Of Testing and Bareback Porn (probably too long you won’t read but you should)

written by Alias74

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Recently the internet sparked with the gay porn bareback debut of previously "condom-only" performer Trenton Ducati for self described "international porn powerhouse" Lucas Entertainment. This past Friday marked part two of his flip flop bareback scene with porn god Blue Bailey. And then hirsute sex pot Charlie Harding not only recently posted a first time "bottoming" clip on Men.com but also shot a bareback clip with power bottom bareback extraordinaire-bear Mike Dozer over at Jake Cruise Media. Harding, in addition to tweeting his heart-on about the shoot, issued a statement in the form of a post on his personal blog.

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Based on the direction that the gay porn industry is going, it really came as no surprise that Ducati and Harding have joined the ranks of previously mainstream gay porn studio performers who have jumped the velvet rope from condom-only to bareback. And frankly, an astonishing number of recent performers have done so: many to polarizing reception by fans and bloggers – Villification on one hand, praise and support on the other. Ostensibly neither event is HUGE news. The leap to bareback for both seems to be a career trajectory rather common amongst MOST if not ALL of the popular gay porn stars of the last decade or so: that of, doing a number of scenes at condom-only porn studios, even taking to the soapbox to strongly advocate condom use and vociferously objecting to bareback on both moral and health implications, and then BAM….bareback time!

It is precisely that direct "about face" – in the context of all those nagging rumors and stereotypes (with a hint of truth…maybe?) about our beloved gay porn stars in general – that is currently making Harding, Ducati and by extension Lucas Entertainment the target of shared criticism. In the wake of the press release and his first bareback scene with performer Blue Bailey (an out HIV positive porn performer), fans, bloggers and commenters have speculated about Ducati's status, labelled him an "immoral hypocrite", and announced that he has a death wish. Harding's announcement is too recent to tell reaction but judging from his Twitter page it's a supported choice, but if you check out some of the Facebook and blog comments, it's more of the same vitriol-slinging.

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One day testing at SC according to Ajay (@ Queerlick)


Those opposed to bareback also claim that viewers who watch it and popular stars like Ducati and Harding engaging in such practices will emulate him in bareback sex, further boldly stating that the future infections of said viewers will be on their heads. There's also a bizarre contingent of folks claiming that Ducati is LYING to his fans by saying the testing and shooting of this scene was "safe", primarily because of the incongruity of Ducati and Lucas Entertainment's assertion of a "safe shooting environment" and the fact that Ducati’s scene partner Blue Bailey is openly HIV+.  

Lucas Entertainment, founded and run by porn superstar Michael Lucas, has taken the brunt of the "hypocrisy" criticism of late. Once a vocal proponent of condom use in porn, Lucas and his company did a similar "about face" recently adding bareback sex scenes allegedly between "real life" lovers. Lucas also took to the internet in a now famous op-ed opinion where he came out as HIV negative and in support of the use of the HIV treatment medication Truvada in the controversial Pre-exposure Prophylaxis regimen (essentially the regular use of retroviral HIV medication by those with a current negative status to prevent future infection of HIV). All of which just made the pitch forkers and torchbearers go nuts – they all but roasted Lucas as opportunistic and advocating the slack millenial attitude of pill popping one’s way to ignorant bliss and dangerous indifference. I'm just WAITING for the article by Zach Sire that calls him  and Lucas Entertainment "murderers, slinging toxic body fluids".

In his statement, Ducati says "until now I had not found an environment that I felt was dedicated enough to safety and testing." Curious because this hot cat has worked for the BIGGEST studios in the past – Titan, Dominic Ford, MenAtPlay, High Performance Men, Falcon, Raging Stallion, Suite 703, Men.com. And again with the rumors – I personally spoke with a performer some time ago who wished to remain anonymous and indicated that mandatory testing in the gay porn industry would effectively end the careers of many porn stars who are HIV positive. Other performers I spoke to as well wished to remain anonymous and claimed that the studios they worked for NEVER tested them and merely just gave out condoms and turned the camera on.

Harding's well written blog post essentially boils down to the following: Ducati’s decision to do bareback is a personal, calculated risk analysis assessment. The assumptions critics make about the HIV status of performers who engage in bareback production is frankly a private matter between scene partners and whom the performers have sex with off camera. To borrow a phrase from "Facebook": "Not for public consumption." Harding follows these points by saying a) if you hate bareback, don't watch it because b) I'm going to do it and will continue to do it based on my choice which has nothing to do with the critic’s assumptions. He also makes the point of being HIV negative having been tested seven days prior to his writing of the blog post (AND after the filming of his bareback scene with Mike Dozer) claiming it is for a shoot coming up one week after publishing of his statement.

