We’re having fun joking about porn and fans are lapping it up but then Michael gets serious. He talks about his meth addiction and what led to his jail time. The whole place is silent. Most times, porn stars are supposed to be stupid pieces of meat without substance but Michael is different – he dares to talk about something real: his failures. But, even as he describes the most harrowing night of his life where he jumped off of a roof thinking he could fly, he smiles and turns it around by saying “that was just a couple blocks from here. And now look at me.. I’m here, I’m alive, I’m sober and I’ve got this great career… “ Naturally there is a lump in everyone’s throat (including mine) as we all applaud and cheer. It’s so incredible to think that this beautiful man sitting with us harbors such dark memories but what an inspiration – he not only survived that time, but he thrived and rose to incredible heights in the industry.
So it is with a very sad heart that I write today’s blog entry about my long time friend, Michael Brandon. I received disturbing news today that Michael has been in some serious trouble over the past year which you can read about here in a San Francisco Weekly article:
What can I say? I met Michael in 2000 when he returned to the industry after spending some years in jail. I don’t know if there was community service attached to his parole or not but he was volunteering with Aid for AIDS, the organization for which I produced the first few Bad Boys Pool Parties.
Michael was a producer’s dream: smart and sexy and could remember every fan’s name even if the interaction was brief and the time in between was months or years apart. He would also show up on time with handfuls of giveaways. He was generous, thoughtful and was always a step or two ahead.
He was a frequent guest at all the events and fundraisers that I produced and hosted: Cocktails with the Stars both in West Hollywood and in Long Beach, the Grabbys events, even a fundraiser I did here in New York at View Bar when I first arrived and many many others. We co-hosted his 40th birthday party in Palm Springs at a leather bar and I’ve just recently discovered those photos again.. what a party that was!
Eventually Michael began to produce an adjacent party to the Bad Boys Pool Party, the Inappropriate Behavior Party which would become the big finish ending to the weekend in Palm Springs. Michael was the first (and only) person thrown out of one of the parties by my (now) ex boyfriend who felt that Michael attempting to suck off 30 or 40 guys at the party was “inappropriate”. Michael just laughed it off and created his next day sex only party which, like the BBPP, just got larger and larger every year.
The last time I saw Michael was in 2005 when he and I and his boyfriend played mini golf at the end of the Palm Springs Bad Boys Pool Party weekend. It was a beautiful day and we luxuriously spent the afternoon just playing this silly game and enjoying each others’ company. We even joked that we could incorporate a mini golf game as part of the week’s events featuring drag queens at various holes along the course. We laughed ourselves silly and hoped, thought that this could be the start of a new tradition.
It didn’t work out that way.
Work and Life here in New York took me in a direction that kept me on this coast, preventing me from working as vigorously on things in California as I had in the past. But Michael stayed in touch throughout the next couple years via email.
Then, a year ago I heard worries from fans that Michael wasn’t returning emails and asked if I knew what was going on.
For a person like Michael not to be immediately in touch, we all knew something was wrong. The answer finally came from Raging Stallion that due to a severe back injury, he was retired. No more information came forth although friends of mine in San Francisco reported that they saw Michael up and about doing things around town.
When I emailed Michael, I got no response and eventually I dropped it figuring that this was something that I would simply have to leave as a mystery. Lots of porn actors have dropped out of the industry when they get a desk job somewhere and so it’s not completely uncommon for a stars’ life to suddenly go quiet. Certainly my own visibility the past few years outside of Porno Bingo here in New York has diminished so I attributed Michael’s disappearance to him working on some sort of new opportunity.
Still, something nagged at me –Michael is what I call a Lifer in porn – someone like Chi Chi LaRue and Doug Jeffries and Blue Blake for whom this IS what they do, not a pit stop on the way to something else… like it is for most people that get involved with it.
I actually wish that the story was that Michael had found some fabulous job but as we now know, that’s not the case.
Meth addiction has been a sore spot in the gay community in general over the past 15 years. It’s destroyed the bar scene (people drinking water in bars or staying home to hook up online while taking tokes off the pipe), messed up people’s physical (the rise in HIV infections over the past decade is directly attributed to meth use/abuse) and mental health (I cannot tell you how many people I’ve met who have been permanently changed personality-wise after a long addiction to meth).
I cannot also tell you how many friends I’ve lost to meth abuse because frankly I’ve lost count. My dear friend Scott just kept doing it til it killed him as did a DJ acquaintance of mine. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
What we forget is that the ‘confidence’ that meth ‘gives’ you is an illusion. It’s not real. What we forget is that the high we experience is like borrowing money from the future. You’re going to have to pay it back eventually. And what we forget is that the ugliness of an emaciated body and rotted teeth from lack of care and exposure to the drug is not sexy.
But here is the good news in this: Michael is a survivor and if anyone can come out of this better and bigger than before, it’s Michael Brandon. He’s gone through the worst of it before and emerged a superstar and now, with the help of his fans and friends, but most importantly from his own self determination to survive, thrive and heal, he will, like his Monster has done so many times before, rise again.
(P.S. the above image was a quick grab from the internet... I'm away from home for the day but will be home later and promise to put up a couple pics that I have of Michael.. I think this will help us all remember him in the best of times and send him great energy for recovery!)