Mike Jones is the former male escort and personal trainer who made international headlines late last year when news surfaced that Pastor Ted Haggard had been seeing him as a client for three years.
Mike had not known who his client was — Haggard used the name “Art” when visiting Mike — so it was a shock to him when he was in the gym one morning and saw “Art” being interviewed on TV. Further research confirmed that “Art” was actually Ted Haggard. Mike sat on the information for several months trying to figure out what he should do. Eventually, he went on a local morning radio show and explained how one of his clients was a prominent pastor — without giving away Haggard’s name. By that evening, Haggard was exposed, and the next morning, Jones’ and Haggard’s names were on the front pages of newspapers around the country.
Mike is now the author of I Had To Say Something: The Art of Ted Haggard’s Fall.
The book is a quick read and full of information you would never find in a family newspaper. Yes, there are graphic details about Mike’s encounters with “Art.” There are also touching emotional chapters where he talks about his family members and the loss of his mother. But the most gripping parts began in the second half of the book, when the encounters were all but over. From the moment Mike discovers who “Art” really was, you get hooked, reading what goes through his mind for months as he keeps the information to himself, the frustration he had to deal with when trying (unsuccessfully) to go public with the story, the aftermath that he had to deal with, and even his first return visit to New Life Church.
Yesterday morning, I sat with Mike and we talked about the book, his life, and his future plans. He was gracious enough to answer (if he could) all the questions I had, several of which were submitted by readers to this site. Some relevant (and amusing) quotations from the book are below certain sections.
If you have follow-up questions, leave them in the comments, and I’ll pass them along to Mike.
On questions he gets tired of hearing:
Mike: The only thing I get sick of is: “How big’s his dick?”
Hemant: Which you actually said in the book twice…
Mike: Well, in a nice way… I was trying not to be too graphic.
- He was average below the waist as well. (p. 15)
- [Upon discovering who Ted Haggard was:] “He’s huge!” I said to myself, and I wasn’t referring to his anatomy. (p. 154)
On his family’s acceptance of his homosexuality:
Mike: They knew [about my homosexuality]. And I never tried to hide it. But we never actually had a “discussion” about homosexuality… they just knew and it was okay. It was never an issue.
On the reactions from family and friends when they found out what he did for a living:
Mike: Did my parents know about the escorting part? No. Even my best friends didn’t know… My mom was gone [she had passed away before the scandal broke out] so there was no reaction on that. [Dad? Brothers?] That was tough. Now, you have to understand when I exposed Ted Haggard, I exposed myself. So my older brother’s never talked to me since. My younger brother has called, like, on my birthday and at Christmas… but has never called during the time when I really could’ve used it. “Are you okay, Mike?” Nothing to that nature. It’s almost like they don’t even want to think it happened.
I just saw my father for the first time [since the story broke] about a month ago… My dad says, “Mike, I love you. I don’t understand it… but I love you.” And that’s all that I needed to hear. So it’s been a mixed bag. I’ve never had any cousins, aunts, uncles… no one’s called me since… they’ve kept their distance from me.
On his clients:
Hemant: You said you had been with “politicians, pro football players, and some of the biggest men in the world” (p. 153). If you want to share some of the names, that’d be great…
Mike (laughing): I won’t.
Hemant: How do you know they were those people? You said [in the book] you don’t really talk about stuff [with clients]…
Mike: Some do. I don’t ask questions. I let them talk. Some will open up to me totally.
Hemant: And they’ll say stuff like, “I’m a pro football player”?…
Mike: Well, yes… however, they were repeat customers… they would come to Denver to play the Broncos… First of all, most people don’t look like these guys. The average Joe… and they would always come to see me when I knew they were in town to play the Broncos. That was the timing… And I also saw a few Broncos. And I’m really familiar with them because I keep up on sports… and I had some hockey players, professional hockey players… and I keep up on the news, so I knew who politicians were.
