Friday, December 13, 2013

HIV Porn Panic 2013: "All Clear" Given, Moratorium Lifted As Of Today, Sayeth FSCPASS....But, What About The Peanut Gallery Skeptics?

Well, that was a short, sweet, and thankfully brief little panic.

Last night, the Free Speech Coalition's PASS announced that the final remaining test of all first generation performers whom had shot with the performer whom had been recently infected with HIV had come up negative, like all the other tests. Thusly, it was now safe to lift the moratorium on porn production that had been imposed last Friday, and resume shooting as of today (December 13th).

In addition, FSCPASS announced that the date for acceptable tests for clearance to shoot had been rebooted to December 5th, in accordance with their protocols that production cease for two weeks after any possible exposure to HIV.  Since the infected performer's last shoot was on November 21st, the two-week latency period would fall due on Dec. 5th. (The actual positive test was confirmed on December 6th; the Aptima HIV test used by FSCPASS has a 7 to 10 day latency period for catching infected DNA. FSCPASS allows for a 2 week period for additional coverage and protection.)

So, once again, the system worked exactly as planned, and people should be celebrating...right??

You'd think so...but, there is a minority but growing number of skeptics around the porn disapora who aren't so sure that lifting the moratorium this soon is a good idea.

Their basic argument is that the Aptima test might be well and good for initial detection and screening, there is that small chance that it may miss someone who has the HIV virus running dormant, and if that person is cleared for shooting and infects someone else, you could get a disasterous outbreak. To them, the proper protocol should be to follow up with reinforced testing of the first-gen partners in two weeks following the initial Aptima testing, and then even further testing in six to eight weeks just to be sure that the HIV virus is completely removed from the system.

And some critics of FSCPASS even go further than that; they believe that the costs of not shooting are too great, and that FSCPASS has way too much power to control production in the midst of a crisis...so, they argue that production should continue while the protocols are being followed....as long as condoms are used.

Both arguments have some bit of merit, but ultimately they both fail the smell test for me.

Argument #1 might have more merit if the dominant tests used for STI's was something like ERISA, an antibody test that did tend to miss out early cases; but Aptima has been proven to be very accurate in the screening and detection of acute cases of HIV. Plus, the new 14-day testing protocol imposed by FSCPASS all but eliminates the latency period where someone can get infected before testing and sneak through the cracks of the tests. It should also be remembered that the HIV testing protocols used by FSCPASS also include ERISA and Western Blot assays in addition to Aptima, for full coverage.

Another note is that while it is technically possible, there has been no recorded case -- even with the multiple HIV panics this year -- of any first-gen performer being cleared initially but testing positive in followup testing while shooting. Indeed, there has not even been one case, not even since the original "outbreak" of 2004, where a performer has even gotten infected on the straight side of the industry directly from a porn shoot. (And in that one case, Darren James brought his HIV infection in from the outside. No, Derrick Burts doesn't count, either, because his infection occured in a condom-only gay shoot, though allegedly not while actually shooting.)

Argument #2, on the other hand, was the argument thrown out by Porno Dan Leal after his attempted coup against FSCPASS in bucking the moratorium: "Because Immoral Productions is condom only, and none of their models were part of the first-gen list, they should have been allowed to shoot; and condom-only shops should be able to shoot content during the moratorium period. Performers gotta eat and pay their bills, you know."

That sounds more less like a concern for safety, and more a concern about not getting paid; and it also sounds like a surrender to the Condom Nazis over at the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, who would gladly exploit such a division to say that even industry giants think that condoms are the best form of prevention, so why not just make it mandatory and abolish bareback sex altogether??

It also ignores the basic fact that my friend Ernest Greene has argued repeatedly: you cannot have mandatory testing and mandatory condoms together, because California antidiscrimination laws do not allow for the removal or even the screening of employees for HIV. AHF's argument has long been that with condoms, you don't need testing to begin with, because barrier protection really is the only legitimate form of protection from STI's..and "safe sex" can be pretty hot, and anyone who doesn't like condoms are simply putting performers at risk of death and destruction. One look at the HIV/AIDS death toll of gay performers on their side of the industry (where condoms rather than testing is the default) will dissuade most people of that fallacy.

Thankfully, there seems to be developing a sense of unity among performers and the industry, mostly because they are finally fed up with being AHF's punching bag for the past three years, and also because after three scares this past year, the sense of urgency to do something before AHF and CalOSHA overrides them has finally soaked into their brains. Let's hope that this unity lasts by the time the next panic hits...which, if I know AHF's deep pockets and ability to buy their own instigators, probably won't be too long coming.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

HIV In Porn Panic, Round Three: Now With 150% Extra Porno Dan Blowback!!

Good to the ness.

So, now we have Porn Panic #3 for 2013, as on Friday the Free Speech Coalition's testing group PASS announced that a performer had tested positive for HIV, and a new moratorium is now in place, pending the prerequiste testing of first-generation partners.

Of course, the usual fear and panic has enabled the usual peanut gallery of rogues to call for mandating condoms in porn as the only alternative....but if you know this space, you know why those arguments are simply bogus.

The Real Porn Wikileaks has been the go-to source for updated info and background during this current debacle, and at least FSCPASS has been out in front from the very beginning. (A particularly timely essay by FSC CEO Diane Duke explaining the moratorium process can be found here.)

For now, it seems like this event isn't going to explode like the Cameron Bay/Rod Daily fiasco; since the affected performer has been fully cooperative with the process; and since the protocols put into place was followed, there are fewer first-gen performers to locate and test. So, it's looking like he was the only one affected, and there has been no on-set transmissions.

However...that doesn't mean that this event hasn't produced its own fireworks. When the original announcement of the positive test came out, there was the usual firestorm on Twitter from some second-level performers screaming that this latest proved the total failure of the FSCPASS system, and that only condoms would provide the better means of protection. (One such performer announced that she would only shoot condom only from here on...though she had been generally inactive from shooting porn in the past year anyways.) The AIDS Healthcare Foundation put out their usual "How long, oh how long,will we allow this industry to skip the law?" BS press release, but otherwise they have been a bit quieter than usual.

And then, there was Dan Leal of Immoral Productions.

Saturday night, FSCPASS updated that they had obtained and tested all the infected performer's first-gen partners, and that it appeared that the moratorium would probably last only a week at most when all the test results would be posted. Apparently, that was enough for "Porno Dan", because right after that announcement, he tweeted this bit:


Keep in mind, folks, that Immoral Productions has been very much in the spotlight in the Condom Wars; they have been a direct target of Los Angeles County health officials, having had their facility raided last year under the guise of Measure B; and "Porno Dan" has been pretty outspoken about both abiding by the law and about the current outbreaks.

However, this attempt to jump the FSCPASS moratorium falls under a not quite so thinly veiled agenda of undermining FSC, aided and abetted by many of the same agents that have historically not played so well with that particular agency.

After getting absolutely fricaseed and gangslammed by industry heavyweights such as Julia Ann, Axel Braun, Melissa Monet, Keiran Lee, and Brad Armstrong, among others, Leal reacted that he was just stirring stuff up, and that he would not challenge the moratorium after all. But, he got off these parting shots at Diane Duke and the FSC:


Funny, but I didn't know that FSC was obligated to get the approval of LATATA or Talent Testing Services in order to enact a measure intended to protect performers from getting infected with a potentially life-threatening disease. Plus, wasn't one of the main criticisms of the FSC during the Bay/Daily fiasco that they acted too quickly to lift the moratorium and resume shooting before all of the testing processes had been resolved??

I guess maybe that Dan Leal would much prefer Michael Weinstein determining production, then??

Don't get me wrong here, the issue of who should control performer testing is an important one, and agents, production companies, and performers should have a healthy and free debate on that matter.

When a performer becomes infected, however, all debate and infighting should cease and desist, and the focus should be placed on two issues: comforting and assisting to the full extent possible the performer(s) affected, and rallying to protect the other performers from getting infected. Anything else become simply distractions that only aid and abet the goals of Michael Weinstein and the Condom Fascists.

And in the meantime, perhaps this will fiinally galvanize the industry to unify themselves towards a single, standardized testing and screening regime for ALL performers, reinforced by full reimbursement of fees for testing, AND a pool of insurance to cover all the costs of treatment and care for those who do get sick. Either the industry gets off it and fights for their performers, or AHF and the government Condom Police will take over..with not so healthy results.

