December 2nd 2013. Just one year away.
I didn’t stay at home last night.
I sat quietly. I am wearing my black pantaloons (Miu Miu), a Stetson, raspberry colored hand knitted socks with sky blue trim.
They were rudely spouting one ill-informed cliché after another, rudely condemning: green solutions, ‘cripple’ access around Santa Monica, the ‘fiscal cliff’ etc.
The old white men are stuck in another age, another time… baffled by a changing world… still unable to comprehend how Mitt Romney lost the election they were convinced he’d win.
I wanted to ask them questions but I knew nothing they had to say would tell me anything I didn’t already know.
Their fears laid bare: Black leaders, electric cars, marriage equality.
“They’ll all cry that they voted for him.” they convinced each other.
I felt like I was on the winning side. Their Schadenfreude didn’t feel dangerous… it felt old-fashioned.
On the way home I listened to something on NPR about a group called LA Jews for Peace.
A group of Jewish Americans committed to peace in the Middle East through a negotiated settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an end of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, and opposition to American militarism, imperialism, and exceptionalism.
Their spokesman bemoaned America’s UN vote against Palestine.
America, like the old white men at the coffee shop, seems unable to comprehend or adapt to the changing world.
What the white men at the coffee shop don’t seem to acknowledge: they have more in common with their President than they seem to realize. I mean… Obama is only half black, raised by white folks… cup half full lads? Surely?
Obama owns his whiteness in the Whitehouse and flays his blackness on the stump.
Barry Goodman (old white jew), unfriended me on FB the day the UN recognized the Palestinians right to statehood.
Just nine nations voted against the Palestinian Authority’s upgrade to nonvoting observer state status, which passed the General Assembly 138-9, with 41 abstentions.
Voting “No” on Thursday were Israel, the United States and Canada, joined by the Czech Republic, Panama and several Pacific island nations: Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and Palau. The Pacific nations typically support the U.S. and Israel at the U.N. on key General Assembly resolutions.
In the face of this terrific news self hating jews like Barry Goodman reacted like spoiled, entitled children.
In a unanimous resolution passed Sunday, Israel’s Cabinet said it would not negotiate on the basis of the General Assembly’s recognition of a state of Palestine in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip.
Astoundingly, he bleated:
“The only way to Palestinian statehood and peace is through direct negotiations with Israel.”
Then he told the rest of the non compliant world he was going to hold onto money that was owed to the Palestinians and build all over their shit.
I don’t trust any of the gay men I meet in LA. Industry men.
I had lunch with one of Bryan’s boy toys yesterday, the second in one week. I met a technician Bryan works with, Bryan says, “I don’t want to direct movies, I want someone else to direct them and I critique their results.”
After I started defending the Palestinians during the Israeli bombardment Guy S (second rate Bryan sycophant) tells me that they all hate me. That’s like music to my ears.
I call Tom. Tom denies what I already know to be the truth.
They know, they all know that sooner or later I’m going to write everything down.
Hollywood Babylon style.
It’s just a matter of time.
December 2nd 2013. Just you wait Henry Higgins, just you wait.
The criminal matter is resolved.
Do you want to know what happened?
As part of a plea deal crafted by the DA and my lawyer, I plead NO CONTEST to a misdemeanor. My sentence? An 18 month gagging order and a 52 hour course in anger management.
There was no jail time, no fine. It was all over in 20 minutes.
I smoked a cigarette outside the courtroom. So did the DA. She sat there in her black coat. Sitting where she always sits. Behind a wall.
Like a naughty school girl. Smoking.
And I felt like it was going to be OK. Because she was smoking too.
The judge said goodbye, the bailiff smiled. The stenographer watched with interest.
I said goodbye to my lawyers and drove to Venice.
I had a lot of thinking to do.
Her name was Natalie Volk. She was very apologetic. Her husband got out of the car. Natalie must have been 80 years old, he was older. She touched the back of the car to make sure it wasn’t all a bad dream.
