Archives for category: Rehab

It is really hard not to look at pornography. It’s really difficult when you wake up at 4.30am with a troubled mind not to use porn like you might take an Ambian.

Being sober for 13 years, sadly Ambian is out of the question.  I have no option other than to sit with uncomfortable feelings until they go away-or climb Runyon with the dogs.

When I first moved to Paris in my late teens I stayed in a small room on the Rue de l’Universite. I had no idea why I was there other than I had escaped my country, my family, my other life.  I was in shock.  A refugee.  At first the mere prospect of walking the streets terrified me.  I found a bottle of sleeping pills, I would masturbate then take a pill, waking up many hours later only to repeat this sad ritual until all the pills had gone. Like heroin, a rush then a deep sleep. I have a very selective memory (forgetting people especially) but I remember these days as if I had just lived them. I remember the stains on the sheets, the empty bottle and the relief I felt when I left the room and walked back into the city.

I have only recently learned how to live in my own body. To exist in my own skin, within the parameters of the life laid down before me. I have only recently learned to trust the next step forward. You may think that I am confident, dressing up in tiaras and laughing with my friends but my bravado masks, and has always masked, a profound sense of discomfort.

When they sent me to prison, after the initial shock of being sentenced, I loved most every moment of it. The routine, the food, my cellmate, my cell, the language, the echo, the vast and towering Victorian halls. There is something very operatic about a British prison.

I was never scared in prison-my basic needs were always met. I was never attacked or picked on-after all my crime was a JOKE! Being sent to prison for not paying a credit card bill.  I felt like an anthropologist in prison-visiting a foreign land. I felt the same in the Pasadena Recovery Center. I was visiting the land of reality TV, the land of mass media, the land of shattered dreams and unrealistic expectations. It was the second great act of my operatic adventure.

(If only my life were an opera.)

I loved being in Rehab exactly like I loved being in prison. Drew thought that I would leave Sex Rehab within the week-he was sure of it. He had no idea just how much I desired incarceration. How much I love having my options removed. How much I relish my own death. I immediately loved my fellow inmates in Rehab far more than I could love them in the world. The depth of love I felt for them could never be replicated beyond the walls of the rehab. My coconspirators. My brothers and my sisters. Equally the loathing I felt for the producer and production team was rarely masked. It perfectly replicated my prison/hospital experience. My fellow prisoners/patients and the guards/nurses who looked over us.

You see, I was born to be fearless.  I was born to take risks.  To be an artist and a gardener and a butler and a saint.

So, when I wake up in the morning and I don’t masturbate to porn-I choose life. I choose not to throw a warm blanket over my feelings and start the day raw.

Jennie and I walked Runyon yesterday. It was beautiful up there. It is always beautiful up there looking down from Mulholland over the great, gasping city of LA.

I had the oddest memory. New Years Eve twenty years ago in a huge New York club-taking ecstasy, being really fucked up and thirsty and not being able to find water. I am with Camille and Gulshan. The water in the bathroom had been switched off forcing people to buy bottles. There are no bottles left.  Nobody would give us a sip of their water. There were acrobats above us and I thought to myself-this is what hell is. This is what hell is.

Oh yeah-fuck you Tyra for not having me on your show-but actually I don’t care, she’s too tabloid – even for an attention hound like me.

How do I feel about being excluded from Oprah’s Sex Rehab special?  You may well ask dear blog readers.  I feel PISSED OFF!  The producer’s excuse?  They didn’t want to confuse the issue of sex addiction with a gay story.  FUCK YOU OPRAH!  Confuse the story?  That’s a strange excuse because shame based societies like the African American community and Gay Communities have the highest incidence of sex addiction/sexual compulsion.  There are plenty similarities between her and me.  Pity she wasn’t prepared to have a sex addict on her show who actually works a solid 12-step programme.  There you go I broke my SAA anonymity.

Whilst we are at it-what the hell is Drew doing on these shows pretending he knows jack about sex addiction?  The woman who did all the work on the show was sex therapist Jill Vermiere!   Drew speaks in the broadest terms about addiction but really-he knows nothing about sex addiction.

Drew’s specialty is substance abuse, but his real speciality is damage control-turning up at hotel rooms and coaxing heroin addicts into rehab.  Coaxing crack addicts off of roofs etc.  Most days in sex rehab I worked with Jill.  If I could even bear looking at Drew he was mostly baffled by what was going on-by the depth of emotion, by our commitment to do the work.  It was because of Jill that we did the work.  She too has been silenced in all of this high octane press shenanigan-the two real recovering sex addicts have had their voices stolen firstly by Drew then by Oprah.

