On June 20, we delivered a version of the following letter to Thomas Lesser and his associates at Lesser, Newman, Souweine & Nasser, a law firm in Northampton. Mr. Lesser represents Capital Video, which is trying to hang on to its viewing booth entertainment license in Springfield. We have not yet received any response, so we are releasing this letter to the public.
We invite concerned citizens to contact Mr. Lesser and ask him to consider the impact Capital Video’s Springfield store is having on its neighborhood and the region. You can also contact Springfield Mayor Charlie Ryan and ask him to revoke Capital Video’s viewing booth license as a health hazard that also likely contributes to the prostitution and blight seen around this store.
Dear Mr. Lesser:
We understand you have engaged with Capital Video to defend the license for their viewing booths in Springfield. We would like to call your attention to the role establishments like these play in the transmission of HIV. During 2003-2005, the most recent data available, Springfield had nearly the highest rate of HIV infection diagnosis in our state, second only to much-smaller Provincetown. The fourth-highest infection rate is found in Holyoke. Male-to-male sex is the leading cause of HIV infection in Massachusetts, and increasingly so in recent years.
As you may be aware, Capital Video’s stores in Springfield, Kittery and Meriden have featured prominently on the ‘cruising’ website, Squirt.org. Comments on the Internet may be hearsay in the eyes of the law. Nevertheless, they describe the reality that these stores cater to a group of people who are cavalier in the extreme about their personal health and the health of their sexual partners. Capital Video sells media that encourages promiscuity and heedlessness, and realizes increased profits when it turns a blind eye to patrons’ activity on its premises. Despite Capital Video’s protestations that it discourages sexual activity in its stores, in an era when pornographic content of all kinds can be accessed directly in the home, the unique selling point of viewing booths is to facilitate physical sexual contact between two or more people.
We find it telling that Capital Video’s Springfield store experienced the problems that it did mere months after the company endured a highly public controversy over conditions in its store in Kittery, Maine. In January 2006, Capital Video general counsel Lesley Rich promised Kittery Town Manager Jon Carter that the company “is very sensitive to the needs of the communities in which we do business… It is a strict policy that our employees consistently police the property surrounding (Amazing.net), and we will double our efforts to (ensure) that this is done on a routine basis.”
If Capital Video sincerely cared about store conditions and customer activities, we doubt the Springfield police would have found what they found last fall. Alternately, it could be that the nature of Capital Video’s business is such that it is simply not possible to maintain healthy conditions over time in the face of its customers’ desires. Either way, the people of Springfield have little basis to trust that Capital Video can or will permanently improve the conditions of its viewing booths at Apremont Triangle.
On Squirt.org, Capital Video’s Apremont Triangle store gets the most comments of any location in Springfield. It is plausible that it is one of the leading centers for HIV transmission in the region.
We do not believe you intend to do the gay community any harm. However, by defending Capital Video’s viewing booths you are protecting a significant route for HIV transmission. Understanding the health issues at stake, US courts have ruled that private viewing booths do not merit First Amendment protection. For example, when ruling against Capital Video’s attempts to stymie viewing booth health regulations last year in Kittery, York County Superior Judge Paul Fritzsche wrote: “There is no fundamental liberty interest to view sexually explicit materials in a closed viewing booth at a business.”
It is our hope that, out of compassion for the people of Springfield and the gay male community, you will decline to defend further the viewing booths at Apremont Triangle.
Adam Cohen and Jendi Reiter
Merry L. Nasser
William C. Newman
Rebecca L. Passa
Jonathan Z. Souweine
SUPPLEMENTAL EVIDENCE AGAINST CAPITAL VIDEO VIEWING BOOTHS
It is remarkable that while the fate of Capital Video’s viewing booths in Springfield hangs by a thread, glory holes, sexual activity, foul conditions and management laxity remain hot topics of discussion by patrons of Capital Video stores around the country. Even metal plates between viewing booths, promoted as a key part of the recent improvements in the Springfield store, appear to be easily defeated…
Comments on Squirt.org about Amazing Video of Meriden, CT – explicit language
Description: “Several of the video booths have 2-way mirrors (on/off switch on wall above video screen). You can watch action or use this as a way of hooking up. Usually a good amount of action there. Staff leaves you alone.”
9/9/06: went on FRi at 1:30 GH was in full use
Best BJ I have ever had TY!
