I was published for the very first time in the March 19, 1999 issue of Fab! Newspaper. That’s a good 12 years ago people. I dug up this old ditty from the Murillo vaults and I could NOT believe the subject matter. Talk about a foreshadowing of things to come. I was nowhere NEAR being clean and sober when I wrote this piece. I was trying to stop. I changed my friends and went for months without using, but knew absolutely NOTHING about rock bottoms. I’m horrified by the language I spoke sans any form of real tools or a spiritual solution and I am more than a little embarrassed by the layers of cheesy, longwinded gratuitous drama. This should’ve been edited down to half the word count and there was no safety net in terms of the poor grammar, but I’m sharing this with you EXACTLY how it was printed 12 years ago. I am fascinated by this piece and by the shamelessness of this early version of myself. Keep in mind that I was young and dumb…and I wanted my picture in the paper.
THE DYING GAME
BY Paulo Murillo
There was nothing better than being a young gay male in the summer of 1994. I was a ripe 22 year-old and thought I knew it all. My friends and I thought we were way too cool. We considered ourselves too hip to even label ourselves circuit boys. After all, circuit boys all fit into a mold and followed a crowd. We were the cool clique that everyone loved or hated. We never waited in line to get into a club, never paid a cover charge and drinks were almost always free. I can still picture is in our baggy jeans, tight shirts and clunky shoes.
We were all in our early twenties and somewhat new to the West Hollywood scene. We thought we were the happening shit at the time. We felt like the world loved us. We were special and had to potential to go far. We had an attitude that screamed, “Get out of the way bitch, or you’ll get trampled by our fierceness.”
We had just discovered drinking and thought it was cute to label ourselves lushes. We would religiously go to Beer Bust ever weekend and always end up like fumigated roaches, drunk and disoriented by the end of the night. To this day I don’t know how crystal meth penetrated my small circle of friends. Although we were all borderline alcoholics (like almost everyone else in West Hollywood), we never so much as smoked a joint. It was not that we were goodie-goodies ready to say nope to dope and ugh to drugs. We just were not aware of the drug scene back then—It was only a matter of time before we would all become curious and try it “just once.”
I will never forget my first bump. We were at The House of Blues during their once-a-month gay nights. My closest friend “Lance” and I slipped into a bathroom stall. I stood on the toilet and squatted, so people couldn’t see my feet. He stood before me to give the impression he was pissing. He pulled out a tiny baggie with a white powdery substance and dipped one of his keys into it, placing a scoop into my nostril. There I was squatting on this toilet with my brand new biker boots and my perfectly sculpted hair leaning over to snort some crystal meth. There was nothing more glamorous to me at the time.
The first sensation was the burning of my nostrils. I thought for sure I had burned my nose hair right off. Lance explained the burning meant it was good shit. I took another bump. This hit went straight to my head. My brain and heart felt like they would explode. My eyes watered and all I could do was squeal with delight. I have never felt such an overwhelming mixture of sensations all at once. After a few mintues I had a strange bitter taste run down my throat. I started to panic because my mouth became very dry and I was having trouble swallowing. I also felt like I had to take a big dump. My friends were turned off by my lack of experience. “You stupid bitch! It’s just taking its course! Relax!” In a matter of seconds I was overcome by a feeling of absolute power. It felt like my muscles were expanding. I thought my pecs would rip open my shirt. I felt like a girl with brand new tit implants. I was beautiful. I looked good and the world could lick my ass for all I cared. I walked around the club feeling fine and fuckable.
My friends and I were all wired on crystal. We felt closer than ever. We had crossed a line into the forbidden. We had just discovered the ultimate party machine. In the back of our minds we knew there was a danger. We would dissect our use with endless conversations. “Only the weak become addicted,” we reasoned. “You can’t let the shit control you!” Lance would say. We convinced ourselves that as long as we did it every now and then, we would be OK. We made a pact that we would only do it on special occasions.
Once I was alone after some serious partying that first night I bumped, I became aware of another sensation that only justified my use further. I was extremely horny. I can still remember beating off till the hours of the morning. I took out my whole porn collection and lined it all up. The thing about crystal is that you rarely get a full hard-on. It takes forever to climax, but when you finally get there, your head spins and you bend over backwards with pleasure. I used to beat off six or seven times back to back. Crystal made this possible. I would stroke my half-limp dick to the point where I was raw between my legs. I had to walk and pee with caution the next day. However, as painful as that might have been – the sexual climax is probably one of the things that got me addicted to the drug.
My friends and I kept our pact in the beginning. But it was just a matter of time before we started breaking our own rules. What started as a casual party, turned into a weekend habit. If I missed a weekend, my body would start freaking out. My heart would start beating fast and my mouth would get that same dry feeling. This was a problem, because as much as I loved the drug, I refused to fork over money for it because to me, that meant I was an addict. Chrissy was knocking at my door and I had no way of letting her in.
