Prostitution, alcoholism, fetishes, swinging, abandonment and being stabbed by a bayonet. Handyman Hank Adams has experienced them all. Paul’s friend has to literally pause to count how many stepdads he has had.
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Paul: Welcome to Episode Twenty-Seven with my guest Hank Adams. I'm Paul Gilmartin, this is The Mental Illness Happy Hour an hour of honesty about all the battles in our heads from medically diagnosed conditions to every day compulsive negative thinking, feelings of dissatisfaction, disconnection, inadequacy and that vague sinking feeling that the world is passing us by. You give us an hour, we'll give you a hot ladle of awkward and icky. But first a couple of notes. I would like to thank Stig Greig who helps run the website. Martin Willis who is just an all around great guy, helps in multiple ways. I would like to thank the guys who help keep the forum running and weed out the spammers. I would like to thank my wife Carla for always giving me good advice. The website for the show is mentalpod.com. That's also the twitter name you can follow me at. If you want to call and leave a message, a fear, a comment, a concern, an idea for world peace go ahead and call: 818-574-7177. And what else? There's also a Facebook fan page, if you want to go there that would be greatly appreciated.
What else can I tire your patience with? I know, how about I do something that is maybe mildly entertaining. I don't know if you guys realize this but, I have two very very frightened dogs. I don't think it's anything that my wife and I do. I think that's just kind of genetically how they are. And I don't know if they've been listening to the show or not, but I found a piece of paper. And I think they've written their fears down for me to use for a fear off. So I'm just going to - I don't know which one come from which dog, please Paul drag this bit longer than it already is. So, these are the lists of my dogs fears.
Fear that people will think Beverley Hills Chihuahua is a good movie. Fear that I will never stop having dreams where I can't run fast enough. Fear that I'm due for a bath. Fear the groomer will lose her sobriety. Fear when you leave you are never coming back. Fear someone is going to take my food. Fear you're going to find out what I left in the closet. (I don't like the sound of that one) Fear that the mailman is planning something. Fear that if I do catch a squirrel I won't have the heart to kill it. Fear my urine markings around the neighborhood are meaningless. Fear that cat shit is bad for me. Fear that I won't be able to come up with a face that is sad enough to get me a sample of what you are eating. Fear that my breath is bad. Fear that one day there will be a youtube video of a smaller animal riding me. Fear that my tail does a horrible job of covering my asshole. And finally, my dogs final fear, that that kid that comes here on Thanksgiving will keep pulling my fur and I will never get the chance to sink my teeth into his face.
Paul: I'm here with my buddy Hank Adams. I've known Hank for a couple of years. And Hank helped me rebuild my front porch about two months ago. You've done a variety of jobs over the years. Would it be fair to call you a handy man? Or is that limiting.
Hank: I mean, now I consider myself a handy man. But I had to get trained to be a carpenter. And carpenter is a specialty field. But it opened the door for different fields. And being an all around carpenter I learned a little plumbing, a little electrical. My first school that I actually went to for the trades was welding school. And I did a half-assed job at that because I did like six months and I wanted to get out and work instead of taking the full time to get certified. So I got like half the course. I'm a good welder but then I found out through experience that I got flash burns so many times that it affects my eyes.
Paul: Were you not wearing the mask?
Hank: I always wear the mask but it's time where you forget to put your shield down. There's certain situations where you get flash burns.
Paul: I didn't realize you could get sunburned from being around welding. That they put sun tan lotion on when you're around a lot of welding. I had no idea.
Hank: My first welding job coming out of school, I was TIG welding. And I worked for a guy that invented these home training stand that you could put your bike into and train at your house. Well I was welding up these stands and I had a slingshot t-shirt on. I didn't know any better. And the next day, I looked when I got home I was just so red and crisp.
Paul: So one of the things that I love about you Hank is that you've been, since I've known you, you've been very open about the stuff you've been through. From your childhood through your adult hood. You've struggled to stay sober – when did you first know that you had a problem with drugs and alcohol.
Hank: Well my mama, my mom was an alcoholic and she told me in probably when I was in Junior High that I was automatically a potential alcoholic and addict. So, when I, like any normal teenager I got into smoking weed and... but see I can remember way back from when I was a kid there was alcohol involved with my mom and dad. I think my mom used to give me, in fact she told me that she used to give me alcohol to help put me fall asleep.
Paul: Were you a high strung kid?
Hank: Yeah I was pretty, I was, I had ADHD or whatever they call it – I had it back and they really didn't know how to treat it. They really didn't know - they just called it hyper kid. She tried taking me off sugar which helped a little bit. But -
Paul: What was your original home life like with your mom and dad. You've talked about your dad before, can you talk about what that was like?
Hank: I can remember back when I was three or four years old - my mom and dad were together and then something happened. My dad ended up beating the shit out of my mom and we ended up going and staying with my grandparents. There was that separation right there. I didn't how the validity of how traumatizing that was. But living with my grandmother, my grandma was very abusive physically. Anything you did wrong, it was like 'go get the switch.' And - (groans) It was traumatizing. But that split between my mom and dad -
Paul: Why did you go live with your grandmother?
Hank: Cause I don't think my mom could afford to have her own place. So we went to -
Paul: Oh your mom was with you, with your grandmother. I thought you meant -
Hank: My mom was – when they split, we're from a small town in Georgia called Cedar Town where everybody knows everybody.
Paul: I'm just going to adjust your mic real quick.
Hank: The thing is is that, it was kind of, it was painful trying to figure out what was going on. How come my dad wasn't around. There's scattered memories of my mom and my sister and I and my brother had this house by the high school. And my -
Paul: This is what state?
Hank: This is in Georgia. And I was probably five years old at the time. The two memories that jump out the most is that my mom set the bed on fire with a cigarette. And another time I remember -
Paul: Not intentionally.
Hank: Not intentionally. She was probably drunk, ok? And then the other memory is that she dated this guy named JT Gray who was a truck driver. And I remember my dad coming over to the house and he had a wrench in his hand and they were arguing and fighting and JT grabbed my mom with a hose and was choking her out. And my dad and JT Gray got into it and it got real physical.
