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. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

HIV Porn Scare 2013: AHF Money Flips Cameron Bay, Rod Daily; Invents 2 New "Victims"

Remember when I concluded my last post here with the caveat about how long it would be before AHF would manufacture another crisis to sell the condom mandate??

Turned out...it would take less than 24 hours.

Today, AHF finally broke out its propaganda big stick and attempted to regain control of the STI's in porn narrative with an online press conference on the current situation....and, trust me on this, it was much more than the usual clown show.

Oh, Michael Weinstein was there with his usual pontificating BS about how the industry simply chews up and spits out performers, along with the usual lies and talking points. But this time, he brought him some backup.

As in....none other than Cameron Bay and Rod Daily themselves.

The former Cameron Adams shed the usual tears about how life changing her infection has been, and leveled some new charges based on that now infamous Public Disgrace shoot of July 31 for Kink.com, where she and Weinstein effective imply that they were infected with HIV. The newest charge is that the performer who engaged with Bay in that scene had cut the tip of his penis and bled, yet still continued to do the act with her without a condom. Never mind that Kink.com protocols allow a performer in a straight sex scene the option of requiring a condom...and also never mind that all the other performers involved in that scene tested negative for HIV prior to and immediately since that scene took place.

And as for Rod Daily??  He played the "good cop" side of the routine to a perfectly crossed "T",  speaking only positive and inspirating things about how condoms protected him from HIV even while he performed on the gay/TS side with openly infected performers. That's nice, but does that cover his off-screen activity? Or, the fact that, after having used the FSCPASS tests for years to document his sterling record of cleanliness, he all of a sudden went rogue in August and abandoned them for a non-PASS test that turned up positive? Or...maybe it was the fact that the FSCPASS tests went full panel, including tests for Hepatitis C, which caused his hesitation?

Now, Daily does have a preplanned excuse: he didn't want his test results "leaked". Which explains why he was so busy practically throwing his prior test unredacted at people prior to last July, right?? Then again, Weinstein (through his usual sockpuppets) was making noises at that time (and repeated the charge today) that Cameron Bay's test results had been breached by FSCPASS doctors...a charge that was publically denied by PASS and Cutting Edge Testing's Dr. Peter Mao.

But, apparently, flipping Cameron Bay and Rod Daily to the Dark Side by paying for their treatment and medication wasn't enough for Darth Weinstein, so he decided to break out two new victims to throw into the propaganda mix.

The first one was the infamous "Performer #4" that Weinstein had been hinting at since last week. ID'd only as "John Doe", P#4, who described himself as a crossover performer, testified that he had gotten infected sometime in the past six months. However, he refused to offer any other information on exactly when he was diagnosed or infected, or what tests flagged his infection. Most certainly, he never used the PASS testing regimen...and he offered no evidence or even charge that he was infected on an adult set.

The second new "victim" was a performer named Patrick Stone, who described himself as a gay porn model whom had shot on/off since 2010, including bareback scenes. His claim to fame here was that he was a part time performer for Kink.com's gay section (which, BTW, requires condoms), and that he was propositioned by Kink to perform a scene in mid-August, in between the two moratoriums imposed. But, like P#4, he clammed up on exactly what nature of a shoot it was (gay, hetero, or BDSM), or whether or not Kink knew of Stone's status when they offered him the shoot a week in advance. Plus, Stone prefaced his remarks with the revelation that his "infection" may in fact be a false positive.

Of course, you can't have any AHF propaganda conference without Derrick Burts and Darren James present to cheerlead...though one would wonder why Weinstein would continue to send these two out, considering their histories.

By now, the point of today's assault should be obvious: Weinstein wants to blow up the FSCPASS testing regimen as bogus and a failure (even inventing the hashtag #PASSFAIL) because it failed to flag the infection status of these five people. Thusly, according to such illogic, testing is a failure and no real protection...but condoms are a fail safe 100% means of protection because...well, it protected Rod Daily and Patrick Stone, well didn't it?

The problem, as always, for Weinstein and his associates is that the scoreboard still hasn't changed, regardless of their attempts to move the goalposts and buy ringers. Six hours after AHF began this latest charade of a press conference, the cold hard fact remains that every active performer who performed with Cameron Bay on set since her last clean test has come up negative for HIV. Every active performer who performed on Kink.com with either Cameron Bay or Rod Daily who was NOT HIV+ before then, is still not HIV+ since then.

And, if anything, this episode actually proves how valuable the system is, because just imagine what would have happened if Cameron Bay had NOT decided to take that PASS test in August, but had gone over to the same antibody test that Rod Daily and apparently the other "victims" had used. Suppose that test had missed her seroconversion and gone negative, and she and Daily had continued to shoot porn and otherwise engage in extracurricular activity unknowing that she was actually infected. Suppose that there had been no original moratorium to begin with due to the PASS system flagging the positive/reactive result and triggering the testing protocols.

Oh..and one last bit of thought: Cameron Bay had originally said in another interview that got transpired into a Huffington Post column (more on that bit of propaganda anon) that she was motivated to get tested in mid August by the brohaha over Andre Gorz and his Hepatitis C issues. For those of you who missed it, it was megaperformer Lisa Ann who blew the whistle on Gorz when she scheduled (then aborted) a shoot with him in order to force him to reveal his tests. The motivation for LA was that Gorz had all of a sudden disappeared from the approved FSCPASS "whitelist" of cleared performers during July due to his Hep C prognosis, yet he was still able to get shoots in spite of that.

