MUSIC CELEBRITIES REAPPRAISE AIDS
rock band Foo Fighters stage benefit concert for Alive & Well
OF THE principal reasons why the HIV explanation of AIDS achieved
and maintains its popular support and public funding is that celebrities
embrace and promote it. Scientists who have investigated the evidence
and dismissed the HIV modelthe
"dissident" AIDS scientistswould
probably agree that celebrity endorsements have meant more than
the data in establishing the HIV model's hegemony. Now the AIDS
scientists have their own major celebrity endorsersthe
Foo Fighters, a mega-popular platinum-selling alternative rock group.
January 14 the band staged a Los Angeles benefit concert on behalf
of Alive and Well AIDS Alternatives, the dissident AIDS group formerly
known as HEAL-LA, and directed by HIV-positive mother Christine
Maggiore. "This is the first time that internationally known celebrities
have openly endorsed our cause," Maggiore says.
benefit raised $20,000, the largest fund raiser ever for an AIDS
reappraisal group, and took place in a sold-out Palace Theater in
Hollywood, a music club that holds 1,200 people.
connected with the Foo Fighters through a friend of band bass player
Nate Mendel. Mendel's friend attended a 1998 talk Maggiore gave
for HEAL-Seattle, and shared his information with Mendel, including
Maggiore's book, What if Everything You Thought You Knew About
AIDS was Wrong? Mendel was receptive, and made contact with
Maggiore, mindful of the linchpin role fellow celebrities had played
in successfully promoting what Maggiore was saying was "wrong."
Email and phone communications led to Mendel's full alignment with
Maggiore's perspective. He presented his information and conclusions
to band mates, who came to agree with him.
offered to stage the benefit for Alive and Well. As a measure of
the Foo Fighter's ascendant celebrity, the event sold out in five
minutes. The Foo Fighters are certainly among today's top-drawing
band has placed on its popular website (www.foofighters.com) a prominent
link to Alive and Well's website (www.questionaids.com). Text accompanying
the link reads, "If you've ever lived or loved in fear of AIDS,
click here for a reality check and to find out information the AIDS
establishment isn't telling you."
promoting the event, Mendel had Maggiore join him for an on-air
interview on KROQ, LA's number-one radio station and the benefit
sponsor. "Nate made an articulate spur-of-the-moment spokesperson
and KROQ aired his remarks uncut," Maggiore says. "He said that
Alive and Well's message is that HIV is not the cause of AIDS, that
we take a healthy approach to AIDS, that AIDS drugs compromise immunity,
and other things I never thought I would hear on a major mainstream
radio station like KROQ during evening drive-time, let alone uttered
by a member of one of my favorite bands. When asked what got him
into Alive & Well and questioning AIDS, Nate gave the full title
of my book on air for millions of listeners."
continues: "Tami, the KROQ air personality who interviewed us, was
receptive to our ideas off-mike. She told me she felt like one of
'the choir' and asked for more books to share with DJ's who have
talk shows involving social and health issues. She gave me contact
names to pursue and told me I could mention her name. We met at
the concert and was relieved to find that she hadn't changed her
members provided supportive on-camera statements to Maggiore's husband,
Robin Scovill, for a documentary he is making of the AIDS reappraisal
movement. Founding Foo Fighter Dave Grohl, the band's most popular
member, assured Maggiore, "I am behind you guys 100%."
the band's performance, Mendel introduced Maggiore and described
Alive and Well as "an organization doing important work." Maggiore
discussed her experiences as a healthy, pharmaceutical-free HIV-positive
mother, and alerted the audience to "an epidemic of unfounded information
and unnecessary fear." This perspective was new to nearly all the
1,200 fans. "We worried that Foo fans would not be interested in
what I had to say and might even be rude," Maggiore recalls. Instead,
"the response was really encouraging. That night it was as if challenging
the HIV-AIDS model was normal and popular."
the performance, band members expressed support for Alive and Well,
and dedicated a song to the group. Mendel urged everyone to read
their brochures and buy their stickers, postersincluding
one featuring the Foo Fighters logoand
the What if...? book. Everything sold well, including all
300 copies of the book, which represented one copy for every four
band members pledged Maggiore their continued support, and seem
to have made good on this promise. The national magazine, Mother
Jones, published a website article describing the Foo Fighter's
as endangering the lives of their fans by supporting Alive and Well
(visit www.motherjones.com or www. questionaids.com). Newspapers
and magazines, including the national gay publication, The Advocate,
ran the Mother Jones article, or their own articles based on it,
and Rolling Stone mentioned it. Mother Jones received so many responses,
pro and con, it set up a special page for it on its website. In
response, Mendel composed a lengthy and informed letter which the
magazine includes as well on its website.
to Maggiore, band members intend to use their celebrity as deliberately
and as assertively to question the HIV model as others have used
theirs to promote it.