A porn epistle
by John F. Karr
I promised the story of those guys getting infected in England, and here it is, clipped in its entirety from the Oct. 24 GayVN .
"Three gay actors have been diagnosed with HIV after participating in a bareback porn shoot here, British gay entertainment and culture magazine Boyz reported in its Oct. 18 issue. According to Boyz reporter Karl Ryan, the three unidentified young men, ages 18, 21, and 26, contracted the infection as a result of unprotected sex with a fourth actor who didn't realize he was HIV-positive until three days after shooting wrapped. Ryan reported the movie director had the other three actors undergo a rarely used 48-hour DNA screening that indicated they also now bear the infection.
"The standard HIV antibody test in London requires a three-month waiting period between time of infection and accurate results, according to Riley. At least one gay adult entertainment producer has begun screening all performers with the 48-hour test before allowing them to perform in bareback scenes, but some health professionals feel the test is unreliable because it returns a high percentage of false-positive results and requires a standard antibody test for confirmation of infection."
Perhaps you've been wondering why California's gay adult industry doesn't self-regulate as its heterosexual counterpart does, mandating current HIV testing before allowing performers to work? You might not be entirely jesting to ask, where's Cal-OSHA in all this? Doesn't every bareback movie made in California clearly violate their published guidelines for workplace safety?
Before I could launch a detailed J'Accuse of bareback's creep into gay mainstream filmmaking, my friend Mark Kliem offered sage counsel. Mark's worked for many years in all facets of the industry: producer, director, writer, blogger, reviewer, award's committee judge. He's the webmaster of the playful LavenderLounge.com. Yet Mark is his secular name. A Sister of Perpetual Indulgence since 1991, he's also known as Sister Zsa Zsa Glamour, the self-proclaimed Porno Nun. Instead of accusing the industry, she's working constructively. So I'm glad to offer, in its first publication, "Sister Zsa Zsa's Epistle to the Gay Porn Industry."
"The current industry mantra for mainstream gay adult movies is to shoot safer sex only, maintain confidentiality of HIV status, and not discriminate on the basis of HIV status. But before we get all high and mighty and pat ourselves on the back, remember, it took a very long time for the industry to set that standard. Too many models died before the studios decided it was economically feasible to go condom-only.
"Today, feisty outlaw studios and websites are posing a challenge to the establishment by exploiting the concept of 'raw' unprotected anal sex. For everyone's long-term success and good karma, I am posing the following 10 steps to Barebacking Acceptable Practices for models, studios currently shooting bareback, and those who are considering it."
10 Steps to Barebacking Acceptable Practices:
1. Studios: Try testing. The current HIV-testing technology is not perfect, but it helps. Our colleagues on the straight side do it, ask them if it works! It wouldn't hurt to test models before a condom-only shoot, either.
2. Sero Sorting. Only mix positive with positive, and negative with negative. Let's set a goal that someday all performers in the industry are disease-free!
3. Don't pressure models to bareback. Always allow condoms as a option. If a model is uncomfortable barebacking, re-shuffling the cast might save someone's life.
4. Downplay the sensationalism of barebacking. Someday when the AIDS crisis is over, condomless porn will be normal again, and the word "bareback" will be meaningless. So what will be the selling point of your movie then?
5. Performers: Don't lie about HIV status. Honesty shouldn't be difficult. It's the Golden Rule.
6. Inform scene partners of each other's HIV status. Don't be ashamed to tell the truth. If you're not a good match, there are plenty of other hot guys for you to work with that share your HIV status.
7. Don't take extraordinary risks. Is taking 60 raw loads of cum really that much hotter than 50? Come on, there's a reason those stunt movies are called Jackass!
8. Get information and advice. Don't be afraid to ask stupid questions from health professionals or from your colleagues. It's not rocket science, and this isn't the Cold War.
9. Accept responsibility. Consider the worst-case scenario before engaging in risky behavior, whether you are a model or a producer. Minimize that risk so you can be proud of your decision.
10. Be open for change. Whether you are a pushing-the-envelope risk-taker or a holier-than-thou safe sex proselytizer, keep your opinions to yourself. Shooting your mouth off about other people's business practices may bite you in the ass someday.
Thank you, Sister Zsa Zsa. Both she and I look forward to the day when all erotic movies can be confidently prefaced with the scrawl, "No Performers Were Harmed During the Production of This Film."