25 ways to fight AIDS

Today, December 1, is World AIDS Day.

Wait! Before you click the ‘next’ button or scroll down your news feed hear me out: The LGBT community has been living with AIDS for three decades now. For people of my generation the message to get tested and use condoms has been stated and restated so many times that it has faded into the background with the result that, all too often, people do not take the steps they need to to protect themselves. Harris County is responsible for 30% of the new HIV/AIDS diagnosis in Texas and men who have sex with men account for 64% of newly diagnosed men statewide. The threat is not over, the fight is not over, AIDS still endanger the LGBT community.

But I don’t want to just talk about just condoms and testing (as important as they are). Fighting HIV/AIDS is easier than you might think. I present to you 25 ways, in no particular order, to fight AIDS in Houston.

25. If you’re over a certain age talk to a young LGBT person about how your life has been affected by HIV/AIDS. You might be surprised how eager we are to hear your stories.

24. If you’re under a certain age listen to an older LGBT person tell you how HIV/AIDS has affected their lives. I know you aren’t eager to hear their stories, but listen anyway. You may find that learning the history of your community is more empowering than you’d expect.

23. If you are a sexually active gay man or transgender woman participate in the Baylor College of Medicine’s HIV Vaccine Study.

22. Ask your local public or school library to put books about HIV/AIDS on the shelf, not just in the back room where they have to be requested. Access to accurate information is crucial in fighting the spread of the disease.

21. Post HIV/AIDS stories to facebook.

20. Ask your clergy person what your community of faith is doing to fight the pandemic.

19. Sign up for action alerts from the Texas HIV/AIDS Coalition at texashiv.org

18. Actually follow through when the action alerts from the Texas HIV/AIDS Coalition arrive in your in-box.

17. Volunteer for organizations that deal with communities at high risk for infection: high school dropouts, victims of sexual assault, the poor, the homeless and sex workers. Fighting AIDS means fighting the injustice in our society that all too often contributes to new infections.

16. Say AIDS out loud.

15. Ask political candidates what they will do to continue funding to fight HIV/AIDS.

14. Once they’re elected, ask those candidates why they aren’t doing more to continue funding to fight HIV/AIDS.

13. Remind yourself that it’s OK to be tired of hearing about HIV/AIDS.

12. Thank a person who volunteers their time to the fight.

11. Take a moment to remember the people we’ve lost.

10. Take a moment to think of the people we may loose if this pandemic isn’t stopped.

9. Take a HIV/AIDS healthcare worker to dinner.

8. Wear a red ribbon.

7. Recognize that wearing a red ribbon isn’t enough.

6. Work with communities other than your own. HIV/AIDS effects us all.

5. Get angry.

4. Get over your anger.

3. Donate to an HIV/AIDS Charity.

2. When you pass a mobile HIV testing center, thank the workers.

1. Don’t pretend the fight is over, and don’t let other people pretend it’s over either.

—  admin

Monster’s ball

Porn star Michael Brandon endured prison and drug  addiction, but his road to recovery — and to Texas — began with an unusual partner named Monster

MAN OF A CERTAIN AGE | At 46, the once-twinky Michael Brandon has embraced his new-found role as a daddy to younger men who were barely alive when he started his porn career.

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES
Life+Style Editor

jones@dallasvoice.com

…………………….

BADASS TEXAS TOUR
Midtowne Spa,
2509 Pacific St.  July 29 at 8 p.m.

…………………….

Porn star Michael Brandon loves the cool weather in his hometown of San Francisco, but he is happily, and voluntarily, giving it up to come to Dallas.

“I actually have family there,” he says. “Legend has it my uncle was the CEO of Texas Instruments back in the day.” Not counting family reunions, the trip will mark the Dallas debut of his live show. So what exactly got him to Texas finally?

“I think I would have to credit Monster,” he says.

Monster, it turns out, is his pet name for his penis. Only if you listen to Brandon talk about it enough, it seems like a business partner rather than a part of his business.
Here’s how it happened.

