March #21 : The Way To a Man's Heart - by Alfredo Monferre

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Table of Contents

Larry Kramer Gets Angry

Radiant Radical

Adventures in Brain Chemistry

Cackles, Cauldrons, and Carrots

Johnny Appleseed

The Way To a Man's Heart

Tools of the Trade

Life Imitates Art

S.O.S.-March 1997

Mailbox-March 1997

Notes of a Native Son

Out in the Cold

Cocktail Hour

Gallo's Humor

Vanity Unfair

Uh-Oh, Canada

Dental Damns

School for Scandal

"Provide" Services

Goes Around, Comes Around

Whatever Happened to Mary Jane

The Buddy Line

Rebel YELL

Bull's Eye

Body at Work

Alive and Kicking

ACTing UP All Over

All in Good Time

Tabling the Situation

POZ Picks-March 1997

ACT UP's First Days

5,985 and Counting

A Specific Point of View

Dead Gorgeous

Sex and the Single Positoid

Misplaced Lust

The Anger Channel

Dose of Reality

Feeling Blue? Much to Do!

Kicking Butt

Expand Your Medicine Cabinet

Wean on Me

Feeling Queasy? Help is Easy

The Right Stuff

A Load Off His Mind

Carbo Diem

Monkey Business

Taking Action

Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

email print

March 1997

The Way To a Man's Heart

by Alfredo Monferre

Christophe Martet cooks up some of Paris' best action

Christophe Martet is a happy man. After stepping down from a hectic two-year stint as president of ACT UP/Paris last September, Martet, 37, leads a nearly idyllic life. He spends mornings looking for fresh fruit and vegetables at the outdoor market, maybe stopping for a café au lait or a pain au chocolat before heading to the cheese store and the fish market to get supplies for dinner. Martet and his partner, François, are both fabulous cooks. Pot-au-feu (beef stew) is their specialty in the kitchen; activism is their specialty on the street.

The two gastronomes met at an ACT UP/Paris meeting five years ago -- soon after Martet had returned from an eight-month sojourn in New York City, where his first ACT UP meeting turned him overnight into an activist.

"I was involved in the major actions in New York, and I saw that we needed the same energy and visibility in France. There was already an ACT UP in Paris, but it drew few people and got little public attention. It was a big difference coming from New York. I felt I had arrived on another planet."

Notoriously reserved when it comes to publicly discussing AIDS, sex, homosexuality and drug use, the French media shied away from such "private" issues; Martet gave them high visibility. He started a media committee that put AIDS and ACT UP on the map. "People had to think about AIDS since we were in the newspaper and on TV." Martet was pivotal in large-scale actions and demonstrations, including one in Notre Dame Cathedral to protest the church's opposition to condoms. "One year, we also put a gigantic pink condom on the obelisk in the Place de la Concorde for 'Day without Art.' Nobody in France could ignore the epidemic after that," he says.

Activism became a more-than-full-time occupation. "It was passionate and serious and joyful. It became the most important thing in my life -- that is, until I met my husband," Martet says with a charming slurring of the aspirated "h," the only trace of a French accent in his perfect English. "We realized at some point that we had to be careful not to burn out with ACT UP since there were so many responsibilities as the group grew larger. Now that I'm not president anymore, I have more time on my hands, and we are taking better care of ourselves, of our health. We cook elaborate meals for our friends. Our home is a little cocoon in the world."

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