Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Liberace Infected Three Men With AIDS

Liberace knew he had AIDS when he had unprotected sex with three men, all of whom died of the disease. The Enquirer has an interview this week with Liberace's former lover, Scott Thorson, who is played by Matt Damon in the recent HBO movie. Thorson says that Liberace never had protected sex and never told his partners that he had the AIDS virus and according to Thorson killed at least three of his lovers and there might be more. I'm not sure how you can knowingly do that to anyone, let alone multiple people. Liberace murdered people just so he could have sex without a condom. Do you think he felt any guilt?

66 comments:

Karen said...

I didn't know that Ted from How I Met Your Mother was Liberace's boytoy.

scratchy kitty said...

I grew up in the 80s and I dont remember there being a "safe sex" concept that far back. Im not in the gay comunity so I dont know if the gay activists were recommending condoms back then or not. I first heard about safe and safer sex in 1990 from MTV, which always was on the cutting edge when it came to sex stuff.

Lindsey said...

Ha!

greenmountaingal said...

I remember some of the 80s AIDS commercials from when I was a kid, especially the one where it said if you have unprotected sex you'll have big purple spots all over your body (Karposi's sarcoma).

And The Band Played On is an excellent book detailing the history of the AIDS epidemic. I can't help but think of Gaetano Dugas when I heard about these latest accusations against Liberace.

The AIDS crisis has always had a special place in my heart. My great uncle was one of the first cases in NYC.

Renoblondee said...

I'm not sure about the early 80's, but I was a teenager in the late 80's and I was very aware to make my boyfriend(s) wear condoms for not only pregnancy, but also for STD's.

Cathy said...

We have no idea what was or wasn't discussed behind closed doors between Liberace and lovers other than Thorson. I'm not saying this claim isn't true, but it seems like Thorson might be enjoying all this newfound media attention just a bit too much...

DewieTheBear said...

"Liberace murdered people"

Uh, no. It's an allegation by an ex-con about someone who is no longer here to defend himself.

"just so he could have sex without a condom"

Did a thirteen-year-old write this? Anyone with even a remedial memory of the seventies and early eighties was screwing everybody else without condoms. It wasn't really until Rock Hudson (and the panic over getting AIDS from kissing) that the concept of safe sex became a mainstream mantra. Shove it with the judgmentalism and historical ignorance.

DewieTheBear said...

"Anyone with even a remedial memory of the seventies and early eighties *knows that everyone was screwing everybody else without condoms."

Corrected for sense.

AudreyHempburn said...

I doubt it was the case with Liberace and his lovers but this story reminded me that there are "bug chasers" in the world. It still baffles me that anyone would deliberately try to contract the AIDS virus.

Poppymann said...

I was in college in 85 and that was the first time we heard of it. My friend kicked off a huge safe sex thing on campus. She was very forward thinking.

Cathy said...

@Audrey - makes me think of the episode of Girls (ugh, i HATE that show) where Lena Dunham's character was telling the gynecologist that she wanted AIDS. the voice of our generation, indeed

FrenchGirl said...

at this time in 80's,safe sex doesn't exist or was not popular.AIDS was mysterious...Gay cancer...

FrenchGirl said...

i remember that the first time i "heard" about AIDS was when Freddie Mercury is dead

NATHANIEL MANELLA said...

I think our opinion of the situation is shaded by the fact that these days meds exist that can treat HIV AIDS so effectively as to so slow its advance indefinitely. In Liberace's day it was pretty well seen as a death sentence and that he would do something (hysteria aside) that almost guarantees that his partner would contract it is pretty unconscionable. It'd be incumbent on him to figure out the safe sex thing at that point

Annie Hall said...

@greenmountaingal And the Band Played On is still one of the best movies ever made about the AIDS epidemic and it will always be one of my favorite movies ever.

So well done, so well written, so many caring celebrities taking part. You really get the sense of what a passion project it was for everybody involved and they do a great service by providing a (probably somewhat sensationalized) history of the disease and its hazy origins. Anytime I meet somebody who has never seen it, I make it my mission to somehow show it to them in the course of knowing them. :)

I'm sorry about your great uncle. :(

greenmountaingal said...

Thank you :)

If you haven't read the book, do. It's long but impossible to put down. I also agree with you about the movie. It's excellent.

libby said...

Denial is very powerful. Many men back then just ignored the risk at first and hoped. Big celebrities are kind of known for their developing feelings of invincibility.
Maybe since Scott didn't get it from Lee, maybe Lee was over-confident? Not realizing at the time of course that Scott's being an exclusive top w/ Lee meant his risk was very very low, comparatively.

