Regs chafe porn biz

Rules will drive pics underground, sez AIM

As the Los Angeles County Dept. of Health comes to terms with two HIV-positive porn performers, the adult entertainment industry is chafing under the attention.

On Thursday, the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation held a press conference in Los Angeles to address the mainstream media attention following last week’s announcement that Darren James was the first porn actor to contract HIV in the last five years. Since then, Lara Roxx, a porn actress based in Montreal, has also been diagnosed.

The porn industry largely remains under a self-imposed production moratorium. AIM says the industry will be in the clear on June 8. To assist performers who have financial problems during the hiatus, porn star Jenna Jameson and her husband, Jay Grdina, have launched the Adult Industry Assistance Fund.

However, AIM also had its own agenda at the conference. The city’s health department and the California Occupational Safety and Health Assn. have begun to show a keen interest in regulating the porn business, and AIM representatives wanted the public to know such measures would be neither necessary nor welcome.

On the Roxx

The health department presented an emergency order to the nonprofit clinic on Wednesday, demanding the medical records of the first- and second-generation performers who worked with James and Roxx. In a statement, AIM called this a “violation” and “unnecessary and irresponsible.”

What looms larger, however, is the possibility that government agencies may require condoms on all porn shoots. Many porn producers say this would drive the industry underground — and away from the self-regulation that succeeded in containing this viral outbreak.

“It’s a very bad idea to regulate on-set behavior,” said porn actress and AIM board member Nina Hartley. “It’s doomed to noncompliance.”

Hartley also pointed out that any outside regulation would seem suspicious to the porn community. While performers can get HIV testing anywhere, many choose AIM in part because former porn star Sharon Mitchell, Ph.D., operates it.

“AIM is by talent, for talent,” Hartley said. “The nicest (outsider) in the world couldn’t get that level of trust.”

It’s also acknowledged that the porn community is largely comprised of renegades who were attracted to an outlaw industry.

“There’s a natural resentment,” said Jim South, who heads World Modeling Talent Agency.

Condom dilemma

Then there’s the fact that, historically, porn with condoms doesn’t sell as well as porn without condoms. And while a condom-mandatory law might level the playing field in California, industry observers believe that would drive shoots out of state or even out of the country.

“Sex stunts have formed the nucleus of the market,” said AIM board member and porn producer Ira Levine. “We have hopes that those producers will come into the fold.”

Then there’s the human factor.

“As a performer, it’s very difficult to be condom-only,” said Nick Manning, a porn actor who also runs his own production company. “A condom is a lot to overcome.”

Manning found himself in the eye of last week’s HIV storm when he shot a scene with Janine, a porn star who recently came out of retirement. She was supposed to shoot the scene with another actor, T.T. Boy, but Manning was called when Boy was quarantined as a second-generation performer.

“I could have worked with three condoms on,” Manning said of Janine, who is often cited as the most beautiful woman in porn. “Not everyone is Janine. On other days, I would have failed.”

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