For trickster Derrick Burts, all the world’s a stage
AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s new “Vote Yes On B” campaign spot has raised new questions concerning Derrick Burts, the HIV-positive ex-porn performer who outed himself as porn’s “Patient Zeta” in a December 2010 press conference thrown by AHF president Michael Weinstein to buoy his one-man crusade for mandatory condoms in porn.
AHF’s clean cut, all-American poster boy has been plagued with scandal from the day he was introduced to the world by Weinstein as a victim of porn industry greed – first by changing the story of how he was infected when addressing the press immediately after the press conference, and later with the appearance online of a screencap of his escort ad on the gay hook-up site RentBoy.
Then, yesterday, opponents of AHF’s Los Angeles County “Measure B” initiative disclosed that Burts had been negotiating with the No on Government Waste Committee earlier this month seeking compensation of $10,000 in order to not appear in any AHF ads and campaign materials.
“Mr. Burts had previously been in discussions with us in order to be paid $10,000 by the opponents to Measure B. Even though he agreed to the amount and be paid, the Committee eventually decided not to complete the agreement, nor make any payments,” Lee said. “Burts had disclosed to us that AHF had previously paid approximately $7,500 for his support and he indicated he wanted more money. We can only assume that Mr. Weinstein met his demands for increased compensation after shopping himself around to the highest bidder.”
There remains much that LA County voters do not know about Burts, and his close relationship with AHF executives. Public records and leaked AHF emails raise serious questions not only concerning Burts credibility, but also the ethics and judgment of his handlers at AHF.
While the Derrick Burts “official story” is that, straight out of high school, he followed his passion to become a professional magician and found work on cruise ships, the truth is before he took to the high seas, Burts tried to get into the mortgage business.
In June 2005, David Steidell, the father of one of Burts’ high school classmates, sued Derrick in small claims court over a sum of money he had borrowed to get his mortgage and insurance licenses.
At the time, Burts was working as a junior agent at Equity Leadership Group, in Hemet. Steidell’s son, David Jr. was vice president of Burts’ Illusionist Club, and had recommended him for a job. “He was very personable, and good at talking to people, which is really important as a salesmen,” Steidell recalled. Burts greatest shortcoming, according to Steidell, was “he never followed through.”
“I don’t know what he used the money for — if he ever used it for classes,” says Steidell, but to the best of his knowledge, Burts never earned his licensure.
Steidell also remembers Burts having a troubled family life. “One time the cops came by my house looking for him,” Steidell recalls. “A family member had accused him of stealing a laptop computer, and they asked me if I’d seen it at work.”
After Burts refused to repay the money he owed, Steidell, sued him in small claims court. Burts skipped the July 29th 2005 court date, and Steidell won a default judgment in the amount of $4,829.50. Burts left town soon after, leaving the debt unpaid to this day.
However, his financial debts and troubles at home might not be the only reasons Burts left Hemet to take his magic act on the road. Two local parents, who did not know anything of Burts’ life after 2005 – including his porn career – and were surprised to hear that he’d returned to live in Hemet in 2011, offered an alternative explanation involving Burts and some minors at the Ramona Bowl Ampitheatre.
Burts moved suddenly to Hermiston, Oregon to live with his grandmother, and worked up a magic act. In April 2006, an article in the East Oregonian featured the heading, “Illusionist Never Runs Out of Tricks”.
Burts, then 19, announced he planned to embark upon a nation-wide magic tour to?raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
It is a two-part tour. The first trip is simply to raise $20,000 in pledges ?from businesses to finance the show. Burts and others will actually perform on?the second trip in towns where funds were raised. Donated proceeds from?performances will go to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Burts was planning to use the charity’s name to raise money for his own magic tour; to later return and perform in those cities where enough money had been raised – and then send the charity some portion of the show proceeds.
Burts’ grandmother, Susan Dickens, was quoted in the article. “He was always a trickster,” Dickens said. “He liked center stage.”
