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Larry Kramer Warns Jane Pauley of AIDS Crisis in 1983 'Today' Show Interview: VIDEO


Those of you who caught last night's premiere of The Normal Heart on HBO will want to watch this 1983 interview Larry Kramer did on the Today show with Jane Pauley during the earliest days of the crisis.

The world clearly, tragically, had no idea what was coming.


What did you think about The Normal Heart?

Deadline reports on the film's ratings:

HBO Films‘ The Normal Heart delivered a solid 1.4 million viewers across two plays Sunday night. Debuting nearly three decades after Larry Kramer’s play premiered off-Broadway, the Ryan Murphy-directed project premiered at 9 PM with an average of slightly less than 1 million viewers tuned in; an additional 434,000 thousand watched at 11:15 PM. That puts it fifth in viewership among the 17 HBO Films that have premiered on the network since 2010.

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  1. Fascinating clip of the reaction to AIDS 31 years ago. Even then Larry Kramer was really on top of things - a real genius in his own way. Thank God that the gay community had him to lead they way.

    Posted by: David From Canada | May 27, 2014 7:56:23 PM

  2. Great clip (but why is the present-day anchor so painfully mush-mouthed?).

    Posted by: Russ | May 27, 2014 8:07:41 PM

  3. Excellent point about how it's only in rich countries that AIDS is no longer the problem it once was.

    Posted by: SeattleMike | May 27, 2014 8:17:37 PM

  4. Interesting to me in that Mr. Kramer appears much calmer and thus effective in this Today Show appearance than his character Ned Weeks becomes infamous among his peers for in The Normal Heart.

    Posted by: Zlick | May 27, 2014 8:28:16 PM

  5. AIDS is largely sekf-inflicted. Larry Kramer is a great advocate for common sense. Long live Larry.

    Posted by: petey | May 27, 2014 8:30:11 PM

  6. I meant to say AIDS is largely self-inflicted.

    Posted by: petey | May 27, 2014 8:31:49 PM

  7. These numbers probably don't take into account the number of people DVRing it to watch later, on their schedule. Now that's it's on HBOgo, you can watch it whenever.

    Posted by: Edd | May 27, 2014 8:34:31 PM

  8. I thought the movie was very well done and after watching that clip I can see were such an angry powerful play had to be written.

    Posted by: jarago | May 27, 2014 8:43:07 PM

  9. AIDS is largely self inflicted? You're a fool. How about the guy or woman who believes they are in a monogamous relationship, but their partner doesn't see things that way? How about the doctor or nurse who accidentally jabs themselves?

    Posted by: Mike in the Tundra | May 27, 2014 8:44:23 PM

  10. Geoffrey Cowley says its been 30 years since "The Normal Heart" "rocked Broadway." Of course its only been 3 years since it premiered on Broadway. And yes @Russ - why is he?

    Posted by: Alan | May 27, 2014 8:44:40 PM

  11. What did I think of 'The Normal Heart'? As movies that depict how well-to-do white gay men in NYC reacted to & mobilized around the AIDS crisis go, I didn't think it was as good as 'Longtime Companion' or the HBO 'Angels in America', but all of these stories- and I wish there were more diverse representations -are important to be told, and overall I thought the acting made up for the showy direction & challenges that many plays have re. screenwriting from stage-to-screen.

    Posted by: xtian2014 | May 27, 2014 8:48:15 PM

  12. P.S. Petey: Honey, to say that 'AIDS is largely self-inflicted' is a gross minimization of not only how, in the early days of the AIDS epidemic most gay men didn't know what the dangers were and were dying so quickly that not many people had a chance to grasp the concept of risk before they were ill & close to dying, but you're comment also reflects ignorance of human nature, in general. To prevent AIDS and other STDs, better to have empathy & an understanding of why people make the choices they make (which are complex) vs. being judgmental, which is how you're coming off.

    Posted by: xtian2014 | May 27, 2014 8:52:22 PM

  13. PETEY, crawl back under your rock. Not everyone with HIV aquired it through promiscuos sex. Fools like you are a HUGE part of the problem in regards to why there is so much stigma atttched to the virus and to those infected.

