Today I’m probably going to piss a lot of people off. *shrugs* But I think it’s an issue that needs to be addressed because when it came up on Twitter I was bombarded with private messages of girls in a panic, too afraid to speak up out of fear of being attacked on Twitter like I was.
This post is also going to be a bit of a history lesson because if life has taught us anything, its that we need to know where we have been, to figure out where we are going.
The Free Speech Coalition is an adult industry trade association that until recently was focused on helping the producers of pornography and that oftentimes was counter-intuitive to the needs of the performers.
The organization has had a long history of collecting donations and spending them on themselves. Hey, I’m not hating, just stating a historical fact. Decades went by and they accomplished nothing that actually helped the adult industry. This is not me hating, it’s a fact. The good that the FSC has done has really been in recent years but more on that later.
Finally, the corrupt head of the FSC was removed (left – not sure how they got rid of her) and a new man was placed in charge – Eric Paul Leue. He had no experience in the adult industry specifically but he did have a long history of working with non-profits. This was in 2016.
The one major change that Eric Paul Leue did was to recognize that without the performers, we would have no industry.
This caught my attention so I put my hate of the FSC and their past aside and picked up the phone to call this man. We had the first of many conversations. For the most part, I loved his plans for the FSC. He ended up leaving in 2019, after a bit of a stumble.
Now even though I didn’t agree with one part of his agenda, that didn’t mean I didn’t respect the man personally. In fact, he single handly renewed my faith in the FSC and its potential to do good for the industry.
They were no longer just an organization taking donations to have the money to go on secret trips around the world with their lover. They were an organization that has the real potential to enact real change.
Now before we go into what he did first I want to explain where Eric was coming from – his history because I think it helps explain why he was trying to do what he was doing.
A former Mr. LA Leather, Eric Paul Leue has served on the LA County PEP and PrEP Workgroup since 2013, and on the Los Angeles Commission on HIV since 2014. In the past year, he was named one of the “Top HIV Advocates of 2015” by HIV Plus magazine, one of The Advocate’s “40 Under 40,” and recognized by the Mayor of Los Angeles for his “Untiring Advocacy and Exemplary Service.”
So when Eric came to the adult industry his question was simple, why does the adult industry “as a whole” have separate testing protocols and policies?
Fair question. But he made the same mistake that the media does all the time. It’s easy to call the entire adult industry one unit, but that isn’t remotely true.
The adult industry as a whole is really made up of different and diverse segments. Gay porn is not the same as straight porn. Straight porn isn’t even one unit. There is amateur porn, BBW porn, BDSM porn, and what we generally call mainstream porn. These are your movies by the better-known studios like Brazzers and Naughty America.
Now we have two new segments, webcam and content creators. Also very distinct and while still called “the adult industry” in itself is a different group of people that don’t necessarily have anything to do with mainstream porn.
I should also mention this was around the time that we had to switch from 30-day testing to 14 days and those performers having to pay that money out of pocket was an understandably big complaint. They now had to spend more money just to be able to work.
Hey, I get it, testing is expensive.
So this was what got Eric thinking about testing in the first place.
He wanted to branch off the newly formed PASS system into its own non-profit so that with a little luck (and a lot of lawyers and grant writers) they could perhaps get some government grants to help offset the cost of testing.
In the meantime, they also have the performer subsidy fund where at the time pretty much it was just MIndgeek donating money, and then once a month PASS would mail a rebate check to anyone who tested in the last month. This helped but it wasn’t nearly enough.
Eric worked hard to get other companies to donate but they just wouldn’t do it. Lots of politics in play here. But that’s another subject for another day.
During all of this, news broke that not one but two HIV+ performers had slipped through the cracks and were secretly working. While those names of the two people weren’t ever revealed, it was leaked that a few of the FSC board members knew who at least one of the people was.
Then shit hit the fan.
This person who legally we can’t name (said the blogs), we can tell you won an AVN award for his (or her) scene in a movie they performed in for Evil Angel. This person has had sex either directly or indirectly with at least 11 performers in the mainstream talent pool.
This means they either had sex with someone in the talent pool or had sex with someone who had sex with someone in the mainstream talent pool. This person was also on a set, 9 days after the last breakout/shutdown. NINE DAYS. This is an active performer who also does content trades on the regular.
So now you know for a fact at least one person was HIV+, possibly two, working in mainstream porn. He or she had sex with at least 11 performers, who then had sex with how many other performers right after that?
I only tell you this because this was the issue going on in the industry at the time.
