Sunday, September 23, 2007

Stars Fell On Alabama

Someone's friend, by way of getting to know me, recently approached at some night out and said, "I hear you know every gay celebrity." While it is true that I am a shameless name dropper, especially in my blog, it sort of surprised me. When I reflect on my life, it is always the quiet moments that ring out the loudest for me. In biographies, it is the stories of stars meeting stars at cocktail parties and movie sets and the like that pad the otherwise dull adventures of a life lived. But when I think back on my own life's biography, it is rare that a celebrity encounter or friendship leaps out as a defining moment.

I think about the many overnight trips I took driving at night alone from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City, my car winding through the darkened canyons that make up the narrow Nevada/Arizona/Utah connection, dramatically illuminated by my headlights under a starry night sky. I think about the dead kittens I found in my barn in Michigan, ripped to shreds, and kneeling alone in the yard to bury their tiny parts behind the abandoned chicken coop. I think about riding the rockets in Tomorrowland with my friend Geoff singing "Fly Me To The Moon" at the top of our lungs. But tonight I think about Danny Roddick.

I never really knew Danny. I met him briefly a few times, most memorably earlier this year at the GayVN awards. He sat behind me during the show, making catty gay comments about people that I strained to hear over the noise of the crowd. I don't think he knew I was eavesdropping but I doubt he would have cared.

There was a screening tonight of Brotherhood, his last film for Buckshot Productions, over at Jerry Douglas' perfect New York City apartment. When I called Jerry to RSVP on Friday, he said something about "concerns about exploiting the situation with Danny" but I had no idea what he was referring to and I made a mental note to ask him about it tonight at the party. Before the screening, Jerry said a few words, as a director is wont to do at their screening, and it was then that I learned that Danny Roddick was dead. Moments later, there he was, youthful, smiling and beaming on Jerry's TV, as though nothing had changed.

Tonight I came home and decided to look for some information on what had happened. He was so young and it seemed such a surprise. Drug overdose is the apparent cause, although according to some, it was the porn industry itself that took him to the edge and beyond. I don't work in the porn industry so I only know what I have seen first hand. It's a business, and one in which the performers have a very short shelf life, and I don't mean that in a callous way. Erik Rhodes is right. Once they've seen your pussy (Britney!), what else do you have to show them? Those who have stayed in the industry for decades have done so because for them it is a career, and not a short term ego boost, an infusion of quick cash, or publicity for their escort business. I don't think the porn industry has a drug problem. I think the gay community has a drug problem. And having the kind of job where you can make a grand in a single day is just the kind of work drug addicts love: short hours, quick money and plenty of time off.

It would be impossible for me to know every gay celebrity, or even most of them. Not really know them anyway. After all, how much do we really know about anyone? Even in our tabloid culture, we still know more about Britney's pubic hair than we do what's going through her mind. Danny Roddick's MySpace page lists "Children: Someday" but that someday is never going to come. It's just too late now. Maybe I should have turned around in my seat at the Castro Theater, introduced myself, and gotten to know him better but I always assumed he would be on the radio show on that very same someday and I would have gotten to know him then. Then again, Reichen Lehmkuhl and Jenny Shimizu were both on the show on Friday and even after 40 minutes, I can't honestly say I know the two of them either. I even spent some time with them later in the VIP room at Splash, putting them on the spot to spell each other's difficult last names (they both succeeded with flying colors). But I don't think I understand them any more now than I understand why, among the DVDs and VHS tapes of Madonna videos and camp classics that Splash had a copy of "Schindler's List" on the shelf.

Maybe I will never really know anything or anyone. The late Gene Siskel used to end every celebrity interview he conducted with the same question, "Tell me something you know for certain." The answers would often be something like "I know that I love my children with all my heart." One thing I know for certain: I will never know Danny Roddick.


Eric said...

this is the most debbie-downer post ever. in case you didn't realize that already!

Big N Silly said...

Oh my god, when did splash get a VIP room? Is it new or did I somehow miss this when I lived in new york?

Derek Hartley said...

Well, someone did die, so it's hard to really go for the funny on this one.