Testing and Condoms: Straight Porn vs. Gay Porn

As I continue to research the issue of Ballot Measure B, the “Condoms in Porn” law, it became apparent that we have a divided industry. Actually it is more like two separate and distinct industries. We share common interests. We often share the same distribution channels and profit streams. There are now even companies that produce both gay and straight content ( ie., Naughty America-> http://www.suite703.com/ and Manwin-> http://www.men.com/ ). San Francisco and Los Angeles lie only 382 miles from each other but they might as well be on different coasts. When it comes to the issues of testing and condoms we could not be any more different or diametrically opposed.

The straight industry tests and doesn’t usually use condoms. The gay industry rarely tests and usually uses condoms, though in recent years even the use of condoms in gay porn is diminishing while testing is increasing. For performers in the gay community the issue of HIV status is treated as a closely guarded secret while in the straight industry test results are passed out like candy at a five year old’s birthday party.

In the straight industry if a performer is HIV+ there simply is no work for them. According to an article in Out Magazine, according to Michael Stabile, then Marketing Director for NakedSword.com, it was estimated that nearly 50% of all performers in gay porn are HIV+ ( Please see:  http://www.out.com/entertainment/2007/07/23/baring-truth?page=0,1 ). A survey by TheSword.com of 100 gay male performers put that estimate closer to a 30% HIV+ rate (Please see: http://www.advocate.com/health/2009/08/12/business-pleasure?page=0,1 ).

Kent Taylor of Raging Stallion Studio claims;

“We don’t currently ask [about HIV status]. We assume everyone is [HIV-positive], and if they say they are not, we assume they are lying.”

Michael Lucas, owner of Lucas Entertainment, does not believe that HIV status should be discussed in polite circles ( Please see: http://www.advocate.com/politics/commentary/2011/09/27/oped-live-world-where-everyone-has-hiv )

“I’m in favor of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Not in the military, of course — those days are behind us — but in the bedroom. What I’m talking about, specifically, is HIV. And my point is that, at least when it comes to sex, we should talk about it less.”

So in gay porn it is a matter of not testing and/or not sharing of HIV status and just simply using a condom to protect the performers. However, do condoms really protect the performers ? Does less than complete adherence to condom use even in a performer’s private sexual life keep them safe ? According to Stabile ( Please see: http://www.out.com/entertainment/2007/07/23/baring-truth?page=0,1 );

I’ve talked to some of them [gay male performers], and they say, ‘The only time I ever have sex with a condom is on-screen.’

Therefore, if some gay performers are only using condoms on set and not in their personal lives and not testing, it is impossible to know actually how many HIV transmissions are occurring on gay sets. Michael Weinstein of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation is not concerned with performer health and safety in the gay industry because according to a statement he made to this author at a September 17, 2012 press conference “the majority of gay porn is made with condoms.” His belief is that condoms protect.

This opinion is echoed by Michael Lucas;

“In fact, it’s hard to get HIV even from sex — as long as you use a condom. I dated a positive guy for two years in the 1990s; we had safe sex almost every day, and I never seroconverted. Today, it is even more difficult to become infected through protected sex. Recent studies suggest that HIV-positive men who are taking their medications pose a vastly reduced risk of transmitting the virus.”

Obviously there is a school of thought in the gay porn production community that test results do not really mean much if you are using a condom. Most gay studios only use condoms for anal sex. Rarely are they used for oral sex. Condoms may protect from HIV but they do not protect from oral chlamydia, gonorrhea, HPV and herpes if they are not being used. How many gay performers have contracted chlamydia, gonnorhea and HPV of the throat or herpes simplex 2 around their mouths ? Without testing there is simply no way to know. And therefore Michael Weinstein’s belief that gay performers are some how better protected from STIs because they use a condom for anal sex is terribly flawed logic.

In straight porn there is almost no one that will work with a known HIV+ positive performer with or without a condom. Matter of fact, the way the FSC/APHSS testing system works is to flag a performer that tests positive for HIV. The database will indicate that they are not cleared to work. At that point the straight industry would undergo a complete shut down of production until a full tree of potential exposures could be established and all performers that had been exposed re-tested. Any positive performers would then be re-tested again to confirm their status. This is a completely different from the gay industry that almost assumes all performers are HIV+.

According to many producers in straight porn, mandatory condoms would decimate the industry in Los Angeles. According to producers in gay porn, mandatory testing would decimate the industry in San Francisco ( Please see: http://www.advocate.com/health/2009/08/12/business-pleasure?page=0,1 ).

So how does an industry divided rectify this situation and come together to be united ? Can that even be achieved ? Can there be common ground reached to ensure profits while maintaining worker safety and participation ? The issues of government mandated condoms or industry mandated testing must be discussed openly. As more performers cross in-between both sides of the industry this topic will only become more heated and divisive if not handled properly.

 

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5 thoughts on “Testing and Condoms: Straight Porn vs. Gay Porn

  1. Cal-OSHA isnt a policing unit. They do spot checks but usually what causes them to enforce a safety law is a complaint filed by an employee. In the case of several straight porn producers, complaints filed by AHF caused several investigations.

