Porn Faces Reality

HIV outbreak in California porn industry highlights risky business

In certain scenarios, condoms can be unobtrusive or even part of the plot, but in others, they might be downright disruptive. This is especially true in arguably the most popular genre—gonzo—which emphasizes raw, spontaneous, uncensored sex. I know America is obsessed with reality television, but are they ready to embrace this reality—that performers need to protect themselves—in their reality porn? Levine sees condoms as "an unmet creative challenge," and I'm anxious to see producers rise to that challenge. The first of the gonzo gods to declare his future work all condom-only is Seymore Butts, and if anyone can make condoms sexy, it's the man who brought us Tushy Con Carne. Perhaps Darren James's situation will serve as a wake-up call not only for producers but for performers, who must realize what their occupational hazards are when choosing who they work with, what they do, and how to protect themselves. Levine says that the incidence of HIV in the porn star population is much lower than in any comparable demographic. But he's quick to temper his reminder with another dose of reality: "One transmission is a tragedy, and it's one too many."


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