Porn Actress Takes Case to National Labor Board
Dalny Marga Valdes’ resume gets right to the point.
No civic awards or honorary degrees. Just a list of the 70-some X-rated films she has performed in, like “Bootylicious Trailer Trash” and “Tender Loins,” broken into graphically descriptive categories. But despite all her time before the cameras, the list failed to impress the Screen Actors Guild, which rejected her repeated attempts to join the union that represents performers in mainstream films and television.
Attacking what she calls discrimination against the porn industry, Valdes has filed a complaint with the Los Angeles regional office of the National Labor Relations Board.
The 29-year-old Valdes, who lives with her mother in Canyon Country and performs under the name Dalny Marga, contends sex-film producers make “millions upon billions” from her efforts but leave her only hundreds. Her biggest single paycheck since entering the business in 1995 was $1,200, she said.
Guild membership, she says, would accord her the status, benefits and financial opportunities enjoyed by conventional Hollywood actors.
“They said X-rated actresses couldn’t join and I thought, ‘That’s not right,’ ” she said, as she sat next to her mother, Dolores Valdes, on a sagging couch shredded by the family’s many dogs. “Why isn’t someone protecting me, or looking out for me?”
The guild, which represents 90,000 actors and has been led by stars like Charlton Heston and Patty Duke, says it has not represented sex-film performers since the early 1970s. Valdes was not admitted because she did not meet any of the three major membership requirements, according to guild spokeswoman Katherine Moore, who cited guild policy in declining to comment further on Valdes’ case.
To be accepted, applicants for membership must have worked on a project financed by a guild signatory (usually a major studio or production company), worked three days as an extra or be members of an affiliated entertainment union.
“The guild does not discriminate against performers who are eligible,” Moore said.
Sid Rosen, assistant director of the NLRB’s regional office, said Valdes’ complaint is being handled by a single investigator who will wrap up the work in about a month.
The case highlights the invisible wall between Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley-centered sex-film industry, which is extensively chronicled in the current film “Boogie Nights.”
In words seemingly lifted from the movie, Valdes defended her right to make a living performing sex acts for entertainment: “When you have a certain God-given talent and you like something, you obviously enjoy doing it. And that’s all I want to do. . . . Why I should live pennilessly is a real scandal.”
Those in the sex-film industry say that although they want respect, they are content to treat their relationship with Hollywood as a “foreign-exchange program,” as Vivid Video marketing director Susan Yannetti put it, existing in a different world with occasional contacts. Most of her X-rated colleagues interviewed said they find Valdes’ claim groundless.
“I’ve never heard anyone bring this up, before her,” said Yannetti, marketing director for the Van Nuys-based Vivid.
“It’s silly. People get into this business because they’re rebels. They don’t want rules. They don’t want to pay dues. A lot of them are gone after six months. So how are they going to have union protection?”
Yannetti noted that established sex stars like Ron Jeremy or Traci Lords have obtained SAG membership by doing enough mainstream work. Aside from not meeting the guild requirements, she added, Valdez is far from an upper-tier star worth big money, even in the sex-film world.
“She’s alone in a canoe paddling down the river of weird,” Yannetti said. “My biggest fear is that someone will actually think she’s right.”
But Valdes remains undeterred by her critics, who include even her former agent, Jim South of the World Modeling Talent Agency in Sherman Oaks, who has split with her and had no comment on her NLRB complaint.
“I don’t know how she got involved in the porn industry,” her mother mused before dusting off an old family portrait that also features Dalny Valdes’ two sisters. “She’s a beautiful girl but I don’t see it.”
“Mother!” Dalny Marga Valdes shouted, before turning away to watch a local TV news report on her case. “I love my work. It’s just the pay that’s bad.”
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