This is a blog post I’ve been meaning to write for awhile. However, the circumstances around it deeply affected me to the point I can only write about it weeks after I found out what happened to the boy from the bus.
In the late 1970′s, I was an in-the-closet (and far from being out) 13-year-old who had this insane and unexplainable crush on a classmate name Jim Rideout. We rode Bus 9 together from the rural area where we lived to the junior high just outside of town on a daily basis. Jim was a beautiful and energetic boy who had one of those bodies at 13 that was worthy of any 17-year-old twink. His blonde hair, surfboy looks, tall frame and toned body was all I needed to get those butterflies sturring in my stomach every time I sat next to him on the bus.
It wasn’t until years later that I reconciled my own feelings with sexuality and identified why I had butterflies on Bus 9. For decades, I was always interested in finding Jim to determine if he had been as gay as I now thought he was.
Recently, I began scanning old photos and posting the resulting albums to Facebook. When I took a close look at the picture above, I noticed Jim hanging out of the window above my bowl haircut and horrific polyester blue shirt (yes, that’s me in the middle of the two lovely girls). He always wore sporty soccer shirts and was as gorgeous as any teenager can be.
Jim’s wave and the look off into the distance compelled me to do some research to figure out where he is. What happened to him. Did he come out of the closet.
What I discovered wasn’t the outcome for which I had hoped.
After some web sleuthing, I learned that Jim left Maine and headed to San Francisco to attend college in 1984. By then, he was 18 and left his 14 siblings to start life in the gayest city in the world. All this was from a full bio on Wikipedia:
Kurt Marshall (birth name James Allen Rideout, Jr.) (November 13, 1965 – October 10, 1988) was an actor who performed in gay pornographic films in the mid-1980s. Although he appeared in only four films, the gay pornographic industry trade publication Unzipped named him one of the top 100 gay porn stars of all time in 2006, author Leigh Rutledge listed him as the ninth most influential gay porn star of all time in 2000, and adult film magazine editor John Erich called him one of the “most beautiful” gay adult film stars of the 1980s.
Kurt Marshall was born James Rideout, Jr. in Waterville, Maine, one of 15 children. After high school (he graduated after lettering in swimming and track and field), he attended San Francisco State University, but never finished. He said in several interviews that he performed in adult film in order to earn money for college.
Adult film career
In 1984, at the age of 18, he starred in his first film, Matt Sterling’s ‘Sizing Up,’ with fellow gay adult film star Mark Miller. His role was that of a star track and field athlete, which echoed his high school sports experiences. A historian of gay erotic film called Sizing Up a “superior example of [a] gay porn video which make[s] gay men visible in places where they have mostly been invisible…” He made three films the following year, all for Falcon Studios: The highly influential ‘The Other Side of Aspen II,’ ‘Splash Shots,’ and ‘Night Flight.’ The Other Side of Aspen II was Falcon’s first film which was shot entirely on video, and Marshall worked with legendary gay adult film performer Scott O’Hara. O’Hara later wrote in his autobiography that he was not in the least attracted to Marshall, although much of the film was later edited to make it appear as if he was having an intense sexual experience with him and two other blond men. Adult Video News (AVN), the adult film industry trade publication, later rated the film as the ninth most innovative and influential gay porn film of all time in 2005. His second film, Splash Shots, was credited with making sex around the swimming pool a gay porn trope.
Assessing his career, Unzipped magazine editorialized that “the films he appeared in were noteworthy.”
Marshall, an admitted drug user, tested positive for HIV in 1986. He came out to his family that same year and entered a drug rehabilitation program. He moved to San Diego, California in 1987, but returned to Los Angeles later that same year, and worked in the construction industry. He died on October 10, 1988, at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center. The official cause of death was kidney failure due to substance abuse and AIDS.
So there it was. Life and death. My teenage crush was gay as I suspected. But learning that he was a victim of the AIDS crisis brought me to tears. It explains why he disappeared off the face of the earth. It reminds me of the many gay men of my generation who are lost forever. It destroys me to think of lives not lived.
Why would someone I barely knew – a school girl crush, even – affect me to the point that I had to take a time out from work for several hours to process?
As you can see from the NSFW image above, he was beautiful. But, when we were 13, he made me recognize sexual feelings in a way I will never forget. Jim was part of my evolution as a gay man.
35 years later, I have learned who I am and realize that in spite of occasional letdowns in life, I have nothing to complain about. Everything turned out ok. Finding Jim is a reminder of the horrors of AIDS on our community that come out of nowhere when you least expect it and grab our balls in a really sharp and painful way. It’s easy to hibernate our fears and sorrows of a bygone era. Finding the boy on the bus reiterated them in a painful way.
Fortunately, inspiration does seep its way out of the story. Here is Jim a.k.a. Kurt quoted in one of his numerous interviews as a porn actor in the 1980s:
“I think to be gay is to be blessed. We have so much freedom, so many choices. This isn’t our moment to party or to think we’re going to stay young forever…maybe it’s our time to find someone to be safe with…to be happy with…”
Thanks, Jim, for a reminder of how lucky I am. I just wish you had found your own someone with whom you could be safe and happy. I wish I had been your friend.
Here’s Kurt in his first porn:
Video from ‘Sizing Up
RIP, Jim Rideout.