Friday, November 10, 2006

Right-wing mama: PHYLLIS SCHLAFLY

Mommie dearest
Even militant conservative Phyllis Schlafly admits
she’s a proud mom who loves her gay son

By Daniel A. Kusner May 22, 2001

Don’t expect to find Phyllis Schlafly, 81, bearing her soul at a P-FLAG rally. It’s just never going to happen.

The ultra-conservative pro-family/pro-life activist launched the Stop-ERA crusade in the ’70s and leads The Eagle Forum, a volunteer organization that favors punishing gay sex with imprisonment. But ever since her eldest son, John Schlafly, a lawyer, was publicly outed in 1992, Phyllis has been an easy target for gays to ridicule.

Sunday is Mother’s Day. And although there are countless other candidates who’d make a better spokesperson for parents of gay children, Phyllis Schlafly stands out as someone who’s probably had to strongly re-examine the bond between a mom and her queer kid.

In interviews with the gay press, Schlafly remains an even-tempered albeit tight-lipped subject. Her prime agenda on the topic of motherhood mostly deals with her fierce advocacy for breastfeeding and disposable diapers.

“Paper diapers are the greatest invention that ever happened,” she beams.

But beneath the stridently anti-gay radical right exterior lies the undeniably warm heart of a mother of six, and grandmother of 14, who loves her gay son no matter what.

“There’s a point when you have to let your children live their own lives when they become adults,” she says.

And when it comes to controversies and disappointments, Schlafly says a mother’s love should overcome those difficulties.

“I have a close friend whose son was bounced from the Navy for drug use. And the Navy is real tough on drugs. This was a terrible affront to her husband who had had a fine Navy career, and the Navy was so important in his life. But he was going to tell the son never to come home again," Schlafly remembers.
"And I told my friend, ‘No. No, you welcome him home.’ She has thanked me 1,000 times for that. And her son has turned out to be a very fine young man.”

According to Schlafly, being a strong role model is the most important thing a parent can do when they’re children have reached adulthood. And she admits that the Schlafly family has some of the same problems other families have.

“But we have no illegal drug use. Nobody smokes. We don’t have any divorce. We don’t have illegitimate pregnancies. And we’re workaholics,” Schlafly says.

However, there’s at least one surprise that’s come out of the closet.

And when John Schlafly was outed, it was mostly done to take Phyllis down a few pegs.

“I didn’t have any other problem other than the media asking nosy questions. And of course it was all done to embarrass me. This is the alliance of the gays and the abortionists, who really have nothing in common except a political alliance. So they created this national media controversy,” she explains.

“The harassment of the media is a terrible annoyance. They invited me on shows who would not otherwise have invited me, because that’s all they wanted to talk about. And it was all done to embarrass me. I mean, my son doesn’t have any enemies,” she continues. “It just made a big national news story that went on for weeks — about something that wasn’t none of anybody’s business. He was deliberately outed by somebody who went around bragging that he didn’t believe in outing.”

Did her son being gay change anything between them?

“No. He’s a wonderful young man. He’s my first born, and I love him,” she says.

Was she ever afraid for her son because he's gay?

“No. I’m not a person who’s afraid of things,” she quickly answers.

Did the fact that her son ever challenge her political ideology?

“No, not really. Actually he’s very supportive of practically all of my work. He believes in the traditional family and most of the things I work for. We’re just a private family and we don’t air all our personal problems out for the public. Now, I think that’s about enough of me and my son. Let’s finish this topic,” Schlafly says in a stern, motherly way.

But she did give one piece of advice of the gay community for this Mother’s Day.

“I hope all the gays and lesbians love their mothers and respect them,” she says.

And for what it’s worth, Mrs. Schlafly, most of the gay community probably wishes you a Happy Mother’s Day.


Never too old
Finally out, ‘Star Trek’ legend George Takei takes on a new adventure. But can the 68-year-old activist curb Howard Stern’s use of the word ‘fag?’

By Daniel A. Kusner Apr 20, 2006

His voice is unmistakable. In the lobby of the Melrose Hotel, George Takei greets me with a warm “Hello.” His distinctively rich timbre sounds more impressive in person than it does on TV or radio. It must have taken years to develop, and it’s paid off.

Takei is most famous for playing Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu, helmsman for the starship Enterprise on “Star Trek.” He’s also has scored some high-profile gigs as voice-over narrator: Disney’s “Mulan,” “The Simpsons” and “Futurama,” to name a few.

And now Takei is using his voice to speak out for gays and lesbians.
Earlier this month, Takei stopped in Dallas as the newest spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign’s “Coming Out Project.” Last year, in an interview with the California bi-weekly magazine Frontiers, Takei officially confirmed his sexuality. Takei and his partner, Brad Altman, have been together for two decades — they met while jogging with the California chapter of the gay running club, Front Runners.

The news wasn’t the least shocking. But it was news — especially since Takei said he was publicly coming out to let Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger know that, as a California resident, he was appalled that a fellow actor vetoed the state’s same-sex marriage bill.

Like Ian McKellen and Richard Chamberlain, Takei is a welcome addition to the ranks of queer celebrities who came out in their golden years. His newly out status is also revitalizing his career. Four weeks ago, Takei appeared on an episode of “Will & Grace” — working with guest star Britney Spears.

His work with HRC is certainly commendable. With his speaking appearances, Takei hopes to “energize the base” membership of HRC but more importantly, to reach the suburban and rural folks of Red State America: When they see Sulu’s familiar face, they might be able to relate to someone who happens to be gay.

But Takei’s most impressive gig as a gay man is his freelance job as the official announcer for the Howard Stern show on Sirius satellite radio.

Long before he “officially” came out, Takei was a Stern show favorite. His recognizable voice added a wonderful presence, and Stern’s madcap crew often interviewed Takei — joshing around about his often-speculated sexuality and his rather uppity ways: Takei’s Papillion doggie is named “La Reina Blanca,” (the White Queen).

A frequent on-air contest was for callers to imitate Stern’s mash-up song “Sulu Dance:” a parody of the Men Without Hats hit “Safety Dance” spliced together with Takei-isms. And last year, when Howard turned 51, Takei was the “surprise” caller wishing him happy birthday. After that call their friendship was solidified, and Takei proved he had a terrific sense of humor. Stern’s gay fans were delighted.

As Stern’s official announcer, Takei is the most prominent openly gay person Stern has ever aligned himself with. Next in line would probably be flamboyant decorator and regular call-in guest Bobby Trendy, and Mark Harris, the starved-for-attention gay man who married Martha Raye.

The general public probably doesn’t realize it, but avid Stern listeners know that Howard is pro-gay — especially when it comes to same-sex marriage issues. In February 2004, when President Bush called for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, Stern did a 180 on Bush.

Following 9/11, the radio jock praised the president and was an enormous supporter. But as soon as Bush called for the “amendment protecting marriage,” Stern said Bush was crazy and became one of the president’s loudest detractors during the 2004 election campaign.

Immediately after he started his anti-Bush crusade, Stern’s troubles with the FCC began. And after the Super Bowl incident with Janet Jackson, Stern became the FCC’s number-one enemy in the war over on-air indecency. The radio host was at the frontline battle for freedom of speech. Losing this battle was the reason the King of All Media moved to Sirius.

While he hopes to revolutionize satellite radio, Howard Stern will probably go down in history a master broadcaster and free speech activist. But gay listeners can’t help notice how often Stern and co-host Artie Lange use the word “fag.”

Some may argue that plenty of disparaging words used to describe minorities make their way onto Stern’s broadcasts. Callers often say, “nigger,” “gook,” “spick,” “kike” and, of course, “faggot.” But except for the word “faggot,” you never hear Stern use such despicable terms (although he does often refer to himself as a “hook-nosed Jew bastard.”)