Paul: Why, if your dad and this guy were arguing, why did the JT guy all of a sudden get violent on your mom in the middle of it?
Hank: That I don't know. I mean, jealousy, whatever the dynamics of that was – you know. I mean you can figure out the jealousy between all of them and circumstances – what really -
Paul: Were your mom and dad still married at that point?
Hank: My mom and dad were still married at that point.
Paul: But they were separated and so she was dating other people.
Paul: And your dad, did he know that? Or he knew it and, was she hiding it from him and he found out, or....
Hank: That I don't know. But after years I kind of figured out – see the weird thing about it was that afterward, this happened, my dad picked me up and we're hanging out, driving around and then he was having a poker game. And here all of a sudden we walked in the room and here's JT Gray. And I didn't get it. These guys are like poker buddies or friends or so it's that dynamics that it's like -
Paul: You're friends one minute, you're ready to crack someone over the head with a wrench -
Hank: Exactly. Yeah. So I didn't – I was pretty naive. So it was kind of, it was weird. I didn't understand that.
Paul: Tell the listeners what your dad did for a living.
Hank: My dad was a union electrician and he wired the first rockets, he was on the space program.... he wired the rockets..... Wow. Whoa. That brings up some pain because he was never there for me. But he wired the first rockets that went to the moon. He was very intelligent. He was an army veteran. I never really got to really know my dad that good. My mom moved out in I think it was 1967 and we came to California. And that whole time, up until I was in the ninth grade, I didn't get a phone call, I didn't get a card. I didn't have contact with my dad. And I always, I didn't know how to deal with that. I mean I just, every time I talked about my dad my mom would not talk about it because of him beating the shit of her. But from memories that I have and some pictures, my dad, we traveled all over the United States. And he, I guess it's ok, during the Cuban crisis and nuclear threats, my dad wired the silos, minute man missiles all through the United States. I don't know if I'm supposed to say that or not. Maybe we'll have to check on it.
Paul: I can't see why that would be a problem.
Hank: I don't see why it would be either. In fact, I don't think it would be a problem.
Paul: All of a sudden a shot rings out. Hank slumps over.
Hank: Exactly. I mean so we're protected if anybody knows, we're protected. They don't know where the silos are, so, you know. But anyways, I got pictures of us in California when I was like three years old living in Santa Barbara. I have no recollection of that. So before I was five years old I had been to thirty-eight states or whatever. So, (he sighs) I mean, through my sister I found out -
Paul: How many kids in your family?
Hank: My immediate family I have one brother, who's a half brother with a different dad. And I got a sister with both my mom and Tommy, my dad. And then my dad had four other kids in his first marriage. And we never got close with each other. Because of probably, you know, they didn't, we're bastard kids or whatever. You know what I mean? I met all of them, but we never got close to each other. Oh, what I was getting at is that I had my grandmother – we called her Big Mama. And then I had my Nanny which was my dad's mom and that side of the family. And that was the side of the family that I got closest to. We're native -
Paul: Interesting – not close to your dad but close to your dad's side of the family.
Hank: Because my dad was hardly ever available. Even when I went to stay with my grandmother, I remember when I was younger, he was around but he was traveling all the time or working most of the time.
Paul: And he was emotionally unavailable even when he was there physically.
Hank: Exactly. He was never, he wasn't emotionally available.
Paul: And you said that your mom was an alcoholic. Was your dad an alcoholic?
Hank: My dad was an alcoholic.
Paul: Yeah sounds like it.
Hank: Yeah he was a – yeah.
Paul: That must have really hurt, the fact that you could be around your dad's family and yet your dad wasn't there and even if he was there physically, he wasn't there emotionally for you. So, I mean, what kind of messages do you think that was sending to you as a kid. Or did you not even think about it.
Hank: I didn't really think about it. But I know it affected me really bad because he wasn't around. And I was still trying to put together, piece together everything that happened. Why my mom and dad weren't together. And I knew already because I saw pictures, how bad he hurt my mom. Black and blue in the face. I saw that. And I just, trying to put everything together. The point I was making was that I was molested by the next door neighbor.
Paul: When you were living with your grandmother.
Hank: Yeah, when I was, well I was living with Nanny. Or I don't even know if I was living there, I think I was still living with my other Big Mama's house and I went spending time at Nanny's house and I went next door. We called her Aunt Haggard. And she used to give us -
Paul: That's not an attractive name.
Hank: No. But ah – this guy her son -
Paul: I'm going to guess there was no modeling involved here.
Hank: Anyways, you know, I got molested by him. Not raped, but it was, I don't know how candid I can be. He was masturbating. You know, I don't know any better. He told me to come in. He molested me. And I don't know if anything else happened. I don't know if I blocked it out.
Paul: How old were you.
Hank: Geez I was five or six at the time.
Paul: The sad thing about it, the part to me that is the saddest about kids getting molested is – and I think about you know the guy who molested me - I just wanted someone to pay attention to me. And that's what they prey on. They prey on kids that are neglected or kids that their parents aren't around, or their dad's not around, or somebody's - or they're just bored. They sense that vulnerability in kids and you just kind of extinguish something in that kid when you act nice and then you fuck'em up.
Hank: Yeah. I agree. And just thinking about it it's like you know - small town. There wasn't, everyone knew everybody. You didn't need the security that you do today. Unsupervised, where parents watch their kids and know that there's danger. And I look at it that way is that, you know -
Paul: And I'm sure it was done to him by somebody else. And it's probably the easiest thing in the world is to just continue perpetrating what was done to you.
Hank: But you see the sad part about it is that he molested my sister too. I don't know to what extent. But he's a predator. And after my sister, you know got support and therapy for what happened to hers he turned this guy in.
Paul: Oh that's great.
Hank: I don't know the outcome of it was, but she proceeded to prosecute this guy and -
Paul: So this was obviously years and years after it happened.
Hank: Years and years after it happened. But he has to be accountable for his actions.
Hank: I don't think he can be around children. He's a predator. Probably a good thing I've never been into hurting people really, I probably would have done something bad, you know.
