November, 2013 / Author:

If the U.S. has a trade association to help contribute to regulations in the adult entertainment industry and three performers contracted HIV in about a month, what does this mean for performers in Manitoba who don’t have an association to help keep them safe and healthy?

Porn website owners in Winnipeg are responsible for creating health and safety regulations for their performers. Kate Sinclaire started the still photography erotica website Cherrystems.com six years ago and is now creating a backlog of videos for a harder porn website that will likely launch in February. “So far what we do is we have a meeting with our performers and talk about their sexual histories, where they’re at, if they’re monogamous, if they’re not.” Everyone assesses the risk and chooses to be tested or not.

Although Sinclaire doesn’t agree with making mandatory condom use, she adds that if someone doesn’t want to be tested, barriers are required, or the performers have to discuss which precautions to take.

Sinclaire is also compiling lists of resources and regulations that exist in Canada surrounding the porn industry and putting them online so that others looking into starting a porn website have resources in one place. “We’re at a lack of resources out here, where in Montreal there’s a much bigger scene, as well as Toronto and Vancouver, so I’m seeing what already exists out there and most [regulations] seem pretty informal.” A Google search about the Canadian porn regulations shows that Canadian government, media, and citizens are pretty quiet when it comes to the porn industry, even about regulations. “Porn is a very interesting topic in Canada because of our obscenity laws and the vagueness of them,” says Sinclaire.

The Parliament of Canada website says that porn is regulated through the obscenity laws in section 163 of the Criminal Code. The federal website says it’s legal in Canada as long as it doesn’t violate the obscenity laws. The website admits that porn is difficult to debate because it means different things to different people. The government considers crime, horror, cruelty and violence in conjunction with sex as obscene. 

So what about bondage? The Parliament of Canada website notes that the “obscenity standard is flexible.”

Two Winnipeg women under the pseudonyms Caroline Fox and Keelie who practice bondage are involved with the volunteer-run non-profit Cherrystems. They say that consent before a shoot and discussion before and afterward are key. “It’s really just a matter of negotiating out your limits beforehand,” says Fox. “Hurt, not harm. That’s my philosophy. I’ll hurt you but I don’t want to cause any lasting damage,” says Keelie, a bondage rigger and top performer under the name Keelie. “Everyone goes into it negotiating, saying, ‘I don’t want a bruise left’ or ‘I’m open to having bruises’ but nobody’s going to go in saying, ‘Yeah! Nerve damage! I’m pretty cool with that,’” says Fox, a bondage model. Keelie adds to her girlfriend’s comment, laughing, “who needs those fingers anyways?”

Fox thinks it’s important to also debrief on-camera after the shoot, which she and Keelie did after their shoot. “Interview the rigger, interview your model, interview everyone and post it so that if people want to see it, they can see it,” says Fox. In the interview, the models would talk about what they did, what they liked, and reaffirm that they were in control the whole time.

Though they have so far only been involved with the one video for Cherrystems, Fox took all the health precautions that she could.

“I went to my doctor and said ‘OK, we’re going to set this up every two weeks and once before every video just to be safe’.” Her doctor told her that’s too much because HIV takes three weeks to two months for your immune system to produce HIV antibodies. This is called a “window period” and during this time you can test negative for HIV, according to the AIDS InfoNet, a website that aims to make information about HIV and AIDS widely available.

The couple named other safety measures like having safe sheers on hand to cut the rope, a spotter and a safeword system. “The idea is to come up with a word that wouldn’t come up during regular sex or a video or a scene so that it can’t be understood,” says Fox, who hopes to do videos involving hot wax and electricity in the future. “For us to make sure that it’s clear when we’re doing videos, I use ‘firetruck’ because it’s multiple syllables, there’s no sex scene, dirty talk phrase that’s going to come up that even slurred can kind of pass off as these big words. Pomegranate would be a good one actually!” they laugh over a cup of tea in their home.

Sinclaire, Fox and Keelie agree that it’s everyone’s responsibility in the porn industry to keep performers safe. “No performer wants to get sick and also, the companies that have the stars listed as their people, they don’t want their performers to get sick,” says Sinclaire.

Do we need strict porn regulations? Tweet us at @outwords to let us know!


– Danelle is the music editor for OutWords. 

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2 Responses to “Health and porn bound together”

  1. Great article I am actually working for a company that is starting to produce porn and I would love it if you could send me a link to the list of resources and regulations that Sinclaire composed. Thanks so much.

  2. Meg Crane

    Hey Nicole! You can contact Sinclaire through Cherrystems. I’m sure that she’d be happy to help you out!

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