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AIDS activists target agents of porn actresses

AIDS Healthcare Foundation says it will file a complaint with California's labor commissioner against nine L.A.-area talent agencies, alleging they encourage porn performers to engage in unsafe sex.

April 14, 2010|By Molly Hennessy-Fiske

An advocacy group that has been demanding greater government protections for adult film performers plans to file a complaint Thursday with state regulators against nine Los Angeles-area porn talent agencies.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation officials, opening a new front in their fight with the porn industry, said they plan to send a letter to state Labor Commissioner Angela Bradstreet arguing that the agencies encourage porn performers to engage in unsafe sex that puts them at risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

"Many of these agents are callous enough to describe the unprotected sexual acts their clients will engage in on a checklist on their websites as cavalierly as if one was ordering off a menu in a restaurant," said Michael Weinstein, the foundation's president.

The nonprofit foundation, based in Los Angeles, has been campaigning for increased regulation of the porn industry since a 2004 HIV outbreak among performers in the San Fernando Valley.

Agencies named in the complaint include A List Talent, ATMLA, Gold Star Modeling, LA Direct Models, Lisa Ann's Talent Management, Metro Talent Management, SpieglerGirls .com, Type 9 Models Inc. and World Modeling, according to Weinstein.

Woodland Hills-based ATMLA's website features a list of mostly female performers' names and photos. Click on a photo, and up pops a list of sex acts the actress is willing to perform on screen, including many that involve unprotected sex.

The agency's owner, a former porn actress known as Shy Love, said she believes AIDS Healthcare activists are on a witch hunt.

"They keep trying to figure out who to blame, and now they're blaming the agents," Love said.

Love said she cannot dictate what sex acts the performers she represents are willing to do. She said her job is to match performers with production companies and projects, just as a mainstream movie agent would.

"They tell us what they want to do, we find those jobs and present it to them," Love said. "We don't force them into anything."

Love said she worked as a porn actress for a decade and performed more than 2,000 scenes, 95% of them without condoms.

She paid to have herself tested regularly for sexually transmitted diseases and said she never tested positive.

"We're adults who make adult decisions to protect ourselves the way we see fit," Love said.

Last month, in response to an AIDS Healthcare petition, a state workplace safety panel created an advisory group to consider mandating condom use and added testing and other health protections for porn performers. Los Angeles County public health officials have recommended that condoms be required for porn productions and that adult film industry producers, not performers, pay for testing. Public health officials contend that as many as a quarter of porn performers are diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease in any given year.

Porn industry officials have disputed the sexually transmitted disease figures quoted by county officials and AIDS activists. They said AIDS activists are bent on attacking them even as they have been trying to work with regulators to improve performers' safety.

"We make sure our performers are well taken care of," said Diane Duke, executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, a Canoga Park-based porn trade association. "This is a legal, vital and important industry."

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