Monday, October 01, 2007

More Hustle, Less Flow

Late Saturday night, really Sunday morning, my phone rang. I was in bed with an ailing Michael and was halfway asleep so let my voicemail get it. On the way to work on Sunday afternoon I played the message and heard a frantic-sounding friend of mine telling me that things with a mutual friend of ours had just become more disturbing. This friend of ours has always been the source of endless drama and amusement -- sometimes intentionally, sometimes not -- but a close friend nonetheless through the many ups and downs normal people go through. Despite our affection for him, one thing that has always gnawed at us is his refusal to get a steady job (for reasons that remain unclear to everyone -- including his poor parents -- his sense of entitlement is like nothing I've ever witnessed before). As a freelance artist, he's always lived from one job to the next, frequently ending up in dire straights along the way. (Something always goes wrong but nothing is ever his fault, and someone is always f**king him over.) Although his transient lifestyle never directly affected any "the gang" to any great degree (we all live in different parts of the country and he isn't one to borrow money from us, although he's more than willing to take advantage of anyone's generosity, no matter how long he's known them), it's always been hard to sit back and watch someone you care about living so close to the edge. Things took a turn for the worse about two years ago when he disclosed he'd tested HIV positive. He had lost a onetime boyfriend to AIDS back in 1995, but had remained negative in the decade since. His seroconversation was heartbreaking, but his obsessive relationship with a guy half his age who treated him like dirt -- who is said to be the person who infected him -- and subsequent indifference to seeking medical attention only made the whole thing more upsetting. Over the next year or so we saw each other a handful of times and each time I'd express my concern for his well-being then we'd go back to just hanging out and being our usual selves. He would always assure me that he was looking into meds (he has no health insurance), and although I wouldn't harp on him, I encouraged him to talk to another friend of mine who is living a healthy life with HIV. (He never did.) The next thing I know a friend of a friend came across a bareback porn DVD with -- you guessed it -- our friend as one of the stars. We were mortified on so many levels, not the least of which his exposure to other strains of HIV and god knows what else, yet my friends didn't want to confront him about it. Despite their wishes, I wasn't willing to act like I didn't know what was going on so I went ahead and sent him an e-mail teasing him about his chosen porn name and asking him what the hell he was doing. He was completely nonchalant in his response, turning the conversation to plans for the summer and our impending 40th birthdays. When I tried to press him about his newfound career in porn he laughed it off and said that he'd done the videos for "personal reasons" saying it was "more of a fetish/fantasy thing for me that I have wanted to do" than a career change, implying that it was a one-off thing. (Well, at least a "four-off thing" from what we dug up on the Web.) I wasn't buying it for a minute but there wasn't really much I could do but hope that he knew what he was doing.

So that's a long way to get to the message I got yesterday morning informing me that someone had found an ad confirming that our friend was now a full-fledged hooker for hire, with his own graphic multi-photo layout and accompanying text:

Tattooed leather stud
Age: 32
Versatile, passionate, Spanish/Hungarian HDK model with a lean tattooed, pierced bod. Specializing photo and video work. I am very friendly with a wicked sense of humor and ready to service your needs public or private;) Evening and weekly rates available. Please, serious clients ONLY.

After I got through with my initial urge to tell him to at least change it to "Spanish/HUNGarian" -- oh, and stopped laughing at how he'd magically become eight years younger -- I was left with the grim reality of it all, and I wasn't sure what to think. Do I think prostitution should be legal? Absolutely. Do I think being a prostitute makes you a bad person? No, I really don't. But is it something I would wish for someone I care about? Is it something I think someone with so many other valuable skills should be doing with his life? Absolutely not. And while he could argue that this very post is the reason why he felt he couldn't be honest with me about what he was doing, I would argue that his living a double life makes me feel like I don't even know him at all. (One of my friends now suspects this has been going on for quite some time for reasons I won't go into here.) Sadly, this isn't even the first time "this" type of situation has presented itself to me. And the other person I know who experimented in the world of escorting gave me all the explanations that I'm certain I will get from this friend: "Oh, we're all prostitutes in one way or another. You work for a corporation and do what they tell you to do in exchange for money. At least I'm my own boss and I don't have to answer to anyone like you do" or "I'm providing a service" or (my favorite) "I only 'do it' with hot guys."

