Archives for posts with tag: 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.

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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?

I jerked off today. First time in ages.

Watching the show reminded me of how alive I felt when I didn’t masturbate. I didn’t touch my cock for three weeks. If I masturbate I look at porn. It disturbs me that the majority of the men I look at are identified as ‘straight’. The websites that turn me on are not even straight guys having sex but just talking, naked. Waiting. Anticipation.

At the airport to New York I found myself looking around. Airports/stations/the streets. We are all equal on the streets.

New York was great fun. I stayed in the East Village, as usual, with Dan and Eric. There was no time to take the lil dog so I sadly left him at home with Hillary and Eric.

Delta sucks. Bad seats, miserable flight.

My driver to CNN was from the Dominican Republic. He asked about the sex rehab show. He chatted about how hard it was to be monogamous-but regardless of how hard it was he felt that he honored his partner by not sleeping with other women-even though (he told me) it would be very easy.

“She deserves it. She deserves that I don’t sleep with other girls. It’s hard man. Very hard.”

Joy Behar, seen her on the View. Like her and her political brusqueness.

At CNN I met Drew, we hugged. He looked shell shocked after the death of his father. I was amazed that he continued doing press but there he was soldiering on. We met Joy Behar who was a friend of my host Dan. She was great fun but tried to put a comic twist on the whole sex addiction thang. This comedy approach failed rather as it’s difficult to chat about sex rehab and not want to cry your heart out.

Saw Anderson Cooper. Cute but TINY. We nodded gruffly at each other like men do.

After the show (which can be seen on CNN website) I met with the VH1 publicist who told me that most gay media outlets were not interested in covering the sex addiction issue. It infuriated me. Sitting on the floor taking screen grabs with his phone of his Housewives of …. Client was a slim gay boy/man/guy. I started in on the publicist about how important getting a sexual health care message was. Although, actually, I think that within the gay community this is more of a mental health care issue. I reminded him that incidents of Syphilis were up 500%, that bug chasers were no longer an elite group of fetishists but increasingly young gay men were deliberately infecting themselves with HIV.

At this point the gay publicist guy starts berating me for being ignorant, that I was lying.

Either in denial or just ignorant this man and men like him are killing other gay men. I am so tired of meeting gay boys who are incapable of thinking beyond their pecs. Who cannot or will not join the dots.

Drug companies marketing AIDS suppression drugs advertise to the gay community with pictures of sexy half dressed young men. The message is clear: we can behave like we always did-as can you. HIV is just like diabetes! It’s nothing. You’re going to be FINE. If you get infected..so what! It’s all going to be OK.

High on crystal, back room, multiple partners, self hatred, sexy advertising: it’s a lethal cocktail resulting in only one outcome: HIV positive and a life shackled to expensive prescription drugs.

HIV gay men are slaves to drug companies and will be for the rest of their lives. Living in a delusional Peter Pan existence they get infected with HIV sell their souls to Pfizer and drown their sorrows in alcohol, crystal and so many rancid hot tubs. Staving off the day when old age (40’s) or side effects finally get them.

Really missed the lil dog for the rest of the weekend. Really missed him.

Flew home to LA. Justin picked me up and we drove to Palm Springs to Rudi and Jake’s housewarming. Lovely house full of so many men. The smell of cocaine and vodka on their breath. The zombie like attention they paid to Justin. The gay parade the following day was like some parade stored in a box marked 1976. The rainbow floats blared: I am what I am. It’s raining men. Gimme, gimme, gimme a man after midnight. The same songs, the same costumes the same shrill applause. This community is stuck.

I began to have a physical reaction to it. I began to close down. I began to pretend I wasn’t there. I could feel myself dying.

The ‘a’ gay zombies bumping into Justin-the new meat. Pushing me out of the way to paw at his tattoos.

We slept in the bunk beds. Our hosts blacked out and ended up in the hot tub with 8 others. In the morning named underwear on the kitchen floor where it stayed until we left that evening.

After the parade Justin and I went to the Ace hotel where there was a ‘best but’ contest. It reminded me of a cruder version of Butlin’s holiday camp from the 1960’s. The guys from the previous night were now wearing Speedos and drinking more vodka and snorting more cocaine. They cheered the best butts. They rehashed the experiences from the night before which were indistinguishable from the stories about the night before that and many, many other nights all over the world with so many, many men. They asked me dumb gay zombie questions so that they might get to Justin. I refused to be engaged. I didn’t, couldn’t speak. When they could they asked Justin the same zombie questions that they hoped would allow them to see his chest, squeeze his nipples. Eat new meat. Finally we made our escape.

The large Palm Springs house that Sonny and Cher once owned was deserted. A chill wind swept off of the mountain and over the terracotta tile, the granite work station and the azure pool. The ghosts of too many parties inhabit this house.

We drove home.

That night I lay on my big white bed and counted my blessings.

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.