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Shawn Ashmore
Best known for his role as Iceman in the X-Men series, the actor takes a turn for the dramatic in the brutally honest AIDS-epidemic film, 3 Needles
- Marc-Edouard Leon

In the epic AIDS saga 3 Needles, X-Men sensation Shawn Ashmore trades his Iceman suit for a huge penis and proves that you don't need mutant superpowers to save the world: just a latex condom and a little something called "not being evil." Compared to the 25 million AIDS fatalities, the 40 million people who are currently living with HIV, and the millions who are infected each year, even Magneto looks like a pussy. So why the hell can't we fight this villain together? The movie tries to answer the question with three stories based on some of the craziest shit that happens on this planet: widespread rape in South Africa, unhygienic blood trafficking in China, and unprotected sex in the North American porn industry.

Needle One

True story: In 2004, Darren James, star of Little White Chicks and Big Black Monster Dicks 15, and Francesca Has a Negro Problem, tested HIV positive. The news brought the multibillion-dollar porn industry in Los Angeles to a halt. James had slept with fourteen actresses since his last test and each of these women could shoot as many as five films a week, with as many partners fucking as many other partners. A sixty-day moratorium was imposed and more than thirty companies stopped production while potential victims were tracked down. Three women were found to have contracted the virus, which James allegedly caught when he shot Split That Booty 2 in Brazil.

Marc-Edouard Leon: You play the role of a porn actor who hides the fact that he's HIV positive.

Shawn Ashmore: Yeah, the film comes out December 1, which is World AIDS Day, so it's very appropriate.

Do you think it's murder to have unprotected sex with someone when you have AIDS?

I don't know any other way to look at it. It is what it is. Essentially, if you have a deadly disease you're going to pass onto somebody, I would say that would be murder.

What's tricky from a legal standpoint is that you can't accuse a person of murder if you don't have a corpse to show for it.

My character is interesting because he's not a bad guy. He is very deliberate in what he does, but porn is also the one single thing he's good at.

Did you do a lot of research to play him?

I mean, I feel like everyone had some knowledge about pornography. I'm not saying I'm an expert, but what the hell!

Did you get a lot of ass after X-Men?

Well, the girls who are interested in you for that reason are usually not that interesting. But it did make a huge difference!

I hear you have a twin brother who's also an actor?

Yeah, luckily we are attracted to very different scripts so we don't compete over the same projects.

You guys must be the hottest twins ever. Did you ever play a little bit of the old switcheroo?

Of course we talked about it! But it's probably the worst thing you could ever do to a girl. You'd have to be a real asshole to do that!

Needle Two

The BBC reports that in the last decade, South Africa has witnessed a 400-percent increase in sexual violence against children - every twenty-four minutes, a child is raped. Activists believe that the widespread "purity" myth that sex with a child or an infant will rid a man of HIV or AIDS is partially to blame, and the situation only worsens: females in South Africa have a greater chance of being raped than learning how to read, and every day, more than 1,000 South Africans die from AIDS-related complications. It's estimated that South Africans now spend more time at funerals than shopping or getting a haircut.

How you do respond to South Africans who actually believe in the myth of the "virgin cure"?

To me, that's the worst situation - dealing with that problem and not being educated about it. That's what it comes down to. The story in South Africa is really the most hopeless and desperate. The sheer numbers of people infected are just so astronomical. How do you step back from that? How do you even begin to change? That's the worst part of it.

I found a survey that tried to estimate just how many people believe in the "virgin cure" myth. After all, what if it's just an urban legend used to justify rape? Well, the survey showed that there are people who believe in the myth, but not as many as you might think. What's really disturbing, however, is that even a larger segment of the population don't think it's shocking to have sex with a 12-year-old. Somehow the logic is that since everybody has AIDS, you have to find girls who are younger and younger.

That's quite twisted. I wonder if it's culturally acceptable, or if the reason is that you're trying to find someone who's not infected. Maybe they think, "What's the reason of marrying her when she's 25, if she's only going to be alive for five years?"

It's like the science-fiction book Logan's Run, where people all die at 21. Your life is sped up. If you only have twenty-one years you're going to become mature a lot more quickly because you have to live your life much faster. It's very comparable in a way.

Needle Three

In the Henan province of central China, people known as "blood heads" profited by offering poor farmers cash for blood in the early- and mid-nineties. The collected blood was pooled, plasma extracted, and the blood, often tainted with disease, returned to donors. These unsterile collection methods led to the spread of HIV across the countryside, where the infection rate in some "AIDS villages" tops sixty percent.

The "blood head" situation, where villages in China are being decimated by AIDS, seemed implausible until I did research and discovered that it's already happening on a massive scale. To me, it's the mark of a good movie when you discover new things that you wouldn't have know about otherwise.

That's why I love working with the director Thom Fitzgerald. I read the script and was wondering: Does that really happen? And it does. I almost couldn't believe it. Even the insurance scam is true.

Stockard Channing plays your mother in the film, and she pulls off the scam. How does it work?

Well, basically, what you do is go in and buy life insurance as a healthy person. And then if you become infected with a terminal illness, they pay you out.

So your mother purposely contracts HIV so that she can resell her policy for money?

These are even ads in magazines. They essentially pay you out knowing that they're only going to have to compensate you for five to ten years as opposed to a bigger sum. It's dark man. That's what's so interesting about the movie.

Flaunt / Transcript by Pam