L.A. NOW

Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Former porn star Darren James speaks out about latest HIV case

October 12, 2010 |  3:34 pm

Darrenjames
The former adult film actor at the center of a 2004 HIV outbreak among porn performers on Tuesday criticized the industry for failing to protect actors from infection.

“I knew it was going to happen. And how many years has it been? Again. They went right back to the same habits,” Darren James said in an interview with The Times.

James’ comments came after a San Fernando Valley clinic that caters to people who work in the porn industry confirmed to The Times that an adult-industry performer has tested positive for HIV, and that a quarantine was in place for performers who had sexual contact with the person.

Officials from the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation, known as AIM, would not disclose the number of performers who may have been exposed and also declined to provide details about the person infected or the production company or companies involved.

James, a well-liked porn star known for his courteous nature on set, was at the center of an HIV outbreak that shut down the San Fernando Valley’s multibillion-dollar porn industry for a month in the spring of 2004. He had tested HIV negative just days before performing on screen. After a later test came back positive, James learned that he had spread the virus to three actresses with whom he worked. 

In recent months, James has become a advocate of mandatory use of condoms on porn sets to protect performers from HIV. At a hearing of California occupational safety officials in Orange County in March, James called the industry’s reliance on testing performers for HIV  a "false security blanket."

"You think you're safe, but you're not. In between scenes, you don't know what other actors are doing," James told the board before turning to the crowd of about 40 at Costa Mesa City Hall. "I'm living your nightmare every day," he said.

On Tuesday , James renewed his criticism of the industry for failing to protect actors and actresses.

“The actors ... they’re not getting the protection that they need. There should have been mandatory condoms,” James said. “Good grief, it’s like my deal, all over again. I hate that.”

In an interview with The Times last year, when AIM officials confirmed that a female porn performer had tested positive for HIV, James talked extensively about his belief that condoms should be required on set.

"That's why I want to come out and do a little more, if I can. And if it's just to help ... just to get them to listen. Not to boast up porn, not at all, just to make people be aware that I got caught up, man. I thought I was invincible, and I got shot down so fast,” James said at the time.

Some porn actors and actresses, however, have protested state officials’ consideration of strengthening rules requiring condom use on sets. Despite state occupational safety rules requiring condom use on porn sets, that rule is widely flouted on heterosexual porn film shoots.

"There is no way to make the industry risk-free. Making things safer does not make it safe," a porn actor whose stage name is Jeremy Steele said at a June hearing in downtown Los Angeles. "If you're worried or paranoid, you should not be in this industry."

"As someone who is still working on the camera myself, I don't feel any safer with condoms," actress Nina Hartley said at the same hearing.

-- Rong-Gong Lin II

Read more: Wicked Pictures and Vivid Entertainment suspend production as a precaution amid new HIV case in porn performer

Photo: Darren James vividly remembers the 2004 phone call that changed his life. He hopes that by getting his story out, the porn industry will be moved to require condom use to protect the health of its stars. Credit: Stefano Paltera / For The Times

Comments 

Advertisement










Video