Ex-Porn Star Tells the Truth About the Porn Industry

[The following is a guest post by Shelley Lubben. Shelley, an ex-porn star, is the founder and president of The Pink Cross Foundation. Through the Pink Cross, Shelley is a missionary to the sex industry, reaching out to adult industry workers offering emotional, financial, and transitional support for those who want out of porn. She also provides help for those struggling with pornography and victims of pornography. Her heart is to share the truth about porn and expose the darkness of it.]

Ex Porn Star Tells the Truth About the Porn Industry

Chatsworth, California produces 85% of the world’s adult content. All of the top female talent agencies are located in or within the Chatsworth local radius. Female performers are flown or fly to Chatsworth to work in the adult industry. All of the world’s top male talents live or travel to Chatsworth California for work. Every major and minor adult DVD Company is in the local Chatsworth radius.

The California pornography industry is a destructive, drug infested, abusive and sexually diseased industry which causes severe negative secondary effects on female and male adult industry workers as well as the general public. I am confident of the above because not only was I a stripper, pornographic performer and escort in the California pornography industry from 1986 to 1994, but I have also counseled with or spoken to over 300 female and male workers in the pornography industry as well as those struggling with pornography addiction.

I have been working with adult industry workers since 2002, when I began volunteering as a teacher and counselor at local rescue missions and prisons in the State of California. I have worked at Madera Rescue Mission, Bakersfield Rescue Mission, Central California Women’s Facility Prison, and Valley State Prison for Women and have traveled throughout the United States as a speaker and counselor on the negative effects of pornography at various churches, recovery programs and secular organizations. My team and I currently work with hundreds of people struggling with pornography addiction in the Pink Cross Foundation Help Forums.

General Statistics on the Porn Industry

In my daily work of assisting women and men recovering from the pornography industry as well as those struggling with pornography addiction and gathering research over a period of several years, I have learned significant facts to prove that indeed the California pornography industry is causing severe secondary negative effects on adult industry workers as well as the general public, which is involuntarily exposed to pornography, especially children, whose average age of first Internet exposure to pornography is eleven years old.

According to recent pornography stats:

  • It is estimated that there are 4.2 million porn Web sites—12% of the total amount of sites—allowing access to 72 million worldwide visitors monthly.
  • One-quarter of the total daily search engine requests, or 68 million, are for pornographic material, where 40 million Americans are regular visitors.
  • According to comScore Media Metrix, 71.9 million people visited adult sites in August 2005, reaching 42.7 percent of the Internet audience.
  • The United States adult film industry produces 4,000–11,000 films a year and earns an estimated $9–$13 billion in gross revenues annually.
  • An estimated 200 production companies employ 1,200–1,500 performers. Performers typically earn $400–$1,000 per shoot and are not compensated based on distribution or sales.
  • Lobbyist Bill Lyon told 60 Minutes that the porn industry employs 12,000 people in California and pays the state $36 million in taxes per year. When 60 Minutes first spoke to Lyon, he was running the free speech coalition, a trade organization that represents 900 companies in the porn business.

Porn Workers Frequently Receive STDs

Adult film performers engage in prolonged and repeated sexual acts with multiple sexual partners over short periods of time, creating ideal conditions for transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). All the more concerning, high-risk sex acts are on the rise.

At the same time, condom use is reportedly low in heterosexual adult films—approximately 17% for adult performers. In 2004, only two of the 200 adult film companies required the use of condoms. Performers report that they are required to work without condoms to maintain employment.

These practices lead to high transmission rates of STDs and occasionally HIV among performers. After four performers contracted HIV in 1998, Sharon Mitchell, a former adult film performer, founded Adult Industry Medical, a clinic to counsel and screen performers monthly for HIV.

The current practice of periodic HIV and STD testing may detect some disease early, but often fails to prevent transmission. The most recent HIV outbreak occurred when three performers who had been compliant with monthly screening contracted HIV in April of 2004. At that time, a male performer who had tested HIV negative only three days earlier infected three of 14 female performers.

What the Performers Say About STDs

In statements I have received from females and males working in the pornography industry and those who previously worked in the industry, at least 80% admit to catching an STD while working in the California pornography industry.

  • I personally caught the non-curable disease Genital Herpes in 1994 and was not given any information or help from porn producers or the adult industry.
  • Recently, Jan Meza, a former porn actress who left the pornography industry in October 2007, publicly shared of late that she discovered she has Herpes. She is totally devastated in that she caught a non-curable disease.
  • Belladonna, a well known pornographic performer states: “99% of the porn industry has herpes.”
  • One male pornographic performer, Rocco, 600 films and 3,000 women later says: “Every professional in the porn-world has herpes, male or female.”
  • Tanya Burleson, formerly known as Jersey Jaxin, caught Chlamydia her first year working. She exclaimed, while speaking with me, “I don’t believe I worked with one person who didn’t at one time have an STD.” Tanya made over 200 movies in her three year career. She also says, “Performers have to pay for their own testing, their medicine and lose at least eight days of work every time they catch a sexually transmitted disease.”

Sexually transmitted diseases are highly prevalent in the pornography industry. Among 825 porn performers screened in 2000–2001, 7.7% of females and 5.5% of males had Chlamydia and 2% overall had gonorrhea. Dr. Sharon Mitchell confirms the STD prevalence in an interview with Court TV, in which she states: “66% of porn performers have Herpes, 12-28% have sexually transmitted diseases and 7% have HIV.”

Why Some Porn Stars Also Work at Escort Services

Pornographic performers and adult industry workers also engage in prostitution through escort agencies such as Body Miracle, Dreamgirls, and Porno Star Escorts, where they not only risk sexually transmitted disease but also HIV and hepatitis C infection.

Pornographic performers usually prefer escorting because the pay is much higher and sex acts are not as degrading or physically demanding. They receive approximately $100 an hour for working in pornographic films or $1500 an hour for escorting. Adult industry workers who are also pornographic performers get paid higher than other adult escorts due to their celebrity status and can book 2-3 hour appointments and make approximately $3000 a day. Agents also lie to women in the adult industry and lure them into prostitution. Porn Star Erin Moore says, “some agents lie to the girls and tell them they are shooting a scene when instead they set up prostitution acts for them.”

While I was a pornographic performer in 1993-94, I was flown to different parts of the United States by porn companies where consumers of pornography sometimes paid me thousands of dollars to spend a weekend with them where we engaged in unprotected sex. During one appointment with a man and his wife, we engaged in unprotected sex and I passed the disease to both of them. Pornographic performers and adult industry workers definitely spread sexually transmitted diseases to the general public.

Read Part 2 . . .


The porn industry is destroying lives, but it doesn’t have to destroy yours.