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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Memoir: The truth about AIM (Adult Industry Medicine)

March 2010

My name is Jan Meza, I am a member of The Pink Cross Foundation and an ex bbw porn star. I contracted herpes and Chlamydia from my time as an actress in the porn industry.  I was in the porn industry for a little over a year. During that time I tested regularly through Adult Industry Medicines clinic in Sherman Oaks California, but because AIM does NOT make it necessary to test for herpes which affects about 66% of all sex industry workers, I became a victim to one of the adult industries overwhelming negative pitfalls, a sexually transmitted disease.

I remember my first time testing there, I was asked a couple of questions, told to fill out a form, blood and urine were collected and I was given a couple of pamphlets and a video, the whole process seemed very rushed and informal. I was never educated about the industry that I was about to venture into, nor was I ever told about the extreme risks I was about to put my body through. No one in the clinic ever verbally explained to me the statistics on STD’s in the industry, no one there explained my rights as an adult actress and adult film employee, no one really seemed to care, I was just another patient, and I was just another name on their daily roster. 

Adult Industry Medicines’ mission statement says this; “A non-profit corporation created to care for the physical and emotional needs of sex workers and the people who work in the Adult Entertainment Industry. Through our HIV and STD testing and treatment, our counseling, and support-group programs, we are happy to be serving the sex worker community. Our goal is to provide health care for the body, mind, emotion, and spirit.” How is their goal to provide these things, when not only I, but many other men and women I know in the adult industry never received counseling? AIM never made an effort to lift my spirit! All AIM did was give me a false sense of physical safety.  How exactly do they care so much for the emotions and well being of actors and actresses in the adult industry when they didn’t even educate me on my physical safety rights according to Cal OSHA? According to CAL OSHA regulations I should have been given a clean and safe place to wash up in, on the set health hazards should have been identified to me, I should have never been subjected to lighting that was obviously old and extremely hot to be under for extended periods of time, lastly, and what perhaps outrages me the most, is that over the 100+ times I had spit, semen and vaginal secretions put on my hair, face, mouth, breasts, vaginal and rectal areas, not one producer or production employee ever offered  to take me to be tested afterward or immediately paid for my testing.  

On one scene in particular the male talent ejaculated semen into my eyes, I had contacts on, my eyes burned, my vision went blurry, I couldn’t see straight nor could I get my contacts out. Did anyone who worked on the set offer me immediate medical attention, did they offer to pay for my testing, did they offer me any help whatsoever, no! They did however laugh at me and added insult to injury by telling me it was just another part of porn that happens. Ultimately, it was an actress waiting for her scene that helped me to the bathroom, assisted in cleaning me up and consoled me.

It breaks my heart to acknowledge that during my time as a porn star, I’ve done a scene with 25 men and even though I was assured that all of the STD testing had been taken care of by the producers, in my heart I realize now that this was a lie because I never saw the tests for myself. I have slept with male performers and later found out that they did what the industry calls “gay for pay”, meaning that they are straight in their personal lives, but will sleep with other men in adult films for the right price. How can you put a price on life? Did you know that the gay adult film companies don’t make it mandatory for their employees to be tested at all?? If I had known that they did these types of films and that I was putting myself at even a higher risk of getting an STD, I would’ve never worked with them. None of those performers felt the need to tell me the type of work they were involved in and as naïve as it might make me sound, I assumed that they only preformed in straight porn, I was severely mistaken.

 I have worked with female stars who I later found out had drug addictions and who were actively working as escorts and having unprotected sex with their clients, it’s what the sex industry calls “bare back sex” and this dangerous practice is sadly common within the porn industry. I in no way advocate this lifestyle however, certain producers convinced me to work as an escort aside from filming for a short time during  my porn career claiming it would bring me more work and more notoriety and as a result every porn stars bottom line, more money!  I always used condoms to protect myself while performing acts of prostitution and I never came close to sleeping with nearly as many people as I did while working in porn.

I recently overheard a saying that goes; in your life you will either be affected by HIV and or AIDS or infected with HIV and or AIDS and other STD’s. We as humans are fallible and because of this what we create also has the possibility of failure, this includes testing for sexually transmitted diseases. How is AIM certain that their tests are foolproof when nothing in this life is guaranteed, not even the use of condoms, contraceptives and other prophylactics? And how much more is the risk of getting HIV, AIDS and other STD’s in an industry where you have not only one sexual partner per day, but several or more and condoms are looked at as an unnecessary, negative, component of this industry?! 

There is at one time thousands of porn stars actively working in the adult industry, can AIM say in all honesty that they are able to accurately test and regulate all of these performers’ health, I think not.  Has everyone forgotten the cases of HIV surrounding the porn industry in 1998, 1999, 2004 and especially just this past year when in October 24 year old Derrick Burts contracted HIV from his very short stent in porn ? Do you honestly think he was the only one when the AIM clinic quarantine list was extremely long? Enough is enough! How many more HIV incidents will occur in the adult industry before changes are made once and for all? Over 25 reported cases of HIV, how can anyone say that this is a small number? We are talking about human lives! There is so much secrecy, and abuse physically, mentally, and emotionally going on within the porn industry that it would be asinine to believe that the porn industry is safe and that clinics like AIM can and do care for each individuals complete and total well being.

During my time in the porn industry I became a heavy drinker, I started using marijuana and pain killers because they were offered to me at almost every shoot, I didn’t have to lie to the producer about being under the influence of any substances that would alter my decision making, they new when I was drunk or high and filmed me anyway, does that sound like an industry that cares about its performers? I felt I needed these drugs just to make it through the day and especially through a shoot. I had other drugs offered to me, but I refused them. I even showed up to AIM high for my monthly testing at times, why didn’t anyone offer me counseling then? I became someone I didn’t recognize, I drifted further and further away from my family, I lost my job, my home, I lost my sense of self and self worth. The money wasn’t worth my life anymore and I wanted out. I contemplated suicide, I was sick of the porn industries lies, being taken advantage of and not being in control of my own life. 

I’m here today because of God, Shelley Lubben and my family. Even after leaving the porn industry, getting violently ill and finding out that I had herpes and Chlamydia, I stand, broken, but not destroyed. I take a continuous stand to open the eyes of the world not only in regards to the spread of diseases like Chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhea and HIV within the porn industry, but to the fact that the porn industry itself is a plague on life. The industry seeks out the young, naïve and the poor for its own personal gain and that is why I work with Shelley Lubben and The Pink Cross Foundation. We make it our job to reach out in love and to counsel the men and women working in or affected by porn to the best of our capabilities. We strive to educate them and help transition them if needed into a healthy life away from porn. It is my sincerest hope that by sharing my experiences and by uncovering the truths behind the fantasy of porn that just as I had enough and decided to do something to affect change, the world would too.

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