DontRainOnMyPrada said...

I think it was around 1984-85 that it was getting to be pretty well known to use condoms to prevent aids. What years are we talking about w Liberace?

nettalovesrobin said...

One would think that after he was diagnosed he was told to use condoms by his doctors.

MISCH said...

There was that someone gave it to me, I'll give it to someone else attitude at the beginning..as well as a fear of being tested.

auntliddy said...

Green, sorry about your uncle as well. Rip to him. The Band Played On was an amazing movie, amazing. The most important thing i learned, which i had already believed, is that the disease is a disease of opportunity. The virus doesnt care if u r gay or straight, rich or poor, man or woman, young or old. Its just a horrific germ thats gonna spread if it gets the chance. So sad.

auntliddy said...

Misch id right. I think liberache knew he was sick but was in denial. Suppisedly had huge sexual appetite, and lets face it, the dick wants what the dick wants. I hope he didnt do it on ourpose, but rather a mixture of all feeling as said above.

AKM said...

I remember hearing about safe sex and HIV prevention as soon as 1985, when I was in fifth grade in Tennessee. It sure stuck with me, but clearly not with everybody.

I still have never seen AND THE BAND PLAYED ON, although I thought ANGELS IN AMERICA was phenomenal.

MontanaMarriott said...

LIBERACE WAS A TOP?!?! I am sorry I am still trying to get over how Mary was a top who got folks infected, I just can't see it.

But to chime in along others yeah it was the 80's, we were ignorant of how to prevent the disease and no where near as educated as we are in this day and age.

__-__=__ said...

Soooooo, these three men were having sex ONLY with Liberace???

Tom Stockdale said...

obviously many people did exactly the same thing otherwise there wouldn't have been an aids epidemic...who knows what's going on in the mind of someone who know they are going to die.

Vera L- said...

Just watched the movie this morning. Thorson wasn't so smart and Lee wasn't so nice.

I knew to use condoms in the 1980's because I didn't want to get pregnant, not sure what the gay community was hearing/doing as it wasn't on my self indulgent teenage radar.

B626 said...

According to the movie...Lee WANTED to be a top with Scott. Scott refused, Lee dumped him.

Michael said...

This article (and some of the comments about it) are ignorant. We don't know how many partners these men had before and after Liberace AND up until about a year before he died people thought you could catch it from kissing and toilet seats. Heck, there wasn't even a publicly available test available until about a year before he died. Also, this article doesn't even state what time period Liberace supposedly infected these people.

Amy in MI said...

French girl - did you hear about Magic Johnson over there? He announced about 7 months before Freddie died. Rock Hudson was a huge movie heartthrob in the 50s and 60s who was the first celebrity to die.

libby said...

I think the technical term for Liberace was 'versatile'...? Do they still use that term? I had gay friends in my generation who liked to top and bottom, but would bitch a lot b/c they would always find guys who wanted one way only.

Michael said...

@libby: Yep. Versatile or vers would be the correct term.

CK76 said...

I worked in West Hollywood in the mid 80's, safe sex practices were definitely known at that time---

SEAN said...

Here is a brief history/timeline from AIDS.org.

81-83
1st cases discovered
realize blood supply is at risk

83
define path of transmission thru blood, pregnancy (not clear here yet) but NOT casual contact.

84
Oct - 1st recommendation to avoid IV drugs. No official recommended use of condoms but Activists may have started suggesting them about now.

85
1st test for AIDS developed
Ryan White and Rock Hudson die
Elizabeth Taylor takes leading role

86
OCT - first GOV suggestion to use condoms although Activists and doctors were likely suggesting it sooner

87
Liberace dies

It is very unlikely the men he supposedly had sex with weren't already infected. Also, Scott had unprotected sex with him but never tested positive (by Liberace).

Topper Madison said...

This is ridiculous. Everyone knows that unlike now, back in the 80s, you could catch AIDS from mosquitoes.

Sherry R. said...

In 1985 I worked with this guy who had a big group of gay friends in Austin. These guys were constantly going to the bath houses and picking up random guys to sleep with.

I remember asking him if he was worried about getting aids and he just kind of laughed and said no.

There was this guy years ago that was on TV doing a stand up show. I don't remember if any of it was funny, but I do remember his ending with a bit about getting aids from a celebrity, and how could a "star" possibly give him aids, but one did.

Could have been Liberace...

Momster said...

I know Liberace wasn't an angel, but not sure I believe Thorson. Did he back it up with facts?

car54 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
car54 said...