9/18/06: …Later when leaving, I found that the lot and turnpike from one light to the next and back was an active cruising circle. couldn’t believe how much action that place was getting. Highly reccomended!
10/3/06: Glory Hole is now open….sheetmetal has been removed. [emphasis added]
1/26/07: After GH being open earlier this month, once again covered. Also notices put up prohibiting LOITERING! But nobody seemed to enforce, didn’t seem to keep guys from wandering around, testing doors. Nonetheless, not very welcoming. Too bad, because place seemed more friendly after the troll manager left.
2/3/07: This place still has some of the best dicks. My door got opened 7 times within 30 mintues. As I was playing with myself and watching porn, guys walk in whip it out right in front of me. Although I usually come here to get sucked it’s hard to pass up a big dick when it is right in front of you. And after watching everyone getting off on the TV it’s even more tempting to suck off anything that comes into the booth.
4/18/07: Went there today for the first time. There was at least 10 guys there and i was suck in a matter of minutes. Definately a good place to go for fun. the two young guys working didnt pay any attention and it is very easy to find someone.
4/24/07: IS THE GLORY HOLE OPEN NOW?
5/20/07: I’m never disappointed here. Last Monday discovered the buddy panel and got off watching my neighbor. Today a young man followed me into the booth and knew just what to touch and just what to do. Thanks, he said.
5/30/07: Glory hole back open
6/7/07: was there at lunch time last week and the glory hole was closed up but the booth next to it looks like there is one in the making, kinda small right now. Lot of folks there but not alot happening. Finally got a blowjob from this guy with another guy watching through the buddy glass. Thinkin of heading here on Friday night the 8th. Anyone lookin to take my load?
Comments on Squirt.org about Amazing Video of Troy, NY – explicit language
Description: “Got Sucked by 3 hot guys all different times today and I sucked and got fucked by 4 guys all in the booths , it was tight, but well worth it, cock in the ass and one in the mouth. “
7/5/06: are the holes open again?
8/4/06: They have had troubles keeping clerks, there always advertising for help. If you go when the young chick is on with the stud in her lip she doesnt give a shit of who’s in what booth or how many just drop money and be cool. Was in the other day, and holes were closed and the glass windows were disabled. But like others have posted the parking lot is very cruisy and the alley way also…
8/9/06: The store in Pittsfield used to have booths, but they remove them completly a few years ago.
4/12/07: was there the other day. one is open again.
4/21/07: Wven better news – look between 6&7 and 8&9 – GH delight!
5/9/07: …checked back rooms glory holes are now unblocked…
5/21/07: Was there yesterday–very good action — dropped a load in a hungry mouth –nice to see it going again–anyone wanna hook up??
The note below about the parking lot in North Kingstown, RI is a good heads-up for Northampton. The parking lot for Capital Video’s planned store at 135 King Street is in the back, with foliage by the railroad tracks offering numerous concealed spaces.
Comments on Squirt.org about Amazing Express/Video Expo of North Kingstown, RI – explicit language
Cruising tips: “Staff is cruiser friendly, never a hassle! Booths in the middle on left have peep windows between them…just press the button. “
Description: “Adult video store with preview booths in back room. (Nicely sized parking lot behind building, view blocked from the road…great for, well…)” [emphasis added]
12/28/06: I’ve been going to this place on and off for years and had never met this fellow until one day last week. At least I think that it was him. A rather fat, unwashed, late 50s looking individual. . .probably uncut with an entirely new brand of cheese growing under the hood, and a nasty, unwashed, brownish bandana sticking out from under an equally dirty baseball cap? If it was him, he followed me out to my truck and tried to convince me to return to the store with him. Ich!
1/11/07: I used to frequent this bookstore for years. Back when it was a quarter of the size and only had one entrance in the front of the building (late 80’s). There were only 4 booths in the back. Had some hot times there. The clerk used to lock the store and lay me down for some awesome head. Shit, he could suck some cock! He also introduced me to poppers. He would pop a new bottle everytime we hooked up, about twice a week…
3/22/07: Stopped by NK..of course Bandana Johnny was there, truly with a stink on…its disgusting. I wonder if its a heath issue with him being there. Would Amazing be liable? Afterall, they do let him loiter all day knowing his dirtiness. That day he went into a booth…rapidly followed by 3 men, one at a time. It was disgusting to hear him spitting on the floor multiple times. I’m thinking his spit could pass a disease. I wish I was a lawyer.
