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

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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

A week before the Super Bowl, gay candidate kicks off City Council bid in host city Arlington

Hightower in his fourth-grade Hill Highlander uniform.

A week before Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, openly gay Realtor Chris Hightower is set to kick off his campaign for the District 5 seat on the City Council.

According to the Washington, D.C.-based Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, which has endorsed Hightower, he would be the first openly gay city councilmember in Arlington’s history.

Chris Hightower

Hightower is an Arlington native who is the son of former Democratic State Rep. Paula Pierson. He lives with his partner in the historic “azalea house” at Park Row and Davis, according to his campaign website:

I am running for City Council because I love Arlington,” Hightower writes. “From the classrooms of my childhood to the elected offices of today, I have witnessed firsthand what good can come from the hard work of those who care about our hometown. They have made this city into the place that I love. Now, it is time for my generation to step forward and provide leadership for our city’s future just as the generations before us have. It is my hope that children living in Arlington today choose to stay here and raise their families — not because they see the great things I saw in our city while I was growing up, but because they saw something even better.”

Hightower is trying to unseat District 5 incumbent Lana Wolff, who is seeking a fifth term on the council. Other candidates expected to run in District 5 include attorney Terry Meza and UTA student Christopher McCain.

According to his Facebook page, Hightower will host a kickoff party at 7 p.m. this Saturday, Jan. 29 at 2316 Woodsong Trail in Arlington.

He becomes the second candidate from Texas endorsed by the Victory Fund this year, joining Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns, who’s seeking re-election to his District 9 seat.

The other known openly gay candidate in North Texas is James Nowlin, who plans to run for the District 14 seat on the Dallas City Council if incumbent Angela Hunt steps down to run for mayor.

—  John Wright

Minehart announces departure from Lone Star Ride

Dave Minehart

Dave Minehart announced he will leave the Lone Star Ride. He has participated in the ride for all 10 years of its existence, the first seven as a volunteer and the last three as event manager.

He has accepted a new position as development director for a nonprofit organization in his hometown, Iowa City, Iowa. He has been in Texas for the past 28 years but over the past seven, his goal has been to move closer to family.

“I’m leaving you in very, very capable hands,” Minehart said.

Laura Kerr is the incoming board chair. Co-chairs of the ride are John Tripp and Danny Simpson. Tripp co-chaired the ride this year and Simpson has been responsible for fundraising events outside the ride and participated in it for a number of years.

Minehart said he hopes to be at Lone Star Ride next year, depending on his schedule with his new job.

“Lone Star Ride is on a role and it’s going to keep going,” he said. “I hold extreme affection for the event, the people involved and the beneficiaries.”

His last day at Lone Star Ride is Dec. 27 and he begins his new job on Jan. 5.

—  David Taffet

Odessa gets a PFLAG chapter — plus, some tips for dealing with family over the holidays

Odessa is the latest Texas city to get a chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Gays and Lesbians.

According to the PFLAG website, the Odessa chapter is one of about 17 in Texas and 500 nationwide.

CBS 7 reports:

“My daughter told me at the age of 37 that she was gay,” says Shari Johnson.

And Johnson didn’t take the news lightly.

“I fell apart, went to pieces, thought it was the end of the world … begged God to change her … and in the process he changed me,” she claims.

She was changed through PFLAG.

“All of the people involved helped me understand that this wasn’t a tragedy. Found out I was lacking in the love department…and that’s the most important thing.”

That’s why she started a chapter here in her hometown of Odessa.

Also, as we perused the PFLAG site, we couldn’t help but notice these “Tips for a Happy Holiday for GLBT People.” If you plan to come out to family during the holidays or bring your partner home for a visit, they’re probably worth a look. For example:

• If you bring your partner home, don’t wait until late into the holiday evening to raise the issue of sleeping arrangements. Make plans in advance.

—  John Wright

‘Drag Race’ contestants named; none from Texas

OK, everyone knows the best drag queens between the coasts — maybe including them — are in Dallas. So how come none of the new season’s RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants are from the Lone Star State? It’s an outrage!