Paul: Yet you do have a history of violence in your past. And for those of you who don't go to the website and see a picture of Hank, he's a bear, a gentle bear of a man would be the best way to describe it. You know, when you were helping me fix my porch, you were, we were tearing the old porch apart and you were just tearing these boards off and you're sweating and you're grunting and you've got a cigarette hanging out of your mouth. And I'm standing there trying not to get dirt under my nails. And I felt like I might as well have been wearing high heels. But you know, the thought of you in a drunken rage scares the shit out of me.
Hank: You know, it's like my bark is worse than my bite kind of thing. And it's mainly a defense. There's only a few certain instances - I mean, even my drunken stupor that I've really gotten really violent. Not deliberately it was out of self preservation. But I've never been -
Paul: Can you talk about those instances.
Hank: There's - I think one of my first encounters, I was just this dumb country boy. I came to California and I got picked on because of my accent. And then I went to Pacoima Junior high and it was seventy percent Hispanic, twenty percent black and ten percent white. So I blend in with pretty much anybody. I don't have the racial prejudice that they do in the south. You know, I'm just a nice kid. Innocent. You see I never, I was an athlete. I started playing baseball. And I was pretty good. I learned quick and I was a good hitter. Played football. Actually I got most valuable player playing flag football when I was in the sixth grade or fifth grade. But nobody was ever there. Neither family member. My mom wasn't there, I never got the support. You know it's like, the, there was trauma going on all the time at the house. Especially with my mom and the new step dad. This was in the seventies. I got pulled off the baseball team because my grades were failing. Well no shit. Nobody's never there to support me or help me. She's drunk all the time or he's drunk, or they - They were unavailable. So, I got pulled off the baseball team. It affected me really bad. The coach came by and begged my mom to let me play. She wouldn't do it. So the point that I was making about the violence is that, guys that I was hanging out with, I was round the football team – I never actually made the football team. And I lied and I said oh yeah, you know – I was mainly the trainer or the manager, or the equipment manager whatever the fuck it was. So but anyways I'm hanging around with these guys around the neighborhood and the thing back in the seventies before they had video games on the internet was arcades. We hung out in arcades.
Paul: I remember.
Hank: Frogger and Asteroids. That's were all the kids hung out. Well, an acquaintance ended up this kid came in with a bayonet showing it, trying to sell it and a friend of mine, one of the guys ended up taking the bayonet from this kid. I guess the kid was kind of like a, I don't know if he was a gang banger. But anyways, he ended up going and getting his friends, probably his older brother. And we ended up, they ended up fighting and there were seven or eight of us in the parking lot fighting. One of the guys ended up getting stabbed through the side with the bayonet. And I ended up getting stabbed twice. I ended up getting stabbed in the gut and I didn't realize I got stabbed in the gut until I got my arm sliced. You know, I'm taking on four guys.
Paul: And you're how old at this point?
Hank: I'm.....geez. I think I was eighteen. Yeah, I think it was right before I went in the army. But, or I was probably actually younger than that. But I ended up getting stabbed twice. And I want to kill these guys now. And my buddy had a pistol in the car, and he wouldn't let me have the pistol thank God. But I ended grabbing a hammer and I ended up chasing these guys down the street with the hammer.
Paul: What was your step-dad like?
Hank: I had three step-dads.
Hank: The first one when I first came to California. Was it three? Yeah it was three step-dads. The first guy -
Paul: That's not a good sign when you gotta pause and try to count the step-dads. Your mom's got some issues.
Hank: Oh definitely. Can we take a break? I need to go to the bathroom.
Paul: Yeah, yeah. Ok we'll take a break.
Hank: All right.
Paul: So, we just took a little bathroom break. What was the last thing that we were talking about?
Hank: We were talking about zeroing in on violence. And it just brought up -
Paul: Oh we were talking about step-dads. How many step-dads.
Hank: Step-dads. Yeah. When I first came to California my mom was with this guy named Mike Miksel. Who worked at Borden Chemicals. But anyways, one of the points I wanted to make is that there was problems there. They were drinking, I think both of them, well obviously I knew my mom, I didn't know then but my mom was an alcoholic. Every step-dad I had was an alcoholic or would drink. They broke up for some reason. But playing with these guys, these kids were abusive. And they're mean. And they used to beat me up all the time. And I couldn't fight, my mom didn't want me to fight. But the point is, it's like I came home crying one day 'cause one of the kids beat me up. And she just had enough. I go, 'Mom you won't let me fight. I can't protect myself' And she said, 'You go out there and you beat that kid up. ' And I'm like, 'You told me not to fight.' And she said, 'yeah but you've got to protect yourself. Otherwise they’re going to keep beating you up.' I went out there and I beat this kid up. Next thing you know all three of them want to fight me. You know. They separated -
Paul: Your first step dad.
Hank: My first step-dad. And then, she, I don't know if she married this guy. I think she did. She was with this other guy. Leroy Gherit. He was a violent guy. We ended moving out to Norwalk before everything was built out there. It was all farm land. He ending up abusing her so bad that she just– all I know is that he was gone one day and we were left there at the house. So it was real vague memories in and out. I remember them, her doing seances in the garage. And I just don't know the whole, how we ended up from one place to the other. But then we -
Paul: You know that is to me part of what can fuck you up the most from childhood, is the fogginess of things. And not knowing where the truth is. It's just an icky uncomfortable feeling in your gut. And I think that's why drugs or alcohol, or sexual promiscuity or video games or whatever your escape is, is so tantalizing. Because that - your mind just playing these events over and over in your head thinking that some type of truth is going to drop out of it like a jackpot game. And you’re going to get peace or relief. And while that does happen occasionally, sometimes what also happens is we drive ourselves to the brink of suicide or madness trying to get that relief.
Hank: Trying to fit the pieces of the puzzle together is what I call it.
Paul: Sometimes I think the best that we can do is to just talk about it with somebody and get to the conclusion that it is just messy and there is maybe no 'Ah ha' truth to it. Maybe that's the 'ah ha' is that there is no 'ah ha.'
Hank: I think at the root of this is knowing the fact, and this is what I found out years later through help - is, why, the question was why was my mother the way she was? I knew there had to be something that happened that made her the way she was.