Burts’ next stop was Spokane, Washington, where he partnered up with a young local magician named “Kenneth K.” He adopted the stage name “Derrick Chambers”, and over the next few years he took work wherever he could find it: including the Silverwood Theme Park in Athol, Idaho in 2007. Burts later found stable work on a cruise ship, Norwegian Cruise Lines’ 2000- passenger Pride of Aloha, and eventually, settled down in Orlando, Florida.
He toyed with the idea of creating “Christian based magic ministries”, but returned to California in March 2009, having found a job as Front Office Supervisor at Marriott Hotel in Anaheim, right next to the Disneyland Amusement Park.
Pictures from that era show a baby-faced, pudgy young man, who gave the appearance of a boy in man’s clothes. His official ID listed his height as 5’ 7” and his weight as 180 lbs. By the time Burts moved into porn, his weight was closer to 140-145 lbs. – and the weight loss seemed to happen rather quickly.
Photos from mid-2009 reveal Burts, gelled hair shaped into a faux-hawk, and by late 2009, that shift continues. By year’s end, Burts looked like a total club kid.
On a trip to Las Vegas in December 2009, Burts met a girl named Crystal Tustison. Nearly 24 and a year his senior, she was an aspiring model from California. Crystal had grown up in the suburbs of L.A., and her brown-eyed bleached blonde look typified the California girl – wholesomely sexy.
However, this girl next door had a criminal record.
On June 24, 2009, she and a man named Brian Matthew Wade were arrested for Grand Theft in Newport Beach. The two pled guilty on July 2nd. Both defendants received jail sentences, community service and three years of probation — but Crystal received a thirteen-day jail sentence, and Wade only twelve. The difference in sentencing probably reflects the traffic warrants she’d had outstanding for more than two and a half years — charges to which she also pleaded guilty on that date.
Crystal eventually turned to stripping and nude modeling, and she signed up with Flirt4Free on February 27, 2010, where she performed nude webcam shows. By February, Crystal and Derrick had already become an item, but soon Burts’ life seemed to take a wrong turn.
On March 18, 2010, Burts was arrested in Orange County and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, driving without a valid driver’s license, straddling or changing lanes when unsafe, and reckless driving.
On April 19th, Burts failed to appear in court in Westminster, CA, and a warrant was issued. He was eventually arraigned on May 6th, where he pleaded guilty to reckless driving in exchange for all other charges being dismissed. Burts was sentenced to 3 years probation, as well as a 12-hour Alcohol and Drug Program, and ordered to pay a $250 fine.
In June 2010 Burts and Crystal walked into the office of porn talent agency OC Modeling as a couple, and signed a two-year contract with agent Phil Mack. As Burts would tell later the world, they wanted to make some good money fast. What he didn’t mention is that there was another couple that approached OC Modeling at the same time as Derrick and Crystal – Crystal’s friend Hayden Winters, and Hayden’s boyfriend. Of the four, only Hayden’s boyfriend
was not signed by OC. If the name Hayden Winters sounds familiar, it’s likely because she appeared alongside Burts at yesterday’s AHF Measure B press Conference.
OC Modeling primarily booked performers for “straight” porn shoots, but had also been dabbling in gay porn bookings. “When he saw me, the agent said I had money written all over me in the gay business.” Burts later told The Independent. Translation: uncircumcised, shaved smooth, now quite lean and standing a mere 5’ 7”, Burts was the all-American “collegiate” type – and being “uncut” had a novelty appeal in gay porn.
Crystal, under the name “Kaycee Brooks” would work in “straight” porn, working with both men and women; Burts would do “crossover” work in both “straight” and gay porn, using different names for each side of the business.
But porn wasn’t Burts only part-time gig.
From June to August of 2010, Burts also worked as a counselor at the Salvation Army’s Wildwood Ranch Christian Camp in Ramona, California. The camp’s website states that it “strives to serve the physical, social, and spiritual needs of children from the ages of 7 – 12.”
It is our desire to present the gospel of Jesus Christ to all at camp; staff and campers alike! … Camp counselors help campers make good decisions, gain confidence in their own talents and abilities, grow in independence, and learn to have fun with other children in a nurturing, supportive, loving environment.
