While trying to find an old photo I came across some of my old graphics for my blog, Acid Reflux, that I began in 2005.
Way back then I wanted to start writing, but I wasn't quite sure how to go about it. I just knew that I wanted to write. Blogs were becoming more popular at that point and they were quite easy to set up. These were the days before Twitter and Facebook, and a blog was one of the principle ways to communicate via the new "social media."
My inspiration was the dark humour of a bunch of guys in AIDS in the 1980s and early 90s who created their own Zine called Diseased Pariah News. These were dark times and they required dark humour. It was the only way I could get through the era of no real hope for treatment, while watching friends and acquaintances die. I can see complete copies that I'm happy to say they've finally put online. It's part of our history, check it out.
Some people were highly offended by Diseased Pariah News. However, I loved it. Who could forget the fake ads for "AIDS Barbie" and their matching Bob Mackie design bedpans? AIDS Barbie also had the Malibu Home Hospice, which was the camper on the go.
Every month had the "Innocent Victim" poster boy. Remember this was a time when there were clear distinctions between those deserving this terrible death and those who didn't. Children and those with blood disorders were on the top of the innocent victims list; also fairly high were the wives of bisexual men.
There were a couple reasons why I named my blog "Acid Reflux." One was the cardinal rule of the day - begin your website with a letter of the alphabet so you end up near the top of the list. At the time I was dealing with a lot of acid reflux; it was horrible.
Most of all I had the image of Dame Edna in her show sitting down at a table on the stage that she shared with a couple audience members. She kept stealing the guest's napkin to cover her mouth during bouts of acid reflux, usually occurring when talking about her lesbian daughter breeding pit bulls, and the awful stench in their house.
Looking back at these images I really see how much I've toned it down. Back then I wanted to shock people. My theory was that I was not going to be defined by others, I was going to do it myself, and this was how I was going to do it: with my own brand of irreverent humour.
During this time a fellow named Kostas in Greece, a man I've never met to this day nor have seen an actual photo of, began to send me these great images. I soon began asking him to make up banners etc for me.
This one I made myself, you can see the difference in quality!
Part of my shtick at the time was that it was hard to pull off HIV as glamorously as I could. This started when a friend of mine many years ago came to me after getting his test results, still worked up with all the stress he put himself under - he told me that it came back negative. I put my hand on his leg and said, "It's ok Steve, it's not for everyone, not everyone call pull it off as glamorously as I can, you'll be ok."
To this day I do warn people that it does take a lot of work to pull of HIV as well as I do, and this is best left to trained professionals. I think Dr. Oz would agree. There are some out there who have found themselves positive and become frustrated as it takes time to learn the ropes.
I've now come out with my treatment décor tips. Acid Reflux may be gone, but its
spirit lives. How to make your surroundings work with your pill colour pallete? Prezista is the hardest, being bright orange, but remember your colour fundamentals of complementary colours and think green, along with a few neutrals.
Anyway I digress. I had a lot of fun writing in those days just allowing my imagination to take off and not think about what others thought.
Today being the publisher of PositiveLite.com has brought me into another stage of evolution where I find myself not wanting to be as wide open in my personal life, and a little, and I know it's shocking, camera shy.
However writing this post reminds me that I have to put a bit more fun back into AIDS, or at least my AIDS.
Now on to some of the images! I went to a conference in Africa and then in Australia. I had Kostas make up a poster for my alter ego, Miss Retro Virus, for her world pandemic tour complete with tour dates. He also made up some very fun banners for each country I was in.
When I started my everything-but-the-kitchen-sink combination of medications in 2006, I wrote all the way through that. Trust me when I tell you it wasn't pretty, especially with the Sustiva and losing my ability to even write complete sentences. I still shared this difficult experience and kudos to anyone who attempted to read it.
After doing my World AIDS Day interviews several years ago, I had been on the D-list tour while my friends were talking to the national newspapers, I just finished public access television and 24 Hours free news magazine (the one you read on the subway and litter the floor with). After getting out of the Rogers TV station, basking in the afteglow of appearing in between a group of modern dancers and a guy selling "Scorned Women Hot Sauce," I declared that I was the "Kathy Griffin of AIDS"
And finally one more glamour shot while I walk down memory lane....