Paul: You mean picking guys that were -
Hank: The whole dynamics of it. You just knew that there was something wrong. Why are you doing the things, and what I'm talking about - Picking the guys, having the fucked up step-fathers, the drinking. And I remember way back her taking prescription meds, strung out on prescription medications, mental illness, ok?
Paul: She was mentally ill.
Hank: There was something going on. She finally told me what happened. And it was probably a good thing that she waited as long as she did because I probably would have taken action. And what she told me was that her brother raped her, my uncle Sam raped her and it traumatized her. After that she was never the same.
Paul: And how was he and how old was she?
Hank: She didn't get into that. But -
Paul: Not that there's any age at which it's less painful.
Hank: Yeah. But I think it happened probably in her teens.
Paul: And they also then seek out abusive people I guess because it feels familiar to them. And abusive people can spot somebody that is familiar with, that is comfortable with an abusive person across the room. They spot that vulnerability in them. Yeah, it's like if you don't work on yourself and your picker is broken you are going to keep picking people that excite you for the wrong reasons. You're going to be bored by stability. And you’re going to be excited by people that bring inherit chaos and drama. And it's -
Hank: When you get traumatized, it sets up a whole dynamics that you have no control over. And you just - there's a defiance in there. It's like, 'I got violated so I'm going to do what the hell I want. I don't trust, I don't give a shit because I don't trust anyone anymore anyways for the rest of my life. ' And that's happened. I got arrested when I was nine years old, for under the influence, curfew and disturbing the peace. Our routine was - Friday nights we'd get five dollars me and my sister we'd go to the Alacazar Theatre. That is what we did. We'd get a pack of cigarettes and - we're going to these places by ourselves. You know? Me and my sister would split a pack of cigarettes then we'd go to the Alacazar Theatre. End up meeting this girl and we're hugging and kissing and having a great time. And then somewhere in the mix out came the paint. And we're drinking, I don't know how we got the alcohol. But anyways, the paint, I went into a whole new dimension that I had no control over. And I'm just fitting in, I'm just going with it -
Paul: What do you mean the paint?
Hank: Sniffing paint. The paint. The sniffing of the paint.
Paul: You were drinking and -
Hank: I don't know if I was really drinking but it might have been. Somehow paint came into the picture where like a guy had either a sock or a baggie and I just, you know - 'ok I'll try it.' Man, I lost whatever was going on. I went into euphoria if you want to say that. Or where ever it took me. I ended up losing all track of time. Not really caring about what was, just having a good old time. And we're walking down the street and we're making a lot of noise. And this was, back then the curfew was ten o'clock. And somebody came out and said, one of the neighbors, and you know it was 'fuck you' and whatever. So the time we got down to the end of the block the cops were there. So, next think you know I'm sitting in jail. I've got silver paint all over my face. Right? And the cop is asking me questions. Ok. I'm nine years old. And so my mom ends up coming to the station. I don't get beat up, I don't get whipped, I don't get really- I don't know how she dealt– I think it shocked the shit out of her. And it hurt her that this happened to me. And she knew it was her fault. She knew she was responsible.
Paul: There was a negligence on her part.
Hank: And it hurt her. But that was the first time I ever got arrested. And she knew that me and my sister were getting into, going down the wrong path. And all of a sudden I'm seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, and I got a raging hard on. I want to have sex and I didn't care with who. I mean, I'm open. I have no – I don't know who I am. All I know is I want to orgasm. I guess you could say that. I just, but there was also a need to feel wanted and love in there that really twisted me up. I ended up becoming a male prostitute. I was ok with it. I was willing to try anything. That's how uninhibited I was. I ended finding up about swingers and swapping and that sexual aspect of that. I got off into doing that. The free love I guess I come from that era kind of. The free love, but most of it was heterosexual. When I got into being a male prostitute it was mainly with guys. I didn't care. But – and I realize this is -
Paul: Were you mostly doing it for, was it purely for the money? Or was there part of it that turned you on as well?
Hank: When I first started out it - Ok I'm going to make money doing it. But my natural instinct was for sex. And that if I could have sex and get paid for it that's even better.
Paul: Ok. And were you preferring men or women at this point?
Hank: Oh I was always into women. But that was just another side that I explored. I mean it was, you know like I said I had no inhibitions. Looking back at that it was because I was molested. I didn't have any boundaries.
Paul: But It's hard to have boundaries if you're not raised with boundaries. I don't think it comes naturally to a human being.
Hank: Yeah but looking back at it, the thing with the men I was trying to fill that daddy thing too. You know and I had no idea but -
Paul: Walk me through an average day when you're a male prostitute. What, what do you -
Hank: Walk up and down Santa Monica boulevard and just stand out there. And you're cute. And you try to get– you're pulling tricks. Trying to get somebody to pull over and pay you for sex.
Paul: Do you get the money up front, you get the money afterward?
Hank: It'd all depend. You know and you have to learn trial and error, how to trust and not to trust, and take care of yourself.
Paul: Walk me through some of -
Hank: Well one guy picked me up and he just wanted to have oral sex. And most times, I used to - the passive and the fact that they just wanted to blow me - I'm fine with that. I wasn't into receiving anal. That's not – I'm the male. I'm not gonna - That's not me. He asked me how much and the going rate was like forty bucks depending on how far, which I was open to because I didn't know. I ended up, I did anal. I let - the first time that I got penetrated. And I think this was before I became a male prostitute. It was part of the swinging thing. I answered an ad and how I don't really, I don't know how to put it together but I ended up going with a transsexual. It was just a wide open experience. I'm trying to discover different things. I ended up going that way to, you know cause I was horny. Trying something different. And I just - wow. It was - meeting this person and -
Paul: It was a man who had become a woman or a woman who had become a man?
Hank: It was like, I don't know if it was a cross dresser. I wasn't really exactly sure.
Paul: Oh it wasn't a transsexual. It was a -
Hank: It was a guy being a woman I think that was in the process -
Paul: Ok. Was there a penis?
Hank: Oh definitely a penis. It was definitely a guy that either -
Paul: So a transvestite.
Hank: A transvestite. Maybe a transgender. Anyways what ended up happening is that she ended up giving me drugs that put me into a different state of mind. And I was pretty much out of it. And through, you know, whatever we did whatever, I was open to whatever and I ended up getting penetrated. And I actually loved it. I mean it was, I never orgasm-ed like that in my life. But I really wasn't into that aspect.
