What to Do When Your Favorite Porn Star Does Something Awful

Here’s what you do when you find out someone you have known personally and really, really liked as a person and a performer for years has done something totally not-ok that has affected thousands of other people: you get really, really conflicted about how to respond to the revelation.

Earlier this month, I heard that a moratorium had been placed on all adult film production because a high-level male performer (anonymous at the time) had tested positive for syphilis and was rumored to have worked since testing positive. This, of course, is a majorly big Bad Thing. Syphilis, of course, is easily treatable, but the idea that despite the rigorous testing procedures the industry tries to abide by, someone had not only become infected but then worked without telling people he’d been infected… Not cool. I won’t go into why this is such a big deal  here, because Danny Wylde more than adequately covered the ins and outs, ups and downs, of the whole situation on his blog much better than I ever could. And, with a moratorium on filming, he had a lot of time to think about the whole thing. Please read this for a comprehensive and well-stated take on what this means for the industry. The major problem with this situation was that, since the rumors started flying well before it was revealed who the person in question actually was, literally every working adult performer was at risk and nobody knew where to start. Medical professionals suggested that every single performer (there’s no real way to know how many people that is, but I’d put the number well into the thousands) get a penicillin shot to safeguard their health and to keep any existing infections from spreading, since syphilis can take 3 months after infection to test positive (three months to wait for your positive result without working is a long time) and it only takes around 10 days for a penicillin shot to take effect. This makes sense in a way, but plenty of people didn’t feel comfortable getting an antibiotic injection that they didn’t know they needed, and so on. Lots of major feather-ruffling happened.

I was watching the situation with interest and noting the big holes in the current testing and treatment protocols in the industry and hoping that some sort of big lesson would be learned.

And then the performer responsible came forward, and my jaw totally dropped open. It was Mr. Marcus, an 18-year veteran of the industry, who’s been one of my closest contacts and most-loved performers ever since my very first industry convention in 2009. I freaking adore this guy. He’s always been incredibly sweet to me. Respectful, soft-spoken but very, very intelligent, kind. I’ve always thought of him as a particularly stand-up guy, and he’s one of the shining examples I often use when explaining to people unfamiliar with the industry that really quality individuals with plenty of other options and talents go into pornography because they like it. I interviewed him for my art show, Consent (you can watch the videos here) and got a lot of comments from visitors about how smart and articulate he was. So finding out that he not only performed after having tested positive for syphilis, but doctored his tests knowingly to do so absolutely took me aback. It’s not quite as bad as it sounds–he was tested by a personal physician and treated, canceled his shoots until the time his doctor had recommended he abstain had passed, and then went back to work, but his new test also showed positive for syphilis because, according to him, he was no longer capable of transmitting the disease, but the bloodwork was still showing that he had it in his system. He didn’t think he could transmit it to anyone, and so far, everyone he worked with has tested negative.

But all that, “Well, he didn’t really hurt anyone” backtracking I find myself wanting to start on doesn’t really work here. Yes, syphilis is easy to treat, and yes, it seems like he really hasn’t infected anyone, and yes, obviously the testing system here is flawed. Especially if, as he alleges, the people at Talent Testing Services helped him doctor his test (they say they didn’t and that it’s not even possible to do so). But the real onus obviously lies on nobody but Mr. Marcus himself. After nearly two decades in this industry, he not only holds a place as one of porn’s most respected and reliable performers, but he damn well knows better than to behave this way. He has apologized publicly, saying, “I have to live with this, no one else does. I’m sorry. I’m very sorry. I did not think that this would come out like this. I’m sorry.” And I believe him. He really is a sweet man. I feel certain that he needed the money he got from working after his ten-day hiatus or he would have waited until things had been sorted. I’m all for forgiveness and I hope that Mr. Marcus isn’t forever black-listed from his profession for this monumental lapse in judgment. But it was a monumental lapse. He knew what he was doing, and he knew that his decision, if uncovered, could put thousands of people out of work until things got sorted. He knew that disease outbreaks in the industry reflect badly on everyone, especially with the AHF breathing down the industry’s neck about condom mandates. He knew that he could have been exposing people to an STI. And he could have chosen to disclose his status and work things out with the people he was filming with. But instead he chose to pull a real dick move.

I just don’t know what to think. Yeah, we all fuck up sometimes, and sometimes those fuck-ups are more grave than others. This one was particularly massive. And I just can’t believe Mr. Marcus would have done this. But he did. I feel awful for the guy–from our interactions I can tell he’s a sensitive individual who takes what others think very seriously. But I also feel angry that he made such a terrible and destructive decision. I kind of want to cuddle him and make him feel better; he’s a very sensitive guy and I’m sure he feels just awful right now. But I also kind of want to call him and screech: “What the fuck were you thinking?”

Ah, conflicted emotions about the porn industry… And so it goes. So here’s what I do when I find out my favorite porn star did something awful: I feel really confused.

1 Comment on What to Do When Your Favorite Porn Star Does Something Awful

  1. I think he should be banned from the industry for life. What he did was unconscionable and actually actionable in court certainly civil and potentially criminally as well.

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