When I’m not writing this gay porn review, I manage a little restaurant in the country. Weird, right? The other day a man came in and asked to sit in the smoking section. I was taken aback. I’ve never even worked in a place that allowed smoking. It’s such an old custom, I wondered if he was joking. He had a French accent, so I guess he wasn’t.
That’s sort of how I feel about condoms in porn.
It’s hard to believe that there was a time, during the height of the AIDS epidemic, in an era of misunderstanding, when most major porn companies were neither promoting safe sex to their audiences nor protecting their employees from the occupational hazard of a then-fatal disease.
Chi Chi LaRue was vocal about the matter in the late 1980s, at the beginning of her career as a director. “I thought it was very irresponsible that they were only using Nonoxynol-9 and they weren’t using condoms,” she told me via email. “To this day, I feel proudly responsible that the gay industry started using condoms on a regular basis.”
Her firm stance on condoms, her work ethic and her style earned LaRue accolades and fans. Through the 1990s and 2000s she directed hundreds of titles, co-founded Channel 1 Releasing and branched into directing straight porn.
In 2006 the issue of sexual safety in porn came up again when Vivid Video changed its policy on condom use. “When they became condom-optional and I wasn’t given any option, I had to quit,” LaRue says. “I’m very happy with my decision and am actually still very close to the people at Vivid.”
LaRue’s stock continued to rise.
In 2010, reality TV star Steven Daigle decided to jump into the world of adult entertainment, reaching out first to LaRue. “Lucky for me, Steven Daigle approached me with the idea. I actually tried to talk him out of it,” LaRue says. “He wouldn’t hear of it, so I put together a three-picture deal.”
LaRue’s consistency on the unpopular issue of condom use is impressive and has clearly earned her a great deal of respect, both from inside the industry and from those who enjoy her work. Just as Canadians have learned to enjoy their after-meal cigarettes outdoors, porn enthusiasts have come to terms with mainstream porn’s preference for condoms, in large part thanks to LaRue’s resolve.