Well if you’re from Hollywood, Florida, you may know him as Officer Michael Verdugo. Officer Verdugo has served the state of Florida for over ten years, both as an undercover officer (!!!) and as a regular old ass kicker… I mean law enforcer. To my understanding, he has never once been cited for misconduct and is considered great at his job.
And if you’re a big HGTV watcher, you might know him as Mikey V from Season 3 of “Design Star” (2008). I guess his work was pretty good there too because he finished fourth out 10,000 contestants that season.
But if you’re me, you know Michael Verdugo as Jeremy Wess, one of the submissive stars of Grapik Arts’/Tom “Ropes” McGurk’s film Rope Rituals (1996). Hot naked S&M between beautiful boys (but no hard core for Jeremy) – don’t act like you wouldn’t do it if you had those abs (below)!!
And in case you maybe haven’t already figured it out, on top of being a hot cop who can design stuff, Verdugo is also gay. Up through 2008, no one really seemed to mind (“mind”?); but then one day, in the midst of “Design Star,” footage from the now out-of-print Rope Rituals resurfaced. All of a sudden, people began to feel a bit different about having Verdugo’s around.
Mikey V got eliminated from “Design Star” during episode 5 for being nervous in front of the camera (riiight…); and the Hollywood Police Department (HPD) put Officer Verdugo on administrative leave, presumably for not disclosing his previous employment with Grapik Arts.
There’s been much news coverage of Verdugo’s dismissal from HPD, with most of it centering around discrimination over his queer sexual identity coupled with his appearance in porn. However, given that he was out at work the entire time, I am inclined to say that Verdugo’s unfortunate 2008 was more about his porno-ness than anything.
(pictured: Michael Verdugo as Jeremy Wess)
Now I know what you may be thinking – “Verdugo got eliminated from a cheesy reality show because he couldn’t effectively transform a drab kitchen in under 24 hours!! And he lost is his job for not following cop hiring disclosure protocol!! This isn’t about gayness, porno-ness, or even gay porno-ness – it’s about following the rules!!” – but I beg to differ.
First of all, the mainstream doesn’t really like people with adult industry pasts. Now, they may be fine with people who are currently working in porn as high profile “examples” and/or talking heads, but no one seems to like a former porn star, gay or otherwise, attempting to cultivate a new career as “themselves” …or even as another “character” (ie Mikey V).
Don’t believe me? Well ask Sandra Scott, né Sandra Margot, of WE’s “Wife, Mom, Bounty Hunter” (2007). Once it dawned on people that the show really should have been called “Wife, Mom, Bounty Hunter, Former Porn Star,” it quickly disappeared from the air. Only unlike Verdugo, who worked just one time in only one scene, Scott/Margot worked as Tiffany Million for years.
Whatsmore, having a “legit” career (and career should also be in quotes here) and then doing porn doesn’t seem to have an inverse, revitalizing effect. Just ask former beauty queen and “Passions” star Kelli McCarty, who starred in one adult film, Vivid’s Faithless, in 2009. You could also ask the uber-douchey former UFC fighter Jon “War Machine” Koppenhaver, who starred in one yet-to-be-released Digital Playground feature with Riley Steele in 2009… but he’s been serving time in a San Diego prison for felony assault and parole violation since mid-July.
Second of all, don’t police department’s background check during the hiring process? Certainly there was record of Verdugo’s one-time payout from Grapik Arts. Either a one time job occurring years prior to current employment was irrelevant to the hiring process, HPD didn’t background check Verdugo thoroughly (which makes me wonder about what other actual atrocities HPC has overlooked in members of their force), or they didn’t really care about Rope Rituals… until it was on the evening news.
(pictured: Michael Verdugo as Mikey V)
Verdugo was nothing but lauded until it came out that he had done porn… once, and the rational responsible for completely derailing his life on those grounds could easily impact any one of us. For example, I currently work with many impressionable young minds at a very well respected university, and I certainly didn’t include the summer job I had at Target when I was 18-years-old on the paperwork I completed when I was hired. Why would I? But given Verdugo’s experience and Target Corp’s recent settlement for race discrimination, I had better watch out – there may be some guilt-by-former-association in my future!!
I jest, but in all seriousness – have you ever left something off a job application, either accidentally or on purpose? Do you not find it odd that Verdugo, who had successfully challenged and integrated himself into one of the most notoriously homophobic occupations in contemporary US culture, lost everything as soon as his ridiculously brief sex worker past resurfaced?
Needless to say, Verdugo fought with the city over its blatantly discriminatory act and only recently won the right to keep his officer certification… well, he gets to keep it as long as he, a ten-year veteran with an unblemished service record, completes a one-year probationary period and a state-approved ethics-training course.
Verdugo is now suing to be fully reinstated. His case is scheduled to be heard in November, 2010 in Broward Circuit Court. I really hope he wins… and I really hope WE brings back “Wife, Mom, Bounty Hunter” …because I absolutely love seeing members of the adult industry – members in any capacity – who can regulate.
(pictured: Michael Verdugo)
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