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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 24 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 34
Syphilis case shuts down LA porn industry
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Syphilis case shuts down LA porn industry

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Adult movie studios in Los Angeles, the center of the U.S. porn industry, have shut down for the third time in three years, after an actor was diagnosed with syphilis. The previous shutdowns, in 2010 and 2011, involved actors who tested positive for HIV.

According to porn talent agents Shy Love and Derek Hay, the male actor (whose name has not been released) tested positive for syphilis in July, but continued to work for three weeks with a phony test result.

Love told XBIZ News that she cut the actor from her roster on August 16, after he admitted he had syphilis.

'Our first instinct was the safety of the talent,' Love said. 'We're not going to hide something because the talent happens to be on our roster. It's important to make talent aware that there is one positive performer and they should get tested because there is a potential risk right now.'

According to Love, the actor shot three scenes while knowing he had syphilis, one of them with a female performer represented by Hay's agency.

Hay said that the actor's health status was discovered August 7, when the film's producer noticed irregularities in the scene paperwork, which includes reports on the actors' STD tests.

'He realized that the syphilis portion of the test result was missing, and that is what triggered the in-depth analysis,' Hay explained.

'That producer contacted me to see if there was another test on the same performer to compare a version of the test to see if there was a difference.'

The comparison revealed the truth about the actor's status, and he then agreed to cooperate with investigators. He reportedly told Love and Hay that he plans to report all the information about his three scenes so they can notify everyone who may have been infected.

The producer who recognized the discrepancy on the test is also involved with identifying potential performers affected, the agents said.

NO WRONGDOING ALLEGED
Talent Testing Service, which tests for syphilis as part of its regular STD panel, did nothing wrong with its handling of the performer's test result, both Love and Hay said.

The actor told Hay he was feeling ill in mid-July and underwent tests with his personal physician, who diagnosed syphilis and prescribed medication.

He was tested again on July 21, approximately a week later, at Talent Testing Service, which also identified the performer as positive for syphilis. Because of privacy standards, TTS did not notify his agent, Love, of the positive test.

The porn industry has been severely criticized for failing to enforce adequate health and safety standards to prevent actors with HIV or other STDs from infecting other performers. In January the L.A. City Council made condom use mandatory for porn actors performing inside city limits, and in November, L.A. County voters will consider an initiative to do the same in unincorporated areas of the county.

Roughly 20,000 pornographic scenes are shot per year in the Los Angeles area. Bigger companies tend to produce four or five films per month, allowing them to stockpile releases.

The industry as a whole is thought to generate $14 billion in revenue per year, but income from porn films has been shrinking lately, analysts say, due to illegal copying and to an abundance of free content on the Internet.

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