So how come the word “fag” is fair game? And how come it’s used so liberally?

When I ask Takei about it, the beaming senior citizen suddenly morphs into a confused old man.

“He does? Well, I’ve never heard him say that,” Takei says.

Yeah, Stern and Artie Lange say the word “fag” all the time.

“I don’t listen to the show. When I’m on, they don’t use … [the word].”

So you didn’t know he hurls the word “fag” on-air?

“No, I didn’t know that,” Takei says.

Well, now you do, George Takei. Consider yourself informed.

“I don’t listen to the show,” Takei explains. “Frankly, I find it kind of boring. Brad is addicted to the show. His car radio has Sirius. Occasionally, I listen to it. But it’s boring. All this talk about ‘that stripper is snorting this and that.’”

Takei doesn’t find it fascinating when Stern rails against Bush and former FCC chairman Michael Powell?

“I don’t hear that part,” Takei says.

Is he kidding?

In December 2005, after years of refusing press requests, Stern finally allowed himself to be interviewed. His massive publicity campaign included features on “60 Minutes,” “The Today Show,” “David Letterman,” a two-night appearance on “The O’Reilly Factor” and countless newspaper articles and magazines. If Takei wasn’t aware of Stern’s tirades against Bush and the FCC, he must have been deaf and blind — especially since he was about to work for him starting Jan. 9.

On June 10, Howard Stern will be awarded the 2006 Freedom of Speech Award at the New Media Seminar in New York. Stern has asked Takei to accept the award on his behalf. In the meantime, let’s hope Takei’s gay activism takes a bold new step forward and he confronts Stern on the word “faggot.” And if anyone asks Takei about the “fag” matter again, at least he can’t say he wasn’t aware of it.


If Howard Stern, pictured, and Rosie O’Donnell buried the hatchet and joined forces, the world would be a better place. When O’Donnell was daytime TV’s Queen of Nice, Stern couldn’t stand her. In fact, one contest was for Stern listeners to guess how many jellybeans would fit into a glass jar in the shape of Rosie’s head.

But when Rosie married former Dallasite Kelli O’Donnell, Stern gave her props for coming out and standing up for herself. On her prolific blog,, O’Donnell has admitted that she knows Stern is a regular reader.

After watching the HBO documentary “All Aboard,” Stern had these kind words to say about O’Donnell: “It’s so, like, kind of beautiful, and she put together this cruise where they could all be together and not feel so abnormal all the time and be goofed on. And I thought it was great … I gotta hand it to the broad. She did a good job, and she did a good thing for people. You know. And at one point, they pull into, like, the Bahamas, and there’s a religious group protesting them, and — it’s pretty upsetting. But Rosie was like very, very cool about it, and you see her working with these kids, and it was, you know, hey — you can goof on her all you want, but she’s doing more than most. She’s doing something for people.”
— Daniel A. Kusner

'Brokeback' beat: LARRY MCMURTRY

Can Texas brave ‘Brokeback’
Lone Star scribe Larry McMurtry is confident
that his gay cowboy movie will change
the way Gov Perry and Proposition 2 supporters
think about queer issues

By Daniel A. Kusner
Dec. 12, 2005

A tragedy about lost opportunity, repression, finding love and the importance of never letting it go, “Brokeback Mountain” is a powerful drama. And the momentum behind the film builds on a day-to-day basis.

Critics groups in Boston, Los Angeles and New York recently named the gay cowboy drama as the year’s best film. And on Tuesday, it dominated the Golden Globes with seven nominations, including one for best screenplay, written by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana.

A lifelong Texan, McMurtry is a Pulitzer Prize winner and the literary treasure who created “The Last Picture Show,” “Lonesome Dove,” “Hud” and “Terms of Endearment.” A few hours after the Golden Globe nominations were announced, McMurtry conducted phone interviews while in Austin promoting the film.

Based on Annie Proulx’s 1997 near-perfect short story, “Brokeback” is about the doomed love between two men who fall in love while herding sheep together. It’s also partially set in the Lone Star State.

And just as the film’s marketing campaign was gearing up, Texas was hit with two historical anti-gay blows: the overwhelming victory of a state amendment to ban same-sex marriages and Governor Rick Perry essentially telling gay soldiers returning from Iraq that a more “lenient” state would be a better place to live.

“If the governor wants to say foolish things, I can’t stop him. And it’s too bad about the proposition. But that’s not forever,” McMurtry says. “Five years from now, Governor Perry won’t be there. And we’ll see about the rest.”

When it comes to statements on Western culture and history, McMurtry is perhaps the most qualified authority. Even Governor Perry seems to agree — in 2003 and 2004, he declared May as Texas Writers Month and, fittingly, McMurtry’s image emblazoned the campaign’s commemorative posters for those years. But in 2005, is Texas’ image shifting toward intolerance and homophobia?

“I don’t see it that way. I’m not pessimistic. I’m from the plains of Texas — the part that connects the Midwest with the Rocky Mountains,” McMurtry says. “I think there’s more decency in the great American middle class than most homophobic legislation would indicate. Sure, right now these are hot-button issues, but these things are not permanent.”

Raised in Wichita Falls, McMurtry became familiar with gay cowboys when he was 8 years old. That’s when he was introduced to his gay cousin’s boyfriend. Coincidently, McMurtry’s cousin resembles Jack Twist, the fictitious “Brokeback Mountain” character played by Jake Gyllenhaal: Both worked the rodeo circuit and both were from the same area of Texas — near Childress, a small town not far from Wichita Falls.

His cousin came to mind while working on the screenplay. “I was supposed to say ‘gentleman friend’ when referring to my cousin’s lover,” McMurtry remembers.

McMurtry’s parents encouraged him to be nice to his cousin’s partner.

“We had no reason not to be nice to him. He was a perfectly nice man,” McMurtry says. “There might have been a little awkwardness, maybe. But my parents were never angry about my cousin. Everyone’s lives went on. And they went on for 20 years.”

That’s the attitude that shapes McMurtry’s vision of the acceptance of gays in Texas.

“Many American families, millions, have a gay member — like our vice president,” he says. “I’m not going to give up on the capacity of Texans to deal with controversy in a fair and compassionate way.”

The big challenge for the film is for people like Governor Perry and the folks who voted for Proposition 2 to actually watch “Brokeback Mountain.”

“I absolutely believe the film will challenge their views,” McMurtry says. “If they go see it, it will have to give them pause.”

Even with a truckload of film critics’ awards, McMurtry says the success of “Brokeback Mountain” depends solely on one thing: word of mouth. Already, word of mouth is spreading — and some right-wing critics have blasted the film, saying it should win an Oscar for promoting the “gay agenda.” That type of criticism fuels McMurtry’s ire.

“I know what I’m confident of, and I’m totally confident,” he says. “The right wing will not win on this issue. This movie is stronger than they are.”

Even if “Brokeback Mountain” wins an Oscar for best picture, is strong enough to play in Crawford, Texas?

“Well, the screening room is actually in the White House,” McMurtry says. “The president and his wife have gay friends. In fact, they have gay friends who stay in the White House. So I’m sure they’ll see it.”

Art boss: KENNY GOSS

First ladies’ man
Dallas gallerist Kenny Goss unveils creepy, kitschy, almost supernatural portraits of president spouses, and discovers parallels between ‘first lady’ mantle and his role as the partner of a celebrated figure

By Daniel A. Kusner Jul 13, 2006, 19:07

Kenny Goss greets me in the office of his Uptown gallery and asks if I want a glass of wine.

“No, thank you,” I say.