4/3/07: This place is disgusting. Today there were several gross and dirty people cruising the bookstore. There were all in their 70’s and smelled like they haven’t showered in weeks. I had to leave it was so bad. In addition, they rattle the doors and open them several times even after being told that “I am all set”…
5/15/07: This place hasn’t had GH’S in quite a while but that shouldn’t stop you. Sometimes there are just older gents hanging around rattling doorknobs and the infamous dirtbag “Bandana Johnny” is always lurking but for the most part it’s a great place to give or receive some great head. Booths are a bit small for a good fuck but it can be done.
Keeping stores clean appears to be a persistent, systemwide problem for Capital Video…
Selected Comments on Squirt.org about Amazing Superstore of Dallas, TX – explicit language
8/1/06: No paper towels, trashcans, etc. Really gone down hill…
8/23/06: I go here often, took three loads with two in my ass> great place
9/22/06: Cruised there yesterday; place was nasty and dirty…
10/26/06: First time at this place. Love the arcade with all the different hallways and twists and turns, upstairs booths, also. Lots of varieties of cock! Hooked up immediately with a young preppie that loved to have his ass serviced in every way possible! He unloaded a nice load of cum in my mouth! Will certainly be back to this place!
11/18/06: Went here last night and left. Every room I went into was so filthy and smelly I couldn’t even get turned on. Pretty gross…
12/9/06: …it does smell, I think they use dirty mop water or something. I have walked in and the front of the store smelled like vomit!…
1/6/07: Hi Guys. I went here on Thursday and I have to be honest, the place smelled like a sewer. They really should do a better job of cleaning the place, or at least change the mop water more than once-a-week.
6/18/07: I haven’t been here durning lunch in awhile, but in the mornings could be fun. No staff bothering you knocking on the door. anyone ever interested in meeting let me know?
Selected Comments on Squirt.org about Amazing Express of Providence, RI
Cruising tips: “Grab a booth, only takes a minute before… “
7/6/06: This used to be a pretty nice place. I was there today [briefly] and the booth area downstairs smelled like a port-a-jon…
7/18/06: …The last word that comes to my mind when I think of this place is “clean”. And the booths are really small, except two VIP booths which takes nothing smaller than a $5.
My experiences there have been…walk down the steps, and see what appears to be every homeless crack addict and hustler lining the walls… Finally I leave, only to be approached in the lot by yet another hustler “hey, what’s up…wanna hang out?”
I’ve been there three times in my life, and had similar experiences each time.
7/19/06: wanna hang out means –“i’m a ho, how much do you want to give me so i can support my drug habit” and who in there right mind would want to get off with one of those guys, they look like they are in some state of a walking comatose, not to mention they are filthy looking
Description on Squirt.org about Amazing Express of Johnston, RI
Cruising tips: “If nobody picks you up before you enter a booth just leave the door unlocked and you’re sure to meet new friends. “
Description: “I’ve never even made it into a booth alone. There’s always someone ready willing and able. “
Description on Squirt.org of Video Expo of Groton, CT (a Capital Video store)
“…boarded up glory holes, but new ones appear all the time…”
Gazette: “Porn store’s viewing booths raise stink in Springfield”
During the hearing, Nota himself said one of the holes in the Springfield viewing booths had been made with a drill, something that we presume would make a lot of noise. More generally, Internet comments from patrons suggest that Capital Video’s stores in Springfield, Kittery, Maine and elsewhere can be popular places for people to meet up for sex, at least when the store management chooses to be lax. And being lax is profitable. As one patron puts it, “theres more money going in the machines with lights off and holes in the walls…”
Here are excerpts from [a June 19] article in the Gazette:
“We agree and will not dispute that in October and December certain things occurred on the premises that should not have occurred,” said [Northampton attorney Thomas Lesser, representing Capital Video]…
At issue are the 16 enclosed viewing booths police and health officials inspected Oct. 19. Springfield health inspector Steve Stathis reported that all of the viewing booths were found ‘soiled’ at that time and littered with paper towels, tissues, and other debris. The walls, floor and video monitors were stained with what appeared to be bodily fluids, according to Stathis and police.
