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July 15, 2007

Midlife Crisis


Well, this may be a bit of a surprise to those following my journey in the Middle East. My last story before book leave appears in today's Sunday Styles. It's about Ron Boyer, aka Rod Fontana, porn star turning preacher. It says: "After 30 years of sowing the wildest of oats, Mr. Boyer, 54, has searched his soul and chosen, to the surprise of family and colleagues, to seek a priesthood in the Episcopal Church.

From his work in the rented villas of the San Fernando Valley, where hard-core sex films are shot, he has moved just a short distance west, to the Church of the Epiphany, which is guiding his transformation from pornography star to preacher..."  I spent large chunks of time with Ron/Rod since December, when I first met him, and watched him transition from porn performer to an aspiring man of the cloth. I have felt privileged that he let me into this process, which is extremely delicate and involves all sorts of mind-bending choices.

FontanaUPDATE: I have been asked by some readers to comment on the correction that ran about Ron Boyer, the former porn store who is seeking a priesthood in the Episcopal Church, which I am happy to do. The church now says that Ron would like to be a priest, but has not been accepted in any formal ordination program. This is a lot more than the church was willing to say to me before publication, despite my repeated efforts. I sought out the vicar who is guiding Ron, Hank Mitchel, going to meet him in person at Sunday services. Mr. Mitchel gave me some brief comments, which I quoted in the story, saying that he hoped Ron's ministry would bring hope to people who needed it. But he also said he did not want to comment further. At that time, I explained that this was going to be a major piece in the Times, that I had been following Ron for months, and that I thought Mr. Mitchel's insights would be important. I called Mr. Mitchel twice subsequently to try to convince him to speak further, to no avail. Ron had told me that Bishop Suffragan Talton had given Ron a go-ahead to begin training for a deaconhood, after meeting with Mr. Mitchel about Ron. I left voice mail for Bishop Talton asking him to confirm this, and spoke twice to Janet Kawamoto, the diocese spokeswoman, about the story generally, and to confirm this meeting specifically. I never heard back from her, or Bishop Talton. Ms. Kawamoto says she left me a voice mail saying there had not been a meeting, along with some further details; I never received that voicemail. So, I regret what appears to be lack of communication, and miscommunication, between myself and the diocese, and it may be that Ron himself is misinformed about his status. However, since I am on a lengthy research trip and Ron is not easy to reach, I have not been able to clarify this further. That is all I know, and I am certainly willing to hear all comments from readers.