Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Presente, Adult Industry Medical Foundation (AIM); Sexual Swiftboating Finally Claims Its Victim

Well..the other shoe finally dropped.

One of the most direct ironies was that it was Violet Blue (the sex blogger notorious for taking the name of a porn performer) who passed on the fatal news today.

Nevertheless, here's how she reported the story of the shutdown of the AIM clinics:

AIM (Adult Industry Medical) Healthcare Clinic Shuts Down

Porn performer  Juliette Stray just tweeted about the sudden closure today of AIM (Adult Industry Medical) Healthcare Clinic. According to  Raincoat Reviews, the Free Speech Coalition (a porn industry legal org) called an industry and member-only meeting last Friday to discuss Workplace Safety, Performer Testing. As you can see by Sarah Shevon’s tweet, only seven porn performers attended the meeting. Apparently at the fateful meeting, they quietly decided to abruptly close the clinic responsible for standardized STD/STI testing, health certificates and community testing enforcement in the mainstream adult industry. AIM was also used by non-porn people for its top-rate tests and fast results.

AIM has not issued a press release nor made any comment or hint on their website that they have closed. Disturbingly, their site AimCheck.net has been taken offline. This means anyone who had good tests can no longer access the test results or have them accessed – the online proof and verification of having clean tests is gone. AIM’s Get Tested link is also broken.
 Considering everything that has happened to them: the HIV scares of 2004, 2009, and 2010, the continuous assaults on their integrity by the likes of the LA local health care establishment, Michael Weinstein's AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the antics of the Pornwikileaks crew in hacking their database and revealing sensitive information, and antiporn activists such as Shelley Lubben and Gail Dines wanting to blow up the testing regime that had worked pretty well to contain sexually transmitted infections amongst the performing community, it's hardly surprising that they would be able to withstand such pressures for too long.

It doesn't make the news any less saddening or tragic, because it shows beyond doubt what a scare campaign built on nothing but fear and lies can do when not directly confronted.

Far worse, though, is the "I got mine, and fuck everyone else" mentality that seems to have infected members of the performer/producer industry when it comes to protecting their rights. Only six performers could be induced to attend a meeting on their very survival as an industry???

In any case, I'm sure that the champagne bottles are popping over at Mike Weinstein's place, since it's a given bet that they will be able to exploit the chaos of not having a standardized testing regime for STI's (though Talent Testing Services is well positioned to take over AIM's duties for the moment) to continue their push for mandating condoms in all porn scenes. I'm just as sure that the tube sites will be celebrating as well, because all this will do is increase the value of stolen bareback scenes ripped to tube sites and stored on PC's and servers, and force performers and producers into venues of less protection and greater risk.

But who the fuck cares, I guess?? Such are the wages of sin..or at least, that's how the usual naysayers and trolls will say it. Porn performers are a bit like children, "illegals", and poor Black men: stepping stones to be used for personal gain and money, but not quite good enough to speak for themselves.

Maybe it's high time they organized themselves and demanded to be treated as humans. And, maybe producers might want to take a very long look in the mirror and see what their foolishness and misplaced pride has gotten them, and get back to what got them their audience in the first place.

Update: The Free Speech Coalition just issued this press release at their website regarding the closure of AIM. I will simply repost it in its entirity:

FSC Responds to Closure of AIM

Last week Free Speech Coalition (FSC) was made aware that AIM Medical Associates (AIM) was in danger of closing its doors. In order to avoid a significant gap in health services for performers, FSC has drawn up preliminary strategies to fill the gap with possible options for performer testing protocols. The FSC Board of Directors will meet tomorrow for an emergency meeting to consider options.

“It is our understanding that AIM is now closed. Our hearts go out to AIM and its dedicated staff. We know that it has been a very difficult time for them,” FSC Executive Director Diane Duke said. “Rest assured that FSC is committed to making sure that the industry and its performers are well-protected.”
Last Friday, FSC conducted three separate meetings for producers, agents and performers to gather feedback and discuss options with industry stakeholders. The response from those meetings was successful in gathering suggestions from industry members on which options to pursue and for taking action.

AIM has suffered a two-year campaign waged by AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) and is currently a defendant in litigation associated with AHF involving patient medical privacy. AHF also has struck out at several companies and talent agents in their attempt to mandate condom use on adult sets.

FSC has been working with industrial safety regulation agency CalOSHA to develop industry-appropriate regulations for adult production sets. The next CalOSHA Committee meeting addressing regulations for the adult industry will take place in Los Angeles on June 7. The meeting is open to the public, and scheduled to be held at the CalTrans Building in downtown Los Angeles, at 100 Main Street (at the corner of 1st and Main).