    If a performer filed a complaint against a gay studio Cal-OSHA is mandated to investigate the complaint.

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  2. Because they never really said that they would ever apply them to the gay side?? Plus, there has never been any outpouring of concern from AHF or CalOSHA or even LACDPH about connecting the pandemic of HIV in the gay community with the usage of condoms there, or even the thought of making condom usage mandatory on that side. It’s been only focused on the “straight” side.

    Maybe CalOSHA does intend to ultimately enforce the condom mandate on the gay side…but thus far they have given no signals that they intend to do so.

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  3. THERE IS NO CONDOM REQUIREMENT FOR GAY MALE PORN, and, strangely enough, none would be imposed by CalOSHA or AHF under either the mandate proposals or the regulations.

    How did you come to the conclusion that the Cal-OSHA regulations would not apply to the gay industry as well as the straight ?

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  4. To add to Michael Whiteacre’s excellent comment: Deborah Gold completely misses the point of the usage of condoms in the gay porn subgenre. It is not to “stop” the rate of HIV transmission, but only to contain it within acceptable parameters.

    Because of both the number of HIV+ gay performers and the fear of loss of profit from abandoning bareback porn, tb the majority of gay porn producers have simply taken the high risk of HIV transmission into consideration, and decided on a combination of using condoms in general and providing for a subgenre of gay porn in which HIV+ and STI+ performers are freed up to work with other HIV+ performers without fear of risk of infecting others. In short, it is ASSUMED and out in the open that many gay male performers are HIV+, and decisions about performing are still left to the performer to decide for himself whom to perform with. THERE IS NO CONDOM REQUIREMENT FOR GAY MALE PORN, and, strangely enough, none would be imposed by CalOSHA or AHF under either the mandate proposals or the regulations.

    The “straight” porn subgenre, not having as been nearly as affected by the HIV pandemic (save for the isolated cases of the Tony Montana and Darren James/Lara Roxx et. al. and Derrick Burts “outbreaks”) has taken a fundamentally different approach of using stringent testing and screening out and treatment of infected performers…and that approach has been pretty much successful.

    It’s only the exploitation of a phantom “pandemic” of STI’s and HIV in porn, ginned up by AHF and CalOSHA and LA County DPH officials who want to use porn performers as guniea pigs for their “safer sex” campaigns (and to mine the condom companies and NGO”s and government grant industry for $$$$$’s), that is fueling the supposed need for mandating condoms in porn.

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  5. The two industries will never come together united; the cultural chasm is too wide. The only way to rectify this situation is through a logical and honest discussion of what it means to perform in the straight or gay side of the business.

    If gay productions wish to continue the “see no evil, hear no evil” approach, using the fig leaf of condom use, then that’s their choice. BUT in NO way can such a system (actually, it constitutes the absence of a system or model) which does not feature screening and surveillance (via regular, universal testing) EVER be regarded as a working model for HIV and STI mitigation.

    You and I were both present on June 7, 2011 at the last Cal/OSHA Standards board meeting in LA, when this extraordinary exchange took place:

    Adult producer Eli Cross: I want to get this absolutely clear, because I think my common sense just curled up and died in a corner,” Cross retorted later. “I understand that what CalOSHA is saying is that our old system of internal mandatory testing, which caught HIV and stopped it, was not good enough. Instead, what you are mandating is that anyone who comes to work, to work only with a condom, has to be allowed to work whether they have HIV or not, and then, if they infect someone, after the fact, or after the fact, if there is an exposure event, then we have to test them—and this is your common sense approach to our industry which has policed itself effectively for years; is that what I really understand you saying? You show up with a condom, and HIV or not, and we have to employ you? This is your solution? Honestly? I want it on the record: that is what this states; correct, in simple terms?

    Cal/OSHA’s Deborah Gold: I’m going to say this, and I’m going to explain again, and then we’re going to move on. The gay industry, for example, a lot of the gay industry, doesn’t test, uses condoms; that’s how they stop HIV.

    Michael Whiteacre: Without testing, how do you know?

    There is quite simply NO logic to Cal/OSHA’s plans for the adult industry because there is no logic to its foundational premises. Its model is fatally flawed, and the ethics of the Standards Board leaders may have been compromised due to their ties to Weinstein and other AHF execs. Moreover, for reasons well-described in the article above on the matter of prevalent gay culture, they seemingly march in lockstep with the “see no evil, hear no evil” approach.

    As for Weinstein, you write of his “belief that gay performers are some how better protected from STIs because they use a condom…” I’m not sure whether he really believes that or not, but I am confident that he doesn’t really care whether it’s true or not. He has proven himself willing to make sacrificial lambs out of adult performers (his destruction of the AIM healthcare clinic for performers being a perfect example) in pursuit of his higher goal.

    His entire “worker safety” lie is a sham concern. Weinstein’s goal is propaganda, and he wants to commandeer adult entertainment for that purpose. No logical argument will ever sway him or the other condom nazis. The irony is, he’s not merely an enemy of the straight porn industry; he — as representative of the health institutions that have failed spectacularly in the curbing HIV/AIDS — is also an enemy of gay men and gay sexuality.

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