Home Arts The disease that demolishes porn stars

The disease that demolishes porn stars

by Ayan Chowdhury January 29, 2013
The disease that demolishes porn stars

Press photo for Inside Lara Roxx

Porn undeniably holds a sense of fantasy. For many, it’s an escape and a welcomed distraction. Yet, like most industries, there’s also a destructive side to it.

Produced and directed by Mia Donovan, Inside Lara Roxx recounts the story of a young woman from Quebec who sought money, sex, and fame in L.A., only to be left with infamy and an incurable, deadly disease.

In April 2004, a male porn star by the name of Darren James tested positive for HIV. Production in L.A. was temporarily shut down. Three women who had performed scenes with him also tested positive for HIV. Lara Roxx was one of them. She was 21-years-old.

Donovan follows Lara during a five year span, 2005-10, recording her various highs and lows as she deals with her disease. The film begins in a psychological ward where Lara is being treated and follows her back to L.A. where she recounts the details of her foray into porn and ultimately into contracting HIV. Lara alternates between stints in the hospital and living in squalor in a run-down Montreal crack house. Early on in the film, her mother shows the viewer childhood photos and old home videos, contrasting sharply with the stark reality Lara is currently living.

The director travels with Lara to various locations, such as a porn convention in Las Vegas, which she attends in order to raise awareness of the dangers of HIV within the adult entertainment industry. There, she’s joined by famous porn actor Ron Jeremy, who shares some insightful knowledge on sexual education. She also meets Rebekka Armstrong, a former Playmate and an HIV/AIDS advocate, who painfully admits that she was once “completely debilitated by the disease.”

Lara doesn’t initially trust the filmmaker, questioning her motives and friendship. In fact, it’s easy to see why she would be wary and skeptical towards new-found friends.

By capturing her story on camera, the director may be implicitly turning Lara into a poster child for adult entertainment industry-related HIV, a symbol of awareness for the deadly disease. However, the film takes an unexpected turn of events during the final two acts, when Lara is forced to confront her own personal demons.

At times, this film feels uneven. Months go by without a single word between the documentarian and her subject. Yet the filmmaker persists, becoming an active participant in her first feature-length documentary, urging Lara to seek medical help. Moreover, the film also illustrates Lara’s identity crisis, “I don’t know who I am,” she states midway through to the film.

Donovan has a sharp eye for creating wonderful shots, from the dim-lit, run-down streets of Montreal to a picturesque, sunlit beach in California. However, the scenes in L.A. in which Lara visits fellow female porn actresses seem slightly scripted and choreographed. It should also be noted that the film contains graphic nudity. Clips from Lara’s infamous porn film with Darren James are included, creating a highly unsettling effect. In one of the film’s more poignant scenes, Lara confesses, “I love life and it breaks my heart if I don’t respect it. It’s like an indirect suicide. But I never did respect myself.”

Inside Lara Roxx screens Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. in Room H-110, 1455 de Maisonneuve W. Director Mia Donovan and Lara Roxx will be in attendance. This screening is co-presented with the HIV/AIDS Lecture Series. For more information, visit www.cinemapolitica.org/concordia.

Related Articles