Then, in August 2010, Burts was arrested in LA County and booked for domestic violence and misdemeanor-level assault. Burts pleaded to a charge of disturbing the peace in a Van Nuys courtroom on August 3rd, and he was fined and sentenced to 52 weeks of classes.
But this arrest constituted a violation of his Orange County probation, and it was reported to the court in mid-August (Orange County notes case activity on August 18, 2010, and his probation was revoked on that date).
Although Burts later claimed that he started doing gay porn in September, it was in August that the official “Derek Chambers” Twitter account (@DChambersxxx) went live. “I do gay porn and I love it,” the description read. “I am newly signed with Fabscout and they are amazing, I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me.”
FabScout, a Miami-based talent agency for gay porn run by a man named Howard Marr, was also name-checked in an escort ad Burts placed on gay hook-up site RentBoy.com. The ad, which called him an “All American boy next door,” listed Burts’ personal cell phone number and boasted that he was “AIM-TESTED.”
In an interview earlier this year, Crystal recalled it was Marr who “told him about the site, and that he thought it might be a good way to make money, and that he wasn’t planning on doing anything. He was just planning on doing dancing or some massages…. [H]e said he never saw anybody from the site or anything but, I wasn’t always around him.”
Burts shot a series of gay porn scenes in Florida in September 2010, during which, he alleges, he was infected with HIV on a shoot which used condoms, but did not require HIV testing. Burts then returned to California, and following an arraignment on September 21, 2010 for violating the terms of his probation, probation was re-instated.
On October 6th, Burts shot another gay porn scene for Robert Chandler, in which he bottomed for model Christian Mohr.
The universal standard for HIV testing on the “straight” side of the porn industry is every 30 days, so Burts’ September 3rd HIV & STI test from the AIM Healthcare clinic was by then three days out of date. But since the gay side of the industry does not universally require testing, on the October 6th shoot, the issue never came up.
Burts did not return to AIM until October 8th for an updated test. Whether Burts had a bad feeling and delayed going to AIM is not known, but his old test was five days out of date on the 8th, and since a PCR-DNA test has a one-day turnaround, that meant he wouldn’t be available shoot on the straight side until at least the 9th.
When his test came back “detected” the following day, the clinic’s general manager, Jennifer Miller, called him. It was a Saturday, and Burts asked if he could come in Monday, but Miller said no, it was urgent.
When Burts arrived at AIM, Miller informed him of his test result, and tried to put him at ease, telling him that even if his status were confirmed, it was “not a death sentence.” She then asked Burts to provide names of his recent sexual partners for the necessary follow-up investigation and quarantine, and to be tested again with another PCR-DNA test as well as a Western Blot, as required by law. His re-tests would later confirm his seropositive status.
The clinic, which was prohibited by medical privacy laws from revealing his identity, or even his gender, nonetheless had to announce to the industry, and the county, that a performer had tested positive. AIM also called a complete moratorium on porn production while it dealt with the situation.
After AIM made the announcement about the performer it referred to as “Patient Zeta,” industry watchers tried to put the story together to determine his identity. The fact that AIM’s database, accessible by producers, no longer listed Burts and Crystal as available for work, and OC Modeling pulled them down from its site, led observers to speculate that Burts was Patient Zeta.
Burts was “outed” by online gossip sites on October 14th, and he immediately deleted all his porn-related social media profiles, reportedly on the advice of OC Modeling. His RentBoy ad, however, remained up.
On October 23rd, two weeks after his first PCR-DNA test came back reactive, Burts was back at AIM with Crystal. It was now confirmed that Burts was HIV+, and that he had not passed the virus to Crystal or any other sexual partner whose identity Burts had made known to AIM.
AIM later announced, ”It has been established that Patient Zeta acquired the virus through private, personal activity and there was no transmission of the HIV virus from Patient Zeta to anyone else.”
Robert Chandler received a text message from Burts in November: “he needed the money and asked if I would do a shoot with him. I knew he was the guy then being called Patient Zero. But he’d always been a sweet guy and a great model.” Chandler agreed, and shot a new solo scene of Burts on November 14th — more than a month after he had been diagnosed as HIV-positive.
