Wednesday, February 6, 2013

An Unexpected Farewell To An Unexpected Muse

It was the second time it happened in less than a year: my life crossed paths with a favorite gay porn star in the moments just before his death. In 2012, I saw a Tweet that Erik Rhodes posted about the tears he shed every time he listened to Madonna’s “Has To Be”. And so I Tweeted him my blog entry “Straight vs. ‘Straight’” and spent the next day anxiously wondering if he’d been affected and would reply. The next morning he died unexpectedly, and that day his passing was the first I ever wrote about for my blog.

Today I learned of the death of Arpad Miklos, the beautiful, charismatic Hungarian actor and star of dozens of modern gay classics. I did not know who he was until only a few years ago, but when I saw him onscreen, I was mesmerized. The effect never went away. Something about Arpad was warm and sensual and yet dark and dangerous. I always felt that he had the looks and the talent to be a European movie star, and that’s why he became the muse for one of the characters in a script that I have recently been polishing for submission to a screenplay competition. In my mind, Arpad plays one of the lead characters, and my dream was that his recent fame following the Perfume Genius “Hood” music video could lead to his being a contender to play the role onscreen. (I even changed the character’s name from “Oliver” to “Armand” to insure he’d be an instant fit.) In recent days I have been reworking the script, and Arpad had frequently been on my mind as such. On Sunday night, I began work on a new blog entry that he inspired when his being on my mind lead me to YouTube video clips of Arpad locking lips with his co-stars in various gay porn films. The blog dealt with the power that onscreen depictions of male-male intimacy could have in preventing suicide. I planned to post that blog this evening, but while finishing it, I learned that Arpad had taken his own life on Sunday night.

Recent events have prompted me to be more open about my deeply spiritual beliefs, and I cannot treat the timing of Arpad’s suicide and his directly inspiring my pro-sex/anti-suicide post as mere coincidence. However, I also cannot bring myself to post it as originally written so soon after Arpad’s passing. It’s not that this awful news changed my perspective: I think the message is all the more relevant after such a tragedy, and clearly the Universe agrees with me. But I’m just not prepared to rewrite what must remain “a happy post” in this sad new context. Like Erik Rhodes, Marilyn Chambers, Jamie Gillis, and Linda Lovelace, this death affects me on a deeply personal level because it was not only the loss of life but the loss of an opportunity. And that opportunity was for mainstream audiences to see in these beautiful people what made them among the most beloved film stars of erotic cinema. Fans of adult films are not viewed with the same credibility as more highbrow film connoisseurs, because we live in a society that treats sexual fantasy as a necessary evil and people who are open about their fantasies are inevitably subjected to one of many different forms of castigation. But this is nothing compared to the treatment of the stars of adult films, who are barred from working in mainstream cinema and often barred from working in the mainstream world at all. It’s easy to understand why people would still make porn in their forties when they were denied jobs by the very hypocrites who bought their videos. 

I am not going to comment one way or another on the adult film industry, because there is a very big difference between the industry and the art form. If my views of “the world of porn” seem a bit Pollyanna-esque, it’s because I’m rabidly in favor of preserving and celebrating the art form. This is not to say that porn stars are not exploited by the industry that chews them up and spits them out. But it is society at large that I call upon to take accountability for the number of porn stars who end up turning to drugs or alcohol or crime or suicide. The judgment bestowed by society upon people who have made a career having sex onscreen is akin to the evils of racism, homophobia, and misogyny their most raw and rampant. I do not know why Arpad Miklos (whose name, I learned after his death, was Peter Kozma) chose to end his life when he did, but I would imagine that the worship of countless fans, the love of his friends, and the respect of his industry peers was not enough to compensate for the cruelty of a society that refused to see his inner and outer beauty the way those who adored him did. The media will no doubt use his death to further admonish the porn industry and in turn further disenfranchise porn stars from the rest of the world. But I hope the onscreen legacy that Arpad left behind, and the many admirable qualities he exuded in his interactions with people offscreen, will be what the world remember about him. Like Marilyn Chambers and Jamie Gillis, he had what it took to be a movie star. And like Marilyn Chambers and Jamie Gillis, he will always be a movie star, 
and a muse, to me.

Rest in peace, Peter…..I will never cease to be grateful. xoxoxo

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