“The department became aware from a reputable source in the neighborhood that troubling practices were happening related to those sites. The issue is disease transmission,” Tim Haddock, public information director for the CDPH, told XBIZ.
Flava Works and CocoDorm specialize in gay “blatino” ethnic content. CocoBoyz.com also offers escort services.
Haddock said that the CDPH began an investigation into the matter after local HIV service providers expressed concern to Christopher Brown, assistant commissioner for HIV/AIDS/STD programs at the CDPH, that their clients had appeared on one of the FlavaWorks sites engaging in unsafe sex.
“We also became aware of cases of HIV linked to some of the models,” Brown told the Chicago Free Press.
Brown added that the source alleged the business was engaged in questionable labor practices that “bordered on legal servitude,” charging models for things like food and bed linens and leaving them in debt.
Brown urged the Department of Public Affairs and Licensing to issue a cease-and-desist order while his department conducted its investigation since CocoDorm had never been granted a license to operate in the city. Police and other officials visited the company’s Lakeview, Ill., offices on April 20, but Haddock said the apartment was empty at the time of the visit.
On May 1, Flava Works issued a press release titled “CocoDorm Survives After Natural and Political Attacks,” claiming the office was shut down due to strong winds that damaged the building’s façade and that normal operations will resume this summer at a location outside the city.
“Last week, a free local paper incorrectly reported that officials linked the CocoDorm to STD and HIV transmissions,” the release said.
“Contrary to the article, there has never been an HIV outbreak in the CocoDorm,” the release continued. “While the CocoDorm was the target of a municipal investigation, because of alleged outbreaks within the Dorm, the Health Department did not close the Dorm. No civil or criminal investigations have been launched.”
The release also said that CocoDorm models are required to wear condoms and are tested for HIV and other STDs, that food and linens are provided free to the models and that the site is still active and updated daily with new streams, photos and blogs.
At press time, Flavaworks.com was not operational.