What's the only thing that Tony Valenzuela, an HIV-positive gay boy toy, male prostitute and porno actor, is not willing to discuss?
No, not that!
That's right. Hard as it is to believe, this wanton man, who seems to be nothing more than a self-proclaimed slutty sex pig, actually has a sweet and gentle place in his soul for all things spiritual. And if you poke hard enough through Mr. T's slick-dick veneer and prick his deep, dark, rich center you'll find a man with more on his mind than how to maintain a gorgeous, escort-ready body--a fact you can find out for yourself when this modern-day Mary Magdalene kicks off Triangle Productions' first-ever Summer Pride Series with his one-man show, The (Bad) Boy Next Door.
"I have my own communication with God," says Tony V. from his SoCal home. "It's a relationship that drives me. I rarely talk about it, and I consider it intensely personal."
But that doesn't stop him from being a porn-again paradox wrapped in a post-AIDS-era enigma.
"I like to think of myself as a messenger," he says. "My job is to illustrate truths about our lives as gay men. At this point in my life, there's plenty of material there. I want to illustrate the difficult and disturbing facts of our lives--especially with HIV. I do this out of responsibility to myself and my community. In other words, I not only put forth in my show that I am sexual, HIV-positive and an escort, but that I'm also a son and a family man. In many ways, I contradict myself and what people think of someone with those specific labels."
Speaking of labels, Tony was cast as the poster boy for unsafe sex a while ago and found himself involved in the center of the "barebacking" controversy (that's when someone, whether HIV-positive or -negative, decides not to use protection during intercourse).
"For a while there I was going through the most intense scrutiny in my life. The fact is I've never advocated sex without condoms, but I've always defended it. That led me to an intense situation. I wrote this play so I could tell my side of the story in my own words. I also wanted to shed light on the fact that my generation has a distinct and important experience with the AIDS epidemic. With this show, I get an opportunity to open a conversation that is rarely opened."
Personally and professionally, Tony the 32-year-old tiger has forged his own distinct path to enlightenment.
"I've broken a lot of rules as an escort. I get close to my johns. That's how I operate, and I can't be any other way. I try to merge as much as I can of myself into any experience I have. Overall, I think I've incorporated the challenge of what it means to be in this world. I think that the greatest thing is to be discovered through exploring. No one's going to discover anything without ever looking."
The (Bad) Boy Next Door
Theater! Theatre!, 3430 SE Belmont St., 239-5919 8 pm Thursday-Saturday, June 7-9 $17 advance, $19 door
Men With Altitude!
The Portland Gay Men's Chorus celebrates Pride with a song-filled show featuring special guests the Denver Gay Men's Chorus. Scottish Rite Temple, 1512 SW Morrison St., 224-8499. 8 pm Saturday, 2 pm Sunday. $12-$20 (Fastixx).
Naked Boys Singing
See Mr. Nude Portland 2001 Jason Myer expose himself in the name of art at this musical and naked extravaganza. Theater! Theatre! 3430 SE Belmont St., 239-5919. Opens Thursday, June 14. $23 advance, $25 door.
The folks who bring you the LGBT film fest are running a June Pride series. See Screen Listings.