‘There were seven booths that contained holes in them that appeared to be 2 inches wide,’ Stathis said.
Springfield Detective Martin Germain inspected the store with Stathis and said it was his opinion that the holes were drilled to facilitate sexual acts among people in two separate booths…
Detective Jaime Bruno, who works in Springfield’s vice-control bureau, said he entered one of the video booths Dec. 20 in an undercover operation, and also entered the store on two additional occasions that day. He reported a strong stench of bodily fluids in the viewing booth area, and being groped by customers on all three visits…
‘It’s a never-ending battle,’ said Nota, of preventing customers from altering the booths. ‘We do our best…’
Erica Walch, a neighborhood resident and former president of the civic association, testified that she has witnessed prostitution almost daily in the Apremont Triangle and that Capital Video’s store creates an atmosphere of ‘lawlessness in the area.’
‘If the neighborhood is going to be developed, it has to go,’ said Michael Tuckey, a neighborhood resident and the current president of the civic association, after Monday’s hearing.
The Gloryhole FAQ (explicit language)
Understanding the glory hole phenomenon is useful when evaluating statements made by commercial sex shop operators such as Capital Video. For example, at Capital Video’s license violation hearing in Springfield on June 18, they made much of the fact that they recently installed metal sheets between the viewing booths in their Apremont Triangle Amazing.net store. However, Lilfuzzyg, “an avid attendee of gloryholes”, suggests above that metal partitions can be holed just as wooden ones can…
When Capital Video general counsel Lesley Rich declares that some Capital Video viewing booths have retractable “buddy windows”, glory hole devotees can reasonably infer that Capital Video welcomes sexual activity in their booths. Glory holes have been such a distinctive feature of Capital Video’s Springfield store they are mentioned prominently in its citation on Squirt.org, a website that helps members cruise for casual sex:
Most booths in arcade have glory holes, many times you can share a booth, have recieved some of the best blow jobs in my life here. Always some action going on. It’s got 20 booths, 3 large glory holes, several peep holes
The phenomena of glory holes and high-risk sex at Capital Video’s Springfield store do not appear to result from a mere transient ’employee breakdown’, as claimed by its project and construction manager Anthony Nota (Gazette, 6/19/07). They are in fact longstanding and well-known features of this establishment. Springfield Mayor Charlie Ryan should keep this perspective in mind as he determines the fate of Capital Video’s viewing booth license this summer.
NoPornNorthampton Reaches Out to Springfield Neighborhood with Advice on Adult Enterprises
Comments on Squirt.org shed additional light on the environment inside the Amazing.net store. Squirt is a website that helps members cruise for casual sex. Of all the Squirt listings for Springfield, the Amazing.net store currently has the most comments…
a1buttmuncher, 12/5/06: They have been cited by the city and had to close up the holes and they are keep a close eye on the back. The lights are up and if they see you opening doors they will throw you out. They are very serious I witnessed the manager throwing out a guy I saw there all the time. Be careful and discreet or you will not place to play during the cold winter months. I agree that it is not really worth the time with the bright lights and no holes but they will be back eventually. Be Patient!
Many Porn Shops with Viewing Booths Likely Fall Short of OSHA Standards
In 2006, compliance appears to have been an issue at Capital Video’s porn shop in Kittery, Maine. This porn shop contains 16 viewing booths. We recall last year’s testimony from Kittery’s police chief (emphasis added):
The Chief said their informant told them that on numerous occasions he had tried to clean but had not been given any information on how to wash the areas properly. Police Chief Strong said he believed the collection of material they made, along with the lab results, showed beyond a reasonable doubt that there were body fluids being exchanged or deposited that other people were exposed to…
Police reports suggest a number of Springfield Capital Video patrons are drunk. Scientists are finding that high-risk sex, intoxication and being HIV-positive correlate with each other.
Springfield police dispatch reports from December 1998 through April 2007 paint a picture of burglaries, panic alarms, ambulance calls and altercations in and around the Amazing.net store at Apremont Triangle. The address of the store, which is also known as Video Expo, is 486 Bridge Street. Here are excerpts from the reports:
4/6/00 (6:26pm): Male passed out in bathroom at Video Expo–ambl needs asst
7/29/00 (3:02pm): Wants dk [drunk] customer removed from the store… Customer is screaming and yelling.
