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June 8th, 2012

The Crystal Meth Connection of the Gay Porn Killer

I knew it. I felt it. It was as clear as the incessant call of crystal meth itself, on those nights when a seductive phantom of the drug cozies up to me in bed and brings its knitting.

In a Huffington Post news article on accused killer Luka Rocco Magnotta, buried in the story pages deep, a former lover says that the alleged murderer used methamphetamine, the drug popular among gay men that has claimed years of my life and left countless men in utter wreckage.

The story of the Canadian “low budget porn actor” has horrified the public with its harrowing details of torture, cannibalism, and necrophilia. The young man has been accused of killing a student, cutting him to pieces, and then mailing body parts to various locations. He allegedly consumed some of his victim and performed sexual acts with the body. He is also accused of uploading a video recording of the crime onto the internet.

Horrific, yes. But the sheer madness of the crimes, and the killer’s insane determination to make it as shocking as possible, was sickeningly familiar to a recovering methamphetamine addict like me. There is no evidence yet that crystal meth played a role in these crimes, but allow me to explain why the mix of porn, insanity and meth use struck a disturbing chord with me.

Among gay men who use recreational drugs, crystal meth abuse remains epidemic, sought for its fabled power to heighten sexual desire. In the last ten years, “crystal” has emptied nightclubs and sentenced friends to the isolation of online porn or to the emotional wasteland of “party and play” orgies frequented by fellow addicts, where syringes are common and condoms are not, and which feature exhausted, drug-driven sexual compulsives. The events have all the charm of dead bodies having sex.

Just as the drug demands more in its pursuit of the thrill of that first transformative rush, so does the sexual psyche. Before long, typical sexual behavior isn’t enough in the life of a crystal addict, and more extreme components are brought into play, such as risk and location, props and posturing, all as users experience a darkening of the sexual landscape that would cause your very soul to shudder.

In my experience, finding sexual fantasies to stimulate the weathered sexuality of meth abuse means exploring alien territory, where nothing is off-limits and the darker, the better. It becomes a perverse game of one-upmanship between addicts on the depths each will plummet for the sexual shock needed. You think about violence, one might ask the other. Fine, but have you ever thought about this? That’s hot, says the other, but what I really think about doing… is this.

Never mind that the images they are conjuring have never occurred to either of them prior to their addiction. They are mining something much darker than their authentic sexuality has ever known, all in the service of an insatiable sexual craving poisoned by a drug made with ingredients like ether, Drano and brake fluid. And so their perverse tales build and accelerate, tossed back and forth like playing volleyball with a severed head.

This is why the exploits of Mr. Magnotta set off my meth addict radar. The very outrageousness of his vile acts felt, to me, like an addict who had explored the depths of his imagination and come up short, for whom the depravity couldn’t be satisfied any longer without being made flesh. Whether his pre-existing insanity carried him across a mortal line or crystal meth pushed him over it, we don’t yet know. But meth addicts like me were shaking their heads at the accounts of Magnotta’s heinous acts and wondering why the rest of the world hadn’t suspected the connection, and why news reports hardly mentioned his crystal use as if it weren’t particularly relevant.

There are horrors that don’t arise from childhood abuse, or sociopathology or even garden variety insanity. They come from a white crystallized substance that promises everything and delivers nothing, that rewires your brain and twists your most human instincts into something that repulses even you.

Do meth addicts regularly commit murder? Of course not. But I have spent a few sleepless nights since the Magnotta story surfaced, haunted by fantasies I shared with other addicts that I had hoped to never face again.

I received a gift that too many addicts do not, the gift of finding help and taking it. Without my personal fortitude, without the trip to rehab or hitting bottom or the grace of God himself, my meth-soaked daydreams might have eventually hungered for something more intense, and beyond the safety of simple fantasy.

Instead, I have been saved, today, from what lies behind the darkest curtain. But make no mistake, I carry the burden of regrets, and they include those with a very human toll.

During the bleary days and nights of my last crystal meth relapse, I happened across a friend with whom I had been acquainted in a mutual program of drug addiction recovery. We didn’t speak of it during our few hours together, satisfied to smoke and inject meth without the intrusion of cleaner days. But being in his company vexed me. I had always ignored and denied my relapses to others in recovery and this occasion would be no different. If you didn’t see me do it, it didn’t happen. But this friend had seen, had known, and could later finger me as a liar.

If he came back into recovery, that is. And so, when considering this chance meeting of two meth users adrift, I had only one thought. One selfish, depraved and evil thought.

