Tube review: Logo’s ‘Pretty Hurts’

Watching the opening sequence of Pretty Hurts, the new Logo reality series, with needles injecting Botox and collagen into eyebrows and lips nearly made me pass out. And that’s basically the entire show for 30 minutes: Injectibles being hypodermically inserted into tightly pulled faces by Rand Rusher, a gay registered nurse (not a doctor) who has been called the Mr. Fix-It of Hollywood.

Only it’s not clear what he’s fixing. Because it’s set in L.A., virtually everyone on the show (including Rusher) seems to be, literally, made of plastic. True enough, they don’t look old — then again, they don’t look wholly human, either. They are youthful fakes.

There’s only so much of that, plus the dishy refusal to actually dish (suggestions of celeb clients masked behind the veil of patient confidentiality), that I can put up with, though Rusher’s personality grows on you  — he doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously. And you shouldn’t take the show too seriously.

Two stars.

Premieres Saturday at 7 p.m. on Logo

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Laser treatment offers alternative to smokers who are trying to quit

Study: LGBTs smoke at more than twice the rate of non-LGBT peers

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor

PAINLESS  |  Xena Sebastian of Anne Penman Laser Therapy of Dallas demonstrates the laser she uses to help smokers kick the habit. She said the laser is a non-invasive and painless alternative to other smoking cessation aids. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

PAINLESS | Xena Sebastian of Anne Penman Laser Therapy of Dallas demonstrates the laser she uses to help smokers kick the habit. She said the laser is a non-invasive and painless alternative to other smoking cessation aids. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

According to a report released in July by the American Lung Association, the smoking rate among gay and lesbian Americans is twice as high as among other Americans.

The report — “Smoking Out A Deadly Threat: Tobacco Use in the LGBT Community” — says that gay, bisexual and transgender men are two to two-and-a-half times more likely to smoke than straight men. Lesbians, bisexual and transgender women are one-and-a-half to two times more likely to smoke than straight women.

And, the report notes, bisexual boys and girls have the highest smoking rates when compared to both heterosexual and LGT peers.

Why? Well there are a number of reasons, the ALA suggests in its report: “possible contributing factors to the LGBT smoking rate includ[e] stress and discrimination related to homophobia, the tobacco industry’s targeted marketing to LGBT consumers, and lack of access to culturally appropriate tobacco treatment programs.”

And quitting smoking is not easy. Studies have indicated the relapse rate for those who quit to be between 75 and 80 percent, even with aids like gums, patches and pills.

But Xena Sebastian believes she has a solution that is almost sure-fire: laser therapy.

Sebastian, a registered nurse, said she spent most of her professional career working in cardiovascular intensive care units, “but I got a little old for ICU duty, which is pretty intense.”

So she began working doing infusion treatments, and from there learned about laser therapy. She now operates Anne Penman Laser Therapy of Dallas.

Sebastian explained that the laser is a holistic, drug-free method of treatment developed by Anne Penman of Scotland specifically to help smokers become non-smokers. And, Sebastian added, the success rate for laser treatments is “higher than any other kind of [stop smoking aid], including gums and patches and pills. The best part is that it is non-invasive, drug free and pain free.”

Penman is based in Scotland, and according to her website, she used laser therapy to end her 60-cigarette-a-day habit in 1991 after her husband, also a longtime smoker, had a heart attack at age 39. That same year, she trained to become a laser therapist, and quickly developed her own protocol for the treatment. By 1994, she was training others to use her protocol.

Sebastian said that laser therapy works along the same lines as acupuncture, using the laser instead of needles to target energy points throughout the body, causing the release of seratonins and endorphins, “the same chemicals that are released when you workout.”

The laser, Sebastian said, “is a healing light that works on an intracellular and cellular level” to help detox the body, flushing out harmful substances, and to dampen that craving for nictotine.

Laser therapy can also be used for pain management and to reduce stress, and there are other applications, as well, although Sebastian said she does not promote laser therapy for those.

All Anne Penman clinics use the Thor Laser, which has been approved by the FDA for “tissue healing, inflammation, pain relief and wounds,” according to the Thor Laser website.

The smoking cessation packages at Sebastian’s clinic cost $499 for three treatments. She said patients come in for their first treatment and are then asked to return within 48 hours for the second treatment. The third treatment can be used down the line if the patient relapses.

Sebastian said many patients are ready to quit smoking after the first treatment, and almost all of them quit after the second treatment.

The package price also includes a supply of nutritional supplements and vitamins that help the patient detox and reinforce healthy habits.

Sebastian acknowledged that the nearly $500 price tag seems high to many people. She also noted that few insurance plans cover the cost of laser treatment to quit smoking.

But, she said, “If you smoke one pack a day and this treatment helps you quit, then you have paid for the treatment in a month and a half” of not buying cigarettes.

Sebastian said she is not condemning other smoking cessation treatments that use pharmaceuticals. “I am a registered nurse. I certainly believe pharmaceuticals have their place. But if you can [quit smoking] without them, with a holistic and non-invasive treatment, then try that first,” she said.

