May 13, 2014

Rick Telander on how Magic might have gotten HIV

Rick Telander, the veteran Chicago Sun-Times sports columnist who broke a lot of important stories about steroids, writes about Magic Johnson:
He had tested positive for HIV, which is the precursor to AIDS, and the way he got the virus — though he never exactly would say how — certainly hinted at irresponsible sexual activity and arrogance. AIDS was so scary and misunderstood at the time that people — and I mean this literally — didn’t want to touch him. He retired from the NBA immediately. 
Johnson had just married his wife, Cookie, who was pregnant, and at first he feared he had infected his first child with her, Earvin Jr., with the virus. But he hadn’t. 
From the early 1980s, when AIDS first was identified, until maybe the early 2000s, many considered the disease a death sentence. Most of us figured Magic was a dead man walking. I think he did, too. 
But he stayed healthy, taking a cocktail of drugs and exercising, while many gay men, intravenous drug users and others of both genders died. I bought Magic’s book from 1992, What You Can Do to Avoid AIDS, and read it with my irony meter on high alert. Among his statements: ‘‘The L.A. Lakers even had lectures on HIV in the locker room. I wish I had paid attention.’’ 
In the book, he makes his promiscuity sound almost like a life passage, a tough break but part of the deal: ‘‘I didn’t get HIV because I was a ‘bad’ person or . . . someone who ‘deserved’ it for whatever reason. I got HIV because I had unprotected sex.’’ 
Well, yes. And people kill others because they get blasted drunk and drive cars into other cars. 
But judgment doesn’t last long in this country if you plow ahead, never quit, have a great smile, etc. All the coaching clich├ęs are true. And nobody at the top has any shame. I think we know that. 
So as you think about the despicable Sterling — if you think the fact he beat his son, Scott, constantly with a belt is enough to condemn him forever — don’t forget about second acts. 
Sterling, who has cancer and is 80, likely won’t be around much longer. His curtain is closing. Then again, you never know. 
Just ask Magic, the healthiest dude around. 
† JOHNSON’S BOOK about AIDS was part of a three-book deal his agent sold to Random House. (What, you thought it was done out of contrition?) 
The next was called My Life: Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson, co-written with William Novak, the author of, among other works, The Big Book of Jewish Humor. 
I read that book, too. Among the insights: ‘‘You were definitely taking a chance when you brought a strange woman up to your room. That’s because a few of them really were strange. . . . For one thing, the women weren’t as beautiful as they had seemed at first glance. For another, it eventually became clear they weren’t women at all — they were men in drag.’’ 
Take heed, kids.

Magic's buddy Eddie Murphy should have paid closer attention to Magic's book. (And here's Bill Simmons on Magic, Eddie, and Arsenio.)
     

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

Are you implying Arsenio engaged in gay sex?

Miguel S. said...

My neighbor works at a big VA hospital counseling HIV+ vets. She told me that a higher than anticipated number of guys become infected when their wives are pregnant. They go out and seek the company of other men at that time. It makes sense to me that someone like Johnson, coming from a similarly all-male workplace, might have suffered just such an identity crisis.

Anonymous said...

From the start I always thought he got it from a guy. My profession required me to be aware of the different types of men and women who were becoming infected -- even in the early days in the USA it was clear that men were far more likely to infect women than vice versa -- in fact it was rare for women to infect men

Cail Corishev said...

Are you implying Arsenio engaged in gay sex?

Well, implying that he didn't is now a hate crime; so we kinda have to imply that he did, don't we?

This is getting confusing.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps someone out there can correct my memory, but i seem to recall Magic's best friend Isaiah Thomas saying or at least insinuating, during a period of estrangement from Magic, that he thought Magic got HIV from having sex with men. Did I imagine that? I know that no one brings it up because everyone just loves Magic, that big ol' Teddy Bear!

Anonymous said...

much more likely to catch aids if you're *receiving* infected body fluids

the disproportion among homosexual men is partly promiscuity, drugs etc and partly the mechanics of it.

Steve Sailer said...

Ask Bill Simmons -- he gets paid millions of dollars per year by ESPN to know this stuff.

Anonymous said...

It's high time for all gay black men in Hollywood to come out of the closet.

I mean, what are they afraid of? It's 2014!

Anonymous said...

LA bathroom graffiti circa 1991: "MAGIC = My Ass Got Injected, Coach."

Anonymous said...


Blogger Steve Sailer said...

" Ask Bill Simmons -- he gets paid millions of dollars per year by ESPN to know this stuff."

Bill Simmons has been sniffing Magic's jock for a long time now, he should know. Only he's not telling, because he really likes sniffing jocks of his childhood sport heroes.
Is he allowed to call Magic "Earvin" now, like his real chums do?

Anonymous said...

Bill Simmons has been sniffing Magic's jock for a long time now, he should know. Only he's not telling, because he really likes sniffing jocks of his childhood sport heroes.
Is he allowed to call Magic "Earvin" now, like his real chums do?


I wonder if that trannie hooker ever got to call Magic "Earvin?"

Joseph Dooley said...