See also Dr. Chauntelle Tibals' essay on accountability here.
Dan had cited no specific medical basis for his decision, other than a subsequent tweet to the effect that he knew something the rest of us don’t. Regardless of any medical rationale, however, the political and perceptual problems caused by a public display of division on an issue of such magnitude would, as members of the adult community quickly noted, play right into the hands of those presently at war with the adult business.
Most industry veterans who spoke to TRPWL offered a simple theory to explain Dan’s move: the goal was to underscore and foster disunity, and to make the point that he and certain “others” opposed adult trade association Free Speech Coalition’s stewardship of industry matters.
In short, insiders viewed it as a purely contrarian move; an opportunistic volley in an industry power struggle. Few thought he’d actually go through with his promise to resume shooting.
- See more at: http://therealpornwikileaks.com/porno-dan-hoist-petard-announcing-defy-production-moratorium/#sthash.GrsUZ6FB.dpuf
Dan had cited no specific medical basis for his decision, other than a subsequent tweet to the effect that he knew something the rest of us don’t. Regardless of any medical rationale, however, the political and perceptual problems caused by a public display of division on an issue of such magnitude would, as members of the adult community quickly noted, play right into the hands of those presently at war with the adult business.
Most industry veterans who spoke to TRPWL offered a simple theory to explain Dan’s move: the goal was to underscore and foster disunity, and to make the point that he and certain “others” opposed adult trade association Free Speech Coalition’s stewardship of industry matters.
In short, insiders viewed it as a purely contrarian move; an opportunistic volley in an industry power struggle. Few thought he’d actually go through with his promise to resume shooting.
- See more at: http://therealpornwikileaks.com/porno-dan-hoist-petard-announcing-defy-production-moratorium/#sthash.GrsUZ6FB.dpuf
Dan had cited no specific medical basis for his decision, other than a subsequent tweet to the effect that he knew something the rest of us don’t. Regardless of any medical rationale, however, the political and perceptual problems caused by a public display of division on an issue of such magnitude would, as members of the adult community quickly noted, play right into the hands of those presently at war with the adult business.
Most industry veterans who spoke to TRPWL offered a simple theory to explain Dan’s move: the goal was to underscore and foster disunity, and to make the point that he and certain “others” opposed adult trade association Free Speech Coalition’s stewardship of industry matters.
In short, insiders viewed it as a purely contrarian move; an opportunistic volley in an industry power struggle. Few thought he’d actually go through with his promise to resume shooting.
- See more at: http://therealpornwikileaks.com/porno-dan-hoist-petard-announcing-defy-production-moratorium/#sthash.GrsUZ6FB.dpuf

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Why We Shouldn't Shoot All Of The Lawyers: VIVID's Counterbrief Response To AHF's Defense Of Measure B

To set this up right: VIVID, along with co-plantiffs Derrick Pierce and Kayden Kross, is attempting to appeal the preliminary ruling in the still ongoing Measure B appeal, in which Judge Dean Pregerson set aside certain portions of the law while upholding the main parts requiring condoms for porn shoots. They are also attempting to disqualify the AIDS Healthcare Foundation as a "putative intervenor" on behalf of the law. AHF had earlier filed their own brief defending the law; linkage to that brief can be found here. (Mark Kernes' excellent breakdown of AHF's brief is here.) This brief is the plantiffs' response to AHF's brief....and as you will see, it stands on its own for its full fledged takedown of AHF's arguments and of Measure B in general.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Rebuttal Too Smart For CounterPunch To Publish: Whereas I Rebuke Gail Dines' Bullshittery

 [Since it is apparent that CounterPunch has no intention of publishing my response to Gail Dines' recent screed at their website, where she attempts one more time to malign and distort the facts of the latest HIV porn scare, as well as attempts some drive-by pot shots at her critics, including yours truly (in the process butchering the name of my personal blog), I thought that it would be a good idea to share with you the essay that I had prepared for them. The original is still up over at my Red Garter Club blog, but I figure that since industry pros read BPPA a lot more often then my personal blog, this might be an interesting read. Do with it as you will, folks.  -- Anthony]

A Rebuttal From The "Red Garter Belt" 

How Gail Dines Fails Miserably On The Latest HIV In Porn "Outbreak"

by Anthony Kennerson


Perhaps I should be grateful to Professor Gail Dines that she mentions me, or at least my Red Garter Club blog (no belts involved, I'm afraid), in passing as part of her latest essay regarding the current HIV scare in the Los Angeles-based pornography industry. Having been one of her most trenchant critics from the Left, and being both a fan and consumer of mainstream porn and an unabashed supporter of what some decry as "sex-positive" feminism, it doesn't surprise me at all that she would tend to avoid folk like me if at all possible.

The problem is, though, that Professor Dines seems to have an inverse relationship with the art of fact checking, and a continuous habit of letting her antiporn ideology get in the way of interpreting facts that don't mesh perfectly with her beliefs and assumptions about porn and its performers, producers, and consumers. This latest essay, I'm afraid, is simply an extension of those previous habits.

First, let's review the trigger mechanisms that spawned all this. In mid-August, a porn performer named Cameron Bay was verified to have tested positive for HIV, the virus associated with AIDS, through the industry's regular testing protocols. Later that week, her long-time boyfriend, Rod Daily, also a on/off again performer, but operating on the gay side of the industry, announced that he had gotten infected with the virus as well. After a two week period of testing of first generation shooting partners of Bay turned up negative, an imposed moratorium against shooting porn scenes was lifted after two weeks....but was reimposed again on September 9th after a third performer was verified as having tested positive for HIV. "Performer #3", as we will refer to her, has been verified to be intimately related with both Bay and Daily, having worked with them prior to entering the LA based industry in early June. Subsequent testing of all her partners have turned up no further infections; and based on that, the second moratorium was lifted on September 22nd. (WARNING: embedded link NSFW)

Meanwhile, the mega healthcare organization, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, under the direction of its president, Michael Weinstein, has been doing its best to exploit the panic of these infections as a wedge to advance their crusade for destroying the screening and testing system that the mainstream porn industry has been using for the past 10 years, and replacing it with a system based on mandatory condom usage and other means of "barrier protection". In effect, AHF and Weinstein wants the "straight" side of the porn industry to adapt the policies of the gay side, in which it is assumed that HIV-positive performers should be allowed to continue to shoot content, and that seromatching HIV+ performers as well as condoms are the more effective approach to preventing mass infection. Given as much as a 30% rate of seropositivity among active gay male performers, and nearly 117 deaths from gay male actors striken with HIV/AIDS in the past 10 years (as compared to only 2 confirmed infections from shoots from the "straight" side during that period), it's an open question which system has proven more effective.

But, AHF's efforts have also been reinforced by some "sex-positive" health activists and reproductive health specialists, who say that requiring condoms in porn shoots would go a long way towards their efforts in non-judgmental sex education of the masses, as well as having a positive effect by "mentoring" the common folk in the repetition of good behavior.

In addition, some of the more avant garde backers of the alternative erotic subgenre known as "feminist porn" have latched on to promoting condoms as both a prominent selling point of "hot safer sex" and establishing a more progressive and eco-friendly sexual ethic. Not all of them have gone fully towards supporting a legislated condom mandate as AHF does advocate, but many have decided to use the present crisis as a boost for their own promotion of "condom only" ethics.

One such person is long-time sex educator and feminist porn producer Tristan Taormino, who announced last week that she would in the future require both testing and condoms for anyone performing in her future shoots. This week, she was joined in her stance by another esteemed female producer, Nica Noelle, who announced her own condom only conversion on the pages of Salon.com.
While both Taormino and Noelle have been generally praised for their conversions and stances within and outside of the industry, there has been some concern over whether the timing of these conversions would serve to divide and conquer and supress legitimate questions about the effectiveness of condoms as a sole barrier against HIV, as well as the aftereffects of undercutting the present screening/testing system that has served the industry well.

Nina Hartley, perhaps known to CounterPunch readers as one of the most eloquent advocates for sexual expression, feminist porn, and sexual safety, as well as being a 30 year veteran of the porn industry as an actor, director, and producer, has posted a very effective essay in which she explicitly makes her case that the condom mandate would be counterproductive in STI prevention, that AHF's crusade is more likely to make porn production less safe by driving performers underground into more dangerous venues, and that true performer choice on whether to use condoms on porn shoots should be left to the actual performers rather than outsourced to legislators or other self-identified "experts".

