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A Good Story is Worth Repeating: Porn History 101 – How Many Porn Performers Does It Take to Start an Association?

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from www.adultcybermart.com: While no one’s ever calculated how many porn performers it takes to change a light bulb, forming a trade association appears to be significantly harder than flicking a light switch, or opening a condom wrapper. Hence we’ve never seen one.

Sure, we’ve heard it all before, and we’ll always hear talk about the forming of a union or a group or an association every time there’s an HIV scare. This week, after another near HIV calamity, there was an announcement of the creation of the Adult Performers Association. www.adultfyi.com/read.php?ID=50601

Well-meaning as I’m sure they are, the organizers, though emphasizing this is not an attempt at a union, put a group healthcare plan among its priorities.

Like this has never been tried before? Only a couple of years ago there was an attempt to create such a plan. It was met with a resounding lack of enthusiasm.

[Historically, porn performers don’t like to reach into their pockets unless self-gratification is involved.]

Years before that, Bill Margold, www.billmargold.com brought in Greg Zeboray to attempt a similar thing. That’s it as far as insurance goes.

Associations, though, are a whole different kettle of fish. Margold remembers some I even forgot.

“I don’t know either one of the new girls involved in the APA,” states Margold, commenting on this week’s breaking story.

“Which doesn’t bode well because they need some powerful leaders if they think they’re going to put together some kind of coffee klatch group in this industry.”

Margold hastens to point out that a health care plan sounds great until you have to pay for it.

“But I hope it works for them,” he adds.

On the subject of industry associations and those that have died natural deaths or ceased to exist, Margold remembers the Independent Adult Directors and Producers Guild. Which is kind of a switch, because it was an attempt in some ways by producers to protect the producers and investors who put their money into adult movies.

It was created in Jim South’s office by Ron Sullivan, Bruce Seven, Britt Morgan, Fred Lincoln and Margold who got involved as a recording secretary because he had a bee in his bonnet about company owner Mark Carriere, a rumored FBI informant, who Margold was convinced destroyed the livelihoods of many in the business.[More on that later.]

“It also had a lot to do with the spending of money on talent and it was starting to go out of control because people were charging too much,” Margold recalls.

“South was kind of ambivalent about the idea, but in those days he was the king.”

“I suggested they put something together that was a ‘minor league’ in which you earned your way up the ladder of economics. You don’t automatically come in and demand a $1,000.”

Margold just had a conversation with Ed Powers about this at the recent Exxxotica LA, and Powers will admit that he overpaid new talent hoping they’d never work again and thus afford him exclusive content.

Says Margold, “When I brought that up at Exxxotic LA, he smiled and said damn right.”

Margold likes to refer to it as isolating yourself on an overpriced island. “That was Ed Powers’ practice and he admits to it.”

“I felt the talent needed a basis of sensibility from within which would let them earn their way up the ladder of success. Earn your way up and you’ll be appreciated more.”

Nothing was ever written about this, but Margold was served with a subpoena the year the XRCO award show was held at the Santa Monica Pier in Carriere’s attempt to sue the association for, well, being an association.

“He proceeded to sue all five of us,” relates Margold.

“He said we were cutting into his action. The rest paid something like $500 to make it go away. Carriere sued me for $9M for defamation of character. I countersued for $1 arguing you can’t defame the defamed. He dropped his suit. It was a miserable time.

“Carriere wanted to pay what he wanted to pay and not be dictated to by an organization that was proposing a rate structure. Carriere basically scared the hell out of the future.”

What also got Carriere riled was a “venomous” piece Margold wrote and handed out at a trade show. It was titled A Lump of Coal In the Christmas Stocking, with Margold basically attacking Carriere’s misbegotten attempt to shoot 100 movies in record time during the summer of 1989. I remember writing a piece likening it to WW II’s Bataan Death March. Sharon Mitchell was involved in that debacle as was Carriere’s brother-in-love John Stallion. If porn ever needed an attempt to organize the peasants and storm the Bastille, it was that crime against humanity.

Margold remembers people losing their homes and cars over that project.

“People weren’t paid; they were just raped.”

“There have been so many delusions and attempts at unionization,” Margold adds.

“Let’s put it this way. It’s very difficult to herd cats. Most of the talent, great as they were, didn’t have the balls, although I thought Britt Morgan was ahead of her time as far as one of the more powerful women. A real head on her shoulders and a lot of savvy. Had we gone ahead with it things might have been different.”

The HIV crisis of 1993 is when the natives became truly restless and performers first began talking seriously about forming a union, though no one seemed capable of controlling their emotions long enough to think the idea entirely through.

“There was that strange woman [Patient Zero] who we’ll probably never know,” states Margold.

“She worked with, among other, Crystal Wilder, Wilder’s husband Terry Thomas, maybe Jonathan Morgan and Tony Tedeschi.”

Margold got a call from Jim South informing him of the situation, and Margold went to work developing porn’s first ever genealogy.

“Tedeschi stood up immediately and said ‘I’m going to the LA Times.’ I said you do that and you’ll never work in this business again.”

From my recollections, it was Tedeschi who began the rumblings about having a union. As Margold recalls two groups were formed out of that morass.

“One was called ATRIBE [Adult Talents Rights In Being Exclusive]. On my side, thank God I had Sean Michaels. And there was a meeting at the Sportsmens Lodge with a lot of screaming and yelling.”

Margold recalls another such meeting at Canter’s Deli where the demand was first made for mandatory condoms.

“But that was the last time we heard from both organizations,” Margold says.

When French performer Barbara Doll was tested HIV positive the following year, Margold remembers one of the industry’s more vocal personages suggesting that Doll be burned at the stake because “she was a dirty foreigner”.

“I sat with Barbara Doll one afternoon and she said something about when she was in France. She had vaginal warts and had laser surgery. She was given antibiotics then came over here and tested positive. Her tests were never a 100% conclusive, but by that time the industry already condemned her and sent her back with her tail between her legs.”

The call for a union arose again when performer Nina Cherry was detected HIV positive. The recollection at the time was that Cherry went to test with her hand swollen with a hole in her thumb from a presumed cat bite.

Asked if she had gotten a tetanus shot, Cherry answered, “What’s that?”

When Darren James tested positive, Mr. Marcus, as I recall – because I was there at the meeting- was put in charge of starting a performer’s association.

I wonder whatever happened to that one.

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