Syphilis-Positive Porn Performer Mr. Marcus Apologizes, Admits to Altered Test
LOS ANGELES — Adult performer Mr. Marcus told XBIZ Tuesday that he is “very sorry” for altering his STI test result that showed he tested positive for syphilis, saying he only worked with the altered test because his doctor assured him that he would not be contagious after taking a shot of penicillin and waiting at least 10 days before any sexual activity.
In an emotional interview that at one point brought the 18-year veteran star to tears, Mr. Marcus admitted that he made “mistakes” in recent weeks, but that he never once felt he was endangering anyone else by performing three times between July 24 and Aug. 8.
“I have to live with this, no one else does,” Mr. Marcus said. “I’m sorry. I’m very sorry. I did not think that this would come out like this. I’m sorry. All I can do is try to make some good happen. That’s it. I can do that. I can stand up. I’ve been taking a lot of shit. I can take it.”
Mr. Marcus made his first comments to the media at his San Fernando Valley office while accompanied by Free Speech Coalition Executive Director Diane Duke and FSC board member Christian Mann, who is also general manager of Evil Angel Productions. Both Duke and Mann, who praised Mr. Marcus’ “courage” for coming forward publicly, have been assisting the performer since Saturday, Aug. 18, when a genealogy, or record, of who he has worked with both after and before first testing positive was initiated by FSC’s Adult Production Health & Safety Services (APHSS).
Marcus said that as of Tuesday each of the female performers he had worked with since testing positive had so far re-tested negative for syphilis and that he had been in communication with all of them, which both Duke and Mann confirmed.
Mr. Marcus explained that he underwent a test with his personal physician on July 11. That test came back positive for syphilis on July 12, and after his doctor informed him of the diagnosis, he received a shot on July 13 and was told at that time to wait “seven to 10 days” before sex.
“Once I did that shot, I felt pretty confident. Every doctor I talked to up to that point had said get the shot. That’s it,” Marcus said. “If you’ve had the syphilis in your system a lot longer than that, then you need three shots. But based on what he was able to determine from my blood, and looking at my symptoms, he had said the one shot was good enough. So I did the one shot. I didn’t have to do anything else. There was no follow-up.”
Marcus said that including his initial visit to his personal doctor on July 11 that he has taken five STI tests, two with his doctor and three with adult industry testing lab Talent Testing Services (TTS), “because I just didn’t understand what was going on.” His first test with TTS after the positive diagnosis was on July 21.
He said that he didn’t know why his test continued to show “reactive” for syphilis when he had already gotten the shot and waited for the 10-day period. Plus, the TTS test continued to show the number figure for Marcus’ RPR level, or Rapid Plasma Reagin that is used to track the progress of the infection over time.
Marcus said that during the first week of August he returned to TTS because the production company for which he was scheduled to shoot required a new test from everyone. And when he arrived, he was told by a clinician that “your numbers are still there.”
“The syphilis thing was still reading, and I looked at them and they looked concerned, and they said, ‘Maybe we can omit it from the actual test. When we submit your blood, we can just not have them test for that,’” Marcus claimed. “And I was like, ‘can you do that?’ [They said] ‘I think so.’
“And so they sat down at the computer and started clicking on things. And I didn’t see what they were clicking on but I saw that they were clicking on something.”
Marcus alleged that a TTS clinician told him that the part of his test that shows “reactive or non-reactive” for syphilis could be removed from his test “because it’s always going to be there.”
“I get over there to pick up my test and they told me that the numbers were still there, and they gave me the printed copy of my test without the syphilis. It was omitted,” Marcus said. “We can remove it because it’s always going to be there. The look on my face was just kind of like, ‘oh, I still gotta deal with this and she was like, ‘well is there anything that we can do in the computer to like omit it.’ And he said, ‘well maybe when we send the blood in, we can ask them not to test for that.’ But, they tested anyways. They were doing it anyway. So when the blood came, they tested it like they normally do, but when they printed out the test it was omitted. But still, that number was on the bottom. That number was always going to be there. That was there, but the syphilis reactive part was gone.”
Marcus added, “There’s a man and a woman there.’ And the guy was the one that sat down at the computer and started trying to change it for me. To try to make it so that that’s not tested for.”
But Sixto Pacheco, president of Talent Testing Services, on Wednesday categorically denied that Mr. Marcus’ test had been altered by someone who works at his lab.
“Our system does not permit the altering of test results. Our system does not allow that to happen,” Pacheco told XBIZ.
Marcus claimed that the male and female clinicians at the TTS office thought they were helping him out.
“You wouldn’t do anything unless consciously, you feel like you can still live with it,” Marcus said. “I think with [the TTS clinicians], I had been treated. I took that shot. That’s all you can do.”
In addition to his claim that TTS omitted part of his test result that was printed for him by a lab clinician in early August, Marcus said he did alter his TTS test from July 21 by making a photo copy of the test after folding it in half. The only person he gave this version to was Mark Blazing from Blazing Bucks, who noticed a discrepancy with the test on Aug. 7, Marcus said. Blazing did not wish to comment at post time, but indicated he would be making a statement in the coming days.