To summarize: five performers who more than likely contracted HIV through either their own private extracurricular activity and/or took advantage of the different system of protection on the gay side of the industry, were sucessfully isolated and prevented from infecting other performers on the straight side unwittingly thanks to the PASS system of screening and testing. It is that system that Michael Weinstein and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation want to destroy in order to impose his condom mandate and make his fortune off strategically placed condom ads and paid endorsers.


Sources for this post:
XBiz report on today's AHF press conference
XBiz report on FSCPASS's response
The Real Porn Wikileaks blog response
Gram Ponante's response
Kink.com CEO Peter Acworth's response (via TRPWL) (via XBiz)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

HIV Porn Scare 2013 - The Series Winds Down: FSCPASS Announces End Of Moratorium By Friday; New 14 Day Testing Regimen

Cross your fingers, because you never can tell what surprises may be in store...but it does look like things are winding down from the peak scare of earlier.

Last night, the Free Speech Coalition's Performer Availability Screening Services (FSCPASS) released their long awaited update on the state of the moratorium on shooting porn scenes that was reimposed on September 6 following the revelation of a third performer having confirmed to be infected with the HIV virus. That followed the lifting of the original moratorium based on the confirmation that perfomer Cameron Bay had been infected, and the further revelations that her boyfriend Rod Daily had announced that he too was HIV positive.

Essentially, the statement was a confirmation of previous results that all first generation sexual contacts of both Bay and the other as unamed performer had been tested and found to be clear and clean of any HIV infections, that they had found no proof that there had been any on-shoot transmissions, and that they were confident that any transmission of the virus had taken place through private extracurricular activity away from any porn set.

FSCPASS had also wanted to further investigate whether or not there had been any off-set interaction between Performer #3 and any of the talent....but the aformentioned performer decided to exercise her privacy rights and refused cooperation, as is her right to do so.

Given the information they did have, and the fact that the 14 day window of testing had passed without any new threat of infection, FSCPASS decided that it was now free to begin the process of lifting the moratorium.

However, there will be some conditions added on to the return of shooting...and some major changes in the testing protocols, too.

According to the statement by FSCPASS (reposted at XBiz.com), this coming Friday (September 19th) will be the day the moratorium is lifted and shooting can recommence. However, all performers will be required to undergo full panel testing beginning on Thursday, September 18th, and only those who test negative after that date will be cleared to commence shooting. In effect, the entire porn database is being rebooted, just like it was on August 19th in reaction to the original Cameron Bay infection news and the related syphilis scare of that month (which turned out to be a false positive).

The biggest change, however, is that FSCPASS will be henceforth imposing a mandatory 14 day testing period for all performers...a significant change from the 28 day regimen that was the standard prior to the latest HIV "outbreak". The 14 day window was chosen to coincide with the 7-10 day window of latency period provided by the Aptima RNA test that FSCPASS uses as its standard HIV test. The protocols also call for a follow up test 14 days following the original test for any firstgen performer who might be vulnerable to an infection if one is confirmed.

This change, if fully enacted, would be the closest to real-time HIV testing the industry has ever been. There are HIV tests out there that can promise results in 24 hours, but they are all more traditional antibody tests such as ELISA that have much longer latency periods (up to 60-90 days), and can often miss acute (new) HIV infections due to lack of seroconversion at its earliest stages. In addition, blood transfusions and certain medications can also mask the presence of HIV enough to throw off traditional tests. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, for example, uses ELISA as a base for their own HIV tests, which they offer at their clinics for free....though their stated position is that testing simply won't work anywhere as well as barrier protectants such as condoms.

In addition to that, FSCPASS also announced last night that they would initiate a performer education program which they would collaborate with doctors, workplace specialists, and performers. This is important because since the demise of the Adult Industry Medical Foundation, there has been no outreach by any porn production group on educating the talent on the risks of contracting STI's and what means could be utilized to avoid getting infected, or to seek aid and treatment if by some chance infection would occur. The most well known outreach prior to this time was the "Porn 101" video that AIM Foundation head Sharon Mitchell produced which featured promiment performers such as Nina Hartley, Jeanna Fine, and others educating new talent on the ways of protecting themselves. Perhaps it would be an excellent time for current FSCPASS head Diane Duke to meet with Nina and create another such educational tool??

All in all, it seems that FSCPASS has atoned itself pretty well for what many say was a huge error in lifting the original moratorium prematurely. Of course, there are those who will reject any move by them as too little and too late, for their own reasons and concerns, but one cannot deny that they certainly acted to defuse the ticking time bomb. Question is....will it be enough when AHF invents and creates the next porn scare......errrrr, when the next crisis inevitably hits?

As always, we'll be watching. Wherever they go, we will follow....too.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

HIV Porn Scare Update #2: Proposed Condom Mandate Bill AB640 Follows AB332 Down File 86 For 2013 Cali Assembly Session

As Part 1 of this update showed, mid week was not a particurlarly good week for those wanting to impose condoms involuntarily on porn shoots. On Friday, it got far, far worse.

You will remember that last June or so, the California Assembly decided to table on suspension AB 332, Isadore Hall's original attempt to impose the condom mandate throughout the state of California by tying porn shoots to the emerging CalOSHA standards for barrier protections for "bloodborne pathenogens". The bill had originally passed through one Assembly subcommittee, but got stalled in the Appropriations Committee due to its financial impact.

Assemblyman Hall's response to that was to attempt some legislative trickeration by tying the conditions of AB332 to an totally unrelated bill that had passed the California State Senate, SB 640, which had originally dealt with regulation of cigarettes and tobacco products.

