LOS ANGELES — A group led by producer/director Nica Noelle and performer January Seraph has formed the Adult Performers Association (APA).
“Performers are often told they’re disposable and easily replaced,” Noelle told XBIZ. “But in reality they’re the heart and soul of our business, and keeping them healthy, happy and safe should be our first priority.”
A website that outlines APA’s goals launched this week at AdultPerformers.org.
Noelle said that she and Seraph decided to move forward with the creation of APA after Noelle attended an informal gathering of industry talent last Wednesday in Woodland Hills, Calif., where she proposed some of the ideas that now make up the foundation of the organization.
“I heard about this meeting on Twitter and by the time the meeting came up I already had an outline for what we were thinking about doing,” Noelle said, adding that she and Seraph had been discussing these themes for weeks.
The APA says in its Mission Statement that, “APA endeavors to create a recognized community of adult performers whose wellness interests are addressed and supported by the APA.”
According to the APA’s Mission, those interests include education, a group healthcare plan, more information about issues that affect talent and a venue in which performers can discuss these topics. Further, the APA strives to have a unified “voice and representation in policy making” that affects porn talent as well as improve adult performers’ image in the mainstream media.
Noelle, a five-year industry veteran originally from the East Coast, acknowledged there have been some early naysayers about what APA is setting out to do, but she assured, “our intentions are good.”
“We’re getting so many pieces in place right now and figuring out who’s going to do what over the long term,” Noelle said. “Once a couple of the key pieces are in place we’ll hold a more formal meeting.”
In her first interview about APA, Noelle explained how the organization came together, its primary objectives and long-term goals:
XBIZ: What inspired the creation of APA?
NN: I think it was a general feeling of anxiety, concern and, to some degree, outrage. Several events took place in the past year that left performers feeling exposed and unsafe. From porn terrorist website Porn Wiki Leaks, to the sudden closing of AIM Healthcare, to the recent HIV scare, the adult industry has become fertile ground for rumor, fear and hostility. The creation of APA is, among other things, an attempt to provide real information and resources so Adult Performers can enjoy peace of mind and a better quality of life.
Would it be accurate to characterize APA as a talent union?
It’s not a union. But it’s working to become a trade organization for adult performers and will hopefully attain 501(c)(3) status within the next year. We won’t enforce work standards or make demands, but we are aiming to earn the good will and cooperation of those in the Industry who want better resources and a healthier workplace for everyone concerned. We believe adult performers want to make informed decisions, and we’d like to help facilitate that process. Involvement is voluntary, but through our efforts we hope to earn the confidence and trust of our fellow Industry workers, and influence change accordingly.
How does APA differ from what Free Speech Coalition recently created — Adult Production Health and Safety Services (APHSS)?
My understanding is that APHSS.org consists of “FSC-approved” medical facilities and testing labs. And one of the goals behind their development appears to be the “centralization” of STD tests. This is one of the many issues we’re looking at right now, because we have some questions. We firmly believe performers have a right to consider the pros and cons of any decision that affects them, especially when it comes to privacy, health and safety.
Our goal is not to rival or compete with any other organization, but rather to provide performers with information and resources. Our political agenda is simply to educate, support and empower adult performers.
What is the mission of the Adult Performers Association?
First and foremost, we want to provide assistance and resources. High on our “to-do” list is to find a suitable group healthcare plan that industry workers can opt into if they choose. Many performers don’t have health insurance because as independent contractors they don’t have access to a group plan, and individual plans can be prohibitively expensive. In recent years we’ve seen many beloved, legendary performers fall ill and lose everything they own simply because they had no health insurance or other benefits in place.
We also hope to create a network of Industry and other professionals (medical, psychological, legal) to educate and assist performers. Our website will feature regular articles on issues that concern performers most. We’ll also have a “Performers Only” forum where we can debate, discuss or just chat with each other, away from fans and “lookiloos.”
What kind of positive change would APA hope to influence?
The change will be multi-layered. First, we aim to promote a sense of community. So many performers feel isolated and vulnerable, especially those whose family and friends are not supportive of their [adult industry] career. Second, a sense of emotional security. Just knowing there’s someone to call, and someone who cares about what happens to them — on set and off. Performers are often told they’re disposable and easily replaced. But in reality they’re the heart and soul of our business, and keeping them healthy, happy and safe should be our first priority.
Education, information, analysis, dialogue, debate — these are the things APA plans to take part in. Through collecting data, consulting with experts, analyzing options and providing resources, we want to earn the privilege of representing adult performers to the industry, society and media.
Who is heading it up?
Several people were involved in the initial planning stage. January Seraph has been doing research for years in the hope of finding other committed people to work with. Madison Young was simultaneously doing much the same thing, and had even purchased a web domain to use for that purpose. But it was only recently that I felt the need to become more politically involved. To make a long story short, I’d rather haplessly walked into the middle of a political maelstrom, and I soon realized it was time to get up to speed on industry issues. As my knowledge of those issues grew, so did my questions and concerns. So I decided I was either going to fight to make things better, or get out of the adult industry altogether.
Besides the names I mentioned, there are a half a dozen or so other committed volunteer staff, and many supporters who are "unofficially" contributing legal research and other services. We’re very encouraged by how many people offered to help us get started.
How can one become a member? What is the criteria?
The only criteria is to be an adult performer. (You can be other things, too, as long as you perform some percentage of the time.) We are not asking membership fees right now, and hopefully we’ll never have to ask. To become involved you can contact us directly, and there’s also a page on our website to leave us your contact information.
Obviously, we’re just getting started and there are a lot of puzzle pieces we’ve yet to bring together, but we consider ourselves live and operating right now, and we encourage performers (and others) to contact us.
When is the next meeting?
The first meeting, which I did not organize but heard about on Twitter, was an informal get-together for industry workers. Another performer had organized it, and I became involved on the tail end of that effort. I gave an informal proposal on behalf of the APA, and the performers in attendance shared their fears and concerns on a variety of topics. Despite the rather chaotic atmosphere, ultimately I found the meeting productive. Performers like Mark Wood, Ela Darling, Tee Reel, Alana Evans, Dylan Ryder — even Manuel Ferrara — came to talk, listen, and gauge others’ anxiety levels against their own. What emerged is that performers are fearful, and they are wary. They don’t know whom to trust, and they’re tired of being let down. But there is still a great deal of hope within them that change is possible. There was a lot of energy in that room.
I think all performers have a bit of Daffy Duck within us — a stubborn belief we can beat the odds, no matter how many sticks of dynamite have already gone off in our face. We go “back to old drawing board,” devise a new plan, and suddenly we're bursting with enthusiasm again. You know, "It's so crazy, it just might work!" And despite the defeatist, negative attitudes of some, we believe this association will be a success. There's a lot of work to do, but it's hard to imagine a worthier cause or a more deserving group of people.