If you told me that a man with AIDS had a son who was gay, my assumption is the father is gay unless proven otherwise. Hence Magic's vulgar boasting in his autobiography. But my gut tells me he's no Wilt Chamberlain.

Sgt. Joe Friday said...

How many people do you suppose Johnson infected? Yet we have yet to hear even one person come forward and accuse him. Johnson must have spent a fortune buying all those peoples' silence.

Rob said...

"AIDS was so scary and misunderstood at the time that people — and I mean this literally — didn’t want to touch him. He retired from the NBA immediately".

Not really. I remember when Johnson announced he was infected. The HIV hysteria had died down by then. It had reached its highest point around 1986 or 1987. That was when Lyndon Larouche wanted to pass a law to have HIV-infected people quarantined.

dsgntd_plyr said...

My mom is a good loyal Democrat. But when it comes to gays she's to the right of Rick Santorum because she's a nurse, and has dealt with a lot of AIDS patients who just happen to be gay.

I guess this means she's a homophobe for noticing...

Anonymous said...

The Magic gay screen.

At time of infection,

Uncircumsized?: Then it's at least plausible he got AIDs from a junkie female hooker.

Circumsized, had herpes or gonorrhea?: Still plausible, much less likely, but he's a schmuck to have unprotected sex with open lesions.

Circumcised, no STDs?:
Dude's gay; took delivery in the back entrance. Or he was butchering monkeys in the Congo and cut his hand with a machete.

countenance said...

Speaking of AIDS:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/11/health/a-simple-theory-and-a-proposal-on-hiv-in-africa.html?_r=5

I think this is dead end research.

Because they're focusing on the wrong orifice.

Rob said...

Sgt. Joe Friday: How many people do you suppose Johnson infected? Yet we have yet to hear even one person come forward and accuse him. Johnson must have spent a fortune buying all those peoples' silence.

Come to think of it, that's a good reason to believe he probably didn't have sex with men. If he did, he'd surely have transmitted the virus to someone who'd go public about it sooner or later, payout or no payout. On the other hand, heterosexual transmission is rare, even among promiscuous people.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't the drag queen line kinda answer the questions? He liked trannys.

Cail Corishev said...

Come to think of it, that's a good reason to believe he probably didn't have sex with men. If he did, he'd surely have transmitted the virus to someone who'd go public about it sooner or later, payout or no payout.

Say you're a gay or bisexual man in the mid-1980s. It's Friday night and you're getting ready to head to your favorite bathhouse when someone invites you to an orgy at a fancy hotel. While there, you get completely wasted and have various kinds of sex with several people, including a famous athlete. A year later, you test HIV+, as have several of your friends and known sexual partners. Is there any chance at all that you can trace your infection to that one time with that athlete? Assuming you're still alive when his news comes out, that is.

jody said...

"Come to think of it, that's a good reason to believe he probably didn't have sex with men."

that narrows it down some, but doesn't really eliminate the possibility at all.

"If he did, he'd surely have transmitted the virus to someone who'd go public about it sooner or later, payout or no payout."

this doesn't work to explain things at all. maybe dan kahneman was onto something.

Anonymous said...

How many people do you suppose Johnson infected?

Maybe Ervin
"My
Ass
Got
Injected
Coach"
was playaing as a catcher?

Second attempt not met with a timeout error. Why?

Ryan said...

You guys and your relentless homophobia! I hate to break the unfortunate medical reality to you, but Magic could have contracted AIDS equally easily through anal sex with a junkie female prostitute as anal sex with a junkie male prostitute.

Anonymous said...

"Come to think of it, that's a good reason to believe he probably didn't have sex with men."

The gay culture was (is?) incredibly promiscuous at the time. They would have no idea who infected them. Also, famous men often use the totally anonymous venues like public parks for precisely that reason.

So, most likely case is anonymous sex in a public park at night.

Mr. Anon said...

"Sgt. Joe Friday said...

How many people do you suppose Johnson infected? Yet we have yet to hear even one person come forward and accuse him. Johnson must have spent a fortune buying all those peoples' silence."

He wouldn't have had to pay them for long.

Anonymous said...

Co-author William Novak, of Big Book of Jewish Humor, is the father of younger Office funnyman B. J. Novak, Harvard grad.

Whiskey said...

How would a hypothetical guy Magic had sex with go public? What outlet would publish that? What blog would link to it? Magic is golden, untouchable, no negative thing is ever allowed to be spoken about him.

He's the ultimate cleanser!

Corn said...

"For another, it eventually became clear they weren’t women at all — they were men in drag.’’

Maybe Magic did get HIV from a guy- but didn't know it was a guy. I remember when it was first revealed Magic was infected the National Enquirer printed an interview with some call girl/stripper/groupie or something or other who claimed she slept with Magic. She claimed Magic liked anal sex. Perhaps one night Magic took a convincing tranny up to his room, wanted anal and didn't really bother to check the front?

Corn said...

"My neighbor works at a big VA hospital counseling HIV+ vets. She told me that a higher than anticipated number of guys become infected when their wives are pregnant. They go out and seek the company of other men at that time."

Wow. I don't doubt your neighbor but WTH? Do these guys realize the wifey can still have sex through most of the pregnancy? Do they remember masturbating in high school?
If a pregnant wife compels bisexuality, you were never hoeing too straight a line to start with.

