BY Harrison Pierce
October 30 2009 1:00 PM ET
On the first two seasons of VH1's Celebrity Rehab, Dr. Drew Pinsky attempted to help a series of famous and/or infamous personalities overcome myriad drug and alcohol addictions. For his third round of televised rehabilitation, he’s narrowed the focus to one specific, more taboo form of dependency: sex addiction. Although VH1 is retitling the show Sex Rehab to downplay the celeb factor this season, participants do include former Playmate and Colin Farrell sex tape star Nicole Narain, ex-porn star Kendra Jade, and gay British film director Duncan Roy.
For many Americans, the show’s November 1 premiere will serve as an introduction to Roy, who, despite a somewhat lower profile here in the States, cut quite a notorious figure back in late-'70s, pre-Thatcher England. Fleeing a lower-class home and a sexually abusive stepfather, Roy managed to infiltrate upper-crust society by passing himself off as the son of a lord. After serving time in prison for his artful, if criminal, ruse, Roy went on to reinvent himself once again as an acclaimed indie gay filmmaker. His autobiographical 2002 film, AKA, won numerous awards on the gay festival circuit, and the British film academy nominated Roy as one of the year's most promising newcomers.
Since then, he’s gone on to direct Elizabeth Hurley in the thriller Method and a maturing David Gallagher (of TV’s 7th Heaven) in a stylish updating of The Picture of Dorian Gray.
Advocate.com recently spoke with the refreshingly candid filmmaker about how he ended up in Sex Rehab, his thoughts on sex addiction among gay people, and exploiting a potentially exploitative situation in the name of true healing.
Advocate.com: So, Duncan, how’d you end up in Sex Rehab?
Duncan Roy: Well, I’d been going to meetings for sex addiction, and a friend of mine called me and said they’re doing this show, and I was like, "Yeah, right, like I’m going to be a part of that." But then the producer called me and he seemed like a nice guy — a gay guy — and he talked to me at length about the show and Dr. Drew. I’d never seen Celebrity Rehab and didn’t even know who Dr. Drew was because I don’t have a television. I don’t know any reality shows. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I wasn’t alone with this issue and agreed to it.
When did you first realize sex addiction was a problem in your life?
Well, I’d been sober for 12 years and eight months by the time I did the show, but eight months prior to that I kind of hit a wall in my sobriety. And that wall was that I was sober for alcohol and drugs but I was still acting out sexually. Now, if I describe my sexual behavior to many gay men, they might say it was perfectly reasonable to be doing what I was doing: looking at pornography, hooking up online, seducing straight boys. But then I got into a situation where I was online with an alternative personality. Now, the more you get people to admit they’re on Gaydar or Adam4Adam or Manhunt, they’ve probably got one or two profiles. But once I was doing all that, I realized I was not the person I wanted to be. I didn’t want to be the kind of guy who forsook the idea of having a relationship for this very time-consuming life online and on the streets [because I wasn’t going to bars].
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