Robert Sepulveda Jr. – the gay Atlanta man at the center of Logo's "Finding Prince Charming" – was apparently an escort as recently as this year, contradicting his claims that it ended a decade ago when he used the proceeds to pay for college.
Sepulveda has faced a barrage of media attention – and a good bit of criticism – since Logo announced last month that he was the star of its "Bachelor"-like reality dating show that premieres on Thursday.
There was a string of kinky videos. Nude photos. And reviews from people who said they were past clients.
Logo was knocked back on its heels with the details of Sepulveda's sex work. Via the Wrap:
The network was blindsided by the disclosure, TheWrap has learned, and is scrambling to contain the PR nightmare as gay activists join the growing chorus of critics for a show that’s been dubbed the gay version of “The Bachelor” and is set to premiere September 8.
A person close to the situation told TheWrap the network followed “standard protocol” when vetting Sepulveda and that “nothing came up during the background check.”
“The network didn’t find out until well into production,” he added.
But the backlash has already begun to mount. “To call him ‘Prince Charming’ is a little reckless,” AIDS activist Tyler Curry told TheWrap, while cautioning against “shaming” people who become sex workers.
Sepulveda responded in an Aug. 31 interview with the Huffington Post, brushing past the sex work with a terse, "The past is the past."
"I was young and it helped with college. But what I want people to focus on is who I am today – an entrepreneur, as an activist. I started a non-profit and you know, focusing on the show. That's really what I want people to focus on," Sepulveda said.
But that's not quite accurate. Boy Culture questioned the timing and suggested his sex work lasted longer than Sepulveda admits. Then it criticized "Prince Charming" for his lack of candor.
If only he'd been honest, and if only he were not so clearly icked out by his past (a past shared by so many LGBTQ people!) and by it coming to light, and if only he weren't so adamant about his non-profit (that no longer exists), then we could focus on condemning the gay men who are trashing him as a slut instead of condemning them while simultaneously having to roll our eyes at Sepúlveda's slipperiness and pretension.
It didn't take long for non-LGBT media outlets to also challenge Sepulveda's assertion that his sex work was in his past. Via the AJC:
Spencer S. Barre, who said he had been a friend of Sepulveda for a long time, said the man has been escorting for 15 years, hardly a youthful indiscretion. He also believes Sepulveda’s interior design business is not exactly thriving, which is why he had to resort to the prostitution business. (His site does not list clients and references.)
“As a gay man who has known him a long time,” Barre said, “I don’t think he’s the best person to be promoted as a gay icon right now. He’s more of a Rumplestiltskin than a Prince Charming.”
QueerClick further debunked (NSFW) Sepulveda's timeline.
On the first reports Sepulveda Jr’s alleged escorting past was put in a distant past, as far as 2006. But a keen QC reader tipped us that Robert Sepulveda Jr was apparently still offering his sexual services as recently as this year, concretely during March/April of 2016. But the torrent of information didn’t stop there. Sepulveda’s “The past is past” approach didn’t disclose some strange details. Alledgly he used the nickmane “NYCjock83” on Kik and Tumblr to not only offer himself but he shared images and videos of his sexual activities featuring requests from his clients. Those requests included injecting cum sent via correspondence (with his name visible on the envelope) on his penis with a syringe, photos of his smegma, claiming that he hadn’t washed inside his foreskin for two months, stretching his asshole with beer bottles and swallowing stale semen from a used condom.
Sepulveda tried to muddy the timeline again Wednesday in an interview with People.
"The small furniture store I was working at suddenly went out of business," the star of the gay dating reality show Finding Prince Charming says in the current issue of PEOPLE. "I didn't know how I was going to pay rent or my [college] tuition or buy food."
But Sepúlveda had a friend who was making good money as an escort.
"I saw no other way to support myself so I decided to do it too," says Sepúlveda, 33. "I had all those expenses, I just knew that I had to do something. I had no other choice."
The former Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale student says he escorted off-and-on for the next two years until he graduated in 2006 and got his first "real job."
And about those sex videos? Sepulveda claims there's just one and he shot that and sent it to an ex-boyfriend. Via People:
"There are stories that I did porn. I never did porn," says Sepúlveda. "There is a video circulating out there that I shot privately and sent to an ex-boyfriend. It feels so violating that someone would take something so private and share it with the world. I want to work to make sure there are laws protecting people from similar situations. It's just not right."
Sepulveda has also enlisted an Atlanta-based entertainment lawyer, Alan Clarke, to try and scrub the internet of the videos – and even news coverage of the controversy. Clarke, in a Sept. 1 letter to Project Q Atlanta, said all but one of the videos are fakes.
"Recently, an XTube.com user created a false account, NYCJockXL, claiming to be Mr. Sepulveda, obtained a promotional headshot of Mr. Sepulveda's and posted it to misidentify himself as Mr. Sepulveda," Clarke said in the letter.
