There's been a rather sad flood of gay porn stars and/or HIV/AIDS activists dying young this year, with several committing suicide, some coming to the end of a struggle with an addiction to meth, others succumbing to HIV/AIDS related illnesses (yes, it still happens). Naturally, their deaths have triggered a wave of tributes and responses from the peanut gallery (including my tribute to Spencer Cox, who passed in December).
Sadly, most of these obituaries have been disrespectful in the way that they've really just been thinly-disguised axe-grinding screeds that broadcast the writer's pre-recorded arguments about their favorite socio-cultural issue. Take for example the hopelessly misguided Mark S. King's disgraceful piece about Spencer at the Huffington Post, which paid due tribute to Spencer's life and work, but dismissed the fact that Spencer died from AIDS-related pneumonia and replaced that fact with King's own played-on-loop message about how Spencer was actually a casualty of the meth epidemic. Feel free to laugh out loud at this typically-florid excerpt from King's exploitation of Spencer's no doubt painful death from the suffocations of PCP:
The drug is known to whisper empty promises about limitless power and sexual escape while calming the addict's ghosts and sorrows for miserably brief periods of time.
When Spencer Cox died on Dec. 18, 2012, in New York City, the official cause of death was AIDS-related complications, which is understandable if post-traumatic stress, despair and drug addiction are complications related to AIDS.
Similar articles from other authors grew from the deaths of Erik Rhodes, Roman Ragazzi and Josh Weston, to name a few. Now of course, it goes without saying that the trinity of complications that often trigger early deaths among some gay men - depression, addiction, complications related to HIV - is a topic that requires urgent and brave address. But making ham fisted attempts to get that ball rolling while bodies are still warm is appallingly exploitative.
Luckily, the response to the suicide this past weekend of that adorably gentle giant Arpad Miklos (real name Peter Kozma) has been far more respectful, matching the kindly charisma of the man himself. Arpad/Peter leaves a part of himself as one of gay porn's most in-demand and beloved performers, adored by fans who enjoyed his more than 50 films. He appeared in Nightcharm's Inner Circle innumerable times.
Christopher Daniels' tribute is particularly touching.
When I finally came face to face with Arpad he took me in his arms and gave me a big hug. I melted inside and turned red. His whole brutish, Eastern European shtick was a load of shit. He was such a softie and his Angry Hungarian demeanor was just a front but it made me like him even more. Arpad was big and scary with a monster cock on the outside and a big heart on the inside.
The ever-reliable Zach at The Sword had some choice words too,
Good people make bad choices. Bad things happen to good people. Sometimes bad people do bad things. Drugs, crime, fame, mental illness, and bad luck could all be to blame. The gay porn industry is rough. Life is rougher. Two of my extended family members committed suicide in 2003 and 2009. Both of them were unemployed. Who’s to blame? Would Arpad Miklos still be alive today if he worked in a cupcake shop?
Well said, Zach [source].
Even the commentary at HuffPo is kind, with nary a flame to be seen.
And rest in peace Arpad, your death was your own, but those who knew you personally and those who knew you through your gay porn work, are greatful that you gave so many parts of your life to others.
This beautiful gallery of Arpad is by photographer Leif Larson: