Thomas Bruner -- Helping people live with dignity.

Celebrities usually become famous because their lives are in some way extraordinary. However, just because one lives an exceptional life, doesn't mean one's death is going to be anything special. Painful, drawn-out, unattractive, and riddled with screams. maybe; but not particularly special. As you are about to find out, one of the least unique ways for a celebrity to "pass on" is from the side effects of syphilis or AIDS. These two common STDS are leaders in celebrity-killing, claiming many of history's greatest minds and talents.

"One has to pay dearly for immorality; one has to die several times while one is still alive," said Friederich Nietzsche. Perhaps this is what the existential philosopher was thinking while he was dying of syphilis. And we might say back to him: God may be dead, but the lesions on and around your pee-pee are very much alive.

Another victim of weiner lesions was our old pal Ludwig van Beethoven--that deaf composing genius--who died from cirrhosis of the liver, which was further complicated by syphilis. It seems even the genteel lifestyle of yore was peppered with drinking and humping--quel surprise!

Other celebrities whose lives were lost to the effects of mind-debilitating, organ-destroying syphilis (also known as "Old Joe") included the great gangster Al Capone, blues musician Robert L. Johnson, John Keats, Vincent van Gogh, and King Henry VIII--united in fame, and also united in "the bad blood."

Oregonians might be shocked to know that our own wayward son, Meriwether Lewis (of Lewis & Clark fame), was indeed "poxed up with the French Pig." Though he did not die from the direct effects of the syphilis, it is thought that the popular treatment at the time--rubbing the entire infected body with the toxic substance mercury--drove Lewis to insanity, which eventually lead to his suicide. (Which was succinctly accomplished by blowing out his brains.)

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the treatment for syphilis was rather nasty; in fact, some people who suffered from the disease preferred to ride out the symptoms rather than seek medical assistance. These treatments included boring holes in the skull to counter headaches; cauterizing lesions with hot irons; and the aforementioned mercury rubbing, which often killed the patient quicker than the actual disease.

While most current celebrities seem to steer clear of syphilis, AIDS has become the syphilis of today. No STD has taken as many lives of more contemporary celebrities than AIDS. Its best-known victims were actor Rock Hudson (the first famous person to die of AIDS), Queen singer Freddie Mercury, tennis player Arthur Ashe, and porn star John Holmes. Add the comely actress Amanda Blake, who played Miss Kitty on the popular television show, Gunsmoke, to the list of celebrity AIDS casualties.

However, one famous person who did not die from an STD was surrealist artist Salvador Dali. The reason he did not die from an STD is because he preferred to have sex with one person--himself. Dali was so afraid of contracting a venereal disease, that by the time he was 16, he began masturbating chronically--presumably, each time he ejaculated into his hand, he thought of the continued sticky purity of his seed. In fact, Dali was so addicted to masturbating that he began to pay supple, androgynous youths to have Dionysian orgies in front of him, all the while yanking his own wee sausage.

In conclusion, while fame may corrupt the minds of the meek, it does not always have to end in an STD catastrophe. The choice is yours.