2/1/01 (9:10pm): For a male in the store–dk–hit the female
2/28/01 (10:34pm): For a male locked in one of the booths…seems to be dk
3/11/02 (12:40pm): Dk male refusing to leave from the store
10/18/02 (6:16pm): Beligerant dk male here… He left may come back
11/18/02 (7:14pm): Dk subj who was laying on the ground, is now up, and wandering into the street. Caller doesn’t want him to get hit.
12/20/02 (1:31pm): Ambl…enroute…dk male felled down hit his head…and is still down…
3/16/03 (1:12pm): Subject smoking crack inside white car…
5/31/03 (7:06pm): There’s a dk smoking in the booth. The clerk has already thrown him out 3 times.
8/27/03 (4:53pm): The mgr calls; a drunk male were not leave the store; he is breaking items
9/30/03 (4:06pm): Person passed out
10/1/03 (6:45pm): Dk male out front asking 4 ambl. Really dk over 70 YOA.
10/31/03 (3:14pm): Elderly man is falling down drunk in front of the store
10/31/03 (7:17pm): Wants dk person removed from infront of the store
3/1/04 (4:05pm): Dk male wearing blue and yellow jacket. Causing trouble.
3/4/04 (1:09pm): …elderly male wearing tran jacket is there again is dk
10/1/04 (5:44pm): Shag the drunk
10/16/04 (8:06pm): Dk male, drinking inside store and urinating all over the place – has been there for a while and is refusing to laeve
12/10/04 (1:09pm): Caller says he is drunk and keeps coming in and out of the store
12/31/04 (12:08pm): Ambl enroute…dk male collapsed on the ground after being asked to leave by clerk. Is breathing but not very responsive.
9/12/05 (5:55pm): Caller states there is a unconcious female in the alley next to the store
10/28/05 (9:36pm): [Male] about 30’s is poss paaing out in one of the video booths… AMR enrt.
12/1/05 (5:17pm): Comp states there is a dk male in the store that is refusing to leave… Very intoxicted.
1/24/06 (9:58pm): Caller say male outside drunk harrassing cust
4/2/06 (8:14pm): Caller states that there is a dk female arguing and sitting in the middle of the rd.
10/11/06 (2:12pm): Customer is dk not moving. He is in one of the booths. AMR enroute wants asst… Amazing Video’s has a male in the video booth using inhalants and refuses to leave. AMR is going the male may need medical attention.
3/26/07 (6:25pm): [Male] refusing to leave. He is dk. Arguing with emeployess.
“Correlates of unprotected anal sex with casual partners: a study of gay men living in the southern United States”, AIDS Behavior, 9/06
This study identified demographic and behavioral correlates of engaging in unprotected anal sex (UAS) with non-main partners among men having sex with men (MSM). Just over 1,000 men completed anonymous surveys with 25% of the men reporting their most recent sexual act with a non-main male partner was UAS. These men tended to be white, older, HIV seropositive, and high (or drunk) when having sex. In multivariate analysis being seropositive, and being high or drunk retained significance.
“Experiencing release: sex environments and escapism for HIV-positive men who have sex with men”, Journal of Sex Research, 2/05
Parsons et al. (2004) recently outlined how alcohol played different roles in the sexual behavior of HIV-positive men who have sex with men. The desire to escape from stressful thoughts and feelings related to HIV was one of the principal motivators for combining alcohol use and sexual activity…
Purcell, Ibanez, and Schwartz (2005) specifically examined escapism as it related to recreational drug use and risky sexual activity among HIV-positive men who have sex with men. Drugs were found to facilitate cognitive escape in some men, specifically to help them forget about their HIV status or to deny the dangers associated with unprotected sex acts. Like Parsons et al. (2004), these researchers found that personal and contextual factors often had an effect on the relationship between substance use and unsafe sex…
The physical and social characteristics of public and commercial sex environments (e.g., bathhouses, sex clubs, public parks where men “cruise” other men for sexual activity) frequented by men who have sex with men may provide the heightened emotional experiences that enable cognitive escape by amplifying sexual arousal (Somlai, Kalichman, & Bagnall, 2001; Tewksbury, 2002)…
“Commercial sex venues: a closer look at their impact on the syphilis and HIV epidemics among men who have sex with men”, Sexually Transmitted Infections, 8/2/06
Study: A cross-sectional study of 1,351 MSM who were diagnosed with early syphilis who did and did not encounter sexual partners at commercial sex venues.
