Friday, June 15, 2012

Of Death and Dying

When I heard the news that my colleague and friend Erik Rhodes aka James Naughtin had died, I was in shock. This couldn't possibly be true. But nevertheless, I clicked through my twitter feed, and a few blogs... before realizing that it was. And my heart... sank. He was only 30 years old.

As a writer and porn personality myself, there were few in the industry that commanded my attention, such as he did with his writing. He had a way of being brutally honest, self-deprecatingly humorous, and charismatic in his approach to all questions and admonishments flung his way. But that wasn't the Erik I knew, I knew James. Who was kind, funny, intelligent, and observant about all things and all people that orbited around him.

It's a funny thing.... this world of porn that both myself, and James existed in. Although, I can only imagine that the pressure Mr. Naughtin faced, was ten times the amount of myself or anyone else. Still, to prevail in it, is to be commended. To talk about it openly, is nothing short of inspiring. Because no matter what people such as Erik Rhodes posted, regarding his faults, his demons, his trials or tribulations.... He posted what he wanted people to see. So, to base who James was as a person on his blog, or public musings... is foolish. You were never going to see him for all that he was, because he was only portraying a fraction of himself. He was a very bright star.  Bright enough to know the divide between porn persona, and real person....  and I for one... will miss him greatly.

I started writing this morning as a way to deal with the heartache that I feel, for him and for all of us.  We as a gay community set a standard for physical perfection, that is almost impossible to maintain or achieve.... yet Erik did for so long. So, why are all the stones being thrown? Why are people tearing down a person with disgusting comments, not even 24 hours after he died? It certainly can't make them feel better about themselves, can it? Saying that he brought it on himself, with no true understanding of being in his shoes.... seems callous. Almost inhumane. Therefore, I will refuse to believe that James' legacy is reduced to bitchy tweets, and blogger comments of disdain. He was  a guy that went through life, and documented to the best of his abilities, his experiences. Instead, I will remember his insight, his fearlessness at attempting to overcome his fears, and his penchant for living life to its' fullest. An intense performer, a respectful colleague, and a kind person. It's no wonder, that with someone who burns that bright, many will choose to tarnish any way they can in the aftermath of his death. But know this.... no matter what you say, or do.... A brighter star, there will never be.


  1. we will miss you
    we love you
    you are in our hearts
    in our mind we are with your family and friends
    even the death won´t change, why we love you, not because of your body oder cock.
    the way you laugh and smile and act is what we love

    REST IN PEACE and give them all a good fuck in heaven :-*

  2. This is a beautiful tribute. I only met Erik recently at the Grabbys. He AWED me and I told him so. He was WAY too young to be taken from us. RIP Erik. IMHO you guys have the toughest career going.

  3. Race,
    I share your insights. The gay community is far too quick to judge and act on ore-concieved notions of what is perfection or how others should live their lives. Haven't we all been victim of similar notions? Let this guy who, from all insights of those who actually met him/worked with him have said he was a great guy on a lot of levels,let him pass in peace and let us all try to enjoy every day and those that contribute to our lives. Remember, none of us are perfect.

  4. Great tribute, Race. I never knew Erik but I feel I have a sense of him through you. Thank you.

  5. I have been a fan of yours Race since I first you with raging stallion and have come to realize you are far more than a handsome face. I love hearing about your travels, and your opinions about whats going on out there. Your relationship ends and your new beginnings. I like that you answer questions from fans and not just one or two but a whole slew and you put thought into them. I like that you show no ego in your posts, you seem as real as they come and I like that about you.
    I especially like your post about Erik as it def comes at a time when many people for many different reason are saddened by the loss. Your hot with a good head, and a very good heart and you put your feelings out there and gave us a nice bit of closure on this sad weekend.
    I'm sure if Erik were around he would read your post and say that "you got him" when others didn't and never could.
    Thank you.

  6. I saw a write-up about him here: I suggest that all who read this read that blog on him. I did read his blog after his death and I found it interesting. The Kaos blog noted the following entry in his blog: "Erik Rhodes: His last Tumblr post. "My cycle right now... 3000 mg of Test Enanthate a week, 2500 mg of Nandrolone Decaonate and 300 mg of Trenbolone Acetate. With 5iu of Human Growth Hormone everyday. I'm waiting until i pop. Or my liver to fails... which ever comes first." " Because it's a man thing to be muscled and because gay culture is hyper masculine, many gay men (and particularly porn stars) go to such extremes to achieve that muscled look. I hope that Erik Rhodes' use of such drugs did not contribute to his death at age 30. And for Race Cooper, I pray that you are not using such methods to stay on top of the porn industry. It's just not worth it and if it's about money and other perks, you can do other things to make as much or more money than in port--like go to law school and be an attorney and more.

  7. I often wonder what happened to respecting the dead.