It’s two o’clock in the afternoon on a Tuesday. But Goss begins sipping a glass of white, which is a surprise. It’s been widely reported that in 2003 he checked himself into the Meadows, an Arizona rehab facility, to battle an alcohol addiction.

Just around the corner from Goss’ office is a gorgeous 62-inch by 47-inch photo of Betty Ford. She’s smiling, looking tipsy and carefree. Betty dances by herself while wearing a flowing purple-blue gown amid a sparkling backdrop that seems inspired by a Lawrence Welk dream. You can almost hear her humming some delightfully saccharine hymn.

“That’s my favorite one,” Goss says. “Betty was famously alcoholic and addicted to pills. And I can relate. My mom was also addicted to pills and did similar things, like go off and dance by herself.”

The Ford image is part of a seven-piece exhibit created by French artist Jean-Pierre Khazem called “First Ladies.” Khazem originally photographed the project for a “Washington Wives” spread in the November 2004 issue of W magazine. He created portraits of every first lady since Jacqueline Kennedy, plus Teresa Heinz Kerry, which was wishful thinking in 2004.

Using women who were physically similar to the various first ladies, Khazem dressed his models in designer outfits and had them wear silicone masks. The masks produce an eerie doll-like effect, but the result is a near-perfect resemblance. There’s a hyper-glitzed Nancy Reagan casting her famous gaze. A bouffant-encrusted Pat Nixon rests a hand on her narrow chin. But seated alone on a big couch with folded newspapers at her side, the humbly attired Rosalynn Carter is right out of a David Lynch film.

“Rosalynn” is by far the most nightmarish portrait. But why? Isn’t she known as one of the sweetest liberal wives to ever reside in the White House?

According to Goss’ right-hand man, gallery director Filippo Tattoni-Marcozzi, Khazem wasn’t necessarily commenting on the individual first ladies’ political reputations. The “success” of each portrait comes down to an aesthetic appeal.

Goss says he and his partner, George Michael, have bought one of the “Betty” reproductions — each portrait has been issued in a series of six. They also purchased the “Lady Bird” piece — featuring a matronly Claudia Johnson in white gloves with the Washington Monument peering from behind her shoulder.

The Goss gallery doesn’t contain a portrait of Hillary Rodham Clinton, but one was produced: About to make an address from a podium, “Hillary” is dwarfed by a ginormous image of herself projected on a series of video screens. It’s a rather boring and predictable depiction — especially for such a fascinating figure.

Tattoni-Marcozzi further explains that most of the first ladies are themselves like “masks — or mysterious statues.” The unofficial position is primarily about being our country’s finest “hostess” — and not about issuing opinions regarding controversial social issues or telling what they really think. Of course, some wives transcend the back-seat role. But they’re not expected to.

Goss and Tattoni-Marcozzi first saw a portion of the “First Ladies” collection last year, during an exhibit at the Sperone Westwater gallery in New York. The Goss Gallery is highlighting the Lone Star connection: For the first time, Lady Bird and both Bush wives will be on display.

Switching to coffee, Goss strolls the gallery and comments on the portraits. Instead of carrying on like stuffed shirt, fine art purveyor, Goss spills forth freewheeling comments.

We get to the image of a white-haired Barbara Bush — sporting a “don’t mess with me” vibe, and wearing layers of pearls and a long-sleeved floral print.

Across from her mother-in-law is a narcotized-looking “Laura,” bathed in weird shadows standing on a red carpet. She’s waving at … no one.

Goss and Tattoni-Marcozzi say this is the first time “Laura” has been on display. Neither of them thinks the image is very successful, and the portrait hasn’t lured any buyers. Not that anyone would want to look at it very often, but it’s obvious that “Laura” speaks volumes.

Some would say Goss is a bit of a first lady himself.

“Oh, I’m sure a lot of people would say that,” he laughs.

Goss says being in a high-profile relationship comes with some obligations. Goss and Michael are involved with HIV charities: In Dallas, they’ve worked with the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS and the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS. And they’re getting married.

“It will probably happen later this year. We had to postpone it because of all the recent stuff with George’s arrest,” Goss says, referring to Michael’s troubles in February, when he was arrested on suspicion of possessing drugs after being found slumped at the wheel of a car in central London.

That incident was followed by another sloppy behind-the-wheel episode in April, when Michael crashed into three parked cars and just drove off. This string of careless driving could have spelled a much worse tabloid hell for the couple. During the mess, Goss says he assumed a first-lady-like role: He encouraged his partner to admit fault and just take full responsibility. Smart decision.

Both Goss and Michael have been refreshingly candid about their relationship and personal lives. Goss has discussed his own substance abuse and his mother’s addictions. And last year, in an interview with the Dallas Morning News, Goss talked about his sense of overwhelming guilt after his father, who died of a stroke, tried to commit suicide in 2003 by shooting himself.

And while the couple might be getting hitched, they’re not trying to present some super-idealized public image. In interviews, Michael has repeatedly said that he and Goss are not monogamous.

“To be perfectly honest with you, neither George nor I really believe in marriage as a concept. But we feel like we need to get married to lead by example,” Goss says. “There was no big proposal. I found out we were getting married after George had mentioned it in an interview in Japan.”

Goss says he’s leaving Dallas for a couple of months. But he and Michael recently bought a house in Highland Park. And coincidentally, the “First Ladies” exhibit might end up hitting closer to home “The Bushes are moving back to Highland Park,” Goss says. “They’re actually looking to build a house across the street from where George and I had just bought.”

Now there’s a portrait.

“First Ladies.” Goss Gallery, 2500 Cedar Springs Road. Through Aug. 19. Tuesday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 214-696-0555.

Mommie Fearest: NANCY HECHE

Maybe Anne Heche wasn't so crazy after all

Bible-thumper Nancy Heche’s misguided memoir ignores unspeakable incestuous abuse that Anne suffered at the hands of her closeted father, who died of AIDS
By Daniel A. Kusner Oct. 12, 2006

Anne’s mom, Nancy Heche, visited North Texas last week to promote a new memoir, “The Truth Comes Out: The Story of My Heart’s Transformation” (Regan Books, 2006). And about a month ago, her publicist started jerking me around — asking if I wanted to interview her, knowing I write for a gay publication. The publicist explained that Nancy had a new message of “respect” and “love” for the gay community.

The interview would certainly be newsworthy. Nancy is a popular speaker on the ex-gay circuit. Just last year, she appeared at a Focus on the Family event that explored curing “preventable and treatable” homosexuality. Not only is
Nancy the mom of a famous actress, she’s a psychotherapist and has a doctorate in theology from a seminary in Evanston, Ill. — not Northwestern University, which her book would have you believe if you didn’t pay close enough attention.

Has Nancy changed her anti-gay stripes? Hardly.

I quickly got the gist of her message while reading the one-sheet that accompanied the book. This phrase leaped off the page: “[Nancy] Heche was forced to deal with disdain toward the homosexual lifestyle.”

Anytime you catch someone using a buzz term like “homosexual lifestyle,” you know you’re dealing with an ignoramus who’s smart enough to know better.

An interview was never scheduled — I suspect because in the past few weeks, gay media outlets across the country had already been tipped off about the “hate the sin” tone of the book, which has been rightfully slammed.

The Heche family history is a sordid tale. Nancy’s husband and Anne’s father, Don Heche, was a DL nightmare and one of the first cases of AIDS diagnosed. He died in 1983 at the age of 45.

Religion dominated the Heche family’s every move: bible study, church choir, summer ecumenical conferences, Methodism, Baptism, evangelicalism, fundamentalism, Calvinism and something called “the heretical Arminian doctrine of free will.”

By all accounts, Don was a rotten and weird dad: physically attractive, exceptionally creative and a mind-game expert.

