condom-only productions are comparatively lavish affairs, suggesting condoms don’t kill the porn fantasy, the rest of the industry isn’t keen on rubbers, both as a comfort issue and because everyone other than Wicked says that condoms don’t sell movies.
  3. AIM says that it has racked up considerable legal fees defending the confidentiality of both its clients and its record-keeping in the face of subpoenas.
  4. With few exceptions, porn performers are already working at rates far lower than they or their predecessors made even two years ago. Men may command between $400 and $600 perscene, with women averaginf $800 (if anything, the economy has helped to close the salary gap). Since it is mostly performers who assume testing fees (about $110 per AIM visit), increased testing requirements might actually thin the herd, making porn an occupation for people who really love it.

Straight side/Gay side

It is widely alleged that this year’s Patient Zero is a man who has worked on the “gay side” of the porn industry. The bisexual performer Danny Wylde (who is not the patient in question) points out in an excellent summary that “crossover” performers are big targets.

The fact is that gay/bi/trans performers are easy targets. Especially ones who out themselves as crossover performers. But they are just as likely as anyone else to be sexually responsible, or irresponsible. The only difference is the participation in slightly less conventional sexual behavior ON CAMERA.

Anyone who’s been a part of the adult industry for any significant amount of time has no doubt heard countless rumors about who’s an intravenous drug user, who escorts (a polite term for an upscale hooker), who has gay sex in their private life, and who has sex with transsexual women. Some of them are baseless, but a portion always turn out to be true. Each of the above stated behaviors could be considered “high risk,” and each are practiced by performers within the straight “side” of the industry. So when going to work, every performer puts themselves at risk. It’s a part of being a sex worker. Surely, no one wants to increase that risk, but finding a scape goat is the worst possible way to address the issue.

Wylde’s measured commentary is a marked contrast to that of Donny Long, a Florida-based adult talent manager and former performer for whom this outbreak is a perfect opportunity for continued gay-bashing. Long has many vendettas against his counterparts in Porn Valley, and the fallout has included his publishing performers’ real names.

From Long’s blog:

So some of these HIV gay loving whores are attacking my accounts on twitter and other sites so here is how I roll bitches. If the posts dont get removed and I see them your real name will go public with much more info. Here are some of these stupid whores names. They are trying to protect there gay agents but fucking with the wrong dude.

AIM under scrutiny

I am quoted in a well-written piece by Sady Doyle in The Atlantic that has generated comments by Comstock Films owner Tony Comstock and others questioning the efficacy of AIM’s methods and the truth of its hype.

AIM asserts, and the media prints as fact, that there is less incidence of HIV and other STIs inside their testing pool than in the sexual active population at large. But there has never been an independent, peer-reviewed analysis of AIMs STI data, let alone a comparison to relevant cohorts in the population [at] large.

Unless and until such a study is undertaken, performers and the general public cannot possibly be aware of what the risks are, and how they compare to the risks that are inherent in being a sexual[ly] active adult.

Going through the back door

As Al Capone was taken down on an unsexy tax evasion charge, some think that restricting filming permits might be a good way to reduce porn’s efficacy as a public health menace.

The above-quoted article, similar to Long’s rant and AHF’s lawsuits, is one agenda masquerading as legitimate concern for the welfare of others.

Kimberly Kane disagrees with the tone, tweeting, “In 7 years I’ve never shot porn in a “basement.” Tell your writers stop using ‘Boogie Nights’ as their personal porn thesaurus.”

“Don’t tell us what to do”

The porn industry is like the person who doesn’t do the right thing if it’s someone else’s idea. But time and again outside scrutiny and shame has resulted in improvements to porn’s functioning as something akin to a professional business.

Performer Tommy Gunn, filming a condom scene in this slow week, has a solution that addresses both a fear of outsiders and safety concerns.

“Make a barrier to entry,” he says. “Make new people have to get tested once a month for three months before they get in. Quarantine the rest of California. I haven’t had civilian sex in years.”

Previously on Porn Valley Observed: Cal/OSHA plaintiffs save adult DVD industry; HIV 2009—how the dust will settle; Porn luminaries discuss testing and condoms

See also: AIDS Healthcare Foundation, AIM

2 thoughts on “Your Porn Valley HIV Digest

  1. Although I am an advocate for safe sex even in porn. The rate at which ‘civilians’ are being infected with HIV is astonishing. I would say put more effort into testing the general populace and less effort into regulating the porn industry. I seriously doubt that an infected performer will single handedly infect a population.
    In San Francisco it is truly epidemic and safe sex is rarely practiced amongst people who know they are infected.
    Perhaps the studios should fit the bill for testing their performers before a shoot instead of the performers having to cover their own costs on this. Ultimately I feel it is the studios responsibility to make sure that they are not putting another actor in danger when they walk on the set.

  2. Pingback: John Holmes and a brief history of HIV in the porn industry | Porn Valley Observed con Gram Ponante

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