Thursday, October 14, 2010

SEX WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE!


Working in an industry where the potential for harm via infectious diseases is ever-present, I'm always saddened and scared to hear news of a fellow adult performer unknowingly contracting HIV.  Its a cold, hard moment when your livelihood seriously impacts your life in such a negative way.  Disease remains a preoccupation for many people looking at porn from the outside (and for many of us on the inside too).  In my mind, it's not that far off from the Chilean miners who put their lives at risk every day to wrench resource out of Mother Earth for the rest of us. Our economy drives us all down scary paths.

As everyone knows, the main work-related hazard in the sex industry is infectious disease, chief among them HIV.  You only hear of HIV scares in the straight porn industry though.  In order to meet the market need for condomless porn in the safest way possible, the straight porn industry regularly tests models through AIM (Adult Industry Medical Healthcare).  Most traditional gay DVD studios have resolute condom-only policies and will often refuse to work with performers who engage in bareback sex on film.  Other internet companies have begun to explore the bareback market with varying degrees of concern for models (Jake requires testing).  

Porn is a vastly under-regulated industry that teeters on legality.  Many state governments avoid directly interfering with such a socially maligned (albeit necessary) business.  No one has stepped in to regulate the gay sex industry with a uniform testing policy.  In the recent past, the handful of large film studios that held a monopoly on business self-regulated themselves (and maintain the same standards to this day).  The prevalence of internet startups has changed the game.  Many can't afford or simply don't abide by a similar ethos of self-enforced policing.   

AIM can be a bit of a racket in its own special way.  The test is EXPENSIVE ($200).  Many models are left to pay for this exorbitant fee themselves, without reimbursement.  The test is also not easily available for models living outside of Southern California.  Some companies require monthly updated results and don't accept test results from personal care physicians or free clinics.  As temporary "contractors", forget about healthcare!  In my own experience, I've rarely encountered gay companies that require testing for sex with condoms.  The ones that do (Randy Blue, Suite 703) have close affiliations with straight porn companies or work with a majority of heterosexual models.  Sometimes it feels as if mandated testing is really meant to protect them from us (or at least give the straight models an added reassurance that "we" won't infect them with a gay disease).  

Either way, its a complicated issue, and my deepest sympathies go out to the unfortunate model who now has to deal with the implications of HIV infection AND must cope with the stress of bringing an entire industry to halt.  Having your personal medical tragedy a major story in every online blog and newspaper can't be an easy burden to shoulder.  For whats its worth, I stand in solidarity!  Soldier on. . . We are with you.  

3 comments:

  1. I haven't read any news yet (what Colby references in his posting about a model testing HIV positive), however I am still saddened when any person converts. As a healthcare worker, I incur a certain amount of risk of exposure to disease so I can empathize with Colby's words. Certainly some kind of regulation (HIV testing across-the-board for all in the adult entertainment industry) might help, however the validity of test results are only as good as one's behavior is in front of the camera. Those condom-only filmmakers probably have the best idea as it is the safest way to protect all involved, and sends out a good message to those viewing their work.

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  2. Colby Colby Colby,
    Thank you for writing this.

    I'm particularly impressed that you teased out some of the complexities of the issue while stating you stand in solidarity with performers.

    It's a tricky problem, indeed.
    I'm against mandatory testing for a host of reasons, but absolutely advocate condom use.
    I don't feel comfortable railing against bareback porn - that's up to the people who are participating it to question and understand - but I choose to work exclusively in condom-only scenes.

    What you hit on perfectly is this - we need to UNITE in the true sense.

    That is, we need to come together FOR each other as sex workers. We may not agree with each other, but let's work together through dialogue on a meaningful solution that will protect performer and crew health (physical, mental, emotional), spread awareness and compassion, and keep us all safe from exploitation.

    You're the best.

    Smooch,
    Conner Habib

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  3. Great comments Colby! I escorted parttime for about 5 years, just part of my Big Gay Adventure, it was a "compromise"with myself as I've always dreamed about doing porn but because of my career would have been fired ! While I always thought about the dangers, I also knew none of this stuff is really rocket science. I was always careful, never fucked without a condom (never in my private life either) and learned early on personal responsibility is the key. I too feel for this model, I understand not everyone does this stuff just for fun and the economic realities and the hand that a young person is dealt in their life can make all the difference.

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