"He also obtained a private video of Mr. Sepulveda's which he sent to an ex-boyfriend ten years ago, which Mr. Sepulveda solely owns, and posted it to the XTube website. He then posted other videos which are NOT Mr. Sepulveda which do not show the face of the person in the video, and posted them in association with Mr. Sepulveda to make it appear as if they were Mr. Sepulveda," Clarke added.
Yet at least two of the videos show at least a portion of Sepulveda's face. And as Str8UpGayPorn (NSFW) and QueerClick (NSFW) point out, clues in the other videos – such as Sepulveda's name and address on packages – also point to Sepulveda being the star.
'He’s bland and cagey'
Like we said last week, Sepulveda shouldn't shy away from his sex work and instead embrace it while speaking honestly about it. He's chosen another path. And critics are noticing. The show has been dissed as an attempt to pretend that a trashy reality show is something more than a trashy reality show. And Sepulveda? He's bland and cagey, according to Vulture.
Now we’re getting a sense of just how much cologne has been used to mask the smell: Internet sleuths have quickly unearthed Sepúlveda’s past as a sex worker and posted his pornographic videos online. (During our interview, he told me his only jobs had been interior decorating work and modeling.)
The problem, of course, isn’t the one that Logo or Sepúlveda think it is, which is that he was a sex worker who made X-rated videos. Rather, it’s the attempt to paper over those questions with a blanket statement that it’s simply “the past."
Finding Prince Charming wants to have it both ways: They wanted a bachelor who looked like a porn star to activate the trashy, libidinal desires of gay men, but they didn’t want him to talk about it once they realize he might actually have been one. It’s the Madonna/whore complex, but for gay men. Indeed, what may make Finding Prince Charming interesting isn’t Sepúlveda himself, but rather the era the show represents: when marriage is not just a possibility for queer people, but an obligation.
Sepulveda takes the same approach of muddying his reality when discussing his work with Atlanta Rainbow Crosswalks. He founded the non-profit last year to bring rainbow crosswalks to a Midtown intersection. He wanted a permanent installation, but instead got a temporary one during Atlanta Pride last year after a messy and public back-and-forth with city officials.
Earlier this year, he dished out the group's remaining funds to six non-profits and a church. Then Atlanta Rainbow Crosswalks stopped doing anything. Yet Sepulveda, in press interviews about the Logo show, implies the group is active when it's not and when pushed on the issue, offers a clarification that doesn't.
There seems to be some confusion on the nonprofit status of The Atlanta Rainbow Crosswalks.
The Atlanta Rainbow Crosswalks is still an ACTIVE nonprofit registered with the state of Georgia, with just no active projects. We do not plan to renew the nonprofit status in the coming year.
Sepulveda didn't fare better when questioned about the issue by Vulture.
In person, Sepúlveda offered similar blandishments to redirect my focus to his nonprofit, Atlanta Rainbow Crosswalks. When I asked him what the nonprofit did, he told me that it started as an art project focused on painting rainbow crosswalks in the gay neighborhood of Atlanta to create visibility. But what, I pressed, does the nonprofit actually do?
“So when people go to atlrc.org, which is Atlanta Rainbow Crosswalks, they can find information about other nonprofits in the area,” he said. “We donated money to a no-kill animal shelter. We donated money to the Piedmont Park Conservatory. We donated money to a lot of other organizations in the city of Atlanta.”
It’s perhaps a fitting metaphor that the social activism he does is, in effect, another form of PR, which speaks to the real problem with casting Sepúlveda: He’s bland and cagey.
Sepulveda fails to mention that the money donated to other groups came only after Atlanta Rainbow Crosswalks failed to make its art installation permanent. The funds came from a Go Fund Me campaign that received more than $44,000 in donations for rainbow crosswalks – and quite a bit of controversy – and not an animal shelter.
Sepulveda doesn't like his version of the truth to be challenged. He called Project Q Atlanta "vile" and "inapt" for "a plane [sic] out vicious attack on me directly." Then he lashed out at critics in a post on Logo's Facebook page – and again tried to portray Atlanta Rainbow Crosswalks as an active non-profit, when the only thing active about the group is its registration with the Georgia Secretary of State. (Even that lists the group as "active/noncompliance".)
If my words helps at least one person then continue to burn me at the steak! I am a willing sacrifice. But just know, all you haters out there I am moving on with my life with the knowledge that I have faced my fears, faced my past and can move through this world knowing that chapter of my life is closed. I won’t allow the pain, guilt or shame of that experience to stop me from the trajectory my life is heading and I certainly won’t allow trolls to use it against me as if it was some kind of ammunition I am afraid of, IM NOT! You guys are the ones that need to face it, and move on – it’s over -closed chapter. If some of you sad individuals wanna keep blasting me, the show or anything else – my advice to you is to get over it and GET A LIFE!
Except Sepulveda's own words continue to be the problem.