Paul: Were you a male prostitute yet at that point?
Hank: I don't think I was. I wasn't a male - No as a matter of fact I wasn't a male -
Paul: So then the thought probably occurred to you - 'I can make money doing this.'
Hank: Yeah. I think that's how it transcended into that. But that's.....
Paul: Thank you for being honest about that stuff.
Hank: You know I used to be really ashamed of that and my sexuality and who I am. It's still, I mean in today's society - being a big guy and being masculine, it's still kind of hard to admit that one of my turn ones is transsexuals. It's just who I am. I still haven't come to grips about being able to be open about that.
Paul: I think everybody has something that they're turned on by that they're embarrassed or ashamed about. And the fact that you can be open about that I think is awesome.
Hank: Well thanks for allowing me to open up with it. It's something that I don't, I don't talk about. I'm still not comfortable with – that is part of who I am. That is me. And how do you really be – cause it's like you have to be this macho guy. I got a lot of - Most of my friends are straight and I love women. But there is that part of me, that's part of my bi-sexuality. I would say that.
Paul: And you were telling me before, that you've, since you started being open with your history of being a male prostitute that when you shared that, people came up to you. You said you went to go talk at a juvenile....
Hank: To support and try to help juveniles. Actually I was with a couple of different organizations that help runaway kids in Hollywood called Children of the Night.
Paul: Yeah great organization.
Hank: I used to work with – and you know, people that come to Hollywood and think that it's just – they see this lights and glamour and I'm gonna -
Paul: I'm going to make it over night.
Hank: I'm going to be this success because I got the talent. Without any training or anything. And then they realize that -
Paul: It's a town full of predators and they need to make rent and guess what.
Hank: And guess what. And they don't have the money and they end up on the street.
Paul: But what they do have is a young body.
Hank: They got a young body that people want. And that's what ended up happening to men and women.
Paul: So you talk to these kids at Children of the Night and you told them your story.
Hank: I told them my story and it opened up the door to help other people. And when I was honest and shared my experience with these young teenagers, I got a lot of response that some teenagers come up to me and says, 'I've been living with this for a long time and I've held it in. I'm glad you got honest about it 'cause I feel like I'm not alone. That somebody understands what I've been through.' It just opened the door which made me feel great about it.
Paul: That's so beautiful Hank. That is so beautiful man. Taking that step forward is, it's the scariest thing in the world. Talking about something that we think people are going to judge us for. And then we find out that they love us for it. And they respect us for our honesty. And we've given them some comfort and made them feel less alone. When I get those moments, it, I don't future trip. You know, I feel present. As one of my friends likes to say -
Hank: That's a new term that I like, that I never really -
Paul: Future tripping?
Hank: Yeah. I just realized that one-
Paul: Oh fuck. I'm a frequent flyer.
Hank: That's funny.
Paul: But you know to me the biggest challenge in life is keeping my head where my feet are
Hank: I think that's hardest for anybody.
Paul: And but when I share my experience with somebody, share my pain with somebody, my head is always right where my feet are. My problems disappear. I don't feel alone. I don't feel fucked up. I feel accepted. But sharing what you shared could not have been easy the first time you did it.
Hank: I'll tell you what, and this is the good honest truth – that's my biggest, darkest secret right there. I have no problem telling you I was molested, I have no problem owning up to whatever my, my thing with - but my biggest thing and I'm still ashamed and guilty about it and not open to it because of the judgments from - and what's normal? What is ok and what's not? Heterosexual. That's it. But it opened, with what's happened to me, I'm still not comfortable with, like, it's part of me. Now, I'm not in, I don't go, how do I say this. I haven't been in a relationship or had relations with anybody in a long time. Out of choice. Okay? I'm in a healing process for me. As far as being with another guy, I've never, I'm not that, I'm not really gay. Right? But as far as, I don't even know how to explain it.
Paul: You don't have a desire to be exclusively in a relationship with a man.
Hank: Not at all, right? Not at all.
Paul: But you enjoy occasionally having sex with a man.
Hank: Yeah. I could say I'm open to that. And most of it's been with couples. I think that's still kind of interesting. Just a fantasy about it. And the point that I'm making, is that I'm mainly heterosexual. Women turn me on. And I have, I guess I can be open about this. I've always for some reason, I think it goes way back, is that I got a foot fetish.
Paul: I've always been fascinated by people that are into feet. Because there is nothing sexual to me about feet. Like a woman's neck to me is incredibly sexual. There's the back of a woman's neck when women wear their hair up sometimes, I can't take my eyeoff of their neck. I guess you feel that way about feet.
Hank: Ok, let me put it this way - something happened when I was a kid. And this is how crazy it is that I remember this. And it's gotta be with being molested and open to that. I remember back even when I was young wanting to massage and smell my grandmother's feet. That's really -
Hank: That's really, and I've never said that to anybody.
Hank: That is strange huh? And I don't know where it come from but I think it had to do with me either experiencing sex, with somehow with that. Or seeing someone do that and smelling it. I think that's where it really came from is the smell. Maybe it was the smell of sex and I associated with the feet -
Paul: But there was nothing sexual with you and your grandmother.
Hank: Nothing ever sexual with me and my grandmother that I - no I'm positive.
Paul: I wonder if it was because that because she was so harsh with you that there was something - a lot of times the feelings of rejection and wanting to be loved and our sexuality sometimes can -
Hank: No that wasn't it with her. The foot fetish that's what – it could have been anybody.
Paul: I see.
Hank: It could have been anybody at that point. I don't know how it even came about. I have no clue on how that became my fetish. But something happened in there. And it had to be with sex somewhere. And like I said it was the smell of feet, it was -
Paul: Like when feet smell bad? You like that smell?
Hank: Not bad but there's just an aroma.
Paul: I like the smell of dogs feet. It doesn't turns me on sexually but I love that smell of fritos.
Hank: Oh thanks. I'm a dog. You've put me in a category with a dog.
Paul: No! I'm saying that I love the smell of dogs feet.
Hank: You do?
Paul: Yes. I do. I love it.