Results: Overall, 26% MSM diagnosed with syphilis had sexual encounters at commercial sex venues. Of these, 74% were HIV positive, 94% reported anonymous sex, and 66% did not use a condom. Compared to those who did not have a sexual encounter at these venues, they were twice as likely to be HIV positive…six times more likely to have anonymous sex…twice as likely not to use a condom…and twice as likely to use non-injecting drugs…
Conclusions: MSM diagnosed with syphilis who frequent commercial sex venues are engaging in high risk behaviours for syphilis and HIV transmission and acquisition. Thus commercial sex venues are one of the focal points of syphilis and HIV transmission and acquisition.
“No Turning Back: HIV and Gay Male Sexuality”, The Body, Winter 2005/2006
A U.S. study of public sex environments (PSEs) — parks, beaches, public bathrooms, truck stops, etc. — and commercial sex environments (CSEs) — bars, bathhouses, sex clubs, etc. — found that half of the HIV-positive MSM [men who have sex with men] surveyed had visited a PSE (50%) or a CSE (41%) in the previous three months, with 24% going to both. Interestingly, MSM who visited PSEs did not engage in more unprotected sexual activities than did those who did not visit PSEs, while visitors to CSEs had significantly more unprotected sex than non-visitors.
Capital Video’s Porn Shops Get Many Comments from the “Cruisers” at Squirt.org
There are websites where men looking for anonymous sex make lists of good “cruising” spots across the USA. One example is Squirt.org, “your neighborhood cruising guide”.
On this site (which has explicit photos), we notice that the Amazing.net store is one of the two “cruising” locations listed for Kittery, Maine. This listing has 56 comments, far more than the number two listing, the I-95 Northbound Rest Area (11 comments). Amazing.net stores are owned by Capital Video Corporation, the company proposing to build a porn shop with viewing booths at 135 King Street.
When we search Squirt.org for cruising locations in Springfield, Massachusetts, 13 sites are listed. Number one for comments is Video Expo (68 comments). This appears to be the same store as Amazing.net, since they share the same address (486 Bridge Street).
Then we searched Squirt.org for cruising locations in
Meriden, Connecticut. Four sites are listed. Number one for comments is Amazing.net (79 comments). The other three sites have no comments at all.
“The Internet and HIV study: design and methods”, BMC Public Health, 9/04
The Internet provides a new meeting ground, especially for gay men, that did not exist in the early 1990s. Several studies have found increased levels of high risk sexual behaviour and sexually transmissible infections (STI) among gay men who seek sex on the Internet, although the underlying processes are not fully understood…
“Intentional unsafe sex (barebacking) among HIV-positive gay men who seek sexual partners on the internet”, AIDS Care, 6/03
Within the gay community, the term ‘barebacking’ has emerged to refer to intentional unsafe anal sex. The prevalence of barebacking is evidenced among gay men, particularly those who are HIV-positive, by the number of internet sites devoted to barebacking and the number of men seeking sexual partners through the use of the internet. To gain insight into barebacking, a sample of 112 HIV-positive gay men were recruited from internet sites where men seek to meet each other for sex. The majority of participants (84%) reported engaging in barebacking in the past three months, and 43% of the men reported recent bareback sex with a partner of unknown serostatus. These results indicate the potential for widespread transmission of HIV to uninfected men by the partners they meet on the internet… A significant correlation was observed between defining masculinity as sexual prowess and intentional unprotected anal sex.
“The continuing HIV epidemic among men who have sex with men”, American Journal of Public Health, 6/01
OBJECTIVES: This study characterized the AIDS epidemic among urban men who have sex with men (MSM). METHODS: A probability sample of MSM was obtained in 1997 (n = 2881; 18 years and older) from New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco, and HIV status was determined through self-report and biological measures. RESULTS: HIV prevalence was 17%… [C]urrent levels among urban MSM in the United States approximate those of sub-Saharan countries (e.g., 14%-25%) and are extremely high in many population subsegments. Despite years of progress, the AIDS epidemic continues unabated among subsegments of the MSM community.
