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AIM Press Conference

Porn Valley- If I read the message correctly, and it was hard if not imposible, in a room where the acoustics were shallow, it’s that AIM has the DarrenJames- Lara Roxx HIV situation well in hand and resents the meddling of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services into its business calling it an “unprecedented fishing expedition” in their confidential files.

For a $9 to $13 billion dollar annual business you would have figured someone to have come up with a roving mike so you could hear the questions from the reporters. As it was, all walks of media life including AP, Reuters, the N.Y. Times and L.A. Times were represented including porn journalists such as yours truly, Luke Ford, DCypher, Wankus, Tod Hunter and Steve Banan. Banan, by the way, had to postpone his meeting afterwards because the hotel could neither provide him with a closed door or a round table.

But, basically, the dog & pony show was for the benefit of the mainstream with most of the information put out there Thursday afternoon being the stuff heard time and again within the walls of the industry. Very few if any surprises there.

Rob Spallone, roaring at the top of his lungs like John the Baptist looking for converts, announced at the beginning of the conference that he was leaving the room, and if any reporters wanted to know the “real story” he was available outside the conference room at the Hilton Universal. Spallone has been the chief critic of AIM, its policies and its executive director Sharon Mitchell.

Ira Levine [Nina Nartley’s husband], identifying himself as the head of AIM’s Board of Directors, read from a prepared statement to say that AIM was confident that the HIV outbreak had been contained. “No additional transmissions of HIV from these cases are expected, either in the adult-performer talent pool or in the [adult] community at large,” Levine said confidently.

“What happened yesterday [Wednesday] is an excellent example of the dangers implicit in the inchoate schemes for legal regulation of the adult video industry being floated in the media by officials of various tax-supported agencies,” Levine continued.

The AIM statement continually took pot shots at attempted “heavy handed” government intervention and how it threatened to compromise the trust that AIM had developed with its clients. The statement also suggested that government-imposed supervision of the industry would have the certain impact of driving production underground. In dead pan fashion Levine said he sincerely hoped that the government wasn’t operating out of the motive to shut the adult business down.

Nina Hartley, who also spoke, said that it was bad for any government agency to attempt to step in and regulate behavior. Levine added by saying that mandatory schemes result in mandatory non-compliance.

Although most companies who were once on the condom bandwagon jumped off it from experience, Levine poo-poohed the notion that condom movies didn’t sell. Levine called that argument a “red herring” fostered by companies to serve their own purposes and hoped that those producers would eventually come into the fold. Levine agreed that the current moratorium certainly posed creative challenges. Mitchell claimed that 80% of the adult companies were adhering to the moratorium. The AIM statement went on to say that it recommended that all production be suspended throughout the 60-day testing cycle.”

“We’re under a microscope and the world is looking at us,” said Mitchell. The consensus appeared that it was hardly feasible for a government agency to step in and be able to regulate all the shooting that goes on in the adult business and that the industry basically knew its own business better than the governmen. It was also pointed out that the industry’s incidence of HIV was substantially lower than the national average. Attorney Jeffrey Douglas agreed by saying that AIM’s protocol is the most accurate there is.

In making its case for autonomy, AIM’s answer to interference from OSHA was that the agency has the ability to conduct investigations but not to regulate testing. On the testing issue, Luke Ford attempted to pin Mitchell down to when she knew that Darren James had tetsed positive. Mitchell said that James tested on the 9th of April but because of the weekend, it wasn’t until the following Tuesday that the test results were verified. Although Mitchell claims she first heard Tuesday morning that James’ test had positive results, had been given word Monday evening that James had tested positive and called Mitchell to verify. Mitchell didn’t return the calls.

Mitchell also said that James’ time frame pretty much indicates that he had contacted the virus in Brazil as had been originally speculated.

Mitchell, who stated that 11 HIV cases had been reported since AIM’s inception in 1998, also seemed at odds with the information that was being put out on the Internet. “We have no control over what people post,” she said as if addressing the mainstream media on that issue. It’s been suggested that the mainstream is gleaning most of its current info from porno websites.

On the question of Lara Roxx, Mitchell said she had tested negative in the past and that AIM was in possession of all her tests. But Mitchell also had to agree that testing of any kind was only as good as the day it was taken. Mitchell also went on to say that she endorsed more stringent testing methods for performers arriving from Europe.

At one point, Spallone who found his way back into the room after his earlier dramatic exit, asked Mitchell, who appeared a bit vexed to answer his question, how much the talent was paying for the tests versus AIM’s costs. Talent, Mitchell said is currently charged $110 and AIM’s costs for the tests are $70.

On further questioning Mitchell said she conducts between 900 to 1200 tests per month [$36,000 to $48,000 a month in the till doing the math]. Mitchell said, however, that didn’t take into consideration AIM’s overhead. It was also speculated that similar testing on the outside would fall into the $300 t0 $400 range.


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