I think we were all pretty ignorant about AIDS in those days and even when we did know some info--there was some denial--it was such a mystery disease for so long.

I saw an interview with Thorsen right before the HBO movie and he is desperate right now to parlay the publicity into getting some money/help--he's in jail, he has cancer, in the interview I saw he was begging Michael Douglas and Jerry Bruckhiemer to help get him out of jail and to better medical care.

Unknown said...

Amanda Blake (Miss Kitty from Gunsmoke) was the first female celebrity to die from AIDS. Her bisexual husband infected her.

As to Liberace, I've heard some infected people have unprotected sex with the motive being inner rage because they got infected. Not saying all gays do this. I've just heard that this does happen. Liberace was a sex fiend and self centered and I can totally see his being only concerned for his increased pleasure by going condomless than concern for the other person's health

Sherry said...

Yeah Scott Thorson isn't a very stable guy. He's stuck in jail and no one will bail him out. But as equation pointed out, if those guys were doing Liberace they were also engaging in unsafe sex elsewhere. It's impossible to assign blame.

Sherry said...

And GreenMtgal..I lost my uncle to the disease also. He too lived in NYC. It seemed so visible in large metropolitan areas. I have his picture in my office and look at him often. He was just gorgeous.

paula said...

It seems unlikely that Liberace was the only person with whom these men had unprotected sex. How can Thorson be sure they caught it from him?

HannahBanana said...

I just had a feeling thorson was going to do this. He is broke & ill. I'm sure he will be giving tabloids stories to the end. I don't think Liberace ever really thought about it. He was obviously a very selfish individual. 50 yr olds that like 17 yr olds often are, no matter the sexual orientation.

parissucksliterally said...

greenmtngal, once again - I LOVE YOU!

"And The Band Played On" is one of my favorite books!

Gaetan Dugas was a prick! Patient ZERO- wnet around infecting so many people, even after he was told he was spreading the virus!

HannahBanana said...

Oh yes, Dennis Hof, owner of the Bunny Ranch in Reno got him out last week & is letting him stay at the ranch....he'll have plenty of time to take offers from the tabs now....:)

greenmountaingal said...

I'm so sorry for your loss.

greenmountaingal said...

I love you, too!

KendraWM said...

I love And The Band Played On, long but so well worth the read. Just an amazing book.

I remember sitting on the patio with my 85 year old grandmother asking what do they mean on the news when they say men are infecting men with the AIDS virus???? My mom and I looked at each other like, you want to answer???



Sophia said...

My (ex) step-dad infected my mom with HIV and he, at one point was very sick and had lesions all over his face - he was also battling cancer. It was pretty frightening. I was 15 when I found out, in 1996. It was still pretty taboo to talk about it at that time.

I have no connection to my stepdad anymore, since we found out he was basically living a double life. My mom, on the other hand is doing quite well!

Don't know why I felt like sharing that..

DewieTheBear said...

@Sean,
Great timeline. I don't know if you remember but the freak out about Rock Hudson was major. Well, specifically, the freak out over his having kissed Linda Evans on Dynasty when he was sick was major - which is why I mentioned that event. I was eleven and it as an unbelievably huge media story - a man with AIDS kissed a woman, did she contract it? It was surreal times. The panic over how it could be spread is why for a very long time (I believe the policy has changed but I'm not 100% sure) one could not give blood if one had ever had sex with a man who had sex with a man. That's why I've never given blood.

The momentum for safe sex/condom use, although it became part of government advocacy in the mid-eighties, still took a while to become common sense in the general population. We take it for granted now.

In any event, blaming a man who died in the mid-eighties for "murdering" his lovers, especially because of what his ex-con boyfriend is saying to make a dime now, well, that's a huge stretch.

And I'm with the others in recommending And the Band Played On in book or film form.

Clip

Seahorse said...

@libby you hit the nail on the head I know too many men who STILL take chances, who are in denial about the reality, can't be bothered or get caught up in the heat of the moment. The AIDS epidemic didn't get rid of Bathouses and Glory Holes. The main portion of the population tries to play safely and most succeed but there will always be exceptions

fedwaymom said...

Love the rob Lowe pic

SEAN said...

Dewie - there is still a ban on men who have had sex with men (MSM) giving blood in almost every country including the USA. Canada just changed theirs to 5 years. (you can't have had MSM for 5 years). This of course is ridiculous. All blood is tested and they also have rapid testing that can give results in 20 mins. The test is good except for the 3-6 months prior to the test.

iv drug users and any PERSON who has sexy is likely to have been exposed to HIV so either all should be banned or none.

DewieTheBear said...

