I knew so many people who died from AIDS. Some took their own lives, as they did not want to suffer. One of my favorite PR people did that. He was 28 years old, just a wonderful person. A good friend of mine died from AIDS. We were traveling one day. I went to take a sip of his drink, but he pulled it away from me. I knew he was sick, but at the time did not know he had AIDS. For over a year, he just said he had the flu and hepatitis. To be dying and not be able to tell those you love what you are going through is horrific. An actor whom I will not name called me and asked me not to publish that he had AIDS. I would never have done that. It was his poignant story to tell, not mine. I did get some calls from tabloids who offered big bucks to name names. I told them to forget about it and lose my number.
There has been much ballyhoo about "General Hospital's" Nurses Ball, which will be in full swing next week. The ball is Port Charles' answer to the Met Gala but for a good cause. Not knocking Puccini, but the gala is more about the clothes, while the Nurses Ball is about spotlighting HIV/AIDS.
In 1994, Robin Scorpio had her first boyfriend on the show. That was after she was done crushing on Jason. Stone was sort of a bad boy. A drug user, he contracted HIV. Robin got AIDS after she had unprotected sex with Stone.
Gloria Monte, the show's executive producer at the time, decided Robin was a perfect choice. Robin was everyone's favorite child. She was such a goody two-shoes she always wore Mary Janes.
Alan Quartermaine to the rescue. He found a protocol. While Robin still has AIDS, she has been in remission for over 25 years, has two children and a loving husband and is a doctor.
She beat what was a certain death sentence. Today, AIDS is not a death sentence. Yes, the person will be on the protocol forever, but they will also have full productive lives.
On to the Nurses Ball. It began in 1994. Lucy Coe, of all people, was the force behind this. Yes, Lucy. She can be the devil but does have an angelic streak. Making it all about Lucy — which she always does —she changes into more lush costumes than Megan Markle. She also gets to dance and emcee the show. Scott told unfunny jokes, and Mac had a ventriloquist dummy called Mr. Mumbles. The dummy mumbled while Mac moved his lips like Heckle and Jeckle, and Bobbie danced.
AIDS hit many of the cast and crew personally. Several actors on the show saw friends and family wither away from the deadly illness. At the time, there was so much incorrect information. The general population incorrectly thought AIDs could be contracted by being in the same room with an infected person. One actor from another soap was fired because he had a cold sore, which, you know, has nothing to do with AIDS.
While it was a lot of work, the actors loved it. They got to show the talent they had, acting aside. Over the years, talent has come and gone, but there is always a new crop. Chase has an amazing voice. Valentin plays piano and sings soulfully.
As with all "General Hospital" gatherings, the upcoming ball will also feature mayhem. There has been shooting, stabbing, the return of beloved characters. Do not just tune in for the talent; tune in for a life-changing storyline.
Rock Hudson, Amanda Blake, Tony Perkins and soap actors Bill Beyers and Tom Fuccello also died from AIDS. So did everyday folks who left loved ones behind.
To find out more about Lynda Hirsch and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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