Mark Kernes over at AVN had posted last July 27th an essay chroniclizing all the dirty deeds done by Hall in his attempt to reserrect his condom mandate bill.

But what would any good horror story be these days without a nod to zombies? So less than a month after AB 332's demise, lo and behold, it was brought back to life (more or less) as AB 640!

 Actually, those first amendments of June 20 appear to be sort of placeholders for the full bill that was to come with the next set of amendments. Rather, the June 20 amendments, besides defining "adult film," mere stated that "(a) The Legislature finds and declares that the protection of workers in the adult film industry is the responsibility of multiple layers of government; and (b) Notwithstanding any other law, a city, county, or city and county may adopt and enforce a local ordinance that protects against the exposure of workers to blood or other potentially infectious materials during the filming or production of an adult film."
 Big whoop there: Measure B had already passed and was in the middle of a protracted lawsuit by June 20, so it was only with the July 3 amendments that AB 640 was made into essentially an AB 332 clone.

For example, passage of AB 640 was now deemed "urgent" and therefore "to take effect immediately." Also, according to the Legislative Counsel's Digest, which is prepared for every bill that comes before the legislature, it would require a two-thirds vote for passage, and for some reason would not need to be voted on in either the Appropriations nor Fiscal Committees, possibly because it was claimed not to involve a "state-mandated local program."

Even so, the July 3 amendments amounted to only a single paragraph at the end of the bill: "This act is an urgency statute necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety within the meaning of Article IV of the Constitution and shall go into immediate effect. The facts constituting the necessity are: In order to protect workers in the adult film industry from an imminent threat to public health as soon as possible, it is necessary that this act take effect immediately."
You will remember that originally Hall's bill, if passed into law, would not take effect until January 2015, at the latest...but now he was attempting to mine popular antiporn opposition.......errrrrrrr, AHF propaganda efforts, to have the bill passed to take effect immediately. I guess those condom dollars he would be getting from AHF just couldn't wait.

Funny thing happened, though....as Kernes reports, on August 27th, Hall tweaked his new toy once again. It's just a coinkydynk that the Cameron Bay/Rod Daily brohaha happened to break out just after that date, isn't it?? And, note also the relationship with the Measure B ruling which also took place that week.

As of August 27, pretty much all the language that had previously been in AB 640 was gone, to be replaced by the exact language of AB 332 as of its last amendments on April 17, only this time, the Legislative Counsel's Digest states that it will only need a simple majority to pass, that it must be vetted by the Fiscal Committee (but not Appropriations), and that it will involve one or more "state-mandated local programs." Once again, it states that, "An employer shall maintain engineering and work practice controls sufficient to protect employees from exposure to blood and any potentially infectious materials, in accordance with Section 5193 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations," and once again, those controls could include, but are not limited to, simulated sex, condoms "and other protective barriers whenever acts of vaginal or anal intercourse are filmed," and bloodborne pathogen plans and training to implement them, all in accordance with Title 8 Section 5193 of the Health Code.

If the rumors are correct, and AHF is both vetting (if not outright composing) the language of AB 640 and providing inducements to Assemblymember Hall, who is in his third and final term in office, to introduce the revised bill, the August 27 amendments may represent AHF's fear that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will, unlike Judge Pregerson, take the U.S. Supreme Court's opinion in Hollingsworth v. Perry seriously and drop AHF from the Vivid lawsuit—and therefore, AHF may see AB 640 as its last chance to force the adult industry to use condoms, dental dams, goggles, face shields and, yes, hazmat suits in its productions.
For a while earlier this week, it sure seemed as if AHF and Hall would get their moment in the sun, as panic induced by the three confirmed infections (and Weinstein's assertions, still unverified, of a fourth infected performer which was unfortunately artificially inflated by an inexcusible byline lede from XBiz.com) seemed to undermine support for the existing regime of testing. By Thursday, some self-identified "experts" were sooo certain that AB 640 would practically fly through the California Assembly in its final day like George Patton's Third Army through southern France during the Normandy campaign. (Screenshot courtesy of Michael Whiteacre via his @MrWhiteacre TL)




Alas..even the best laid plans of a Numerberg rally come crashing down to earth in pieces.

