Ricky Loved Madonna

Gentle readers, today is Madonna’s 59th birthday. Below is a short story that first appeared on JMG on this day in 2006, a date which, as you’ll see, plays a role in the story.

Ricky Loved Madonna

Twenty years ago today, August 16th 1986, I was a few months into a new job with AMC Theatres, a position that I would hold for seven years after having spent a few years after college drifting around bartending and DJing. After burning through three DJ gigs in about a year, I took the management job with AMC almost in desperation, happy to finally have a regular paycheck. I bought my first brand new car. I had several dozen underlings. I had a business card. I felt like a grown-up, almost.

Twenty years ago today, it was a Saturday. As the assistant manager, I had to be at the theater at 10am even though I had closed the midnight shows the night before, not getting home until almost 4am. I stumbled through the still-unfamiliar opening procedures. My mind was on Ricky. I took the cash drawers out to the concession stand and the box office and turned on the air conditioners and lights in all the auditoriums. The first movie, a Disney cartoon, started at 11:30am and we had hundreds of people in front of the box office before I even rolled up the mall gates.

Twenty years ago today, the night before was a Friday. It was the opening night of the remake of The Fly starring Jeff Goldblum. My six-plex was jamming. The Fly sold out at every show, driving the overflow audiences into Top Gun and Aliens, which were still doing decent business on their own. All six auditoriums sold out by 8pm and I rushed to get that show’s money counted before the first of the auditoriums began to let out and we had to start the process all over again. I pushed into the counting room inside the manager’s office and dumped several thousand in $20s onto the countertop.

The intercom buzzed.

“Mr. J., there’s a man here to see you.”

In the lobby was my friend Todd. “Joe, I’m on my way to see Ricky. Can you come? He’s worse.”

I looked out into the mall where hundreds of teenagers milled around in front of closed storefronts. The Interstate Mall was on its last legs. All that was left within view was the theater, a pinball arcade, an adult novelty shop, and the driver’s license bureau, which was closed at that hour. The teens roamed the broad unswept avenue of the mall in swirling, shrieking packs, anxious for the late show to begin.

I shook my head. “Todd, I’m the only one here. I have the late show and then the midnights. The last movie doesn’t let out until almost 3am. I have to lock up.” Todd nodded and made a move like he was going to hug me, then realized that a dozen of my employees were watching. Awkwardly, he stuck out his hand as if that’s what he’d intended all along. I shook it and he left. I had never shaken Todd’s hand before.

Twenty years ago today, one week earlier, Ricky went into the hospital. He’d had a seizure on the bathroom floor of his sister’s condo. Todd and I went to the hospital the next day and found him lying unconscious in his bed, unattended, in a pool of feces. Todd staggered into the hallway and tried to control his retching while I looked for a nurse. At the nurses’ station, the stout Jamaican woman behind the counter nodded curtly but didn’t get out of her chair when I asked that Ricky receive some attention. I went back to find Todd sitting out in the lounge.

“Joe, I can’t be here. I’m freaking out. Do you know we walked right in there without a mask on?”

“I think the mask is more for him than us….so if…”

“I have to go.”

At Todd’s insistence we stopped at the Burger King a few blocks away and washed our hands. Even though we hadn’t touched Ricky or anything but the door of his hospital room, we scrubbed the front and backs of our hands like we’d seen surgeons do on television.

Twenty years ago today, two weeks earlier, Todd and I dropped in at Ricky’s sister’s condo. Ricky had been forced to move in with her. He’d lost his job at the giant hotel near Disney where he’d been training to be a pastry chef. For a long time he’d managed to keep his illness a secret, wearing long shirts even in the hot kitchen so that nobody saw the purple lesions that were marching inexorably from his elbows to his wrists. A lesion appeared on the back of his hand and that one he covered with make-up, but when one appeared right on the tip of his nose, the head chef and head of human resources had called him in on his day off to fire him. Surely he understood, they told him, that they couldn’t have him handling food.

longboxWhen Ricky’s sister opened the door, she made a face. “He’s not feeling well.” She’d already made it clear to Todd on his previous visit that she did not like her brother’s “friends.” Todd said quickly, “Oh, well, we just wanted to drop off a present for him.” I had Madonna’s latest release, True Blue, on CD in a sparkly bag. We knew that he’d gotten the vinyl album earlier in the summer, but since he was such a big fan, we knew he’d like to have the CD version too.

