What does it take to kill another person?
Bobbie Johnson

I work with boys who have HIV. They’re wild success stories at school. Not. They never found anything there they could relate to. I see their stuff differently. Most of them have managed to run a successful business. Sex work may be looked down upon by Mommie Morals, but sex work has afforded them something difficult for Mommie Morals to see anything connected to it as an asset. I see it as dangerous for a kid. But I recognize that living on the street is hard. It’s easy for Mommie Morals to put her nun’s habit on and start caning little hands. Ms. Morals has never lived The Life.

These are boys who have seen and known The Life.

We made a VOOK. It has been the singular most focused thing they have ever made.

Video. Narrative. And photography.

Through the process, there were many intense discussions about where to take the story next. Fiction. JUST BEFORE THE CURE is about a dozen boys (surprise) who have HIV as so many of them have been exploited and abused. The fictional boys are seen fighting back. At a world that does not want them in any way, shape, or form. It might want to fuck them, but they will not be invited to dinner at the Moral’s house.

“Can we kill people,” I was asked.

The kid meant the bad people in the story.

“It’s your vook,” I told them. “It will go where you take it.”

There were a few murders along the way. Death camps. The extermination of the infected.

I had them read Mishima. What they struggle with is the idea of indifference.

An eye for an eye is simply an idea.

They had to go research what the term disemboweling meant.

All the people they love to hate. Doctors, nurses, suits, and pimps. But could they really kill another human being.

Perhaps. I would tend to go with yes.


I know this: the boys and I are often sitting in the same goddamn fucking boat. For every inch you marginalize us, we’ll take two from you fighting back. The fighting back is far more a liability than sex work.

It’s only business.

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