XBiz and TRPWL laid out the ultimate scoreboard yesterday.
SACRAMENTO — AB 640, the bill that would require adult film performers to use condoms in adult film productions shot anywhere in California, wasn’t heard or voted on Thursday evening in the Assembly, effectively ending the threat of a statewide porn-condom law for now.
The bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Isadore Hall, earlier Thursday anticipated that the bill would be heard and voted on in the waning hours of the Assembly’s, as well as the Senate’s, terms despite the fact that it wasn’t on the roster of bills scheduled to be heard and voted on.
But in the end, AB 640 was stuck in the Assembly’s appropriations committee.
Much of the evening in the Assembly floor session was devoted to issues such as hiking the minimum wage and introducing drivers license options for illegal immigrants.
The Assembly’s session ended minutes after midnight and business was adjourned until 2014.
Normally, Friday would be a marathon day with lawmakers debating bills until midnight. But Yom Kippur, the holiest Jewish holiday, starts at sundown, so lawmakers were pushing hard to wrap up earlier.
- See more at: http://therealpornwikileaks.com/california-porn-condom-bill-ab-640-dead-session/#sthash.ZhHLrGyH.dpuf
SACRAMENTO — AB 640, the bill that would require adult film performers to use condoms in adult film productions shot anywhere in California, wasn’t heard or voted on Thursday evening in the Assembly, effectively ending the threat of a statewide porn-condom law for now.
The bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Isadore Hall, earlier Thursday anticipated that the bill would be heard and voted on in the waning hours of the Assembly’s, as well as the Senate’s, terms despite the fact that it wasn’t on the roster of bills scheduled to be heard and voted on.
But in the end, AB 640 was stuck in the Assembly’s appropriations committee.
Much of the evening in the Assembly floor session was devoted to issues such as hiking the minimum wage and introducing drivers license options for illegal immigrants.
The Assembly’s session ended minutes after midnight and business was adjourned until 2014.
Normally, Friday would be a marathon day with lawmakers debating bills until midnight. But Yom Kippur, the holiest Jewish holiday, starts at sundown, so lawmakers were pushing hard to wrap up earlier.
- See more at: http://therealpornwikileaks.com/california-porn-condom-bill-ab-640-dead-session/#sthash.ZhHLrGyH.dpuf
SACRAMENTO — AB 640, the bill that would require adult film performers to use condoms in adult film productions shot anywhere in California, wasn’t heard or voted on Thursday evening in the Assembly, effectively ending the threat of a statewide porn-condom law for now.
The bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Isadore Hall, earlier Thursday anticipated that the bill would be heard and voted on in the waning hours of the Assembly’s, as well as the Senate’s, terms despite the fact that it wasn’t on the roster of bills scheduled to be heard and voted on.
But in the end, AB 640 was stuck in the Assembly’s appropriations committee.
Much of the evening in the Assembly floor session was devoted to issues such as hiking the minimum wage and introducing drivers license options for illegal immigrants.
The Assembly’s session ended minutes after midnight and business was adjourned until 2014.
Normally, Friday would be a marathon day with lawmakers debating bills until midnight. But Yom Kippur, the holiest Jewish holiday, starts at sundown, so lawmakers were pushing hard to wrap up earlier.
- See more at: http://therealpornwikileaks.com/california-porn-condom-bill-ab-640-dead-session/#sthash.ZhHLrGyH.dpuf
SACRAMENTO — AB 640, the bill that would require adult film performers to use condoms in adult film productions shot anywhere in California, wasn’t heard or voted on Thursday evening in the Senate, effectively ending the threat of a statewide porn-condom law for now.

The bill's sponsor, Assemblyman Isadore Hall, earlier Thursday anticipated that the bill would be heard and voted on in the waning hours of the Legislature's term despite the fact that it wasn't on the roster of bills scheduled to be heard and voted on.

Much of the evening in  the Legislature was devoted to issues such as hiking the minimum wage and introducing drivers license options for illegal immigrants.

The Legislature's session ended minutes after midnight and business was adjourned until 2014.

Normally, Friday would be a marathon day with lawmakers debating bills until midnight. But Yom Kippur, the holiest Jewish holiday, starts at sundown, so lawmakers were pushing hard to wrap up earlier.
 Since Assemblyman Hall is limited to 3 terms in office, next year will be his last chance to pull the weight for AHF....that is, if they don't go the route of the antigay forces and attempt to push the condom mandate statewide as an initiative, just like the anti-gay marriage proposed Proposition 8. Otherwise, it seems that sanity has proven to be an effective counterforce to insanity, and performer's choice is preserved for at least 2013.

HIV Porn Scare 2013 Update (Part 1): Outbreak?? What Outbreak?? Still NO On-Shoot Infections Found

Earlier this week, when it was first broken that a third performer other than Cameron Bay and her boyfriend Rod Daily had been found to be infected with HIV, it sure looked as if the porn world was in extreme disarray. Calls for mandatory condom usage were being shouted from the rooftops from far more than the usual suspects like the AIDS Healthcare Foundation or their newly discovered BFF's like "President" Rob Black and Mike South, but from even some respectable voices from within the industry.

But, as usual with these things, the wisdom of staying calm and waiting for actual events has proven to be as beneficial as always.

On Wednesday, the Free Speech Coalition's Performer Accessibility Screening Services (PASS, or FSCPASS) issued a statement updating their talent base on the process of testing protocols for Performer #3. As of then, they had concluded testing on all of P#3's first generation contacts, and all tests had been found to be negative regarding HIV status.

The statement also addressed the report of a possible fourth performer infected with HIV, based upon comments by AHF head Michael Weinstein that were leaked to both the British journal The Guardian and to the US-based gossip site The Daily Sword. According to them, there was no confirmation of any other performer infected, and the source should be highly questioned based on the propaganda motives of AHF.

A bit more intriguing was that later that day, The Real Porn Wikileaks posted their own exclusive, containing a rough timeline based on their investigations of the brief career of P#3 and her intimate relationship both professional and personal with Bay and Daily. All signs there point to what amounts to be an isolated incident of extracurricular activity and just plain bad luck.

Despite all that, FSCPASS announced that they would delay lifting the moratorium on porn production until their follow up investigation was completed regarding any off-set contacts with any of the three infected performers.

Their position was further strengthened by what could be considered a surprising source, given their history: the porn talent agency ATMLA issued their own statement regarding P#3 (whom was contracted through their agency) verifying FSCPASS' results and supporting the overall testing regime, as well as asking everyone to respect the privacy of all the performers who have been infected.

All of this lends serious credence to the comments that Immoral Productions head "Porno Dan" Leal posted to his Facebook page this week:

It is very clear that these transmissions occurred off camera and that if these people did not try and do porn scenes they probably would not know they have HIV.

No one in the adult industry industry got HIV on set; furthermore these three individuals with HIV now know they have it because of porn and will not spread it others.