Hank: See? And see the judgment. 'Well you're just weird, I can't talk to you.'
Paul: Oh I know I'm weird. I talk to my dogs like they're people.
Hank: But see that, and like you said. The point that I'm making with that is that - Why not so feel bad about my sexuality.
Paul: You have no control over what turns you on so why should you feel any shame about it?
Hank: But I still, I'm not open with that. And it's like, if I was real comfortable with it would I be in a relationship with a transsexual that turns me on? That's the bottom, would I feel comfortable with that? And being open about that? And I guess the fear comes in that I'm not going to have friends because of who I am. You know?
Paul: That's deep.
Hank: Or be invited to social gatherings.
Paul: Dude that's deep.
Hank: Or, are my buddies going to accept me because of that part of me.
Paul: I'm your buddy. I accept you.
Hank: Yeah, ok. But there's, some of our friends Paul is that – I don't know if they would accept that.
Paul: I think they would.
Hank: Because we've got these big macho -
Paul: Dude I think they'd totally accept you.
Hank: That's one of my biggest fears why I don't - I'm not real open about it.
Paul: Wow. I'm so glad that you shared that. That's awesome man.
Hank: You know what, I'm glad that I actually -
Paul: You feel a little more free now?
Hank: I swear to God Paul, just for saying that and opening up to that. I feel more free about it.
Paul: That's so great.
Hank: Cause it's not something that, you know, your deepest darkest secret is one that keeps you in the dark kinda. You don't feel a hundred percent.
Paul: And I should point out to our listeners, the irony, that as you tell me this you are wearing Crocs. My least favorite shoe on the planet.
Hank: You know what, my buddies still give me a rash in the shit 'cause that macho shit. 'Wow if you can, you know, and it's like - '
Paul: I got no room to talk, these mandles that I'm wearing.
Hank: You know, I wouldn't give a shit at this point in my life. I really, whatever's comfortable for me. I had some yellow ones. I still got'em.
Paul: That's an eye sore.
Hank: That is like – But I tell you - These are blue and I actually won these at the UCLA baseball game.
Paul: I was going to say those are the UCLA colors.
Hank: This is from UCLA baseball game.
Paul: You sure you didn't get those because you lost at the UCLA baseball game?
Hank: No actually I won a contest and I tell you what, I've heard about Crocs. I've never worn the most comfortable shoe in my life with these things.
Paul: Wow. Really?
Hank: I swear to God. These things are like walking on cushions.
Paul: Maybe I shouldn't judge. Maybe I should try.
Hank: You know what? If you've never had a pair you'll be thanking me to go get a pair. And I tell you what – I don't care what they look like. It comes to a point where I don't give a shit what you think. They fit, these are the best shoes I've ever worn.
Paul: I feel that way about Birkenstocks. I'll wear some Birkenstocks and I know they look dorky but they feel so fucking good. Especially after a good work out or something putting on a nice thick sock to even dork it up more.
Hank: Oh yeah.
Paul: There's something really comforting about dressing up for pure comfort in an eye sore way that just makes you feel like - wow I really fucking love myself in a good way.
Hank: And you're really comfortable with, you know, who gives a shit what other people think.
Paul: I think the problem I have with them is that they look like they're meant to steam vegetables in. You know, they got all those, the holes, there's just something about them. I don't know.
Hank: You know what it reminds me of because they're so wide in the front? It reminds me of clown shoes. It reminds me of big clown shoes, you know.
Paul: A little bit. But getting back to some of the stuff that I wanted to talk to you about - one of the, and I hate to switch gears and kill the fun but, one of the things that I know that was a really pivotal moment in your life had to do with your mom. Can you talk about that?
Hank: I can. Can we take a break? I gotta pee so bad. It's not pretty.
Paul: So you and I have talked before about there was a painful event in your life involving your mom that you feel like made it really hard for you to get sober for a long time. Can you talk about that event?
Hank: Well looking back, that whole, like I talked about before. That trauma devastated my mom and the abuse that she took and my mom told me stories about this – is that my mom was very abusive, I mean my grandmother. My grandmother used to beat her with coal shovels, hangers, very, very, she'd go to jail today if that happened. And that traumatized my mother. I didn't know that for a long time. She held it from me.
Paul: And is this the grandmother that you lived with for awhile or was that your dad's grandmother?
Hank: That's big mama, that's my mom's mom that I lived with for awhile.
Paul: She was the one who hit you with switches and stuff like that.
Hank: Hit me in my - I'll tell you an instance. Me and my sister played in the yard one day and we got that old spring loaded rocket, I mean horse, where you can bounce on it. So me and my sister are just having fun.
Paul: Being kids.
Hank: Being kids. And my sister jumped on, we're both on it and we got this thing airborn and we're having the best time – Ha ha! And the spring broke. And we both fell off. My grandmother's watching in the window and she just went berserk. For what? Oh my god. She made my sister go out and get a switch and started whipping her. And of course I stuck up for my sister and she turned it on me. That's how fucking abusive she was. Excuse my language. But looking back at that I can see how traumatizing that was to my mother. There's got to be an answer and a solution and a path you can go down so you can heal yourself. She never had that. So she self medicated. And through that with a few suicide attempts and her having nervous break downs, or mental breakdowns, it affected, it affected me of that possibility that -
Paul: There's no safety there.
Hank: I mean, it just opened a door to, whatever, I don't even know. But there was never that, like you said that safety, I never felt -
Paul: You're on your own man.
Hank: I'm in the seat by myself.
Paul: You've got a dad that doesn't even call you. Step-fathers that aren't interested in you. And a mom who physically. emotionally can't.
Hank: Yeah. Yeah and -
Paul: But you felt like your mom loved you.
Hank: I knew my mom loved me. I knew she loved me. She just didn't know, she didn't have the tools -
Paul: To express that.
Hank: To express it. She was so consumed with her traumas, and looking back on it she had to kill the pain. She had, cause it was so devastating cause she's such a..... (he pauses) Phew. There was always that love and support. Always. And for me I don't know my sister's story, but for me it wasn't that bad. It was just normal shit, you know like somebody getting angry or somebody going into whatever she did. Just being unavailable and emotionally fucked up. My mother treated her differently than she did me cause I was the baby of the family and I was just – after she broke up with my last step-dad she was in financial fear. So I remember she was prostituting, not like out on the street corner doing that but she'd go to a bar, pick a guy up and you know. I don't know how many times she did it but she did it nonchalantly where it really didn't affect us. But I know she did that.
