Monday, February 15, 2010

An Affirmative Response To HIV-AIDS Scares: Talent-Led 7-Day Testing??

It seems that some performers within the porn industry are taking their own offensive on protecting themselves against future STD infections on their own, with no prodding from the government or from the industry establishment.

One such performer, Avy Scott, revealed her strategy to her fans via her Yahoo! fan group.

This was in response to rumors floating that Scott had essentially retired from doing boy/girl scenes, having signed with a talent agency to handle all her solo and girl/girl scenes, and planning to kick off her updated personal paysite. Some of her fans were openly freaking out that she was abandoning boy/girl scenes altogether, which even prompted some hidden rumors that she had been infected with STD's or even HIV herself.

Yesterday, in a post at her group, Avy put all that to rest.

Don't freak out lol!
I'm shooting for other companies until mid March. Then, I'll be shooting B/G for my site. A List will be handling some of my solo and g/g bookings.
It's been a hassle getting b/g bookings w companies since I request a 7 day I'll do it myself for a bit. This doesn't mean I won't ever shoot b/g for another company...just for now. We'll see how it goes :-)
Hope this puts everyone @ ease.
The main point of all this is that Avy Scott is now insisting that her partners have a clean test for 7 days, rather than the 30-day standard that has been the default value for producers and testers alike...and even more stiff than the twice-monthly/15-day standard that has been proposed by some industry analysts.

Could it be finally that performers are taking charge of their own health and insisting on stricter health testing for themselves?? If Avy's principles are taken up by more performers, then just maybe, there might not be as much a hue and cry for mandatory condom usage.

The main deterrent to having a shorter testing period has been costs for testing, which have been mostly
borne by the performer rather than the company. But, rather than insist on this idea of imposing condoms by force, what about having the health officials cover the costs of extended testing through either a more comprehensive health care program or through the industry funding a program...or a combination of both? It certainly would defuse the notion that the industry doesn't care much about its talent being exposed to the threat of STD's and HIV.  And, anything that shuts Micheal Weinstein and Shelley Lubben up can't be all that bad, either.


  1. Changing one's ways to defuse Weinstein & Lubben is like President Obama attempting bipartisanship to 'defuse' Repugnicans.

    Avy Scott (one of the best kissers in the business, by the way) is doing a good thing, but I hope she's not doing this to get the Puritan Mafia to back off. Ain't gonna happen.

  2. I'm not so sure that Avy Scott was motivated by attempting to defuse Weinstein and Lubben; it sounds more like self preservation on her well as just the usual change of focus. She did say that she would consider shooting b/g for other companies in the future, but for now, she'd settle for negotiating on her own and doing such scenes for her own site.


  3. Nothing is going to make Shelley Lubben shut up because she makes her living off her evangelical scam. And Weinstein will soon be on to the next cause as it becomes ever more obvious that no money is coming AHF's way from either the porn industry or the state government. Their ugly alliance was a tactical error for both and I think they've both figured that out by now.

    I'm all for Avy Scott or any other performer setting indivdual standards on the testing protocol as long as it meets the industry minium. She isn't the first. Belladonna and Sasha Grey both insist on 72-hour testing.

    That's all well and good, and I'd generally like to see the interval reduced to two weeks, but beyond that, the science doesn't support more freqent testing. The PCR-DNA has about a ten-day window. So much before two weeks, there's nothing to see in the way of HIV proteins. That's how Patient Zero slipped the net in 2004. He tested pretty much the day before he sero-converted and and passed. Two weeks later, the test was effective.

    More frequent testing might not be a bad idea for lesser STD's with short incubation periods, and I think that's the main reason why some performers want 3-day tests. But for HIV, two weeks is realistic. Any shorter interval just creates a false sense of security.

    In any case, while I'm always glad to see performers set and keep their own standards, I doubt this will have any political impact at all. Those who don't believe testing works despite years of proof will continue to reject the idea. Those who don't hate porn have never listened to performers on this or any other issue. I've been in a roomfui of performers with Bob Jensen and I can tell you for a fact he doesn't give a fuck what they think.

    As to the notion that the industry doesn't care about about its talent, again, those who know better understand that the industry's support for AIM is meaningful and that its refusal to grant real choice to performers concerning condoms is also meaningful and can sort these things out.

    Others don't care to and won't. This is a feel-good story, but that's as far as it goes. Kudos to Avy but it's unlikely that her action will start a big, new ball rolling.

  4. I actually do think an industry-funded program of this kind would be a good thing rather than putting the expense entirely on the backs of performers, though I'm really not sure what the costs and logistics of implementing it would be. And considering the financial shape the porn industry is in, it is probably less receptive to anything involving increased expense.

  5. Some of the largest industry players, like Larry Flynt, already support AIM through direct contributions, which is how we're grapplling with our huge legal bills from the effing Cal-OSHA litigation.

    Direct industry funding of the testing process would be a great idea, but it didn't happen when times were good and with companies struggling to survive, I don't think they'll be very receptive to the idea now.

    A few companies already pay for a second monthly test if they require it, but those are exceptions. I agree it might be a good look for the companies to create a fund and pay for all testing, but the view seems to be that where independent contractors are concerned, testing is part of their working expenses.

    Testing is tax deductible, so it isn't quite as unreasonable a stance as it might appear. The performers get the deduction the same way the companies would.

  6. Re: Tax deductions

    Not much of a recompensation, and I know this from doing independent contract work myself. A tax deduction is an adjustment to income you can make based on the fact that a work expense is lost income. What that means in terms of how much less you pay on your taxes depends on your income, but for most people, that's a low percentage of the actual expense incurred.

    I've always had mixed feelings about "independent contractor" status. Its great if you're high-income, but if not, there are actually a lot of disadvantages to it.

  7. Amen on the deduction thing. Basically, the IRS uses my money as an IC in a vast stimulus scheme by forcing me to choose between spending it or giving it to them. Either way, the one thing I don't get to do is keep it. Even though in this case the expense is 100% deductible, I'm sure most performers, myself included, would rather have the hundred+ bucks.

    However, as I've said before, there is a collective benefit in maintaining AIM's independence that might be compromised if producers paid for testing in its entirety. As it is, AIM is often dismissed by its critics as an instrument of the big players in the industry. The fact that it exists mainly because performers support it counters not only the argument that it's a mere fig-leaf for the industry's indifference to performer safety, but also the nasty implications made repeatedly that performers are too marginilized and disempowered to do anything to protect themselves.

    While AIM does get contributions from some producers, the fact remains that performers started AIM and their money keeps the doors open on a daily basis. Thus AIM is beholden first to its client base above all other influences. Producers learn this quickly when they try to get something out of AIM contrary to policy. In the last go-round, initial rumors from the usual unreliable sources had it that June's Patient Zero worked while her test was still pending because the director on the set got some kind of conditional okay from the clinic.

    Nope. AIM does not give conditional okays, no matter how much wheedling and whining comes through the phone. That rumor was quickly and decisively dispatched with a direct and credible denial from clinic management.

    How credible would such a denial be if AIM owed its existence wholly to the generosity of producers?

    My compromise suggestion, so far rejected by all sides, is that a fund be established by the producers to pay for one test per month with the second test paid for by individual performers. This would help enable a twice-monthly testing cycle without unduly burdening the performers or putting AIM at the mercy of its largest contributors.