When she’s not thoroughly detailing the minutiae of Don and Nancy’s budding romance at Bible camp, Nancy’s book primarily focuses on Don’s deception. She continually explains that even though Don was a raging freak and obvious liar, she never answered the constant ringing of the Clue Phone. Faith in her Bible-sanctioned marriage made Nancy blind, deaf and stupid.

Nancy and Don had five kids to care for, Anne being the youngest. They were always broke, and Don routinely made decisions that ended in financial disaster. The Heches were the family that left town in middle of the night with a wake of debt behind them.

What’s the “disdain” that Nancy had to deal with?

She married a man who liked sex with other men — or “bisexual,” which is how Nancy describes Don — who could never admit it because of Romans: Chapter 1. So Don cheated and lied. He even turned Nancy onto poppers and cocaine to spice up their sex life.

When Nancy finally figured things out, she was pissed. And whom did she blame? The “homosexual community.”

So when her talented movie-star daughter announced that she was dating Ellen DeGeneres, Nancy began to detest gays even more. And she was angry with Anne. How could her daughter become a lesbian? Hadn’t the gay community ruined the Heche family?

Angry with Anne?

Wait a minute. Anne wrote a book, too: “Call Me Crazy,” which Nancy makes a cruel reference to in her book.

Hardly anyone read Anne’s book, which was released right after 9/11. And the mountain of horrible reviews didn’t boost sales. But I read every shocking word. And I loved it.

I’ll never forget that day — Aug. 21, 2000 — when the news broke that an Ecstasy-laden Anne Heche had broken up with Ellen DeGeneres. Anne thought she was the New Messiah and had wandered the California desert like John the Baptist looking to board the Spaceship of Love.

A year later, Anne released “Call Me Crazy,” revealing she had an alter-ego named “Celestia,” who spoke in her own trippy-cool language whenever she communicated with God.

But the focus of Anne’s book wasn’t about the DeGeneres affair or Celestia. It was about her spineless, heartless mother.

The very beginning of “Call Me Crazy” is a conversation where Anne tells Nancy that her dad sexually abused her. But Nancy refuses to acknowledge Anne’s pain.

What Don Heche did to Anne is unspeakable. During the filming of “Six Days, Seven Nights,” Anne tried to prove to Nancy that the abuse actually happened — like recalling that Anne had herpes sores when she was 8. In this conversation, Nancy told Anne that when she was a baby, Anne had terrible “diaper rash.” That the sores on Anne’s vagina were so bad, they couldn’t put diapers on her.

There was also a health scare when Don was diagnosed with hepatitis, which is recounted in both memoirs. However, Anne’s version wins the authenticity prize.

But Nancy said she couldn’t think about Anne’s childhood “back then.” And Nancy never apologized to Anne for not protecting her.

That’s why Anne went “crazy.”

When your dad dies of AIDS in the early ’80s and he was sexually molesting you, it takes a while for the “Do I have AIDS, too” panic to wear off.

For years, when Anne was an adult, she underwent intense psychological and even drug therapy. And each therapist told Anne that, although her dad was evil, dealing with her mom’s disregard of the incest is the root of Anne’s problems.

Anne says she fell in love with Ellen DeGeneres because she saw a gay person who was free, open and happy about who she was — the polar opposite of her dad. Nancy couldn’t accept Anne and Ellen’s relationship. And when Ellen went into a depression after her show was cancelled, the relationship fell apart.

Feeling desperate, unloved and confused, Anne had her much-publicized episode in the Fresno desert. In “Call Me Crazy,” Anne says she doesn’t identify as straight or gay — that she has transcended those labels. Anne also refuses to disavow any of the work she and Ellen did to bolster gay rights.

Nowhere in “The Truth Comes Out” does Nancy even mention the Heche family incest.

Somewhere buried inside Nancy’s book is a message about not being angry at people who “live homosexually” — an adverbial phrase I’ve never come across before.

Nancy has been interviewed. There’s a clip of her as Bill O’Reilly’s guest on YouTube where Nancy acts like she and Anne are old pals. But last September, Anne issued the following statement on her Web site:

“This nonsense about my mother praying for me is really making me angry.
My mother never approved of my relationship with Ellen. Her hatred for our relationship is one of the many things that ultimately led to my breaking off all communication with her. (My mother, that is, not Ellen.)”

Nancy’s publicist recently told me that mother and daughter were on speaking terms. When I specifically asked if they’ve spoken to each other within the last 13 months, he said he was unable to confirm that. At press time, I e-mailed him again for confirmation and got a cryptic response that said, “they’ve spoken and they do speak …”

October 13, 2006.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Erotic stud TOM CHASE

Chasing daddy
A nice gay boy raised in Highland Park became an adult superstar.
Weary of porn fame, Tom Chase returned to Dallas.
Now beefier and older, the erotic stud reignites career

By Daniel A. Kusner

In the mid-’90s, Tom Chase started working with Falcon Studios. Handsome, butch and possessing a Texas-sized endowment, Chase was an instant box-cover star. He also has the honor of being Falcon’s first “lifetime exclusive.”

Of the 14 or so Falcon titles Chase worked on, one particular scene is legendary: when he bottomed for brawny adonis Mike Branson in the 1997 video “California Kings.” Aside from Chase being cast in the passive role for the first time, the co-stars practically drip with chemistry. Their scene together is an incredibly hot depiction of two hunks enjoying each other’s company.

But porn fame is fleeting. And several years ago, after receiving a lifetime achievement award, Chase officially retired.

However, a few months ago, new images of Chase emerged — looking more muscular, more mature and still mega-hot.

The 41-year-old retiree got a second wind with Colt Studios. His first Colt film, “Waterbucks 2,” is slated for a release next year along with “Naked Muscles” where Chase pairs up with buff stud Carlo Massi.

As the news hit that Chase was returning to erotica, several blogs indicated that the legend had been living in Dallas during his years-long sabbatical.
Which was true — and still is.

We recently caught up with Chase to discuss the pros and cons of being a porn daddy, and what he likes about the men in Big D.

What brought you to Dallas? I was raised here — grew up in Highland Park.

In the fall of 2004, I left California and moved to Granbury to help my parents around the house. They’re retired, and I was at a crossroads in my life, so it seemed like a good choice — coming home and getting grounded again. Now I live in Dallas.

What was your Highland Park childhood like? I was a sporty nerd. As a boy, I played soccer. Throughout high school, I competed in gymnastics.
Because I was gay, I wasn’t popular. But I was respected because I was an athlete.

Can you remember the first time you saw a gay-porn video? Sure — Falcon Studios’ “Cruisin’: Men on the Make,” which starred the legendary Joe Cade. I was 15, and I remember being incredibly attracted to him. The masculine image that Cade projected as a bottom was a real turn-on. I enjoyed countless orgasms over that scene.

After I moved to Los Angeles, I met him, and we fell in love. Two years later, we had a commitment ceremony, which my mother and sisters attended. Unfortunately, we separated a year later, but we remain good friends.

Why did you take break from the biz? When I became fully aware of the scope of fame that came with being Tom Chase, I decided it was too dangerous to continue “feeding the monster.” I needed to separate myself from it and regain focus on me. By doing so, I’m now able to embrace all that I represent to people. At first, however, it was too overwhelming for me to handle.

Can you remember your very first erotica gig? That was “Backwoods” by Falcon Studios. We all carpooled up to this remote area outside Russian River. At first, I was nervous, because I knew no one. Then I got scared, because the further away we got from any town, the more I worried that I was going to be gang raped. All kinds of stuff went through my mind. In reality, the crew and other models treated me like gold.