Paul: How did you know? Or you figured it out at that point that she was doing that for money?
Hank: She had a guy over. He was a big fat guy. I know she wasn't really attracted to him. It's not - I knew my mom and I put it together right there. Cause I caught 'em in bed with each other. Her thing was 'oh we're just wrestling.' I knew right there, she's lying to me. So I put two and two together. I didn't really know what a prostitute was but I kind of did. So I put two and two together at that point. In the process of all that she had a nervous breakdown. I mean, she absolutely went coo-coo. She's seeing things, she's hearing things. I don't know what happened where the State stepped in, but me and my sister got put in a foster home when I was in the third grade and we both went to live in Compton. I was in a Mexican and Black family and then my sister was in an all Black family. Which was fucking traumatizing in itself. So anyways, that was an instance where her mental breakdown costed me part of my life. Trying to – she'd stay gone, sometimes she'd go on a binge. She'd be gone for two weeks. We didn't know where she was. Or we kind of did but we, you know -
Paul: Who was watching over you?
Hank: My step-dad. But it's like, she'd just be gone for two fucking weeks. She'd check in with us once in a while but we'd have to go find her in a bar.
Paul: Oh man.
Hank: It's like shit like that. How do you fucking deal with shit like that? I'm in Junior High school and I'm trying to study and be you know, be a good student and all this shit's going on. No wonder I was fucking ADHD. All this shit's going on all the time. But she'd come home at two o’clock in the morning. 'Hey meet my friends, I want you to - ' 'Mom I've got to go to school in the morning.' You know? It's like so -
Paul: It's like a child in an adults body. That's what so many alcoholics and addicts are. They're just children who never grew up.
Hank: Yeah. Or that's how you deal with your trauma is you self medicate. Or you find whatever makes you feel good, whatever addiction it can be. And there's many forms of addiction. It could be shopping, it could be sex, it could be gambling, it could be – now the internet.
Paul: Facebook. I know so many people that are completely addicted to Facebook, Twitter.
Hank: Oh my God. There are games on there that suck you in. And I know cause I've been down that road. But I've seen and I've realized that it could be a problem.
Paul: Lets, what I wanted you to talk about was the most, to you the most traumatic from what we've talked about.
Hank: With my mother?
Paul: With your mom. Can you talk about the day?
Hank: Yeah I can talk about it. My mom calls me from the hospital telling me 'I've been having heart, I've been having some problems. Can you come get me?' So I go over to the hospital and I go, 'Why don't you stay here? Why don't you - ' 'Cause they won't let me smoke.' I go, 'well no shit. You should stay here.' 'No I want to go home.' Who am I going to fight with my mom. Ok, so I go home and I said 'follow up with your doctor.' All right, ok. A week goes by. All of a sudden a CHP calls me. They're telling me they've picked my mom up and took her to the hospital cause she got on the freeway driving the wrong way. And I'm like 'What?' She's at the hospital, she was trying to drive herself to the hospital cause she's having heart pains again. So, this is very hard to talk about and it just tears me up. She's in the middle of writing a southern cookbook.
Paul: That's a phrase I did not expect to come in there.
Hank: My mother was in the middle of writing a southern cookbook with all the recipes passed down from generations, my mom was a great cook. Anyways, I didn't realize it brought up all that old trauma.
Paul: Oh wow.
Hank: And it fucking devastated my mom. And I guess she started reliving all this shit that happened to her. I go pick her up, seven o'clock in the morning and drop her off and I said ' Mom, get some sleep. And as soon as you - call your doctor. I'm going to check up on you.' Twelve hours go by or about that and I start calling my mom about seven o'clock at night. And I figure maybe she's just asleep. I let the phone ring and ring and ring. Normally that would wake her up. I just knew something's wrong. (pause) And I went over and she had a heart attack and she fell and hit her head. And she must have had the heart attack pretty soon that I dropped her off cause the coroner said that she was dead about twelve, thirteen hours. I lost it. You know? The first thing I did is I called somebody and I told 'em I was going to – what went on and they came by and all I could think about was 'Why God? Why? Fuck you God.' And I want out. I don't want to be here anymore. I just lost it. The only person I know who loves and cares about me and – I don't want to be here anymore. I went into destruct mode. And I did what I knew how to do best to kill the pain that I did most of my life is I turned to a bottle and drugs. And I didn't care. I wanted out. I just trying to – you know, how I lived through that I have no idea.
Paul: And you struggled to stay sober for nineteen years after that, or eighteen years. Right?
Hank: When I was eighteen I pissed up blood and it scared me. So because of my mom I went into treatment. But I really wasn't, I was in that thing – am or aren't I an alcoholic or drug addict and why can't I control it. I went through that for a long time. And what I'm understanding now is that I had the defiance and grandiosity. I'm going to prove that I'm ok. That I'm different. And that's what I did.
Paul: Which is the opposite of acceptance.
Hank: Total opposite. I want to be normal. I don't want to be an alcoholic and addict. I want to try to control it. And I said all this happened because of the traumas and stuff that had happened to me and I started to understand a little bit. But I just want to be normal, right? I overshot the mark, time and time and time again. Which should have been an indication – but you know it's like most alcoholics and addicts, we shrug it off. It was just a bad night. It wasn't that big of a deal.
Paul: How many times do you think you went to jail or to prison?
Hank: I've never been to prison.
Paul: Ok. How many times did you been to jail in those eighteen years, you think?
Hank: Maybe ten at the most.
Paul: All right, I just wanted a ball park.
Hank: And at the most I don't know if I've been – maybe a little more with the drunk in public and shit like that. Between ten and fifteen at the most. Like I said, I'm not really a criminal, I'm not into that. I'm not into hurting anybody or stealing anything. Just out of stupid, being stupid. And I caught a felony with that in 1984. So I'm in love, with this, and I'm drinking. I'm dating this actress. I don't know how to have relationships. My alcoholism took effect. But we ended up having a problem. And she don't want to see me no more. I don't know how to handle it. I'm drinking to kill the pain. I'm walking down the street to go get some more liquor. And there was a VW rabbit started, just sitting there. And I'm thinking about her. So what do I do? I'm going to borrow the car and go see her.
