Sherman Oaks-Based Porn Industry Health Clinic Shut Down By State And L.A. County Officials | The Informer | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly
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Sherman Oaks-Based Porn Industry Health Clinic Shut Down By State And L.A. County Officials

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Thu, Dec 9, 2010 at 4:24 PM

click to enlarge The porn industry's main health clinic was shut down Thursday.
  • The porn industry's main health clinic was shut down Thursday.
Updated after the jump with information about another porn industry STD testing operation. First posted at 11:51 a.m.

The porn industry's health-care clinic was shut down Thursday morning by state and county officials, a spokesman for California Department of Public Health told the Weekly.

The Adult Industry Healthcare Foundation's clinic was served with a cease and desist order and Los Angeles County authorities shut it down, said state public health spokesman Al Lundeen.

The clinic served as the industry's de facto STD testing service and without it it's hard to fathom how porn production will go on this week.

During a teleconference Thursday AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein, who has been pressuring the industry to adopt mandatory condom use, called on porn producers to shut down shoots while this mess is worked out.

"This is the touchstone moment," he said. "This is the tipping point."

"The adult film industry needs to be shut or use condoms starting today," Weinstein said.

He called on the city's film permitting organization, FilmLA, to stop issuing permits to porn productions. He also called on the county to shut down production in the name of safety.

The state requires porn performers to use condoms, but the industry has resisted, citing market pressure, and California workplace health officials have said they don't have the resources to enforce the law.

click to enlarge Derrick Burts.
  • Derrick Burts.

Added: Lundeen said the AIM Healthcare clinic submitted an application for a state community clinic permit in June after the state told AIM officials that it was operating as a community clinic without a license and would need to obtain one.

He said on Tuesday the clinic's application for a license was denied, but that the grounds for denial included a lack of proper paperwork, including a "transfer agreement" that would tell the state it had an agreement with an area hospital to accept patients it wasn't qualified to treat.

Lundeed made it sound as if AIM would be up and running soon and that its denial was based on a minor technicality.

"We're working with the facility to meet the requirements under the law as quickly as possible," he said.

Meanwhile Weinstein told reporters that a second clinic unrelated to AIM, Reseda's Talent Testing, has been doing similar work for the industry. It's unclear to us if it's licensed by the state.

The news of AIM's shutdown comes on the heels of an HIV-positive performer's outcry against the clinic and industry. Derrick Burts says that when he contracted the virus in October AIM did little to follow up and help.

AIM denied those charges.

And while Burts' claims he got HIV on-set, some people have come forward to note that he's offered his services as a male escort.

The last HIV scare in porn, in 2004, happened when an actor claimed to have contracted the virus from a heterosexual film shoot outside of AIM's testing protocols -- in Brazil. Some doubted that story as well.

"It truly is a coincidence that this [AIM shut-down] took place the same day as Derrick Burts came forward to tell his story," Weinstein said.

Update: Steven Hirsch, founder of the country's largest adult studio, Vivid Entertainment, said it would continue with production despite AIM's closure.

"We have been in contact with AIM and believe that the current situation is temporary and will be quickly remedied. There are other alternatives that we can utilize in the meantime and will do so. We believe the current system of testing works. Our productions will proceed as scheduled."

Hirsch's stance defies Weinstein's call for the city of L.A. to deny film permits to the biggest studios, including Vivid and Hustler.

"The people who come out flagrantly and say we're never going to use condoms, like [Hustler's] Larry Flynt and and Steven Hirsch, they should never issue permits to them," Weinstein said during Thursday's telephone news conference.

Update #2: Weinstein had singled out a company called Talent Testing Service in Reseda as an operation that performs some of the same functions as AIM. ("They actually say on their website they do the test results quicker than AIM," he said.).

State health spokesman Lundeen said that operation, too, was not licensed by the state of California as a community clinic. However, it's not immediately clear if Talent Testing, which targets the porn performer market for its STD tests, would meet the definition of a clinic.

It's website doesn't state that if offers anything behind test results.

Lundeed said state health staffers would be alerted to its existence and an investigation into whether or not it's an unlicensed clinic would likely ensue.

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