Do you Believe in Magic? No said...

More bad early AIDS humor: “What’s the most difficult thing about getting AIDS”? A: Convincing your parents that you’re Haitian.

One of my peripheral friends from college became a successful sportswriter for a national publication. At the time the Johnson/AIDS thing came out, my friend was living in Los Angeles (covering baseball). He told me it was common knowledge in the LA sportswriter community that Earvin Johnson was bisexual.

Ryan said...”You guys and your relentless homophobia! I hate to break the unfortunate medical reality to you, but Magic could have contracted AIDS equally easily through anal sex with a junkie female prostitute as anal sex with a junkie male prostitute.”

Lol, we’re supposed to believe you don’t know the difference between receptive anal intercourse and penetrative? Sure. By the way, homophobia literally translated would be closer to “fear of self” than “fear of sodomites”.

Think of it another, more crass way, for those of us single and active sexually in the 80’s and 90’s (not everyone is like Whiskey). Before getting married at age 31, I tried to add up my sexual partners (all females, sorry Ryan) and lost track somewhere over 30. I have quite a few friends (by “quite a few”, I mean more than 10) that were significantly more promiscuous than I was. USN and USAF fighter pilots with access to countless O-Club groupies, one major league baseball player, some very wealthy investors and a couple just really good-looking guys with great senses of humor. One of my friends estimates in all seriousness that he’s slept with over 150 women. Yet not only do I not know a single heterosexual person with HIV, I don’t know anyone that knows anyone that does. So, no, I don’t believe the reprehensible Earvin Johnson got HIV from a woman.

Munsoned said...

His AIDS foundation is probably the tax free bribe mechanism.

He probably shafted half the women and men supported by the foundation.

Kinda like in Kingpin when Bill Murray's character funds a single mother's foundation.

Munsoned said...

Love it.

Munsoned said...

Peeps used to drop dead from it. You could check the people treated by his AIDS foundation btw. My guess is they are all connected to him.

Munsoned said...

Audit his AIDS foundation.

Munsoned said...

Excellent attempt at a cover story.

Golden Bear said...

Steve, as much as you've disgusted me in the past, you have had some great columns lately.

And yes, Magic set up silly a** Sterling. Eh, Magic will certainly run the Clippers better than Sterling.

Cail Corishev said...

If a pregnant wife compels bisexuality, you were never hoeing too straight a line to start with.

No kidding. In the words of the Diceman, "There is no 'bisexual.' What do these guys do, wake up in the morning and think, 'What do I feel like today, hair-pie, or balls across the nose?'"

Magic could have contracted AIDS equally easily through anal sex with a junkie female prostitute as anal sex with a junkie male prostitute.

You're seriously claiming that a junkie female prostitute is just as likely to be HIV+ as a junkie male prostitute? I don't know, personally, but that seems unlikely considering how hard it is to transmit between men and women during normal sex.

Anonymous said...

much more likely to catch aids if you're *receiving* infected body fluids

Aren't black men too masculine for that?

no condom said...

Ryan, you really ought to do some reading. The NYC public health dept. tried to prove female-male transmission back in '96. They thought they had one case isolated, that is for the entire 15 yr. history of the issue. Then they re-interviewed the one guy, and he admitted he'd once used IV drugs. So they were zero for history. One interesting by-product ofall those anonymous questionnaires was that public health authorities found out that prostitutes actually pass on std's of all types at lower rates. Naturally, cops never learned about this, and to this day still lecture people in condescending terms about using hookers. That reminds me of the one and only time a cop dealt with me nonjudgmentally on the sex beat. He got my car keys back for me from a feral oakie in Sacramento. Black guy. Now there was a pro.



Anonymous said...

"Aren't black men too masculine for that?"

One of the many potential side-effects of sexual trauma in childhood is masochism and various forms of self-harming.

And rape of all kinds is at epidemic levels in gang-ruled communities.

Anonymous said...

why the immediate jump to gay? IV steroids would be equally as likely in the FloJo SoCal milieu of the early 90s

Anonymous said...

My life story.

Anonymous said...

I lived in LA when Magic announced his HIV status-sometime after that, I was in Dan Tana's (a celeb hangout bar/restaurant in LA) I used to go there a lot-met 2 black guys. We were talking-these guys seemed pretty successful--one told me he had several franchise restaurants--fried chicken-(not kidding).

Anyway, they knew Magic slightly, but knew a lot of folks who knew him well. Talking about the HIV, the one guy laughed and said basically-think about it-these guys in the NBA all bang the same chicks-and a lot of the NFL and baseball guys do too--they pass them around like a joint at a party. The LA groupies usually have one foot in the porn industry, or stripping, or both or they do high priced hooking.

He continued all that comes at a price these guys get stalked, blackmailed, setup, pregnancies, pregnancy scares, and all kinds of STDs--but how come none of them so far but Magic have HIV?

Good question.

AnRnBThug said...

Everybody on here assuming he FCUK a Man...Fact is HE WAS FCUKED by a Man. That's how he caught it

Damon said...

Correct.