I REGRET HAVING TO write this because I was always taught that it was improper to speak ill of the dead. However, the interview with Jimm Altman(“Artifacts,” 2/17) was pure fiction. I know. I was there.
I must tell you that I was Jimm Altman’s lover, manager, provider, and sometimes inspiration. Jimm, by his own confession, knew he was HIV-positive two years before I ever contracted the virus. During that time, he did not tell me of his condition and continued to have unsafe sex with me until I sero-converted in 1987, which was after he came back from Los Angeles. I always thought this a petty thing to discuss. It was a virus we were fighting, not each other. I never felt the need to “blame” him until I found myself, in the last few years, repeatedly on the defensive.
Jimm was a heroin junkie. Jimm had several other sexual encounters during our relationship. Jimm shared needles. Our relationship ended when I asked him to leave my home until he got off the junk. Jimm’s equipment was held by me at that time because he was pawning everything of value for heroin. When I finally decided that I no longer wanted to warehouse his equipment, I told him to get it out of my house. After one year of me calling him and finding him too high to collect his diminishing wits long enough to arrange to get his equipment, it was sold and the proceeds were donated to a local AIDS charity organization (oddly enough, the one that Jimm claims would not take him because he was not gay enough. Please!).
As someone who has fought virulently for the last eight years to save my and everyone’s lives from AIDS, I find it incredibly insensitive to print any allusion to blaming another person for causing AIDS.
Jimm lost his lover, his manager, many of his friends, his recording contract, his equipment, and consequently his life because of his addiction. Nothing more. Nothing less. He was a musical genius. He was not a martyr and obviously not much of a man.
Cognito Productions, Adams Morgan