DEAR EDITOR:Re: Mark Cromer's "The Last Ride?" [August 21-27]. The porn industry produces approximately 600 videos per month. Each video contains approximately five sex scenes. Do the math: That's 3,000 sexual encounters per month, every month. May I go out on a limb and suggest that five HIV cases among that many sexual encounters do not an epidemic make? This sounds to me like the same scare rhetoric trumpeted each year by the Centers for Disease Control to tell the general public that AIDS is an uncontrollable epidemic, so that HIV scientists can continue to receive huge government research dollars. The fact that cancer kills more people in one year than AIDS has killed since the "epidemic" began appears to be a fact that's been lost on all concerned.
-Mike JohnsonNorth Hollywood
DEAR EDITOR:If my reading of this HIV crisis in the industry we all know and admire is correct, then porn just ain't what it used to be. The problem seems largely to boil down to the irresponsible behavior of a bunch of dog-brained "directors" with camcorders. The millions of us who saw Boogie Nights were reminded how, in the Golden Age of Porn - and I don't mean movies featuring urination - nobody got sodomized, nobody swallowed semen, nobody fucked children or animals or got gang-raped or got hurt or died or, in general, had a bad time. In fact, porn stardom was a pleasant career option.
Enter the camcorder, and every Tom, Dick and Hairy starting to make filthy, perverted videos of the girl next door in their garages. We stop sneaking down to those crusty old semen-stained porn palaces to jack off in the dark, and instead start watching porn and jacking off in the comfort of our own homes. Before you know it, the whole thing burgeons into a bloated whore of an industry with an annual turnover estimated anywhere in the region of $3 billion to $8 billion. Next thing you know, there's an HIV outbreak.
The link among camcorders, HIV and life imitating Boogie Nights is simply too delicious to resist: Video killed the porn star.
DEAR EDITOR:The best advice for porn-industry talent who are worried about AIDS is just quit the biz altogether. As for the porn fans, they needn't worry: There will always be others hungry and stupid enough to have sex in front of a camera, and producers greedy enough to point one at them.
-Jon R. McKenzieBellflower
DEAR EDITOR:To condom or not to condom, that is the question. Whether 'tis nobler in the pocketbooks of adult-movie manufacturers to suit up their male performers with protective gear, or let them ride bareback and risk HIV infection . . . only the tape sales will tell.
But in the media-savvy '90s, there's really no need for non-condom tapes. Any loss in sales and rentals can surely be made up in product-placement revenues.
-Frederick J. BuccoliniLos Angeles
THE FIX IS OUT
DEAR EDITOR:Re: Gale Holland's "Seeking the Heterosexual Within" [August 21-27]. Is it my imagination, or does every decade bring a new and more outrageous right-wing attack on civil rights? The 1980s saw the rise of the hateful "family values" movement, and now the final years of the century are being poisoned by the so-called ex-gay movement, which, hiding behind professions of Christlike love and compassion, sanctions the psychological eradication of an entire segment of society. The Bible has been misinterpreted as supporting slavery, racism, genocide, the oppression of women, child abuse and any number of other truly sinful things that Jesus, as well as any other compassionate person, would condemn. Homosexuality and Christianity are not mutually exclusive. Neither are Christianity and loving acceptance of homosexuals.
-Jessica GoellerWest L.A.
DEAR EDITOR:Homosexuality has become perhaps the most powerful and perplexing issue gripping the 20th-century Christian church, and I applaud Gale Holland's article examining the Christian right's ad campaign designed to combat what they believe to be sinful. Every "gay fix" I see advertised comes largely from good people with a very deep fear of people they don't even know or want to know.
Every gay person I have met is a truly unique and beautiful person who needs no fixing, except perhaps counseling about his own homophobia. The "fix" that is needed is on society's part. An agenda of hate has absolutely no place behind a cloak of religion.
DEAR EDITOR:The amount of publicity Exodus and other "ex-gay" organizations have milked from a few ads and some good PR work, resulting in a Newsweek cover story and a 60 Minutes segment, is distressing enough. The Weekly piece, while appropriately skeptical, just adds more publicity to a story that really isn't there. Is it so strange or unlikely that people who, for part of their lives, are attracted to the same sex would, at another time, find that they are attracted to people of another sex? Most of us are, in fact, scattered somewhere in the middle of the Kinsey scale, exhibiting at least some degree of bisexuality.
Now that "ex-gays" have found the heterosexual within, it's only a matter of time before even more straights find the homosexual within. After all, as the ad says, "Truth can set you free."
-Nikolas TrendowskiLos Angeles
DEAR EDITOR:Are you like me? I used to think it was hard to get a date in this town. I thought all the good ones were either taken or not "batting for my team." Now, however, with the heterosexual reparative-therapy movement's scientifically based (I'm sure) finding that homosexuality stems from a "broken relationship with the same-sex parent," I realize that I've been making life hard on myself, getting in my own way. I now realize that the playing field is without boundaries. I now know that "straight" guys really are only "three beers away." I just gotta get off my lazy ass and get to the dudes before those "het rep" guys do. Thank you, Christian Right, and thank you, L.A. Weekly!
DEAR EDITOR:Lalo Alcaraz's "L.A. Cucaracha" is neither very funny nor very insightful. Perhaps this space would be better filled by "This Modern World," which no longer has a major venue in this city.
"Life in Hell" is another candidate for retirement, although Binky is sorely missed.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
DEAR EDITOR:I wish to thank Hazel-Dawn Dumpert for her generous, warm and lively interview. May I also clarify one point: It was at AFI in the '70s that I had the pleasure of teaching Ed Zwick, Amy Heckerling, Mimi Leder, Marshall Hershkovitz and John McTiernan, among others, in an extraordinary group. I am proud to have been a part of their training, besides being inordinately fond of them all. Again, thank you. (I adored the picture.)
-Nina FochBeverly Hills