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September 21, 2014

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Local adult industry insiders on alert over syphilis scare

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Leila Navidi

Performer Layla Rivera poses for photos at the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo 2012 inside the Hard Rock Hotel on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012.

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Despite an STD scare and shutdown that's paralyzed Hollywood’s adult-film industry — to date, nine performers have been diagnosed with syphilis — plans are still in place for the Adult Video News awards ceremony at the Hard Rock Hotel in January.

However, fear over the 90-day undetected syphilis scandal, which originated in Hungary — European sources are reporting that more than 25 percent of the 400 on-screen porn performers in Budapest are infected! — with a Hollywood actor, has spread to the Las Vegas adult world.

“The exact size of the Las Vegas porn scene is hard to say as there are no permits required, like in L.A. Vegas has no explicit laws distinguishing pornography from prostitution,” a well-informed observer of the adult world told me. “Everyone working Vegas is on the down low, but the increasing overlap between porn and prostitution makes Vegas a perfect place for women who dabble in both.”

On Tuesday, several adult actresses blasted that they were fined thousands of dollars for refusing to turn up to film sets. I’m also told that the actor who was first infected in Europe and later shot sex scenes with porn princesses faked his testing. Now he will reportedly speak out on the nightmare through AVN, the group that presents the annual porn awards in Las Vegas.

I was reliably told by one sex-business insider: “The industry is trying to get every performer to take penicillin shots in order for work to continue because they have lost control of the entire situation. Their system was set up for HIV testing, which turns out to be a lot easier to contain.

My sources told me that the Las Vegas porn scene began in the '90s and has "grown huge over the last five to six years. It is impossible to say how much is shot here. Films are no longer the measure, but scenes are, and many scenes are shot in Vegas daily,” one insider told me.

At least one major porn production company has facilities here where it shoots almost daily. "Vegas hotel rooms are perfect for porn, too," said my insider. "One fairly new off-Strip property is really popular for porn shoots because no one notices attractive young people with lots of bags heading to its hotel rooms. XXX-rated movie production is easy and often done up and down the Strip — especially in small hotels with the Strip in view."

“We probably have more porn stars living in Vegas than any American city, except maybe Los Angeles and Miami. There are certainly a couple dozen names people might know," said my source. "Vegas is like an overstocked lake for a sex worker.

Writing for the Daily Beast, Richard Abowitz commented: “The long incubation period and the lack of familiarity with the disease have totally caught the industry off guard. The shutdown is nationwide, and when it hit Porn Valley, California, it hit Vegas, for all intents and purposes. There is no real separation between L.A. and Vegas in the adult world.”

At least three porn performers who live in Las Vegas and work in Los Angeles used Twitter in the past 48 hours to post their worries and warning notices, including AVN's Performer of the Year Brooklyn Lee.

My informed insider added: “California allows the industry to be regulated and thus can pass rules for it. Porn filming is a gray area in Vegas. The authorities and the adult industry have no significant contact with each other. Porn is tolerated by Vegas, but no one really knows how much is shot there, as it is not regulated in any way, shape or form, other than some federal commerce rules.”

Shooting of porn films was supposed to be shut down Tuesday all across the country, at the suggestion of the Free Speech Coalition, an industry lobbying group representing porn stars and AVN. “But the industry doesn’t have an enforcement division, so the longer the shutdown goes on, the more people will cheat," said my source. “Many of the largest companies — including at least one in Vegas — have shut down for now.

“It's very hard to say when it will be resolved. It all came to light with the shutdown in Budapest on Aug. 8. The nationwide American shutdown is voluntary, but the people who lose instantly are the performers. Watch for the striptease and webcam scene to explode in its place. The companies probably have a backlog of scenes for the short term.”

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

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Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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