Paul Anderson is no longer under the spotlight of TV lights. His 15 minutes of media fame has, for the most part, ended. He also has left the drug scene many often fall into when they land some form of fame.
Now 29, Anderson is the happiest he's ever been, living and working in Orlandoand thanking God daily, literally.
"I'm grateful for that [TV] experience, so grateful," said Anderson, thrust into the media glare about five years ago, along with then-boyfriend Shaun McCarron when they appeared together on The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency (Oxygen).
"That TV experience grew me up much faster than if I wouldn't have done it. I'm 100 percent sure that, if I had not done that show, I would still be stuck with the bad mental and physical habits I was creating. Thankfully, I was not elevated to a level where I would have been totally lost in ego. In my opinion I was just hardly 'famous' and for what, what did I do? That level of fame, for me, at that time, was enough. I look at where I'm at now and where I was at then, and I'm so grateful to know that it was not in God's timing for me to continue in that direction. I was not prepared. I needed to break first, and be stripped of 'self.'
"Who knows what would have happened if I had continued with the fame thing, but what I feel now is contentment because I know that it's all in God's timing. God/the universe, whatever you want to call it, will bring those things you've put out there through thought back into your life when you're ready to receive them. Everybody on this planet is continually adding to his or her 'life escrow.'
"What you think about you bring about, the universe simply responds to whatever you're thinking. When you're in alignment with those things you desire, they will happen for you. It is law. I was out of alignment [during the show], but know I see better, the direction becomes a little more clear every day. My approach to life has been changed through many teachings of metaphysical and spiritual teachers; one teaching will lead to another, and another. I consider myself an eternal student learning, craving something new everyday."
Anderson is now the CEO of Paul Anderson Presents, an entertainment and promotional company. He also is a massage therapist at the Ritz-Carlton Spa.
This is the first time Anderson has spoken publicly about the demons of his past.
"I have many memories of the [Janice Dickenson] show, but I think I should be honest and speak of how I really remember it," Anderson said, slowly. "I remember taking pain pills and sedatives just to show up on set. How ridiculous is that?! But I was so afraid of rejection that, just to go to a [photo] shoot, I had to almost leave my physical body. Being there in the moment was too real; I was too vulnerable. I often thought, 'How could I, me, Paul Anderson be enough? I'm not worthy of this show?' I often thought [show executives were] going to find out I felt this way, and worried how I can cover it up.
"That's how I thought then, funny to think this whole TV situation was created because of my need to feed the ego and there I was undoubtedly protecting it the only way I knew how. At that point in my life, I just wanted to be seen [as] worthy, to be validated, and this show was my means of doing that. I grew up like a lot of gay people do, feeling unworthy and it was my inner sense of unworthiness that sent me in that direction. Unworthiness is prevalent in gay society and it hangs on you like wet clothing, always uncomfortable and heavy. So many people in the entertainment business lose themselves to this type of behavior. It becomes a vicious cycle and, for some, it eventually kills you."
Anderson said he watched Dickinson last year on Celebrity Rehab 4 (VH1) and was thrilled for his former boss.
"It was so awesome to see her begin on the path of self-discovery and to face the demons in her life," he said. "During the filming of The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency show, she was lost, even I could see that. That's partly why people loved watching her; they fed of the 'train wreck' and, in a way, I'm sure it made people feel better about themselves knowing that at least they were not as bad as she was.
"Janice is just as worthy of love as anybody else. I think she's now beginning to believe that herself. Like so many of us, she had a troubled childhood, and through her adult life she inevitably was on a path of self-destruction."
Anderson and McCarron were together for five tumultuous, often-rocky years, ultimately splitting for good in April, 2009. Today, they are peaceful, friendly and soul mates, Anderson said.
Anderson is now dating Jason Tibbs; the relationship started in January.
McCarron now lives in New Orleans.
"At that point in my life, that relationship [with McCarron] and everything attached to it was necessary," Anderson said. "Because of that relationship, I am where I am today. I needed to go through what I went through in order to be where I am today. I grew up mentally, physically and emotionally through that experience. That relationship was, so far, the single most important thing to have happened in my life. Through that relationship, I have dug deep on my personal path to self-enlightenment, and it sparked my relationship with God.
"Shaun and I had the opportunity to really become famous toward the end of our relationship; we were approached by several media outlets all of whom said we should get married. They said, 'It would be great for the gay community; you guys would be the first famous young couple to do it.' But those people did not know anything about our true relationship at the time. I kept thinking, 'Why would we get married; how selfish and wrong that would be.' After all, we could hardly stand each other at that point.
