Time passed, medicine advanced and we forgot. We forgot what a scourge AIDS was, especially in show business, especially in New York. By the late 1980s, I was the only actor still alive from several casts I’d been in during the 1970s.
At the height of the AIDS panic, I dated a public health official. She told me plans were in place to quarantine the entire city of New York, if necessary. The authorities foresaw streets piled with corpses collected by robot-controlled plague-carts. “Bring out your dead.” They were that ascared.
I first heard of AIDS in 1979 – the dawn of the epidemic. I had moved to a Brooklyn brownstone. Ray, my gay landlord said, “Have you heard that all the guys in the Village are getting sick? They’re calling it the gay cancer.” I still see Ray sitting there, still see the terror in his eyes, still feel the terror that shot through me. We both knew that what he was describing will kill him and maybe me. We were both ascared.