His sister led us into the bedroom where we found Ricky shrouded in blankets and watching television. He was cranky and inattentive to us, but momentarily brightened when we gave him the CD. He examined the cover. “It’s the same as the album, just smaller.” He didn’t have a player, hardly anyone did yet, so he laid the longbox reverently on his nightstand, propped against the lamp. His sister hovered in the doorway, smoking, anxious for our departure, and we soon obliged her.

Twenty years ago today, three months earlier, I met Ricky for the first time at a party thrown by Todd. I’d heard from Todd that Ricky was “sick,” as we nervously called it back then, but he seemed fine to me. We stood outside on the patio and watched guys jumping into the pool.

Ricky said, “So what do you do, Joe?”

I said, “Well I just started working for AMC Theatres.”

Ricky screamed a little bit. “Which ONE?”

I stepped back. “Interstate Six, why?”

“Because I am in there ALL the time. I saw At Close Range about five times just to hear Madonna’s song in it!”

“She wasn’t in the movie, was she?”

“No, but I’m just a freak for her.” He paused, then added dramatically, “We have the same birthday!”

“Oh….really.” I began to look around for Todd.

Ricky began to get very animated and his words tumbled out. “Yes. Same day, same year. I was born exactly at midnight and my mother always said I could have August 15 or August 16 for my birthday – it was my choice – and for the longest time I had it on August 15 cuz that’s Julia Child’s birthday and she’s a chef and I wanted to be chef and so she was my idol when I was little. Such a fag, right? Anyway, when Madonna came out and I found out her birthday, I was all…that’s IT. I’m August 16 from now on!”

Ricky continued professing his undying love for Madonna until I was finally able to make a graceful escape. Later, Todd told me that Ricky had dressed as Madonna for the previous Halloween and belonged to her mail-order fan club and we laughed a little bit at his adorably nutty fandom.

Twenty years ago today, August 16th 1986, it was a Saturday. The theater had brisk business for the morning show, selling out the Disney movie. After all the houses were rolling, I pulled the money from the box office and sat alone in the office to count it. I turned on the radio so I could hear Casey Kasem counting down the Top 40.

Todd called. “Well, the hospital just told me Ricky died around midnight last night.”

“Oh, no. Did you get in to see him…before…..?”

“No, his sister and mother were there, so I just left without going in.”

“Right.” That’s how it often went back then.

Todd hung up and I sat there finishing up my money counting. I didn’t know how to feel. I really couldn’t call Ricky a friend. I had to count and recount the money several times. I kept losing my place. Then I heard Casey Kasem say, “Hitting number one today is Madonna with Papa Don’t Preach.

I called Todd back. “So, did they give you a time of death for Ricky?”

“Yeah, midnight.”

“Right, but is that today or yesterday?”


“Well, today is his birthday and it’s Madonna’s birthday and I just heard that she’s number one today…and…..it would be, you know, sorta nice if it was today.”

“What the fuck is nice about dying on your BIRTHDAY?”

We never talked about it again. I never did find out what day was listed for Ricky’s death. As the years went on and Madonna’s fame increased, the press began to note her birthday. And ever since that started, I think of Ricky on August 16th. I never knew Ricky’s last name. He wasn’t a close friend. But he has stuck with me over these two decades.

Twenty years ago today, Ricky, aged 28, died on his birthday. I will always hope that it was his August 16th birthday. Ricky loved Madonna.

  • JoeMyGod

    Thanks very much to all the longtime JMG readers who emailed about this story today. I hadn’t forgotten its annual appearance – I just wanted to hold it to the end of day and away from Nazi-palooza.

    • Nic Peterson

      Ricky deserves as much. Just as important that we never forget those that we lost, we must never lose sight of the fact that we have survived a far more determined enemy. We faced the peril alone. We were children, burying children. We rebuilt a community and came back swinging for our civil rights, it is their legacy as much as our own.

      Oh, my mascara.

      • clay

        (and it’s also when our allies first found us)

      • Ginger Snap

        Damn now I’m crying Nic.

      • Rocco

        This^^^^^^^^Beautifully put! Thank you for posting this!! This^^^^^^^

    • TheManicMechanic

      I miss this long form writing of yours. I know it is from a time before your blog became the go-to destination it is now, and it was more personal. I often peek back into the JoeMyGoodness to find these gems, with the sadness, happiness and fun you’ve shared so eloquently in the past. We’d love to see more, even if it were in a different venue.