"To have gotten married would only have been a publicity stunt, whereas marriage is sacred and something Shaun and I have vast respect for. We were very aware on how hard the gay community was fighting for its chance at equal rights, and still is fighting for these rights, and a decision like that, [to get married], at that point in our relationship, would have been the nail in the Shaun and Paul coffin. Enough was enough, and through that decision to not get married, we were forced to face the truth of our relationship and through all that, our true journeys began."
Anderson had nothing but favorable comments about McCarron. "We both are better today because of each other's contribution to the relationship," he said.
Anderson's new/current boyfriend is a rugged outdoorsman who loves and owns horses, and is a home repairman in his free time. They met at an event Anderson was producingand Anderson was immediately smitten by Tibbs' looks.
"He fits the descriptiontall, dark and handsome," Anderson said, smiling. "Beyond looks, though, I immediately noticed his genuine sincerity, calmness, and oozing Southern charm. We compliment each other; he's literally the yin to my yang. Because of my previous relationship, I now know how to 'show up' for this relationship, or at least I'm honestly making the effort as scary as it may be. I had taken myself out of the dating scene for [almost] two years [after splitting with McCarron] with no intention to go back. I had serious self-work that needed to be taken care of first. Then, when I was not looking, I meet Jason, I believe it was the universe's way of saying, 'You're ready.'
"I'm so thankful for [Tibbs]; it takes a strong sense of self to handle me."
Anderson is regularly promoting LGBT social events throughout Orlando, often with a social justice theme. He's more likely at home on a weekend night than cruising from club to club.
"I've not been in the 'scene' much lately," Anderson said. "Since I work in the scene, I tend to stay out of it when I can. I don't like going out much anymore. Yes, there are special events that I go to and enjoy, but my priorities have changed immensely from a few years ago. I crave functions and conversations that fill me up on a spiritual level, not scenes that promote avoidance and loss of self. That's why, with the events that I produce, I always look for a deeper connection that I can make with the attendees; I love facilitating happiness and goose-bump moments; that's what drives me.
"The Orlando gay scene is kind of different. It's not, in my opinion, a well-grounded scene, [perhaps because] Orlando is very transient. So many people are looking for something that they already have, or they're trying to be something they aren't. I think a lot of this mentality has to do with this city being such an entertainment location. People move here because they're trying to find fame. I understand thisbecause I was one of those people, and I learned the hard way that fame comes with a price, especially if it's done for the wrong reasons. I was on the search for validation back then, and, since I did not love myself, I thought if I got other people to love me then I'd be OK. Boy was I wrong. But that was my mentality then. I'm so thankful now that I get it, or at least I'm on the journey to getting it."
Anderson got his start producing major local events during the popular Gay Days, held annually in Orlando.
"That's where I first began to realize the power of positive entertainment," Anderson said. "In 2006, Shaun and I did our first event at Gay Days. We kicked off the week with a Thursday night party. It was a basic format: DJ, dancers and drinks. But it lacked depth.
"In 2007, we stepped out of the box and created a Thursday night charity event, [called,] The Tantra Fashion Show. This show definitely was more my style, no pun intended. The event was for a good cause; the theme of the music was all based around empowerment, and Christian Siriano, the winner of Project Runway, was showcasing his personally-designed t-shirt benefiting HRC, a cause near and dear to my heart. This event was a shift for me; it opened my eyes to the powerful possibilities of entertainment that feeds the audience. It was much more than just a party; it was a party with a purpose."
So what's ahead for Anderson? Good question, he answered.
"I'm not sure," he said, pausing. "I pray that all doors that need to be shut will be shut, and all doors that need to be opened will be opened. I know that there will be endless opportunities ahead for me, as long as I, aka, ego, don't get in the way. I ask God daily to use me, [but] the tricky part is 'showing up' and not allowing myself to become stuck on negative thinking patterns. I have to put out happiness and love every day, yet it's so easy for me to slip into the selfish 'What about me?' mentalities. But all that is doing is feeding the ego and keeping me stuck. Experiencing life's great blessings begin with surrendering your ego and putting your cares in the hands of God, knowing that all is working out for your greater good. Happiness is ahead for me; life is to short for anything else."
Anderson said, he would return to the TV spotlight, but only if it brings revelation and joy to others, he said.
"My journey in finding my spiritual side has been an incredible experience," Anderson said. "Unfortunately, many in the GBLTQIA community have run from anything spiritual because of negative experiences with organized religion and hateful individuals. I have discovered that, yes, I can have a relationship with God and embrace my sexuality. God is love, grace, peace and mercy; we all have the right to that."