If Hollywood thinks it's taken a beating from Bob Dole, just wait 'til it hears from Dr. Ricki. San Francisco gynecologist Dr. Ricki Pollycove, or Dr. Ricki, as as she calls herself on her perky syndicated health show, holds the media responsible for what she sees in her examining room: Increasing numbers of woman testing positive for HIV. In her forthcoming book, Deadly Denial: Sex and the 21st Century Woman, Dr. Ricki challenges Hollywood to use warnings when it shows unsafe sex in the movies or on television. "The stars are marketing irresponsible sexual practices. Their behavior in film is emulated as desirable. If we never see an attractive role model [having safer sex], people are sucked into this pretend la-la land," Pollycove says. "Women need to adopt behaviors which are consistent with surviving into the next millennium."
In our celebrity-crazed society, Pollycove argues, stars are the de facto educators. "They are really the mythological heroes of our culture. We don't teach anymore by reading the classic stories. We're teaching our culture via TV," Pollycove says. The constant implication of unsafe sex on TV is an example of Hollywood "really screwing-over the public."
Pollycove sees outrageous hypocrisy in the behavior of stars who support AIDS charities but play it fast and loose in on-screen beds. Ideally, the doctor wants safer sex practices worked into scripts, although she doesn't advocate imposing safer sex on historical works. (Picture Lady Chatterly reaching for the female condom). Pollycove's passion for latex comes not only from her patients, but from her personal life as well. "Why is it that I have two friends with daughters who have HIV: One has already died, the other has HIV, but isn't sick yet," Pollycove says. "These are heterosexual girls whose big crime was just the routine passion of teenagers. What you do when you are 17 shouldn't end your life by 30."