Adult performers have largely been left in the dark, misguided, re-directed, and told to rely on personal statements in the media for exactly two weeks now. We’ve even been given an exposure timeline that goes as far back as March, which stirs panic. How is it possible that more people are not infected?? Perhaps we should all thank our lucky stars and learn from this and move on.
Unfortunately, it is not that easy. There are many unanswered questions. First we were all advised to re-test for syphilis. That alone wasn’t good enough, because the incubation period may be as long as 90 days. So, we performers were offered a blanket treatment of penicillin. Now, this week, there is a new 14-day test and the shot is being discontinued. People are raising questions about the effectiveness of this already as well. What will the miracle solution to our syphilis problem be tomorrow?
Yes, I do wish APHSS had an exact answer. However, I will not bash them. They are just coming together to create a single comprehensive database like we once had at AIM, when faced with this. It’s like Obama being elected during the War on Terrorism and being forced to have immediate solutions (this example has no bearing on my personal political beliefs).
For those of you still testing at, and openly praising Talent Testing Services: can you please tell me what sort of guidance you have received in the last two weeks from them? They have yet to make any sort of statement on the accuracy of the test they just started using in June. What sort of research did they use before deciding an RHR test was best for monthly testing? What do they have to say about the 90-day incubation period? What good did adding it to the panel do if they don’t have any way to inform talent of possible exposure? The test apparently didn’t even pick up Patient Zero’s positive status in June. It wasn’t until July when he was in Stage II that TTS was alerted to it. Alerted. Ha.
What good is an alert that doesn’t notify anyone who may be at risk? In the two weeks since, TTS has only given us an email address to a doctor that can answer questions about STI’s. Great. He can define symptoms and general treatments, but he can’t diagnose an anonymous person or give aftercare advice to an anonymous question asker. I hope you understand how ridiculous that new approach is…I’m done talking about it.
I believe the entire purpose of having an agent in this business is to protect us. I would rather have an agent book me with a reputable company, than find work on Craigslist from a possible rapist with no real camera. I like that an agent will pre-verify the test of the talent you are being booked with. I like that an agent would save me the time of contacting individual companies on my own. And for the companies’ benefit, an agent is expected to have their talent arrive to set on time and prepared.
We pay our agents X amount of money to market us, look after our best interests, and procure a solid booking. We also look to our agents for guidance in a rapidly changing business environment. If there were a HIV outbreak or in this case a rare syphilis outbreak, the first person I would expect to hear about it from would be my agent.
An agent has the fastest way of contacting all models in mere minutes. For example, “Ladies and Gentleman: There is a positive case of syphilis in the industry. I advise all of you to get tested immediately. For the sake of everyone’s health, we will be canceling all shoots until we can find out the source/expanse of exposure and get it under control.” I would rather a simple “STOP WORKING” than having to find a press release being passed around on Twitter about how a performer was working with an altered test. Yes, we need to know that there was a deceitful performer among us, but the gossip train could have waited to exit the station until everyone was alerted to take precautions for their personal health.
If I were an agent, I would think to myself: “I need to let my performers know immediately.” Not, “I’m going to be the first to break juicy gossip and let the media run with it! “ I am thankful in a way though, because without Overboard Media alerting Derek, who alerted Shy; we would still not know, because notification of performers doesn’t seem to be a concern of TTS.
How dare Shy and Derek drop a bomb like that and offer no advice to performers on what to do next! Two weeks later, and my agent still hasn’t said anything other than “sorry should not be used” about the new 14-day syphilis test. How is that a solution to anything? You can’t just bad mouth a company or program without having a real reason or a better answer. I should not be forced to get my information from news posts quoting individuals who are not doctors and/or are giving hearsay accounts of random conversations.
It makes me so mad that my agent would tell me (via text), “U might want to be careful who u trust. U should probably read the press.” Excuse my French, but FUCK NO! I want my information from the source. Not a biased news article that has been reprinted over and over with various opinions added in. I even held my ego a moment to reply to her, “If it weren’t for you guys finally catching him, we would still have never known. TTS doesn’t tell anyone. What about all the girls he worked with prior to going to his personal doctor? I don’t trust a company that doesn’t notify anyone of an outbreak.”
The reply I received? “U should learn all the facts before making judgements but I guess that’s to much to ask. Don’t worry all the facts will be out soon and u will see u made a mistake.” (Exact quote, I didn’t even correct the grammar.) How ominous is that though? Once again, I am supposed to believe everything I read. There the answers shall lie. Then why the fuck do we still have so many questions unanswered weeks later? Contradiction after contradiction.
What sickens me further are the agents that would allow talent to “choose” to work during a moratorium, and before all the facts are in. Some of you may have decided to shoot girl/girl or condom only. In case you didn’t already know…females can pass STI’s too, and condoms may not stop the spread of syphilis (as well as other STI’s) as they often do not cover the entire infected area. If you have chosen to work during this time, you are showing little respect for your own health or that of your fellow performers. The producers, agents, and performers that decided to risk everyone’s health and go right back to work are just as bad as Mr. Marcus himself. Their greed and selfishness is fueling the decline of this industry being able to regulate itself.
All I can say, with no financial motivation, is that we as an industry need and deserve one comprehensive testing database like we had at AIM. Yes, a secure system that cannot be hacked. Performers need real doctors that do not judge our industry to talk to, and to receive care from. If you can’t be honest with your primary care physician about your career, the information you receive may not be complete. I am not questioning your doctor’s intelligence; merely stating that in order to give you an informed answer, he/she needs all of the relevant details.
Many of you travel from out of state or even from other countries to work in Los Angeles or Miami or wherever. Many of you don’t even have health insurance (you should—but that’s a topic for another day). If something happens to you while you are away from home, what are you going to do? Generally we test at the same place every month.
We become comfortable with the people in these offices. I would much rather ask them advice concerning something sexual than my primary doctor when it comes to the adult industry. Most of all, I would much rather hear it personally from someone like CET if I have been exposed to something serious…rather than a call from a stranger at the Los Angeles Department of Public Health weeks after the fact. Imagining that phone call makes me shudder. I feel sorry for the talent that had to go through that.
APHSS may not be perfect at the moment, but with sensible input from talent I think we can really develop a comprehensive system that works for us. We need fast notification, with consideration of patient privacy. We need the most current/accurate test information in our test panels. We need to be able to be unafraid to ask questions when it comes to our sexual health. It blows my mind how many new talent come into this industry and have no sexual education. STI’s do happen when you are not careful outside of the industry. You cannot tell if someone you sleep with is ‘clean’ based off of looks and personality. Know that your actions outside of work may in the end affect your work. Your actions, my actions — they affect all of us.
Your health is your livelihood, not just your looks or marketability. Please be safe.