The 16th Second: The Wild Life and Crazy Times of Colt Michael—What Really Happened
by Ted A Richard
W. Brand Publishing

"I have lived through my fifteen seconds of fame, albeit not without scars. But what about the 16th second? What happens then?"

Trauma and homophobia in Richard's hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana, led him to Houston, Texas, where he found a vibrant, welcoming gay community—and where he discovered exotic dancing. Performing under the name Colt Michael, Richard became a highly-recognized, award-winning stripper. He spent years living a double life, using drugs and alcohol to bridge the gap between the fabulous, debonair performer and the lonely, insecure young man he truly was. Unfortunately, his wild lifestyle caught up with him, and HIV/AIDS, as well as his rampant substance abuse, took their toll on his body and mind.

Returning home to die with his family in Louisiana, Richard spent years waiting for the disease to take him the way it had killed so many of his friends and lovers. However, Richard began to find reasons to live. He would soon become a pillar of his community, helping HIV+ people live with their disease, organizing Pride festivals and fundraisers, and running for public office. His memoir shows just how much a life can change and how fame—and recovering from fame—can help a person grow and persevere.

The gay community has few elders because of the AIDS epidemic, and with this memoir, Richard steps into that role. He provides an insider's social history of gay men in the American South during the 1980s and 1990s. Though there are many solemn and heartbreaking moments, Richard also writes with great humor and cheer. The most delightful part of this book is the author's conversational tone. It reads like oral history, with chatty (and sometimes catty) asides throughout the narrative that bring the reader into his world. Photographs and newspaper clippings provide context and further insight into Richard's tales. With important lessons that can appeal to all, this memoir is a celebration of a life fully lived.

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