Hemant: Are we talking congresspeople or, like, state, Colorado…
Mike: Mostly state. But a couple in Congress… As far as clergy goes, which I had a lot… I would go to events. I’d go to weddings, funerals, whatever: “Oh, he’s been to see me,” you know? Or they always fit a pattern just like Ted Haggard. They usually always call from payphones. Nobody uses payphones… and then, one of the things I say in my book, which was really so distressing to me, but I took the money anyway, was when they would pay me in ones and fives. You know, two hundred bucks in ones and fives. I knew where that money came from. And it made me sick.
Hemant: You said you came out with the Ted Haggard story partly, or maybe all of it, because the election was coming up and you wanted to expose the hypocrisy.
Mike: I made no bones about it.
Hemant: So how come you wouldn’t do the same thing for the politicians [and expose them]?
Mike: Because I never heard any one of them say anything anti-gay.
Hemant: If you did hear them…?
Mike (nodding): You bet.
On another pastor’s resignation:
Hemant: You said [in the book] you had been with another guy, a clergy guy, who had worked at a conservative church in Colorado Springs. Was there any connection to Haggard?…
Mike: I don’t know if you know… let me just say this: There was another pastor that resigned in Colorado…
Mike: I know… he resigned ASAP. And I didn’t know he had made some statements. But then I heard, and he got a phone call.
Mike: [Points to himself]… Then he resigned ASAP… and he was in the same situation [as Haggard]. Married, had kids… I never made any issue about it because he resigned immediately and I had enough on my plate…
On his massage table:
Hemant: You put your massage table on eBay and it got yanked, right?
Mike: After nine days…
Hemant: Where is it now?
Mike: Well, someone purchased it. Now, you have to remember, too: every penny went to charity… So people that were down on my back about it, I go, “I’m not even taking the money; I’m giving it to charity!”… There was a campaign to get it yanked… from the Religious Right. They sent out all these messages out to fax eBay, to bombard them saying “Remove the table” and after nine days, they removed the table. The last day, the last hours, it was on there. They removed it… I got it back on, but it had lost all its impact… So instead of getting, like, five thousand, I ended up getting a thousand. But all I can tell you is it’s not in Colorado.
On being called an escort:
Hemant: Because you make a point about saying this [in the book], how is an escort different from a prostitute?
Mike: Emotions, basically… Like I indicate in my book so many times, I mean, I had so many men that would just freaking cry in my arms…
Hemant: And one was dying…
Mike: Oh, I had one dying of Alzheimer’s, leukemia, I had a lot die of AIDS. But these are men that… most of them were married, so they had this guilt, this shame, and they were, like, trapped. I make that analogy about being a combat nurse in my book. That’s kinda how I felt. These men would come in all beat up and depressed and everything and I feel like I would mend them up and get their spirits up and their motivation and their self-esteem and send them back off to war. That’s how I felt.
On why he exposed Haggard the way he did:
Mike: You have to understand, if I was really a vicious, mean person, I could’ve blackmailed this son of a bitch. I could’ve blackmailed the church. I could probably have a million bucks in the bank right now and have my privacy still intact, but I chose not to go that route.
Hemant: You wish him well, but you still call him a son of a bitch.
Mike: I know… I say that sarcastically. But I feel sorry for him. I do. That’s why I wrote in my preface: I don’t hate him… Here’s a man who has never been able to be himself.
On the gay community:
Mike: For the most part, they’re supportive. But not overwhelmingly like I thought. I really overestimated it and it’s depressed me.
Hemant: Why is the support not there? Is it because of what you do?
Mike: The Human Rights Campaign is a prime example… just turned their back on me. I think they’re concentrating so much on the escorting part and not concentrating on what I did. They would’ve loved to have done that! In fact, I think if I’d have went to them with the story, they would be hunky-dory. But I didn’t… Should I have done things different? Perhaps. But I didn’t know. I just wanted to expose the hypocrite. I had no idea the twists and turns this story was gonna take… I really needed help, and nobody stepped up to help me when I needed it, from the gay community, and that’s what was so disheartening… and let me say this: Slow, but sure, groups are coming around. I got the [Harry Britt] Lifetime Achievement Award… And there’s another award called — there’s an author called Paul Monet, and him and his lover are both dead, but there’s this trust out there, and they give awards every year. They gave me the activist award this year. I’m going down to Pueblo, Colorado in a week. This is their first PRIDE ever… I’m the keynote speaker… MCC of New York City is flying me out there in January to be their guest speaker… I’m just saying, little groups, slow but sure.
