I’m sitting in a hotel on East Colfax with Mike Jones. Yes, the Mike Jones.
Jones, the outer of Pastor Ted, has been displaced from his Capitol Hill apartment for at least a week, because of the smoke damage after fire broke out several floors below. It is not clear yet whether arson is to blame, but Jones doesn’t think so.
Jones is stupefied because, after all this time, no reporters have asked to see the famous room where it all happened, filled with pictures of naked men, where the “massages” took place. He’d show me himself, except we’re in a hotel room on East Colfax and everything in his apartment is coated with soot.
He also confides – and this is a scoop – that he plans to sell the famous massage table on eBay, and donate the proceeds to Project Angel Heart, a program that delivers meals to people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.
And then he broad-brushes his take on the continuingly unfolding drama – Ted Haggard’s claim, after three weeks in therapy, of being “completely heterosexual”; that the charismatic former leader of the largest evangelical church in Colorado is moving to Missouri or Iowa with his wife and family; that he reached a settlement agreement with the church he founded more than two decades ago.
“The whole thing is so sad,” Jones says.Two Sundays ago, Jones went to New Life Church. He gave them a few days’ notice that he was coming, and walked on in by himself. He was instantly recognized; junior pastors gathered `round, folks shook his hand and thanked him for what he’d done. Some women hugged him and cried. “I’m a brave sucker,” Jones says. He liked what he called “erotic” bronze statues in the giant lobby, like “the Exalter” with its sinew and muscles.
Everyone was perfectly friendly, Jones said, but the whole experience was surreal, “too perfect,” where people seemed almost “robotic.” It reminded him of the Yul Brenner movie “Westworld.”
Jones opines this about Haggard’s claim of being straight after three weeks of therapy – following what Jones says was three years of homosexual sex, which Haggard allegedly enhanced by methamphetimine. “He is a man, a gay man, a gay man living as a heterosexual,” Jones says.
For the details, Jones says, well, you’ll just have to read his book whan it comes out. It’s called. “I Had To Say Something: The Art of Ted Haggard’s Downfall.” Jones came up the subtitle himself, a play on “Art” – which is the name that Haggard went by when meeting with Jones. The male escort-turned-author is sweating over the pumped up deadlines that he’s under to get it done – he and his co-author Sam Gallegos are supposed to have it to the publisher by March 15, with the current publication date of June. That’s a mere seven months after Haggard’s astonishing fall from grace.
“Ted was a smart man, but he got sloppy,” Jones says.
In the initial weeks after Haggard’s November crash, Jones got 700 e-mails, 600 phone calls, five death threats. Reporters were pounding on his door, it seemed, at all hours. He went to New York to go on a news show, and people everywhere recognized him, thanking him. He’s heard stories about how the news broke all around the world – like on a gay cruise, in the middle of the ocean, where an all-ship announcement was made.
All of Jones’ other clients faded, immediately, away. Some gays and lesbians have given the former escort the cold shoulder. When there’s a fire at his apartment complex, for example, Jones moves to a hotel on East Colfax, not a suite at the Brown.
Jones was a male escort for 20 years – about the same amount of time that Haggard had his ministry. Jones is 49, Haggard is 50. Like Haggard’s lost ministry, Jones knows the escort part of his life is over now too. He calls himself a loner. After the book is out, and the signings are over and the Oprah appearances are taped, what does Jones want? He wants a dog, maybe a house.
“I love dogs. I haven’t been able to have a dog in so many years…”
Cara DeGette is a longtime Colorado journalist and a senior fellow at Colorado Confidential. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.