We exchanged personal details. I’m not going to call her insurance people. I know what they’ll do to her. How punitive they can be.
I paid for their gas. I made it seem like a terrible imposition.
Absurdly, I didn’t want other people to think I was being hijacked.
I went to buy myself a soda. The woman at the checkout said, “That was really kind of you, they were homeless.” She smiled and said, ”I’ll pay for your soda.”
I felt badly that I hadn’t been kinder to the homeless women.
On my way out of the service station I saw the most beautiful black man. A solid wall of muscle. He was walking up Lincoln Avenue. I circled around until I found him. I stopped the car and asked him what he was doing.
I dropped him off at his apartment. He invited me into his empty place.
At 5am I drove him to the gym where he worked.
Perhaps I should have given him more? More than a chai latte?
As I drove home up the PCH. Looking over the Pacific Ocean. I thought about the previous day.
All that public money wasted. All that time taken by highly paid District Attorneys, Attorneys who could have been solving real crimes.
Money that could be spent repairing a local school. Money that could have been spent investigating white-collar crimes.
I was listening to John Martyn. Solid Air. Synthesized sea gulls. A heartbeat. My heart is still beating.
Whatever may happen. How ever bad it gets. It is is up to you… yes you… you can turn the worst things that happen into the most extraordinary adventure.
As anyone who has a creative bone in their body knows, to carve something artful out of wherever you find yourself… well. It’s up to you.
So, it was no coincidence that, after I spoke to the reporter about The Trust Act, after my involved and specific conversation with the lawyer, after I had recorded the Youtube video….
I sat down at my desk and rewrote the ending of my script.
What a killing crime this love can be.
This is for you Daddy. You bad, bad man.
On Friday at 10am I will stand before you all again, on your televisions, in your newspapers, sparking up the internet.
Damning the authority.
On behalf of the brown people.
And after it is all over? I am left on my own. Well, that’s not entirely true. Because I have you.
I want to tell you about my neck. The arthritis in my neck. The arthritis that makes my arms numb. My fingers tingle.
I am pleased not to share that with anyone.
The audience is singing along with the familiar tune.
It is 2am. The dog is farting. He’ll want to go out in the middle of the night.
On October 1st I will be 16 years sober.
That means that I have not had a drink or a drug for 16 years.
I got sober and I didn’t relapse.
Gay men find it impossible to stay sober. They relapse again and again. The reason is clear: sex. Sexual addiction. I am not suggesting that all gay men who claim that they are alcoholic are in fact sex addicts but most gay men who can’t stay sober cite sex as the primary reason for relapse.
The simple fact of the matter is that most of the time, readily available anonymous hook ups quickly take the place of alcohol and drugs. When a sober man walks into the apartment of a super hot man doing crystal meth, sobriety is quickly flushed down the toilet along with HIV status.
I hear the story over and over again. Yet, as a community, we think we can get away with this risky behavior. It is an arrogant vanity.
Gay AA is a sad affair. I go periodically—mostly when I flee the super charged straight stag meetings because I find the straight, young newcomers too triggering.
While many straight sober people create a new life with AA that involves abandoning bars and other locations that might lead to relapse, gay sober men often want a sober version of the life they had before, complete with dance parties, bars and gogo boys. Any reason to have a party will do—including the absurd “three-month anniversary.” Or, as one galling invitation I received said, “Help Joe S. celebrate his one-month anniversary.”
Forgive me if I’m wrong but anniversaries are a yearly celebration.
Many of these sober parties are indistinguishable from their non sober equivalent: scantily clad men line up for espresso machines manned by disco short-wearing super hot straight guys more used to shaking cocktails than dispensing coffee to gay guys jacked up on caffeine. Unable to attend drug-crazed gay circuit parties, many gay sober men in LA flock to the sober circuit parties, such as Hot ‘n Dry, which is held annually in Palm Springs. These events are more likely to take someone out than any other reason I’ve ever heard in gay AA. Yearly, after this event, bedraggled gay men turn up at meetings, their eyes blazing from excessive drug use, taking newcomer chips. Should I be surprised? After all, the Hot n’ Dry ticket salesman had assured me that it would be “a sex fest from the moment you arrive at the Ace Hotel.”
