PORN VALLEY—Way back in the mid-'90s, we recall a talent meeting at the studio then known as "Vogel's" (after the veteran adult photographer) to discuss a possible HIV infection in the talent pool, and one of the topics of discussion was the fact that even with easy penetration by a not-so-large cock, actresses could still experience bleeding from the ass. After the meeting adjourned, we were also privy to one well-known actress remarking as she walked to her car, "So that's why my ass bleeds so often when I do anal!"
But those were the days before AIM, when performer testing was still a hit-or-miss situation, and the "approved" test was an ELISA (antibody) test—which might not detect an HIV infection for as long as six months.
But things changed, notably in response to a 1998 HIV outbreak that was finally traced to one performer who had faked his test; the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation (AIM) was formed, and DNA tests became the rule for anyone wishing to shoot sexually explicit content—and Nina Hartley invited AIM's owner, former actress Dr. Sharon Mitchell, to create a videotape, called "Porn 101," a co-creation of the pair to help new performers over some of the rough spots in navigating the industry.
Well, AIM is long gone, but the need for a good introduction into the hows, whats and wherefores of the adult entertainment industry has become, if anything, even more important than it was Back In The Day—and now a new group, the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee (APAC), has resurrected Porn 101, thanks to the hard work of some of the industry's most high-profile actresses and actors.
"APAC was formed because Anikka [Albrite] and I had this idea, and we contacted James Deen and Stoya who had a similar idea," explained veteran actor/director Mick Blue, "and that formed the basis of the organization, and then the four of us started to build the APAC group, and Nina Hartley and all the others came in soon after that."
APAC has had several meeting over the past few months, with one of its primary aims being the production of a new Porn 101 video. To that end, according to Blue, Kimberly Kane, Chanel Preston, Jessica Drake, Anikka Albrite, Stoya and Danny Wylde met as a group to create a script for the project.
"One of the things I want to make very clear is that APAC as a group is responsible for the things APAC does," Blue said. "Kimberly Kane, Jessica Drake and Nina Hartley, they basically thought about doing another Porn 101 many years ago, and were working on the concept. Then, after the first Hepatitis C moratorium came up last year, followed by the first HIV moratorium, James and Stoya and Anikka and I got in touch with people to have our first meeting, which included Chanel Preston, Erik Everhard, Manuel Ferrara, Kayden Kross, Jessica James, Asa Akira, Kieran Lee and Toni Ribas and said, 'We need to make a change now to the industry.' So we started calling people—Kimberly Kane and Nina Hartley were among them—and said, 'Okay, guys, we need to get together; we need to make a change. We need to form a performers' group where we can create a voice for performers, and speak, for example, to the producers and also Free Speech about moratoriums and so on.' When we shot the Porn 101 video, we invited other people to speak in front of the camera. It's now on YouTube."
And it's a hell of a cast. Besides Blue and Albrite, appearing in Porn 101, in no particular order, are Jessica Drake, Nina Hartley, James Deen, Danny Wylde, Stoya, Kimberly Kane, Kylie Ireland, Chanel Preston, Asa Akira, Kelly Shibari, Dani Daniels, Nyomi Banxxx, Bonnie Rotten, Penny Pax, Jon Jon, Casey Calvert, Toni Ribas, April Flores, Wolf Hudson, Xander Corvus, Ryan Driller, Claire Robbins, Chloe Foster, Jay Taylor, Alina Li, Zak Sabbath and Mandy Morbid—many of whom are also members of APAC.
"For us, it's all about the need to make our industry safer and to explain to people that are working in the industry that they have responsibilities to all the other people they work with," Blue said. "It's like explaining to them, 'Look, you need to watch out what you do in your private life because everything you do in your private life can put everybody who is in the industry who is working with you in danger as well, as we've seen in the past three moratoriums.' So we hope that through this video, people are going to get a better idea about our industry and about their responsibilities and also about their own bodies and their own safety regarding agents, producers and so on."