As Beetlejuice would say: "So what do we have here, kids????"

Here are the facts:

1) Lucas Entertainment is continuing to produce bareback content, moving away from the “real life lovers” theme it previously presented.

2) Ducati is suitably impressed with Lucas’s testing procedure enough to sign a three month bareback contract.

3) Ducati’s first bareback scene partner is Blue Bailey who in a previous interview with Treasure Island Media dated October 1 of this year came out as HIV positive.

4) The production date of his first bareback scene is unknown.

5) Harding advocates choice to perform in bareback porn based on personal risk assessment through testing.

6) Harding has shot a bareback scene.

7) As of his blog post, Harding is HIV Negative

8) Harding as per an article is in a relationship with an HIV+ partner.

Here's what we DO NOT know:

1) While Ducati makes reference to status sharing (one of the first performers to even MENTION that phrase EVER in an official press release, a procedure long rumored to be in practice in the industry), it is not clear whether or not the performers and Lucas Entertainment ACTUALLY engaged in any HIPPA compliant status sharing between Ducati and Bailey .

2) Because we have no idea what Lucas Entertainment's' testing procedure is, Ducati's press statement about Lucas Entertainment being "dedicated to enough to safety and testing" really is just press fluff at this point, and shouldn't imply that shooting for Lucas Entertainment is the safest bareback gig in town for performers.

3) What the term "informed bareback" really means, which seems to be a melding of "informed consent" and "pre-tested bareback". Without knowing just how the studio is educating performers in risk assessment and management associated with barebacking in porn, the phrase is effectively meaningless "pap".

We have NO IDEA what Lucas' testing procedure is nor has any studio out there ever deigned to disclose what EXACTLY they do to ensure the safety of the performers and educate them about the risks and making an informed decision about performing in bareback scenes. Yes…there are disclaimers on studio websites that talk about the tests utilized, how accurate they are, and how these studios claim to not endorse bareback sex but want you to subscribe to watch it. And while these tests, pricey and sometimes DNA/RNA based, can detect exposure/infection within a shorter window of time, they are essentially POINTLESS without a quarantine on performers' sexual activity between testing date and the actual shoot. (incidentally I know of only ONE studio that copped to instituting quarantine procedures. Hint: It sounds like a name and doesn’t feature the letter "Y" and does not have the name of a fish embedded in its name). Harding's blog post is demonstrative of why "pre-scene quarantine" is essential. In Harding’s statement, he claims an HIV Negative result from a seven day old test for a shoot coming up in a week. I hate math but I think my feeble mind has calculated that the shoot will be FOURTEEN days AFTER Harding's test which is effectively fourteen days within which Harding could engage in sexual practices which could expose him to STI’s including HIV before even a single camera starts recording his scheduled scene. And that goes for his scene partner as well.

Ducati's statement in the Lucas press release at least gives me hope of a nascent dialogue within the gay porn industry to finally bring to the forefront things that seems to be missing (if all those rumors and tweets are to be believed) -  responsibility, informed consent, and status disclosure. Fronting the term "informed bareback", Ducati states that Lucas Entertainment's testing procedure is about "explicit, open communication and status sharing among the models…creating a space for performers that ensures them full information and consent".

Admittedly the Lucas press release over this scene smacks a bit of the kind of staged theatricality and chest puffing that comes with anything Michael Lucas is involved in, and as polite and well stated as Harding's comment is, based on the fact that some studios still refuse to book performers who do bareback, it's ultimately a self-serving statement.

Which brings us back to RESPONSIBILITY. And this is why I think Ducati and Harding going bareback and their statements might be a good thing for the gay porn industry: If the performers themselves are not being publicly candid about their status and sexual behavior off camera (and let’s face it, they don't HAVE to be nor are they obligated to publicly declare any personal information no matter how much us fans bitch and moan), and if the studios are not being forthcoming with exactly what testing procedures they follow or how they pair scene partners or even if they test at all, the statements of Ducati (who has flat out refused to disclose his HIV status) and Harding are certainly beneficial for the dialogue/discussion at large about performer safety and testing versus condom use.