“I didn’t know Derrick was so torn up,” Chandler recalls. “I knew he was going through some tough stuff, and I thought doing the shoot with him would help. He said it would. And he seemed very enthusiastic doing the shoot and said he had a good time. I had no idea he felt so betrayed by the industry or that he was planning to go public.”
In November 2010, AIDS Healthcare Foundation was nearly a year and a half in to its aggressive campaign for mandatory condoms in porn, and was seeking bona fide members of the porn community to join and bolster its crusade. AHF had met with little success on that front, and instead the group had been saddled with a woman named Shelley Lubben since 2009.
A self-described “professional liar” and “con artist”, Lubben’s trouble with the cops began in her teens. She ended up a prostitute in L.A., before trying her hand at a porn career. After appearing in a handful of long-forgotten low-end porn videos in the mid ‘90s, she married her drug dealer and eventually ended up in Tacoma, Washington, where she found Jesus. Once diagnosed bi-polar, Lubben now claims that God (whom, along with Jesus Christ, speak to her
directly) has healed her of all her medical and mental conditions.
Lubben asserts it wasn’t her eight years as an alcoholic, drug-abusing prostitute, but her brief porn career (which occurred before the adult industry’s AIM health clinic existed) which led to a host of medical problems, including herpes (which she can’t prove she ever had, because God miraculously healed her of it) and miscarriages (which actually began in high school and ended years before she ever set foot on a porn set).
Leaked emails demonstrate that Michael Weinstein and others at AHF loathed Lubben — who calls herself a “Rebel Prophet” of God, believes that homosexuality is an abomination, and that gays must be cured of their gayness through Christ – making their alliance one of the most peculiar since 1938.
Michael Weinstein must have felt as though his prayers had been answered when Derrick Burts walked through the door in late November 2010.
Burts was younger and looked more innocent while claiming he had been victimized, he was a recent performer and had tested at AIM (which AHF had been targeting since February 2010), he too could talk about an industry rife with drug parties and orgies – and, unlike Lubben with her dramatic gulps and crocodile tears that never managed to ruin her mascara, Burts could actually cry for the cameras.
Burts would be Lubben 2.0
Once he fell into the loving arms of AHF, Burts began reciting the AHF party line verbatim: testing is only surveillance; only condoms offer real protection; and AIM was full of incompetent and/or corrupt liars. Moreover, Burts would assert that it was only out of frustration with AIM’s “neglect” that he turned to AHF. The parable was taking shape.
When AHF called a December 8th press conference at which Burts officially outed himself as Patient Zeta, the event was notable for the conspicuous absence of Ministress Lubben.
Eyebrows were raised both by Burts’ press conference contradictions, and the subsequent appearance of a screenshot of his RentBoy ad. Porn agent Mark Spiegler decided to called bullshit. On December 13th, adult industry trade publication Adult Video News ran an open letter from Spiegler, in which he offered Burts $1,000 to submit to a polygraph test – with the money to be paid regardless of the outcome. “It is my opinion, and my opinion only, that
Derrick Burts aka Derek Chambers aka Cameron Reid DID NOT contract the HIV virus while shooting a scene for a pornographic movie (gay or straight),” Spiegler wrote.
Burts initially agreed to the challenge, but the emails exchanged between Burts, Spiegler and the potential administrator of the test reveal that Burts backed out after Spiegler refused to let Burts choose or substantially re-write the questions — which focused in part on Burts’ off-set activities, such as escorting, swingers’ parties, and bareback gay sex. Spiegler also wanted to know whether, when in Florida in September, Burts had engaged in sex other than in front of the cameras.
Back in the LA County court system, a progress report from January 2011 shows that Burts had paid his fine, and that he requested his court-ordered classes be moved to Riverside County.
Burts was supposed to show up in court in Van Nuys on July 6, 2011 to inform the court that he had complied with its order and taken his classes, but he failed to appear. A $50,000 warrant was issued in his name on that date.
Then, on July 31, 2011, Burts was arrested by Hemet police and charged with felony embezzlement and burglary in Riverside County. The victim was apparently his employer, Hampton Inn and Suites in Hemet. Burts posted $5,000 bail through a bondsman on August 4th.