The absurd idea that we can behave like we have always behaved as long as we have a deluded and lackluster understanding of the 12 steps just doesn’t work. Two years ago, after I appeared on Sex Rehab With Dr. Drew, I suggested that within the gay community, we might have a sexual unmanageability problem and was flooded with vitriol. But that’s not going to stop me from sharing what I believe to be serious issues.
The other serious issue within gay AA, in my opinion, is the resistance to God or a Higher Power. Most of my gay sponsees are understandably wary of God. The Christian God—the religious God—hasn’t made them feel very welcome in the past and has actually steeped them in shame and misery. To find that at the heart of AA is a God—even if it’s one of their own understanding—is anathema to most gay men. From what I can determine, most gay men just ignore the God part of the 12 steps—a relevant fact when the God part, in my estimation, accounts for roughly 90% of recovery. Working through the God options with gay men can be excruciating. Why bother looking for spiritual validation when they can get immediate validation on Grindr?
I used to love AA in LA; my love for it was actually the reason I first moved to LA. Now I hate it. It’s like a cult—sober grandees ruling over desperate men, the film industry providing the sickest of backdrops: men flaying themselves before agents and film executives in the hope of catching crumbs from the sober table I see this everywhere from the straight stag meetings, where misogyny and homophobia are expressed freely, to the sickest meetings of all: Gay AA in LA.
For all of these reasons and more, last November, after nearly 16 years, I stopped going to AA meetings. I was exhausted, disillusioned and utterly miserable. My last meeting in LA, at the iconic Log Cabin on Robertson in West Hollywood, was a gay meeting attended by 300 gay men.
I couldn’t walk away fast enough.
And yet yesterday, after a nine-month hiatus, I walked into a co-ed meeting in Park Slope, Brooklyn. I was an hour early. I helped set out the chairs in ten neat rows and then I made the coffee. During the meeting, I shared my resentments and my fears and afterwards, a tiny woman called Dianne came up to me and let me have two full barrels of her tough love wisdom.
“It’s time for you to get fucking humble,” she said. “Come back and do fucking 90 in 90 like a newcomer.”
She was right. After months away from AA, I felt spiritually bankrupt. I stopped fighting and did what we are all meant to in the rooms of AA: I gave in.
Later that evening, the young man I helped set up the meeting took me for dinner. We talked recovery. This morning, we had sex. There I was, doing the walk of shame, doubled down. I had once again fucked a newcomer, counting days. It’s my story in AA. The younger men find my honesty irresistible and I can’t say no.
When I first got sober in London, the only gay men I met in AA were old queens at the Eton Square meeting. I met a couple of gay men in NA but within the deluded gay community, at that time, there was a mantra I heard over and over that “quitting was for losers.” Several years later, after celebrities like Boy George got sober, the rooms of AA and NA filled quickly with what we now recognize as gay recovery.
Back then I was accused, by my drinking friends, of being a contrarian—of rocking the boat and spoiling it for the others. As it happened, I was in the vanguard. I remember being hounded by drunken gay men who were outraged that I might, just by being sober, challenge their powerlessness and un-manageability. Of course those very same men now thank me for introducing them to the 12 steps.
After a few months away from AA, I am ready to start again but, as Dianne said, I’ve got to get humble, forget all those years of sobriety and do 90 meetings in 90 days. For the first time in a long time, I value my life. I should have left LA years ago but I’m a tenacious old queen; I didn’t want to let go. Just one more meeting might fix me. Just more line, one more Vodka Tonic and the crazy opera playing in my head might stop.
Walking back into AA in New York was a relief, a joy—just like it used to be. I want to be sober. The only problem getting in the way of that is me. But I know that if I’m going to be able to do it, I’ll have to learn how to say no to sex. As a single gay man, the consequences are dire if I don’t.