XBIZ on Aug. 16 reported that one unidentified male performer in the Los Angeles porn community had tested positive for syphilis and had worked with an altered test three times, according to talent agents Shy Love and Derek Hay. Marcus on Tuesday did not dispute that story.
“When I got the test on the 21st, I didn’t really know what to do because it was still showing up. What I did was I folded the test and made a copy of it with that part omitted, the reactive. OK, the number was still on the bottom,” Marcus said. “And I made a copy of it, and I just had that. I didn’t use it. I just had it. I just wanted to see if I could do it.
"And when Mark asked me to bring in a copy of the test, I brought in that copy. I didn’t want any questions asked, I didn’t want to get into this .... And he took it. And then he called me, maybe it was a week later, or less. And he asked me, ‘This test doesn’t look right. Do you have another version of it?’ And I said, ‘Well, I do.’
“The way it went down was kind of like [Mark said], ‘Marcus, I need another test from you. This test is not right. I gotta let somebody know that you altered this test. It looks altered. It doesn’t look right. I’m going to get Derek on the phone.’”
It was a female performer represented by Hay, the owner of LA Direct Models, that had worked with Marcus in the scene for Blazing.
Marcus continued, “We were going back and forth. I didn’t think that was necessary. But he was adamant. So Derek gets on the phone and says, ‘You’re altering tests and I’ve seen it. And you’ve got this fake test.’ [Adult Talent Managers owner] Shy was supposedly on the phone, but she never said a word if she was. He said, ‘we need the original copy.’ And I said, ‘OK, I’ll email it to you. And when I did that, I also scanned in the copy from TTS to show him my test and their test side by side, and that they had omitted it. Because I had asked them to. But I had omitted it because I was trying to avoid that discussion, that inquiry as to why it was reactive.
“For the longest time in my heart I really thought I was doing the right thing by omitting it and moving forward and not admitting it. But I eventually had to just admit that I changed that test.”
Marcus claimed that folding the test and making a copy of it made it look “identical to what TTS did and the way I did it.”
“Where it says reactive, I just folded it, and I lined it up perfectly where it would be covered,” he said.
Marcus added that, “Ultimately, it’s the safety of the performers. I exposed a loophole.”
“I’ve shown you that the way it worked for me, probably somebody could do it 10 times worse,” Marcus reasoned. “Not everybody’s running around showing [their tests]. We’re dealing with syphilis now. … And we’re dealing with it in our industry. And I’m the guy. I didn’t want to be the guy, but I’m the guy. Because of who I am, oh yeah, the guns are out.
"But the learning curve, what I found, was huge. A lot of people in this industry didn’t know, were totally unaware how syphilis works. How this test reads it. I tried to cover it up. I didn’t want to have to share that part. Because I said it was like the scarlet letter. It’s the word. Syphilis, whoa. Mr. Marcus, syphilis? Mr. Marcus, the one I worked with? The one that everybody works with? The one that’s been in this industry forever?"
Marcus said the first scene he did after the positive syphilis test was on July 24.
“I figured I’d give the medicine enough time to work. And I had lost work. I canceled stuff, so I decided to come back,” he said.
Marcus said that after his July 21 test at Talent Testing Service came back “reactive” for syphilis, he canceled the shoot he had scheduled for July 23.
“Actually I was fine, but I didn’t know that,” he said. “I went and called my doctor up, ‘What’s going on?’ and he said, ‘It’s going to be in your system. It’s going to stay in your system. It’s going to read in your system, because that’s how syphilis is.’ And I was like OK. At that point, I felt OK that I can continue to work because he said it’s just always going to read that way.”
A day later, Marcus went ahead with performing in his first scene since the positive result because he believed based on what his doctor told him that the medication had sufficient time to work and he was not contagious. Marcus said that because he’s so well known among directors in the industry that they usually don’t ask him for a copy of his STI test when he arrives on the set, and that was the case on July 24.
“I show up on set most of the times and it’s really between me and the performer,” he said.
“That specific shoot didn’t ask for the test. They just wanted to see something visual, so I had it on my cell phone. I showed it. But the way I showed it was, I showed, you know, my HIV was clear. My gonorrhea and chlamydia were fine. You didn’t see the syphilis part of the test because of the way I showed it. And I did that on the 24th and then I started shooting at that point.”
Marcus acknowledged that “this is where my mistake came in.”
“This is where I made the big mistake. I just didn’t want to have to explain that part of the test,” Marcus said. “I knew that I had tested and been treated and this was always going to be on the test. I didn’t know how to explain it. And there were no protocols. I had never had a test like this before. I knew I had been treated from what I researched but, I didn’t know how to explain that. I wanted to keep that to myself.”
Marcus continued, “The stigma with syphilis is, you get it and you’re always going to infect people. You’re always going to be infectious, and it’s not true. You get that shot, it’s penicillin. It’s like [treatment for] chlamydia and gonorrhea, it starts to work in seven to 10 days.
