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James Pinkerton

James Pinkerton

Posted: October 7, 2006 09:30 PM

Maf54 Speaks


Inside the mind of Mark Foley:

Well, I have succeeded in my plan. I have destroyed the Republican Party, or at least destroyed its prospects for Election 2006. Destroying myself seems like a small price to pay. And as we shall see, I have a plan, a plan for rising like a phoenix out of the ashes of my own self-immolation.

But first off, I have to say, I feel better for the suffering I'm going through now. I know that sounds weird, but self-hating is weird. Oh sure, I love myself, too: Like the great sainted Walt Whitman, like most people, I encompass a wide range of emotions and self-songs.

In addition, my feelings toward the Republican Party are, shall we say, complicated. I loved the Republican Party once. It was very good to me, Mark Foley, the public man on the move. But it was not so good to Maf54, the private man, the gay American. On the one hand, the Republicans' libertarianism--since when has big government been a friend of personal freedom?--has always been appealing to me. I can remember back when I was in the restaurant business, dealing with the local bureaucracy; now that was a formative experience. But on the other hand, the social conservatism that's s prominent in the party nowadays has been gnawing on me, tearing me apart even. That was the bane, and pain, of my life--that is, coexisting with social authoritarians inside the GOP, when what I really wanted to do was cruise over to Morton's with young chickens under my wing.

OK, maybe I could have found an easier way to come to grips with my true self. Maybe what I should have done is simply come out of the closet, like, say, Steve Gunderson or Jim Kolbe. You know, held a press conference, written a book, joined some goo-goo groups that worried about tolerance and the deficit, and all that. Well, that would be very nice--and very boring. Being gay is not about being boring.

So obviously, I did it My Way. I tempted fate. I walked on the edge; I walked on the wild side. With apologies to the same Walt Whitman, cruising boys was my "barbaric yawp." It's me, being me, liking boys. I solicited 'em, IM'ed 'em, I did it all. Some say I am a pedophile, and that's a bad thing. Well, I say that I am an ephebophile, and that's a good thing. The love of young men was a value--a good value--in many societies, long before there was such a thing as "Judeo-Christian values." And maybe ephebophilia will make a comeback, thanks to my sacrifice.

And I got caught all the time, of course, over the past few years--but Hastert and the rest didn't get the message, the true message. Or maybe they didn't want to get it.

Denny's boys would tell me to stop, and I'd say, "OK, I'll stop." And then I'd be right back at it again; I was never going to change. It's like that scene at the end of "Clockwork Orange," when you realize that nothing in the cool Alex character is any different, despite all the programming they did to him.

This is who I am. Deal with it. Will I go to jail? Maybe, but probably not. I've got lawyers, I've got shrinks, I've got the whole abuse-excuse industry lined up on my side. I'll plead to something, sit on a beach for a while, maybe find either God or The Goddess, write my book, go on Oprah, and see what else I can swing, media-wise.

In fact, I've dreamed of this moment all my life. I've had some influences on me, early on, that aided me in thinking in a more, well, flamboyant direction.

A little-known fact about me is that my godfather is Jimmy Piersall, the baseball player from the 50s and 60s. Yup, it's true. And now that all this has happened, I see it all clearly, like it's written in big bright neon: you have to go way down to go way up.

Jimmy Piersall was for a time the star center-fielder for the Red Sox in the 50s. He and my father, a Boston-area cop back then, were friends; my dad helped Jimmy get out of a lot of jams. Piersall was a pretty good ball player in his day, but his real claim to fame comes from his life off the field; he was in and out of mental hospitals. His troubles were so visible that he published an autobiography, Fear Strikes Out. That's why people have heard of him, for the trouble he got into. Jimmy once observed, "Probably the best thing that ever happened to me was going nuts. Whoever heard of Jimmy Piersall, until that happened?" As I myself told The Boston Globe a couple of years ago, describing Piersall's public drama: "He really contributed to society's understanding of mental illness and treatment, back in the day when mental illness was a real hush-hush situation."

Well, just as there was no more hush-hush about Jimmy and his situation, now there's no more hush-hush about me and mine! See where this is heading? Piersall suffered, but for his pain, he gained fame. Pain as the path to personal transcendence and social transformation--paths to glory, the very paths I am walking now.

But wait! The Piersall story gets better: They made Fear Strikes Out into a Hollywood movie in 1957. And the star of the film was Anthony Perkins. Imagine: my childhood idol, Uncle Jimmy, the bigshot baseball player, being portrayed by... Tony Perkins.

Now there are three things to know about Tony. First, he was "bisexual"; we know that means. Second, he was very handsome--boy, did I have a crush on him. And third, in a way, thanks to the movie, he was almost part of the family.

And oh yes, let's add a fourth thing: "Psycho," the movie. Yeah, Tony played, well, a psycho, and the movie defined him for life, typecasting him as a creep. But hey, at least he was a famous creep. Of all the prettyboys who have flocked to Hollywood over the last century, how many are remembered for anything? Tony will be remembered.

And now I know that I will be remembered. Two weeks ago, I was just another mid-level Republican Congressman. Now, I'm Mark Foley, gay man, tortured man, blah blah blah.

But also, I am Mark the Republican Killer. I saw on Fox News--yeah, I can't help myself, even now--that this eruption might cost the House Republicans as many as 50 seats.

Well, good riddance to most of The Republican Conference. The double life of a closeted gay man in an anti-gay party just got to be too much. And so now, like Samson, I am pulling down the Republican temple. Samson, he's famous--and I loved him when he was played by Victor Mature.

But this is America, not the Holy Land. This is a country where everyone except the Amish dresses up their kids as little tarts and little studs. So there's lots of faux outrage over what I did, in which people pretend to think that 17-year-olds are children, but not much true outrage. So if I play the game right--if I claim victimhood, even as I apologize, even as I cry on cue for Oprah--then I can come out of this a big star. At least a notorious star. It's been a long, strange trip, and it's going to get even stranger, but I can say this for sure, now that I am out: Goodbye Republicans--and I am ready for my close-up.