Especially in light of the recent HIV outbreak that occurred in the statistically safe mandatory testing and recorded database confines of the straight porn industry. HIV positive performers appear to have contracted the virus from off camera behavior and NOT on-set. And at least for the straight porn industry, a dialogue began – performers, directors, studios came out in force to discuss testing and to take a stand on proposed government mandated condom use. Performers advocated bareback on free speech concerns and criticized the mandatory condom use as a political move to shut down the porn industry in the state of California. But there was NO such discussion on the gay porn side. Sure…there were blog posts and tweets but to the untrained eye, it was business as usual on the gay porn side of the industry, even as more and more bareback content was being shot and streamed and even as one of its superstars, Rod Daily, came out as HIV+ as a result of the straight porn outbreak.

No matter how many people jump on a soapbox or scream "murder", gay bareback shows ZERO signs of stopping. If anything, it's just gotten bigger and more popular. Open dialogues about these issues can foster more responsibility and informed consent in the industry. Not saying that gay porn HAS to convert to a testing and recorded database like the straight porn industry or HAS to have mandatory testing or HAS to suddenly be condom-only. But in order to ensure the "minimization of risk" to performers with regards to bareback, it MUST be a two way street – Studios need to have at a minimum education about STI's and HIV and proper hygiene, safety and production quality in place to ensure the safety of the performers, in addition to testing procedures if the studio wishes this as part of its production shoot. And that testing likely needs a smaller time frame of testing performers regularly and pre-scene quarantining procedures. But the performers themselves also need to be responsible – minimizing unsafe sexual behavior off-set, testing regularly themselves, and taking active steps to educate themselves and be informed of the risks so that they can make an informed decision about shooting porn, condomed or bareback. Performers should NOT leave their safety to the word of their agent or manager or director or studio heads who sadly are just out for their profit. I doubt anyone – performers, bloggers, studio heads, directors – can say definitely what the answer is to ensure the safety of the performers who risk their lives in the creation of a hugely profit-generating fantasy for our consumption that no doubt fills the wallets of studios, big and small.

But at a minimum, and based on Ducati and Harding's statements, maybe a dialogue is starting. And that my friends is a good thing.

31 thoughts on “Of Testing and Bareback Porn (probably too long you won’t read but you should)

  1. A performer’s HIV status is their own business. One of the messages of the safe sex movement was to let each person make their own choices. So why do some people try to dictate to others how they should have sex? Freedom to choose for yourself is what we’ve fought long and hard for. And a right to privacy.

  2. Why does the writer of this post insist on kissing so much ass? Blue Bailey has not done anywhere close to enough work to be a “porn god”. “Bareback extraordinaire-bear” Mike Dozer? And calling Charlie Harding a hirsute sex pot? All good guys and performers but hardly legends in the industry. And it’s way too long I fell asleep about halfway through the third time the writer repeated everything he already said. Colorfulkent made his comments short, got right to what he wanted to say and made his point. Maybe he should have written the blog post lol

  3. Isn’t the writer Alias74 a lawyer as well? Have seen his musings here from time to time. He does a lot of interviews, or was it musicals? I think he is the one who looks for ‘ standard industry testing in gay porn studios or lack thereof’ with a fine tooth comb. Hopefully he gets what he’s looking for. Kudos to him for his take to bring about his argument in the safe/unsafe sex on sets/real life divide.
    So Aaron is back at Sean Cody? Hell yeah! Bareback or not, who cares? He’s awesome!

  4. I would like to say that I’m glad this blog post is longer than usual. In an age where almost everything has to be said in three short paragraphs it is refreshing to see something that is a bit longer than usual.
    Here are some of my very random thoughts on the issues raised:
    1. Bareback gay porn is still very controversial. It is certainly not genenerally accepted. Blog posts about bareback gay porn get the most pro/contra comments.
    2. More transparancy about performers STI status will not come about. Firstly there is of course the performer’s right to privacy. Apart from that, once it is known (or guessed) that a model is HIV+ he looses his attraction for a big part of the gay porn audience. A majority of the gay porn audience is HIV- and does not want its viewing pleasure and fantasies spoiled by thoughts of an incurable STI. I think this is one of the reasons why many studios keep silent about STI’s and the health status of models.
    3. Advanced STI tests are very expensive and many studios cannot afford them. The money to fund a database like the straight porn industry has, is lacking in the gay porn industry. Furthermore, cooperation on this issue between gay porn studios is very unlikely because of fierce competition and huge egos.
    4. The “quarantine model” is for most studios unattainable because too expensive or unworkable.
    5. The scenes rates for gay porn models are not very high in general so it is understandable that performers want to supplement their income. Escorting seems to be the preferred choice. But many performers succumb to the pressures of the market. And a big part of the market wants bareback escorts. This is not something that can be solved easily. The scene rates for performers will not go up because of the present market situation. There is simply too much free gay porn around (legal and pirated) to make higher scene rates possible.
    6. The question whether bareback gay porn poses a bad example or that it makes the gay community look stupid (unfortunately, members of minorities are first seen as members of that community, not as individuals) has not been sufficiently answered. I immediately admit that this is a difficult question to answer. As many people don’t like to take responsibility for their own actions, bareback gay porn is a welcome scapegoat for those who have become HIV+. But with the ever increasing numbers of new HIV cases in the USA one wonders if bareback gay porn has not somehow any responsibility for this. Let us also not forget that rightwing political forces can use bareback gay porn as an attack on the gay community at large.

