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HIV: The Industry’s Response

HIV: The Industry’s Response

There is no shortage of reaction to news that two performers’ tests came back HIV-positive this week. While most major production companies have postponed shooting until the crisis has cleared – AVN has suggested halting production until June 8 – some companies and directors are continuing to shoot.

Thus far, Darren James and Lara Roxx are the only performers to test positive.

Director Skeeter Kerkove, who has shot James in the past, told AVN.com that he has stopped production completely.

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“I have already cancelled 40 sex scenes, I’ve cancelled five movies completely, everything for the rest of this month and all of May,” Kerkove said.

Kerkove, who boasts that he has never shot a scene that wasn’t anal, said that much of the talent he had booked was still willing to perform.

“I was actually surprised that people still wanted to work,” he said. “I had several people tell me that they knew so-and-so wasn’t on the list, and I let one of them know that they were wrong, that the person [they were referring to] was exposed – on my set.

“Everybody is learning what I learned on 20/20, that 96 percent of the prostitutes tested in Brazil were HIV-positive. In January I was told by an agent in Brazil that performers there can buy a fake test for $10 if they ‘don’t have time to go get it or can’t do it.’ I asked him what phone numbers there are to call [for verification] and he said there really isn’t one. It’s just not worth the money. The only testing I trust for now is AIM, because I can call AIM Health Care and go on lapdat [AIM’s computer database for adult producers] and verify.”

Kerkove added that he thoroughly enjoyed using James as talent, saying “he did great scenes, was a perfect gentleman, had a great body, and he was super polite.”

Gonzo director Lex Drill, who also shoots primarily anal scenes, said he was scheduled to shoot in Brazil next month, but will not be making the trip.

“I was supposed to go to Brazil on May 17 and I couldn’t bring myself to make reservations,” Drill said. “Don’t ask me why, but I was uncomfortable to begin with, even before this happened, and I have not only cancelled my upcoming trip, I am never going to Brazil. … They don’t have the same infrastructure and I don’t want to be responsible for anyone contracting HIV. I would rather never shoot again in my life than put anybody in harm’s way. I don’t want to be a death merchant.”

Kick Ass Pictures contract performer/director Mary Carey said that she has already postponed shooting Mary Carey Rules 5 next month, though she is considering putting together a video of girls masturbating, but “no exchanging fluids.”

“I think the testing is good,” Carey told AVN.com, “but I think the testing should be every 10 days.”

Publicist Carly Milne, who represents Private, Pure Play Media and New Sensations/Digital Sin, said each company is taking varying precautions.

“Private has declared a moratorium on any production until June 8,” Milne told AVN.com. She pointed out that most of Private’s productions are shot in Europe, so the company should still be able to keep a regular release schedule.

“Pure Play is going to focus mainly on doing girl/girl stuff for now,” Milne said. “I believe there is a girl/girl feature ahead, but I don’t think there is anything else slated, so I don’t think it affects our production.”

Milne said that New Sensations/Digital Sin “is slowing down work on any boy/girl scenes and they are going to focus mainly on solo. They are not going to shoot with anyone who is on the list.”

Performer Richard Raymond, who along with wife Kelly Kline travels from North Carolina to Porn Valley to work throughout the year, said the work has dried up – and he’s happy about it.

“We were on location for Barely Legal Summer Camp when it all started happening and they just shut it down right there,” Raymond said. “We were just tested on the 9th and we were re-tested yesterday. There’s still that incubation period, but it’s still some peace of mind for us to know that, at this point, we’re ok.”

Raymond added that he thought it was “awesome” that they immediately stopped production.

“I was booked with VCA for the 25th through the 1st and I cancelled all of it,” Raymond said. “It’s just not worth the risk, and they weren’t sure if they were going to shoot it anyway.

Raymond and Kline will be cutting their trip short and returning to North Carolina this weekend until things clear up.

Performer Gia Paloma, who was in the AVN offices a week ago to drop off a new title, Gia Has a Negro Problem – which has her on the cover with Darren James – said she won’t be working for a couple months.

“At least a couple months, if just mentally, because it fucks you up,” she told AVN.com. “Is $1600 really worth cutting my life by 50 years? There’s no reason anyone should risk their life for a few bucks. You have to take a look at yourself and ask what you’re worth.”

Paloma also noted that she is still being asked to work and that one company in particular had been particularly insistent.

Jenna Jameson issued a press release this afternoon that said, in part: “I think that any performer coming into the United States from abroad, including American nationals who have worked outside the country, should have a ‘quarantine’ period in which they must wait at least 60 days before beginning work again in the adult industry.”

“ClubJenna has pushed its productions until the 60 day window has elapsed and we can be assured that the outbreak is contained. We strongly urge the rest of the industry to follow. This is our industry and our livelihood … please help to ensure its safety.”

Several directors and performers who are continuing to work through this crisis refused comment for this article or did not return phone calls.

To see the official AIM site, click here.

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