      Thanks for being you, Joe.

      • Maryrdismukes


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    • Hank

      For those of us, who have lost our friends, back then, Joe, I want to thank you for reminding me/us of our losses. whether they were close friends or acquaintances. They, like Ricky, are missed as their lives were cut short, before their time, and the loss of what they could have accomplished to make everyones lives richer.

    • Ginger Snap

      Joe, the appearance of this every year makes me long for long lost loved ones I thank you so very much for helping me keep their memory alive.

    • clay

      Thank you for giving us our own little calendar in this community, to note the passage of time. It’s also a break from what Trump has made unrelenting and one-note. Imagine getting back to looking for little stories from all over.

    • vorpal 😼

      That was really hard to read, as I’m sure it was really hard to write, but a damned worthwhile read it was.

      Thanks, Joe.

    • David Walker

      Thank you, Joe. So long ago and yesterday, all at the same time. I appreciate you so much.

    • We lost so many great people. Some of them were the most talented and smartest people I knew. Gone before they even got their careers going. Every time I complain about how shitty so much of pop music and fashion and other things is right now I’m reminded that it’s because most of the people who should be making that music, designing those fashion lines, writing those plays and all the rest aren’t here to do it. It’s a fucking disaster is what it is. In the music world I feel like we’re just starting to crawl out of a 35 year hole left by the plague. Sorry to be a downer. It just makes me mad.


        Dont be sorry, remembering revives.


      Since November 10, 1997 (my sobriety date) I have made note of ten to 15 things that happen each day, some mundane, some significant, some enlightening. Maybe a book some day.
      On May 25, 2006 (my 42nd B day) I signed on to this here web thingy to find out if i could find copies of books that had meant so much to me in my teens. I looked up Gordon Merrick whose books gave a fantastic fantasy life to the feelings i was having…I think I went through more paper towels than pages of the books.
      I also looked up John Rechy, particularly, City of Night. Gawd I loved that book and the intrigue of what such a life would be like, both troubling and tantalizing, I think for the idea of freedom to do what I want, not the prison it creates.
      The search for Merrick and Rechy brought several hits, for Rechy, one was you and I read how you liked it. I don’t recall and I didn’t write the details in my evening review of the details of your post, just that I happened upon you and bookmarked. That day I made a note of that and discovering your site.
      You probably fell under a mundane discovery that day (sorry). Since then it has become a blessing in so many ways I can’t count them.
      For many years I only lurked, never posting. It wasn’t until four or five years ago I created a Dicksucks profile as Piercedchrlz, I’ve since needed to change it since a troll found it on another site and posted quite a revealing pic of me to shame me or make JMGers turn on me (never happened) if I was ashamed of it I wouldn’t have bought it jewelry.
      With these annual remembrances, all of them, you bring to mind the halcyon days of my youth and the viral holocaust we lived through and are able to recall the heaven and hell of it all, remembering all of the beauty and possibility that we lost.
      I appreciate you and yes, love you, for all of this.
      Thank you.

    • Mrs. Councillor Nugent

      It’s a parallel week for me too. I’d felt the hair on the back of my neck go up, thinking where’s the Ricky story?

  • Anastasia Beaverhousen

    I am always emotional each year that I read this. Madonna and I are the same age. I still love her.. and because now I need to feel better with all the sadness and hate…..

  • Sam_Handwich
    • bzrd

      thanks, I’m doing the same right now

    • MusicBear88

      I’d like to point out that this is also Julia Child’s method for mincing onions. It seemed appropriate to add.

      • Bryan

        It’s safer than several other techniques I see on tv cooking shows…

    • David in Tucson

      Strong onions.

      • Jonathan Smith

        right? right through the monitor…….


      Dammit! I knew it, someone was up in this post cutting onions, you Sam_Handwich are the reason for our tears……

  • FAEN

    I always read this in private every year. Having a cry on the train is bad form.

    • justme

      I rarely if ever make it all the way through…

      • Jonathan Smith

        i had to go back….twice.

  • Tomcat

    She still has it going on.

  • Sam_Handwich

    Tomorrow is our annual bus trip to P-town for Carnival parade!!! YAY! A friend organizes it every year, this year must be our 6 or 7th trip. It’s about 2 hours from here, bus drops up off in time for lunch and gets us home about midnight.