Mostly, though,  I am seething about the media’s approach to anything gay.   Our stories are never integrated hence we are never integrated.  It would not surprise me if it were a big old gay boy who made decision not to have me on the show-after all us gays do the most damage to each other.

Did Oprah and her people forget that the gays have been her very loyal fans?  But let’s face it we were Obama’s biggest fans and look how far that has got us.  Frankly, Oprah, what HAVE you done for the gay community recently?   Did you forget about us or are we just not powerful enough?  The gay community supported the election of President Obama.  The black community did not return the favor by supporting us in the Prop 8 battle.  Why?

Don’t worry, I am not on Tyra either.   Same reason.  Poor excuse eh?

OK.  LOVED the last Sex Rehab (episode 4).  They must have had some other editor edit this as it was interesting, pithy, moving and multi faceted.   Adored every twist and remembered acutely how I felt as I watched Amber and Phil let loose with the anger.

Jennie and I watched spellbound.

Well done VH1

p.s. I know that this is kind of arrogant but I really felt better looking in this episode.  Was it perhaps because I wasn’t crying?

Malibu Sunday

The day Sex Rehab airs I read twitter posts avidly.  East coast viewers are the first to start letting me know the content of each episode.  Today, for instance, I know that Kari Ann’s Miss Teen America tiara arrives in the Rehab.  A request I made of her so I could wear it.  I have always wanted to wear a Miss America crown.  The irony is not lost on me.  The gaudy iconography of a teen queen.  As soon as I knew Kari Ann I wanted her crown.  I have no idea if my requests will be screened but she really had no intention of bringing the crown into rehab until I demanded it.

Consequently Kari Ann taught me how to walk like a Princess, answer teen queen catwalk questions, sang the pageant anthem as I sashayed around the rehab garden wearing her crown.  I loved it so much.   I loved her crown even though it was a bit beaten up-when they took away her title she had thrown it at the wall.

Don’t you just love that scene in the movie when the teen queen throws her crown at the wall?   It’s a great scene.

“Miss teen America is founded on the principle that the future of our world is dependent upon the leadership qualities of today’s youth. We believe that involvement in community service should be both encouraged and rewarded. We further believe that in order to become a strong leader a young woman must be a well-rounded individual. She must challenge herself scholastically, she must be poised, and she must be comfortable with herself in respect to her learned and natural talents. She must possess a strong desire to effect a change in her world, and to set an example for others to do the same. In the spirit of competition, she must be gracious.  With this in mind, we provide the forum for young women to challenge themselves to be their best, and we reward them for their efforts.”

Poor Kari Ann, how was she ever going to be all the above snorting meth every day?  Engaging in soft pornography and making sex tapes with Rebecca Gayheart?  The problem is:  she was a nice normal girl before LA bit her in her fat ass.

Gloria Steinham might disagree.  Feminists might say that she is merely empowering herself.  I doubt it though.  Jenny Ketcham is empowering herself.  She is an American Writer and will only grow in stature and relevance.  Kari Ann will become even more irrelevant than she already is.

As much as she was a pain in the ass I really became fond of Kari Ann.  I know that this might be hard to believe but when you get to truly ‘know’ a person-regardless of wether you ever see them again-they tend to linger in your heart.

When Kari Ann wasn’t teaching me how to be a Miss Teen America I was teaching James how to knit-which he took too with some gusto.  My grandmother taught me how to knit when I was five years old.  The surfer dude was a joy to teach.

Fuck!  I hate how the editors have edited Sex Rehab.  It’s a pile of shit.

Update.  Eric, Jenny, Justin and I went to b’day party in Santa Monica.  It was situated in a dance studio.  There were gays for me to goad and straights for me to tease.  We left before midnight.  I slept well.  Strangely the little dog preferred to sleep on the sofa.  Whilst we were at the party Luna stayed in the bathroom with her bone and damage, when I returned, was minimal.  I think it gave the little dog some time away from Luna’s frantic puppy behavior too.

Did not fret about blood clots.  In fact, gave them very little thought all day.

More will be revealed.

After a couple of hopeful weeks I now despondently watch Sex Rehab.

Kari Ann, as we guessed when we were filming the show, would be the unwitting star. A post-modern Mildred Pierce.  The care and therapy I received whilst at The Pasadena Recovery Center was outstanding.  I am sad, however,  that the work most of us committed to has taken a back seat to Kari Ann’s crude camera hogging. Using Kari Anne as the narrative spine of the show may be VH1’s solution for increasing viewing figures but sadly it isn’t working-viewing figures have plummeted.

Simply, Kari Ann is not a very attractive TV personality.  Though I don’t personally dislike her it comes as no great surprise that once viewers realized they were watching the ‘Kari Ann Show’ they began flipping channels.

Viewers may return after Oprah airs the Sex Rehab special on Monday but frankly, I doubt it.   The damage has been done.