    Posted by: John | May 27, 2014 8:56:02 PM

  14. I mainly remember, as a teen, first hearing a list of "you cannot get AIDS by..." touching, kissing, etc. Did not remember that two years in, the way it was transmitted was still a mystery. No wonder there was such panic-just became a bit more sympathetic to straight people who were so phobic about catching it.

    Posted by: Jeff | May 27, 2014 9:01:51 PM

  15. Worst epidemic in six centuries? What about spanish flu, which killed 50 to 100 million in the 1910's?

    Posted by: jeo | May 27, 2014 9:31:51 PM

  16. The HBO movie version of "The Normal Heart" was, in my estimation, outstanding. I lived through that era in NYC & the film captured so much of conflict and emotion we all faced as the saga unfolded in real time. That is no easy task for a two-hour fictionalized account. However, the source material provided by Larry Kramer's genius play (I saw the original B'way production) & the fine acting performances by the entire cast, succeeded beautifully. This film will take its place as a worthy documentation illustrating the historical record of the times.

    Posted by: JonnyNYNY2FLFL | May 27, 2014 10:22:17 PM

  17. Women spread HIV too. Stop trying to pretend that women are always the victims of a big bad bisexual male. You're protecting females at the expense of bi guys.

    Posted by: petey | May 27, 2014 10:34:17 PM

  18. Petey -

    why do you defend anti-gay philosophies?

    Posted by: Millenial | May 27, 2014 10:57:31 PM

  19. While I do not really agree with PETEY, he has kind of a point. Back then AIDS was a mystery, we didn’t even know it was caused by something called HIV, but today it is pretty clear how the virus is transmitted (and really not that long after this video). I was in my teens at this time, 10 in 1983. While the reaction to remove stigma from being + is understandable in the 80’s and maybe so now to a certain point, but where is the line that goes from “on no stigma, let’s deal with this, it is serious…” to “dude, WTF were you you thinking??”. Because your friends and family would take your keys from you if you were about to drive drunk for fear of harming yourself or others, why not apply some similar social norm here? I just wonder…I mean I agree that kindness and understanding are needed, but I was very offended when the minder day commentator said it is manageable in rich countries, but failed to mention that this so-called manageability had created serious complacency. It is all I can do not to exsanguinate when I hear it compared to diabetes, just do a little research, depending on type and age people with diabetes die decades sooner than those without the disease…I guess that is better than death in weeks, but let’s no kid our selves into thinking that the situation that existed in the 80’s is the same as today and therefore our reaction should be the same. I just am not sure that we are honest enough with ourselves as a community that we have really let the generation behind us down by allowing them to be so complacent. Sure, I know people will jump all over me, but those of us in our early 40’s who came of age in the height of AIDS will likely appreciate where I am coming from, not to take anything away from those right before me who had the brunt of it, but being 15 and reading the news paper telling you that you will die if you express your sexual desires is really heavy and to deny that it impacts your thinking…I dunno it is hard for me to appreciate that if you get HIV today because of poor choices that we should just be all ok with that.

    Posted by: Nathan | May 27, 2014 11:00:51 PM

  20. Jaffe, so typical of what we were hearing from 'Atlanta' and other similar locations where some research was being done, side stepping the simple fact, disease does not discriminate. By 1983, men and women, straight and gay, were infected and dying. He's so casual about the potential of Blood being a danger, obvious though it was. Larry seemed to appreciate the questions Jane Paulie was asking - as more truthful conversations, interviews like this began to emerge on MSM.

    Posted by: RexTIII | May 27, 2014 11:52:10 PM

  21. 'No wonder there was such panic-just became a bit more sympathetic to straight people who were so phobic about catching it.' - Jeff

    Seriously? I almost threw up in my mouth after reading that.

    I mean, yeah it's pretty understandable why they would be scared about a disease they knew nothing about. But they used AIDS to really vilify gay men in the worst way possible. I mean gays weren't treated that great before, but thanks to AIDS it gave most straights a real "legit" reason to treat gays like garbage.

