Tera Patrick Sues Escort Agency

Matt O'Conner
VAN NUYS, Calif. — Vivid Entertainment contract starlet Tera Patrick is reportedly suing a Los Angeles-area escort agency for using her image in its advertising without her permission.

Patrick told the WB Network’s Celebrity Justice that she was appalled when she saw her name and likeness being appropriated to promote the escort agency in a Los Angeles-area newspaper in December.

Copy beneath the ad read, “Tera Patrick available for in/out call, call me direct,” and included a phone number. Patrick, however, insisted she never gave the company permission to use her image in ad and has no affiliation whatsoever with the agency. In addition to invading her privacy, Patrick also said the ad is damaging to her reputation because it gives fans the false impression that she is moonlighting as an escort.

“I'm very angry,” Patrick told CJ. “[The ad] portrays me in a light I don't want to be portrayed. My fans definitely had the impression that I was out there actively working [as an escort. I don't have anything against any of the girls who do that, but it's just not for me. When I meet my fans I have my clothes on.”

Patrick said she is going public with the lawsuit to call attention to what she says is a common practice among escort agencies and phone sex companies. Patrick’s attorney David Beitchman told CJ there are many entities that run ads falsely claiming an affiliation with adult film actresses without gaining the stars’ consent or compensating them. But most stars simply ignore the illegal appropriation or find it too difficult to pursue legal action.

“[The companies are] very careful about hiding and covering their tracks,” Beitchman said. “If you call this number, it doesn't go to an office, it goes to another phone number, and it’s possibly routed through another phone number, so they keep themselves hidden.”

Another complication, according to Patrick, is that many adult stars sign model release forms early in their careers unknowingly giving companies broad rights over the use of their images.

“They can airbrush a penis on you if they want,” she told CJ.

Patrick is not new to the litigation arena. In December of 2002, she severed ties with Digital Playground and brought suit against the company contending she was not paid for her appearance in several Digital Playground productions. Digital Playground filed a countersuit contending that it owned exclusive rights to the name “Tera Patrick” and that Patrick could produce adult entertainment only for them until the deal expires in January, 2007.

Despite her ongoing lawsuits with Digital Playground, Patrick signed a two-year exclusive contract with Vivid Video in December, 2003. The contract calls for her to appear in at least three Vivid productions over the course of the contract.