  5. It’s not that I’m kissing ass…I just love those guys! 🙂
    And yeah…I’m totally long winded…hence why I asked for the title.

  6. AIDS has been glamorized, maybe a stronger strain needs to come back.
    I have no problem with bareback sex/porn, but I think there’s a problem with saying that AIDS is no longer the thread it was and it’s “cool” to be HIV+ — you know, “Poz pride” BS.

  7. I agree Socks. A stronger strain of HIV needs to come back. Wouldn’t be a bad thing if everybody caught it and the destructive human race perished once and for all. In the meantime, don’t might guys putting their lives at risk for my entertainment. They really don’t serve any other purpose. Good for them!

  8. I feel this is kind of obvious, but…yes, not having HIV is MUCH better for your health and you live longer thanks to meds but can still die young from complications of HIV (Josh Weston’s passing comes to mind), but I’m surprised these militant commentators haven’t suggested that we round HIV-positive people up and burn them at the stake. Compassion and respect for others personal choice seems to be dying. What two (or seven) consenting and status-aware adults do is none of my business. I highly doubt Mr. Ducati has a death wish. Charles Bronson he is not. And it may not be my choice to sleep with someone HIV-positive, that is just MY choice. Have a ball (or several pairs) for all I care.

  9. I’m really sick of this shit. Yes, young people need to be more aware of HIV and how it badly effects your health and shortens your lifespan in the long run, but if the human race is so terrible then just remove yourself from our company, get a job that you can do from home, and try not to bring other people down due to your ineptitude with dealing with other human beings and general lack of compassion. I know poor choices can lead to HIV infections, but I don’t celebrate when someone gets it. I feel sad for them and support them through their ups and downs. I suggest trying the same.

  10. “Maybe a stronger strain needs to come back–”
    That’s why people hate you condom Nazis. You have this calamitous, wishful thinking attitude toward barebackers.You almost wish AIDS upon them, for the sheer sake of proving your agenda. It’s disgusting and mean spirited.

  11. I’m a little surprised that Aaron is saying that while they wore condoms Mr. Cody never got them tested. There’s also a rumor going around that Aaron might be coming back to SC as Ajay again but that may just simply be a rumor.

  12. This is a great piece, Alias. Congratulations to you for writing something so logical.
    I’ve never understood why this is such a big issue. The barebacking part, yes; the porn part, no. Do people get more riled about bareback in porn than in real life? Maybe because it’s more obvious in that context? Some people still think that watching bareback porn makes guys go out and do it. There’s no evidence for that.
    There’s a strangely dogmatic reaction to barebacking that brings out ideologues on both sides. But remember, there is nothing wrong with condomless sex in itself. We did it for millenia. It’s only a problem if there is HIV transmission. If both partners are the same status, it doesn’t matter. (Don’t get me started on the “re-infection” warnings. I’m not convinced it’s a serious threat.) My understanding is that sero-sorting is common at bareback studios. That’s really what Ducati is talking about, and that’s why people logically assume he’s probably +.
    There’s no need for testing in condom porn. They’re using condoms for fucking; HIV transmission is highly unlikely. Possible, sure, but still unlikely. And this is the same standard most gay men go by in “real life”: condoms for fucking. The reason testing became prevalent in straight porn was because they didn’t use condoms.
    It’s always a matter of calculated risks. Always. That’s what these guys are saying. They’ve made an informed decision based on information that they’re comfortable with. That’s how it is with every sexual encounter. Some people have very strict limits; others do not. The same people who freak out about barebacking in porn don’t make a peep when guys rub their precum-leaking dicks all over guys’ assholes before fucking. They don’t complain about cum eating. There are definitely risks associated with these activities.
    Now, there IS the hypocrisy issue, with preachy anti-bareback types changing their tune. But that’s a different kind of objection. And why are people outraged about PREP treatments? Sounds like someone trying to be responsible to me. The goal is reducing infection rates. It doesn’t matter how it’s done, and PREP has been shown to be effective. If you can afford it, go ahead.
    I always feel like people are trying to force their own beliefs onto others when it comes to this debate.

