Clothier sends mixed
by Seth Hemmelgarn
A popular clothing company involved in a safe-sex campaign has recently touted its work with a bareback porn actor.
Andrew Christian, Inc., which is well known for its scantily clad male underwear models, has recently been involved in a campaign to promote condom use during sex.
But in a May 6 news release, the company announced its "Miami Car Wash" promotional video (http://youtu.be/qPwQEOv2yMQ) featured a well-known bareback porn performer. The ad shows about a dozen buff guys showing off their skivvies as they use one man's body to scrub a red convertible.
"Andrew Christian turn (sic) up the Latin heat with super hung bareback porn star Antonio Biaggi," stated the news release.
There's plenty of foreplay and bare butts in the video, but no actual sex.
Asked about the mixed messaging regarding safe sex, Andrew Christian spokesman Jeff White emailed a statement to the Bay Area Reporter that said, "We were not trying to make any statement about bareback porn, we don't recommend having bareback sex, and obviously our videos aren't any endorsement of bareback sex."
The company chose Biaggi, who's 34 and lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, because "we wanted to cast some sexy 'Miami looking' Latino actors who could really fill out the underwear," explained White's statement. "We also liked the fact that [he] was a little older than most of our models and he is super masculine, which also fits the 'gay-for-pay' roles that we were casting in this video."
The message also said that since early February, Andrew Christian has been including a postcard in customer shipments that encourages condom use. The postcard was produced in conjunction with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. The clothing brand has also distributed more than 27,000 condoms donated by Wet Lubricants to customers.
Jim Key, chief public affairs officer for the LA Gay and Lesbian Center, said in a phone interview that he doesn't know anything about Biaggi and "I make no judgments against him personally."
However, he said, "What concerns us is when a company that explicitly markets to gay youth touts and promotes in its marketing materials that it's turning up the heat by featuring a bareback porn star, in essence glorifying the acts of someone who has unprotected sex on camera, that concerns us, and it surprises us considering their partnership with AIDS Healthcare Foundation."
In a response to a story that ran on the website Queerty, Biaggi himself addressed the issue on his blog - http://antoniobiaggixxx.blogspot.com.
"I guess you think that Im a bad influence by been in (sic) a Andrew Christian (video), and that me been in (sic) that underwear video promotes bareback sex, really how stupid can you be, there is no BB sex they are doing a underwear video (sic)," Biaggi wrote in a May 13 post.
Asked in a Facebook exchange with the B.A.R. about Andrew Christian being hypocritical by promoting safe sex and then touting his status as a bareback porn star, Biaggi said many people are hypocritical in the porn industry "that start promoting safe sex and they do partys (sic) and behind scenes they are into bareback, I don't think [Christian] is a hypocrate (sic), they are intelligent business people they know that it will create controversy and more eyes to there (sic) company."
Biaggi, whose last name appears on Facebook as Biaggi Segundo, said he gets tested for HIV every month. He said he uses condoms with his husband "all the time" and only has sex outside the relationship when he's making videos. Biaggi is a top, which he said puts him at less risk for getting infected.
"In the bareback industry people know everyone's status," Biaggi said. He added that he doesn't care whether someone's HIV-positive or negative, and he's dated two HIV-positive men.
"I never got HIV from them, people are ignorant and thats why all this tabu (sic)," he said.
Biaggi doesn't have a contract with Andrew Christian but is "doing some shows around the country" with them, he said.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation has been vocal about the need for porn stars to use condoms on shoots. It was a main sponsor of Assembly Bill 332, which would require condom use in all adult films produced in California.
The proposal, modeled after an AHF-sponsored ballot measure that Los Angeles County voters adopted last fall, has stalled in the Assembly, the Sacramento Bee reported last week.
Asked about Andrew Christian promoting Biaggi's status as a bareback star, AHF spokeswoman Lori Yeghiayan would say little other than, "We don't really think there's a story here."
Yeghiayan said she's "not aware" of what the current status of AHF's partnership with the clothing line is.
AHF pushes SF drug pricing measure
The Los Angeles-based AHF is sponsoring a ballot measure this fall to encourage San Francisco officials to call for cheaper drug prices.
According to the measure's title and summary, San Francisco purchases prescription drugs for city-run medical programs and spends over $23 million a year on prescription drugs. That includes about $3.5 million annually for antiretroviral medications for inpatients with HIV and related conditions.
In a May 28 email exchange, Yeghiayan said, "We are looking forward to the vote in November."
AHF needed to gather 9,703 valid signatures to get the measure on the fall ballot and started the collection last November. In a statement dated March 1, the agency said the measure had qualified as it gathered 17,800 signatures from San Francisco residents.
"We are thrilled to have formal notice that our prescription drug purchasing initiative has qualified for the ballot," AHF President Michael Weinstein was quoted as saying. "As government programs pay for the vast majority of drug purchases in this country, we believe a state as vast and powerful as California - and a city and county like San Francisco - can and should use its clout to stand up to and rein in runaway pricing of drug companies. That is why we are now taking this issue directly to the people of San Francisco in November through this ballot measure."
The press release also quoted Board of Supervisors President David Chiu as "look(ing) forward" to helping pass the measure.
"Prescription drug costs place an enormous - and growing - financial burden not only on our residents and employers, but also on local governments who pay for the safety net that protects the most vulnerable within our community," stated Chiu.
Local AIDS-related nonprofit officials, however, expressed some uncertainty about the proposed ballot measure.
Courtney Mulhern-Pearson, director of state and local affairs for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, said, "We support overall the goal of lowering drug pricing," but "we don't think this proposal is the most effective way to get that done."
She said city officials "just don't have enough purchasing power, particularly when it comes to HIV."
Brian Basinger, director of the AIDS Housing Alliance-San Francisco, said, "Like all things, the devil is in the details," and he'd want to "vet the language with a skeptical eye."
However, he said, "In general, I'm supportive of the concept that I think that we need to be looking at how we can create greater efficiencies in the system… The price inflation in HIV drugs is atrocious and is a burden to the public health care system, and it takes away from critical needs like housing and other services that folks need."