    When i attend such events, like Carnival and Pride, a big part of participation for me is honoring those who came and went before us, especially those who died much too young. SO we plan to eat, drink and be Mary in their memory. 🙂

    • Anastasia Beaverhousen

      You are wise Mr. Handwich beyond your years. Thank you for the laughs and insight you bring…

      • Ragnar Lothbrok

        And the sandwiches! So goodly !!

      • Sam_Handwich

        Aww thanks. If i have any wisdom i thank my friends, who have always been older than me. Even as a teenager, most of the people i hung around with were 20+ years older. They taught me a lot about life and about humor, too. Wasn’t til my late 30’s that i had any interest in people closer to my age. lol

      • Reality.Bites

        Oh honey – is there anything that’s beyond your years and still alive?

        A giant redwood perhaps? A giant tortoise?

        • Anastasia Beaverhousen

          Oh honey, there’s a huff, go leave in it. Kiss noise.

    • jerry

      But I thought it was my turn to be Mary!

      • djcoastermark

        Oh Mary, you’ve been Mary way too many times. (just kidding. one can never be Mary too many times.)

        • jerry

          I missed Ptown this year cuz I did Pride in both DC and NYC…and in 10 days, I’m going to New Orleans for a week of Decadence. So yes, I’ve probably been Mary too much this year. And Sam will have to have a lobster roll for me.

          • djcoastermark

            Aw, we were in DC for pride too. Wish we coulda met up. Next stop for us is Folsom Street Fair, and time to be Mary all over again.

          • jerry

            I tried to do the JMG meetup at Town Boutique…but by 7:15, the line was too long and they told us we weren’t getting in. But the JMG t-shirt was a hit at Green Lantern that night.


            I’ve lived 30 years of decadence In defiance of convention. Fortunately, the last 15 years have been solely with Husbeast.

    • Mrs. Councillor Nugent

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a6b7e9a02ee9e55b047184657732a75251637df5ff5834d8e017a12b7532d77c.jpg Check the memorial bench by the UU meetinghouse–It’s Ricky’s bench too, I can mentally add as many names as I please.

      • Mrs. Councillor Nugent

        I’ve never told the bench story in public before: Clearly, I was meant to do only two things in Provincetown the year I lived there, 2001-2002. One of these was the bench. Most of the guys had had their ashes spread in the dunes, or along the beach. Only a few lay buried in that windswept cemetery above the town. I began attending the UU that winter more out of boredom than anything else. They announced one Sunday that they wanted to place teak benches outside, and oh yeah, you could have a bronze plaque put on them, or something.
        One Sunday morning I grabbed my checkbook and my Mahler Kindertotenlieder CD, and in my best Gertrude Stein voice said aloud “Well, Alice has had hers, and now everyone shall have theirs.” Then I wrote out the check, and transcribed the Mahler verse onto a note card, tucking both into the envelope. I walked in to the service, more a gathering actually, and handed the envelope to the music director in charge of collecting for the benches, then watched him open the envelope. “One bench, please,” I noted, then watched him turn dead white and almost go to the floor. The bench had arrived that September just before I gave up the Provincetown experiment–I was 20 years too old to live a few doors down from the A-House, and moved back to Boston. On subsequent trips, I’d always visit the bench, my personal totem for reasons I won’t include today. Two years ago I took the Nikon along and https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4e35c9932828451f73e7ff0b50b52852321c6272db465e6f50e09537ceff6e18.jpg photographed it.

    • edrex

      toast a froze at canteen for all whom we have loved.

    • SammySeattle

      I miss Carnival in P-Town. My ex and I went every year when we lived in PA.

  • S Galanter

    Joe. Thank you, this and every year.

  • Jonathan Smith
  • Jonathan Smith
  • Ninja0980

    Important these stories be told, especially for those like myself who are too young to have fully seen the horror of the AIDS crisis.

    • johncAtl

      Count yourself lucky. It was horrible watching what loved ones and friends went through before they died.

      • Ninja0980

        Reading the aftermath of what happened to those who had partners was just as awful.
        So many bigoted family members who had cut their sons out of their lives for years were allowed to take everything and leave the survivor with nothing.
        Makes me sick.

        • Silver Badger

          It was truly ugly if you had hater family.

          • Ninja0980

            Or even if they were just greedy.

      • m_lp_ql_m

        Or you could do what I did to avoid that horror and stay firmly in the closet for 30 years. 😒

        • Jonathan Smith

          not Madonna, forgive me.