It was not long before we discovered where all the Crystal heads go on Saturday mights after the clubs closed down at 2am—Does Your Mamma Know after hours at the Coconut Teaser on Sunset Blvd. Frequented by drug users that want to party all night, the club attracts a younger, early to mid-twenties crowd. As I danced like a madman to the pounding music, I looked around and was startled by all the young dilated eyes and blank faces, all the while sighing with relief because I was not like them.
The realization of my actions were always a rude awakening on a Monday morning. This is when I would think of my mother and all the warnings she gave me as a kid about doing drugs. This is when I would be overwhelmed with feelings of self-loathing and self-pity. This is when images of my dead overdosed body being picked up from the dance floor would start swimming in my head. I wasn’t raised religious, but every Monday morning I was like a typical Catholic, repenting for my sin, knowing all too wall that I loved every minute of it and I would sin again. No longer did I feel special. Gone were the implants and the feelings of being grand. I also became aware of my health and realized I had not eaten for days. I remember all too well the cramping in my stomach as I force-fed myself so I could make it through a burned out Monday morning.
What started out as tiny scoops of speed on the end of a key or a pinky nail, turned into long snorts of lines with credit cards and a rolled up dollar bill. In the beginning, all we needed were small amounts to get us through the night. It seemed that the more we used, the more immune our bodies became, and the more shit we needed to reach that high of the previous week. Also, what started out as free speed was now costing me $40 a pop (so much of my theory of not being an addict). Most of my friends broke the “weekend only” rule and were strung out every day. A lot of them had graduated and moved on to ecstasy, coke and Special K. I knew crystal was my drug of choice because I liked the energy and the horny aspect of the drug. Coke was a lame high. It wore out too quickly. It seemed like we were all fighting our own war and became distant toward each other. The only time we were ever close was when were high.
All things must come to an end and I knew my end was near. The Crystal trips were no longer trips at all. I would hit the dance floor and be out of breath. I would feel dizzy and thought I would pass out. This always made me panic because I would always wonder if I was overdosing and didn’t know it. The wall of shit I had built around me was beginning to collapse. I was falling flat on my face and fast. I knew if I didn’t slow down, that I would most likely die. When Lance lost his job and he was evicted from his apartment, I knew it was time to quit.
It was easier said than done. Everyone reaches his or her own rock bottom. Turned out I hadn’t reached mine yet. I had slowed my habit, but had not completely quit. Chrissie and I had been “friends” for almost two years then. She was a deceptive little bitch. I remember walking out of a club and feeling mighty good. Everyone was staring at me. “Fuck, I look good! Everyone’s looking at me,” I told myself. People were actually staring. Then I accidentally caught a glimpse of myself in the reflection of a car window and could not believe the stranger looking back. [I had danced my ass off at Does Your Mama Know. I climbed on a speaker box platform to dance for a crowd of meth heads. I didn’t know the box was dirty. My dirty hands were on my sweaty face the entire night. I walked out of there with smudges running down my neck.] My eyes sockets looked sunking. My cheekbones were severe looking. I was a walking corpse, not glamorous at all. People were looking at me alright. They were in shock. I remember laughing like an idiot, when I should’ve been crying.
It wasn’t long after that Chrissy cashed in on my job. It took its toll and my work performance suffered. Losing my job was harsh. It meant that if I didn’t get my shit together, the domino effect would continue. Only then did I have to slap myself in the face, grab myself by the balls and start clawing my way out of the hole that was eating me alive.
It was very hard to leave Chrissy, both physically and mentally. I wanted to maintain my friendships, but I knew I could not be around the drug and successfully fight temptation. My roommate had to lock me in my room on the weekends. He heard me pacing frantically back and forth all night long. When my tweaker friends caught wind that I no longer wanted to do drugs, it was like an instant excommunication. The calls and invitations to parties stopped abruptly. But I was relieved in a way. I was getting tired of making lame excuses as to why I couldn’t be around them. I called on old friends I had neglected far too long. These were friends I thought I had outgrown. They were friends I considered uncool. I needed them desperately and they took me in with open arms.
How did this happen to me? I could blame some of the local gay magazines that have five-page articles on the dangers of Crystal Meth and yet they’re the first to promote afterhour clubs and any circuit drug infested event to hit town. I could blame the City of West Hollywood and the whole gay community for not providing me with proper tools and information. I can also blame God for being an asshole and not giving me more brains and common sense. Now that I am older and somewhat wiser, I can say it: I was insecure, immature with fear of intimacy and very sexually repressed. I obviously surrendered to peer-pressure easily. The truth is I am responsible for my own actions. I can only blame myself.
I have been clean for almost three years now [LOL! I think I was clean for like three weeks tops when I wrote this article. That’s just how we do]. This is not to say that I don’t have aching cravings from time to time, but I am working again, I still have my own place and I am healthy.
I run into Lance every now and then. He tells me he no longer does Crystal, but he loves Ecstacy and does Special K on special nights. He always gives me a rundown of everyone else in the old “group” who is all fucked up on tweak. I just nod and hear him out. Rumor has it that Lance is still crashing from couch to couch. He can’t hold a job for more than a few weeks and he owes people money left and right. It’s like I said, everyone has their own personal rock bottom.