ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
Now, a story about privacy in a business that often leaves nothing to the imagination. We're talking about Southern California's adult film industry and the medical tests it requires for all performers. The tests are meant as a safeguard against sexually transmitted diseases.
But a mother and her daughter say their medical information was intentionally leaked, and now, they're suing.
NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports.
MANDALIT DEL BARCO: Diana Grandmason is a 50-year-old redhead who once ran an investments business in Florida, perhaps an unlikely performer in adult films. But until a year and a half ago, she starred in X-rated movies like this one, titled "Seduced by a Cougar."
(Soundbite of film "Seduced by a Cougar")
Unidentified Woman #1 (Actor): (As character) I was watching you guys. It looks fun.
Unidentified Woman #2 (Actor): (As character) I noticed that.
Unidentified Woman #1 (Actor): (As character) Yeah.
DEL BARCO: Grandmason says she got into the porn business to follow her daughter, Bess Garren.
Ms. DIANA GRANDMASON: Basically, she called me at work and said Mom, I'm going to do this. And I said no, you're not. And she said Mom, I'm 21. This is a courtesy call. I'm doing it. So, you know, what choice did I have?
DEL BARCO: You decided to join her.
Ms. GRANDMASON: Right, well, originally it was signing up just so I could accompany her, and then I kind of got sold on the idea myself.
DEL BARCO: Like every adult film performer, Grandmason and her daughter were required to get tested every month for HIV, chlamydia and gonorrhea. The tests are conducted by a nonprofit clinic run by AIM, the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation. AIM then provides the results online to patients and to adult film producers. The data is supposed to remain private, but Grandmason says hers has gone viral.
Ms. GRANDMASON: Somebody who purports to be a producer has pulled my information and then sent it to a popular industry blog, who has posted it online. So my health insurance and my private information is online for all to see. It's very scary.
DEL BARCO: Grandmason says she's gotten threats and now feels like she has a target on her back. She and her daughter have filed a class action lawsuit against AIM.
Ms. GRANDMASON: They use it to damage my reputation. They post my private information. They posted stuff about credit and tax reports. They post nasty, defamatory comments about me. They've linked all my porn work to my real name, plus a lot of lies.
DEL BARCO: But AIM's attorney, Jeffrey Douglas, says the clinic is following health information privacy laws to protect patients. He says the lawsuit is unfounded.
Mr. JEFFREY DOUGLAS (Attorney): No one believes that they are providing information willy-nilly to anyone who wants it. Such an allegation is absurd.
DEL BARCO: As for medical information being widely available, Douglas points out that all adult movie performers have to sign waivers agreeing their data can be seen by anyone who makes or distributes their films.
Mr. DOUGLAS: Just being in one movie means odds are your ID and personal information is in the hands of dozens of entities. The choice is the performer, not AIM.
DEL BARCO: Some in the porn industry say the lawsuit is more about an effort to force adult performers to use condoms. That's a position being advocated by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, or AHF. In fact, the group's lawyers are representing the women pro bono.
And AHF's president, Michael Weinstein, admits that the lawsuit is part of a bigger safer-sex message.
Mr. MICHAEL WEINSTEIN (President, AIDS Healthcare Foundation): This could be ended today if the industry would agree to condom use.
DEL BARCO: But most porn producers and production companies balk at such regulations, despite a few HIV scares.
Ms. JOY KING (Vice President, Wicked Pictures): Everybody's always kind of just left the industry alone because we sort of operate in our own little world, and we've mostly contained any problems that have ever occurred through our sort of self-regulation.
DEL BARCO: Joy King is a vice president at Wicked Pictures, which bills itself as the only condom-mandatory adult film producer. She says most non-gay-porn companies that tried requiring condom use went out of business.
Ms. KING: Sales are definitely affected when you use condoms. This industry is largely based on fantasy, and people don't want condoms in their fantasies.
DEL BARCO: For Diana Grandmason and her daughter Bess, the fantasy has turned into a nightmare as they argue they've been overexposed in a way they never imagined.
Mandalit del Barco, NPR News.
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