The video itself, which can be found here, is divided into several sections, including How to Get In, Payment, Health, Set Etiquette, Consent, The Internet, and Other Forms of Revenue—and as might be expected, the Health section is easily the longest. But the entire production is so full of good advice that no one working in front of the camera should fail to see it.
For instance, Hartley informs newbies of something every currently working actress should already know: "When you make the decision to have sex on camera, it will last forever," with Drake adding, "The pictures, video and other content of you having sex will end up on the internet, DVD, television and/or print," and Stoya weighing in with, "It will affect future jobs, careers and relationships." And as Deen, whose recent notoriety has brought him face to face with the issue warns, "You cannot expect your legal name to remain a secret, and a stage name will not fool people who recognize you. It's still you!"
Also covered in this section is how to deal with producers, and the video directs incoming performers to LATATA.org, a website that "has a list of licensed and bonded agents who represent the top talent in the industry." But even those without agents need to "Remember that sex is the job, not the audition"; "Remember that your agent works for you"; and, "You do not have to take a certain job or perform a certain act because your agent wants you to."
Importantly, the Payment section is not just about how performers get paid; it's also about the realization that porn acting, except for a very small number of performers, isn't anything close to a lifetime gig, so as Blue earlier says, "You need to set goals, make a plan and keep your future in mind."
"It is highly advised that you get an accountant and pay your taxes," says Calvert, with Deen adding, "The IRS is no joke." Preston advises, "Open a savings account or find other ways to put away money."
"As a performer, your body is your income," Shibari notes. "If any unforeseeable things happen, like you get sick, injured or simply need a break, you need your savings to fall back on," with Ireland suggesting, "Try to have at least three months of living expenses saved just in case one of these things happens."
Once on the set, there are still other possible conflicts to consider, with various veterans noting that what sex acts will be performed and for what pay are things to be negotiated and decided before shooting starts—"Remember, you are the one deciding what amounts and acts you are comfortable with."—and the actors warn that performers, whether new or old, should not allow themselves to get coerced into performing acts they don't want to: "You always have the right to say 'no,' and you do not have to defend or explain your choice," says Daniels.
And of course, showing up to set with a clean STI test is important, the Health section begins, but it's also important to make sure your partner is similarly tested—and that the test he or she presents is actually his/her own test, so check the person's ID number against the ID number on the test form. Also, "We cannot stress enough the importance of safer sex in your personal life."
The section goes on to describe a number of sexually transmitted infections and their symptoms, with Hartley noting that HIV in its earliest stages feels like "the worst flu ever."
"Just as you wouldn't go to an office job with a cough or a sneeze, don't show up to a sex scene when you know something is wrong with you ... and the tools you use for the job," she warns, pointing to the area below the beltline.
Apparently the first rule of etiquette—or at least, the Etiquette section, is "Be on time." However, that section also deals with some other important considerations, such as Kane warning, "Before your scene, talk to your scene partner about your limits and preferences, and ask them about theirs," with Shibari adding, "You don't have to explain why you don't like something; just make your partner aware of your rules in a respectful manner."
There's also a discussion of performers' "no lists"—the people they won't work with under any circumstances—and the notation that you don't have to explain why a person is on your "no list." Similarly, "If at any point you feel uncomfortable with any scene, you can call a stop to it." And while it's not a situation we've heard come up before, Foster warns, "Just because you do something on camera once doesn't mean you have to do it again."
The remaining sections also have good advice, such as recommending that performers choose a "unique name"—and then quickly lock down all the URLs and social media IDs that may belong to it. After all, no one wants a situation like Nina Hartley faced several years ago, where shoe company Nina's Shoes wanted to deprive Hartley of her long-standing Nina.com website.
Anyway, we can't begin to reproduce all the good advice to be found in this 14-minute video, but it's certainly a must-see for anyone thinking of entering the adult industry—and for many who are already in it.
Or as Hartley put it in an article posted on Kinky.com, "We needed a group of performers, by performers and for performers. ... The business is changing greatly and performers are poised to take a greater interest and power in their own care. Adult entertainers are more likely to make a career of it than ever before, and APAC grows out of that."