Hartley's husband, Ira Levine (also known under his producer alias of Ernest Greene), is a decorated porn producer and director under his own right, as well as having been one of the architects of the screening/testing system for the mainstream porn industry during his tenure at the Adult Industry Medical (AIM) Foundation. (Both Greene and Hartley have served on its Board of Directors.) AIM was ultimately driven under due to the efforts of AHF and other pro-condom mandate groups; its functions have been taken over by the Free Speech Coalition through their Performer Accessibility Screening Services (henceforth PASS or FSCPASS). It is the latter which monitors and maintains the current screening program, which uses the latest and most accurate testing assays to isolate and screen out infected people from the performance pool. Both Greene and Hartley were also collaborators and supporters of Taormino who have been respectfully critical of her position change on condoms; see Greene's critique over at the Blog of Pro Porn Activism. (Disclosure: I am Chief Editor of that blog, and Ernest Greene is a regular contributor and commentator there.)

I have posted my own respectful critique of Taormino in two parts at my own Red Garter Club blog, and that is probably what flagged Dines to add me to her hit list, albeit without mentioning my real name and butchering up the name of my blog.

But, that I can forgive and toss out as a case of a rush to print or simply not enough sleep or the rush of deadlines. What can't be so easily forgiven is Professor Dines' slips of half truths and outright misassumptions about the actions taken place, and her rewriting of facts to fit her ideology.

For starters, she attempts to use Cameron Bay's remarks at the September 18th press conference hosted by the AHF as the gospel truth when it comes to the porn industry's alleged abuse of women. That's right, Professor, that would be September 18th, not 19th...you were just one day off.

But that pales compared to the slipshod factchecking that immediately follows:

Last month porn performer Cameron Bay tested positive for HIV, and since then three other performers have come forward, making a total of four who have been diagnosed with acute HIV infection. At first the porn industry expressed sympathy, but now they are circling the wagons and sharpening their knives, going after the infected performers who took part in an AHF press conference on September 19.

That would be partly true that four performers who were HIV+ did speak at that presser. Problem was, the four that did speak weren't the four that Dines implies were affected. Cameron Bay and Rod Daily (whom Dines neglects to mention until just in passing later, and never as Bay's boyfriend) did indeed speak....but the other two HIV+ former performers to speak were Darren James and Derrick Burts..who just so happenn to be paid employees of AHF as well as being the respective Patient Zeros of the 2004 and 2010 porn HIV "outbreaks".

Weinstein did bring forth two former performers -- one live, one via teleconference -- who made a claim that they were HIV+ due to the current "outbreak", but they made no attempt to verify any evidence that they were indeed affected at all.

The "live" addition, a gay male model named Patrick Stone, testified that he had heard of his supposed "infection" from an email sent to him by PASS saying that he was HIV positive...in complete contradiction of stated PASS policy which states that any positive testing performer be physically recalled for followup testing and counseling and informing possible partners. Stone also claimed that he had tested negative in subsequent tests, and was awaiting final testing before declaring his original results as a false positive.

The other "addition" was an unidentified performer who claimed that he had been infected "nearly six months ago"...but gave no other information about where he got his positive test or how he got infected.

For all it seems, these two new additions were just plants by Weinstein to artificially inflate the casulty count in this "outbreak" and scare people into supporting his condom mandate crusade. Yet, Dines simply accepts their claims as fact and recruits them as supports in her general war against porn.

Dines' attempt to recruit Cameron Bay as the prototype victim now under attack by the Vast Porn Corporate Lobby is equally fascinating for the misassumptions and outright lies spilled forth in almost every paragraph. For someone who claims to do detailed research, Professor, would it be a bit of a stretch to actually get FSC CEO Diane Duke's name correct?

After essentially plagarizing Kathleen Miles' Huffington Post reset of Bay's telling of that infamous shoot for Kink.com's Public Exposure,  Dines riffs thusly:

Following the press conference, The Free Speech Coalition (the lobbying arm of the porn industry) did what most industry organizations do: blame the victim. According to Diana Duke, the CEO of FSC, “While producers and directors can control the film set environment, we can’t control what performers do in private. We need to do more to help performers understand how to protect themselves in their private lives”. That the performers contracted HIV in their private lives is now the official line of the porn industry. Mouthing almost the same words, Steven Hirsch, CEO of Vivid Entertainment, is quoted as saying, “Unfortunately, we can’t control what people do off-set”.

What evidence does the industry have for making such claims? According to Mark McGrath of the AHF, “In order to definitively prove how HIV was transmitted, you would need to do detailed molecular analysis of the HIV strains of known cases. This includes genotyping the viral strains, determine nucleotide sequences, then compare these sequences phylogenetically to comparable sequences from available reference strains.” Of course, no such research has been done by the industry; it has been too busy digging up dirt on the performers.

Considering that all subsequent testing of all performers working with Cameron Bay since her last negative test have turned up negative with NO new infections, the conclusion that she got infected from activity outside of porn might have a bit more relevance and truth than what Dines will allow. Then again, if you are willing to get your information on HIV serotransmission from someone like Mark McGrath, whom is one of AHF's chief ideologues for the condom mandate, and who has been implicated in paying Derrick Burts' legal charges among others, then I guess that the truth would seem fungible.

As for Dines' attempt to turn the Public Disgrace shoot into the Point Zero of the current outbreak....well, it doesn't turn out so well. Turns out that the performer who did get his penis cut (by Bay biting down too hard, no less), did in fact offer to step aside before continuing with the scene and allow Rod Daily to fill in and complete things...but Bay decided to continue on, saying that as long as he wasn't hurt, it was all good. And, that performer -- named Xavier Corvus -- has tested negative multiple times since that shoot, as has the only other performer that Bay performed sex on (a blow job).

And, her effort of accusing The Real Porn Wikileaks of a smear campaign against Cameron Bay and Derrick Burts? Nice try, but no cigar...I'll just reference you to TRPWL themselves for that defense. (Warning, potential link NSFW)

But the real cynicism comes when Professor Dines attempts to give a left-handed smack to Tristan Taormino for her change of heart. Keep in mind that Dines has no love lost for "feminist porn" in general and especially "sellouts" like Taormino in particular, since she sees that genre as simply window dressing that cloaks the supposedly far more popular body-punishing "hate sex" that men use to degrade and humiliate women. Nevertheless, any port that can help exacerbate the storm is a good port for Dines:

Not surprisingly, Taormino, the only porn producer who has acknowledged that there may well be health risks on porn sets, is now being hung out to dry as a traitor to the industry. She was until last week the golden girl of the porn industry because she branded herself as a fun, cool, hip “feminist” who could build a female consumer base (even though she has been filming condom-free anal sex scenes for a decade and seems to have shown no concern whatsoever for the health risks until now). Now the industry is after her like a pack of wolves, arguing that her condom-only policy is a cynical PR ploy aimed at building an image of herself as a feminist pornographer who cares about performer safety.

Ernest Greene, a well-known director of violent porn (Roxie Loves Pain, Jenna Loves Pain, McKenzie Loves Pain) and one-time Taormino collaborator, wrote a scathing article accusing the latter of jumping ship because “she tacks with the political wind however she perceives it to blow”.  Similarly, the blogger Red Garter Belt Club denounces Taormino for putting “her own personal enrichment and political posturing above the principle of defending true performer choice and the actual facts and merits of protecting performers,” but doesn’t actually explain how performers are better served by having unprotected sex.

Ummm, Professor Dines??  I do not and did not "denounce" Ms. Taormino; I respectfully disagreed with her position for the reasons I stated in my posts. The same goes for Ernest Greene....though, considering your natural hatred for him and his wife Nina Hartley (Oops, I'm sorry...did I say some bad words, Professor??), I perfectly understand your confusion of critique for "trashing".

And, so sorry, Professor Dines, but nowhere in either parts of my posts do I defend "unprotected sex"; since I happen to believe that performers themselves, as should people in real life, should be the ones to best define how to protect themselves based on their own individual situations. Or, does Dines think that even married couples who are totally clean and monogamous with each other should be forced by the State to use condoms just for the sake of sex education?

BTW....BDSM porn is not "violent", and cherry picking three titles out of the hundreds of erotic BDSM movies that Greene has done over his 25 years of production merely because they contain the word "pain" in them, does not say much about Professor Dines' expertise. At least, nothing other than her lack thereof.

