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AIDS in the Twilight Zone

An Interview with HIV-positive Recovering Drug Addicts Who Have Worked for Many Years in the Sex Industry

March/April 2000

Tony -- When I was 12 years-old I ran away from an abusive home and dysfunctional family, a physically, mentally, emotionally, and sexually abusive stepmother. It was 1966, the hippie revolution was on, and when I ran away from home, I went basically from the frying pan to the fire; I hit the streets of Chicago's Old Town/Rush Street area. I wasn't out of the house more than ten days and I got involved in IV drug abuse and the sex industry. I hustled on a daily basis from the time I was 12 to the time I was 17, when I got married to my first wife. I was a baby and I made a baby. That lasted all of a year and a half. By the time I was 19, I was hustling again. I hit the streets and started shooting stimulants. It was a means to an end actually, ya know. When you did stimulants you didn't have to spend as much money on food. You're not hungry, and you didn't have to worry about where to sleep because you were going to be awake for days. It was like a double-edged sword. And also, if you're involved in the sex industry and you're wired, I mean, it will enhance your performance a bit, cuz you can get it up, but you ain't getting off, which helps, and you can do more tricks in less time because you can knock 'em out quicker cuz you're accelerated, stimulated.

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Reader Comments:

Comment by: Gene H (Chicago, Ill) Tue., Jan. 10, 2012 at 11:13 pm EST
I knew Tony Palmisano for years. With all his faults he never disrespected me. I have known many people who abused drugs, but through all the days he was my roomate, I never had a better friend. Last time I saw him, about 5 or so years ago, I was driving somewhere important and he pops up. He wanted a lift somewhere. He looked bad and I couldnt take him. It was the last time I ever saw him. I wonder if he is even alive today, but if he is I hope he is ok. Any one knows where he is, tell me please!
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