Porn is not blame for what people do off camera and in this instance helped save lives.
In short, the FSCPASS system may have actually prevented a wider HIV outbreak not only in porn, but in real life. But, we all know that "testing isn't prevention"....right, Mr. Weinstein??

[And there's more to this story.....continued in Part 2.]


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Nina Hartley Speaks Out On The Latest HIV Porn Scare (Or...How Truth Is The Only Lysol For Rumor And BS)

[A slightly altered version of this essay was posted to my Red Garter Club blog last night; it is reposted here with some slight alterations to fit BPPA standards, with full permission and approval of both Nina Hartley and Ernest Greene.]


Lots of ink and pixels have been used up in commentary and analysis of the latest HIV in porn scare...and while it does seem for the time being that Cameron Bay and her boyfriend Rod Daily are the only ones directly impacted with their HIV infections, the repercussions of their actions are still being felt throughout the porn disapora.

As expected, the usual suspects are exploiting the tragedy to promote the usual myopia that only by mandating condoms through government fiat will there be true protection of performers. Others are also filling their publicity hound quotas through the usual gay baiting of crossover male performers, or the selective demonization of the system of testing that once again proved effective at its main goal of screening and preventing a mass outbreak.

Given all that, it is very important that people with actual facts and experience be allowed the space and the publicity that apparently is all too often given to the likes of AIDS Healthcare Foundation and their associated shills and rumorists such as Rob Black or Gene Ross or Mike South or Monica Foster. (Note, this is Anthony naming names here; send all complaints straight to me, not Nina or Ernest or anyone else.)

On that note, I give you this extended response to the entire situation that Nina Hartley gave to her Fetlife board last night, for which she and Ernest have given me permission to repost here. Anyone wishing to seperate truth from rumor and facts from BS propaganda, and actually listen to what performers really say rather than just parrot them to fit personal agendas, would be advised to read and take in every word of what Nina says.

The original comment at Fetlife can be found here. I also crossposted it over here at my Red Garter Club blog, adding some embedded links to supporting articles where relevant. Otherwise, it is as Nina originally wrote it.

Read and learn, folks.

Okay, back as promised to take this one on. It’s complicated and will need some explaining, so please bear with me, because this is one of the most important challenges our industry has faced and we need to clear the air around it as much as we can. It won’t be easy because that air has been pretty thick with misinformation and outright lies for a long time.

First, I’d like to address my thanks to the first contributors here:

@ashe58,

Cameron Bay has acquitted herself bravely and ethically and the terrible things that some have said about her remind us, sadly, of how badly stigmatized sex work still is. I can’t even bring myself to address some of the cruel and stupid attacks that have been made on her, so I won’t. I do think that she’s being a bit hard on herself in characterizing what happened to her as a result of irresponsible behavior. It was human behavior which is unpredictable and not always wise, but that doesn’t make it irresponsible.

It is a fact, and hardly a new one, that HIV has been with us a long time. New research suggests it existed in isolated pockets here and there forty years ago. Unless and until a vaccine is developed (and BTW, Aids Healthcare Foundation, the outfit largely responsible for creating not only the current controversy surrounding porn industry STD safeguards but also the more complex and error-prone system of safeguards we have now than existed before they made porn their favorite target, resolutely opposes funding for HIV vaccine research “because it will divert funds from treatment for existing cases,” which are the source of AHF’s $200 million per year income) that HIV is here to stay. It exists in the general population and no matter what safeguards are used, there will be occasional cases in the porn talent pool. There is no 100% fail-safe protection against HIV transmission, condoms included (read the label on the condom box if you don’t believe me because the manufacturers recognize the impossibility of making foolproof barriers), and porn performers possess no special immunity.

All evidence so far, including Cameron’s own courageous testimony, suggests that she contracted the virus through a personal contact not related to her work in the industry. All her professional partners since her last clean test in late July have tested negative and there is no reason to believe that new infections related to hers will appear in the porn talent pool. Medically speaking, female to male transmission of HIV, though not unknown, is rare, as the virus is mainly passed through blood and serum products (like semen) and present in only trace amounts in saliva and vaginal fluid. It would have been unlikely for Cameron to have infected any of her onscreen partners even during the window period between her last clear test and her first positive. Fortunately, she wasn’t working much at the time and her contacts were few. They’re out of the woods already and the industry has gone back to work.

I would question the assertion that newer, younger players are engaged in more irresponsible behavior than their predecessors. If anything, the events of the past couple of years have brought the issue of STD transmission very much to the front of all our minds and while there will always be those who behave recklessly, I still shoot scenes a couple of times a week and have close relations with many partners of differing ages. My impression is that, as a group, they’re far more risk-aware than their “civilian” counterparts. Whatever gets said on social media is not to be confused with fact, which depends on evidence rather than endless repetition to attain credibility.

I’m not quite sure what you mean when you refer to “risky behavior” when no sexual behavior can ever be risk-free. I’ve always disliked the term “safe sex” because physical intimacy with any other human being is not without risk and can never be truly safe in all ways. A jealous partner bursting in on a clandestine assignation and shooting the participants is a risk with a certain percentage of probability, fortunately not the highest but not negligible as risks go. There are various precautions that can be taken against the transmission of STDs but NONE are 100% effective. I’ll try and break that down in greater detail as we move on here, but the indisputable truth is that sex is not a risk-free activity; never has been and never will be.

