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Thursday, February 18, 2016

PORN PROTEST

Dear Susan:

I read your article today about the protests.  http://www.dailynews.com/social-affairs/20160217/porn-performers-set-to-protest-thursday-vote-requiring-condoms-eyewear-on-film-sets?obref=obinsite  Please allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Jody Williams and I’m the founder of Sex Workers Anonymous.  We used to be Prostitutes Anonymous – but we changed our name in 1995 because of the way the internet changed the industry.

We formed our program in 1987 during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and also this was the launch of the modern day sex trafficking movement.  I had gone to our then Mayor Tom Bradley, Sheriff Block, and Chief Gates, about the way that all things combined within the sex industry was going to take a very special type of outreach and cooperation if they wanted to slow down the raging spread of this virus.   They agreed to put down everyone’s usual “arms” and create a board to work together to solve the issues sooner than passing laws could have done.  This board had someone from every office from the police, prosecutor, health dept., mental health, HUD, social services, a judge, etc.  Also I was on the board representing both the sex industry and what is now called a “trafficking victim” (we didn’t have that term coined until the Trafficking Act of 2000” passed).

I had explained to them that they weren’t going to get sex workers to use condoms if they kept calling them “evidence of prostitution” to arrest them, number one.  Number two, you weren’t going to get someone who was HIV positive off the stroll if they had a pimp forcing them to be out there.  Thus we had to not only help the sex workers who back then were having to come up with $10,000 a month for medications through sex work just to stay alive to get their medication other ways – but also we had to find a way to extract them from the pimp.  We had set up a special testing site for sex workers where we could ask if they wanted help to leave their pimp for this reason.  If the answer was yes – then we’d take them out a back door while throwing the pimp out the front.

Working together – we were able to bring what was an 80 percent infection rate in sex workers within one year down to less than six percent.  That was lower than that of non-sex workers.  Feeling cocky – we then approached the porn industry.  This is when we asked them to start showing that condoms could be sexy and fun and to show stars using them thinking this would encourage the “johns” to do the same because they always mimicked what they saw in adult films.  The industry cooperated as you know – but then we had a revolt of the viewers.  This created an explosion of “amateur” porn to come out in response to the demand.

Now back then that was one thing.  The industry was pretty geographical and most performers didn’t move out of whatever part of town they’re in.   So the HIV/AIDS spike we saw was easy to catch.  However, I believe that with the way the sex industry is today, what with the internet, and in light of the fact AIM no longer exists – I believe something like these laws being passed would be disastrous.  Especially since we’re in the middle of an unreported epidemic now as we speak.  I say that because I’ve been answering this hotline since 1987 and I’m getting more calls now then I did back then from sex workers who are now HIV positive.    We know Charlie Sheen was covering up a lot, but it’s been confirmed in Tijuana, and other spots about the USA.  The last thing we want to do is to stir up another amateur explosion at a time when most young sex workers don’t even know what HIV nor do they care.

I started getting so many calls about HIV out here in Los Angeles back when Charlie was trying to keep it silent – that I relocated back out here from Vegas last year.  I thought the town would value my experience in this area having worked at ground zero so successfully back in the 1980’s.   Instead I found the AHF wouldn’t even return my phone calls!

Well let me tell you this – I’ve been working as a paralegal since I retired from sex work in 1985 and I fail to see how any film made on a porn set is any different than a sex scene filmed on a MGM set or Universal or any other film studio.  So I looked at the manual for SAG and found it had not been updated in over TEN YEARS!  If anything – I find their manual to be MORE unsafe for MORE actors than what the porn industry has adopted.  To be honest, I think to ask this would create an “unfair trade advantage” to major studios to start making more movies with sex scenes in them which I’ve already seen start!  I have been seeing films coming off SAG sets more raunchy than some porns lately!  Which means if they change this safety manual – I don’t understand why it doesn’t apply to any sex scene in any film hence why not the SAG Health & Safety Manual?

Frankly, I’m finding that there is WAY more HIV going around right now in these Asian massage parlors and if the AHF is sooo concerned about this then I’d like to see an outreach campaign started to address this – rather than a porn performer who gets tested regularly and frankly has very little sex compared to these women.   These women are having 10 to 15 unprotected contacts a day, they’re not being tested, and they’re not even seeing doctors except one that keeps things “off the records” so the “johns” wives and employers don’t find out.   Plus there is already a confirmed epidemic in both China and Korea – where these women are coming over from.   Especially when they’re being forced many of them to work there.

So I kept asking the AHF to speak to me about how we could target this community who is spreading way more HIV than the porn industry is – only to be ignored.   Remembering the Ryan White Foundation remembered my work from the 1980’s I wrote them about this.  Their response was to deny the AHF their 3.8 million dollar grant this year.  Now did that stop the AHF?   Nope.

Meaning I don’t think this has anything to do with HIV and the public safety.   If it was – he’d be picking up the phone when someone who brought the rates down so dramatically in the sex industry in the 1980’s called him on the phone!

I’ve written to the Free Speech Coalition and I’ve offered to help them research a lawsuit against the people doing this and the SAG – because first of all I don’t see why there should be two Health & Safety Manuals.  I mean when did we really define the line between “porn” and “ a sex scene” in a film?  I’ve seen just as sexual of scenes in Universal Films as I have a Vivid one.  Not to mention the fight scenes where blood is spilled!

If you’d like to talk more about this – I can be reached at (818) 6463296.  Thanks!

Jody Williams

www.sexworkersanonymous.com





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