LA authorities target HIV-hit porn industry

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The Independent US

Dick Nasty has had a rough couple of weeks in the Los Angeles porn industry. As a manager, his job is to look after the "talent" - that is, the performers who have graphic sex with each other on camera - and procure work for them. He's suffered bitter disappointments on both scores, and for his clients it has been even worse.

Dick Nasty has had a rough couple of weeks in the Los Angeles porn industry. As a manager, his job is to look after the "talent" - that is, the performers who have graphic sex with each other on camera - and procure work for them. He's suffered bitter disappointments on both scores, and for his clients it has been even worse.

Ten days ago, one of his charges, a 25-year-old Czech known as Jessica Dee, tested HIV-positive - making her the third victim of an industry-wide outbreak that began last month and has led to a 60-day moratorium on all hard-core sex shoots. Last week, victim number four also turned out to be one of his clients, a 25-year-old performer from San Francisco called Miss Arroyo.

The crisis has been traced back to a performer called Derren James, who probably became infected during a shoot in Brazil in March. A list of his sex partners since his last test was drawn up - 12 in all - as well as a list of the sex partners of his sex partners. Soon, a second case emerged, a Canadian called Lara Roxx. Jessica Dee came next, followed by a transsexual starlet called Jennifer, who apparently worked as a prostitute on the side. Then Miss Arroyo's diagnosis was confirmed.

"I was the one that was upset," Nasty reported to the industry journal, Adult Video News, after this second shoe fell. "She's taking it very well."

California's porn industry is reckoned to generate billions of dollars a year. It claims its self-policing system is working - infected actors, are being identified swiftly and everyone else is being shielded from risk of further contamination - but the scare is causing politicians to wonder if it isn't time to overhaul the entire business.

LACounty Department of Health Services has issued an emergency order forcing the industry's own health clinic to hand over the medical records of quarantined performers. And a bill introduced into the state assembly proposes increasingtesting from every month to every two weeks, and making condom use mandatory.

Industry leaders are themselves not immune to such suggestions but weigh the desirability of tighter regulation against the risk of porn production going underground or - worse still, from a business point of view - fleeing California for Nevada or Arizona.

The future for these four performers is bleak. None will ever be able to work in front of the camera again. They, at least, are the ones the industry has kept track of: industry internet sites are buzzing with reports of people breaking quarantine - but it is impossible to account for everyone, especially at the "gonzo" end of the business.

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