As a sex educator, my initial response won’t come as much of a surprise. I think what’s needed is accurate and complete information for every sexually active person. The systematic destruction of comprehensive sex education in our public school systems by the relentless attacks of right-wing religious fanatics has endangered all young people and needs to be reversed. We need to teach ALL young people what the physical and psychological risks of sexual activity are in a science-based curriculum through public education. Equip them with the information they need to decide what level of risk they find acceptable and what methods of protection of the many out there suit their individual situations best.
That the industry is “taking a black eye on this” has nothing to do with the industry’s own practices, which are extremely meticulous when it comes to STDS, but rather because political groups with self-serving agendas keep punching us in the face for things that are simply untrue, as the punchers well know.

The fact in this case, as was true in the big “syphilis scare” of a few weeks ago and last summer’s “HIV scare” (which turned out to be yet another example of a personal situation that had no connection to the porn industry beyond the fact that one of those involved worked in it briefly) and even true in the two documented cases of on-set HIV transmission back in 2004, which were the only such cases in het porn since we began comprehensive testing in 1998, is that our hazard mitigation system worked brilliantly, exactly as it was designed to.

STD testing does not prevent STDs. That’s not its purpose. It serves as an early warning system to exclude from the talent pool those trying to get in who are already infected with some contagious condition and alert us as quickly as possible if anyone who passes the initial screening later contracts such a condition. Because we test for not only HIV, but also gonorrhea, Chlamydia, syphilis and hepatitis A and B at least once a month (the industry standard will soon go to twice a month to narrow infection window periods even further) contact tracing when a positive test for any of the above turns up is quick and effective. Performers agree to participate in an industry-wide database that other performers, producers and directors can access by computer to establish that any performer’s test data is clear and up to date. If the tests come up otherwise, the testing facilities contact the performer to come in and re-test immediately, provide contact information and begin treatment and counseling immediately.

There have been all kinds of false rumors spread about this system, but it has proven itself amazingly powerful for over a decade. During that time, the L.A. based het porn industry has turned up a total of two work-related infections in our entire talent pool. To put that in perspective, Los Angeles County, according to its own health department, has recorded nearly 30,000 new HIV infections during that same period.
Considering the age and demographic of porn performers, despite disingenuous claims about the danger we pose to the general public, it would appear that they pose a greater danger to us. Indeed, in the current case, it would appear that the virus was transmitted from the outside in, as the statistics would suggest.

Those who judge Cameron for doing what millions of others do, no matter what they may claim to the contrary, which appears to have been exposing herself to risk with a personal partner she trusted, are contemptible and I feel nothing but compassion for the additional burden she bears of absorbing all that hostility from people who should know better. She appears guilty of doing something human and will pay the highest price of anyone involved for having done so.

In terms of what the industry can do to make itself safer, no system is beyond improvement and improvements are being made. For many years, since Sharon Mitchell, Ernest and Dr. Steven York first established AIM, the community based, performer operated testing and treatment clinic back in 1998, and we relied on the PCR-DNA test for HIV proteins, which was absolutely the state of the art throughout that period. There’s been a lot of loose and downright dishonest talk about how this test works and how it’s distinguished from the “free” tests offered by various walk-in clinics.

The oldest and most common test, the ELISA, searches for HIV antibodies in the blood. It’s the gold standard in one respect. It never throws a false positive. If you have HIV anti-bodies in your system, you’re infected and your body has begun fighting back. However, you can be infected and contagious for up to six months before anti-body production begins. New infections are the most dangerous, as the body’s defenses haven’t mobilized against them yet, and viral loads for new cases can exceed 100,000 before ARV treatment is begun. That’s why it’s imperative we catch new cases sooner.

The PCR-DNA test looks for viral proteins in the blood, which show up no later than two weeks after infection. Two weeks vs. six months is clearly a superior standard. But we haven’t just accepted it as the best there is. Recently, we’ve moved on to the Aptima test, which is based on PCR-RNA analysis and is even more reactive sooner than its predecessor. The Aptima is now the only test whose results are accepted in the PASS database, where a clean result is required to certify a performer as available for work. Does everyone cooperate with this protocol? You bet. Any director or producer who puts a performer to work without that clearance is inviting major liability and performers as a matter of on-set etiquette show their test results to anyone they’re going to work with before doing so.

So one thing we’ve done is to upgrade the quality of the HIV test. We’ve also added some new tests to the panel we do. Hepatitis A and B, as well as syphilis and trichomoniasis are now standard along with the other conditions for which we had previously tested. We are also testing now for HPV, the virus that causes genital warts, and vaccinating those who test negative with Gardisil to make sure they stay that way.

We have not added either Hep C or herpes and there’s a lot of talk about that. The thing is that neither is a reportable STD. Hep C is transmitted blood-to-blood primarily through needle sharing among IV drug users, who are extremely rare in our community. The CDC does not classify it as an STD and clinics aren’t required to report it to health authorities as such. It’s a nasty, often fatal, disease, but it’s not a risk for single-contact sex performances and the hysteria drummed up around it by the Usual Suspects is medically indefensible.
As for herpes, it’s transmitted skin-to-skin and can be passed by contact at any part of the body. Condoms do little to reduce the risk (as is also the case with bacterial bugs like Chlamydia and surface viruses like HPV) and barriers won’t stop it. Indeed, since 70% of the adult population would test positive for either Herpes A or Herpes B according to the CDC, the harm reduction from testing would be minimal.

Remember what I said about it being impossible to create an entirely safe system. An error rate of zero is impossible, so you enter this business with some assumption of risk. We minimize it very effectively but we can’t promise to eliminate all risk.

