I really expected to hate this book. I hate to admit that, since it was co-written by Sam Gallegos, whom I know socially. For the sake of his career, I wanted it to be a success. However, I’ve read too many bad gay autobiographies. Sam Kopay, Rosie O’Donnell, Reichen Lehmkuhl, John Amaechi, Mark Tewksbury – they all sucked to varying degrees. I even read most of Mary Cheney’s notorious failure of a book (6,000 copies sold on a $2 million advance, not including printing costs or advertising). Mary should have just paid me the $266.66 to read it, though I didn’t buy a copy myself. I read it at a local bookstore for free – I didn’t want that self-hating bitch to get any money from me.
Anyway, all of those autobiographies have one thing in common: I didn’t care about the subjects. Gay celebrities by their nature are either has-beens, coming out at the end of a failed career comeback, or so unaware and politically naïve that you wonder if the author ever had an original thought in their life. For good writing by a gay person, read a memoir like Augusten Burroughs, David Sedaris, or David Rakoff. It’s a shame that gay authors still have to be funny and clownlike in order to get their humanity across.So, I wasn’t expecting much from Mike Jones’s book. All I wanted, I told Sam, was some porn. I wanted the book to be juicy. After all, isn’t that what we read gay books for? I was disappointed that the most exciting thing about Rich Merritt’s “Secrets Of A Gay Marine Porn Star” was the cover, and I found out that it’s not even a portrait of the author. Esera Tuaolo’s recent history of his football career, “Alone in the Trenches: My Life As a Gay Man in the NFL” doesn’t have a single steamy locker room scene or gossip about the showers after practice. If I wanted a dry dull life story, I’d talk to one of my coworkers at work for an hour.
Luckily, Mike Jones doesn’t wimp out. Here’s a section:
I continued to rub sensually, moving my hands up and down his back. “How’s that feel, handsome?” I asked in a whisper. He said nothing, instead letting out a soft moan of pleasure, trying to pull me into his face. Feeling my groin pressing against his head, he lifted his head out of the cradle and pressed against me, making sure is forehead, eyes, nose, mouth, and chin all came in contact with my body.
The book doesn’t work as well discussing Mike’s mental breakdown after exposing Ted Haggart. Jones comes off sounding like the typical LiveJournal blogger: a hot attractive self-absorbed gay man bithcing about his personal mental problems. And I include myself in that description. He guys, don’t complain… we live in the greatest country in the world! Ok, ok, even if you don’t believe that, you have to admit that this isn’t Bosnia. Out LJ drama doesn’t really equate to global importance, and we should keep that in mind. Making a preacher resign from a church doesn’t really compare to the Dayton peace accords.
Here’s what I’m talking about:
I went back to the massage room to clean up. I started stripping the sheets from the massage table. Angry over everything, I yanked the sheets off and wadded them up furiously. I strangled the ball of sheets and started punching it. As my hand went right through the sheets and into the massage table, I knew I had been defeated. I just couldn’t fight anymore. I collapsed in tears on the floor. Ted had won. He had risen. I had lost and was descending into hell, though it felt like I was already in hell.
Grr… don’t you want to just smack him? I’ve had some manic depressive friends like that, and as much as you care, sometimes you wonder if they really need tough love. So, the last half of the book could easily be written off. What I’m left with is the excellently written (and erotic) first half. Mike writes (or rather Sam writes) like a perfect gay boyfriend. Even though he’s a depressed jump, eating unshowered in front of the television and refusing to outside for days at a time, there’s a lot of love there. The descriptions of Haggart’s weekly massage session sound heartbreaking – it’s the story of a closted man trying and failing to connect. Mike comes off sounding like a saint.
Here’s a massage of a military guy that Mike describes:
“Are you enjoying your vacation here in Colorado?” I asked. A moment later, tears started trickling down his cheeks. He didn’t move, even to wipe his eyes. He just lay there, struggling with an emotional pain that was ready to burst. “I’m not here on vacation,” he told me as he reached for my hand. I leaned toward him a bit, turning my ear toward his face to show that I was listening. “I’m here for a few more weeks… and then I have to go back to Iraq.” So I cracked a smile and would up saying "it's okay" anyway, even though I didn't want to say that. I leaned down over him and gave him a big bear hug, a powerful one where our chests pressed firmly against each other.
I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed reading this book. It’s the first time I think I’ve ever read a touching scene like that (pun intended). It’s worth the price of the book, and I think it’s great to support the author. However, I wish Mike had a bit more introspection and humor about himself. He says that he’s given up massage and escorting. That’s a shame, because the caring passage above shows that he really has a talent for physically connecting with hurt and lonely gay people. I don’t think he writing shows the same depth of feeling (yet), but I’m rooting for the guy.