“Every doctor, from doctors in this industry, to my personal doctor, says seven to 10 days. That’s allowed that medicine to work. Then you’re fine. Then you can proceed. Then you can go on. That was my mistake. If I had known better, I could have educated other people in the process. I could’ve told them. This is what happened to me. This is what I did. I’ve already been tested. Here’s my medicine. Here’s the day I took it. And I could explain that. But it’s in hindsight that’s 20/20.”
Marcus said that initially, TTS didn’t know that he had already seen his personal doctor and been diagnosed and treated.
“Unfortunately, the way this industry works and the way this testing starts to unfold, there was no doctor at TTS to talk to. You’re dealing with two clinicians. And I had this rapport with them that was very casual, very conversational, like, ‘hey Marcus, here’s your test. You might want to do something about that.’ Well I did and it’s always going to show up like that. … So they can’t really help me,” he said.
Marcus claimed that TTS did not offer to notify anyone who may have worked with him since he first tested positive there on July 21, “until the last time I came back in there and I asked for the test to have that part omitted.”
“I took three tests and it kept coming up and I was like what the hell,” he said. “I kept waiting for the medicine to wipe it out completely. So the third time around, they gave me this card and said you might want to contact this doctor.”
“But I was already dealing with my own physician. Any time I had any questions or anything, I would call him, ‘Like what’s going on with my test. I took this and I went and re-tested and my blood is still showing that it’s in there.’ And then I asked him about side effects. I asked him, ‘is there anything that still shows I have it in my system?’ He said, ‘you got the one shot, you’re fine.’
“And that’s pretty much the attitude that every doctor that I talked to [had]. I even went back to the place where I got the medicine and I got the shot. And the place where I saw the doctor are two different places. And I even went back to the medicine place to get another shot because I thought it wasn’t working. And that doctor says, ‘you don’t need another shot. You’re fine.’ So I walked out of there without getting another shot.”
Marcus said he doesn’t deserve blame that “I brought syphilis into this industry,” and believes that he became infected on a set, not in his personal life.
“I didn’t give it to myself, No. 1. I had no symptoms. I had been testing frequently like everybody else," he said.
Marcus, who expressed that he wants to continue "doing business" in the adult industry, concluded, “I wish I would’ve brought up my personal medical records first-hand, and used that to show the steps I’m taking or took. I just would’ve handled it differently. That’s it. I just would’ve done things differently. I didn’t have nothing to be ashamed of, but I instantly felt it. I felt like this is something that I can’t share with anybody.”
FSC’s Duke said that since APHSS was already in contact with the performers with whom Marcus worked after his positive test, her main concern was working on the genealogy for the performers that he worked with prior to finding out he was infected.
“What’s really important is if somebody knows that you have a positive for syphilis, the only way to protect who he’s worked with and all the other people in the industry that they’re going to work with is to make sure you’ve done the partner identification,” Duke said. “You have to be able to consolidate that.
“And because of what’s going on in Budapest and the upswing there. We’ve increased testing to every month and starting [Wednesday] those performers will be getting the first prophylactic treatment for syphilis."
Christian Mann said APHSS had already begun conducting a genealogy for European and American performers who have worked together in recent months prior to the outbreak in Hungary being discovered.
“Look, you might come back with the test that’s out there now that’s non-reactive,” Mann said. “But all the more reason to take the prophylactic treatment because you can have that dormancy on the test result, yet may be carrying [the infection]. Not necessarily infectious, but we’re doing the right thing as best we can. … There’s definitely a crisis in Budapest and we have to make the No. 1 priority partner notification, and I’ll go one step further, partner education, about what is the right thing to do at this moment.”
Duke concluded, “Yes definitely mistakes were made. And I know for me to say this out loud, this man took a lot of courage to come forward and do this. ... It does take a lot of courage to come up and admit the mistakes that you made in manipulating a test. Yes, there were mistakes made. But because Marcus came forward we were able to start the genealogy, which is so critical. And we were also able to start developing our strategic plan."
She added, “We spent three hours with Dr. Peter Miao [from Cutting Edge Testing] on Sunday. I was on the phone with our doctors’ network, and the head of that network and Dr. Miao were speaking and there were calling microbiologists. We’ve talked to the nation’s utmost expert on syphilis. So we’ve been pulling in all the experts, the great minds.”
Mann stressed that FSC is not trying to justify Marcus' actions.
“The Free Speech Coalition is not whitewashing or condoning or excusing the behavior that Marcus had that was inappropriate," Mann said. "Some of it based on lack of information. Some of it based on genuine belief that he wasn’t endangering anybody and some of it... Some deceit that was based on a self-serving agenda that can’t be excused. The behavior can’t be excused, but we don’t throw our own away and we’re not setting ourselves up as judge and jury of anyone.
“We’re here to help the industry and I maintain that showing compassion for a brother and giving anybody the dignity to rebut, to make a statement on their own behalf. And most importantly, creating an environment where it’s safe for them to come forward and start the genealogy.”