Leading Barebacking Movie Studio Announces Testing for Models

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday February 8, 2008

A leading production company of adult films has announced that all of its models will receive testing for STDs, including HIV.

Hot Desert Knights, Inc. (HDK) announced today that the testing will be done in conjunction with the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation (AIM).

HDK is a leading producer of filmed erotica featuring barebacking, the practice of sexual relations between men without the use of condoms.

Said HDK President Bill Gardner, "We are alarmed and shocked at the proliferation of new bareback studios, especially those from overseas, who are using increasingly younger models without providing any counseling or information regarding STD transmission... It appears as if these studios care little for the health and safety of their models."

Continued Gardner, "After a number of discussions with Diane Duke, Executive Director of the Free Speech Coalition (FSC), regarding this trend of using younger models and taking more risks in bareback films, Ms. Duke introduced us to the Ex. Dir. Of AIM, Dr. Sharon Mitchell. As a result of these meetings with Dr. Mitchell and Ms. Duke, HDK concluded that it is possible to test models and provide a safer workplace while still maintaining our models privacy rights."

Said Dr. Sharon Mitchell, Executive Director, of AIM, "Myself and the AIM Healthcare Foundation are extremely proud of HDK and Mr. Bill Gardner for taking this ground breaking step in the area of HIV, STD prevention, education, and screening."

Continued Dr. Mitchell, "AIM is enthusiastic about this relationship and are available in all 50 States. AIM has been providing the Adult Industry HIV and STD screening, medications and counseling for over a decade, and are delighted to be serving the Gay Industry in Body, Mind, Emotion and Spirit."

Diane Duke, executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, said in a statement, "FSC's role is not a regulatory one, but rather one that provides information and resources to assist adult businesses to make responsible decisions for themselves, the industry and industry professionals. We applaud Bill and HDK's willingness to participate in this discussion and to implement policies and practices that protect performers at Hot

Desert Knights. We hope to facilitate similar discussions within and among other adult entertainment businesses."

Though HIV is a concern for anyone who participates in barebacking, transmission of other STDs is also crucial. HDK models will also be tested for syphilis, gonorrhea, and hepatitis, according to a press release.

HDK's concerns may be informed, in part, by a situation in 2004, when two erotic film models tested positive for HIV, leading to the threat of a two-month suspension of production of all erotic filming.

The BBC News reported in April of 2004 that suspension of filming was considered so that actors who had worked with the two men who tested positive could be contacted, informed, and tested.

Even at that time, the Adult Industry Healthcare Foundation was active, testing more than 1,000 models working in the industry. The tests were administered every three weeks, the BBC News reported at that time.

The 2004 results were the first HIV tests to come back positive since 1999. They led to actors who had worked with the positive models being professionally quarantined pending testing to contain the spread of the virus.

Said Gardner of the new decision by HDK, "We are happy to take the lead as the first bareback studio to provide testing and know that by doing so we are providing an environment of safer sex for all of our talent. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, other than HIV, can cause serious health problems for the talent in our industry and many STD's can be acquired by the various sex acts performed in front of the camera other than anal sex."

Added Gardner, "For that reason, we urge all gay studios to consider testing all models for STDs if they truly wish to provide a safer sex work environment."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.