There’s a scene from the Tom Chase oeuvre that catapults to the top of the list — with Mike Branson from “California Kings.” Was that an especially poignant moment or just another day on the job? It was not just another day on the job. When I started with Falcon, I made the very unpopular suggestion that I should bottom.

I hadn’t met any models who could balance me out — until Mike Branson walked on the set of “The Freshman.” I knew then it had to be him. I also knew the impact it would have, which is exactly why I insisted on doing it.

Were you always a natural in the erotica biz? I wouldn’t say I’m a natural. I’m really the Wally Cleaver of porn. What was natural about me was the sex I had in front of the camera. I basically just imitated the sex I was having in real life with each movie.

If you watch my movies in chronological order, you will see me becoming quieter with more eye contact as the years go by.

Does size matter? Yes and no. Of course it matters in our fantasies. But in our reality, I sure hope not.

Sexiest trait about a guy: Masculinity — the ability to be appropriately vulnerable and open, sexually and otherwise, among other men.
When people first meet you in person, are there any general misconceptions that emerge? Yes. I am not 6’2” — I’m 5’9”. The disappointment on their face is obvious before they catch it. Their reactions have given me many years of laughter.

Assemble your ideal man — Frankenstein-style: Jake Tanners’ face and body; Jake Gyllenhaal’s personality; Anderson Cooper’s adventurous style; and the intelligence of Stephen Hawking.

Finish this sentence: The best thing about being an erotic stud is … Knowing you have an impact on people’s most basic desires.

The worst thing is … That most people see you as a walking cock. Some have actually talked to mine when having conversations with me.

What was it like when family members discovered you had an adult-video career? They were informed before I made my first movie. My siblings supported me. My parents remain mum.

Name three places in Dallas that you like to frequent: The Club, because I like to lay out nude, and the staff is exceptionally professional. Marco’s and Vito’s, because I love their food. And Leather Masters, because I love their selection of leather: The smell of the store is a major aphrodisiac for me.

Can you characterize Dallas men? The ones I have met are truly kind and well mannered — very rare nowadays.

Name three Web sites you check regularly:, and my bank’s Web site.

How do you think erotica has bolstered the GLBT community? That’s easy. The industry has been fighting for our freedom of expression since the mid ’70s. That fight has come in the form of lawsuits in several states. It also made our sexuality more available to the general population. You can’t walk into any adult bookstore without confronting it head on.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Killer comedian: KATHY GRIFFIN

Out and proud firecrotch

Beloved potty-mouthed redhead Kathy Griffin takes aim at Dallas-based glitterati: Dr. Phil, George Michael and the Bush twins. Griffin reveals she was dumped by ‘main gays’ over delusions about reality-TV fame

By Daniel A. Kusner

Who can remember the last time Kathy Griffin performed in Dallas? Yeah, it’s been a long time. Too long.

On Monday, the fiery tell-it-like-it-is comedian finally returns to North Texas. And while her “too mean” rants have gotten her banned from just about every talk show (“Regis & Kelly,” “Ellen DeGeneres,” “Conan O’Brien” and “David Letterman,” to name a few), we can’t wait to hear the spitfire bash celebrities for exhibiting outrageous behavior.

Earlier this week, Griffin spoke by phone from her palatial Hollywood manse. While some call her a red-carpet terrorist, the perennial D-Lister is a charmer and an ever-loyal friend to the gay community.

Recently, Griffin has been experiencing personal challenges. She’s getting a divorce. And her gay best friends (Tony and author Dennis Hensley) are strangely absent from the new season of Griffin’s reality show, “My Life on the D-List.”

The Bravo network recently started a new campaign to get Griffin off the D-List, where fans suggest heroic acts to elevate her celebrity status. The first proposal was for Griffin to “make a sex tape with Judi Dench.” That attempt was videotaped, and was recently posted on Bravo’s Web site.

This interview happened three days after Griffin attacked Ann Coulter on “The Today Show” — calling her a “nut bag” and pointing out that the conservative blowhard chose to wear a cocktail dress for a morning interview.

Have you been avoiding Dallas because you’re afraid of the ultimate Red State?

Griffin: Yes. No, I’m kidding.

Honey, I’ll be coming from Nashville. I’m no stranger to the Red States. In fact, I always do surprisingly well in the Red States, which means ticket sales are good. Actually, a lot of blue people come to my shows. But my gig will probably attract the Dallas gays and the Dallas liberals. And I expect some conservatives — but not exactly the “church crowd.”

Dr. Phil hails from Dallas.

Well, he’s going down. I don’t give a shit.

From what I’ve gathered, you believe Dr. Phil is a fascist.

I believe he’s not truly a lover of women — meaning: He’s a good ole boy who’s doing a show for women. But really, he’s not technically in women’s corners. On the couples’ shows, he’ll naturally gravitate to the guy’s side, and that drives me crazy. Also, I hate how he’s like, “I’m just an old jock.”

I’m, like, “You’re a fat guy who writes diet books.”

Did you know George Michael splits his time between Dallas and London?

Oh, that’s right. He lives there with “his Kenny.”

Wow, you actually know who Kenny Goss is.

Of course. Hey, I watch Oprah. That’s where I get all my news.

Is George Michael an A-lister?

George is a tough call. Of course, he’s an A-lister. But he’s behaved in a way … He’s one of those people who you’d expect to be in my act. But I feel like he’s owned it. His last statement about getting busted with drugs was like, “It’s my own stupidity again.”

It’s hard to make fun of somebody like that. The people I make fun of are the high and mighty celebrities who don’t admit that their behavior is ridiculous. Like Paltrow not admitting that she gave her kids those horrible names. That’s why she’s in the act and George Michael isn’t.

Isn’t it weird? George Michael gets busted, and almost immediately he releases a statement and takes full accountability. Dick Cheney shoots a guy, and doesn’t cop to it for almost a week.

I know. Dick Cheney has the guy with half of his face shot off apologizing from the hospital, blaming himself: “I shouldn’t have been standing there since I’m old and having a heart attack.”

Dallas’ favorite D-list princesses are the Bush twins.

All right, I want to know what the fuck is going on! How are they so under the radar? This is a conspiracy — like the Magic Bullet.

You know those fucked-up drunks are doing something: They must be pulling a train at Ashton Kutcher’s house.

How is it that they haven’t been in the news for so long? The one twin is super-puffy, so she’s got to be drinking. She’s all skinny, but her face is puffy. That’s Jenna, right — the one who looks like Tara Reid? She’s getting hammered somewhere, and someone’s keeping a lid on it. Where is she? At the freaking NORAD or something?

Speaking of the Bush family, did you watch Sandra Bernhard on “The View” this past Friday?

No, I didn’t. You know I’m banned from “The View,” right?

I was wondering, when Rosie enters and Star exits, will you be welcomed back?

Star isn’t officially exiting. We’re all assuming she is, but it’s not official. I’m actually doing Rosie’s cruise for gay guys with their kids.

I was calling it the lesbian cruise, but then the gay boys got upset and said, “We’re taking our kids, too.”

So I guess I should call it the Gay Family Cruise. It leaves on July 5, so I’ll be on a boat to Alaska with Rosie, and then I’m sure I’ll get an earful about the future of “The View.” I love Rosie.

Anyway, what happened with Sandra on “The View?”

Barbara Walters asked Sandra about her opinion of Laura Bush. Sandra said Laura was heavily medicated. Then Elisabeth Hasselbeck jumped in and attacked Sandra for using the word ‘honey.’ She told Sandra, “Don’t you call me honey, honey!” From there it was a daytime smackdown. You can watch the entire segment on YouTube.

As soon as I get off the phone, I’m racing to YouTube.

Did you know that until six years ago Mary Cheney’s parents were Dallasites?

