WHACK! MAGAZINE First things first: can you tell us a bit about who you are and your history in the industry for any readers who might not know?
NICA NOELLE I’m the creator of and sole writer/director for adult film studios Sweetheart Video, Sweet Sinner Films, and Sweet Sinema Productions. I’ve been directing adult films for about five years and prior to that I was a journalist and a legal worker. Throughout my twenties, I was a part-time stripper.
W! You are one of the adult industry professionals spearheading the Adult Performers Association: what made you decide that an organization like this was necessary?
NN It was a mixture of both personal and professional concern. There were a few events that took place in our industry that caused me and others to feel frightened and unsafe. On a personal front, I didn’t understand why others were making decisions about my health and safety that I wasn’t necessarily on board with, and I wasn’t sure if I had any recourse. There was a great deal of pressure to “go with the flow” and not raise any concerns publicly. I also felt a general (and growing) sense of confusion, hostility and unrest in the industry since the collapse of AIM Healthcare. As these things came to a head, I decided I should educate myself and try to make things better, or just leave the adult industry altogether.
Meanwhile, January Seraph, my partner in APA, was feeling exactly the same way and for very similar reasons. Once we started talking we discovered we had many of the same concerns, beliefs and goals. She’s very action-oriented and productive and so am I, so together we’re like a well-oiled machine. We brought the APA from conception to reality within a few days.
W! Who else is involved in getting it started?
NN Here are the roles we’ve currently assumed:
Nica Noelle – Co-Founder, mainstream media outreach and communications emphasis
January Seraph – Co-Founder, technical infrastructure & development emphasis
Madison Young – AP Community Resources and Outreach Chair
Maggie Mayhem – Sex Education & Safer Sex Chair
We’re still establishing who the Financial Advisor and Legal Advisor will be from a small group of people we’re considering. Additionally we are still establishing what other positions are needed, policy surrounding the terms and voting policy regarding these positions in the future.
W! In one or two sentences: what is the Adult Performers Association?
NN APA is an organization of adult performers and our supporters who are passionate about improving health, safety and quality of life for adult film entertainers. We endeavor to reach these and other goals through education, encouragement, advocacy, resources and support.
W! Who is it for and what will it hopefully accomplish?
NN The APA is designed to improve the lives of Adult Industry Performers, but we believe everyone in the industry will benefit from our research and efforts. We intend to address health and safety conditions in the workplace, to educate performers on their rights, facilitate dialogue with agents, producers and studios, and rework our outdated and inaccurate image in the mainstream press. Our ultimate goal is that Adult Performers will have access to healthcare, and develop a sense of security and empowerment through education, improved work conditions, and reduced social stigma.
W! One of the things I’ve seen repeated on the website and in interviews is that this organization is not meant to be “anti” anything. What might it be against? Why might people think that?
NN I think there’s some perception that we may be competing with other organizations or trying to rabble-rouse, but that’s not the case. We may not agree with other organizations on every issue, but we’re not about competition or infighting. Our ONLY agenda is to assist performers and to help to improve their quality of life.
W! You have also said that the organization will be not profit-oriented — that the idea stems from a sincere desire to help advocate the rights of adult performers. How does the APA plan to make the money required to offer resources to the community?
NN Through funding and donations. Right now that’s what we’re aiming for. We’d like to provide this service at no cost to performers.
W! The organization believes that it’s important to offer performers more testing options and to avoid a monopoly on STI testing. But isn’t centralized testing what worked so well for AIM and the industry?
NN We’re not “against” the centralization of testing — it’s just important to make sure it’s done right, that qualified doctors and labs are involved, that procedures are consistently followed, and patient questions and concerns properly and thoroughly addressed. There’s more than one way to structure a centralized system and we’d like to educate performers on ALL possible options. We think the proposed system can and must be improved upon if Performers’ rights are to be protected.
W! What could go wrong with a monopoly on testing? How do you hope to prevent that?
NN There’s a reason why antitrust laws exist, and why our legal system generally frowns upon monopolies in business. At bottom, a
monopoly means there is no market competition, and — like it or not — competition is often what motivates business owners to offer the highest quality service at the lowest prices.
Following that reasoning, if Performers have no choice but to test at one lab, there‘s a potential for that lab to develop a lax attitude with respect to quality and service. Because even if the service falls below standards, what are unhappy performers going to do — take their business elsewhere? They can’t! They’re not allowed! We believe that’s a potentially dangerous state of affairs. But we are always open to dialogue and debate. Our only agenda is to act in the best interests of Adult Performers.
W! How frequently would the association like for performers to be tested for maximum safety?
NN This is an issue we’re currently researching and once our research is complete we’ll share our findings.
W! The organization plans to facilitate dialogue and understanding between the gay and straight porn industries. What steps would the association like to take?