  1. Once again, I'd prefer to have been wrong, but I've been warning of this for over a year.

    It was the principle objective of AHF's smear campaign against AIM, conducted with the help of their low friends in high places in the local and state bureaucracies and mainstream media, to destroy AIM, and more importantly AIM's centralized data-base. They had to get rid of the system that was working in order to validate their claim that no working system existed, and they succeeded in this by playing hard, dirty and without let-up. It worked as I figured it would.

    Before anyone jumps on any performers for not getting more involved in this fight (ahem), let's make it clear that the lack of a coherent, determined response from the production companies, who have the money and the legal muscle to fight battles of this scale, was the main reason AHF won in a walk. There was no effective counter campaign, either legally or in the media, mounted by those in a position to do so despite multiple warnings from those closest to the situation.

    Neither AIM nor the F.S.C. could put together a war chest or concerted effort to counter the vicious attacks of the shit-weasels who did this vile thing without direct, well-financed support from the major players in the industry, and they didn't get it.

    It's unrealistic to expect performers who have never known life without AIM, have no money and no political experience, to organize themselves to fight an onslaught of such magnitude, especially when those who have the resources sat on their hands and let it happen. Let's not be blaming the victims here.

    After having put ten years into creating and maintaining AIM, and helping it build a trusted reputation among both performers and producers (despite the carping of a small coterie of marginal industry "personalities" who trashed AIM at every opportunity and must now share the onus for what will follow), it is beyond heart-breaking to see this happen.

    Very few of those affected by this whole controversy were around in the days before AIM, but I fear it won't take long for them to find out why the need for AIM existed in the first place.

    What will now happen, and I've called the plays pretty well up thus far so believe it or don't, is that various other clinics, of which TTS is the first example, will offer a menu of different testing protocols at different price ranges on a for-profit basis. The results of those tests will have to be given directly to performers as hard copies, as there will no longer be a centralized data-base against which they can be verified.

  2. It will be up to individual directors and production managers to look at all that different paperwork and determine on the spot whether it's legitimate or not.
    I doubt that private, profit-oriented clinics will take the risk of verifying test results for third parties, even if performers waive their medical privacy protections, for fear of litigation, so it will be all about how much you trust an unfamiliar piece of paper, much as it was before AIM.

    Producers, under the circumstances, may opt out of any responsibility for verifying test results altogether and leave it up to performers to share the information among themselves. That's how it was for the most part back in 1996, when a performer who was HIV+ continued to work for six months with forged test results from an obscure clinic in Calabasas, resulting in a dozen HIV transmissions.

    And now we're back to that. Unless somebody goes to the vast trouble and expense of reviving an organization that does what AIM did - as I expect will be discussed to no good end at the F.S.C's emergency meeting - that's the way it will stay until the disaster Michael Weinstein and his pals are hoping for finally happens. They've demonstrated beyond a doubt by destroying AIM that they care nothing for performer health, only for the pursuit of their own financial and political gain, and now that AIM is gone, they undoubtedly think they'll get what they want.

    Only they won't. Cal-OSHA will not be able to enforce a condom mandate, even if they manage to get a court ruling allowing them to try, and AHF won't get a contract from the state to spend millions administering its antiquated testing methods and snooping around for non-condom shoots, which will go right on no matter what any outsiders attempt to force on this highly decentralized and disorganized business.

    Everyone who was a party to this whole fiasco will be a loser, but the real losers will be the performers themselves, who have now lost the best system they could realistically have hoped for.

    Those responsible for this thing are criminals in my eyes and the enormously heightened risk of a catastrophic HIV outbreak in this industry lies squarely on all their heads.

    Yes, the industry didn't get up and fight them off as it needed to, but it shouldn't have needed to in the first place. Let's make sure we remember, forever, who actually did what in this deal, because when it explodes in everyone's faces, there will be plenty of finger-pointing going on in the aftermath.

    There will never be any accountability for any of this and one of the very best harm reduction programs ever initiated by and for sex workers will be gone with nothing to take its place.

    If I were observant, I would go to the nearest synagogue to address an imprecatory prayer petitioning for divine retribution against the evildoers who made this happen, but I'm not and can only curse them personally.

    And that I do, until the day I die.

