by Ruby Comer
[dropcap]O[/dropcap]h, bollocks! My car, Mother Lincoln, is at Pep Boy’s again. Now I have to depend on my honey, Rudy, to drive me to my appointment today. Running late per usual, I’m still in the shower and luxuriating in Rudy’s all-in-one-hair-to-toe natural WEN Men’s Hair and Body Cleansing Condition by entrepreneur Chaz Dean [A&U, August 2013].
This afternoon I’m picnicking with Killian James, a captivating fellow I met at a fundraiser in New York for Gay Men’s Health Crisis. He’s in town for work and he invited me to join him at Pan Pacific Park, near CBS Studios where I started off as a page, many moons ago, for The Price is Right.
Killian (not his birth name), twenty-five, is an award-winning Rentboy escort and an adult film actor. He’s outspoken about wearing condoms in the industry and refuses to bareback. The lad has turned down work from several adult studios. Raised just north of Manhattan, Killian earned a finance degree from Pace University. Starting off as an accountant he then became a fitness trainer. Killian is presently working on developing a reality TV show. Stay tuned!
When Killian was eleven years-old, his dad died from AIDS-related complications. Currently active in the HIV/AIDS community, he’s participated in AIDS Walk New York.
Near the all-encompassing and engrossing cultural treasure, the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust [LAMOTH], Killian and I sit on a bench, as Rudy walks our Lab dog, Toots. Killian and I munch on KFC. Of course I opt for the grilled chicken even though I adore the original recipe, but a girl must keep her figure. I also bring along my grandma Clifford’s homemade buttermilk biscuits—to live for!
Ruby Comer: Killian James is your professional name….
Killian James: Yes, it’s a role I play.
When you are home alone, how is the real person different from Killian?
I like reading a good book and playing with my bulldog, Wilbur. When I become Killian, I flip the switch—and he can become pretty outrageous!
I hope so! What are you currently reading?
I’m reading a real estate guidebook at the moment, doing research on how to spot issues with a property before being bought. [He bites into a big chicken breast.]
Well…hmmm. I want to know how you chose your name….
I used to drink Killian’s Irish Red beer in college and James just sounded like a fit.
Your profession intrigues me. If I were in my twenties, I would consider dabbling in the business. What attracted you to it?
I didn’t like the corporate world. To me, it was a dead end. I wanted to steer my own ship, so I became a personal trainer and then got into escorting while still a trainer. I still have a training business.
[I schlep out my granny’s biscuits and a fresh jar of maple syrup to drip on it. Killian’s chestnut eyes glisten.] What’s the best thing about being an escort?
It gives me freedom. Escorting is my business and it takes me all around the country. I get to meet interesting and successful people who’ve influenced me a great deal. From my first client, I was hooked.
I wonder if that’s how the slang term, “hooker,” was born?! Oh, never mind; just being naughty. What’s the key to being a high quality escort?
Through my nearly two years of escorting, I have found that customer service is the key.
I treat everyone with respect and my attitude is positive. I want to provide the best experience for my clients.
You certainly know what you’re doing, kiddo! What is the one most misunderstood thing about being an escort?
It’s not always about sex. Much of it is about providing companionship. A lot of people think escorting is a form of slavery. It’s not. As much as my clients have chosen me, I choose my clients.
When we met in New York, you told me that you first found out about the epidemic when your dad died. Can you elaborate?
Well, my parents were divorced by the time I was two. He contracted HIV when I was eleven and refused to take antiretrovirals. Eventually, my dad had to move into my grandparent’s house because he could no longer take care of himself. I saw my grandparents two long weekends a month and I saw him by extension. It was very sad to see someone literally waste away because they wouldn’t take care of themselves.
How incredibly painful it must have felt for you as a boy to witness his demise. What did you learn from this encounter?
That there is nothing shameful about getting HIV, but it’s a shame to lack the willpower to fight it when there are options that can help.
Yes, yes. For whatever reason, he decided against the drugs. When did you first get tested and what was that like?
I was sixteen and so nervous. Even though I was always safe, I wasn’t very educated at the time about how HIV was transmitted. I get tested once a month now—and I’m never nervous.
Smart cookie, Killian. Being that sex is part of your profession, do you take PrEP?
I don’t take it. I’m considering it, but haven’t made any decisions yet. I try to prevent putting medicine into my body if I can.
It seems you have awareness about health. [He nods thoughtfully.] Have you ever dated anyone who was HIV-positive? If so, were there any challenges?
Yes I have and there were not any issues. We just used condoms.
When you begin to date someone, how do you approach the topic of HIV?
I ask their status immediately. I don’t dance around the subject.
Applause, applause. Has any one particular HIV prevention ad struck you as powerful and persuasive?
Yes! There are ads running in NYC that show healthy looking adults saying, for example: “HIV-positive for five years.” I think that’s great because it shows that people are able to live long, healthy lives, but it’s also a reminder that we always need to protect ourselves.
Which individual has inspired you the most?
My mom. She’s a hard worker.
How sweet. Does your mother know about your business?
I told her before I started that it’s something I wanted to explore. She didn’t react horribly. She said that as long as I’m 100-percent independent, happy, healthy, and have a plan for myself, she’s accepting.
Credit to mom. Say, is the epidemic ever discussed on the set? Are your fellow actors taking PrEP?
I never discuss it on the set. I do know a few who are taking Truvada as PrEP, yes.
As a porn actor, give Ruby some inside scoop on the set about safety.
I can tell you that bareback sex is definitely on the rise. I’ve witnessed it and have been asked to participate in it more times than I can count. I don’t want to comment on anything specific. I mean, each individual makes choices, and all I can do is give them information and the tools necessary to make those choices. [He lets out a short meaningful sigh.] The rest is up to them.
Ruby Comer is an independent journalist from the Midwest who is happy to call Hollywood her home away from home. Reach her by e-mail at [email protected]