From my perspective as a film maker there are fundamental structural problems with the show.

Firstly, the ‘narrative’ of sex addiction is nothing like drug addiction. Alcoholics/Drug addicts commit to be abstinent from mind-altering substances. The ensuing drama is simple: Will they? Wont they? Most people understand the simple concept of not taking a drink or a drug. Most people do not understand, however, the concept of not having sex or sex addiction. Why should they?

Treatment for sex addiction often starts with a period of abstinence from all sexual activity after which the sex addict can then healthily re-engage with his or her sexuality. The cure for sex addiction therefore is: sex.  (As in the cure for overeating/anorexia etc. is: food.)  When we tell our stories as sex addicts we seek to define our unique sexual agenda-where our lives have become unmanageable and we are now powerless over our destructive sex conduct. Example: my ‘triggers’ includes straight identified men, chronic masturbation, pornography, Internet hook up sites and intrigue. These triggers are wildly different from Phil, Amber, Kendra and Jennie.

In Celebrity Drug Rehab each story has one extraordinary similarity: Pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization due to the excessive use of drink and drugs forces a life or death choice upon each drug addict. In Sex Rehab we all have extraordinary differences. This uniqueness simply cannot be explored adequately nor make great TV in the format as presented. We merely get a tiny glimpse into each character never fully understanding the individual addiction nor the solution.

If, say, the first episode of Sex Rehab had been an hour and half long rather than a TV hour of 43 minutes we might have had an opportunity to fully ‘know’ and engage with each patient. Allowing more time at the beginning of the series for each character to emerge might have lent a truer perspective on the patients, their unique addiction and their struggle. Subsequently our understanding, sympathy and enjoyment would grow only deeper as the weeks past-regardless of Karin Ann’s antics.

The other reason Sex Rehab may be losing it’s audience is the subject itself.  Modern American audiences may not be ready to accept a high concept reality show/documentary that so directly and baldly challenges our notion of healthy sexuality.  From what I read on Twitter etc. many are baffled, and remain so, by the very idea of sex addiction. Baffled by the notion of an ‘intimacy disorder’, by retraumatization, by sexualized anger etc. etc.

Sex is perhaps the only pleasure left to many, many young people who find themselves demoralized,  unemployed, foreclosed upon-with little to look forward to. The complicated message that Sex Rehab seeks to explore, but ultimately fails, may be perceived as challenging our personal ideas of decency-in as much as it may reinforce a Christian ethic upon a VH1 audience that has long committed to a much freer sexual code of conduct.

By dumbing down the show Sex Rehab VH1 have done a terrible disservice to sex addiction and those of us who suffer from it.

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Getting up in the morning to a camera shoved in my face totally validated my existence.  It was the one component of being on Sex Rehab that I hadn’t reckoned on.   As soon as I had my microphone pinned to my shirt I felt alive.  It was the thing that I missed the most when I left the Pasedena Recovery Center and the one element of making the show that I felt ashamed to admit.

I thought often of Andy Warhol during the three weeks that I was in the show.  I dressed accordingly.  Picking unusual and colourful shirts and pantaloons.  If ever there was evidence of narcissism in my life this was it.  Obviously I kept quiet about it.  I didn’t want anyone to think that my intentions were not 100% honorable.   The other unexpected bi-product of being filmed 24/7 was to tell the truth.  I might have altered a few things-simply because I wanted to protect myself from unwanted attention when the show was over but 99.5% of the time I was truthful.  That, in itself, was a revelation.  Telling the truth, being true to oneself and being of service to those around me governed my experience.

The women taught me a great deal.  Obviously I had a great deal in common with the women.  We had similar stories.  Similar dealings with men.  There was a pecking order amongst the women that went something like this:  The Playmates looked down on the porn starts, the porn stars looked down on the prostitutes but the Playmates had been, at one time or another, prostitutes.  It was a fascinating dynamic.

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My relationship with Jennie blossomed when we both realized that neither of us would‘miss’ being in treatment; that we would do the work and unsentimentally move on.  The others, within a couple of days, were already projecting to the end of the experience and talking about how much they would miss us.  Of course, by the time it ended Jennie and I were the ones who would miss the experience most.

 

 

The moment I met Jennie I realized that she was born to be more that the woman she was.  Infinitely talented she, like many women, only expected so much from her life and it was a joy to critique her writing, her painting and encourage her to free her thinking.   It was a joy to see her flourishand as her friend to this day I continue to watch her grow.  Occasionally I am really jealous that I had not met a man like me in similar circumstances when I was her age who would have taken the time-but, the truth is I met many men who spent hours trying to help me and I pushed them all away like the petulant child I am apt to be.