I don't even want to hear any of that crap from him. People can justify anything if they put their minds to it, and it's his right to do what he wants. But if you knew my friend he's the first and most vocal person to pass judgment on people for doing things that he doesn't agree with, so the sad irony of this situation is not lost on me one bit. I've been in contact with the gang and above all we're feeling an overwhelming sense of sadness. We just want our friend back, but somehow I feel like that isn't even an option anymore and for that I am truly disheartened.


Anonymous said...

Unless the sex fantasies he provides are free of any fluid exchange (like spanking, bondage, etc) it's not right that an HIV-positive guy would be hustling.

Anonymous said...

He should at least disclose his HIV status to his clients. Or does it go without saying that a HDK actor is HIV+?

Anonymous said...

If your friend has a chance, Kenneth, it's because of kind, caring people like you in his life. Hang in there. Be available when he realizes he needs you. For his sake and yours, I hope he does soon. Take care.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Men should know what they will could look like lying on the table at the Medical Examiner's office or Mortuary the next time they fire up the pnp, do their booty bump, or bb with strangers that do not give a damn about you. Their death certificates will come back to their families with the cause of death as "pending." Think of the stories told by the Medical Examiner's removal teams as they enter hotel rooms finding a hot dead boy or man surrounded by "Inches" magazines, gay porn playing on the tv and greasy, lubed up dildos, glass pipes and lines of pnp materials. Then they hot partyer is loaded into a van like Anna Nicole en-route to the the Medical Examiners office to be examined (sliced up the chest with a "Y" incision, all the while the dead pnp bb stud's penis still has lube on it and the nostrils still have funny white powder in them, all insides will be removed by non-caring hands and examined, stench and all, and the calvarium (top of the head) sawed open for the brain to be pulled out and examined. Then it (all the plaguy's innerds and brain) will be stuffed into a plastic bag and stuffed into the chest cavity and loosely stitched so the pnp stallion can then be transported to the family's favorite mortuary. If the family of the dead partyer chooses a viewing, the body will then be re-opened and pumped full of preservative, dressed and proudly presented for loved ones and friends to cry over. It is not pretty, but happens every day.
Also, it is pathetic that most guys lie about their ages; the attached photos of obese, poorly maintained, predatory-geezer bodies attached to an obviously falsely printed age. Is it accurate to assume that anyone wanting a bb load is already positive and past the point of caring? Why would a person who is HIV negative ask for bb load? It is easy to see how this is hot, but get an ltr and a test and then? I guess people deserve what they ask for. Do people just not care about themselves anymore? Think of how you tweekers are also screwing up the lives of your families and friends.

Anonymous said...

What a trip. Those lines are so true. I have heard them also from escort friends. I just assume that all escorts are positive. I have regularly heard from the honest ones that If they had real jobs, they could hardly make it through the 8 hour shift as the HIV tends to make them tired. While escorting, the job is done in an hour. A second hour that day and they are making as much as a doctor!

What a joke. I would hope they test the models before they make a bareback movie. I guess not.

Marc Lallanilla said...

I've been down this road so many times with friends that I'm getting numb to it.

First comes meth, then comes HIV, then they go underground and, if they come up at all, they're like the Undead.

Until they drop dead.

We really don't need gay-bashers anymore -- we're bashing ourselves to death every day.

Gay Pride. What does that phrase mean anymore? Is it just one more excuse to take our shirts off and get shit-faced?

If we really want to show some Gay Pride, let's tell our meth-using and bare-backing friends that HIV and syphilis rates are skyrocketing (yes, again).

Also, let's mention that new strains of gonorrhea are becoming antibiotic-resistant and therefore incurable.

Let's look around at our so-called "community" and help people who are stuck in some glittery wonderland of perpetual adolescence, denial and death.

"Gay" used to mean "light-hearted," but this shit is breaking my heart.