NN There’s a lot of tension between the gay the straight porn communities, and a lot of fear, hostility and misinformation. Obviously both sides would benefit from increased understanding and cooperation as well as unified safety and testing standards. We plan to facilitate some much needed dialogue so we can move forward as a group.
W! Providing résumés for all performers for perusal by potential costars is also on the docket, to be provided by agents. What issues do you hope to address with this system?
NN Performers want to know who they’re working with. Performer resumes would answer such basic questions as, how much experience does this performer have? What kind of scenes have they done? Who have they worked with? If you’re about to have sex with a person, you have a right to know something about their work history and level of experience. Performers don’t all share the same boundaries and/or proclivities, so they should have the opportunity to turn down a scene if a costar’s resume makes them uncomfortable.
W! Media outreach is also a part of the plan. What type of image makeover do you hope to provide for performers and the industry in general?
NN The image of the Adult Performer is not at all reflective of who we are today. There are men and women from all walks of life performing in adult films by choice; not out of “desperation” or because they lack the skill set to do anything else. The notion that every performer is a drug addict, a sex addict, a victim, or just a confused and exploited person, is patently false. Performers confront daily these damaging stereotypes and live with the resulting sense of isolation, loneliness and depression. In order to protect themselves from scorn and discrimination, Performers routinely lie about or hide what they do for a living. They may also disconnect from “civilian” friends — and even family — to avoid negative reactions and ultimatums.
W! Another goal is to be a group health plan for performers. Is health insurance a major issue in the industry?
NN It’s beyond major. It’s at a crisis level. Performers should and must have access to health insurance, and there is no item of higher importance on our agenda than this one. It’s untenable that any adult performer should go without basic medical care. We work with our bodies, and we kiss and touch each other on a daily basis. It is absolutely necessary that we get our physicals, mammograms, and wellness appointments as needed, and investigate and treat symptoms in a timely manner.
W! Education seems to be a big goal, also — you’re planning videos and workshops on industry-pertinent topics. Tell us what topics are being discussed and why they are important.
NN Important topics include health tips, safety tips, hygiene and etiquette. But our videos will also demonstrate what a Performer can and should expect to encounter on an Adult Film shoot. This includes paperwork and 2257 forms, and what those forms represent in terms of privacy. Also, Performers should know what type of scene they were booked for, and they shouldn’t feel pressured to agree to a change in terms when they arrive. They should know that a director and/or costar should not ask for “extras,” on camera or off. They should know that if they feel uncomfortable for any reason, they can and should leave and contact their agent or Adult Industry mentor.
We’ll also address the process of leaving the industry. Topics will include how to transition back into “civilian” life and provide resources to help navigate any rocky emotional/psychological terrain.
W! The association hopes to become a resource for information, support, and community in the industry, particularly for new performers. What do you wish people had told or helped you with when you when you started?
NN I wish that not only the permanence of digital media had been impressed upon us, but the implications that being in adult videos would have with regards to our personal privacy, via 2257 documentation and dissemination. I wish I had known exactly what privacy rights were being signed away before I took my first AIM test, so that I could have made an informed decision about whether I was okay with taking those risks. I wish there would have been an online community of adult performers who made themselves available to newcomers who had questions, or a website that would have alerted me to some of the health and safety issues about which every adult performer must become educated and navigate continuously throughout their career in adult films.
W! You’ve maintained that this is not meant to be a labor union, but it seems that many of the proposed changes would be effective only if every performer utilized the association’s resources. If providing a resume, using alternative testing facilities, requiring more recent tests in partners, and so on, were to be voluntary rather than mandatory, isn’t there a danger of two separate industries arising: one that utilizes the protocols of the association and one that doesn’t? How can this be addressed?
NN We’re hoping to change community standards so that the voluntary becomes the norm. After all, 30 day tests are a self-regulation that the Industry agreed to, but that standard wasn’t imposed upon us by external forces. Industries often agree to their own code of ethics and conduct, and the Adult Industry has already demonstrated an ability to do that. The APA is confident that if we introduce valid suggestions and solutions the Industry will respond. And with each area of improvement and success, confidence in the APA will grow. We look forward to proving ourselves.
W! What can our readers and adult performers do now to help the association?
NN Right now, just pay attention. Listen with a critical ear to what’s being said to you, both by us and anyone else who claims to have your best interests in mind. Don’t get angry or indifferent — just listen, and analyze the information being offered. Does it make sense to you? Why or why not? Use your voice. Question. Suggest. Comment. This is your industry. This is your health. This is your life. You have every right to be part of every single decision and debate. Beyond that, visit our website. Follow us on Twitter. Read our posts and updates, and stay aware.
We don’t want to charge Adult Performers for membership, but we will have a donations page available soon on our website for fans and supporters. We’re very grateful for those who wish to contribute to our cause.
—Interview conducted by the ever-curious and curiously evil Miss Lagsalot.