Eric stated that he felt HIV+ performers who were taking their meds should be allowed to work. It was then taken a step further stating that performers don’t have the right to know if someone is HIV+ that revealing their HIV+ is a violation of the HIV+ person’s rights.
This made a lot of people, me included, going … WAIT A MINUTE. Did you just say that if someone is HIV+ not only should they be able to work in porn but that we don’t have a right to know they are HIV+? SERIOUSLY!? I’m sorry, what? Did I just hallucinate?
I have always felt that a person can do whatever they want with their body. If you want to have sex with an HIV+ positive person, that’s your decision. Your body. Your right. But you can’t make an informed decision about what you want to do with your body if you don’t know that the person is HIV+.
There was a lot of pushback about this and then Eric suggested maybe there be two different testing systems, one called PASS and the other called something like PASS+.
Because of the inter-mixing of the two, it would inevitably put everyone at a higher risk of contracting HIV, and the industry overwhelming pushed back against allowing HIV+ performers to be in the mainstream talent pool.
He was then forced to make an official statement about it so that people would stop freaking out over it.
That being said, you should know that not all segments of the adult industry use that same testing protocol.
So please note that when I’m talking about this subject, I’m talking about the mainstream segment of the adult industry. These are movies made by commercial companies like Brazzers, Naughty America, Reality Kings, Vixen, Tushy, etc.
Currently, the performer test cost $190 and needs to be taken every 14 days. This covers the following tests ….
- HIV-1 NAT
- HIV Ag/Ab
- Chlamydia (Urine)
- Gonorrhea (Urine)
- Trichomonas Vaginalis
- Syphilis (RPR)
- TREP-SURE EIA
Now during this time, was TTS and eventually, CET did was added a new test, without raising prices. The Gen4 antibody/antigen test measures someone’s ‘True” HIV status.
This means that if you are HIV+ but are on your medication suppressing your numbers, it will still show those trace elements noting that also through numbers are currently within normal range thanks to your medication that you are in fact HIV+.
Under Eric, the FSC pushed back against adding this FREE new test to the performer panel.
“FSC-PASS had previously evaluated this antibody test, but found it offered no additional risk reduction for performers.”
People were like hold up …. why would you not want us to be more protected with the “just in case” HIV+ test, especially since it doesn’t cost us anything extra?
This immediately made everyone suspicious not only of Eric but the entire Free Speech Coalition board.
One of these members of ATMLA owner Mark Schechter, owner of ATMLA, a talent agency. At the time we were friendly and he made it clear he did not support Eric’s plan to allow HIV+ performers into the talent pool, or the plan for the PASS+ system. He didn’t just tell me this, but also Alana Evans president of the APAG Union as well as a few others.
Lydia Black (as of last week) she states that her agent, Mark Schechter of ATMLA does not agree with me that HIV+ performers should not be a part of the talent pool.
And that’s why we are here today, to talk about this very issue.
I did finally speak to Mark from ATMLA (on April 29th) and he said although he does believe in the science he absolutely does not support HIV+ performers in the talent pool.
I know that more than a few performers are scared to speak out, they don’t want to be viciously attacked and threatened like I was when I brought it up.
So I agreed to be the asshole and do it for them.
I wouldn’t ever wish the hate and vile that came at me on Twitter for speaking up. I was called old, weird, a man. They went on about the man thing for hours.
Now I made the mistake of trying to argue logic.
Calling someone the wrong gender in an attempt to belittle or bully them makes you an asshole. #JustSaying In case there was any confusion. Misgendering refers to the experience of being labeled by others as a gender other than one that a person identifies with.
In the end, you just can’t argue with trolls online. They don’t care what you have to say. They only want you to hear them. Nothing else matters to them except what they want to say.
So I decided to stop arguing with a bunch of idiots online and start writing this post. It’s part history lesson, part me taking a stand and stating what I believe.
A person has the right to be informed if they are going to have sex with someone who is HIV+.
Nothing anybody can ever say will ever change my mind on this fact.
Yes, I was immature in fighting with this dumb girl and her friend on Twitter. So that’s why I decided to take it long-form and share my thoughts with you here instead of on Twitter. Why am I tweeting this, arguing with people on Twitter? #facepalm
But let’s talk about that issue. Because that’s what this is all about.
Eric is now gone and Michelle LeBlanc replaced him. I loved Michelle. She was a true advocate of women’s rights and protecting our precious resource – THE PERFORMER.
In fact, as a direct result of the amazing work Michelle LeBlanc did, I personally put my money where my mouth is and joined the FSC to show my support.
But let’s go back to when Eric was fighting to allow HIV+ performers to be allowed in the talent pool. In February of 2019 Talent Testing stepped up to the plate and said, we are going to add a new test to the performer panel and it will not cost anything extra.