This morning Robby picked me up from the house and drove me to Van Nuys.
The handsome deputy in the court room gives me a cheery wave, the clerk courteously holds open the door and even the wicked witch looks softer… more agreeable.
She’s only doing her job. I can’t be too hard on her.
After our short stint in the court we had coffee with my lawyer who is, it turns out, covered in tattoos.
Since 1984 I have been regularly tested for HIV. Since I was Robby’s age.
It has always been a fearful time for me. I’m sure it is for everyone.
I was given the wrong diagnosis in my mid thirties. A confused New York nurse told me I was HIV positive. For three weeks I thought I had it. Until I fled to London and the doctor told me I was perfectly ok.
In those days an HIV positive result meant certain death. The kind of death that included cancerous lesions inside and out. Opportunistic diseases caught from potted plants, cats and canaries. Dramatic weight loss and the most painful end.
Now, of course, HIV just means being wedded to big pharma for the rest of your life, a huge liver and for most people… a new closet to live in.
It occurred to me, as I sat waiting for my result, how I would tell you all if I had contracted HIV.
I live a public life. I am sure that the shame I have heard others talk and write about would envelop me too.
But, as I sat there I decided to tweet the fact that I was there and what I was waiting for. I gave myself no option but to come out and tell you… if I was HIV positive. I knew it wouldn’t be like telling you I had cancer.
I asked the counsellor what would happen if I was HIV Positive? He gave me the medical facts. It didn’t seem that bad. But we all know: it’s not the medical implications… it’s the social implication that packs the negative punch.
In the gay community there is huge prejudice around HIV and AIDS. The frank discussion we need to have about HIV is not being had.
After he read the result I looked obviously shocked. I really did not expect to be negative. In fact, I rather thought I might be seriously ill.
“Why?” He asked.
Because, and it grieves me to tell you this but after JB and I saw each other that last time… I had no way of drowning my fury so I trawled the internet and transformed from the ‘curious top’ to the ‘pig bottom’.
The pig bottom who wants to be fed. I think you know what I mean.
“Just cum in me.” I said. They were very eager to please.
“It was a suicide bid. The only one I knew would work. I hated him so much…”
“Did you hate him? Or you?” The counsellor asked kindly.
I smiled wryly. “I’m still HIV negative.”
“You dodged the bullet.”
You see, I have never been like most gay men… craving sex many times a day. I have never visited a bath house or a cruising park. I rarely meet the men I speak with on-line. I am not like you. I tried it once… not so long ago and it made me feel sick.
Pre bug chasing… I didn’t want to have sex with someone I didn’t know. It kept me negative. I wasn’t about to be shamed into having sex with anyone.
When I was a kid, men would invite me into their homes. The mere acceptance of a cup of tea somehow meant agreeing to full on butt sex.
They try to shame you. Get angry with you… but I fought back. Fuck off. I’m leaving. It saved my life.
Now the youngsters who get HIV are similarly shamed. My friend told me (he’s 24) that a guy he really wanted told him they had to fuck ‘raw’ (unprotected)… when my friend protested his amour said, “What? Don’t you believe me? I’m HIV negative.”
He wasn’t. Now… nor is my friend.
Are we kidding ourselves when we say that we are having protected sex?
There’s outrage because Paris Hilton is disgusted by Grindr. She’s right. We should all be disgusted. My women friends say, “There should be a Grindr for straight people.”
I tell them that a usual Grindr introduction consists of one word: Hung? Then: Clean? Then: Dick Pic?
Women are usually appalled when I tell them the way gay men cut to the chase.
I’m happy that I am HIV negative. I’m happier that my death wish has been thwarted. I’m happier still that all that hate and self hate came to nothing.
Writing my film has had a wonderfully cathartic effect on me. He is just a distant memory.
Even though I see him daily on the page he now exists as I want him to. Suffer and thrive the way I want him to… without ever having to suffer myself.
Today… today was a good day to be HIV negative.