    Posted by: Jamie | May 27, 2014 11:52:19 PM

  22. JAMIE, I have sometimes wondered is a lot of the gains we have made in civil rights over the last 10 years is an outcome of the AIDS crisis, more people saw that gays are humans more clearly when their straight neighbors started to die just like the gays. Or maybe that is my trying to see some good come out of such tragedy. Recall is was called GRID before it was AIDS.

    Posted by: Nathan | May 28, 2014 12:17:27 AM

  23. Nathan, I was 11 in 1983, and I remember that by 1985 a (female) friend and I were terrified that we had caught HIV, and getting drunk at her parents' house and calling the national AIDS hotline to find out our level of risk.

    But calling actually made it worse, because they had no idea based on what we'd done. (She'd had sex with a BF she was sure was gay---which turned out to be true---so she had more to fear. I had only kissed and gotten head from a slutty older guy, the high school version of the bi who can't make up his mind stereotype.) Gathering the guts to make a call that we were certain would be a death sentence, only to be left in limbo, was awful. We called back many times over the next few weeks, always hoping to get a volunteer with magical knowledge that simply didn't exist. And we were 13!

    A few years later my father dropped me off at a hospital and, curiously, didn't ask why I was going there. He just wanted to be sure I had a ride home. My friend was waiting for me so that we could get tested together for the first time, and my father looked at me with fear and love, said Good luck---you'll be fine, and left. I had no idea why he'd said that, but later realized that I'd written "Testing at Arlington hospital with Stephanie, 3 pm Saturday" on a notepad (thinking it was so cryptic that no one could figure it out). I can only imagine what it was like for him, wondering whether his youngest son would be bringing home terrible news in the week or more it took to get results back then. I guess I came out to him that day.

    Anyway, Nathan, not many remotely intelligent, rational people are "all OK" with anyone getting HIV, whether through poor choices or any other way. I'm glad that poz people don't face the horrible stigma and rapid death they once did. But no one with HIV says, Oh, it hasn't been negative for me at all.

    Along those lines, I wish someone would finally lay to rest those tabloid-esque tales all over the gay media about 10 years ago about the armies of young gay "bug chasers" seeking to catch HIV so that they'd feel like part of a community and would no longer have to live in fear of infection. Few people actually did so, and those stories went mainstream and made all young gay men seem like suicidal, uninformed idiots.

    And I don't think the generation behind us has been let down. Sex ed still doesn't address the health concerns of gays in most places, but it starts much younger almost everywhere, and is generally thorough in its coverage of STDs. Whereas you and I had to wonder and wait for even basic information, it's readily available to anyone in most any public school or with Internet access.

    Posted by: Paul R | May 28, 2014 12:30:51 AM

  24. Take the keys. Brilliant. Dont forget or minimize human nature, but take the keys. Thank you, Nathan.

    Posted by: AZXPAT | May 28, 2014 12:32:04 AM

  25. PAUL R, wow, that's a lot to take on at that age. I see your points and they are cogent. I admit that in a comment it is hard for me to really get to the idea that is gnawing at me, but perhaps pointing out the radical age brackets of new HIV infections might help explain why I said that feel like we have let the generation behind us down. If all that education and availability were truly effective why are rates up in their age group? I have no real data on it, but my bet is complacency, brought on by the manageability myth. I too am glad + people are not shunned and appreciate that stigma prevent good outcomes. Maybe I am a freak, but I talk to my younger gay friends about safer sex and such and I tell them things like "I care about you, I want you to be as safe as you can..." and maybe I am becoming "that old queen who thinks he knows better" or something, but I feel that that is what you do for people you care about and we should care more about each other before life altering decisions are made. And, for the records, I have heard MANY 20 something use the "just like diabetes" line, so it is coming from somewhere.

    AZXPAT, all tangential rhetorical constructs have limitations and are generally used to help explain a situation from another point of view, so while not ignoring human nature, I wished to simply ask why we do not care enough about each other to work harder at impulse control when what is on the line is so important.

    Posted by: Nathan | May 28, 2014 12:56:36 AM

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