The FSC fought back hard saying it was not an accurate test and that it will cost $15 more per test.
That isn’t true. TTS said they would be adding it for FREE.
So what was this test about? Was it accurate? Did it do anything special?
Well, it turns out the test has a 99.8% level of accuracy for both HIV 1&2.
Rather than identifying the HIV virus itself, these tests look for specific proteins (antibodies) that are produced by your body in response to the infection. They’re highly accurate.
This new test is the standard test offered by most UK clinics, as recommended by the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH). It detects HIV-fighting antibodies produced by your body (like the Ab test does) but also the specific p24 antigens found on the surface of the HIV virus itself. These antigens are detectable in your body earlier than the antibodies are, so they can give an accurate result after a shorter window period.
So what this meant was, when you went in every 14 days to get your performer panel of tests, you now got 2 HIV tests instead of just the one.
- HIV-1 NAT
- HIV Ag/Ab
Considering that it costs nothing more for the performer, how could this ever be a bad thing?
The new test, HIV Ag/Ab is what people commonly refer to as an antibody test. This will let you know if anyone has the HIV antigens known as the protein or p24 and from what I’m told, this will show up, even if a person is on their meds, suppressing their viral load.
What it really meant was that if a person was HIV+ and somehow found out without testing as a part of the industry system, started taking their HIV meds, they could in theory have gotten away with being HIV+. But not with the addition of the new antibodies test.
Now go back to the story where we found out at least one, possibly two people who were HIV+ were working in porn and nobody know who they were. Maybe you just had sex with him or her and could be at risk.
The problem is, you don’t know if you are at an elevated risk because you have no clue who the HIV+ person(s) is.
Eric and others want to argue that a person who is taking their medications is just as safe as someone who doesn’t have HIV.
But let me share a story with you from someone who lived that life. You may remember Brett Rossi was engaged to Charlie Sheen who at the time had been living with HIV in secret. This is her story.
A little background on my passion about this topic: I almost married an HIV+ individual. I was lied to, I didn’t get to make an informed decision to have sex with someone who had HIV without becoming emotionally attached prior. I took “Prep” for 3 years before it was even called “Prep” and it was just one of the little blue pills of the “cocktail” my (then) fiance would take called: Truvada. It was just an experiment. An experiment that I was advised by even the best doctors NOT to participate in. I worked with the best doctors at UCLA and cedars-sinai and I believe “Prep” saved my life but Prep is NOT a one all, cure-all. Prep is for monogamous individuals who practice safe sex.
Prep was expensive. Prep was costic on my body with side effects I still experience now even being off the medication for years such as excessive diarrhea, weight loss, daily migraines, stomach aches, raches, and over feeling of malaise. Not to mention specifically relied on both me AND my partner taking both medications religiously and living a healthy lifestyle.
My partner was responsible for MY well being in that, he HAD to take his medication responsibly and he HAD to live a healthy lifestyle to keep his viral load down on the chances of infection me (even with being on Prep) were high.
Now, yesterday I was contacted by (NAME REDACTED) via text at the FSC who told me that my information was incorrect and he was upset because I was discouraging people from the pass system. That is NOT my intentions, but my intentions are to keep the industry safe. He then gave me information that was even more frightening:
He told me that FSC is actually creating a testing system specifically for HIV+ performers because it was the “gay side” that is was prevalent on and that “hiv+ performers deserve the right to have standardized testing as well”.
My questions are these:
- Haven’t we always been told “the gay and mainstream side have the same testing standards and protocols”?
- WHY are there hiv+ individuals perfroming?
- WHY is the FSC creating a system that would essentially encourage more individuals with HIV to feel comfortable performing?
- HOW do they expect to keep a controlled talent pool?
The problem with creating two pools of performers is this: cross over work has been widely accepted in mainstream porn now days and that’s awesome, but the risk of having the two pools mix is large the factors weigh too heavily to even risk it. Each side is important. The gay side matters too. The trans side matters. The straight side matters. Every side matters and EVERY side should have a safe and HIV FREE work enviornment.
If a pilot loses his license, he can on longer fly. If a porn performer has an STI they can not perform. It’s not discriminatory, it’s common sense. It’s factual. It’s smart.
So now let me end this post with a little information on this miracle drug. This was a post written on another blog in 2019. Not that long ago but perhaps things have changed during the COVID lockdowns and vast scientific improvements have been made.
Although I didn’t write it, that doesn’t mean I don’t wholeheartedly agree with it. So I’m copying and pasting it for you below.
