As Told to Josh Sparbar
Los Angeles, 07.10.02
Cover Girl, POZ, April 1999
After testing positive, I moved back to the Midwest and got a medical-assistant job at a doctor’s office. A close friend from when I had lived there for 18 years wouldn’t share a bottle of water or a friendly hug. So that was weird. Fortunately, I stayed in touch with John Stagliano [above left, HIV positive video director], from the adult business. We saw each other a few times, and a year and a half later, I moved back to LA to live with him. That was in 1999, and now we have a 16-month-old baby girl.
I started out as John’s personal assistant for his production company. Within six months, I was managing the DVD department, and I just finished directing my first film, a gay video. At first it was strange to be back around something that I had been a part of but was unable to be part of now [as a person with HIV]. So John and I decided to do a scene—just the two of us—and we chose to use a condom to show our support for safe sex. The movie won best video at one of the adult award ceremonies.
People in the industry are really happy to see that I’m doing so well because a lot of them, even though they know they’re at high risk to get an STD, have no idea what that actually means. The adult-entertainment industry is still very consumer driven, and the consumers definitely prefer to see sex scenes without condoms. I respect that. What I don’t respect is companies that say, “On no condition will we ever shoot a scene that has a condom in it.”
I never desperately wanted to be a mom until I was with John. A few people were very disapproving—they just couldn’t accept this as an option. Since I’ve had the baby, I’m more tired from the early mornings and nightly wake-ups, but I’m happier. My viral load has been 2,000 or less. I went on Combivir during the pregnancy and I had a C-section, so the baby is negative. After the pregnancy, I stopped taking meds, and now I get a check-up every three months.
I haven’t seen [ex-porn star] Marc Wallice since I found out he infected me. My feeling is that if he had no remorse for doing this to people like me who knew him, he’s probably picking up some girl and doing the same thing to her. So, yeah, I’d feel better knowing he’s locked up. It’s within seven years, so I could pick up the criminal investigation.
I’m not as trusting as I used to be, or as serious. When I came into the adult business, it was, “I have to get as far up the ladder as I can by making all the right decisions.” Now I’m more forgiving of myself. I’ve had a lot of lucky things happen to me since I had to retire. I have a stable financial situation, I’m with someone I enjoy being with, I have a great baby and a good job. I can’t think of anything more I’d ask for.