Maybe he won’t come back. Then no one will know about my lies.

For this addict in recovery, those who don’t come back from an extended relapse usually have met one of several possible fates, most of them dire. They may have been arrested and now face time in our horrendous penal system, or they are strapped to a gurney somewhere with serious bodily injury or a broken mind, or maybe they’re dead. To secretly hope anyone doesn’t come back from a relapse feels downright sociopathic.

What is the difference, I might ask, between taking a life outright and hoping another suffering addict continues sticking toxic needles in his arm, sentencing him to serious if not mortal consequences?

That man with whom I shared part of my relapse deserves to be in recovery – and I actually wished he wouldn’t find it. To call him my friend is a disgrace.

I might as well have cut him up into little pieces.

Mark
—————————————–

PLUS…
AIDS2012, the international AIDS conference held every two years, is next month in Washington, DC, and I’m going to make sure you don’t miss all the most colorful and inspiring parts! As I did at AIDS2010 in Vienna, I will be posting videos every day from the event. I keep the scientific reporting to the experts and instead focus on the stories of the people who make up this remarkable and massive conference. If you haven’t signed up for my email updates (above right), NOW is the time to get on board so you don’t miss the sights, sounds and personal stories that make this a truly unique event.

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15 Responses to “The Crystal Meth Connection of the Gay Porn Killer”

  1. jeremiah Says:

    June 8th, 2012 at 11:58 pm

    Fantastic and downright scary story. Glad we have you back on the good side Mark.

    J.

  2. James Allen Says:

    June 9th, 2012 at 5:21 am

    Dark and haunting the way drug addiction is and not the way the glamour machine has it portrayed. Few of us are fortunate enough to find the redemptive grace necessary to short circuit death but when we do we are obligated to pass it on regardless of our shame. “We do not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it:”
    I look forward to your coverage of AIDS 2012. Be well my friend.

  3. Matthew P Says:

    June 9th, 2012 at 6:43 am

    I was walking to a recovery meeting earlier this week and saw the tagline scroll across the giant news ticker on our newspaper building in all caps: “CANADIAN GAY PORN ACTOR KILLS, EVEN EATS BOYFRIEND.” I am paraphrasing, of course, the word ALLEGEDLY could have been in there. But, the moment I saw that, the first thought that entered my mind was, “How much did THAT dude slam?” Thank God I was on my way to the meeting anyway.

    (For the mercifully uninformed, “slamming” is slang for injecting a drug. — Mark)

  4. Marc Paige Says:

    June 9th, 2012 at 7:39 am

    Amazing piece, honest and raw. Thanks again for helping all of us understand the horror of crystal meth. It’s so important for people to hear these cautionary tales. What looks glamorous and fun, many times turns out to be ugly and destructive.

  5. Terry Says:

    June 9th, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    Another great piece. I don’t even know how to put into words what I’m feeling after having read it. It’s almost existential, really. I feel like I can feel you feeling what Magnotta may have felt. Insanity by proxy (even once removed) is scary enough.

    Thanks.

  6. Claude Wynne Says:

    June 10th, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Thanks for writing such a painfully honest piece.

  7. Silvio Says:

    June 11th, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Thank you for illuminating the darkness of that other world. I hope it helps even one more person to escape the madness that is hard drug addiction. Stay in your blessed zone XOXOXOX

  8. Nancy O. Says:

    June 11th, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Thank you again Mark for your wonderful piece. Just ordered your book on Amazon, and am hoping I can get some of my clients to start a CMA group here in the Quad Cities.
    Blessings,
    Nancy

    (Oh boy! That’s another $.24 in the bank for me! Seriously, the book is my proudest achievement and I hope you enjoy the read, Nancy. — Mark)

  9. Martin Says:

    November 5th, 2012 at 7:58 am

    It’s a lie that the drug makes you into something different than what you are or is the cause for any behavior. When things come down to it, that excuse is a crutch. The drug never makes you do anything, it’s always you who is to blame for your actions. It might help things come out of you that you normally repress, but that’s you acting the whole time. If you did some really terrible things on meth, maybe you are really a terrible person? Have you ever considered that?

    I did meth several times daily for years and while I did a few things I wish I hadn’t done, those few things were simply stupid choices that only hurt myself and nobody else. I don’t even regret them , but if things had gone differently, I wouldn’t have minded. More often the things I wish hadn’t happened were the things other people did. I came to understand that regardless of whether they were on the drug or not that a number of people truly are terrible human beings because of the things they do and the ways they behave and are genuine wastes of space who the world would all be better off without. You can do a drug and get high every day without resorting to being cruel, hurtful, and selfish. I know I did!