Members of the Free Speech Coalition claim they want us to be informed. That with education we will stop “stigmatizing” those who are HIV+ and will see that it’s perfectly safe to work with them.
They want us to be aware of the latest scientific data. So let me share with you the facts.
Truvada, the medication they want us to take so that we will be protected from getting HIV costs an estimated $1,500 per month. That means in addition to your
monthlybi-weekly testing fees, you’ll now need to come up with an additional $1,500 per month.
While many people will tell us they have taken it and tolerated it well, let’s talk about the scientific facts. The common side effects of Truvada include:nausea,
- stomach pain,
- skin discoloration,
- joint pain,
- trouble sleeping,
- strange dreams,
- back pain,
- itching or skin rash,
- changes in the color of skin on your palms or soles of your feet, or
- changes in the shape or location of body fat (especially in your arms, legs, face, neck, breasts, and waist).
There are also the more serious side effects which include:
- mental/mood changes (such as depression, anxiety),
- loss of appetite,
- stomach or abdominal pain,
- pink or bloody urine, or changes in the amount of urine,
- genital ulceration,
- kidney problems which include little or no urination, swelling in your feet or ankles, feeling tired or short of breath; or
- liver problems which include nausea, swelling around your midsection, upper stomach pain, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).
Like it or not, there is no medication that is without risk, especially when mixed with other medications, drugs, or alcohol.
As many as 10% of the people who take Truvada have one or more of these symptoms. I mean that’s just what we need, to have to pay $1,500 a month to get diarrhea, depression, insomnia, genital ulcerations, and a rash on other parts of their bodies.
Because nothing is more attractive than a tired, depressed porn star that has a rash and diarrhea.
But let’s take away those issues and talk about something far more serious – drug resistance. While it is rare, it does happen. There are at least two scientific studies that prove it does happen.
I’m sure by now you’ve heard of drug-resistant strains of all kinds of illnesses including gonorrhea.
In 2017 the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that drug-resistant HIV is on the rise. This means PrEP won’t work for these people.
It is reported that more than 10 percent of patients starting antiretroviral therapy (ART) had a type of HIV that was resistant to the most commonly used HIV medicines.
Now read this part very carefully, but again the FSC wants us to be educated on the latest scientific findings ….
According to a 2015 study, although rare, PrEP can result in treatment-resistant mutations of HIV.
There are currently two documented instances of PrEP failure in patients who kept strictly to the drug regime. One was in New York City and the another was in Toronto.
Each of the strains of HIV they contracted were resistant to both medications in Truvada, the standard PrEP drug.
So just how safe do you feel now knowing that more than 10% of people may be resistant?
Look at the list of side effects. That’s a lot of potential issues for taking a pill that will cost you $1,500 a month.
Some will argue “porn stars can get cheap health insurance to help reduce the cost” but if that were true, we would all have this magical cheap health insurance right now. Sorry but it just flat out doesn’t exist. If it did, we would all have it!
The FSC wants us to learn about the FACTS, the latest scientific evidence. Well, now you have it. Now you know the truth, not the bullshit flung at you by those with their own agenda.
Take all of that away and I want to discuss one very serious issue with you. Many porn performers already suffer from some form of mental health issue. Do we really want to now force them to take a medication that is known to cause depression and anxiety in as much as 7% of everyone who takes it?
I know that was a lot of information to take in and I hope that you have read every word in this very long post because it is important.
However all of that aside, I want to be clear here. It’s your body and in the end, that means it is up to you what you want to do with it. That means that just because I believe in informed consent, does not mean you have to. YOUR BODY = YOUR CHOICE.
Case in point, today Codi Vore came out and said that she doesn’t support people disclosing their HIV status. And that’s her right. IT is her body. In the end, you have to decide what is right for you.
Update: I previously talked about the Free Speech Coalition members spreading misinformation about HIV+. Here is the full video so can you see for yourself that it’s not just me making this up. They absolutely said we don’t need to know if a person is HIV+.
I think Jeff Mullen has a great point when he said “What a poor answer to my question if performers have a right to know they will be paired with an HIV positive zero viral load performer at 55:40. Answer: “You have to wonder why you need to know.”
That was followed up by a panelist stating HIV is no longer the death sentence it once was. I understand human rights is an ongoing process, but there is not enough data to guarantee there will be no chance of transmission. Maybe in 20 years we will wonder what all the debate was about but we are not there yet.“
Of course, they don’t mention that if you are HIV+ the medication is extremely expensive, and can be very hard on your body, even in some cases causing organ failure. So no, living with HIV is not okay.