What the fuck is Mary Cheney’s story? Did you read her recent 10 Questions in Time? You know what, Mary? You’re never going to get your father’s approval, so stop trying to seek it. The Time interview was basically Mary being a self-loathing lesbian. I was like, “Honey” — Don’t you call me honey! I was like, you’re out — just deal with it. Just be like Candy Gingrich and say, “Can you believe my dad?” That’s all you have to say.

I recently caught your spoofy “Sex with Judi Dench Video.” And Kathy, you’re a hot little hard-body now.

I lost 17 pounds because I had to — it was all for a fucking article for The Star. So basically, the press forced me to lose 17 pounds. And I’m not happy about it. But I’ve actually kept the weight off. That night-vision camera effect is very flattering. I can totally see why Paris Hilton did her sex tape that way. And also, I was wearing full- body makeup and heels and a crazy little sexy outfit. But I also thought I looked pretty hot.

I just checked eBay, and the “Help Kathy Griffin Get Off the D-List” wristbands are selling for $20 a pop.

You’re kidding. You can get them for free at the show. Bravo sends them to my gigs, and they just hand them out. Really, $20? I’ll have to get a bag of those and sell them myself. Even if I can sell them for $10, I’ll be happy.

One stunt to get off the D-list could be to take Ann Coulter shopping for a decent cocktail dress.

I’m not that anxious to get off the D-list.

You know, I’m on “The Today Show” — the only national talk show that will have me, I’m not kidding. So it’s like 7 a.m., and I’m getting my makeup done, and there’s Ann Coulter on her crazy tirade. I couldn’t have asked for a better lead-in. The whole pre-interview went right out the window. And I just wanted to talk about what a crazy fucking nut-bag Ann Coulter is. It was hilarious. And then the Queer Eye boys were on that day, too. And of course they didn’t see it — because, you know, the gays can’t get up that early. They’re putting on the bronzer.

I loved that that story took off. Although, let me just say it chaps my ass that Ann Coulter can go on “The Today Show” and say that shit and still get booked everywhere. Me? I’m banned from every show for making fun of Nicole Richie.

What about Kathy Griffin having a talk show?

I wouldn’t be able to get any guests — except my parents. So every day it would be my parents, and then maybe Mario Lopez and Coolio.

On your recent stand-up concert, “Strong Black Woman,” I was expecting you to put the “Clay Aiken is gay” newsflashes in perspective. It was your duty.

By the time that happened, the “American Idol” finale didn’t happen.

Wait, you taped that concert on Feb. 19. The “Clay is Gay” scandal broke Jan. 18.

Yeah, but Clay didn’t have the bangs yet. Now he’s got girl bangs.

Well, it’s officially Gay Pride Month. Can you put it in perspective now?

We should switch it from Gay Pride to Clay Pride and call it Clay Pride Month.

Speaking of gays, what happened to your “main gays” — Dennis Hensely and Tony?

They dumped me.


Yeah. It’s been a tough year. They just dumped me. I don’t want to speak for them because it’s not fair. It’s been devastating. I love those guys. And I’m just trying to accept that friendships aren’t always permanent — sometimes they’re transitional.

Is that the price of reality-TV fame?

In my opinion, it is.

I know you don’t talk much about the divorce. But does that go back to reality TV as well?

I don’t think so. I think the divorce was cooking with or without reality TV. It’s defiantly stressful, though, I’m not going to lie. Reality TV is weird. Some people who were on my dumb little realty show thought they were going to become stars. Or they felt like they should have a certain level of celebrity. The whole time I was like, “This is” — and the Bravo people love this because I say it right to their face — I’ll say, “Bravo isn’t even a real network. Lets keep our heads on, people. I’m not exactly in the ‘Lost’ timeslot on ABC.”

So, yeah. It has been interesting to see who kind of handles it and who flips out. “The D-List” is a grassroots little show. It’s only six episodes. The budget is super-low. Bravo’s idea of a giant promotional campaign is to do an e-mail blast. I’m like, “Everybody calm the fuck down!”

Honestly, that’s why I think my mom and dad are so funny because they don’t give a shit. They don’t think they’ll get a spin-off or that going to get rich and famous. They don’t even think they’re going to get recognized. They just come over, put their mikes on for an hour, and they go home and drink. Or they have a drink at my house. The point is they drink.

I have a red-carpet question for you.

Go ahead.

Are you a proud firecrotch?

Oh, yes. And when did firecrotch turn into a bad thing? My whole life has been, “Oh, baby, does the carpet match the drapes?” And I’ve always said, “Yes!”

Who the fuck is Bandon Davis with his crazy, sweaty, fat-coke body? In my book, running around saying that Lindsey Lohan is a firecrotch is a good thing.

I can see you owning it — like wearing a T-shirt that says …

Out and proud firecrotch!

Sexy spirituality: TOM KATT

A porn star is re-born

Gay adult-video legend Tom Katt reclaims Christian faith
and retires from erotica.
Re-emerging as David Papaleo, he identifies as straight
but is sickened by right-wing Bible-thumpers
who preach anti-gay hatred.
Papaleo’s next stop — the pulpit

By Daniel A. Kusner March 2006

In the mid 1990s, Tom Katt began regularly appearing in gay porn videos. The versatile bodybuilder made at least 15 sex flicks in his first two years. Handsome and talented, he started earning a lot of money. And for what it’s worth, Tom Katt became famous — in the world of erotica.

Over the years, steroids and growth hormones augmented his physique. Cocaine and pot made the good times seem happier, but the party train kept crashing. Inside, he felt something was missing. And in 2003, he walked away from the biz. Katt, who now goes by his birth name, David Papaleo, had found God.

In January 2006, Papaleo appeared on “The Gravedigger Show,” an Atlanta-based Christian TV program where he renounced the adult video world and said he was heterosexual.

On Internet discussion boards, fans of the porn legend posted messages: some were outraged, some felt duped and some encouraged his spiritual adventure.

Through a Christian bodybuilding website, I e-mailed Papaleo and requested an interview. Two weeks later, he called and said he wanted to discuss his newfound faith, his sexual identity and a spiritual message for gays and lesbians.

Mom, church and death
The first four years of Papaleo’s life were spent in suburban Atlanta where his parents raised three kids.

When he was 4, his parents divorced. For the next seven years, David lived in a rural area of Massachusetts with his mother and stepfather. Although he also lived with his brother and sister, only David and his mother attended a nearby Catholic church.

“But my mom was what you’d call very clinically depressed,” Papaleo, 36, says after finishing a shift as a personal trainer at a suburban Atlanta gym.
He faced death and grief at an early age: When Papaleo was 11, his stepfather killed his mother.

“A lot of people blame God when bad things happen. I was pissed off at everybody — everybody in my family for letting it happen. And I walked away from God. I didn’t want anything to do with him,” Papaleo remembers. “If he was going to let that happen, then I’m staying away from him. Of course, this was the judgment of an 11 year old.”

Growing up and getting big
Papaleo moved back to his dad’s home near Atlanta, and he carried around a lot of anger. Homework wasn’t high on his list of priorities, and he was a loner. In high school, Papaleo joined the wrestling team, but he couldn’t tap into the notion of “team spirit.”

At 16, he discovered bodybuilding, and results came quickly. Lifting weights allowed him to release pent-up emotions, and it was something he could do alone.

“I developed a strong distrust of being able to count on anybody. Bodybuilding was something I excelled at that was under my full control,” he remembers.

In 1986, he competed in the Teenage Mr. Atlanta contest and placed third. Papaleo was hooked. He graduated from high school in 1988 with the dream of becoming a professional bodybuilder. To make money, he unloaded trucks and worked as a personal trainer.