Well, we can take comfort in knowing that it means we didn’t have to give up any of our talent for a few weeks of filming … and it makes it easier to meow about who deserves to go.

Two (Mariah and Phoenix) are from Atlanta (Ru’s hometown), two from L.A. (Raja and Venus D-Lite), one (Yara Sofia) from Puerto Rico like last season’s Jessica Wild, with the remaining seven scattered around the country. Get ready to watch these girls lip synch … for their lives.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Former NBA star John Amaechi barred from hometown gay club: he’s ‘big & black & could be trouble’

Via Towleroad, a clear sign that it’s not a post-racial society across the pond either. Bonus points in this case for these clubs employing a shared security system to do their racial profiling and have closed ranks regarding the controversy.

“When Amaechi questioned the decision, the doorman said it was a ‘private members’ bar.’ He then allegedly claimed that the New York Times best-selling author had been flagged up as ‘trouble’ on the gay village’s shared security radio network. A spokesperson for the bar later told Amaechi’s representative: ‘Your group was stopped from entering the venue on Friday night as a message was received over the NiteNet radio system, (a system where several venues work together within the village, where they announce any issues they have with any customers), that your group had been argumentative and aggressive to another venue’s doorstaff. On interview with the staff who were present at the time, we are satisfied that there were no racism or bigotry comments as you suggest. All three staff who were present on the door at the time have been with us for over 14 months and none of them have ever displayed the attitude or characteristics you suggest in your email. You have clearly misunderstood the situation and perhaps justifying your exclusion that evening. We consider this matter closed now.’”

The other bars, VIA and Taurus, which use the NiteNet system deny there was any such warning about Amaechi’s behavior.

According to the paper, “Amaechi’s representatives have lodged a complaint with the Equality and Human Rights Commission along with a complaint to the Manchester City Council LGBT affairs director, Terry Waller and also with the Greater Manchester Police LGBT liaison office.”

This took place in Manchester, UK, Amaechi’s flipping hometown! Oh, and what part of “big and black and could be trouble” isn’t racist? Why would Amaechi even bother making something ridiculous like that up? I wonder where this case will go.

***

Back on our side of the Atlantic, and close to home, a sheriff here in NC goes on a nostalgia trip because required probable cause for pulling motorists over has cramped his style re: racial profiling, and general illegal chicanery.

Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison says the constitutional protection against unjustified searches and seizures inhibits law enforcement and it would be better if police could pull over motorists without probable cause.

Harrison, a Republican seeking election to a third four-year term in November, makes his comments in a video interview on the YouTube channel of Tom Murry, a Morrisville councilman running for the state House in the 41st District, which includes parts of Raleigh, Apex, Cary and Morrisville.

In the video, Murry asks, “Is the state making it easier for you to do your job or making it more difficult?”

Harrison, a former North Carolina Highway Patrol trooper, responds, “The biggest thing I see is the way we interpret laws. Back when I was a young trooper, we could stop a car anytime we wanted to to see if they had a driver’s license. Now you can’t do it. You have to have suspicion of probable cause. So, to me, it’s sort of burden on us.”

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

Fort Gay, rugby slurs and Tea Party hatefulness: Learning the lesson that words matter

Former Tea Party official Tim Ravndal, left, and Olympic champion swimmer Stephanie Rice, right, both learned lessons this week about the power of words.

I have two sons in middle school, so I know for a fact that children call each other names all the time. Some are silly. Like the time the younger son called his older brother a butthead, and the older brother responded with, “Well, you’re a butt-er head.” I don’t think that one came out the way he intended.

But one day, when the younger brother was calling the older one names, the older one responded, “Sticks and stones may break my bones. But words will never hurt me.” Then he hesitated, turned to me and said, “But that’s not really true, is it? Words can hurt a lot.”

Yep, I told him. Words matter very, very much. Below are three examples how they matter:

—  admin

West Point Cadet Let Down by Hometown

KATHERINE MILLER X390 (POINT) | ADVOCATE.COMFormer West Point cadet Katie Miller said that she is surprised by the lack of support for her coming out from her Ohio hometown.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  John Wright