I suppose I should be pumping my chests for being mentioned as one of the industry heavyweights since I moderate BPPA and own Red Garter Club, in spite of not only not receiving ONE RED CENT from the porn industry, and actually paying $50 a month of web hosting fees to keep my blogs alive.
However, that's far from the issue, and I'd never deny Gail Dines her right to make as much money off her book or her activism, however hypocritical she may be calling herself an "anticorporatist". Or, a "radical feminist", in spite of defending a woman whom has a verified criminal record of abusing other women and threatening a fellow sex worker with "gang rape". Or, a supporter of mandated condoms as a "performer choice", in spite of defending a former gay escort whom still can't explain how exactly he managed to get infected on a condom only gay male shoot. (Warning: embedded links NSFW)

Then again, I'd much rather be working poor with integrity and decency and mutual respect, than to get rich off lies and deceit and distorting facts to fit groupthink.

And at the very least, I get the names right. It's called "owning it", Professor Dines. Some of that would do you some good.


[Anthony Kennerson is a part-time blogger on progressive and sexual expression issues who blogs on his off hours when not working his night job. He is the Chief Editor of the Blog of Pro Porn Activism (http://bppa.blogspot.com), and operates his own Red Garter Club Blog (http://www.redgarterclub.com/RGClubNetwork/rgclub3dot2).]

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Measure B Was Only A Missile, CalOSHA Drops The NUKE: Draft Of New Porn Regulations Released, And It's As Bad As It Gets..And WORSE (UPDATED)

[UPDATED: Scroll to the bottom of this post.]

A lot of people were under the impression that since Measure B is now getting assaulted under legal action, and the proposed condom mandate law died a brutal death in the California Assembly, the porn world would be safe from regulation now for the forseeable future.

Problem is, though, they forgot about CalOSHA and their ability to use regulations to do what official law might not accomplish. And, considering the not so thinly veiled collusion between CalOSHA and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in their mission to regulate the porn industry to death, or at least force "barrier protection" on them, it may have been not too wise to overlook them.

Well...can't overlook them now.

Tonight, CalOSHA, using the tried-and-true method of leaking to friendly supporters of their crusade (read, Mike South's blog), released their draft copy of proposed "bloodborne/sexually transmitted pathogens" prevention regulations that they plan to submit to the federal branh of OSHA for final approval.

I have converted the original .doc file to .pdf and will be uploading the file here ASAP for your personal viewing and analysis...but trust me on first reading, it is as bad as it gets...and WORSE.

Here's the quick Cliff's Notes summary of the proposed regs:

1) A new category of "sexually transmitted pathogens" is created in order to justify mandating condom usage, assuming that ALL porn performers are essentially carriers of STI's and are incapable of protecting themselves.

2) Condoms and other forms of "barrier protection" are now mandatory for ALL vaginal and anal penetrative sex, and any contact of semen/vaginal fluids with the face or internal body organs are now prohibited. Translation: no more facials or swallowing, no creampies, and no pop shots to the ass or near the vag, either. The back, the breasts, and anywhere below the knee is still apparently OK, though.

3) There is a exception from condoms (and I assume dental barriers for women) for oral sex, but that is conditioned on verification that the performers involved have undergone a stringent vaccination regime for HPV, Hepatitis A, and Hepatitis B, and is cleared by an approved physician....and that exception is invalidated by January 1, 2018.

4) All porn production studios are now required to have Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) -- as in safety gloves, goggles, aprons, and other mandatory equipment -- in use and accessible. In short, porn studios and personal residences are now forced to endure regulations more suited for hospitals or drug testing facilities...even though STI infections in porn are below that of the general population.

5) All porn production studios will be forced to provide a licensed physician at all shoots to verify that these regulations are being enforced, and to report any violations and/or possible infections to the local health authorities.

6) Vaccines for Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and HPV will be required of all performers, at producers expense, and even if a testing/screening program is in place that clears the performer. (What..no Hepatitis C or syphilis??)

7) Porn production companies must provide at their own expense a program of medical services and followup treatment for possible exposures. (This is a direct attack at the PASS protocols, since their screening system doesn't include as of yet followup for treatment. I'm guessing that AHF is chomping at the bit to provide those "services" through their inferior yet "free" tests, right??)

That's the bad part...here's where it gets progressively WORSE:

8) Producers are now required to log every scene, including every scene performed within the last 30 years, including personal medical information about everyone involved with each and every scene....and that includes the performers' stage and real names, addresses, and other personal info. And, they must make such info available upon request to any federal or state authority, and must maintain such information for no less than five years. (This is 2257 on steroids, y'all. Can you imagine someone like Michael Weinstein getting his hands on such a database of personal private information?? Imagine no more, because it's more than probable that AHF will take over the monitoring and the testing AND the enforcement of these regulations, and thusly will have control over this "database". NSA will have nothing on THIS.)

9) Furthermore, even if the production company should go out of business, it would be required to immediately transfer these required records to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (the federal branch of OSHA) within 3 months.

All in all, this is nothing less than an AHF/OSHA coup against the adult industry to impose their own standards and drive the industry underground or completely out of business...and all for AHF and the condom companies to have free ad placement. Other than the tube sites and illegal pirates who will now thrive on the sale of bareback porn that will, if these regulations come to fruition, suddenly become a commodity like gold, and the mainstream "simulated sex" genre who may get a boost from elimination of the hardcore competition, it's going to be pretty damn hard for any aspiring producer to survive, let alone make a profit.

Don't say that we didn't warn you of this happening.

UPDATE: I've now posted the full text .pdf version of the draft regs on Scribd. Here's a copy of the transcript:




UPDATE #2 (11-5-13) AVN has now confirmed with Cal-OSHA that the document as opposed is only a first preliminary draft document, not the final regulations. Quoting from them:

UPDATE: AVN has confirmed that the proposal referenced below was officially issued by CalOSHA, but in its current form, it is described as a "draft" rather than an actual "proposal."

Deborah Gold, the Deputy Chief of Health and Engineering Services for CalOSHA, recently stated in an email, "I believe that what is being circulated is a draft, not a proposal, and it was/is our intent to post it to the advisory committee webpage... With health regulations, Division staff sends draft proposals to Board staff for their review. Then those proposals, with comments, corrections etc. are sent back to Division staff, until a final proposal is reached.  What is being circulated is only a preliminary draft. The Board released it pursuant to a public records act request... We have had six advisory meetings which led to the current draft."

Gold also said that she is no longer the lead contact on this issue, and that those responsibilities have been assumed by Senior Safety Engineer Amalia Neidhardt, who noted in an email to AVN that the current draft has been edited from an original draft created in June, 2011. She also noted, "This draft has been sent to the Board staff for their review. It is not a rulemaking proposal at this time."
So, it seems that this draft proposal wasnt really intended to be released to the public, but was only done so through a "public records act request". So, who requested it?? Mike South??  AHF?? AVN??

Did AHF and South simply jump the gun to announce these regs as "final" even though they were clearly intended to be merely preliminaries to be adjusted for the final proposal?

And....considering that it took nearly TWO years for CalOSHA to revise their original 2011 preliminary draft document to this version, what does it say about the interagency warfare now going on within CalOSHA to tweak these proposed regulations? You'd think that if they were following the AHF template to the letter, they would have released a final edition by now....but there must be some ongoing infighting going on now.

In any case, the process is still ongoing, and we will still keep you updated should anything happen.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

"Adult Performers Are Adults. Lets Try Treating Them That Way." Just Another Ernest Greene Essay

[Note by Anthony: BPPA Contributor Ernest Greene asked me to post this new essay here as a followup to his original post critiquing Tristan Taormino's change in condom policy; and also addressing the recent announcements of produer Nica Noelle (who annouced that she will require condoms for her future films, in effect adopting Taormino's new policy), and producer Axel Braun (who announced this week that he would raise minimum age of eligibility for performer in his films/videos to 21 from 18). As always, the views expressed are his alone, but you are totally free to support or oppose them on their merits as you wish. I have added embedded links for background reference and research support, but the words are as Ernest typed them.]

Adult Performers Are Adults. Let’s Try Treating Them That Way.

As expected, since I raised my objections to Tristan Taormino’s declaration via CNN that she would henceforward require performers to use condoms in all scenes she directed, I’ve been getting the usual barrage of incoming bullshit that follows any attempt to take a reason-based stand on this issue. I’ve been called all sorts of things by all sorts of people who seem united only in their rancor toward me. The ranting of Rob Black and the newly retired (how could they tell?) Gene Ross, who even AHF won’t touch with a barbecue fork, is no surprise. I’m a bit more amused by Gail Dines chiming in on CounterPunch to offer her concurrence with my view that Tristan’s new stance is politically motivated (after making sure her readers knew me as a “maker of violent pornography”). Thanks for the recognition, Gail, and since you’re so fond of primitive Anglo-Saxonisms to demonstrate that you’re not a pearl-clutching prude, I’m sure you’ll know what I mean when I suggest you take your sarcastic glee in setting one pornographer against another and stick it right up your bum. I’m not going to be drawn into rebutting your lies and nonsense any more than I would be the verbal pollution of Ross and Black, with whom you share a common contempt for the truth and an adolescent need to shock.