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I have always existed at the edge of society gay and straight.  Outspoken, sober and eclectic my complicated life was fashioned about me like a force field that kept only the most tenacious from getting to know me.  I had deliberately and successfully made low budget, gay art films for gay art house festival audiences all over the world.  I used the language and locations of my gay, rarified life and suddenly here I was thrust violently onto a reality TV show that millions would see and hear me speak the most unpalatable truths.

The saddest part of being on the rehab show has been the untamed anger of the more entitled of my gay breatheren.  Petrified of  change, scrutiny and self awareness.  Bristling with sanctimonious fury they tell me in no uncertain terms to mind my own business. To stay out of their underwear.  The majority of the gay media will not even acknowledge my existence on the show.  The party boys who control our gay press do not want to go near sobriety or sex conduct.   It is all too confronting and worse-may lose them precious advertising revenue.

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Did I think that I would one day try to spread this sex addiction message?   No. When I was out there balls deep in popular gay bar/club culture getting what ever I wanted could I have imagined a healthier life?  No.  Did I give any of this a second thought when Joe and I buried our 100th friend from AIDS complications?  I did not.  Was I just as imperious and entitled as the men who now routinely brand me homophobic and self loathing-yes I was.  But the truth is we live in evolving times.  Our understanding of unhealthy, destructive behaviours has become more astute.  We cannot continue to live in the same way just because we always have.  GBLT: A coalition of the unwilling.  Gays hating Bisexuals, damning trannies, ignoring lesbians.   Who are we?

DR DREW

Runyon Canyon before dawn. 6 people 4 dogs-including my own.

At dawn there is nobody to objectify. There are no model/actor/waiters jogging along the dusty paths, their tight abs begging to be admired.

The only man with his shirt removed was an elderly Russian man stretching before the rising sun.

Since I last blogged 3 years ago so much has happened. My Film Dorian Gray came and went. I moved from Hollywood into a large, rambling house in Malibu then moved back to Hollywood again. I succumbed to a dog, then another. I stayed put in LA for three years waiting for the promise of adventure and big money but none came.

The adventures I expected were film related, but when the adventure finally came 6 months ago it was TV that called, the worst kind of TV. The kind I never dreamed I would be part of. When opportunity calls in a city geared to entertainment who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth?

Reality TV is plagued by inarticulate, orange, primped and prone to excessive dramatic exposition. Highly regarded by the masses usually ignored by people like me-I still don’t own a television. An email arrives one day wondering if I might be appropriate for a show about sex addiction.

Looking at earlier blogs it is now apparent that I was gripped by sexual compulsion. Hook ups, intrigue, pornography, excessive masturbation, etc. etc. I was fast becoming a parody of THAT gay man, who in is 40’s, should certainly know better. Trading a life of intimacy and love for the merest possible moment with many men and some women.

I have never been shy of owning up to my frailties. I spoke openly about my drinking and drug taking that caused me to get sober some 12 years ago. I had habitually written the most terrible truths about myself. For the longest time, however, I had reserved my startling insight for others and been unable to tell the truth about the fact that was now totally defining my life: I could not say no to any opportunity that came my way of a sexual nature. Increasingly I was plagued with shame, isolation and self-doubt.

The house in Malibu imprisoned me, the Internet made me lazy and self obsessed. I looked, day after day, at the same Internet sites. Like an alcoholic drinking at home alone I could not persuade myself to leave the house and live the life I had committed to when I put down the booze and the drugs years before. I stopped living any kind of reasonable life.

The sites usually included scenes where straight men performed sex acts with each other for gay men to videotape.

They became a cast of friendly faces who would go on holiday with one another before cumming over each other. The men in these videos were ‘regular guys’ ‘straight men doing not so straight things’ they would be interviewed about their straightness before performing acts of unspeakable homosexuality.

I began to question why I was watching these images. What I was learning about men together from these images and increasingly began to doubt myself for watching. Watching at any time of day or night. Watching, hoping that new characters would be introduced like to a soap opera. Watching and wondering and longing.

As time passed and the weeks and months and years flew by trapped in the beautiful house I finally admitted that I had a problem and decided to get some help. The help was swift and sure. It came from other men and women similarly trapped and shamed. It came with almost immediate results. I was immediately liberated from the shackles of active sexual compulsion. Liberated but not cured. The lure of the Internet, of the flirtation, the seduction is more powerful than any drug. Managing sexual compulsion is like managing an eating disorder or compulsively spending money. The solution for sex addiction is sex. The solution for an eating disorder is food. A healthy relationship with food or sex or money for an addict like me is not easy.

6 months after I sought help the invitation came from Dr Drew to appear on his sex rehab show and after a great deal of trepidation I said yes to an experience that would change my life.