I was diagnosed with neck arthritis some tine ago after losing strength in my arms. It is, of course, a degenerative, condition.
Yesterday, after a long hike up Runyon Canyon with Vincent,and the Little Dog I was dismayed by the increased dull aches and weakness in my arms and legs.
Getting older with anything degenerative is a depressing idea.
Last week I managed to get the 24 hour flu which included stomach cramps, nausea and general malaise.
Apart from the weakness and flu life has been a great deal of fun.
Laural Hardware, after two and half months, has become THE coolest place in LA.
Even so, they remain the humblest success stories in town.
It is that time of year. After a day of writing I put on my autumn style and head off to whatever event seems most appropriate. The Fendi Baguette party was wonderfully organized. Peggy Moffitt, Victoria Hervey and Jeffrey Deitch etc.
Victoria Hervey goes to everything. Rude and pompous.
You know, of course, that I knew her brother John who, at the time of his death, was The Marquess of Bristol. It was he who introduced me to Freddy Hughes and radically changed my life.
In these modern times there’s really no reason for a girl like Victoria to behave so despicably… I mean… what does she actually do?
I hear that she is on the verge of being banned from a very exclusive club here in LA for being vile to the staff.
I have been spending a great deal of time at Vincent’s house in Brentwood. Such a beautiful home filled with wonderful art and books and mid-century modern furniture. Such a history! Presidents and celebrity sitting in the same furniture where I now sit watching Vincent’s crackling serve.
He knocks balls all over the tennis court and I swim lazily in the lap pool.
There’s a croquet lawn at the house but I could never win. Vincent is a croquet fiend and scoots around the course in as much time as it takes me to negotiate the first few hoops.
Exciting months ahead as the year draws to a close.
Regardless of where I’ll end up we are going to shoot the movie in January. I have been meeting with actors and heads of departments and line producers. It’s fun to be so involved with the process once again.
I have been asked to write an AA expose. There’s only so much exposing one can do in 1,500 words.
Dawn. So much to be grateful for.
One day, when the storm has past, I will tell you everything. Not just the pretty pictures. Not just the elegant parties.
Saw Premium Rush with John and Valoree Papsidera at a plush private screening room.
An exciting, gritty movie with a huge problem at its core: The bad cop played by Michael Shannon is not really a bad cop… he’s too funny.
So, come the last scene, the conclusion… I was left feeling cheated.
The last scene is terrible.
I did not feel as engaged with the story as one might have hoped.
There were too many chances for the main character Wilee (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) to make different sorts of choices. He could have called the police. He could have returned the package. He could have stayed at home.
Perhaps, like so many people, I am in denial?
It is not far off… the conclusion.
I have had a lingering cold/flu. Sweats.
Script notes arrive and I am loathed to open them, even though I know that they will be good. Brilliant.
How does one turn a life event into a work of fiction? Well, obviously, you have to jettison the truth.
I spent the larger part of yesterday in Venice. My favorite location. Stalking my favorite haunts. It’s like Whitstable. I know so many people. Casual acquaintances. Unlike my home town, where they have known me all my life, their understanding of me is based on what they read.
After the LA Weekly piece they are well aware of what is going on and mask their desire to pry with small talk.
Sometimes I wake up and think I should go to an AA meeting but I’ll wait until I am in another city.
It is the truth: art heals. Remember when I was sick five years ago with my leaky spine? Good God, that was painful.
Convalescing, I stayed with David Philp and his wonderful wife (art critic and broadcaster) Hunter Drohojowska-Philp in their gorgeous Beverly Hills home. She brought beautiful books for me to look at and set art work at the end of the bed.
The pale yellow room designed by Jenny Armit became a temporary sanctuary. Until I was well again.
I had a long chat with an old buddy in London, someone I worked with repeatedly in the old days. A great benefactor.
It’s cold outside and hot inside the house. I open the door and let the mountain in.
The garden, this year, has matured into the garden of my dreams.