Now, as to those who actually think that any position I’ve taken ever in my 30 years in this industry opposes the use of condoms, get real. I was among the very first directors to speak up for condom use back in 1993, when most of this business thought of latex as an ingredient in house paint. At that time I declared that I would never work for any company or on any production that would not allow performers who wanted the right to use condoms to do so. I have never wavered a millimeter from that position and I never will. One reason I endured a decade of bureaucratic bullshit from Adam&Eve is their condom-friendly policy. I am absolutely not against performers using condoms whenever, wherever and with whomever THEY choose. I’ve got miles of footage to prove it. And BTW, I’ve recently been confronted with earlier statements in which I rejected the contention that condom porn is unsellable when, in fact, I’ve sold literally millions of dollars worth of it and still believe, as I did when I said as much to the odious Luke Ford, that condoms are nothing more than a creative challenge for good directors and not a menace to the bottom line outside of certain particularly hardcore genres.  But they are a menace to some performers, particularly female performers, as Nina has explained in her own widely quoted explanation of why she, like me, favors a condom-optional policy depending on who does what to whom and how they feel most safe doing it.

Let’s be serious here. In order for that position to be ethical, it’s necessary for performers to have such a choice unconditionally. In the same way I’m opposed to AHF, Cal-OSHA and any members of the porn community attempting to make condom use mandatory under threat of either legal sanction or economic hardship, I’m unalterably opposed to any producer or director refusing to allow performers to use condoms or doing so only after a lot of whining and then scratching the condom performer from the list of potential future hires. The choice to use condoms must be meaningful for all performers. If there is to be an industry-wide position on condom use, and eventually I suspect one will emerge, it must be one of complete acceptance of performer choice regardless of all other considerations. The choice to use or not use them must not subject the performer to economic discrimination on future productions. Nothing less can be justified if we care to preserve the credibility of our oft-repeated insistence that performers do what they do with full consent. Full consent means consent to every act they’re asked to perform and to the use of barrier protections in addition to continued universal STD testing if they so desire. 

In 1993, I favored mandatory condom use for all because we did not have effective, quick-response testing of the type we have now and understood that those performers who wanted to use condoms would be kicked out of the business unless condom use were made a universal standard. It’s not 1993 now. We do have amazingly accurate testing available to all and have proven over a dozen years, during which the het side of this industry has still seen exactly two documented instances of on-set HIV transmission in the shooting of tens of thousands of bareback sex scenes, that screening and partner tracing have reduced the danger of the most serious STD transmissions in the workplace to a vanishingly rare phenomenon. At this point I’m perfectly comfortable shooting tested performers with or without condoms, but I’m not the one in front of the camera and I’m not the one who should be making that call for those whose bodies are on the line. No one else should either. I don’t care who seeks to do this or toward what end. It’s an invasive, infantilizing affront to the intelligence and judgment of consenting adults, and consenting adults are who work in front of the cameras in porn, full stop. I do not presume to know better than they do what they need, but I can tell you with absolute certainty what they don’t need, which is anyone else telling them how to do their jobs safely under threat of whatever consequences said somebody can impose.

This industry needs to accept condom use and get over it. Those both inside and outside the industry must accept that condom use is the performer’s business only and get over it also.

I hope this dispels any misunderstanding of where I stand on this question and though I know it won’t silence all the lies and distortions surrounding that stand, I am nonetheless clearly on the record as having taken it, acted on it and pledged to continue to do so regardless of what anyone else says or thinks about it. Clear enough for the various low-information individuals who have attempted to misrepresent it in every way possible? I hope so but I’m not optimistic. Neither am I optimistic that the majority of production companies, who have sought to defend themselves against the threat of intrusive governmental regulation by insisting that they support performer choice as an alternative, will actually follow through on making their claim credible by their actions on the set. Nevertheless, they should and if they don’t they’ll eventually end up regretting it.

It is a medical fact that STDs exist in the population as a whole. It is a medical fact that porn performers, however thoroughly tested and closely monitored, possess no special immunity to these diseases. There have been instances of STD contagion, usually of the more minor sort, in porn production and there will be more in the future no matter what measures are taken. No protection is foolproof. Testing is not foolproof. Condoms are not foolproof. Even combining the two is not foolproof, as not all STDs are transmitted in the same way. Unless this industry cares to be subjected to the kinds of irresponsible, politically driven attacks that occur every time someone catches a cold on a set that have become commonplace, the nudge-nudge-wink-wink approach to the condom option must be replaced by meaningful performer choice, or the idea of performer choice is, in fact, just exactly the meaningless dodge porn’s critics allege. The FSC’s insistence on performer choice is only defensible where performer choice exists.

Now, that’s my position and I’m sticking to it, so those who insist that it’s something else are hereby cordially invited to sit down and STFU.  I do not believe that condoms are necessary for safe porn production thanks to the testing system and I don’t believe the majority of performers want to use them for all the reasons they’ve stated. However, those who do want to use them should be able to without losing work or taking crap over it from anyone. Likewise those who choose not to should suffer no repercussions from members of any opposing camps.

And while I’m defending real performer choice, I want to make it clear that I am not backing away from my objections to directors appointing themselves in loco parentis to make decisions of the most personal nature for consenting adult sex workers. I note that director Nica Noelle has fallen in line behind Tristan Taormino in insisting that her performers use condoms whether they want to or not, also in the full knowledge that these same performers will be working bareback on some other set the next day so they are really made no safer overall by such unilateral decrees in such limited circumstances. I find these heartfelt declarations no less self-serving and hypocritical regardless of the source and still find them mendacious and cynical given that such limited policies are unlikely to protect anyone to any significant extent.

Likewise I find Axel Braun’s declaration that he will use no performers under the age of 21 in his productions to be risible. Again, seemingly operating under the assumption that performers can’t be trusted with their own futures, he declares that 18-year-olds are not in a position to weigh the long-term consequences of performing in porn, an ability they will magically acquire in the following three years. This is utter nonsense. At eighteen, anyone is free to enlist in the any branch of the U.S. military, the long-term consequences of which can include maiming and death. At eighteen anyone can work in any of the ten most dangerous trades listed by The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which remain the following:
 1. Fishing
2. Logging
3. Aircraft piloting
4. Refuse and recyclable material collection
5. Roofing
6. Structural iron and steel work
7. Construction
8. Farming
9. Truck driving
10. Mining
Workers under twenty-one have been injured or killed in every one of these occupations but no one seriously suggests that they be barred from entering them until they (presumably) have their wits about them at age 21. In porn, like it or not, economic advantages accrue to early adopters. For many performers their best earning years will 18-24. Why should they be deprived of the opportunity to make the most they can out of their time here by artificially handicapping them from pursuing their ambitions starting at the same age as someone enlisting for military service or shipping out on a fishing boat? This kind of thing may make it easier for directors to don the laurels of nobility, but it accomplishes nothing of value for performers whatsoever.

 Young performers would be better served by full disclosure of the possible repercussions of their decisions going in. I doubt that Marine recruiters take 18-year-old prospects on tours of V.A. hospitals, but perhaps they should. I doubt most agents, producers and directors take new talent to a sit-down with Gauge, who retired from porn early, educated herself for three different trades and found herself excluded from those trades when her past porn activities became known.  Perhaps they should. But realistically, the most serious long-term hazard porn performers face is the lasting stigma attached to them by people who regard porn as vile and that hazard can only be mitigated by broad social change.  I see that change as no more likely than a reduction of the far greater dangers of military service by a universal rejection of war as an instrument of policy.

Young people facing hard choices in a time of declining economic mobility will not be able to avoid those choices no matter who presumes to “protect” them by interfering with their ability to make a living. That is a reality with which performers, producers, directors and politically-motivated outsiders must learn to cope. I wish the world were a gentler place that provided safe, well-compensated employment to all, but it never has been and will never be.

This does not acquit anyone of the decent responsibility to insist on reasonable standards of protection and realistic minimum ages for participation in fields having the potential to make life difficult later. But in the end, if there is to be this thing we call individual freedom, individuals must be free to make decisions they may later regret. The best thing we can do is provide them with the most complete knowledge at our disposal of what future costs they may incur as a result of making their own decisions and then getting the fuck out of the way and letting them make those decisions. They’re the ones who will have to live with them and the hard choices rightfully belong only to them.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hey, AHF?? Do Condoms Prevent The Transmission Of Unionization Fever, Too?? (Or..How Neglecting Your True Mission Comes Back To Bite 'Ya)

You know...Malcolm X had this phrase about how chickens coming home to roost never made him sad.

