We met on a website called Big Brother Dish in the summer of 2009, where I was writing Big Brother blogs for fun. I never even thought to charge for my writing. I was doing it for the love of Big Brother and “for the fans.” The concept of fans was so new to me, even after so many years after winning Big Brother because at the end of the day, I’m just like everyone else. My mother thought I was crazy to write for free, so I lied to her and told her I was getting paid $25 an article, and this made her happy. That was 2009.
I didn’t know what to make of GaYToR at first. I didn’t know why the “Y” and “T” and “R” were capitalized in his username. I still don’t know. I always meant to ask but always forgot to. It didn’t matter. He was GaYToR. He was a drag queen in fabulous New Orleans, and he was a huge and old school fan of Big Brother.
Then, at some point, GaYToR went from fan to friend. The Big-Brother-Fan-to-Friend. This doesn’t happen often but when it does it’s warm and sincere and long-lasting. I learned that GaYToR’s real name was John Martin, and Zsa Zsa his stage name, and his loving partner in life’s name was Danny Stark.
John Zsa Zsa Martin and I were friends before I ever had a Facebook fan page or Twitter account, or my own blog. I tasted my first-ever New Orleans King Cake because Zsa Zsa sent me one with Louisiana love. Zsa Zsa never asked me for a thing but gave a lot of himself.
Over the years, John Zsa Zsa Martin watched me go from single thrill-seeker to married to mom and we exchanged stories and anecdotes like any other friends would, regardless of how we met. Zsa Zsa shamelessly lusted after my husband Davy, to my delight and Davy’s laughs. Davy and I talked about Zsa Zsa often, and interestingly enough, we always referred to Zsa Zsa as “her” or “she” and it always just felt right. Davy always laughed extra loud when Zsa Zsa flirted with him.
Zsa Zsa loved his Danny Stark, but Zsa Zsa held a special place in his heart for Davy too and for me and Noah.
After all their years together, Zsa Zsa and Danny were to be married this past Friday in Connecticut. On Saturday morning, I received the news that Zsa Zsa died of a massive heart attack right before the wedding. April Fool’s Day had already come and gone, and the reality of Zsa Zsa’s passing was cold and shocking and raw still. Danny is now mourning his partner of 33 years and yet still so in love.
Davy wasn’t home yesterday when I received the news. He was helping a friend move into the city. I told him everything in one long breath when he got home and the hairs on his arms stood up as his face fell. Neither Davy nor I had ever met Zsa Zsa in person. How could we be so affected?
I can only imagine what Danny is going through right now. Bringing John home to New Orleans from Connecticut is the harsh reality that must be addressed. Who has extra money these days? Nobody I know. But what Davy and I could, we spared and sent to Danny. Danny needs help to repay a kind minister who paid all final expenses up-front. With no legal recognition or death benefits to collect, Danny Stark could use a compassionate shoulder to lean on.
At the time of this writing, the John Zsa Zsa Martin fundly fundraiser is nearly two-thirds of the way there. If you can, please help. The smallest amounts can amount to enough.
We miss Zsa Zsa already.