April 26, 2004 05:00am
US Weighs Using Condoms in Porn Films
by: Alan Clendenning
(SAO PAULO, BRAZIL) -- Flush with dollars, American porn film directors swoop into Brazil for its exotic and uninhibited women, dazzling tropical backdrops and cheap production costs - a phenomenon that has turned South America's largest country into a prime destination for adult film outsourcing.
But the infection of an American porn star with HIV last month after shooting unprotected sex scenes with more than a dozen Brazilian women is sending shockwaves through the industry's California heartland and prompting Brazilian performers to criticize their American counterparts.
America's adult film industry relies on testing to prevent the spread of the virus. But testing is scoffed at in Brazil as expensive and unreliable. The Brazilian porn industry, Latin America's largest, has long depended on condoms to prevent actors from getting and spreading HIV.
Darren James, the American actor who contracted the virus, apparently in Brazil, and infected at least one actress after returning to the United States, "took a risk that many Brazilian actors won't," said Evaldo Shiroma, who heads the Brazilian Erotic Industry Association.
Brazil, like many countries, does not require HIV testing for porn actors, and American actors who work in the country often immediately go back to the United States to film more movies, boosting the infection risk.
James performed with 13 actresses after returning to the U.S. before a blood test two weeks ago showed he was HIV-positive. One partner, Lara Roxx, also tested HIV positive.
Since then, more than 50 performers who had contact with the two or their on-screen sex partners have been barred by the American industry pending new tests. Thirty companies halted production, virtually shuttering a business based in California's San Fernando Valley that generates at least $4.4 billion annually.
Brazil's adult film industry produces a much lower $100 million (290 million reals) yearly, industry players estimate. But the business is thought to be the second-largest in the world after the U.S. And is growing rapidly.
Dozens of porn production companies operate in Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest city. The films are so widely accepted that videos and DVDs are showcased on corner newsstands.
In recent years, a growing number of American and European adult film directors headed to Brazil - looking for new talent and taking advantage of the 2002 collapse of the local currency, the real, that made outsourcing more cost-effective.
"It's become the place to go," said Tim Connelly, publisher of the California-based AVN, an adult film industry magazine. "What drives it is economics and beautiful women."
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