Saturday, December 17, 2011

"Head Figure Head" more about journalism than about Gov. Rick Perry's sex life

This post originally appeared on on December 16, 2011
Glen Maxey
Head Figure Head, the new e-book from Glen Maxey, details the author's arduous and frustrating six-month effort to investigate rumors of Gov. Rick Perry's gay sex life. Maxey served as executive director of the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas (now Equality Texas) during Perry's tenure as a state representative, later serving for 12 years as a state representative, spanning Perry's time as agricultural commissioner, lieutenant governor and governor. Of all the people who've attempted to look into the rumors of Perry's trysts with men, Maxey is perhaps best positioned to get to the truth, and takes great pains to ensure we are aware of that fact.
The book is the narrative of Maxey's research, assisted by a journalist from a national media outlet. Like almost every character in the book other than Maxey and Perry himself, "the Journalist" is referred to only as a pseudonym. Maxey and the Journalist begin their search for proof in June 2011 as rumors of Perry's impending presidential bid are widely circulating. Immediately the pair find that almost every gay man in Austin has a friend who has a friend who claims to have slept with Perry. For the next three months they track those leads and come excruciatingly close to breaking the story.

In their investigation Maxey and the Journalist meet:
• "James" - who claims to have answered a Craigslist "casual encounters" ad by Perry and come face to face with his armed Department of Public Service escort,
• A "Former Legislator" rumored to have had a sexual relationship with Perry who told a friend he knew for a fact Perry was gay,
• Multiple people who claimed detailed knowledge of Perry's alleged trysts with former Secretary of State Geoff Conner, none willing to go on the record. (The section where Maxey and the Journalist confront Conner at his Bastrop home is particularly thrilling),
• A gay Republican staffer who claims to have lost his job in the Governor's office after rumors of the Perry/Conner affair broke and the office was purged of anyone who was gay, or seemed to be,
• A jogger who claims that Perry hit on him,
• A New York political operative with stories of Perry "disappearing" with a New York City policeman during a reception, and
• "Joey the Hustler," who claims Perry hired him several times.
The story of Joey the Hustler takes up half the book, as Maxey alternates between an avuncular desire to protect Joey from the national spotlight telling his story will create and his thirst to get to the root of the Perry rumors.
Much of the book is direct transcripts of text messages, e-mails and Facebook messages between Maxey, the Journalist and their various contacts. Those who know Glen Maxey only as a venerable political figure may be surprised by the saucy language and frank sexuality of Head Figure Head's unvarnished conversations. In person Maxey comes across as comfortably frumpy, the human equivalent of a Snuggie (the blanket with arms!). In Head Figure Head Maxey emerges as a tireless gumshoe with a heart of gold, a modern day Sam Spade, torn between his quest for the truth and his concern for those involved, particularly Joey the Hustler, who Maxey describes as "shockingly naive."
What emerges is less the story of a hypocritical closeted politician and more a question of the role of the media and the ethics of "outing." Maxey eventually fails to persuade Joey the Hustler to go on the record and the Journalist's publisher will not print the article without Joey's affidavit. At the same time news of Perry's fellow Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain's multiple alleged infidelities begins to break. The early Cain allegations were based solely on anonymous sources, leaving Maxey, and the reader, to wonder why the burden of proof for same-sex dalliances is higher than for opposite-sex.
Maxey hopes his book will encourage more investigation of Perry's life: "This was the teaser," says Maxey. "Someone in the lame stream media will maybe report now."
"Head Figure Head: The Search for the Hidden Life of Rick Perry" is available for the kindle through

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