Porn = money
“I always dated girls,” Papaleo says, remembering his early adulthood. “But I didn’t play the field too well. If I dated someone, it would be for two or three years.”

Through a friend of a friend, he got his first offer to appear in an adult video — from Fox Studios, a gay erotica company that specialized in bodybuilders.
“When I realized I could make in one day what I’d make in three months. It was like, ‘Sure, where do I sign?’” he remembers.

Papaleo was 21 when he made his first film. And back then, he was competing in at least three bodybuilding competitions a year.
“That was the beauty of doing porn,” he says. “The movies and personal appearances at clubs enabled me to spend all my time just getting ready for competitions. And preparing for competitive bodybuilding takes up all your time.”

At 24, he won his first big regional title at the 1994 National Physique Committee Eastern Seaboard Bodybuilding Championships.
For a while, everything ran smoothly. Because he had a title under his belt, Papaleo could demand more money as a personal trainer — his porn rates increased as well.

His family eventually figured out that he was moonlighting in gay erotica. Papaleo even showed them a few magazine covers. But in 1996, the sale of adult videos became legal in Georgia. A video store opened up near one of the Atlanta-area gyms where he trained. In the store’s window hung a life-sized cut-out of Tom Katt promoting Falcon Studios’ “Total Corruption 2.”
“It didn’t make me cringe with embarrassment,” he says. “In fact, the porn stuff never seemed to faze my family or friends at all.”
But once his Tom Katt cover was blown, most of Papaleo’s personal training clients dropped him.

Steroids, boyfriends and the Bible
For his first 17 bodybuilding shows, Papaleo competed as a “clean” contestant. After winning the Eastern Seaboard title, he started hitting steroids.

“Ironically, all the years I competed taking steroids, I never won,” he says.
Only 5-foot 7-inches tall and at one time bulking up to 255 pounds, the steroids detracted from his aesthetic appeal. He was too big, too thick.
From 1997 to 2003, Papaleo would live in Los Angeles for a few years, then return to Georgia. After a couple of years, he’d move back to Hollywood.
Dating sex workers isn’t for everyone, and Papaleo’s sexual identity was murky at best.

“During the period of the movies, I had two boyfriends and a couple of girlfriends. I felt I had to stay away from women because, ‘hello,’ I was doing gay porn — no woman was going to have anything to do with me,” he says.
For a while, he identified as bisexual.

“But when I leaned more towards trying to date a guy, it just didn’t click. When you’re in a relationship with somebody, it can’t just be a physical thing. You have to have an emotional-spiritual connection or it’s not going to work. And I never really found that I could have that connection with another guy,” he says.

During this period, he said he wasted huge amounts of money and didn’t have much to show for it.

“I made a lot, and spent a lot. I thought I was having the time of my life. But I started partying with my money — constantly altering my mood with chemicals to convince myself I was having such a good time,” he says. “But deep down, I was miserable, and I knew it.”

When he was a kid, Papaleo crossed Jesus Christ off his list. So over the years, he investigated other faiths: Buddhism, Hinduism and Taoism. But in 2003, he found himself drawn back to Christianity.

“I didn’t hit rock bottom, and I didn’t turn to a particular church. I just started praying. I prayed and asked God for help,” he says. “I asked him to help me with what my life was becoming, and what my life should become. He truthfully helped me in my heart and showed me that what I was doing wasn’t correct.”

So he began studying on his own.
And get this.

“I remember being on a … [porn] set, and the guys all laughing at me because I was reading the Bible,” Papaleo says.

God, love and gays
He didn’t blow all his money. Moving back to Georgia in 2003, he focused on his spiritual awakening and realized that blaming God for his mother’s death was immature.

Papaleo seems genuinely passionate about studying the Bible. And he’s still not affiliated with a particular church.

“I’ve been very unimpressed with a lot of churches. Many of them don’t study or teach the Bible in the depth that it should be taught. A lot of churches pull one or two verses out of the air and make up their own interpretations of it instead of really studying the book itself,” he says.

The debates over morality and sexuality identity have fueled his research.
“What I found is that so many people — including myself at one time — believe those crazy so-called Christians who say, if you’re gay or bi, God doesn’t want you. That’s a big piece of crap,” he says. “They are misconstruing and give twisted interpretations of Biblical scriptures. I’ve extensively studied the scriptures they try to base that on, and it’s just not true.”

Papaleo has a boiled-down thesis regarding the “men not lying with other men” verses.

“If you look at it historically, culturally and you’re not pulling things out of context, the Bible says ‘don’t to go against what is natural.’ If you are naturally heterosexual and you’re having sex with men, well, first, you’re treating that guy unfairly,” he says. “But the Bible’s not saying heterosexual is natural as far as from nature’s point of view — it means going against what’s natural for yourself.”

As far as same-sex relationships and marriage, “They’re not wrong,” he continues. “The most important thing is to love God with all your heart. The second thing, is to love your fellow person that same way. I don’t know how loving someone of your own sex in that manner is considered wrong.”

So now you’re straight?
“Yes, I identify as heterosexual. There was a time I thought of myself as bisexual, and I never hide that fact,” Papaleo says.

A couple of years ago, after moving back to Georgia, he met a woman. On their second date, he told her about his history as Tom Katt. Although it seems like heavy news for a second date, she seemed to accept it.
“Being completely honest and transparent about things is an important part of the way I live now. I have to be completely up front about everything,” he says. And last month, the woman’s name became Mrs. Papaleo.

Yo, Reverend! Weren’t you a porn star?
Although Papaleo’s gone back to competitive bodybuilding, the main thrust in his life is studying the Bible. Last week, he and his wife relocated to Florida so he could enroll in a seminary. Does he hope to be Reverend Dave one day?

“I believe he’s pulling me toward the pulpit,” Papaleo says.
But what if he makes it to the pulpit and someone turns on a DVD player showing Tom Katt in all his former glory?

“If someone wants to draw attention to that, I’ll help them put the spotlight on it. I am not ashamed. If they’re going to judge me, I’ll tell them to read Matthew Chapter 7 a few times and get back to me,” he says. “God is the judge. For someone to judge me, that’s wrong.”

He might not be ashamed, but Papaleo doesn’t have anything positive to say about working in adult video.

“I don’t think that erotica or sexuality is a bad thing. I believe that sex is the strongest physical expression of love to another person. But porn is not an expression of love. It’s empty and cold,” he says.

“There’s nothing at all wrong with sex,” he continues. “God made sex, too. He gave us these things for a reason. When it’s not an expression of love, that’s when you’re demeaning it into something less than it was meant to be.”
Can sex be an expression of love at first sight?
“I don’t think so,” he laughs.

His message
As Tom Katt, he participated in many gay pride celebrations. And when you have a pride parade, you have Christian fundamentalists preaching against gays. And that might be the battlefield where he launches his crusade.

“So many people are shunned or feel like they’ve been pushed away from God — that God doesn’t want anything to do with them. I want to tell as many people I can that that is an absolute lie,” Papaleo says. “God loves everybody. He made you the way you are. All he wants is for you is to turn to him and to love him the same way he loves you. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re less than anything in God’s eyes.”

On the DL with: STAR JONES

TV host-turned-relationship-advisor blows a fuse when questions arise regarding the ‘down low’ phenomenon and her husband’s sexual past

Star Jones writing a book about finding the ideal husband is like Anderson Cooper listing the best ways to score with hot chicks. Something just doesn’t sound right.

Star Jones added the last name Reynolds in 2004, exactly a year after she met Al Reynolds, a handsome Wall Street banker, eight years her junior. After a brief romance, Reynolds proposed to “The View” co-hostess during halftime at a Lakers game in February 2004. And that’s when the publicity machine kicked into gear.

