Porn News

HIV Strips “$19” Billion Porn Scene

Porn Valley- If anything is getting out of control in the industry’s current HIV crisis, it’s been the glib citing of statistics by the media. The following article claims the porn industry is now a $19 billion a year one and cites statistics attributed to the L.A. Times that there are 6,000 performers in So. California alone.

The Australian: Hollywood has always believed that any publicity, however sordid, is good for business. But the HIV infection that has prompted a 60-day shutdown of California’s pornographic film sector has brought unwelcome attention to a $US19 billion ($25.5 billion) industry that has always fiercely protected its privacy.

The porn-makers stopped production last week as soon as veteran star Darren James was found to be HIV-positive.

The star of a lucrative film franchise called Mr Beaver Checks In was discovered to have been infected while filming in Rio de Janeiro when he underwent one of the mandatory medical checks the industry demands.

All 14 of James’s screen partners in the period before diagnosis have been quarantined and their names published, which is how Lara Roxx, an 18-year-old Canadian who has been in the business a matter of months, discovered she, too, had contracted HIV.

A second list of 35 performers who worked with those who might be infected was also published. All must be checked after the 60-day HIV incubation period has elapsed before returning to work. Until then, all filming has been halted.

In an industry peopled by pseudonyms, such swift self-regulation is impressive. As Tim Connelly, publisher of trade magazine Adult Video News put it: “You would probably be ostracised if you didn’t have a test. It’s a Wild West out there. That would be absolutely insane. That would be playing Russian roulette.”

However, turning the spotlight on the shady business has not been welcomed by the pornographers. Their industry is underpinned by two cherished US rights – the free market and free expression.

Which is why an industry half the nation considers repugnant has thrived.

With the internet connected to every computer, and DVDs booming, porn is prospering as never before. Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation chief economist Jack Kyser estimates porn to be worth up to $US10 billion a year to LA alone.

In an industry anxious to protect its performers’ anonymity, even the number employed is hard to determine.

Sharon Mitchell, a former porn actress whose Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation diagnosed the HIV outbreak, believes there are about 1200 regular performers in porn movies, with a further 300 passing through each year.

That may be a major underestimate. The Los Angeles Times suggested last week there were 6000 performers in Southern California alone, earning between $US200 and $US 5000 a day.

But the HIV outbreak poses a serious threat to the business. “The spectre of regulation still looms over our shoulders,” Connelly says. “If the state deems that we, as an industry, handled this situation in an irresponsible manner, it could be the final straw.”

He suggested that in future porn stars might have to wear condoms. However, the threat to porn is more serious than that. The US’s Christian Right has been praying for a chance to close down what they consider a depraved industry.

If George W. Bush is re-elected in November, the US’s “culture wars” are likely to resume in earnest. And the hapless porn star Darren James will wish he had never taken that job in Brazil.
 

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