A gay college student and former Atlanta Pride parade grand marshal who spoke publicly in favor of forcing porn palaces, strip clubs and gloryholes off Cheshire Bridge Road is also an escort and rent boy who has lived adjacent to the corridor but says he turned no tricks near the same sexually-oriented businesses he wants pushed out.
And since being faced with the apparent contradiction of being an escort peddling his services at hourly rates of up to $180 who wants the strippers of Onyx and others that sell sex pushed out, he's attempted to walk back his initial support of the controversial proposals. But not before critiquing strippers, their clubs and LGBT activists who have criticized the rezoning effort.
That's Xander, a ginger escort who on his website describes himself as "a sensual creature with piercing eyes and a warm smile." Though he identified himself when speaking out during a Zoning Review Board hearing on May 9, he asked that only his escort identity be used when questioned by Project Q Atlanta after discovering his ad on Rent Boy, which has since been removed, and his website.
"What I do is not sell sex, I sell companionship," Xander says in a phone interview. "And what I do I didn't do on Cheshire Bridge and I did it behind closed doors, so it's none of your business."
Besides, he adds, "my clientele would not come to visit me if I lived remotely close to Cheshire Bridge."
Last week, Xander was the only openly gay person to speak in favor of proposals from gay Atlanta City Council member Alex Wan that would close or force the relocation of sexually-oriented businesses on some parts of Cheshire Bridge by 2018. He said then that those businesses have had years to clean up their act and become better neighbors. Xander didn't back down from that assertion during an interview Tuesday.
"Maybe if the businesses that have been targeted had stepped up in the community, there might not be this issue," he says. "But you guys should have seen it coming. It's really hard to argue that every fucking strip club doesn't have drugs."
He also didn't temper his knock against gay activists who have criticized Wan and the proposals.
"If this is really an attack on the gay community, talking about these strip clubs, if really losing these are losing part of our history, then we don't have much of a history, do we?" Xander says.
Wan has sharpened his retorts to critics in recent weeks and echoed Xander's argument that the rezoning proposals aren't an LGBT issue. But when asked if the narrowed focus of Wan's proposals are a moralistic affront to sexual liberation -- something that affords Xander his escorting, even if it skirts the law -- he took more issue with the specific businesses targeted in the legislation and not sexually-oriented businesses in general.
"I am in no way against the clubs. I am not against Inserection. I am not against there being adult-oriented places. That would be hypocritical. But why haven't these businesses done something to try and help the community," Xander says.
"What is the gloryhole Inserection doing besides spreading gonorrhea," he asks.
And though Xander says he "loves strip clubs," he does delineate differences between strippers and escorts.
"I believe escorting is more ethical and more professional than stripping. Stripping is all about someone being intoxicated and getting them to give you as much money as possible. Escorting is about building a relationship and getting someone in touch with their feelings," he says.
And Wan's legislation? Despite his support, Xander says it's going to fail. The Zoning Review Board voted against a recommendation. Now the measure heads to a City Council committee later this month and the full Council in early June.
"Anyone who believes that the legislation is going to pass has to be fucking dumb. There are so many problems with it," he says.
Photos courtesy Xander