Star and Al posed for countless couples portraits. They even launched a website that’s still up and running, But as the couple prepared for a lavish Manhattan wedding that rivaled the David Gest-Liza Minnelli nuptials, items about Al’s sexuality began appearing in gossip columns — all because Al once shared a house on Fire Island.

Then something weird happened.

Al hired publicist Cindi Berger and released a statement that said, “My fiancĂ©e and I have discussed all relevant parts of our personal histories. We are satisfied that we know everything we need to know about each other's pasts and are looking forward to our future together.”

The statement also requested that the media refrain from “destructive rumor, gossip or innuendo.”

Amid all the lawyerly jargon — “relevant parts” and “everything we need to know” — the statement had a “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain” quality to it, which only intensified speculation.

In October 2004, “The View” taped two episodes in Dallas. And while Star was in Big D, the New York Daily News reported that Al attended an all-male Halloween party at an Italian restaurant dressed as a stripper in a white Speedo. The costume was apparently a holdover from his 2003 summer spent on Fire Island.

If things didn’t already appear somewhat peculiar, on the eve of the big November wedding, it was reported that Al threw a “Roman baths”-themed bachelor party.

Star grew up in the Miller Homes housing projects of Trenton N.J. And before her gig on “The View,” she attended law school at the University of Houston. Working for the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, Star was a successful prosecutor. While covering the OJ Simpson trial for “Inside Edition,” she caught Barbara Walters’ eye.

When she’s not fawning over celebrities on “The View,” Star asks tough questions and raises excellent points — especially in the often-heated “Hot Topics” segments that open every episode of the talk show. And during those segments, “The View” hostesses have discussed the “down low” phenomenon — a weak label that’s been attributed to closeted African-American men involved in heterosexual relationships who have sex with other men on the side.

The concept of “down low” is especially scary when conclusions are drawn about HIV infection and the alarming rates of African-American women who test positive.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, HIV infection is the leading cause of death for African-American women ages 21-34. And the rate of AIDS diagnoses for African-American women is approximately 25 times the rate for white women, and four times the rate of Hispanic women.
Last month, Star released “Shine: A Physical, Emotional and Spiritual Journey to Finding Love” ($24.95, Collins). It’s supposed to trace her self-journey — how she lost 150 pounds in two years and how she “got the man.”

By avoiding being the poster girl for a particular weight-loss method, Star refuses to divulge how she slimmed down so miraculously fast. But when it comes to husband hunting, Star offers more than a few pointers.

She begins with the reproduction of a hand-written list: “The Ideal Man for Me!” Star created this list before she met Al, and she even showed it on-air on “The View.” Some prerequisite qualities for her husband-to-be included: Christian, college educated, no criminal background, Democrat and ready for marriage. Sexual history was noticeably absent from the list.

In “Shine,” Star also composed a seven-page test for readers to assess their own ideal man. Spirituality, physique, marital history, political affiliation, drug use and crime records are all fair criteria. But nowhere in her questionnaire does it assess having relationships with a bisexual or closeted man. So I thought I’d ask her about it.

In February 2006, Star called the Dallas Voice offices.

Star Jones Reynolds: This is Star Jones calling, how are you?

Dallas Voice: I’m doing fine. And you?

I’m excellent. And any time I’m coming to Dallas, you know I’m excellent.

That’s right, you’re coming for a book signing. Everyone in Big D knows you’re our city’s biggest supporter on “The View.”

I’ve been talking about it constantly, haven’t I? Everyone picks on me. They’re like … [in a pinched nasally voice] ‘We already know how much you love Dallas.’ I’m like, “Don’t hate the player, baby, hate the game.” I love Dallas.

You said you and Al have seriously thought about settling down in Dallas in the future.

Well, I can’t put that on my husband. I’ve told him that’s where I want to be. He knows I’m very serious about it. Think about it: Dallas has everything I want. It’s got great churches, great fashion and great food. Any place that has Pappasito’s is going to make me very happy. It’s got politics, culture, Saks Fifth Ave. My girlfriends are there. And you’ve got a good basketball team, which means my life would be complete.

Your Dallas book signing coincides with Black History Month. And in February, issues that affect the African-American community become especially newsworthy. There’s one alarming statistic that particularly addresses African-American women, and that’s the rates of HIV/AIDS infections.

Definitely. You should know that I’ve been highly involved in the pandemic for many years. My first cousin died of AIDS — it’s now been 12 years. And I have been dedicated 100 percent, not just working at the foot of the legislation in theory, but with my own hands. I participate in an organization called God’s Love We Deliver, where we actually deliver meals to homebound AIDS and serious-illness patients. So that is definitely a part of my life and has been for many years.

Part of your book addresses your search for the perfect mate. Your book is like a useful guide — especially with all those self-assessment tests you created for readers. Recent statistics show that African-American women are testing positive for HIV at alarmingly higher rates compared to white women. In searching for the perfect mate, do you think women need to begin considering this phenomenon called “the down low?”
I have no idea what you’re talking about.

You’ve never heard of “the down low?” Wow, even Oprah has aired entire programs about it.
I know, but what does that have to do with me?

This goes back to the same themes your book addresses — women looking for the ideal mate. I was curious if you wanted to address these newsworthy statistics concerning African-American women and HIV infections.
From a newsworthy perspective? Because I wa
s like … I was so completely lost as to where you were going.

From a newsworthy perspective, it’s not in “Shine.” It was not one of the issues that we address, obviously. The book was really less about “the man you wanted” and more about the person you wanted to be in order to get the man. Do you see what I’m saying? It’s much more of a self-assessment rather than sort of addressing social issues.

Don’t you think “the down low” is an important topic in 2006 — especially for African-American women who are searching for love?

But not in every book. You can’t address every issue. And that was not the issue I was addressing, obviously. Quite frankly, it was a journey I was taking to sort of better myself and to find out what it is I wanted in life. And I used it as a backdrop for other women. The book deals more with you identifying what’s going to make you happy and not a whole bunch of social issues. That might be another book, but it’s not this one.

Some folks are especially interested in your relationship with Al. During your whirlwind romance, he issued a carefully worded statement about both of your personal histories.
You know what, Daniel? I’m going be really honest with you. I’m trying really hard not to find offense in your questions, but I think you’re being really insulting to me and to my husband. And I think you’ll understand if I won’t allow that. I’m very protective of myself and my husband and our families and our friends. And I think it’s really not good journalism, and more importantly not fair for you to insinuate or in any way insult my marriage. It’s not fair.

What’s so insulting about asking about Al’s press release?

You’ll understand, Daniel, that I’m going to end this interview unless you’d like to talk about something else. This is not something I’m interested in discussing with you.

Right now this is probably the most glaringly obvious issue I can think of.

Well, it’s not glaringly obvious to me. And quite frankly, Daniel … Thank you, I appreciate your time. [And Star hung up].

Immediately after our brief conversation, two of Reynolds’ publicists called to ask about my line of questioning. They accused me of being a malicious gossipmonger. I explained that this was an opportunity for Star to discuss a serious issue facing the African-American community. And isn’t it strange that a confident woman who takes pride that she came from a low-income background, that she made it all the way to senior assistant district attorney in New York and who she calls herself “The Mouth from The South” is too sensitive to field questions about the “down low” phenomenon? While she encourages other single women to create their own The Ideal Man for Me lists, is it so unfair to ask if Star Jones had to address the “down low” topic herself?

While on ‘The View,” Star Jones Reynolds often sings the praises of Big D. On Friday, she stops in North Texas for a book signing at Grapevine Mills Mall
Books-A-Million, Neighborhood 2, Suite 231. Grapevine Mills Mall. Grapevine, Texas. Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. 972 539-0636.