  3. And BTW, VB's account isn't entirely accurate. The decision to give up trying to keep AIM on life support wasn't the F.S.C.'s. It was announced to the F.S.C. board by AIM in the face of financial realities that could not be denied any longer. There was no "decision" involved. AIM was bankrupted by AHF's nuisance litigation and it was simply impossible to operate.

    As for the low turn-out, the meeting was called at the last minute when it became clear that no alternatives existed and only those available on short notice were able to attend.

    I have my issues with F.S.C. and felt that bad strategic decisions were made there and at AIM all through this mess, but I want to make it clear that nothing underhanded was involved from this side of the fence in AIM's shut-down.

    The window of opportunity to prevent it had passed and right now F.S.C.;s energies are focused on finding a stop-gap alternative until a new system can be created, if indeed that is still possible with the vultures hovering ever closer as they are.

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  5. Ernest:

    As always, very eludite and incisive information.

    I just attempted to post a comment to VB's blog linking your comments in clarifcation to some of the implied smears she launched at AIM (and reinforced with her response to a comment by Theresa "Darklady" Reed). Considering that none of my previous comments survived her mod queue, and considering her stated dislike of mainstream porn, I'm not banking on my comment slipping past her firewall.


  6. Now here's a big surprise, courtesy of The LA Weekly:

    The AIDS Healthcare Foundation Tuesday afternoon called on the county Department of Public Health to step in and enforce condom use at porn sets in the absence of AIM's testing regime.

    AHF honcho Michael Weinstein:

    Now that AIM has closed--and the industry 'fig leaf' is gone--the responsible thing for the industry to do is to put performers' health first and require condom-use on all adult film sets. Testing adult film performers for HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases is important, but has never been an effective substitute for safer sex and condom use. Performers were poorly served by AIM and are poorly served by an industry that places profits above worker safety. If the porn industry won't protect its own workers, it is time for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health--the government body charged with safeguarding the health and welfare of its citizens--to enforce condom use on all adult film sets in the County.

    Not like Weinstein was in any way involved in creating this situation or anything.

    They're not dancing on AIM's grave at AHF. They're dancing on the graves of porn performers while they count the bucks they plan to shake out of the taxpayers.

    Lovely folks over there at AHF. Hope they sleep well tonight after drinking themselves stupid celebrating a hatchet-job well done.

  7. Sad news. I've suspected for a while that it was coming, but that doesn't make it any easier.

  8. Ernest:

    Well, that's hardly a surprise, either, considering that the LA Weekly has been in AHF's back pocket all this time. They sent a similar gloat post over to LukeIsBack, too.

    Shelley Lubben also got her taunts in as well, going even so far as to suggest other places where porn performers can get tested for FREE..including the LA County Health Services and something called PortSTOPLA (which sounds like more of a Christian Right "education center" than anything else).

    What fascinates me, though, is what I'm seeing as Violet Blue's duplicity in reporting this latest case. My original comment to her blog correcting the record on the FSC's "decision" to shut down AIM has still not been approved for posting....yet she did approve a comment from Bill Marigold essentally bashing AIM and the FSC for not being representative of the porn community. And I have yet to find anything at her blog where she is even roundly critical of AHF or the condom mandate.

    That tells me that her agenda is not to oppose AHF, but to use the demise of AIM as a wedge to promote her favored brand of avant garde "women's porn"..which would not neccessarily conflict with imposing condoms at all.

    In fact, this sounds distinctly like the strategy of the highbrow porn sites like Kink.com and Tony Comstock, who simply want the mainstream porn industry to falter so that they can swoop in with their favored "progressive" porn to save the day and get paid on the backs of regular performers. In effect, they want to create a new "elite" brand of condomized "safe sex" porn to eclipse the evil "mainstream" porn, and also "role model" porn consumers into using condoms through the elimination of everything else.

    Of course, it won't work, because aside from a specified demo of young viewers, most regular consumers do NOT find condomized porn to be desirable; they will just shift over to tube sites and bit torrents for downloading bareback for free; or they will simply move over to "at home" porn sites and cam shows. Also, porn studios will simply move to other venues (Vegas or Miami) where such regulations are less stringent, or other countries will simply take up the slack.

    In other words, this will not protect performers one iota; in fact, by threatening the loss of income and/or pushing them into less safe environments, this will make their lives considerably worse.

    But who cares, I guess, as long as "women's porn" exists to bite back against the evil men who rule "the industry"??

    Violet is losing my respect with every word she prints.


