5. Health Risks

Part: 
Four
Chapter: 
2

Precisely because sex is their job, models face health hazards of forbidding intensity. Working three to four days a week, with two sex scenes each day,[1027] any one model may have twenty-four to thirty-two different sexual partners every month, just through work. Even though some performers state that they receive regular medical check-ups,[1028] the odds of contracting sexually transmitted diseases are very high-particularly because performers do not even have the option of using condoms or other "safe sex" techniques.[1029] Not surprisingly, even the rumor that a model is infected with a sexually transmitted disease can ruin his or her career,[1030] but just as obviously such a rumor will often fail to spread before the disease has. Further, it is only the established "stars" who can be choosy about their partners.[1031] One of the best known male models described his own experiences in illuminating terms:

When you're a nobody, it doesn't occur to you to be brave and ask, even though you have a lot at stake. I didn't worry too much about that until the Herpes stuff started to become real. Up until 1982, I had one clap scare. I went and received shots for it. I don't know if I ever had it or not. But I had contact with a known carrier. In '82, we got pregnant for the first time, and having Herpes was the difference between a vaginal birth and a Caesarian section which made a significant difference to us. And I didn't have Herpes and I saw no reason to get it. So I began saying categorically that I wouldn't work with anyone that had Herpes. I had to do this one part with someone who had an active outbreak of Herpes, and we cheated the scene. The person put a towel in her thighs and I ended up f...ing the towel. We had no physical contact. Ironically enough, it turned out to be a beautiful scene."[1032]

When asked who the Herpes carrier was, the model replied that he had "kind of shielded it."[1033]

The advent of Acquired Immune-Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) might have been expected to produce drastic changes in sex industry practices, but the prevailing attitude seems best reflected in the following, recent comments in a Hustler interview of Amber Lynn, a leading "porn star":

Hustler: You're f...ing so many men these days, aren't you afraid of AIDS? Many actors in the business are bisexual.

Amber: There's an incredible fear of AIDS sweeping through the X-rated-film business right now. All of my girlfriends are talking about it. We're scared to death that we'll find out in three years we've only got a few months left.

Hustler: Why do you continue your promiscuous career then?

Amber: I get a blood test regularly and am very. careful about the people I work with. Hey, life's a f...ing gamble anyway, and there is where I want to be. I can't think of doing anything else. That's not to say I'm reckless. For instance, I won't f... some guy I know has been f...ing a bunch of other guys not for a lousy thousand dollars. It's not worth it to me, because if I get AIDS, then everyone I come in contact with [will] get it and not just the people I work with, but the people I love and care about too.[1034]

Of course, even an occasional sexual contact with a member of a high-risk group carries such a substantial risk of exposure to AIDS[1035] that the gamble Ms. Lynn embraces seems a peculiarly misguided one.

Notes

  1. The typical work week described by one of the models in testimony before us. Los Angeles Hearing, Vol. I, George, p. 85.
  2. See, e.g., Lynn  Interview, supra note 977, p. 30; Los Angeles Hearing, Vol. I, George, p. 89.
  3. See, Pacheco Interview, supra note 986, p. 25 (description by interviewer of "the only time I've seen a rubber being used in a porno movie. ")
  4. Id., p. 30; Bennett, supra note 972, p. 72.
  5. Pacheco Interview, supra note 986, p. 30.
  6. Id.; See also, Los Angeles Hearing, Vol. I, George, p. 89. (encountered S.T.D. in fellow performers); Lederer Interview, supra note 969, p. 66. ("Women who work in the pornography business always have vaginal trichomoniasis or some infection from the working conditions, which run from bad to simply intolerable. At one point there was an epidemic of hepatitis and mononucleosis. The communicable diseases spread quickly." Id., p. 66). That a "sex worker" population would be highly vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases should hardly come as a shock. See, W. Darrow, Prostitution and Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Sexually Transmitted Diseases, (K.K.Holmes ad. 1984), p. 109. 1033.
  7. Id.
  8. Lynn Interview, supra note 977, pp. 26-30.
  9. See, Curran, The Epidemiology and Prevention of the Acquired Immune-Deficiency Syndrome, 103 Ann. Internal Medicine, (1985), pp. 657, 660 ("the risk of exposure to HTLV-III/LAV infection from a sexual encounter with an occasional partner for a gay man is very high, several times higher than for a heterosexual man or woman.") Blattner, Epidemiology of Human T-Lymphotropic Virus Type III and the Risk of the Acquired Immune-Deficiency Syndrome, 103 Ann. Internal Medicine, (1985), p. 665.