          • Jonathan Smith

            count yourselves lucky, i WAS going to post that in German:)

        • clay

          I’m willing to bet that didn’t actually work. Classmates, co-workers, hell, people at church– you’d have to have been in the closet, and have an extremely tiny exposure not to have known no one.

          • m_lp_ql_m

            Honestly, I knew no one. And the effects of having gone through adolescence with such limited socializing is something I’m struggling with till today.

        • Silver Badger

          I hope you sought therapy after that experience. It must have been soul killing.

          • m_lp_ql_m

            Yep, still in therapy. Emotional AND physiological.

      • Ken M

        I was there, and I won’t get started, or I will get very ugly. Let’s just say I lost count along the way.

      • Ginger Snap

        It was like being a widower every week.

  • SoCalGal20

    This post gets me every time. Thanks for writing it, Joe. And posting it every year.

  • Jonathan Smith
  • slp0923

    For a lack of a better way to phrase this, I look forward to this repost each year. I don’t make it thru the first couple lines before it starts the waterworks. I’m just old enough to have had a “Ricky” or two in my life. And today, probably moreso than any other day of the year, do every one of those people come back into my life. Thanks for posting this, Joe.

    • SammySeattle

      I think we’ve all had a “Ricky” in our lives. Mine was Wayne. I still think of him every time I see an afghan hound. His mom told us a hilarious story about Wayne and his roommate’s afghan hound.

  • Ragnar Lothbrok

    🙁 As we all go through this current shit storm and lord knows what it will yet bring, we must remember to Laugh & Cry. Live our love.

  • ColdCountry

    Thanks, Joe.

  • tomorrow, i will give some more plasma. i hope you all do this. plasma makes HIV medications. you have an hour, once a week, maybe twice, that you can do so. at some places, they even pay you. but do it. if you are not a researcher, scientist, or person making the cure, this is what you can do. hate Madge all you want, but she is the one, so long ago when i was a teen, who taught me this. she’s silly and stupid, but she was a Power, in her prime days. i was there. i remember.

    • adding, when you get to the initial questionnaire, just say “no” when they ask you if you are a man who has slept with other men, or who sleeps with men. if you know you blood is not HIV+, you can and should give. i lied when i had my initial intake visit, and they don’t actually check like the cops or some high end employer looking at your background check. most of these places are for profit, but they still produce the medications that keep HIV+ people alive, via our blood. also: fuck the red cross.

      • m_lp_ql_m

        I question this. I mean my own morals are on the fence. I used to give double platelet donations religiously until I came out 7 years ago. When I stopped, that and my blood type had them calling for more; I’d tell them I was sorry, wanted to give, but their own policies prevented it.

        What do others think? Is “the principle of the matter” not the wise choice here?

        • Jonathan Smith

          i WONT until i CAN.
          monogamous relationship for 8 years, how many straight couples can say that?
          but my sexuality is an issue……….

          • very much this.

            i do not have HIV. they check *each and every time* i go in to donate. they have machines that tell right away if you are improper, as a donor. again, a lot of these places are for-profit, so it is in their interest to test your blood and they do. i’m glad to know i don’t have HIV, syph, etc. it’s like a free medical checkup.

            but fuck the ones who automatically denounce you, if you admit you’re a person who had sex with a man/men who has had insertion sex with another man. i have a sick friend, like i said, and he can’t afford all the drugs he needs to stay alive. my plasma helps keep him and folks like him alive. this is a white lie i’m willing to tell.

          • Jonathan Smith

            oh, EVERY time i go in with my AB- blood, (and i go in monthly) i make SURE to mention, “why, YES, I DID sleep with my BLACK husband last night.,..Why? is this a problem?”

          • i’m a universal donor, o negative. so i’m told that it’s very important that i give. i’m sure i’m not the only one here like that. plasma donation is almost as valuable as blood. these days, they can make lots of stuff out of that. so i go, weekly.

            i guess i’m in that mode, where i want to sing about this kind of charity. but today, i was talking to some folks in need. and i was reminded of why i do this. so, preaching. forgive me for being militant.

          • Jonathan Smith
          • clay

            O(neg) here, too. It’s like watching them wrestle with themselves when they find out I’m universal donor . . .
            and I fuck guys.

            I’ve given gallons for research and teaching, even if they won’t take blood, marrow, or kidney for transplant.

          • Ginger Snap

            Preach all you want CD.

