25Sep

From Porn Actor to Nurse – An American Success Story

By , September 25th, 2012 | Interview, New York, Profile | 3 Comments

Carlos’s bedside manner is top among his fellow nurses.  Imagine, that is without the use of any part of his skillset from his former life as an adult film star.

Carlos, not his real name, is a New Yorker through and through.  He was born in 1977 in what was then a very Latin Hell’s Kitchen to parents of Columbian, Venezuelan and Dominican descent. He grew up across the East River in Queens until his volatile home life let him little choice but to leave home at the young age of sixteen.

“I ran away because I felt ashamed that I was attracted to men,” recalls Carlos. “It also was an easy way out to get away from all the anguish of my farther hitting my mother and me.”

Carlos sought out refuge back in Manhattan’s West Village. He found employment in a shop on the legendary Christopher Street, home of the beginning of the gay rights movement.  The pay was meager but the owner was nice enough to let Carlos sleep in the store at night.  He gradually supplemented his income with odd jobs and moved his bed into a nomadic rotation between his assorted friends’ apartments across the city until he could afford his own room.

Two years later in 1996, Carlos turned eighteen.  While for most young men this is a rite of passage to manhood and the milestone for beginning of the rest of their life, for Carlos it might as well have been a visit to the morgue.  Shortly after his birthday, he went to the doctor for a stubborn jock itch when the doctor noticed he had enlarged lymph nodes.  Carlos agreed to submit to a HIV test and when he returned a week later for the results, he got the devastating news that he was HIV+.

“I became very depressed,” reflects Carlos. “Back then, it was a death sentence. I was well aware of gay men and woman getting sick around me, especially in the West Village. The protease inhibitors and other lifesaving medications had not come out yet. It was pretty easy to distinguish who had HIV/AIDS. That was my worst fear. I was also very young and did not know much about the disease.”

Carlos did cope and with the support of his friends and the timely introduction and fast-track FDA approval of several new protease inhibitor medications, he climbed out of his depression.  By 1997, enough new medication available that people living with HIV actually could start looking ahead and planning a future again.  For Carlos, the treatment and personal care he received since his diagnosis led to his desire to one day have a career in health care.

The next major turning point for Carlos wouldn’t be for another eight years, when he started posing nude for an art drawing class that lead to a career in porn.

“I loved the way it made me feel, I felt desired, and it boosted my self-esteem,” says Carlos. “While there I met several photographers that shoot for nude magazines. I did layouts for some of those magazines and eventually started doing films. It was great at the time. It had always been a personal dream to be one of those guys everybody lusted over in the mags and movies.”

With close to 40 movies under his belt, including a “Best of…” DVD, Carlos was a popular actor in the gay adult film arena. Yet, he still yearned to work in the medical field.

“I felt I was at a fork in my life,” tells Carlos. “I could go to school and try to get a professional career or stay where I was in porn and hold out till the end and risk becoming more involved with the drugs, etcetera. I choose to invest my money in my future ‘nursing school.’ I literally worked my butt off and saved, saved, saved to pay for school, buy a car and move away from the city. That is the only way I was gonna do it and succeed.”

Once Carlos graduated nursing school, he got a position at one of his top choice hospitals, a well-regarded one in the New York Tri-State area.  He loves every minute of making his rounds and working with his patients.  At the same time, he is continuing his education Masters of Science in Nursing (FNP) family nurse practitioner so he can eventually open his own business.

The transition between his former and new careers hasn’t always been smooth.  “It has been hard at times,” reveals Carlos. “I’m always afraid someone will know me from the magazines and films and I’d lose my job. I have actually had some patients that have questioned me about it. I tell them the truth because if they know me it is because they watch my films. I’m sure it makes them happy thus aiding in their recovery.”

“I love the fact that I’m helping people,” reveals Carlos. “It’s very rewarding. It gives me a sense of giving back.”

Feature photo credit: The Clear Communication People via photopin cc

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