As you know, I’m in Paris right now, covering the profoundly important story of the terrorist massacre that inflicted so much pain and suffering and which has totally disrupted French life, with disturbing overtones for the rest of the civilized world, including the United States.
But hearing the shocking announcement this morning that one of our most famous or at least most infamous celebrities on the public scene, crazy Charlie Sheen is HIV positive, I had several reactions.
Let me start with one of those ironic coincidences that make you scratch you head. In 1985 I was here in Paris when a comparably famous American celebrity, the actor Rock Hudson was brought to Paris, dying from, you guessed HIV-AIDS. At that time, 30 years ago before there was an effective treatment for HIV-AIDS, the Rock Hudson story was huge, as big or bigger than Charlie Sheen for several reasons.
First, we knew that Charlie was a whore-mongering roustabout who was living with three porn stars at the time he hit rock bottom after an endless orgy of cocaine and unprotected sex.
With Rock Hudson, HIV-AIDS was still largely an incurable disease that infected mainly hard drug users and gay men. And we didn’t even know Rock Hudson was gay. He was Hollywood’s favorite leading man, the star of movies like 'Magnificent Obsession' and 'Pillow Talk', and hit TV shows like 'McMillan & Wife' and 'Dynasty'.
He came here to Paris in desperation to seek treatment at the famed Louis Pasteur Institute, and I remember clearly being here on Bastille Day looking at the same scene I’m looking at right now out my hotel window, the Eiffel Tower, and thirty years later I’m talking about HIV and famous men with deep dark secrets.