When I got home from work today Scott called up from where he was enjoying the cool of the basement that Erik Rhodes had died in his sleep, of a heart attack. He was 30 years old.
Erik Rhodes, or James as his true name would turn out to be, was a adult performer and after reading his tumblr, which I linked to this post above, I noticed what anyone could. This person was very sad and in a way going to pieces. Post after post saturated with tone that was screaming out to anyone who would listen that he needed help. But nobody apparently noticed. I have to admit that I didn’t even notice myself until the blog was pointed out to me. I feel sorry for him and his family, what a loss.
Throughout all the sadness I can’t help but spy the Adonis Complex lurking in the background. All men have this darkness lurking somewhere in their psyche. Just like girls have their own self-image and self-worth issues, being razor thin and looking-near-death-is-so-hot, but the Adonis Complex is really a very male thing. It starts out when we compare ourselves against each other. This man has a full head of hair, 3% body fat, muscles galore. We feel envy, then we approach the envy in a very male way. We try to fix what is wrong with us. Some workout endlessly, struggling for a body that may always elude them while others seek shortcuts, usually one drug or another. Anything that’s a stimulant can lead to abuse of a shortcut. Sometimes it’s a naive shortcut like nicotine abuse, sometimes it’s cocaine or heroin. Sometimes it’s anabolic steroids.
The Complex is like a fog on the brain. It colors everything. Comparisons pile up on comparisons and as we start reaching our goal our self-worth and self-image can (not will) go right into the toilet. What you end up with is a beautiful specimen of masculinity that is wretchedly depressed. Once Adonis arrives, his only real destination is to drown in the pool of water that he sees his reflection in. Yes, I’m mixing my mythical metaphors, the tragedy is of Narcissus, not of Adonis, but it’s for Adonis the Complex is named after and it’s Narcissus that holds the tragedy.
Women suffer similar body-image pressures, but the genders are very different. A fish can’t teach a bird to swim and so trying to explain it to a woman is really something I’m not capable of doing. The feelings, the pressure, the drive, and above all else, the mechanical aptitude that males bring to “fix” what is wrong ends up spiraling out of control.
So we get back to this poor soul. Narcissus died of a heart attack in his sleep. They’ll find an overdose of steroids, he wrote about how that was his plan after all, and the rest of us will be left behind, some will have lost an idol, some will have lost a family member. We all will lose someone that could have been rescued if more people knew and reached out.
And then that leads to the almost obvious analysis waiting at the end of all of this. Are the people who do such things, adult entertainment, pornography, all on a path similar to the one James walked? Are these people “terminally pretty”? And then people will start to point their fingers at the porn industry itself for perpetuating mental illness, body dysmorphic disease and self-image crises that lead to self-inflicted abuse that is just a stones throw from suicide.
There is always hope, there is always someone to reach out to. Just get in a car and drive away from your pain. Walk up to a house, anywhere there are decent people and knock on their doors and tell them you need help. Good people are agents of hope. They will help, no matter who they are. That is what good people do.