That is true of any job. According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the ten most dangerous jobs in America are:

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


There are clinical deaths in significant numbers associated with every one of these trades.

Since porn was legalized in the U.S. 40 years ago there hasn’t been a single job-related fatality on any porn set. Even mainstream film loses half a dozen stunt players a year. Is porn completely safe? No. Is it dangerous in the way any of the jobs listed above are? Hardly.

But why wouldn’t mandatory condoms make it even safer?

It’s a logical question but the answer is counterintuitive. Porn sex is a performance. It’s not like the sex most people have at home. Depressingly, Masters and Johnson found in their groundbreaking studies a few decades ago that the average American couple typically completes an act of sexual intercourse in about eleven minutes from foreplay to orgasm. That’s a sad thing and the subject for a post all its own, but it tells you nothing about what sex on a porn set is like.

Typically, because we shoot multiple angles on multiple positions, in addition to shooting stills, wrangling lights and cameras and other gear and dealing with technical problems of all sorts. It takes about two hours to shoot a good hardcore scene. Condoms were never intended for that kind of industrial use. Hard-ons come and go. Condoms roll down, come off, dry out, split and otherwise fail on sets about 30% of the time. I know this because I work mainly for Adam&Eve, one of the companies most supportive of performer choice when it comes to condom use, and Ernest and I have shot miles of condom footage. We’re left with little confidence regarding the efficacy of condoms for this application.

And speaking personally, I can tell you that they have, for many female performers, a serious drawback. I’ve taken a lot of crap for saying this in other places, but facts just refuse to conform to PC ideas of how things should work. Condoms, no matter how lubricated and how designed, create more internal friction on a woman’s intimate anatomy than human skin, with which it’s evolved to tolerate contact. All-condom players, and I’ve known many of them tend to turn up at clinics with raw internal tissues and multiple surface infections. This we call “condom rash” and it’s more than an annoyance. Intact tissues are the first line of defense against infection. If your insides are compromised by friction burns and low-grade bugs of whatever sort, you’re that much more vulnerable to whatever might be turned loose should a condom fail.

Those who have never worked as performers love to dismiss this as bullshit urban legend. Those who do that have zero experience with the realities of shooting a hardcore scene. Condoms make everything take longer. They make everything less comfortable for male and female players. They can’t be trusted to operate as intended. They create conditions conducive to contagion. These circumstances are unique to porn and I wouldn’t suggest the general population abandon using condoms, though I do think testing for non-sex-workers is still an excellent idea and recommend it highly, if only for your own peace of mind.

The safest sex you can have, on or off camera, remains sex with an uninfected partner, and this is where things get dicey. I ask those who favor mandatory condoms in porn this question: If you knew you were HIV-, would you knowingly have intercourse with someone who is HIV+, condom or no? Anyone who honestly answers yes to that question has a very different notion of safe behavior from mine. I prefer to know that anyone I have sex with has been tested with the best available methods and carries no communicable disease. In fact, I accept no less for either work or play. I see a current test or intercourse doesn’t happen.

Given all this, why is there such a huge battle being fought over this issue here in Los Angeles?

The answer is political. Epidemiology, as any doctor will tell you, is a highly political form of medicine. There are always those willing to use the threat of epidemic to push some other kind of political agenda having nothing to do with health.

In this case, Aids Healthcare Foundation, the largest HIV service organization in the world (and a stakeholder in the world’s largest condom manufacturer, BTW) has taken it upon itself to come after the porn business in order to force condom use on performers who overwhelmingly prefer to make their own choices of protection methods and bitterly oppose the idea of having government agencies tell them how to do their scenes and protect their own health. This has been a big generator of publicity for AHF, which not only hauls in $200 million a year but pays its director, Michael Weinstein whose face has become so familiar from this controversy, over $600,000 a year to act as its front man. It’s a huge enterprise that claims non-profit status but is currently under investigation by Los Angeles County for Medicaid fraud.

Mr. Weinstein et al think that Porn, by showing barrier-free intercourse acts as, in his words: “commercials for unsafe sex.” He and his supporters in the UCLA working group and at Cal-OSHA think that porn should be compelled by law to make safe sex commercials. Sorry, but this thing called The First Amendment not only prohibits censorship, it also prohibits compelled speech. If AHF wants to make porn with condoms to push its own ideas about sex, it has more than enough money to do so. What Measure B and all of AHF’s other machinations cannot do is force pornographers to include content in their products that they don’t want there.

Yes, money is a factor for both sides of this dispute. The porn buying public overall doesn’t want condoms visible in the picture because it detracts from the fantasy of perfect, carefree sex they pay to indulge. The one company in het porn that requires condoms (and that company, which gets a lot of head-pats from AHF and others only requires condom use for its contract performers and not for any of the day players they use in their many, many other scenes) is uncompetitive in DVD sales by its own admission and makes most of its money off cable softcore, in which condoms aren’t an issue. No company that has attempted to market all-condom products to het audiences has managed to stay in business.

Likewise, AHF also has a dog in the fight. Not only do they manufacture and sell condoms, for which they would force us to make commercials, but they also make no secret of their willingness to “consult” for a hefty fee in instituting an all-condom protocol in the porn industry. AHF has sued its way into lucrative consulting jobs like this before. When Pfizer first introduced Viagra, AHF “offered” to consult with the company so that Viagra users would be properly advised of the risks of unprotected sex with this new product. AHF wanted $5 million for that service. Pfizer declined. AHF sued them for $50 million alleging unsafe marketing practices. Pfizer caved on the consulting deal. The lawsuit mysteriously faded away. Now Viagra commercials carry teeny-tiny little disclaimers warning consumers that it doesn’t protect them from HIV or other STDS. That’s what Pfizer got from AHF for its $5 million, along with immunity from litigation.

