St. Louis group loses funds over porn star's appearance

BY Advocate.com Editors

November 02 2002 12:00 AM ET

The St. Louis Health Department has canceled the remainder of a $96,000 grant to a local AIDS agency that hired a gay-porn star to speak at a "safer sex" event held last July, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Two former employees of Blacks Assisting Blacks Against AIDS claimed after the event that federal money had been used to hire porn actor Edgar Gaines, who stripped and engaged in sexual contact with guests at the BABAA-sponsored event.

In a meeting Thursday, city health director Hugh Stallworth informed representatives of BABAA of the revocation of the group's funding. Stallworth said he acted based on what the actor wore at the event--just a towel and boots--not his profession or allegations that he stripped and had sexual conduct with some of the two dozen attendees. "We believe the individual did have a limited amount of clothes on, and we deemed it was an inappropriate use of federal money."

BABAA director Erise Williams Jr. denied the charges of nudity and sexual contact but acknowledged that Gaines, whose screen name is Bobby Blake, did appear wearing little clothing. The agency spent $500 from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention syphilis prevention grant to hire Gaines for the July 20 event, which was held at Williams's home. BABAA officials said they had asked Gaines to appear at the event because he is a "name draw" and someone to whom the attendees could relate.

BABAA's board put Williams on paid leave on Wednesday, pending its own review. The organization estimates that it has spent all but $6,000 of the federal grant, which is set to expire on December 31.

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