memoriam

RIP: Tony Malliaris (1961-1995)

Tony MalliarisOne of my first big schoolboy crushes was Tony Malliaris, back in middle school in Berkeley, California. I was a closeted gay nerd, he was the hot little Italian Greek stud on the M.L. King Junior Junior High campus. But he was always nice to me, which I appreciated a lot.

After 9th grade, my family moved to nearby Oakland. I changed schools and pretty much lost track of Tony. But about ten years ago, I was watching a TV documentary on HIV, and imagine my shock at seeing that my old crush was now a proud, loud, gay activist with ACTUP. I tried finding him online, but web searching was in its infancy and he did not appear in any results (I may also have been misspelling his name at that time, I’m not sure).

A couple of years ago, I just happened to randomly try again, and this time, he did turn up: He had, for an ACTUP event in 1990, composed and performed a rap called “Storm the NIH,” which had been captured on video, now posted online. It was a great little performance, and the rapper was definitely my old crush, still clearly recognizable all these years later. I tried looking up an email or phone number for Tony, but the rap video was the only reference to him online.

Skip ahead to tonight, when I happened to be watching a recent episode of the gay newsmagazine show In The Life on Tivo. There, in the background of a segment on Larry Kramer was the audio track from Tony’s rap. I was inspired to try again to see if I could track him down online.

I tried everything I could think of (and since I’m a trained researcher, I could think of a lot of ways to find someone), but there just wasn’t anything besides the 1990 rap performance. I didn’t want to pay for a full public records search, but the free part of those searches informed me that his full name was Antony Guy Malliaris.

You’re probably way ahead of me here. His full name was enough for me to take my search to its logical conclusion. I checked the Social Security Death Index, and there he was, of course. He had died in 1995, five years after the ACTUP rap, and just two years before the introduction of protease inhibitor medications that would probably have extended his life indefinitely — ironically, just the kind of drugs he so dramatically demanded access to in the rap.

So this is for you, Antony Malliaris. And for anybody who might search the web wondering what happened to the guy who performed that fantastic white-boy rap about AIDS drugs, or wondering what happened to their crush from way back when — because I’m quite sure I wasn’t the only guy with his heart tuned to Tony G’s frequency.

UPDATE: A little further investigation reveals that Malliaris is a Greek surname, not Italian as I had surmised.