@Sean - Thanks for the info. But I'm a female and my understanding from years past is that a woman who had sex with a man who'd had sex with a man was barred from donating.

(I know I could just Google it but the information exchange is more interesting; plus, most health-related inquiries turn up results that tell me no matter what, I'm dying of something *g*)

feraltart said...

Sean, IV drug users are banned from donating.

And The Band Played On is an excellent movie.

I don't think people are maliciously having unsafe sex. Most people do not think about their health or are pro-active about it unless something happens. I went for a yearly physical to be pro-active & my doctor was like what's wrong? Me: I'm being pro-active, want a yearly physical to stay on top of things. Have a referral to an exercise physiologist to see why I can't move this weight. Rang to make the appointment - what's wrong? Nothing, I am being pro-active & trying to get weight off. Medical professionals are gob smacked when you go in to try & prevent problems. How many people on CDan get a yearly physical? Ans how many of us got them in our 20s? Not me.

lazyday603 said...

I always thought Ricky Wilson of the B-52's was the 1st celebrity I knew of who died of AIDS. But checking Wikipedia Rock Hudson and Ricky Wilson both died the same month, Oct 1985.

Rose said...

Scott Thorston was already bailed out a few days ago by the owner of The Bunny Ranch or whatever place has that HBO show. Got him a laywer who I think is a big shot who represents Joe Francis.

Tina Mallette said...

Dewie Bear the scary thing is there are still people who have not got the message about safe sex in general. The fact we have reality shows about pregnant teenagers who are treated as celebrities astonishes me and I used to live in a town that still has the highest teen pregnancy rate in Canada.

Even in the gay community, experts are concerned that younger gay men who did not live through the worst of the AIDS epidemic are being cavalier.

Tina Mallette said...

In my experience, in Ontario, the family doctor wants you to come in for a yearly physical. They get paid every time you walk into the office so it's good for their pocketbook along with the general health benefits of discovering issues sooner than later which then costs everyone less in the long run. Their specialists buddies want the referrals.

MadLyb said...

I agree that early on, people just didn't "get" just how devastating and horrible AIDS was until bottoms started dropping like flies. That being said, I thought Liberace was a bottom? The movie seemed to indicate that...? Guess he was both.

Later on, there were some guys who knowingly infected others while clearly understanding the consequences of the AIDS virus because they didn't want to wear protection or disclose that they had AIDS for fear of rejection. Remember Ray Sharkey?

DewieTheBear said...

@Tina, very true. Even now, I cannot claim to honestly be a paragon of safe sex.

*sigh*

I think this calls for some levity. Fuck STDs.

http://weknowgifs.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/fuck-this-thing-cat.gif

di butler said...

Amen. Did a 20 yr old write this? Living during that time period,late 70s-early 80s, things were majorly different.

Fashionably Mode said...

i'm pretty sure he thought that since someone did it to him, then he should do it to others.

Rose said...

MadLyb, from the movie Liberace was always the bottom because that is all Scott would do. He was bi-sexual. Liberace wanted to be top to Scott too but Scott wouldn't allow it.

Customer Service said...

Journalists and blogs (both low and highbrow) need to stop quoting Scott Thornson as if is the last word on the life and times of Liberace. Regarding his age when he met Liberace, he's all over the map. In his book he claims 18, in his deposition 17 and now he has been saying 16. He claimed to Howard Stern that Lee was "48 years older" than he was which is impossible as that (even going with Thorson's low ball "age") that would put Liberace at 64 when they met in 1977 (or 1976 as Thornson is evasive about that date as well) when Liberace was 67 when he died in 1987!

As for these false accusation about Liberace "infecting others", no one was practising safe sex in the late 70s and early 80s and there have been more than one account by a close Liberace friend that Cary James cheated on Liberace including with his own house keeper Dorothy McMahn. Most certainly there were others. By his own admission Thorson, who in his book claimed complete monogamy, has now admitted to cheating on Liberace with numerous people. Christopher Adler (whom Thorson refereed to as "Christopher Atkins" in one interview) was in his late 20s when he knew Liberace and was part of the elite NY theatre world which saw many AIDS casualties very early on in the epidemic so there is no reason to believe that he did not infect Liberace rather than vice versa. As for Bob Fisher, he was Liberace's valet in the early to mid 70s and according to al accounts out of the picture after he was replaced by lover/protegee Vince Cardell who was then replaced by Scott Thronson. Cardell died only recently and was never said to have had Aids . Thornson is a liar who was cut off completely and had no mutual friends with Liberace. His conjecture is clearly a way to make a buck while he continues to not get his life together.