  13. Joe T:
    Great points you make, as usual. My only quibble is the discomfort you seem to hold about those who changed their minds. Isn’t that one of the luxuries of being human? We can change our tune with time and such? Agreed, it’s tough to publicly do an about-face, but it happens. Let’s move on about that too.

  14. I don’t understand this new constant repeating of “calculated risk” as a magic talisman by bareback proponents.
    If bareback is basically okay because gay performers can make informed decisions at all times (on the set, in their private lives, with a client when escorting, when using, …) which is the number one excuse used by posters in defense of bareback (“don’t treat models like they are morons or not adults” or whichever variation on this theme exists), then “being shunned by some consumers/studios and maybe losing your place in the porn industry” should fully become part of that equation when you make the “informed decision” to go bareback. Actions have consequences, not only on your health but also on your chosen line of employment.
    At the moment, it just seems to be used as “get out of jail free” card by proponents of bareback : like “hey those poor porn performers already got infected why should they suffer the consequences even further?”
    Likewise with “we can’t have a database of gay performers with their status” in the gay porn world because personal privacy and gay studios are too cheap” : why does it work on the straight side?
    I don’t think piracy and tube sites have magically left the straight side unharmed, so the penny pinching must be felt as well over there (and for instance, straight male performers have notoriously been payed worse than gay performers. All straight porn is not just lesbian porn nowadays last time I checked).
    And secondly, I haven’t seen any major scandal over straight performers privacy being breached due to their database : maybe joining the existing database instead of creating a specific gay one would be cheaper anyway.
    Some HIV+ performers would work only for studios who gracefully serosort scene partners or lose their following or become unemployable in gay porn altogether. But, hey, “calculated risks”, you were the ones to bring it up first…

  15. I know several fellow performers who regret their decision to film bareback scenes early in their careers because it excluded them from working with some of the larger studios (COLT, Titan, and others) down the road. You’re right, that should be part of the “informed decision” equation, but unfortunately some of these newer performers are apparently being told something along the lines of “Oh, it’s no big deal… everyone’s doing it” before they have enough experience to realize the broader professional ramifications.

  16. You seem to forget that straight porn is a really big market in comparison to gay porn. Straight porn has much more money at its disposal. They have the money to pay for a performer’s database. In gay porn only a few studios really make big money, the rest earn just enough to stay in business.
    Secondly, many gay porn models were already HIV+ when they entered the industry. I think they see a database as a threat to their privacy. The ‘privacy issue’ doesn’t play a big role in straight porn as in general performers are HIV- when starting to work in porn.
    Gay porn is an international business these days. What use has it for BelAmi to pay for an American performer’s database?
    The competition in the gay porn industry is much more fierce than in straight porn. The simple reason is that there are just too many studios working on a small market. Competition all too often leads to unfriendliness and even hate. Do you think that Jake Jaxson (CockyBoys) and Michael Lucas want to sit in the same room? You should read the article that Zach Sire wrote not so long ago about the “implosion” of the gay porn industry.

  17. Sero-sorting. It’s what’s for barebacking. It’s not new. So what if Lucas tested Ducati and Bailey and they’re both poz and were both informed and they had bareback sex w/each other on camera? Why is that deserving of a long blog post? Why should the public be informed about this? It’s none of our business.

  18. One reason to try to “dictate” the use of condoms is because when some guys contract HIV/AIDS they become a burden on society. I know several guys who are positive and they are unable to work full time jobs, need assistance in paying for their meds and are on government assistance programs. Their free choice becomes society’s burden.

  19. It is society’s business when folks engage in BB sex. Some of the folks who engage in BB sex get HIV/Aids and become a financial burden to society. There are hundreds of thousands of people. mostly gay men, nation wide who depend on government and private charity’s assistance to pay for their health care and meds. Many can’t work full time jobs and are helping to drain the Social Security system. Their private irresponsible choices become society’s burden.

  20. And those who eat fried Twinkies make that bad choice as well, along with those who smoke, along with those who drink too much alcohol, along with those who watch slasher flix/violent video games and become serial killers, etc….
    The human condition isn’t a perfect one. There are many who make bad choices for which society as a whole has to bear some of the burden. But then again, that’s what a society is. However, if you want an every man for himself state, find a nice secluded island where you can be self sufficient and self absorbed and stay there. Forever if you like….

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