LOS ANGELES — Adult performer Alex Gonz broke his silence on Thursday, addressing the public allegations that he may have worked in sex scenes in recent months despite knowingly testing positive for hepatitis.
In a conference call set up by his agency, LA Direct Models, Gonz said that he does have trace levels of hepatitis C in his system, but medical specialists have told him those levels are so low that he has never been infectious. In addition, Gonz said he would never have considered working in porn scenes if he was.
The 10-year veteran performer explained he didn’t know for sure when he may have first contracted hep C, but he believes it likely was when he was a newborn and needed a blood transfusion.
“I’ve had it since I was born,” Gonz said. “I’ve never put anyone’s life at risk by doing anything harmful or dangerous.”
Gonz’s hepatitis status became an industry-wide controversy when adult star Lisa Ann alleged that a guy she was booked to perform with on Aug. 11 was positive for hepatitis, but was still working despite the test result.
Not long after being booked to work with Gonz on Aug. 7, Lisa Ann said that he sent her a photo copy of his STI test electronically and she noticed it was from LabCorp. Tests from somewhere other than CET or Talent Testing Services (TTS) are not typical, Lisa Ann said.
She told XBIZ that because it was unusual that Gonz presented her with a test from LabCorp, she was compelled to call both CET and TTS, receiving a verbal confirmation from both that he was “unavailable” to work.
Then she logged into the Free Speech Coalition's Performer Availability Screening Services (PASS) database to check Gonz's status, and saw it was listed as “unavailable.”
She said at the time she believed Gonz was positive for some type of hepatitis because “it's process of elimination, and plus other people knew about it when I talked to them.”
The allegations sparked a week of back-and-forth statements and speculation about how Lisa Ann reached her conclusion, why Gonz was testing at LabCorp and whether he knowingly was working while positive for some form of the disease. But amid the flurry of allegations, Gonz chose to remain silent until Thursday.
“I did what I felt was the most responsible thing to do, to get away and take care of it on my own and go to real doctors and get a real determination,” said Gonz, who has no plans to return to performing in porn scenes, unless he is fully cleared of hepatitis antibodies.
He said the reason he came forward on Thursday was to “settle the score and try to get my name cleared and let people know that I’m not the monster that I’ve been [made out to be].”
“I’m not that type of person,” said Gonz, who has more than 750 adult movie credits. “Obviously, I respect everyone’s opinion. I respect the industry protocols. I don’t expect people to work with people who have something, even if they aren’t infectious. At this point I would like to try other endeavors in the industry. I’m not sure what I’m going to do, but I definitely know that performing-wise, I can’t perform.”
Gonz said he first tested positive for hep C antibodies in 2010, when AIM Healthcare was still the adult industry’s only performer testing facility. At the time Vivid Entertainment was asking for hepatitis B tests for talent working in its movies, according to the performer. After taking a second test at AIM in January 2010, Gonz said he was told, “You’re not in any danger. You’re good. You’re fine. We’re going to clear you for work.”
The hepatitis C antibodies were never an issue again for Gonz until June of this year, when he tested at Cutting Edge Testing and that result indicated antibodies for hepatitis C. A separate test from CET cleared Gonz for all the other STDs and he used that one to continue working in scenes.
The reason for two different test documents was that CET temporarily began testing for hepatitis in June before it added the test as part of the standard PASS-approved panel on Aug. 19.
In addition, Gonz said that he was cleared for work by the PASS database (formerly APHSS) as recently as July 31. But by the time the controversy surrounding him began on Aug. 11, the PASS database had him listed as “unavailable” for work. Gonz said he doesn’t know what day the change in his PASS status was made, or who made it, and he added that no one notified him of the change.
Derek Hay, owner of LA Direct Models, told XBIZ Aug. 12 that he had no evidence whatsoever that would support Lisa Ann’s claim “and any information that we have at the agency shows him testing cleared for work.”
“And through all of the last three to four months when what must be the time period that Lisa Ann alleges a positive test result, we have no record or information that he has not been cleared for work," Hay said at the time.
On Aug. 14, Hay and Direct Models released an additional statement responding to Lisa Ann’s allegations.
Hay pointed out that Gonz booked most of his own work and that Direct Models booked only one shoot in July and one in August for him.
In September and October, Gonz said he took a series of blood tests and exams with his physicians, including an infectious disease specialist. In the past few days, Gonz was informed again that he does have trace levels of hepatitis C in his system. Because of the low viral load, Gonz’s doctors are not recommending treatment. In addition, he has been advised that any treatment would probably not be approved by his health insurance because it is not deemed necessary.
Gonz, who has another appointment with his infectious disease specialist on Friday, said he is still weighing whether to go through with treatment that would cost $50K, but that doctors have assured him would completely clear him of the hepatitis antibodies within a matter of months.
Gonz said Thursday he and Lisa Ann always had a mutual respect for each other—they had performed together before—until this situation.
“The way she handled this, she handled it all wrong,” Gonz said. “She ruined my reputation of 10 years in the business in such a short time period. I don’t know what I even have to say to her at this point.”
Hay suggested Thursday that Lisa Ann may have known private information about Gonz’s hepatitis status prior to going public on Twitter, and that she harbors a “grudge” against LA Direct Models, where she once worked as an agent. That was a reason she suggested that the agency should have known better when it came to Gonz’s testing status and prevented him from working, Hay added.
“Obviously she knew because she put the story out there with such conviction,” Hay said. “But we weren’t privy to the information. We did not know about 2010. That was private between him and AIM. We did not know about the low-level trace amount of antibodies.”
Lisa Ann told XBIZ Thursday, “No one gave me any information other than the few things I had. Alex sent me a copy of his test. The second thing I had was he was not cleared to work in the APHSS database. I didn’t need any more information. I didn’t need to ask anybody. It was common sense.”
Lisa Ann added, “The big picture here is something wasn’t right. I did the responsible thing as a performer, because I’m not going back and forth with this.
“I took the time to bring to light a scenario that could’ve affected people negatively. I did the responsible thing as a performer and a producer. This could’ve been handled much differently.
“Had other people gone about this the right way, then we wouldn’t be having this talk. I don’t regret what I did. I do regret anybody being sick in any way, shape or form. I don’t have any ill-will. This is what I do for a living. I did what I thought was best. It’s always easier for people to point the finger than it is for people to take the blame.”
On Aug. 19, FSC’s PASS began adding screening tests for hepatitis B and C to its regular panels for performers. Plans to add these tests had been in the works for the past few months and were scheduled to go into effect on Sept. 1. However, at the request of several industry stakeholders, the new protocols were fast-tracked.
Gonz, who said he had been spending time with close friends and family while he’s been out of work, reiterated that he has “never lied on or tampered with any test result, nor have I ever concealed or deceived the industry with any test result that could negatively impact the thousands of talented performers I am proud to call my colleagues.”
“I have consistently been cleared to perform by all of the testing facilities I have ever been tested at, and never been given any reason to believe otherwise,” Gonz said.
“What most people may not know is that I was always completely cleared to perform by the same testing facilities that I tested at for years. I am not a doctor—I rely on the same testing facilities that thousands of performers in our community use to tell me whether I am OK to perform or not. When a professional testing company for the adult industry specifically clears me and tells me I am OK to perform, I don’t have any reason not to believe them. I have never, ever been told I cannot perform on set for any reason, by anyone.”