On advice to others in a similar position:
Mike: If someone came to me with the same situation, I’d give them these two things of advice: You want money? Blackmail him. You want to make a point because you think it’s the right thing to do? Do it anonymously. Because, I’ll tell you what, I don’t know if it’s been worth it. I mean I have taken so much crap… I have been yelled at in public. I’ve been called every name you can think of in public. I’ve been spit on in public. That’s just by the gay community.
Hemant: So you wouldn’t do it again if you had a choice?
Mike: At this moment, I don’t think I would. I would figure out a way of doing it so I’m not exposed… I’ve been beat up on all sides. It’s been hard. I think people think I’m having a grand old time, traveling around and all this stuff. I’ve had some wonderful moments, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve had a lot of crap to go with it. And it ain’t much fun being called a whore and a prostitute and a scumbag. It ain’t much fun.
On what he’s doing now:
Mike: I’m on this book tour. So this is taking a lot of my time. You have to understand, I wrote the book in three months. [Hemant’s note: I Sold My Soul on eBay was written in six months, and I was told *that* was incredibly fast]… I think my book’s gonna have two lives because, remember, Haggard signed an agreement not to talk for one year.Hemant: For one year? I thought it was forever.
Mike (Shaking head): You don’t get a hundred thousand dollars to keep your mouth shut forever. It’s for a year… Haggard’s coming back. Trust me. Anyway, I’m traveling… I’m actually in a play… there’s this play called Porridge. There’s a thing in Boulder called the Boulder Fringe Festival… [laughing] what are you laughing at me for?
Hemant (Suppressing laughter): No, that’s awesome! I just didn’t expect that. It’s so random.
Mike: Anyway, there’s a play called Porridge… And this young guy who wrote this play, he’s actually brilliant, and it’s his version of Goldilocks, but Goldilocks is an Iraqi woman. And then it’s about the Iraq War, but the three bears are actually three gay army people in the war. And so when this guy who wrote the play — he came to my book signing and he read my book and he goes, “I am so moved, I want to write a character into this play based on your emotions.” And it was great… I don’t have any interaction between the characters. I come out and do these monologues and they’re pretty lengthy. But it allows me to really get my emotions out there. It’s actually gonna be the show-stopper… it’s exciting, and I’m just really enjoying it… I’m keeping busy. There are some other things in the works that I can’t talk about. And if that comes through, I’m gonna be really busy… if the t’s get crossed and the i’s get dotted, I’ll let you know.
Hemant: How do I get better abs?
Mike: You have to work at it!
Hemant: Damn it.
On the graphic nature of the book:
Mike: The hardest part about my book is people go, “I don’t wanna read about sex.” It’s so much more than that. And you have to understand the reason I wrote about our encounters were: see where he started and how much he progressed, especially when the drug issue came in. Then he wanted to get kinda kinky and adventurous…
Mike: Yeah, it’s the kind of stuff he’s probably been fantasizing about all his life.
Hemant: But he couldn’t say it to anyone.
- “Jack me off now!” [Haggard] said. (p. 102)
- “Show me how this works,” [Haggard] asked, pulling out a device known as a penis pump. (p. 102)
- He especially seemed to like the Stars-and-Stripes thong… (p. 26)
- I took the vibrator and greased it up while he put some lube inside his rectum. (p. 159)
- “Aren’t these fun?” Ted said as he pulled the cock ring around his scrotum. (p. 168)
On the Religious Right:
Mike: This had a major impact on them. They don’t know how to deal with it. This was a biggie. This was one of their own. And this has really made them very awkward. That’s why they’re so quiet.