    • clay

      Neg guys under 50 in metropolitan areas, please consider volunteering for Truvada / long-term injectible / artificial antibody test participation. You might get placebo, but you’ll get regular checks and you can still take other precautions without screwing up the results.

      Pos guys and guys over 50 in metropolitan areas, please consider volunteering for Truvada / long-term injectible / artificial antibody test recruitment efforts, if you’re not already doing something else.

      Uncertain guys, please keep getting tested and protecting yourselves and your partners.

  • Lindoro Almaviva

    Happy birthday in heaven, or wherever you are Ricky, hope it is peaceful

  • djcoastermark

    We remember the bad, the good. We remember fun times, the sad times. What is important is that we remember. A toast to all my friends, here and gone. * and a happy birthday to all the ricky’s

  • Vinnie NYC

    This still makes me tear 😢 up, lump in throat and all.
    Happy Birthday Ricky

    • Ken M

      My apologies in advance. Anytime I hear one of “them” say they understand what “we” went through. An anger rises inside of me. A small reminder to all of “them.” YOU DON’T HAVE A FUCKING CLUE!

      • Jonathan Smith

        “they” have lost loved one’s too.
        maybe not the same way.
        but it’s STILL a son, brother, sister, daughter,Mother or Father who died.
        I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.
        yes, “they” were wrong, and hateful, and for the wrong reasons.
        but, still, they lost.
        (not to make it any easier, god’s know, there are a BUNCH of people whom i shall NEVER forgive,)
        i just can NOT carry that load of hate in my heart anymore…..

      • Vinnie NYC

        Dear Ken, I understand and I wouldn’t wish what our generation went through on the next. I often think about the kids who don’t know and in some ways glad they don’t. I only hope they mobilize as we did if another “plague” should ever arise. There are many I miss, I cry over for their suffering during those dark days but they are always loved and remembered and held dear in my heart. I share their memories of what wonderful human beings they were. Brave souls whom we watched in fear deteriorate right before us. Scared that it wouldn’t happen to us. It was horrible indeed. Don’t fault “them” for trying to understand. I pray they never will.

  • m_lp_ql_m

    I kinda wish JMG would feature more “editorials” like this.

    • Jonathan Smith

      I……kinda don’t. i can only have my heart broken so many times in a row……..
      LOVE you JMG, but DARN!
      THAT was some beautiful writing.

    • clay

      Trump has been kind of unrelenting. Four years ago, the battles for marriage recognition had more variety. And we have so little music anymore.

      Is anyone listening to anything new?

  • KM

    Every year this breaks my heart.

  • sfbob

    Thank you Joe. Stories like your story about Ricky enhance our humanity.

  • worstcultever

    what everybody said – thanks Joe


    • another_steve

      Yes. Thanks, Joe.

      And love to you, worstcultever, for “verklempt.” Yiddish is a very rich language with individual words that require entire paragraphs in English to explain.

      “Verklempt” is that knot in your stomach that comes to you when something (good or bad) happens and emotionally overcomes/overwhelms you.

      When you get a nice email from a former lover who you thought had long ago forgotten you, that’s “verklempt.”

  • Adam Schmidt

    It’s times like this that we have to remember how far we’ve come. Yes, we’ve lost battles and yes Donald looks like the harbinger of the end times. But we’ve won more than we’ve lost. We have marriage equality, something I never expected to see in my lifetime. We have medications that while they may not cure HIV, they do stop it in its tracks and can stop the dying. We have Republicans speaking out AGAINST a Republican President and his ban on trans soldiers. Trump’s mania about health care has actually moved people to being even more in favor of universal health care.

    As we’ve said before… it gets better.

  • Beautiful post, Joe. Thank you.

  • edrex


  • bambinoitaliano
  • Ken M

    Late 70s, 80s, 90s, NYC, LA, DC, I lived there, I lost count, thought I had gotten over it all, thought the numbness had taken over (finally), I’m crying, and still (unknown entirely why) I’m negative. Help me Lord…more instinct than prayer. OMG I’m crying. Ty JMG

  • David in Tucson

    Damn. There’s something in the air here in my office….

  • bambinoitaliano
  • Jonathan Smith

    actually, this is a great point to thank you all.
    for keeping me sane.
    for keeping me laughing and thinking and not in a constant state of despair.
    some of you are the best friends I have ever known, and I have never met a one of you…
    thank you all…………
    Love Ya every one. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7c093bd34b54fddfe004ded50f8b77055fb361837182909c85ef807f8eb1ff7d.jpg

  • Ragnar Lothbrok
  • houstonray

    Hugs, kisses and all the good stuff. Such a poignant story and so personal. Thank you for sharing every year.