“One of my fans, Topher, has been on me to come to Texas for years — ‘Bring Monster to Texas!’ he kept saying. For some reason, Texas wasn’t an easy nut to crack for me,” Brandon says. So superfan Topher took it upon himself to meet Monster in person, setting out on a campaign to get someone — anyone — to bring Monster and his owner to the Lone Star State.

“I’ll be damned if he didn’t get Midtowne Spa [on board],” Brandon says still a bit incredulously. “Midtowne doesn’t normally fly people in, but they agreed to this time — and it went from ‘just Dallas’ to a three-city tour.”

Brandon’s Badass Texas Tour — designed to promote the adult performer’s first hardcore sex film in several years, the fetish picture Badass — started in Austin Wednesday, and will bring him (well, them) to Dallas tonight at 8, followed by an appearance in Houston on Sunday.

To hear Brandon talk about it, it really is a collaboration, and one borne unexpectedly from tragedy.

In the 1980s, Brandon was, in his words, “fresh off the bus” when he came out of the closet with a vengeance. He was 24 and quickly got involved in the seedier aspects of gay culture. He was working at a bar when he answered an ad for XXX models. The photographer was impressed by the young man’s member.

“In the gay world, your cock can be your calling card on many levels — especially in the sex industry, and mine is really large,” Brandon quickly admits. But soon after he started doing porn, he developed an addiction to meth. It ruined his life.

TEXAS AT LAST | Brandon’s Texas tour resulted from an email campaign from a superfan.

“I was already 140 lbs. soaking wet without using anything, but I dropped even more — I was skinny as a rail. When I did the speed I stopped doing porn because I didn’t have any confidence in front of the camera. Then I started selling it, then did jail time, then prison time, then living on the streets. From 24 to 34, I saw eight-and-a-half years inside state penitentiaries. But those revolving doors kept me alive. Left to my own devices, I would have been dead. I should be dead. Dead! I’m talking skull-and-crossbones chemicals being shot into my veins. I’ve known people who did less than I did and can barely put two sentences together. Staying as strung out as I did, I would have been so out of it I would have walked in front of a bus.”

He spent 18 months in rehab, and it was really after that when “Michael Brandon” was born.

“’Michael Brandon’ was just my stage name but I started cultivating it as an entity and business,” he says.

Brandon won back-to-back performer of the year Gay VN Awards in 2001 and 2002 — the only porn actor to do so — and Monster was a big part of it.

“Part of the process [of recovery] is to learn who you really are, so I was reading reviews of me on an [escort evaluation site]. One review, the client was saying how nice my eyes were and called my cock a ‘monster.’ I thought, ‘Why don’t I give it an identity and take mine back? And it’s been a hit. Working together has been huge for my career. Monster gets his own birthday wishes, own emails, his — ‘can Monster come out and play?’ It’s been such a big marketing tool. No pun intended.”

Brandon took a break from porn and escorting when he met his true love, Marcos, “and in order to cultivate a healthy personal relationship, I stepped out from in front of the camera and basically had a monogamous relationship with him.”

That relationship ended after five years “in a blaze of glory” last October; in December, Brandon went back in front of the camera to make Badass. He was already 45 years old. But apparently as in-demand as ever.

“People ask me, ‘How long have you been in your industry?’ I sometimes answer, ‘How old are you?’ I get a lot of emails saying, ‘I have watched you since I was 12 years old.’ I wanna ask, ‘How old are you now, 15?’ Our community is youth-obsessed but I find the youth is obsessed with the papis and the daddies. I get these random emails that say, ‘I really like having sex with older men.’ When did that happen?”

But Brandon isn’t complaining. Despite a drug relapse — he has been clean for a second time almost three years now, following a nine-month binge that nearly destroyed him again — he’s as happy and focused and well-adjusted as he’s ever been. And like Lady Gaga, he credits his little — well, not so little — Monster.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 29, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens