8:49 p.m. September 20, 2013

Pretty Fucking Far From Positive

Michael Weinstein gives traumatized porn actors a new, exploitative script.

The moratorium on adult industry production has now been lifted. But as California’s porn actors returned to work, the bizarre battle for mandatory condoms in pornography took yet another turn for the weird.

On Wednesday, the Aids Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the dubious nonprofit entity backing condom legislation in California, held a press event featuring several adult performers who had recently tested positive for HIV: Cameron Bay, Rod Daily, Patrick Stone and one other "mystery" performer. Their message? That condoms should always be used on set and that recent HIV infections prove industry testing protocols aren’t working.

To the uninformed observer, the message was a persuasive one. Who better to warn of the dangers of porn than four actors whose lives have been dramatically changed by their participation in the industry?

Except it’s not even slightly clear that that’s what’s happened.

As I wrote previously, neither Bay nor Daily contracted HIV at work. The two are a romantic couple, and investigation into their infections found no indication of on-set transmission.

Still, that didn’t stop Bay from telling a story about an accident that happened on her last pre-diagnosis shoot:

In a tearful speech, Bay described her July 31 shoot for fetish site Kink.com. As Bay tells it, a male actor sustained a cut on his penis and was bleeding; but still the scene continued. It was her last scene before testing HIV positive.

The performer in question, Xander Corvus - who AVN confirmed was the only male performer to penetrate her vaginally and/or anally during the shoot - shed some light on the moment: Bay cut his penis with her teeth. In his interview with AVN, he noted that it was a group decision to continue the scene after shooting was stopped.

"I asked her if she wanted to keep shooting and she said, ‘As long as you’re OK, you’re not hurt.’"

Corvus has repeatedly tested negative for HIV since the scene.

And then there’s Patrick Stone. Despite his place on the AHF line-up, his HIV status still seems to be negative. AHF director of communications Ged Kenslea told LA Weekly that Stone had tested positive for HIV, but he has since tested negative twice.

Stone also claimed that Kink.com had emailed him about rescheduling (not cancelling) a shoot he had planned with them for Thursday, despite the fact that they knew his status.

"They had me scheduled for a shoot tomorrow [when] as far as they knew, I was HIV positive."

Kink.com owner Peter Acworth has responded on his personal blog to Stone’s allegations.

"On the straight side of the industry, 28 day testing is mandatory. If someone fails a test, they don’t work on a straight set. Period. Patrick Stone’s booking confirmation with us was tentative because we did not yet know his status; in order to shoot with Kink he would have had to retest clean. Anything else is either a misunderstanding or a misrepresentation."

A search of Kink.com models does not turn up any previous appearances by Patrick Stone. The Internet Adult Film Database lists him as working in porn from 2010 to 2013, in a total of five gay porn titles; none of which are linked to Kink.com. I am still trying to confirm whether he has previously worked for them at all.

One thing that I have been able to confirm is that Patrick Stone has worked as a male escort. Though his profile pages are no longer active, there is enough evidence in the treasure trove of Google cache to state his pro status with confidence. One example being a version of his RentBoy.com profile cached July 22, 2013. And an old bio on a Twitter-photo-sharing site that gives his email address (which matches the current one) and that states "Escort & Adult Film Star - Bisexual & 100% Versatile".

Sex work is sex work; what’s interesting is not that Stone had paid sex off-camera, but rather, that evidence of it has been stripped from the internet. And it certainly wasn’t mentioned during the AHF press event.

I will note that his current Twitter bio mentions nothing of escorting. Whether this is an innocuous career change or a PR move under the auspices of AHF is unknown at this point. What is curious is that AHF would parade Stone around as another HIV victim, only to admit that the test had shown a false positive, all the while framing him as an adult performer but concealing his history as an escort.

Being diagnosed HIV positive is undoubtedly a horrible experience. It’s understandable that performers may feel inclined to blame the industry they chose to work in, especially when the alternative is to admit that their private behavior, and private decisions, may have been the real cause. But what is more reprehensible is for AHF to co-opt traumatized performers to pursue its own political agenda, in this case by blaming Kink.com and simultaneously concealing the fact that one of its spokesvictims (who may actually be HIV negative) seems to have worked more frequently as an escort than as a porn actor.

And this brings us to the mystery fourth performer that AHF’s Michael Weinstein mentioned during the event. If he exists - and he spoke only by phone so that remains unclear - it’s horrifying that the AHF would keep his identity a secret from organizations able to identify sexual partners and investigate the case. The Free Speech Coalition (FSC), which runs the Performer Availability Screening Services (PASS), had this to say in response to "John Doe":

"We have been given no real information of a fourth performer. If there is real evidence of a fourth performer, then the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) should have contacted the adult industry for assistance in generational identification. It is unconscionable and irresponsible for AHF to use any individual as a political pawn in a press conference, rather than work through the necessary protocols to make sure that any partners are identified and tested for the safety of all concerned."

The bottom line is that, far from being the cesspool of unchecked disease that AHF describes, the adult industry’s testing protocols have caught every case of off-set HIV infection before the performers were able to spread the virus at work. Once again, the AHF is seeking to profit from scaring the public about HIV in the porn industry. And for reasons that remain unclear, at least three actors -- who have just discovered their careers are over -- have chosen to read from Michael Weinstein’s script.