Bumped into Drew Pinsky at CNN, we were both sprayed orange for our various TV appearances. He was sweet, as he always is. We hugged and gossiped. He asked if I had read Jennie’s book. I told him that I hadn’t but I’d get around to it sooner or later.
The children make me laugh. I sit with them watching Barbie cartoons and they mock Charlie’s new girlfriend (Charlieissocoollike) children can be very cruel and very funny.
Weird clicking on my telephone. I think my phone is being tapped. Why?
Continuing my occasional ‘Fuck you’ series of LA essays I nominate the ‘award winning’ illustrator and elderly Greek queen Konstantine Kakanias as my latest Fuck You.
Konstantine threw a party last night.
Who put the kaka into Kakanias?
This guy has tried it all.
Artist, writer, illustrator, jewelry designer.
B’jesus with this much talent this homo should be a household name!
He’s tried so hard to be something but for poor old Koni, nothing seems to stick.
He’s just a socialite with a great talent for persuading other socialites to take him seriously.
You know, I have known the rancid Konstantine for many, many years.
We first met with Manolis Mavrakis and Fred Hughes in New York in the early 80′s. Fred loathed him. Manolis laughed at him.
Koni painted my portrait then tried to have sex with me. I declined. He was smelly and creepy.
I left the portrait on the easel.
We periodically bump into each other all over the world. Much to his chagrin and my infinite amusement. It was he I referred to as Nona Summer’s vile Greek escort last week.
Konstantine attracts the WORST sort of people. Nona, Peter Dunham, Justin Kern, Alex Hitz etc.
As his last incarnation he was calling himself an artist. He had a laughably sophomoric show at The Light Box Gallery in LA before it closed down.
Kimberly Light (heiress) rues the day she ever let this cretin have his own show at her gallery.
He was the only artist who did not sell at the Angel Food project auction at CAA several years ago.
That’s how seriously the art elite take him. Look for his work in the collections of important collectors and you will not find his name.
His work is absurd.
Yet, within that sub-world of dodgy socialites and rich kids looking for a purpose he has carved himself a ‘career’. Some how he persuaded Swarovski to manufacture his designs.
Silly rings, “Inspired by Byzantine royal jewels.” He brays.
Did they sell? They were a total disaster and can now be found on the Swarovski website knocked down to a fraction of their original price.
Last night Konstantine was up to his old tricks.
Konstantine is now a film maker.
He has made a ‘film’ and to launch this seven minute animated masterpiece he assembled LA’s elite… including ‘designer’ Justin Kern and his pretty side kick Stephanie Danan for whom the ‘film’ was commissioned and QVC favorite… fried chicken go to guy and Coca Cola heiress Alex Hitz and a gaggle of loafer wearing euro trash.
“They’re very collaborative people and they’re really creative. They like playing with other creative people and that’s where it all crosses over,” Indeed, Danan and Kern enlisted the efforts of friends like Tatiana von Furstenberg (heiress), “They’re not in a singular mind-set and they can pull from other mediums.”
I walked in and immediately saw twenty people I knew well enough to kiss and twenty people I knew well enough to ignore.
I waved at Konstantine… he flew out of his chair…
“Who invited you…” he trembled. His voice deserting its usual treble… escalating into a Maria Callas soprano.
Alex Hitz who I kissed lavishly (after all he had paid for a wonderful dinner at the Sunset Tower) said, “This is Konstantin’s party.”
“I know,” I said, “And I am the wicked fairy.”
Alex shrank into the shadows. I turned to face the outraged Greek. Like his country… in debt and struggling to save face. He held out his fingers like 10 wands and told me to get out.
I left, greeting people on the way out with smiles and kisses. Clo Perrin (heiress) looking gorgeous in white silk jersy.
Justin Kern waved. Justin is proof that there is life after modeling… just.
“I’ll be writing about this!” I grinned cheerily!
Before I left one of the guests, a beautiful young Parisian flew up to me and laughed, “Darling, what a waste of time. You didn’t miss a thing. Poor Konstantine.”
Dinner at Laurel Hardware with a cute jew. Great kisser.