Right about now, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation is thusly waist deep in chicken poop...mostly of their own neglect.

You see, folks....AHF has been so busy buying performers and lobbying politicians and paying press hogs to sell their condom mandate, that they allowed their primary mission of actually treating people suffering from HIV/AIDS to kinda get stepped aside.

And now, they are reaping the whirlwind of their neglect...big time.  Stamped, with a union label.

I'll just let the Los Angeles Times (also reprinted over at The Real Porn Wikileaks) take it from here.


A group of medical providers at clinics run by an influential but controversial AIDS-focused nonprofit group have launched a bid to unionize, saying that the organization's leadership has lost sight of its mission and patient care is suffering.

Doctors, nurses and physicians assistants in the AIDS Healthcare Foundation's Los Angeles and Bay Area clinics have been engaged in a behind-the-scenes struggle with the organization's leadership for the last two months.

On July 31, medical staff members submitted a petition to the National Labor Relations Board, announcing their desire to organize under the National Union of Healthcare Workers.

The foundation's leadership has contested the validity of the petition, saying that some of the employees involved in the union drive are supervisors not allowed to take part in union organizing.

The organization, with a budget of $750 million, runs a network of HIV and AIDS testing and treatment facilities around the world, as well as its own pharmacies. Its 10 clinics in the Los Angeles area serve more than 7,000 patients, many of them through contracts with the county.

Local providers say that those clinics are understaffed, that there is a lack of Spanish interpreters and that there has been a push to pack more patients into the schedule each day at the expense of quality care. They say their complaints have been disregarded and that the organization is focusing too much energy on political advocacy. Those include fights with the county and with the adult film industry over attempts to mandate condom use on set as a way to reduce exposure to social diseases.
Oh, gee....don't y'all know that $750M is chicken feed compared to the risks of HIV?? After all, how in the hell can AHF be so effective without paying the full costs of treatment for our propagandists such as Darren James or Derrick Burts or Cameron Bay and Rod Daily? How else can they be so successful at buying the votes of entire city/county legislatures, and even the California Assembly, or mount their coups against whole government agencies who don't kowtow to their company line on jamming condoms down the porn industry's throats??

After all, we all know that AHF would NEVER, EVER neglect their patients, would they?? Oh, wait...

"We support AHF's mission — that's why we're all here in the first place, but we feel like they're not really carrying out their mission," said Felipe Findley, a physician's assistant at the foundation's downtown clinic.

Kim Sommers, medical director at the organization's Hollywood center, recalled that one day the clinic was so over capacity that a patient suffering from chest pains was sent home by the lone over-stressed medical assistant on duty because no one was available to give him the electrocardiogram Sommers had ordered.

But, the absolutely hilarious part is Michael Weinstein's response to this potential raid on his gravy train.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation founder and President Michael Weinstein said the union process had been "tainted" by the involvement of middle managers.

"They've got an absolute right to form a union, but right now it's been organized by people in management, and they've put a lot of pressure on rank-and-file employees," he said. For their part, employees have filed complaints alleging that the executive leadership retaliated against them for their union activities.

Weinstein said the organization is indeed focused on patient care and that changes in scheduling policies were made because the organization had lost patients when they were unable to get follow-up appointments scheduled in a timely manner. He defended the organization's political activities as a core part of its mission.

"The advocacy is who we are, and I would argue that the advocacy we do has very much helped us to improve the care in our patient centers," he said.
Oh, great....the old "they're being brainwashed by outsiders" card used by right-wing union busters everywhere.

I wonder, would Assemblyman Isadore Hall approve of all this? He is a pretty damn liberal Democrat who took all of AHF's money and pushed their bills (unsucessfully), but I'm sure that he is proud to support unionization efforts of health care professionals, right?? 

Count this Lefty as in full support of the workers there for their efforts...and if by some chance they knock some sense in Weinstein's dome and cause him to rethink his mission of substituting condoms for actual care, so much the better. Solidarity Forever, and all that.

Monday, September 23, 2013

"Scoundrel Time" Redux: Ernest Greene's Response To Tristan Taormino's Condom About Face

[Note by Anthony: The following is Ernest Greene's detailed response to the announcement on Friday by acclaimed porn producer/director/sex educator Tristan Taormino that she would require future performers of her films to undergo detailed STI testing AND also use condoms in all their sex scenes. Needless to say, Ernest spares nothing in his opinion critiquing Taormino's decision and the repercussions of her announcement on the current battles brewing over Measure B, the recently failed bills in the California Assembly to mandate condom usage in porn via state law, and the broader issues of perfomer choice and workplace safety. I will present it as he wrote it, without annotation or comment, since Ernest's words can stand on their own as his own.]


Scoundrel Time: Tristan Taormino’s About-Face on Requiring Condoms 


"I still want performers to have choices, and they can choose not to work with me if they don’t want to use condoms.”

The message is different, but the tone is remarkably familiar. Producers who refuse to allow performers to wear condoms in their scenes use very much the same language in defending their actions. Performers always have a choice. They can do what the director wants them to with regard to their personal safety or they can work for somebody else, if somebody else conveniently chooses to hire them when they’re urgently in need of work, an ever more common condition as the industry contracts under a hail of bad numbers. Nina and I have both made clear our revulsion at this kind of disingenuous proposition and our unconditional support for real performer choice, free of economic intimidation. We have always offered performers the use of condoms on every production and made a variety of different brands available to those who chose to use them. Likewise, we still oppose any attempt to pressure them, one way or the other, when it comes to decisions regarding their own protection.

By now most BPPA readers are aware that Tirstan Taormino, pioneering director, sex-positive activist and winner of multiple Feminist Porn Awards, went on CNN last Friday and proclaimed to the world that she would henceforth insist all performers in her future productions to use condoms in all scenes whether they like it or not.

“From now on, I will require all performers I work with to test for STIs according to industry standards[1] and to use condoms in their scenes. Until now, I have adhered to industry standard STI testing and my sets have been condom optional, which, for me means that performers truly can choose to use condoms or not and I always have condoms available. I’ve shot several scenes with condoms (and other safer sex barriers), but the majority of the scenes have been condom-free. Because I want to empower performers to make decisions about all aspects of the work they do, I have respected their decisions in the past not to use condoms,” she says on her blog (http://puckerup.com/2013/09/20/porn-feminist-labor-practices-and-the-condom-debate/), concluding with the sentence quoted at the beginning of this post.

In both her written statement and her interview with CNN reporter Elizabeth Cohen, she attributes her change of policy to the recent announcement that performer Cameron Bay had tested positive for HIV. Taormino had Bay “on the short list” for the casting of her next production until the announcement and claims to have been shaken by the possibility that Bay might have infected other performers on Taormino’s watch.

"It just struck me we need to take a step back and look at how we can give people the safest work experience possible," she says. "I can no longer roll the dice on my set," the director told Cohen. Of course, factually, no such eventuality could have taken place, as the existing testing system, working as it's meant to, revealed Ms. Bay’s status and she would never have been on Taormino’s set, but we’ll move on from that for the moment.

Writing about this is personally painful in more ways than I can describe. I helped secure Tristan’s entry into the world of X-rated production by hooking her up with John Stagliano for the award-winning and hugely popular video “Tristan Taormino’s Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women” in 1999. I co-directed that picture and its sequel with her and since then have done everything possible to support her career, as has my wife Nina Hartley. Nina and I have participated in a number of her non-commercial projects in recent years. Taormino has been a monthly columnist for Taboo, the magazine I edit, almost from the beginning of my tenure there. Until very recently Nina and I considered her a close friend. The loss of that friendship is a bitter price to pay for them, but she has her principles and we have ours. For what it's worth, we find the viciousness of the attacks launched at her on Twitter and elsewhere appalling and uncalled for and wish her no misfortunes regardless of our differences.

But Nina and I agree that Ms. Taormino's actions cannot pass unchecked, given the current situation. Her decision may be her own, but her method of proclaiming it et urbi et orbi has dire implications for all of us and demands a reply.

