Ex-porn star Lara Roxx talks HIV and Measure B

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Lara Roxx, photo courtesy of Mia Donovan

Lara Roxx is a former porn actress who was diagnosed with HIV. It was the spring of 2004, and the Montrealer had travelled to Los Angeles in hopes of a quick payday. Though monthly screenings for the disease had by then long been the industry standard, production companies had disavowed themselves of condoms, contending that viewers preferred to see genitals unsheathed. Roxx wound up working with Darren James, the source of a couple of other positive diagnoses the same week. She had been pressured into performing a super-risky double-anal scene with the veteran actor.

A year after returning to Montreal, Roxx hooked up with filmmaker Mia Donovan, who began chronicling her life. After many years of shooting, Inside Lara Roxx was released in 2011. Tonight, Roxx and Donovan will be on hand to present the film and lead a discussion as part of Concordia’s HIV/AIDS Lecture Series. We spoke to Roxx in advance of the event.

Lucas Wisenthal: What’s happened to you since shooting the documentary?
Lara Roxx: Between the time we stopped shooting it and the time it was in a festival for the first time, I was in therapy for drug use and alcohol. They let me out a day early so I could attend Hot Docs, which was really cool of them. And then, since Hot Docs, I’m with this guy I met in therapy, actually, and I’m in school now. I’m almost done, in April.

LW: What are you studying?
LR: Graphic design.

LW:What parts of your life do you think the documentary got wrong or didn’t really do justice to?
LR: I don’t think she got anything wrong. I think Mia got me pretty well. I wish she didn’t put my ex-boyfriend Wolf in there, because now my actual boyfriend has proof that he’s not the worst guy I’ve ever dated.

LW: What were the hardest parts of shooting it?
LR: Just trying to stay authentic and be myself. And every time I would start thinking about, like, “Oh my God, what if I could never get hired again because I’m doing this documentary?” Because then I was doing call centres and stuff, so I was like, “What if I can never get a job again because the doc gets super popular and everybody sees it?”

LW: How closely do you follow the porn industry now?
LR: I don’t. I don’t at all. My boyfriend watches some porno, so that’s how close I am to porn.

LW: Given porn’s mainstream acceptance, with performers like James Deen being profiled in GQ, do you think the audience forgets how dangerous performing unprotected on camera really is?
LR: I think the audience has no idea in the first place how dangerous their job really is. People that see the [doc], Ms. and Mr. Everybody that come see me after Q&As, what they tell me is like, “I had no idea. I always thought it was just like mainstream movies, where when someone dies, they don’t really die, and when somebody gets beat up, they don’t really get beat up. I was convinced they probably edited the condom [out].” They just don’t realize, period, even before these people were in GQ and everything.

LW: Los Angeles recently passed Measure B, a piece of legislation mandating condom use on porn sets, which the industry opposed vehemently. Having gone through what you’ve gone through, what do you think of their stance against it?
LR: They were just afraid that they wouldn’t get work, because they know that the production companies have the means to go film other places. The thing that the law should have imposed was no distribution with no condoms. Because now it’s just no shoots, so the people in the L.A. area don’t really have work anymore, because they just come shoot in Montreal, Ukraine, Brazil, where it’s still legal to shoot with no condoms.

LW: What do you think about the fact that Measure B passed says about the audience for porn?
LR: What I think about the producers is more important. I think they say, “Everybody wants to see double-anal.” If they didn’t offer it, how many people would imagine having double-anal or even seeing it? If they didn’t offer it, people wouldn’t ask for it. It’s not like it’s the majority of people that want to see foursomes in your ass.

LW: Is it tough to think about how things might have been different if Measure B had existed when you went out to Los Angeles?
LR: No, because I think I would have probably not went to Los Angeles, because there would have been more business out here in Montreal. ■

Inside Lara Roxx: A Screening/Lecture about Porn, Prevention, Hype, and Hope takes place at Concordia University, Hall Building (1455 de Maisonneuve W.) on Thursday, Jan. 31, 7 p.m., free

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