The plight of 'Darren James'
and 'Lara Roxx'
is a microcosm of the industry's dangers.
For three weeks, "Darren James
" and "Lara Roxx" have been the unlikely stars of an international pornography industry AIDS scare.
...It has also focused worldwide attention on Roxx and James.
Last week, on condition that only the actors' stage names be published, the 21-year-old Roxx
agreed to speak to The Times, as did several relatives and friends of the 40-year-old James
Friends say James
- who exercised religiously and never missed an AIDS test - has no private health insurance.
himself declined to comment.Answering the door at his
Canoga Park apartment Sunday, he
looked at the ground, his
shoulders slumping, his
face drawn and defeated-looking.
"I don't want to talk to the press," he
Those who know James
, from acquaintances to close family members, describe an amiable, passive man whose character was far more complex than the drug-addled drifters whom mainstream America typically associates with porn.
"He's just one of the greatest people you will ever know in the whole, wide world," said Brian Edwards, a nephew in Ohio who regards James
as his "favorite uncle."
Born in 1964 in Detroit, James
, the nephew said, had been raised by his
divorced mother in the Herman Gardens housing project, the youngest of six children.
had a hard life, one of the hardest lives you can imagine," he
said, adding that James
"would work out in the gym - karate, taekwondo - just in the gym all the time, pushin' it out, pushin' it out.He'd say that holding things inside could cause you to take it out on people, could make you just want to explode."To escape Detroit, relatives said, he joined the Navy, traveling through Asia, eventually ending up in Ventura County at Port Hueneme.
lived for a while in nearby Oxnard, and in 1992 made a run at becoming a police officer, according to Steve Adams, a former Oxnard police detective.James
later told his
nephew that physical problems prevented him from making the cut.
It was while he
was living in Oxnard, his
Los Angeles friends said, that he
began showing up in the offices of adult film industry casting agents.
"Wesley B," a director for the adult film company West Coast Productions
, recalls meeting James
in 1996 or 1997 in the waiting room of World Modeling
, a Sherman Oaks agency that works with adult-film makers, and hiring him to do a 30-minute oral sex scene for ,100.
In L.A., however, James
struggled - producers say they are rarely at a loss for young male freelancers hoping to get paid for having sex with shapely women.
..."Darren didn't fit the stereotype, so he had to make his reputation on the fact that he was a consistent and reliable performer."James
didn't shoot drugs, mistreat women or waste time, said his
directors, but his
assignments were frequently scenes most other men would turn down.By 1999, friends said, he
was frustrated and ready to quit the business.Then in 2000, his
brother died in Detroit, and he
went home.He tried to stay, looking for work as a bouncer or personal trainer, and eventually becoming a hospital aide.
Back in L.A., James
returned to adult films.As his
nephew Edwards saw it, "he
hadn't found much that was good in his
life, but it was like, 'Hey, you the man' at this."
Directors who worked with James
estimated that, by this year, he
was making ,400 to ,600 a scene and doing five scenes or more a week.He
had two cars and a modest two-bedroom apartment where he
lived alone in the Valley.He
had a fish tank and space for the collection of model remote-controlled airplanes he
flew on weekends.
Eventually, friends said, he
was offered a contract by "T.T. Boy," a porn star turned producer, finally guaranteeing him a steady paycheck.He was quickly dispatched to far-flung locations with "Mark Anthony," another contract performer who had moved into directing.
The work, as usual, was mostly condom-less, and competing directors questioned the AIDS testing in Brazil, where he
told them he'd be filming.James
, however, became "a health fanatic," said Lee Goodwin, a friend and director: "He'd get tested every couple of weeks."
, nervous about doing her first anal scene in a room filled with pros, grew even more uncomfortable when the shy James
rebuffed her attempts at small talk.
, in the interim, had come home to L.A., gotten a clean HIV test and moved on to his
two-week Brazilian assignment.When he
returned March 16, he
went straight to AIM's clinic on Ventura Boulevard, where his
test showed no trace of the AIDS virus.
punched in - without condoms.
, too, was ill.He
had been infected by a spider bite in Brazil and went to the AIM clinic in early April, asking for another HIV test.
By then, James
had disappeared.Friends were so worried that they broke into his
apartment, expecting to find his
corpse.A week later, he
turned up at a hospital in San Diego County.
Since I can assume that you weren't in the room when Darren James
got infected, I'd like to know what sources you have to prove that it was a transexual that infected him.