On mischaracterizations others have about him:
Mike: First of all, the drug dealing part. Second of all, that I was strictly out for money. And again, they’re overlooking the part where I could’ve blackmailed him… it’s disheartening. And a very important part of the book that I want people to understand is the chapter called, “My Agony.” Because if people think I just woke up one morning and said, “Oh, I’m just gonna out him”… it was a very difficult decision.
Hemant: And you held onto it for a few months before you even knew what you wanted to do.
Mike: Thank you. Yeah… I want people to understand I’m not heartless. I’m a very emotional person and I care about people. This was a very difficult decision for me.
On the lie detector test that he failed when the story broke out:
Mike: I think I have an important issue out there and nobody talks about it. I proved those things are not accurate! That’s why they’re not admissible in court. And everybody overlooks that. What, I fail and [Haggard] resigns? I mean, please… If I was really lying, why would he step down? It’s because I was telling the truth. Now, as I described in my book, which is interesting because, you know, I was really sick that day. I had no sleep, I hadn’t eaten, it was five in the morning, I suffer from migraines, and I’m an asthmatic. And the interesting thing was they should have never given it to me to begin with, being in the condition I was in… here’s one thing that I thought was interesting. As we’re driving back to the radio station to get the results, and I was so depressed, the one thing that the guy who gave me the test said: “Mike, please do not tell anybody that you took albuterol for your asthma… don’t say anything about the inhaler”… obviously that can have an effect. And the other thing is, I did some research. When there’s more than one question asked… it only has an 80% accuracy rate… If they actually get a reading. I wish more people would pay attention to what happened to me. Because there’s a reason why [the tests] really are not totally dependable.
On his Christianity:
Mike: My confusion with religion is: I pray, I’m spiritual, I have faith. I just don’t know who I pray to. I pray to the universe. The only reason I kind of classify it as “Christian” is that’s just what I was taught. That’s the image I always have in my head, you know, what Christ should’ve looked like. But you know what? I mostly pray right now to my mom. I feel like I pray to her more than anything. It’s just that I know there’s something out there; I just don’t know what it is.
On what was not included in the book:
Mike: Very, very little [was not included]… one thing would be totally devastating and I don’t want to do that. But I could. I could have.
Hemant: Something that happened with Ted, you mean?
Mike: Yeah. It would be really, really devastating.
On his recent return to New Life Church:
Mike: I don’t know if you remember the artwork [in the church]…
Hemant: I saw some of it was homo-erotic, like you said in the book.
Mike: Very. All the statues were muscle men with wings. And all the artwork on the walls were men with, like, honey being poured on them, naked and stuff… see, Ted Haggard never wanted anything religious looking, so to speak, in his church. You never saw one cross… when I went down there a few weeks ago, all the artwork was gone. All the statues were gone. You know what they have now up there? Crosses… they want nothing — nothing — that is remotely connected with Ted Haggard. And that’s sad, isn’t it? Here’s the church he built. And you don’t even see a plaque.
On what he would say to Ted Haggard if they spoke today:
Mike: I’d say, “Ted, you have a golden opportunity right now. Work with the gay community and the church. Let’s somehow bring some dialogue together and be a uniter, not a divider.” I mean, that would be so wonderful. I think he could do something really good out of it. You know, make a positive out of a negative. But I could tell you what he’s gonna do… He’s gonna come back and he’s all cleansed now and 100% heterosexual — the devil is out of him — and he’s gonna start up another church. I guarantee it… he’s only 51 years old. He’s not gonna stay quiet the rest of his life. The only part I don’t know is, is he gonna come out when he finally starts talking and go after me at all… “Mike’s a liar!” “I never did this stuff!” That, I don’t know if he’s gonna do, but it’s a possibility.
Hemant: Do you actually know anyone who flushes meth down the toilet?
Mike: No… one of my voicemails [from Haggard] is, “Can you get me more?” Well, if you flush it, why are you calling me…?