Taormino’s blog links to Nina’s most recent post here by way of allowing for reasoned disagreement, but she does so without comment, conceding nothing to Nina’s arguments and essentially painting Nina as her adversary when it comes to concern for performer safety. In doing so, she plays into the hands of those who consistently and wrongly charge Nina with being no more than a front for the producers. Gee, thanks oodles and bunches for that. Some in Taormino's close circle have already sought to marginalize Nina as ‘’too mainstream” and “out of touch with the new thinking in porn.” It’s been suggested that Ms. Taormino would make a better public face for the industry. Judging by her recent irresponsible actions, that claim seems little short of preposterous.

There is no denying that by taking her new-found conversion to condom-only director before the public by way of CNN Taormino knowingly tossed a match into the political powder-keg the debate over condoms in porn has become. Though she still claims, rather diffidently, to oppose Measure B and other schemes to legally mandate condom usage in porn, she’s far too smart and media-savvy to have been unaware of the impact her remarks would have at the time she made them.

While other members, ex-members and purported members of the industry have taken similar positions none brings to bear the gravitas of Ms. Taormino, who is routinely lionized as the most important Third-Wave Feminist influence in the business. She is not Shelley Lubben or Derek Burts or Rob Black. When she speaks, attention must be paid.

And that’s already happening. In a matter of hours Taormino’s remarks were all over the porn blogosphere and the object of furious tweeting back and forth between factions. There’s a lot more to come when the rest of the gang that has a beef of some kind with porn lines up to join the fracas. She knows, and says as much, that she’ll make enemies with what she’s doing. The real question that troubles me is what new friends into whose embrace she may retreat. If AHF is prepared to kick down substantial amounts of cash to the likes of Derek Burts and Darren James, we can only speculate what a photo op of Taormino shaking hands with Michael Weinstein might be worth. For the record, Taormino furiously denies any affiliation with the pro-condom-mandate forces, but how long those denials will remain plausible is very much open to question. The superficial guile evident in her proclamation would appear to position her ideally, should she be able to continue directing on her own terms, as the crusader who made the slimy pornographers knuckle under. Should she fail and find herself unemployable and shunned, she can cloak herself in martyrdom and make the loss of a sputtering career look like an heroic sacrifice compelled by ethical necessity. Some will undoubtedly celebrate her behavior in the event of either outcome, but those who know her best are likely to remain highly skeptical.

Having watched Taormino’s career trajectory at close range from the start, it seems to me that she tacks with the political wind however she perceives it to blow. When porn was enjoying it’s moment of mainstream quasi-respectability, she was everywhere defending it and her participation in it, albeit with an eye to her image as a feminist at all times. Now that her own prospects as a director no longer promise substantial revenues or favorable recognition, the politic thing to do is re-charge her alt-feminist cred by parting ways with the majority opinion in an industry that served her well for a number of years but no longer appears apt to do so. It’s pretty easy to declare a new all-condoms-all-the-time shooting regimen when it’s unlikely to be put to the test on very many sets in the foreseeable future.

Of course, this recently declared epiphany doesn’t magically make Taormino’s previous ten years of building a reputation for herself as a director primarily by shooting bareback anal scenes disappear, but now that she’s seen the light I have no doubt all that will be forgiven and forgotten by those to whom she might prove useful, if not by those who were useful to her during her ascent.

If she really had a stake in making porn safer for performers, had experienced a genuine change of heart on how best to accomplish that goal and truly did not want to ally herself to those on a mission from god to destroy the whole enterprise, she had many other alternatives that would have been far less damaging to those who still rely on porn for their livings.

Taormino could have made her blog post, informed whatever companies she still works with and contacted her favored players directly to clue them in. She could have submitted a commentary on her newfound affinity for barrier protections to XBiz, which would most certainly have put it on the front page. Likewise, she could have given AVN a press release with little fear of being quoted out of context, as she insists she was in HLN’s summary of her interview with Cohen (and what do we generally think when politicians cop the out-of-context-alibi after coming under fire for something they said?).

In short, if her real intended audience was the porn community, she might have started by alerting them to her change of position prior to going national with this bombshell where it could only do that community harm. Who watches CNN who has the best interest of porn performers at heart? I’m sure there are viewers who do, but they make up a vanishingly small percentage of CNN’s core demographic.

There is no doubt in my mind, despite Taormino’s denials, that her timing and choice of medium were the result of political and economic calculation. She may very well be correct in the assumption that the anti-condom-mandate side is losing support in quarters where she wishes to be taken seriously, but doing a sudden, highly public about-face after vociferously opposing Measure B on HuffPo has all the appearance of cynically attempting to alter her own record after the fact. As Nina emailed Tristan directly: “I think what you did was cynical and self-serving and can be read as throwing a grappling hook off the sinking ship S.S. Porn and onto the rigging of the S.S. Industrial-Porn-Really-Is-Icky-After-All, as it steams by.”

I’m shocked but not surprised that she’d attempt to distance herself from her previous actions now that they appear a liability to her good name as a feminist pornographer. I doubt the attempt will prove successful, as neither Gail Dines nor Amanda Marcotte is likely to find this abrupt conversion credible, but when you think your prospects are dim no matter what you do, all kinds of dismal alternatives suddenly become attractive. In fact, with the mandatory condom bill now dead in the state legislature and Measure B likely D.O.A. on appeal in the wake of Hollingsworth v. Perry, she may actually be abandoning one shipwreck for another.

Frankly, appalling as I find it, Taormino’s new position is no more corrupt and mendacious than those taken by many on both sides of the condom question. Like numerous part-time Hollywood leftists who found it expedient to cooperate with the blacklist so as not to end up on it, Taorimino can hardly be blamed for trying to make a scramble for the lifeboat look like a courageous attempt to rescue others, claiming to have finally realized that she’d been endangering all hands for a number of years. She can, however, be held accountable for endangering them now by lending credence to a campaign that threatens to destroy the existing system of safeguards that has worked so well for so long. If memory serves, she was pretty quiet when AHF was dismantling AIM, but she's certainly made herself heard now.

What I resent most about this whole sorry business is the way she denigrates the intelligence and good judgment of performers just like everyone else. There’s a word for the behavior she demonstrates in the opening paragraph of this post: paternalism. After arguing for performer choice and making that argument central to her posture as a feminist pornographer, she seems to have decided that performers really can’t make rational decisions concerning their own safety and need someone wiser to do their thinking for them. Reconciling that with everything Taormino has said previously with respect to the agency and autonomy of performers would require a platoon of Jesuits. In the event she does get another directing gig, I would like to hope that performers would be too insulted by her condescension to participate in it, but in desperate times people do desperate things. Taormino clearly counts on that in much the same way that other producers who are busily beating down scene rates and cutting back shooting days do.

And like those producers and AHF, it’s not the welfare of performers that appears the central concern. Taormino’s image would seem to be the foremost motivation for this turnabout. It’s widely understood that the attempt to force condom use in porn by law has already made shooting less safe and if it succeeds, those Taormino claims to want to protect will be put at far greater risk. She’s quite aware of the inherent danger of such a mandate and has said as much in print. She’s simply too smart not to know that going on national TV to proclaim her new-found faith in barrier protections is a huge propaganda windfall for the advocates of a position she claims to oppose even now. How does her star-turn on network TV, despite whatever weak disclaimers are attached, not lend unwarranted legitimacy to their efforts?

Tristan, I don’t believe a word of it. You can forget about being seen as heroic by those who make their livings under the lights. They’re smarter than you give them credit for and your actions in this matter will be just as transparent to them as they are to me. I hope they do just what you suggest: exercise their freedom of choice by refusing to work for you.

Lillian Hellman titled her memoir of the Hollywood blacklist era Scoundrel Time. It would appear that time has come around again.



Thursday, September 19, 2013

Why The Huffington Post's Kathleen Miles Could Use Some Classes In Journalism 101 (Or..How Shilling For AHF Can Fry Your Brain)

Mainstream media has never been known for their openmindedness regarding porn and porn performers to begin with.....but when something like a prospective STI "outbreak" occurs, it seems like they kick their myopia and instinctive paternalism into an even higher gear.

This is surprisingly enough true of even the more "progressive" media, which you would expect to be a bit more reality based and prone to actually investigate the facts...but when it comes to issues involving sex and porn, it is all too common for putative liberals to adapt the common neoliberal line that performers are simply too naive or slutty or whatever to be listened to, unless they speak the approved party line of "we must protect you from yourselves, since you are incapable of regulating yourself."

Such is the state of mind of one reporter for the Los Angeles bureau of the Huffington Post, Kathleen Miles, on her reporting of the recent HIV porn scare.

