opinion

The Hypocrisy of Condom Studios

Chad Ryan
In Europe, you can be an adult performer and be accepted in your neighbors and community. In the U.S., however, shame is still associated with sex. That may be a reason for our industry’s success. Just as prohibition created unrest and desire in a country supposedly driven by spiritual values, we tend to want anything that resembles forbidden fruit.

This brings up even greater ethical and moral issues, many of which we grappled with at Satyr Films when we set out to produce our own content. As a bareback-based production company, how could we justify producing films of this kind in an era with so many sexual diseases including HIV/AIDS? The answer is as controversial as it is politically incorrect: All adult films that don’t have testing are unsafe — straight or gay, condom or not.

One of the overall problems with the adult industry is that it, like all profit-based sectors, is driven by market demand and money. While we may be a conservative country and industry publicly, behind closed doors the truth is that bareback sells and companies are earning more money than ever from this successful market segment.

This is where the denial syndrome comes into play. Most gay studios do not require HIV testing for their productions. So even though they are practicing so-called “safe sex,” it is possible that some of the performers are HIV positive. And a condom is not a complete solution for sexual safety.

While incidents of oral transmission are rare, it is ethically and morally wrong to accept the premise and odds of rare transmission. To practice anything other than the safest sexual protocols is irresponsible. That is why Satyr Films tests every model without exception. This PCR-DNA test is the most accurate in the industry and has been used by the straight industry for years. Furthermore, every shoot has a certified HIV counselor on call to provide performers with answers to any question they may have.

Knowledge is power, and making informed decisions is the key. Whether positive or negative, models can then make educated decisions about their choices instead of playing Russian roulette with their health status. This system has worked well for Satyr Films. While no model has opted out of a shoot, we have asked one model to leave as his test was not current. He was not within policy and the studio makes no exceptions.

At Satyr, we believe that untested sex is unsafe sex. Only tested sex is informed and safe. All production companies should require testing and disclose status between models within the same scene. A condom does not take into account pre-ejaculatory fluid that may be present during an oral scene. It does not take into account oral health and hygiene as an area of potential transmission. It does not take into account the individual’s general health and their resistance or vulnerability to infection.

So it is easily quantifiable that gay condom studios are not producing safe sex movies. In fact, many HIV positive performers are in so-called safe sex condom movies in a “don’t ask, don’t tell” environment — dripping “pre-cum” into other performers’ mouths.

There is further hypocrisy in the so-called safe world with cum shots onto or near an anus that has just been penetrated (compromised with microabrasions) for hours of prior filming. Facial cum shots are also prevalent along with cumswapping via mouth. How can this be deemed safe just because the performer used a condom? A condom is not a “get out of jail free” card. Owners of gay production companies (many of whom are straight and profiting at the risk of the health of our gay community), have no conscience if they are sleeping well at night knowing these facts.

The straight industry is mostly condom-free, but testing is the norm. They have proven that a testing system can be part of the process. If bareback is to be a dominant and continuing segment within our industry, driven by customer desire and profitability, it is the ethical responsibility of our industry to institute universal testing, condom or not. While it may be the primary method of transmission, anal sex is not the only way to acquire HIV. Warnings at the beginnings of our films should be uniform and provide educational links.

While we are in the entertainment business, it is important to note that in spite of warnings, some consumers will always commit stupid acts. Our customers should not try everything they see in our films at home any more than they should try to jump the Grand Canyon on their motorcycle, or imitate any other act created in the name of providing entertainment.

It’s time for a change — a change within the entire gay industry. We have enough battles surviving a changing economy, piracy, the religious right and an administration bent on the demise of the adult industry as a whole. We do not want our lack of vision to be our own epitaph as an industry.

Satyr Films is proud to have “Fully Tested Sex” (FTS) as part of our studio program. We have always tested and always will. While there will always be a controversy about the subject of bare-backing, I believe testing is overdue in the gay adult production arena.

Satyr films invites our colleagues, both condom and noncondom, to develop a set of standards, procedures and notices to protect ourselves, our right to freedom of expression in the creation of our content, and education of our customers — providing them with a safe sexual outlet through our adult content.

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