Bug chasing and killer porn

bug chasing

When I wrote XXX – The dictionary of unusual sex I catalogued about 1,500 different paraphilias, or uncommon ways of finding sexual pleasure. Some of them I knew, most I did not, several made me laugh and others made me wonder, but only a few really worried me. Dippoldism, for one, is intensely repulsive – but at least I don’t have to fear it personally. Bug chasing, however, is a whole different beast… and it is dangerously on the rise.
First things first, the term refers to the fetishism for sexually transmitted diseases infection. This is as deranged as it sounds and it is in fact the symptom of different severe mental conditions. There can be many different rationales behind it: an obsession for diseases, the desire for the physical intimacy negated by safer sex practices, the adrenaline rush that comes with flirting with death, sheer self-abuse and more. Due to the highest awareness and incidence of AIDS in the gay community, bug chasing was originally confined to male homosexuals, but the phenomenon is spreading to other groups including lesbians and heterosexuals of both sexes.

People afflicted with this pathology actively stalk hookup websites whose users make their health status known, such as many gay social networks, looking for HIV-positive partners. Those who are more into risk-taking than into actual infection prefer to attend so-called “conversion parties”: bareback orgies where one or more participants are actually HIV-positive, but not necessarily out as such. Some parties are actually advertised as “Russian roulettes”, as you can never know whether you will end up infected or not, nor what the probability of catching something really are.
Please note that ‘something’: in fact, STDs are not limited to AIDS. As a matter of fact, other diseases like chlamydia, herpes, mononucleosis, gonorrhea and even syphilis are far more common, growing and underreported. Their being easily (in the early phases) cured doesn’t make them any less unpleasant or dangerous. Given its clearly marginal appeal, however, among sane people the phenomenon of bug chasing has been typically considered just a morbid curiosity – until now.

Enter Treasure island media, just another adult video company trying to make business in a world where porn is commonly accessed for free online. Their solution? Publishing a video, titled Viral loads, expressly catering to the bug chasing audience. Besides the title and some very clever copy that never openly mentions what the video is really about, the gimmick lies in the participation of  Blue Bailey, an openly HIV-positive adult performer. And here is where it gets tricky.
If you dig a little deeper than what sensationalistic media are doing in these days, what you discover is that in the offending work Bailey is in fact on the receiving end of… well, a whole jar of sperm labeled as «poz cum» actually. No matter how gross the image is, this detail does turn things around. Even if the content of the jar was actually infected, his health would not be as tragically endangered as the movie implied (Spoiler: not really. A HIV-positive person can in fact acquire a secondary HIV infection worsening his condition). But in a veritable Pandora’s box fashion, this relative relief raises even more questions.

Bailey’s interviews, in example, frequently contain statements such as: «I’ve worked with HIV-negatives both on the bareback side and the condom side». In other words, Viral loads’ novelty factor simply lies in declaring the presence of both infected and non-infected performers, but this can be commonly seen, unadvertised,  in gay porn.
And again: remember the part about actually checking out what you are reporting on? Well, it turns out that the “relieved” magazines and columnists forgot to go beyond merely parroting the content of Treasure island media’s press release. In the scene mentioned above, say, the suspicious semen doesn’t just stay in Bailey’s behind – it is immediately consumed by another performer, whose HIV status I am blissfully unaware of. As it often happens, “serious” media won’t stoop so low as to research sex stories. Copy&paste seems to be enough for filth, even when health is at stake.

In the end the real story lies of course elsewhere. In the attitude of a HIV-positive man reported by this excellent article by Kitty Stryker, in example, who laments how bug chasing pornography regrettably provides the only affirming portrayal of people like him, without burdening them with the one-dimensional stigma of disease-carriers.
Another angle comes from Bailey and from Paul Morris, head of Treasure island media, who insist that HIV status is “meaningless and outdated” in a world with PrEP, a recent prophylaxis regime that enormously reduces the risk of contagion. True – if only PrEP was more affordable and commonly available, and if it didn’t require the utmost care in order to be effective. Right now, a couple of hours delay in taking the enormously expensive pills is enough to make it useless: fostering a false sense of security is moronic, at best.
And talking about morons, we know that porn is often the only source of sex education for a large part of the population who simply cannot distinguish between fiction and reality when it comes to eroticism. So, are we sure that bug chasing pornography should be allowed at all, or maybe it should be stamped out as other criminal genres such as underage porn? The libertarian in me is shuddering, but I’d really like to know your opinion. The comments are open.

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  • John M.

    interviewwithabugchaser.blogspot /2014/05/interview-with-john-middleton-hiv.html?m=1

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