    I know addicts like to deny responsibility for their actions after they get clean and when they are using both. They blame the drug, they blame a “disease” of addiction, they blame a lack of spirituality (it’s true, I’ve felt that nearly every self-identified addict doesn’t have a soul from my experience, whether while using or while sober), and they use religion/spirituality as a cure for it.

    When I was using the drug, so many times I heard other people using the drug or their addiction to it as an excuse for their bad actions. If they were rational enough to know that what they were doing was wrong at that time and really felt that it was the drug causing them to do that, they wouldn’t continue using the drug, but every single time they did. Coming down off of meth isn’t hard at all. You eat and sleep and then it’s over with. Even opiates aren’t so terrible to withdraw from that you lose all self-control. If you run out and have no way to get more, yes, it hurts a lot, but you still maintain an understanding that while this might hurt for you that anything you would do that hurts someone else to keep being high is wrong and you don’t do it.

    I understand why people do this. Maybe they can’t live with what they did and they don’t want to accept that it’s them doing it and so it’s easy to just say something else was responsible. But no. Drugs aren’t evil. They are just a chemical that doesn’t do anything to you if you don’t pick it up. Even when you put them in your system, you retain a high level of control over what you are doing – if you didn’t, you would black out. All drugs do is show you and the rest of the world who you truly are. A good person remains a good person even while on drugs. A good person remains a good person even when they are hurt by someone else. If you have ever been hurt by someone, what a good person learns from that is how much it hurts to be hurt and how bad it would ever be to do it again. Whereas if you get hurt and your reaction is to hurt someone later because you’ve been jilted, then that makes you an asshole.

    (This comment shows a profound misunderstanding of the nature of addiction. Yes, addicts must face their actions and the consequences. It is an essential part of the recovery process. It is also true, however, that the power of the addiction leads to actions — lying, stealing, denial — that run counter to the true nature of individuals who are victims of the drug. Recovering addicts must face their actions, make reparations, and re-discover their better, truer selves. And that is a tall order when they are also faced with the anger and resentment of those around them, so evident in this comment. — Mark)

  10. Xam Says:

    October 22nd, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    I think that Martin has a very valid point here, why make assume that he is angry and resentful ?

  11. Jimmy Palmieri Says:

    October 30th, 2013 at 1:10 am

    such a scary story. thanks mark.

  12. Hillary C Says:

    October 30th, 2013 at 3:25 am

    This is why homosexuality should be outlawed.

    (If we can outlaw stupidity, too, you’ve got a deal. — Mark)

  13. Ed Says:

    July 8th, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    Mark,Thank you. Your depiction of the power that Meth can have over a person is spot on. As someone who has traveled a road not unlike the one you describe in this article it is comforting to know it was not just me. Towards the end of my using I was out of control. Degradation and deprivation became my way of life. When I was able to stop with help, I looked back and asked myself how did I come to be that animal. It was unfathomable to me that I had descended to that level of depravity in search of one more. I pray I never put myself in that place again. The disease of addiction is very powerful, I know of no-one who wokeup one morning with the goalof living the life of a drug addict.

  14. Ken Says:

    July 10th, 2014 at 5:43 am

    Fantastic article.. I to am a recovering crystal queen and have been for several years. In my hay day though I found myself in so many of the situations you described. People who have never done or have never done it to the extent we have will never understand what an insidious c*nt of a drug crystal is. Stay clean

    Ken

  15. Matt Says:

    July 10th, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    This piece and some of the comments made afterword has many stereotypical claims that made me want to leave a comment. I agree with much of what has been written, but I also vehemently disagree with other comments.

    As a harm reductionist (yes, in which abstinence can play a role) whatever we have been through as individuals we should be really careful especially as bloggers and journalists to not stereotype behavior, addiction, drug use, or whatever. It’s easy to do, we all rush to that out of our own painful histories and out of fear, denial, blame etc….it’s easy to stereotype, it can make us feel better. But, it’s dangerous.

    I think we can all agree that crystal is a powerful drug and use of it can have consequences. And you have the right to make the connection between this twisted person and meth, but it leans toward fear base-ing which is something I think is counterproductive. IMHO

    (I appreciate that, Matt. I can only write from my own experience, which I make clear in the piece. Since this is my personal blog, I choose to share my truth and let the chips fall where they may. “We are as sick as our secrets.” — Mark)

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