“Homosexual encounters in different venues”, International Journal of STD and AIDS, 1997
We aim to provide empirical data regarding the role of various sex-on-premises venues for gay men in the spread of HIV infection and homosexual activity with casual partners at different (public) venues was assessed. A questionnaire was filled out by participants in a cohort study in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Questions were asked regarding sex in private homes, baths, cruising areas, darkrooms, cinemas, and hotel rooms… the number of partners practising unprotected anogenital sex was highest in (semi) public venues.
“Adult book shops in N.D. must keep booths visible”, AIDS Policy Law, 5/2/97
AIDS: North Dakota House Bill 1387 requires adult book shop owners to keep one side of each viewing booth open to a public space as a means of deterring sexual activity. The measure is similar to statutes upheld around the nation. The New Jersey Superior Court’s Appellate Division recently found that a State law requiring open booths did not violate the shop owner’s First Amendment right to free speech. The court ruled that the statute targeted secondary effects of speech, namely furtive sexual encounters.
“Court upholds N.J. law discouraging sex in video shops”, AIDS Policy Law, 3/21/97
AIDS: Claims that a State law regulating adult video shops unconstitutionally interfere with the shop’s free speech rights have been rejected by a New Jersey appeals court. The law was aimed at preventing the spread of contagious diseases where coin-operated, sexually explicit videos are shown… The appellate judge wrote that the law does not suppress sex videos but does prevent book shops from providing closed booths for patrons to watch the videos.
“Court upholds ordinance discouraging sex in video shops”, AIDS Policy Law, 7/26/96
AIDS: The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected claims made by Satellite News and Video, Inc., operator of the Odyssey video store, that open-booth regulations violate the shop’s free-speech rights and infringe on patrons’ privacy. The Kenosha County Board of Health required shopkeepers to keep video booths open to discourage sexual liaisons. The regulation is aimed at preventing the possible spread of AIDS and other diseases by controlling the creation of unsanitary, unhealthy conditions…
“Judge upholds closing of theater that was site of high-risk sex”, AIDS Policy Law, 5/5/95
AIDS: New York City’s decision to close a gay movie theater where inspectors found male patrons engaging in unsafe sexual activity with other men was upheld by Justice Marilyn G. Diamond of the Supreme Court in Manhattan. She rejected the theater owner’s argument that the city’s March 31, 1995 closure of the New David Cinema on West 54th Street violated the Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of speech. The city based its action on a provision in the state health code which prohibits oral, anal or vaginal sex in commercial establishments. Despite several warnings from the city, the movie house did not follow the demands that it move forcefully to prevent high-risk sexual activity among patrons… Some gay activists contend the action was unjustified, since most of the sex that occurs in those establishments in consensual and involves solo or mutual masturbation. Others point out that a good deal of unsafe sex does occur. Because men often have several sexual liaisons during a single night at a theater or club, the risk of HIV transmission is magnified many-fold.
Massachusetts Health and Human Services: HIV-AIDS Epidemiologic Profile Fiscal Year 2007
October 2006 Fact Sheet
From 1999 to 2005, the number of people living with HIV/AIDS increased by 30%… As of the end of 2005, a cumulative total of 27,631 Massachusetts residents have been diagnosed and reported with HIV infection, with or without an AIDS diagnosis. Of these, 11,665 (42%) have died…
Male-to-male sex and injection drug use are the leading reported risks for HIV infection among people living with HIV/AIDS, acco
unting for 33% and 27% of all infections, respectively… Among males diagnosed with HIV infection, the proportion of HIV diagnoses with male-to-male sex as the primary reported exposure mode increased from 41% in 1999 to 53% in 2005.
Top twenty cities/towns in Massachusetts by rate of HIV infection diagnosis (2003-2005):
Sexual Ecology: Porn, Promiscuity, and AIDS (explicit language)
Rotello observes that all infectious diseases are ecological. The human behavioral environment is as important a factor as the biological properties of the virus. Variations in technology and culture explain why the same virus will remain rare in one population but start an epidemic in another. Epidemics depend on the infectivity of the virus, its prevalence in the community, and the rate of contact between the core group of infected people and the general population…
“…Based on the evidence, I have no doubt that if owners of commercial sex establishments had to file ‘epidemiological impact statements’ proving that they would not harm gay sexual ecology before they could get or renew their licenses, very few would be allowed to operate.” (p.199)