  9. First, both L.A. County and AHF continue to offer the ELISA test as their primary standard, complete with its six-month window period. It's uselessness to porn performers was horrifically demonstrated in 1997 by the outbreak that led to the creation of AIM. Testing is a low priority for both, as they believe barriers eliminate the need for it in porn. The 177 AIDS-related deaths thus far in the all-condom-no-testing gay porn community suggest otherwise.

    VB and her agenda are essentially a derail here and relevant only to her following. She's been all over this issue, supporting AIM one minute, waffling on the condom mandate the next. She won't be an influence of any significance in the days ahead when this crisis - and that's exactly what it is - has to be sorted out by the grown-ups.

    Bill Margold is not now and will never be one of those grown-ups and the fact that VB let his comment through suggests either how little she knows about the realities of the mainstream industry or how little she cares. And his claim to have created AIM, which is nothing new, is entirely false. The organization that existed until this week was created over his opposition and has been relentlessly trashed by him ever since, because as we know, it's all about him.

    As we've pretty much all agreed, there is no benefit to destroying the existing safeguards, which have worked so well they infuriate those who think porn should consist entirely of condom ads (Lifestyles is AHF's brand of choice, so avoid them in favor of any other type by all means) and leaving nothing in their place.

    Now begins exactly the nightmare forecast. The one commercial clinic offering walk-in PCR-DNA testing is less accessible, more expensive and has only limited capabilities for rest results verification. It also ships its samples off to Florida for processing, which leads to a longer lag-time for reporting, which has already cost performers employment and will continue to do so.

    More importantly, unlike AIM, it's not based in this community and does not have the means to trace contacts and isolate infections that AIM carefully constructed over the years, so if there is a glitch and something bad happens, the mechanisms that quickly identified and quarantined infected performers simply won't exist. I assume County Health figures it will take that job over now, but with what means I have no clue, as they have little access to the talent pool and enjoy a most unfavorable view there.

    Most alarmingly at the moment, there is no news anywhere that has yet emerged from yesterday's F.S.C. meeting which was supposed to bring forth some alternative system, or at least a hint of how to create one. That silence is both ominous and typical. F.S.C. has not been pro-active in this situation, having failed to heed warnings that it was developing dating back three years, and isn't equipped to resolve it.

    Nor are performers. They are young, self-involved and resistant to organization. One thing AIM, being of the porn culture, understood was that notions of unionizing performers or getting them to act in concert otherwise were fanciful and that getting them in for their monthly tests was a practical ceiling to what could be counted on from them.

    There is no ray of sunshine to be found in this perfect storm created by AIDS profiteers, anti-porn crusaders and unscrupulous political hacks. Performers will suffer for the sins of these people. That suffering has already begun and will continue now without limit unless and until someone comes forward with a reasonable alternative to the current chaos.

    That would be the few still-solvent major production companies who alone have the means, connections and knowledge needed to rebuild the system we had before under some other name.

    So far, they're sitting on their wallets just like always and waiting for the least empowered parties in the business to solve the problem for them.

    Very few good guys in this drama.

  10. In other depressing news, have you seen that Monica Foster has completely gone over to the dark side. One of the last people I thought would have joined the Shelley Lubben cult.

  11. IACB: Really??

    I know that Monica has been on full meltdown of late, even tweeting about klling herself...but I never heard about her ever jumping to the side of Lubben.

    Then again, she at one time did support Pink Cross' efforts until Shelley went to the "I see gay people becoming straight" card. I guess that the pressure has just overwhelmed her.


  12. If you read her blog, this latest manifestation of her mercurial character seems to have resulted as much from the Pornleaks deal and the closure of AIM as anything else.

    Since we know whose fingerprints are all over both the leaks and the destruction of AIM, she's really sleeping with her own enemies at this point.

    I feel sorry for her personal distress but have zero sympathy for her fence-jumping at the expense of every other performer's safety to throw in with those who helped destroy the system upon which she had previously relied.

    Another great victory for the noble cause of making porn as dangerous as possible in order to create a market for the snake oil AHF and Lubben are peddling.

    And I expect a lot more vileness to come as they attempt to exploit the heinous act of endangering the entire talent pool to help achieve their goal of getting a lucrative deal to regulate the industry to their tastes.

    Fortunately, that's doomed to failure for reasons already discussed. Unfortunately, they'll keep on doing harm trying to make it happen anyway.

    At least until there is concerted push-back from those who oppose them, and I'm waiting to see that happen, because it hasn't yet.

  13. The poor lady is going *way* off the deep end. The porn industry is apparently run by the Ordo Templi Orientis and the Illuminati according to her recent videos. I kid you not.