TestTubeBaby’s grade 5 class staged his play about hell emptying as its inhabitants lapsed into kindness. At 10, his Mother Goose-themed radio play aired across the US on NPR.

Getting a guitar at 15, he wrote 100s of songs—mapping his youth amid the carnage of AIDS. After being LA’s first openly gay high school president, he lived in a car, hung around with Harry Hay and served on Jesse Jackson’s ‘88 presidential bid.

Celebrating 24 by hiding from his drug dealer “boyfriend” and smoking joint after opium-dipped joint, he was then accepted into CalArts and joined AA.

While embracing the 12-step view he was a lost soul only God could save, his acclaimed 1996 musical play, “If I Were Lost,” detailed how excesses in corporeality rescued him from excesses of intellectualism—and vice-verse.

The band he fronted, Apocrypho, was signed to ADSR Musicwerks (1999), but his activities seemed increasingly inconsequential in AA’s fake-it-til-you-make-it solipsism: teaching art to LGBTQ+ & homeless youth, exhibiting in galleries, composing for dance, teaching university, authoring textbooks, immigrating to Indonesia (2004), then Canada (2005) on account of DOMA. He landed in Canada’s harm reduction field (2009), facilitating a drug user group—organized around inclusion, not sobriety. His artistic life sprang back to life—dragging him back to complexity.

He now develops programs that help systems share their power with those they serve—and continues charting his journey in art and music.

TestTubeBaby is Brian Gross.