Anne Penman Laser Therapy of Dallas is the only Anne Penman treatment center in Texas. It is located at 6518 LBJ Freeway. For more information, call 214-503-7955, e-mail, or go online to
For more information about Anne Penman and Anne Penman Laser Therapy, go online to For more information about the laser used in Anne Penman Laser Therapy, go online to

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 10, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas

Congressman’s office reaches out to gay couple separated by immigration law

Aurelio Tolentino, left, and his partner, Roi Whaley

On Friday, we posted this blog about Roi Whaley and his partner, Aurelio Tolentino. Just to catch you up Tolentino, a registered nurse from the Philipines, had come to the U.S. on a work visa and met Whaley in a support group for people with HIV. When he applied for his green card, the federal government learned Tolentino had HIV and, under a policy that has since been revoked by President Barack Obama, officials told Aurelio he would have to leave the country.

Tolentino applied for asylum, since he had already faced violence in his home country because of his sexual orientation and would probably face more if he went back. But that was denied. So he went to Canada to stay with his mother and applied for asylum there. That, too, was denied and he now faces the prospect of having to return to the Philipines. And at the same time, Whaley has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He is visiting Tolentino in Canada this month, but unless something changes, it will likely be the last time the two partners are able to see each other.

Whaley, with the assistance of Immigration Equality, had asked his congressman, Democrat Gene Taylor of Bay St. Louis, Miss., for help in getting a humanitarian parole that would allow T0lentino back into the U.S. to be with Whaley in his final months. But Taylor’s office had refused.

That seems to have changed now. Steve Ralls with Immigration Equality called me this morning to let me know that after we posted the earlier blog about the couple’s plight, Taylor’s office has reached out to Whaley to try and help.

“We heard from Taylor’s office today (Tuesday, Sept. 7). He has reached out to Roi and said they want to work with him to see how they can best help him,” Ralls said. “We hope that [Taylor] will work with Roi’s attorney here at Immigration Equality on finding a way for Aurelio to be here in this country with Roi. It is a very positive step forward.”

Of course, if Whaley and Tolentino had been able to be legally married, or even if the U.S. had dropped its antiquated rule on allowing HIV-positive immigrants and visitors into the country earlier, this wouldn’t be such a problem. But for now, let’s just hope that Taylor and Immigration Equality can find a way for these two people who love each other to be together when they need each other most.

—  admin

Gay couple separated by immigration law as one fights cancer; congressman won’t help

Aurelio Tolentino, left, and his partner, Roi Whaley

Roi Whaley and Aurelio Tolentino, both HIV-positive, met in 2004 through a support group for people living with AIDS. Roi is a native of Gulfport, Miss., and Tolentino, a registered nurse, had come to the U.S. on a work visa from his home in the Philipines.

Then, during the process of applying for his green card, authorities discovered Tolentino’s HIV-positive status, and immigration officials informed him he would have to leave the country. That was back in 2006, before President Barack Obama rescinded the policy prohibiting HIV-positive people from entering the U.S., either as immigrants or tourists.

Tolentino wasn’t too keen on going back to the Philipines. For one thing, it would mean leaving his partner, Whaley. On top of that, he had already been attacked and beaten for being gay in his home country, and if he were to return, it would likely happen again.

So Tolentino applied for asylum in the U.S. That application was denied because he had been in this country already for more than a year, and U.S. policy says anyone seeking asylum must apply within one year of entering the country.

Left with no other option, Tolention moved to Canada to live with his mother, who already has legal status as a permanent resident. He applied for asylum there and, once again, was denied. Now he may have no other choice than to return to the Philipines where he would possibly face harassment, violence and even death.

To make matters, Whaley was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. He left for Seattle on Friday, Sept. 3, for a visit to his oncologist, after which he planned to fly on to Canada to spend the month of September with Tolentino and his mother. It will likely be the last time the partners see each other, since Tolentino faces deportation to the Phillipines, and Whaley’s deteriorating health rules out the possibility of him visiting Tolentino there.

There is one hope: a plea to the Department of Homeland Security to grant Tolentino a humanitarian parole that would allow him to return to the U.S temporarily to be with his dying partner. But that’s not likely to happen, either, especially without intervention from Whaley’s congressman, Rep. Gene Taylor, a Democrat from Bay St. Louis, Miss.

With the help of Immigration Equality, based in Washington, D.C., Whaley and Tolentino have already asked once for Taylor’s help. An aide in Taylor’s office told Whaley no, the congressman wasn’t going to intervene. And Taylor’s office has failed so far to even return calls from Immigration Equality.

But Steve Ralls, director of communications for Immigration Equality, said Friday that neither the couple nor Immigration Equality is ready to give up yet. They are asking for the public’s help in lobbying Congressman Taylor to intervene and get Homeland Security to grant the humanitarian parole that will let Whaley spend his final days with the man he loves.

“Were Roi and Aurelio a married heterosexual couple, Roi would be eligible to apply to sponsor Aurelio for residency in the United States. Because they are a gay couple, however, that option is not open to them,” Ralls said in a press release sent out Friday. “Now, with Roi’s health deteriorating and Aurelio facing a move to the Philipines — where it would be nearly impossible for Roi to travel and be with him — the couple face impending separation. They are one of 36,000 such couples, according to an analysis of the 2000 Census data, facing this kind of situation.

“Despite having followed every immigration rule and voluntarily leaving the U.S. when immigration asked him to do so, Aurelio is now being punished under the law for following the law,” Ralls said.

If you want to help Immigration Equality fight for Roi and Aurelio, or if you are yourself part of an international same-sex couple trying to negotiate immigration law, contact the organization at 202-347-7007.

If you want to contact Congressman Taylor and encourage him to intervene on behalf of this couple, go to his website here to find addresses and phone numbers for his office in Washington, D.C., and all five of his offices in his district.

—  admin