Adult film performers engage in prolonged and repeated sexual acts with multiple sexual partners over short periods of time, creating ideal conditions for transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). All the more concerning, high-risk sex acts are on the rise.
At the same time, condom use is reportedly low in heterosexual adult films approximately 17% for adult performers. In 2004, only two of the 200 adult film companies required the use of condoms. Performers report that they are required to work without condoms to maintain employment.
These practices lead to high transmission rates of STDs and occasionally HIV among performers. After four performers contracted HIV in 1998, Sharon Mitchell, a former adult film performer, founded Adult Industry Medical, a clinic to counsel and screen performers monthly for HIV.
The current practice of periodic HIV and STD testing may detect some disease early, but often fails to prevent transmission. The most recent HIV outbreak occurred when three performers who had been compliant with monthly screening contracted HIV in April of 2004. At that time, a male performer who had tested HIV negative only three days earlier infected three of 14 female performers.
What the Performers Say About STDs
In statements I have received from females and males working in the pornography industry and those who previously worked in the industry, at least 80% admit to catching an STD while working in the California pornography industry.
I personally caught the non-curable disease Genital Herpes in 1994 and was not given any information or help from porn producers or the adult industry.
Recently, Jan Meza, a former porn actress who left the pornography industry in October 2007, publicly shared of late that she discovered she has Herpes. She is totally devastated in that she caught a non-curable disease.
Belladonna, a well-known pornographic performer states: “99% of the porn industry has herpes.”
One male pornographic performer, Rocco, 600 films and 3,000 women later says: “Every professional in the porn-world has herpes, male or female.”
Tanya Burleson, formerly known as Jersey Jaxin, caught Chlamydia her first year working. She exclaimed, while speaking with me, “I don’t believe I worked with one person who didn’t at one time have an STD.” Tanya made over 200 movies in her three year career. She also says, “Performers have to pay for their own testing, their medicine and lose at least eight days of work every time they catch a sexually transmitted disease.”
Sexually transmitted diseases are highly prevalent in the pornography industry. Among 825 porn performers screened in 2000–2001, 7.7% of females and 5.5% of males had Chlamydia and 2% overall had gonorrhea. Dr. Sharon Mitchell confirms the STD prevalence in an interview with Court TV, in which she states: “66% of porn performers have Herpes, 12-28% have sexually transmitted diseases and 7% have HIV.”
Why Some Porn Stars Also Work at Escort Services
Pornographic performers and adult industry workers also engage in prostitution through escort agencies such as Body Miracle, Dreamgirls, and Porno Star Escorts, where they not only risk sexually transmitted disease but also HIV and hepatitis C infection.
Pornographic performers usually prefer escorting because the pay is much higher and sex acts are not as degrading or physically demanding. They receive approximately $100 an hour for working in pornographic films or $1500 an hour for escorting. Adult industry workers who are also pornographic performers get paid higher than other adult escorts due to their celebrity status and can book 2-3 hour appointments and make approximately $3000 a day. Agents also lie to women in the adult industry and lure them into prostitution. Porn Star Erin Moore says, “some agents lie to the girls and tell them they are shooting a scene when instead they set up prostitution acts for them.”
While I was a pornographic performer in 1993-94, I was flown to different parts of the United States by porn companies where consumers of pornography sometimes paid me thousands of dollars to spend a weekend with them where we engaged in unprotected sex. During one appointment with a man and his wife, we engaged in unprotected sex and I passed the disease to both of them. Pornographic performers and adult industry workers definitely spread sexually transmitted diseases to the general public.
In addition to prevalent drug use, degradation and abuse is rampant in the pornography industry. In one study 100% of the strippers reported some kind of physical or verbal abuse on their jobs. Verbal abuse by customers is extremely common with 91% reporting incidents. They were routinely called degrading names. Besides the verbal abuse, all endured some type of physical abuse on the job. Despite the fact that it is illegal to touch a stripper, strippers reported that customers grabbed them by the arm (88%), grabbed their breast (73%), or their buttock (91%). Customers at strip clubs often assault the women. Customers pulled their hair (27%), pinched them (58%), slapped them (24%), or bit them (36%). They are often attacked in the strip club in front of bodyguards and other audience members.
Former pornographic performer Alex Devine shares her violent experience and writes:
“Donkey Punch was the most brutal, depressing, scary scene that I have ever done. I have tried to block it out of my memory due to the severe abuse I received during the filming. The guy, Steve French, has a natural hatred towards women in the sense that he has always been known to be more brutal than EVER needed. I agreed to do the scene thinking it was less beating, except the ‘punch’ in the head. If you noticed, Steve had worn his solid gold ring the entire time, and continued to punch me with it. I actually stopped the scene while it was being filmed because I was in too much pain.”
There is a very heavy emphasis on rougher, more sadistic sex, with slapping, spitting, violent hair-pulling and scenes of extremely abusive hardcore sex acts. In one film, the man forces the woman’s head into a toilet during the final scene, a technique that seems to help him achieve climax.