Paul: “Borrow the car.”
Hank: So that was the second time I ended up getting busted. And they charged me with a felony for that one and I ended up doing a year in county jail behind that. That was - You figure by then, it helped me stay on the straight and narrow for about a year after I got out. But then my alcoholism took effect and I was off and running again -
Paul: I want to fast forward to where you are today. You’ve been sober now for over a year and you're going to college.
Hank: Yes. You know there's always that self worth that, I still don't know if the field that I'm going into is what I really want to end up. But it is a field that I want to be into, helping other people with alcoholic and drug addiction and mental illness. I'm not going to make a lot of money and that's always been my motivator in anything that I've done. The money involved. Where I'm at now: I was driving a truck, going through St. Louis. Something ended up happening, we broke down in St. Louis. I couldn't stand my driver anymore. I ended up going on a bad bender. And I don't know, something just happened. I don't know if it was some realization or I just realized, I think really what happened is that I went into a black out. I don't remember anything. And this is not the first time. This is all lead up to the progression of the disease. This is painful because I'm just - my self worth is still kind of low. Cause I kicked the shit out of me for so long. I don't know why, what happened, what happened. I just - I said I can't do this anymore. I don't want to do this anymore. And I started getting serious about getting sober. And I think it was an accumulation of everything. The surrender, the complete surrender is realizing that I know what's going to happen when I drink and I don't want to do it anymore. I could kill myself or kill somebody else. The worst part is that I'm going to do something in a black out that's going to hurt somebody. I don't care about hurting me. It's the possibility -
Paul: But you decided to finally to surrender to ask for – not only to ask for help but be willing to do what people suggested you do when you asked for help.
Paul: Cause I think a lot of people – they're okay with going and admitting that they have a problem to somebody. But they don't want any advice, and they want to continue to do things their own way. And in many ways what you're doing is you're just calling an audience in to listen to you bitch. If you're not going to change anything. And I have people like that in my life that I eventually have to distance myself from because I say, 'Look I've given you my opinion on what I think you need to do. At this point you're just repeating yourself and I can't stand by and enable you co-sign your bullshit. I love you, I'm rooting for you but I can't be your passive audience member.'
Hank: I can't co-sign it anymore.
Paul: Dude, I'm so glad that you came by to do this. And I, I'm glad that you're at college and you've got this new chapter in your life. And no matter where it leads and no matter what happens I'm glad you're my buddy and I thank you for your really, really admirable honesty in our podcast today. It made me feel good. It made me feel, I don't know, we were talking about that when we took a cigarette break in the middle of the podcast. We both just felt so good. So good about it. And so light. I just feel so light whenever I have conversations like this. I want to thank you for being in my life.
Hank: Well thanks for having me. And I hope my experience will benefit somebody else that's going through and for them to have the power and courage to open up and heal themselves.
Paul: I'm sure, I'm sure it will. Thanks buddy I love you.
Hank: Thanks Paul.
Paul: Just remember he had on Crocs. So don't invite him too deeply into your heart. He was wearing UCLA colored Crocs. So. Keep that in mind. I love him. Love me some Hank Adams. Great guy. I want to thank you guys for listening. Before I send you out I want to remind you there are two ways you can support this lovely show. You can support it financially by going to the website and making a donation. There's a little paypal button you can click on. Donations are greatly appreciated. In fact I'd like to read a letter from somebody that sent me a donation. If I can just find out where it is, here we go. It's from Allison. And she writes: “Dear Paul, I just finished your podcast with Paula Newman. Killer good. It was the tipping point. I donated ten dollars. I know that is not much but as an FT Grad student,” I guess that means full time grad student, “at Fifty with a thirteen dollar an hour part time job, I am proud to have worked one hour to give it to you.” Well thank you, I appreciate that. That means a lot to me. She then writes: “Now I must sound both pathetic and boastful but you sincerely moved me to show my appreciation.” She writes: “I think I have listened to five podcasts now, and I may have recognized a new addiction listening to your show. I am a seeker and a finder and all that great stuff but damn, the safe space you create for honesty from your guests is lifting me out of hiding from my own fears and blockages. Because of you and your bravery,” I think that might be a little exaggeratory. Is that a new word? It is, I just created it. Look it up. I think there's a little – maybe there's a touch of bravery in there but there's also a healthy dose of narcissism. But anyway, let me just goddammit let her call me fucking brave. Jesus Christ! Sorry to my Christian friends out there. “Because of you and your bravery, I am pretending less and less that things did not happen or do not matter. I’ve been tough and I've built up a rather sad philosophy that life is essentially a trick. It's a suckers game. But, you and your amazing guests have shown me something so valuable that I haven't been able to look at before. The fear, the hurt, the resignation is not unique nor is it shameful. And saying so is authentic and healing. Fuck it I say. I'm going to focus on the good. Work my best stuff and keep moving. I admit what happened and let up on myself. I will love that place where I store it in my body. And weep a bit as I free up that space for something better. It ain't over yet. Paul, all the best to you. Thanks for reading this. I'm a big fan.” Well thank you Allison. I was really touched by your letter and the fact that you took time to write it. I always enjoy, as I tell you guys before, I enjoy getting emails through the website. Apparently there was a problem the last couple of weeks, people were getting 404 errors - whatever the fuck those are. But I talked to my web guy and it's been straightened out. Yeah, send me emails. I love getting them. Love knowing that you guys connect to the show. Getting back to my point, if you would like to support the show financially as I said donations are always appreciated, if you would like to support the show non-financially go to itunes and give us a good rating. That boosts our ranking and that helps brings more people to the show and I like that. Makes me feel good. I like feeling good. Thank you guys for listening. And if you’re out there and you're feeling stuck just know that you're not alone. There's a gazillion people that feel just like you do. In fact, you're probably way more normal thank you think you are. You might even be boring. Thanks for listening.