Porndemic - Lilith Likes to Watch Documentary December 2021

Title: Porndemic
Starring: Tom Byron, Trish Deveraux, Marc Wallice, Bill Margold, Sharon Mitchell  
Director: Spookie Daly
Synopsis: The inside story of the 1998 HIV outbreak that tore through the San Fernando Valley adult film industry told by the people who experienced it. Using archival footage and exclusive, original interviews, the film goes behind the scenes of the porn industry as it confronted a deadly disease which was a threat to its very existence. - Via Letterboxd
Lilith's Notes: A perspective on the Porn industry and AIDS epidemic that isn't often considered.

"Everybody in that business at that time was whistling past the graveyard."

Have you ever watched the quote-unquote documentary, Zeitgeist: The Movie? If you haven't, don't. It's garbage. It's peak "These are facts because I'm saying them against suggestive footage and eerie music" Check-mate video presentation. Among other things, it argues that Jesus was really Egyptian Mythology self-insert fanfiction and also that "they" plan to put microchips inside us. I do not have the time or patience for such shenanigans. In this day and age, I don't entertain such poor documentarianism or conspiracy theories.

So, anyway, at one point, the makers of Porndemic thought it would be a great idea to feature a clip of a woman performing in an adult movie, with a voice over condemning snuff films. In a movie about the HIV epidemic.

It really makes you think, doesn't it?!

For fuck's sake!

Porndemic is a documentary about the HIV/AIDS epidemic cozying up to the porn industry and how the industry valued the fantasy over the health and safety of its performers. One argument was that no one wanted to see condoms in porn because they're in the business of selling a fantasy. So is Michael Bay but he still uses safety gear. Fuck that and fuck you.

This film is rife with pretentious, oversized, past-their-prime dudebros who are extremely disconnected from reality. They spew delusions about porn becoming mainstream and one guy says "I could be doing a threesome with Robert DeNiro." 

You sound like Satin from Moulin Rouge, my guy. Just do a few more dirty shows then you'll be a real actress!

So, John Holmes, prolific porn actor, contracts HIV and dies from complications related to AIDS. After his death in 1988, the porn industry figures the illness has died with him and keeps on keepin' on. A few noble people try to work within the industry to minimize the HIV through testing and paperwork. Then, anywhere between four and six women contract the disease and the one common partner they have, Marc Wallice, refuses to go for testing. When he finally does produce a test, it states he is female. There's a lot of he said, she said, denial, and accusations. 

Wallice insists that the clinic made a mistake, and that the clinic actually moved locations so that was why other information was incorrect, and that in fact, several test results were screwed up that day. 

Ok, fine, so, check out those claims. Check archives. make phone calls. It's the ethical duty of the documentarian to follow up on leads like that. Otherwise it's just a bunch of interviews signifying nothing. It might be difficult due to HIPPA but I'm sure you could find the new address for the clinic at least. That has to be public information, right?

But on the subject of HIPPA, at one point, Ron Jeremy claims to have tried to find out about Marc's HIV status. It's not your business, Ron! This is confidential information.

And the women who Marc is said to have infected, what happened to them? Are they still alive? Are they still in the business? The only one we hear from is Tricia Deveraux and she is a presence in this film that is very easy to sympathize with. Her anger and sadness is palpable. Tricia aside, the women are completely lost in this narrative. It's one thing if they didn't want to participate, then at least flash some text on the screen to tell the viewer that. It's what Intervention does. To just abandon their fates to loose ends like they don't matter at all is callous and irresponsible.

Also, the editing in this film sucks.

This documentary is bad. It's just a bunch of finger pointing, and denials, and slippery fast talk. Nothing is resolved except for the rightful conclusion that Marc is basically ostracized. It would, of course, be one thing if he was scared and ashamed and quit porn voluntarily. Instead, he didn't inform his partners, implied he might have contracted it from them, lied, cheated, and lived in a world of denial. Marc Wallice was selfish and greedy and people paid for it with their health, well-being and livelihoods. 

We're closing up the second year of a fucking global pandemic, and all this documentary really taught me is that human nature never really changes.

Best Moment: Dr. Sharon Mitchell is the MVP of this documentary. She claims to have pretty much abducted Marc and forcibly drew blood. Marc says this never happened.

Worst Moment: At one point Porn Historian Bill Margold proudly informs us that he believes that HIV was manufactured by the government to get rid of drug addicts, homosexuals and minorities. I don't care if that's true or not. I don't have the patience for conspiracy theory bullshit.
Fuck. Off.


Until next time, my voracious voyeurs. I’m Lilith, and I’m always watching.

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