… One time, as [Haggard] got his meth ready, he was particularly chatty. “You know what?” he said. “I love doing this stuff before I have sex with my wife.” (p. 72)
On whether it’s ethical to make money from this scandal by writing the book:
Mike: When people accuse me of being exploitive, Ted Haggard and James Dobson and all of them have been exploiting the gay community for so many years. In fact, when they want to raise money, “Let’s bring the gay agenda up!” And I don’t know if you noticed this at New Life Church. They don’t send around plates; they send buckets around. So I don’t want anybody telling me about exploitation. It’s my story. I wanted to tell my story. Because I felt there was more to be told about who I am and what went on and that’s why I did it… I’ve received so much crap that, if they don’t like it, don’t buy it. Don’t read it… I didn’t have to write the book. I almost could never say another word. But you know what? I’m in a unique position in my life now. I’m in a position where they have to listen to me.
Hemant: You’re in the driver’s seat.
Mike: I’m in the driver’s seat. And I’m not trying to say, “Look at me, whoa whoa whoa”… but it’s funny how people treat me. I decided, you know what, I’ve been so exposed now, I have nothing to lose. Who else is speaking for the gay community out there? Seriously. I might as well be the punching bag. I don’t give a shit. And if Human Rights Campaign wants to turn their back on me and never acknowledge me, then screw ’em. But you know what? I’ve done more in one little time than they’ve been trying to do for years and years and years.
Hemant: Which is expose hypocrisy?
Mike: Yeah. If you look on their website, what do they want? Equality. I brought down one of the leading opponents of gay marriage in this country, who talked to Bush once a week. And what, I didn’t do what you’re trying to do?… I get a little aggravated… I’m 50. I used to protest. I used to march. I used to do sit-ins. I gave my soul to help the cause. And all of a sudden, they all turn their back on me? I mean it just seems hypocritical on our part. Nobody owns the word hypocrisy.
Hemant: What are you doing with proceeds from the sales?
Mike: Oh, I’m gonna keep it. I don’t owe anybody anything. Listen, I lost everything. I don’t even have a place to live; I lost my apartment. I lost everything in Denver. Why should I give my money away? I mean… screw people! If anybody else came up and said, “Hey, what did you do with proceeds to your book?”
Hemant: Hey, I have student loans.
Mike: Well, thank you! I mean anybody else that said it, if someone else came up and said, “Can I write a book about your life?” You’d be a fool to say no.
On an event he was a part of, jointly with Dan Savage:
Mike: He did catch me off guard, just a tad. We’re up on stage together and the first question he asks me is, “Alright, was [Haggard] a shooter or a dribbler?”…
Hemant: And what’s the answer to that? (Why must you put disturbing images in my head?)
Mike: I know… Actually, he was mostly a dribbler, but you know, we all have our moments.
- It was over and done with in less than two minutes. (p. 19)
On what he contributes to society:
Mike: I’ve always been a good person. I think I’ve offered people hope when they were in despair, when they’ve seen me as an escort, particularly. I mean, I’m a good person even when I wasn’t an escort… I would help anybody out… that’s why sometimes I felt like… I’m like a psychiatrist or a psychotherapist or a counselor, because the one thing I think I am is a good listener. Even though I never got emotionally attached to my clients, I felt for them, though. So I think I gave some people encouragement for self-esteem. And you know, I was a personal trainer for twenty years also, and I took people that hated their bodies so much and transformed them into self-confidence. So I think I’ve done a lot of good things, besides this story, just as Mike Jones, as a good person.
[tags]atheist, atheism, Mike Jones, Ted Haggard, I Had To Say Something: The Art of Ted Haggard’s Fall, New Life Church, homosexuality, gay, escort, Denver Broncos, scandal, sex, massage, blackmail, Human Rights Campaign, Harry Britt Lifetime Achievement Award, Paul Monet, MCCNY, I Sold My Soul on eBay, Porridge, Boulder Fringe Festival, Goldilocks, Iraq War, orgy, thong, vibrator, cock ring, albuterol, Christian, meth, Dan Savage[/tags]