See, we know all about AHF’s litigation practices first hand. Internal emails between Weinstein and AHF’s chief counsel Bryan Chase (this has all been posted online if you care to check it out) decided early on that the effectiveness of our existing system as administered by AIM was the Number One obstacle to AHF’s political ambitions and had to be destroyed if AHF’s claim that performers worked without protection was to be made credible. Toward that end, AHF used tax-free funding to hire AIM’s lab messenger as a spy to dig through AIM’s operations in search of dirt that could be used against it. AHF and Cal-OSHA initiated a series of nuisance litigations against AIM, a tiny non-profit NGO that tested at cost and often barely had money to keep the lights on at the clinic, leading to AIM’s ultimate bankruptcy. AHF did its best to create the threat, not previously there, upon which they built the Measure B campaign that’s raised millions in funding and made them constantly visible in the media at the expense of increasing my risk.

The Free Speech Coalition, the industry’s trade organization, which answers mainly to producers, stepped in to help create a new database to replace AIM’s, which has been very helpful in the Cameron Bay case to be sure, still does not operate a full-service, centralized clinic of its own. It depends for reporting of test results on the cooperation of private clinics that don’t all have the same methods of testing and reporting, which leaves us with a less effective means of monitoring the entire talent pool simultaneously and opens the door to possible test report fraud because of lack of uniformity in the reporting forms used. This opens the door to new dangers that have already been hinted at in recent months by confusion over confirmatory tests for suspected STD cases conducted at different facilities.

Thanks, Mr. Weinstein, for your demonstrations of concern for all of our wellbeing. That you enjoy virtually no support among actively working performers should tell you something. But no, absent all tangible evidence to support it, AHF has now filed a complaint with Cal-OSHA against kink.com simply because that was the last place where Cameron Bay shot a scene, even though at the time she shot it her tests were still all negative.

Should Measure B remain on the books, much less be extended to the entire state of California as AHF would like, the result will be an erosion of the testing system. The great advantage porn in California enjoys over other forms of sex work in other places is its legality. We can call 911 if we have an accident or an altercation on set (not that these are common occurrences by any means) and not get arrested for doing so. If we are named as contacts in a potential contagion pool, we can be asked to confirm that we were or were not contacts without admitting to violating the law because we didn’t use condoms, and in admitting this, subject our employers to potential legal consequences that would put them out of business.

The result of this is already obvious. We used to pull permits from L.A. County so we could get production insurance and shoot legally in a state where doing so is not prohibited. We used to tweet from sets talking up the projects we were working on.

Now we’re back to shooting in secret without permits and asked to keep our cell phones off because we know that the gang from AHF is monitoring some of our feeds and using that information to try and organize set inspections.

This is all going to be sorted out at great expense in court eventually. Last week in the first round of FSC’s challenge to Measure B, the judge chose not to take up the constitutional issue of compelled speech, but stripped Measure B of most of its enforcement powers on the grounds that they would require what amounted to a blanket search warrant of all sexually explicit shoots without a warrant, which the judge viewed as trampling all over The Fourth Amendment. Both sides have already appealed.

Meanwhile, this battle rages in the media on sites like this one to the detriment of people like me. I like being in a legal business. I like being able to shoot on nice locations in the open without fear of arrest. I don’t care to go back to clandestine operations for a perfectly legal business. And I don’t trust those trying to push their program on me to protect my health as well as I can and my fellow performers will if left to do so as they have been for the last dozen years.

Do I think the industry bears no blame in all of this? Hardly. Contrary to accusations certain people loooove hurling at me that I’m an enormously wealthy shill for the producers (yeah, right, so where’s my check, boys?); I have my share of gripes with them. Ernest and I warned the leadership of the FSC six months before AIM was put out of business that this would happen if those who could afford to resist AHF’s malicious lawsuits failed to do so. They failed to do so and AIM closed. We also warned them they’d face political challenges from AHF for which they were unprepared. They paid no heed and ran a truly inept campaign against Measure B, which was qualified for the ballot with questionable petitions that should have been challenged but weren’t. Instead, showing a complete ignorance of L.A. politics, the FSC campaigned against Measure B in a Democratic, pro-labor, pro-regulation stronghold with arguments about lost revenues, lost jobs and lost tax money that would have gone over much better in Orange County than in bright blue Los Angeles. And instead of letting performers speak for themselves, which they do most articulately and from the most immediate personal concerns, they let the producers do the talking to the media. Swell idea. Everyone loves porn producers, right?

This is and has always been about our health and safety as performers and frankly I don’t think anyone else has much standing to address it. Between them, our friends and our enemies have managed to make us less safe and less able to earn our livings and there’s no good outcome in sight. AHF will never back off for as long as they can get airtime with their crusade. We will never effectively push them back until we let performers and doctors take the lead for us and stop whining about lost revenues when lives are at stake.

And until this issue is resolved, you’re going to see every isolated case like that of the unfortunate Ms. Bay turned into a political football by people who don’t care a bit about her, me or any of us.

It’s a long post, and I thank those who took the time to read it. When next you’re confronted with all the usual lies, half-truths and distortions that have been spun around the real issue of performer safety, feel free to quote Nina Hartley, former AIM board member, RN and sex-worker advocate when you let the hot air out of their dishonest and cynical propaganda.

There are lives at stake here, including mine. Nobody should be playing politics with them.