Angelina Armani vs. Darren James Porn Star Smackdown

Darren James: Wrap 'em
The question before state regulators last week was whether to form a committee to explore whether porn actors have to wear condoms while shooting dirty pictures.

As we mentioned here, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health Standards is under pressure from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which has been hardcore about hardcore since a 2004 AIDS breakout in the LA porn industry.

The foundation accuses the adult film industry of failing to take steps to protect its workers from the spread of diseases, and it called on the state agency to simply strengthen its regulations to require condoms and other safety measures.

But the agency's six-member board agreed with its staff recommendation and unanimously voted to create an advisory committee to report back on whether to change state law to require safe-sex protections for adult-film actors and actresses.

One board member indicated he was gone to vote against that recommendation--until testimony from adult performers and others in the industry changed his mind.

Angelina Armani: Feels safe
Perhaps the most emotional moment of the hearing came when former porn actor Darren James, who tested HIV-positive during a 2004 outbreak, turned from the board to the crowd and addressed his fellow actors.

"I'm living your nightmare every day," said James, as reported in the Los Angeles Times. "You don't want to live what I'm going through now."

But actress Angelina Armani provided the counterpoint, saying that during the past two years she has appeared in many adult films, has been tested regularly for STDs and has never contracted a disease.

"My industry has protected my safety and continues to protect the safety of other performers," she told the board.

But the panel's decision to form yet another panel was cheered by most in the audience, according to the Times.

Rates of sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia and gonorrhea are seven times higher in the adult-film industry than in the general population, Dr. Robert Kim-Farley, director of communicable disease control and prevention at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, had told the board.

With up to a quarter of performers diagnosed with an STD in a given year, Kim-Farley recommended mandatory condom use and increased, free STD screening for adult-film performers.

But the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health Standards staff had previously expressed reluctance to impose new laws without first having the issues studied by a panel at least partially composed of members of the industry being regulated.

That was cheered by Diane Duke, executive director of the Canoga Park-based Free Speech Coalition trade association, who said her group's members try to comply with state regulations that are overly vague and general.

Duke advocates adult-film workers, producers or other industry representatives being on the new advisory panel.

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