The day he got out of jail, Burts called and later emailed AHF Assistant General Counsel, Brian Chase.
I spoke with my bonds guy from Alladin and he said I must have the $515.00 paid by Sunday.
I honestly have called a bunch of people and no one seems to have it. I am really concerned because I need to have it
paid by then.
I wanted to see if you could possibly pay it out of your pocket and I will even agree to pay you back next week.
You could write up a contract and I will sign it. My check from work was mailed out to my old address so it will be
forwarded here. I can pay you back from that once I cash it. My phone isn’t working so please email me back and let me
know if your able to help. I’m sorry to have to ask.
Chase forwarded Burts’ email to AHF president Michael Weinstein, adding,
The update on Derrick is that he is out of jail, but needs to come up with $515 by Sunday to pay the bail
bondsman. Derrick claims that he will be able to repay the funds out of money from his last paycheck, which was mailed
to him (he forwarded an e-mail confirming that it was sent). There is no way I would be able to clear this expense past the First National Bank of Husband. He doesn’t have a code in our financial spreadsheets for “bailing twinks out of jail.”
Is this somewhere that AHF can/would want to help him out? Just let me know.
I would be willing to front the money personally on a temporary basis.
On August 13, Burts wrote Weinstein directly
I wanted to keep you updated with things on my end in regards to paying you back the $500.00 you let me borrow.
I was planning on paying you back once I received my final paycheck from my past employer. I am not sure if Brian
has kept you informed but I have yet to receive my check from them. I have forwarded several emails to Brian and I
have talked to him about this issue over this past week, I expressed that I felt like my past employer was kind of
bullying me around with this entire issue.
As soon as my money is received I will be sure to pay you back what you let me borrow. I do apologize that this is
taking so long, I really hate having to borrow money from anyone. Again, I thank you for helping me in my time of
need and if there is anything I can do to help please let me know.
I look forward to the press conference on Monday and I hope to see you Tuesday.
On August 16, 2011 Burts, Weinstein and Shelley Lubben (in her final AHF appearance) posed for the media at a press conference held at the Sheraton Universal Hotel promoting AHF’s City of Los Angeles condoms in porn ballot initiative. AHF was, in essence, harboring a fugitive from justice in LA County.
Riverside County’s criminal complaint was filed against Burts on August 24. Due to his arrest for burglary and embezzlement, Burts’ Orange County probation was revoked on August 31, 2011. The Orange County Superior Court website began to list Burts’ status as “Fugitive”.
Burts was arraigned on September 29th at Riverside County’s Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta, and pleaded Not Guilty to all charges.
Burts blew off a scheduled appearance at a seminar hosted by UCLA’s School of Public Health on Oct 11, 2011. On October 17, Burts wrote adult industry blog LukeIsBack,
I did attend my court hearing and I have a great attorney taking on my case. As far as outstanding warrants in Orange
County and Los Angeles..those have recently been addressed. My warrant in Orange County was due to an unpaid court
balance that I was un aware [sic] that I still owed for a wet [sic] and reckless I got almost two years back. The
warrant for LA was for failure to appear to my last court hearing to give an update on my classes because . . . I was
out of state at the time. I am in no way a hard criminal and I have a total of two misdeameanors [sic] on my record.
Following four settlement conferences, and several continuances, on March 15, 2012 Burts took a plea deal, and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor burglary and embezzlement. He was sentenced to 10 days in custody (through a work release program), three years probation, fined $380, and ordered to pay restitution to the victim, Hampton Inn and Suites in Hemet.
On March 26, 2012 Burts paid the $380, but on April 27, a memo stating Burts had violated the terms of him probation was issued. Burts had completed 0 days of his work release program. The court determined Burts had violated his probation and a warrant was issued on May 9.
There is no other information available online regarding the status of Burts’ Riverside County probation, and the court website seems to indicate that the bench warrant is still active, which would make Burts a fugitive from the law in Riverside County. Despite his claim that he had “addressed” his outstanding Orange County warrant, Burts remains listed as a “fugitive” on the Orange County Superior Court website to this day.