Last Tuesday, Miles posted an "exclusive" column under the guise of an interview with performer Cameron Bay, one of the infected performers, which seemed like a thinly veiled attempt to carry the propaganda line of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation: read, that the porn industry is essentially a meat grinder that chews its talent up and spits them out as disposable and diseased, and only AHF's solution of mandatory condoms can save such talent from such destruction and exploitation.

Now, it would take a whole fisking to decipher and debunk all of the assumed distortions and thinly veiled assumptions of that original article...but fortunately, The Real Porn Wikileaks has spared me the need for such with their excellent analysis. So, I'll just refer you over there.

However, Miles has now posted a follow up article today reporting on the press conference that AHF held yesterday which featured not only Bay and her boyfriend Rod Daily, but also two newly minted "victims" of the current HIV scare (performer Patrick Stone and an unamed "Performer #4" that had been hinted to by Weinstein in the past), as well as the old standbys Darren James (the point man in the original 2004 HIV outbreak that claimed him and 2 other performers), and Derrick Burts (the former gay "rentboy" and performer for hire who was infected in a condom only shoot in Florida).

And if anything, today's article might be worse for its lack of factchecking than the original. Mostly, it uses the guide of reporting the comments of the speakers of Weinstein's comments as gospel truth, without any regard for actually analyzing what they said for truthfulness.

The byline claim so subtly suggested by the risque title of Miles' piece was that Cameron Bay herself was sort of blindsided into doing that infamous Public Disgrace shoot for Kink.com on July 31st, and thusly was either tricked into or otherwise unprepared for the wildness that took place in that shoot.

For those who missed it, Bay did suffer injuries to her breast when one of the participants bit down on her just a bit too hard and damaged some internal tissue, which required treatment afterwards.

But I guess that that wasn't good enough to serve her new masters, so at the AHF presser, she fired off a new and far more disturbing claim:
With news cameras flashing, adult film performer Cameron Bay told reporters that in her last porn shoot before testing positive for HIV, her partner's penis was bleeding -- and he wasn't wearing a condom. After stopping momentarily, the cameras continued rolling, she said. 

[...]

Choking back tears, Bay continued to describe her last shoot, filmed at a public bar in San Francisco for Kink.com.
"There were up to 50 people in the room with us. And we were laying on top of them. And they were touching inappropriately," Bay said. "It all happened so fast. I didn’t realize how unsafe it was until I saw the pictures ... You're on a whole other level when you're doing something so extreme."

Bay told HuffPost last week that condoms were available, but not required at the shoot. She said she didn't think she needed to use a condom because her male costar had recently tested negative for sexually transmitted diseases, and she left the choice up to him. Kink.com confirmed to HuffPost that Bay was offered a condom, but it was not used.
That's some kind of naivete for a performer whom had been shooting porn for 2 years (9 months in Cali, but otherwise in her home base of Arizona), and whom had been shooting glory hole vids and even escorting out of her home (TRPWL posted an escorting ad she had posted back in May of 2011). It's as if she and her boyfriend had never heard of Kink.com and their protocols for shooting their BDSM scenes, or that she didn't think that in a sex scene involving more than, I don't know, 5 people, there would be some "inappropriate" touching.

And also, let's forget the fact that basic Kink.com protocols call for pre-shoot interviews with all performers involved in production so that they know what they are getting into, and also allow all participants to abort their scenes should even the notion of personal injury emerge.  So..why didn't Cameron, upon seeing the sight of her shooting partner's bloody penis, simply exercise her right to terminate the shoot and walk away? For that matter, why didn't she walk away right when her breast was bitten??

There is also that slight point that all Kink.com shoots involving hetero sex allows for the option of either one of the partners asking for the use of a condom during the shoot if wanted. (For gay or trans shoots, condoms are mandatory.) Bay claimed both in the first Miles interview and the AHF presser that she didn't take advantage of that right because she was assured that there would be no issue since her screen partner had tested negative prior to the shoot. She now claims that she would now request a condom if asked.

The assumption here by Bay (originally created by AHF puppetmaster Michael Weinstein and passed on by Kathleen Miles) was that it was this shoot in which she was infected, and that it was that act with the bloody penis which signified the essential threat of noncondomized sex that condoms would protect the performers from.

The problem is, however, that assumption doesn't fly too well with the fact that everyone who performed in that particular Public Disgrace shoot was tested and retested several times both before and following that shoot....and all were found to be free and clear of any virus, including HIV.

It should be noted that Weinstein is not exactly an impartial party to this battle; since AHF has filed an official complaint with Cal-OSHA for sanctions and fines for Kink.com over the Public Disgrace shoot, based on the assumption that Kink knew that Cameron Bay was HIV+ at the time she shot with them, but still carried on with the condom-free shoot anyway. That investigation is still ongoing.

But that distortion pales in comparison with what Miles does with one of the other "victims" paraded out by Weinstein yesterday. Here's what she types about Patrick Stone, the self-described "gay model" who claims, in spite of two subsequent negative tests, that he was infected and even offered a shoot by Kink.com while he said he was "infected":

Porn performer Patrick Stone told reporters he was asked to perform in a shoot even after he tested positive for HIV. He said he was told he was HIV-positive in an email on Sept. 10 from Performer Availability Screening Services, which handles STD testing for the industry. Stone said he never got a follow-up call or email from PASS, or from his employer Kink.com, to discuss the results or schedule follow-up testing. Instead, he got an email from Kink.com two days later inquiring about scheduling a shoot this week, he said.

Since then, Stone has taken two additional tests that he said show him as HIV-negative. He said he's awaiting results from a fourth and final test.

"It's been kind of a whirlwind week for me emotionally," Stone said. "I feel that the testing process for PASS is not working. If I was allowed to fall through the cracks like I did, who else is out there?

"I mean, they had me scheduled for a shoot tomorrow and as far as they knew, I was HIV-positive," Stone said.
Right. Sure. Uh-huh. Nuh-uh. FSCPASS protocols in fact do NOT simply call for any performer who tests positive or reactive for an STI to be merely emailed. They are explicitly called to their offices for direct one-on-one counseling, retesting, and, if needed, referal for treatment.  Natually, Stone doesn't say whether or not he used PASS for his retesting or whether he used AHF's antibody tests, which have been proven to be far less accurate and has a longer latency period for infections to escape detection. Plus, any positive tests are required to be reported to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health as required by law...and last time I checked, only Cameron Bay and "Performer #3" (whom has been confirmed as a female performer who was a close friend and possibly even intimate with Bay and Daily) had been confirmed by the LACDPH as being HIV+ through the PASS process.

And as for the other intimation that Kink.com deliberately went after Stone in spite of his "known" HIV status? Well, there's this from Kink's statement this morning:
On the straight side of the industry, 28 day testing is mandatory. If someone fails a test, they don’t work on a straight set. Period. Patrick Stone’s booking confirmation with us was tentative because we did not yet know his status; in order to shoot with Kink he would have had to retest clean. Anything else is either a misunderstanding or a misrepresentation.
Let us not forget that according to Stone's own testimony, the initial outreach by Kink for a shoot happened two days after he was allegedly informed via email by FSCPASS that he was HIV+. Unless Kink in San Francisco was getting free access to the FSCPASS database in Los Angeles, and had prior knowledge of Stone's tests, I'd consider it highly questionable that Kink knew of this change of status. Plus, it takes two to negotiate a booking, and why didn't Stone simply reveal to Kink that there was an issue with his medical status and respectfully deny the shoot?

In any rate, September 12th was also the date that Perfomer #3 was confirmed and the moratorium was reinstated, and any bookings by then would have been rendered null and void anyway. That was the main reason Kink required the retest in order to clear Stone for shooting.

A simple Google search or actually contacting Kink.com would have sufficed to debunk this attempted distortion.

To be fair to Miles, she did attempt a token balance of Stone's accusations, and then left it hanging:
Kink.com said that it did not know about Stone's positive HIV test when it scheduled him for the shoot.

"He had tested negative for us previously. Because of the moratorium, tests were not updated on the PASS system for producers (because no one was cleared for work)," Mike Stabile, spokesman for Kink.com, said in an email to HuffPost. "He would have been required [to take] a new test regardless before shooting."
Remember that FSCPASS had ordered a reset of all testing, with only those testing after today being cleared to shoot when the present moratorium is lifted on tomorrow.

One last caveat about Patrick Stone's allegation: it sounds so familiar, but I just can't remember where I last heard of it. Oh, yeah, now I remember...

Maybe Huffington Post Los Angeles should find themselves some better reporters...or just have their current columnists invest in some basic journalism classes.