    Happy Birthday Ricky and Madonna.

    May we always remember what came before…

  • The Milkman

    Beautiful and heartbreaking, every year.

  • fuzzybits

    Thanks Joe for this every year. I also wished my friend Denny a happy birthday today. He was the first one I became close to on the net and others have come and gone we still keep in touch. It’s been since 1998.

  • leastyebejudged

    Did she really have the nike logo shaved into her pubes and post it on Instagram ?

  • Leo
  • Sam_Handwich

    I don’t want to start any trouble, but….

    there’s a bit of consensus forming that we leave this thread to Ricky and to others we’ve lost and keep the political conversation going on the previous.

    not a judgment, just a suggestion. 🙂

  • scream4ever

    I hope you’ve sent this story to Madonna herself.

  • ian

    Thanks for continuing to post this Joe. This September will be the 25th anniversary for two friends of mine. I can’t say they where as close to me as Ricky was to you, but thank you for reminding me of the good things I remember of them.

  • JCF

    This gets me every year. Rage in Power, Ricky.

  • Silver Badger

    Ivan, (My partner of 10 years long before one man could marry another.) has been gone for over 20 years but reading stories like these makes it seem like yesterday. You wonder at times why you survived when so very many didn’t.

  • Ric Kelley

    Thanks Joe.

  • ozbrad
  • Rocco

    Riveting story. So many sad memories, but a few good ones, some of us continue to survive. Lots of progress in our civil rights struggle that I never thought I’d live to see. Thank you for these stories, Joe. It’s so important to remember these stories….

  • SDG

    I am sitting at the dining room table, having breakfast. The sun has been up for a couple of hours, steam is rising from the coffee cup. From my living room window, if I crane my neck, just so, I can see the blue waters of the Mediterranean.

    Tears are streaming down my face, as I read this story. It’s the story of so many. In the corner of the living room, is a box. A box that I have yet to unpack, I won’t unpack.

    In that box, is a quilt. 12 panels, the last twelve panels that make up the last piece of the AIDS quilt here in Israel. I keep looking at the box… 12 panels, 12 tribes of Israel. Who are those people represented on the panels of the quilt? I don’t know, the box is sealed. I know that the panels are old, and that the men (women?) memorialized on those panels have been dead for at least 20 years.

    Who were their friends, their families? Do I sit next to them on the bus every day on my way to work to Tel Aviv? Are their nieces and nephews those bright kids who work in my office?

    Their parents, lovers, boyfriends and girlfriends, aunts, uncles, are they still alive? Do they still feel the pain of the loss? Do they still feel the stigma? Are there 12 pictures hanging on a wall, on top of a piano, in an album?

    Or maybe the only thing that remains of them, are 12 pieces of cloth, linked together, in a box, like a common grave?

    I will not open the box. It will stay with me, in my apartment, near the sea. When I look at it, in the corner, of my living room, I will think of them.

    I will remember them.

  • Max_1

    I can remember buying my first Madonna album… The place and time of day… The smell of the vinyl behind that cheap plastic wrapper (like the smell of a freshly minted porn mag)… I felt so dirty. Celebration… Memories. Thanks for sharing this every year Joe.


  • Hanwi

    I can’t imagine living thru those times……

  • Boy Elvis

    This story kills me every single year.

  • BurningTongues

    May Ricky always be remembered. Peace.

  • David

    Every year I read this and every year I get a little misty. I was 18 in 1986, it was exciting and terrifying.

  • Robert Anthony

    Thank you.

  • stuckinthewoods

    Joe mentions washing his hands in 1986. By 1986 I was way beyond that. Both my partner and the earlier one had turned out positive so it was done if it was done. Then it started. I took care of Don at home, no one knew. When he became extremely sick I had to take him to a doctor. When the doctor came in I put my arms around Don. The doctor looked at me and said, “we won’t separate you.” And they didn’t. I was with him the whole time, all night, in ICU, people would come in covered in plastic bags holding their breath, but I got to take care of him just like at home. A couple years after he died I went to the doctor to thank him for keeping us together. He looked at me and said, “that would never happen today”, and only then did it hit me in a rush to realize we were together only because they were too scared to touch him.