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HIV Chills a Hot Skinflick Industry

Porn Valley- Southern California’s multibillion-dollar pornographic-film business was thrown into turmoil this week after a health advocacy group disclosed that two actors had tested positive for HIV. The Adult Industry Medical Health Care Foundation, a nonprofit organization that each month screens about 1,200 actors in skinflicks for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases, confirmed yesterday that the actors, who work under the names Darren James and Lara Roxx, had tested positive for HIV and that 65 other actors so far had been placed on a “quarantine list.” That list, a network of people who filmed sex scenes with James or Roxx recently, as well as the actors those people filmed sex scenes with, is being compiled and published on AIM’s Web site.

AIM’s executive director, Sharon Mitchell, said it would take two months before the actors on the list can be cleared. During that period, a number of big porn-film producers will close up shop.

Vivid Entertainment, one of the largest adult movie companies, releasing more than 60 movies a year, has stopped production on its films but said it was not necessarily going to sit out the entire 60 days.

“We will wait for the next week or two and will work with AIM as they put together the list,” Vivid co-founder and co-chairman Steven Hirsch said in a telephone interview yesterday. “We are going to see how many people are affected, how many people, if any, became infected, and then make our decision based on that.”

Wicked Pictures publicist Daniel Metcalf said his company, which produces about 50 movies a year, “will suspend production at this point until more information is learned.”

Both Vivid and Wicked require mandatory condom use by their actors on the set.

News of the two actors’ conditions first appeared Thursday on the Web site of the trade magazine Adult Video News and was also reported in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times.

Mitchell said yesterday that James contracted the disease while filming in Brazil. “We had a veteran actor who went down to Brazil and worked without a condom,” she said. Back in the States, James subsequently performed with Roxx and another actor last month.

This is the third HIV scare in the industry since 1998, which actor Ed Powers blames on “rogues” in the industry. “Guys who do their own stuff,” Powers said. “They’re not part of the collective gathering. They’re not part of the mainstream, but they work with girls.

“If they pass something on, it goes into the mainstream.”

Many companies have stringent HIV testing rules that require tests within 30 days of the start of production. “When you think of how little HIV has come into our business that’s all about sex . . . we’re doing pretty good,” Powers said.

Actress Tyler Faith, who has worked in more than 150 films, says she thinks there should be more stringent rules about working outside the country. Still, she knows the risks.

“You have to know what you’re getting yourself into,” she said. “If you think that it couldn’t happen to you, you’re kidding yourself. It worries me every day.”

Mitchell said that although the larger porn-film studios have voluntarily stopped filming, she believes “gonzo companies” are still running. She defines these companies as those that shoot their films with “no plot and no condoms.”

 

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