Former Advocate Publisher Michael Phelps Dead at 45

Michael Phelps, who started at The Advocate in 1996 and worked up the ranks to become publisher before being let go from the magazine, was found dead in his Los Angeles home Wednesday. He was 45.

The cause of death is unknown.

In 2007, Phelps (pictured, right) was championing the magazine’s 40th anniversary, celebrated with a design overhaul (that was eerily reminiscent of another magazine) — and at the same event where he was lauding the publication, he was taken down by activist Larry Kramer for spearheading a magazine that was full of fluff and lacking in conviction.

Phelps’ tenure at The Advocate ended in October, when Paul Colichman, owner Here/Regent Media (and pictured at left), fired a slew of staffers; the magazine’s report of Phelps’ death does not include this information, but does note, “Phelps shared not just a name with a certain gold medal–winning athlete but also a commitment to fitness and athletics. He was also a philanthropist and an ardent supporter of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center.”

At The Advocate, one of Phelps’ fondest memories was when Absolut called, hoping to advertise in the magazine. A former Phelps colleague at the magazine, who still works there and requested anonymity because he did not want to be seen as making an official statement on behalf of the brand, tells Queerty “Phelps was one of the most genuine guys I knew. Always up to have a good time, but a hard, dedicated worker, and a great friend. He’ll be missed.”

(photo via)

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  • Geoff M

    Sad to learn of his passing.

  • Mike

    Unconfirmed scuttlebutt amongst current and former Regent/Here staffers is that Phelps became despondent after being fired in October, began abusing meth, and committed suicide through a deliberate overdose.

  • A now confused John from England

    Nice guys always finish last.

  • Scott Kenan

    Nice to see some asshole from Here/Regent made certain he could put in bullshit rumors that HE ADMITS ARE UNCONFIRMED BUT THAT WILL SEAR THE READER’S MIND, REGARDLESS. How typical. Alyson Books/Here Media tried to kill my memoir on Tennessee Williams. They couldn’t quite do it, so they tried to kill me. Several times. But I’m too smart and they’ve failed. Totally. And they can’t sue me for publishing this allegation. The media has a right to print the truth. In America, God bless her. And God bless Michael Phelps. I wish I’d known him. Scott D. Kenan.

    Tennessee Williams lives. And so do I.

  • Not Important

    Mike was a hard-working & dedicated colleague. I admired his tenacity and hope he rests in peace.

  • Dave

    Meh. Hope the magazine is next. We’ll soon come to find that he was high on something wallowing in self pity for screwing tons of people over and not really caring or doing enough for them or the magazine that is supposed to represent substance to a community that is already seen in a negative light.

  • Lady Ga-Gasp

    @Dave: Dave, the only thing I’m seeing in a negative light on this posting is your disgusting comment. A pox on you.

  • Fitz

    @Dave: OR… if (and I can’t say the ‘if” loudly enough) the rumor mill is right for once… we could interpret self loathing and meth use as a major health crisis affecting our people, and not just blame the victims of it.

  • TheProfessor

    @Scott Kenan: Scott, with all due respect, this is not about you, but about Michael. Please, contain yourself.

  • THeAwfulTruth

    @Dave: You hit it on the nail Dave. so true.

  • alan brickman

    Nasty queens say nasty things…..big surprise….

  • hardmannyc

    Dave: Please have your next of kin notify us when you die so we can say something gratuitously nasty about you.

  • Scott Kenan

    @TheProfessor: Professor: Since you do not deny the truth of what I say, I will restrain myself in this one place. Having people trying to take your freedom or your life does make one a tetch jumpy, but you can’t be committed for that, thank God. Anyway, Alyson/Here won’t sue me or take me on in the court of public opinion. They know they’d lose. Therefore, by logic, only death for me would solve their enormous problem. That strategy has not worked either. The truth about Tennessee Williams lives:

  • Charles Merrill

    @Scott Kenan: I don’t think Tennessee Williams is of much interest today. He wrote about priviledged whites in the South but the struggle of southern blacks were excluded from his writing. Were you with him when he choked?

  • schlukitz

    No. 11 · alan brickman

    Amen. So much homophobia and loathing, even amongst gays. Very sad, really.

  • BobP

    @Charles Merrill:
    Wow. That was one snarky slimy statement. You may not be a fan of TW, but he was a great gay writer.
    Maybe you should write about the issues that you seem to expect others to write about to appease you.

  • Kyle24

    Was he 45 or is that a typo? The pic is from 2007 so that means he would be 42/43 in the photo. He looks a lot older.


    Jeez, the body aint even cold yet bitchez.

  • terrwill

    If a Phelps was gonna get dead, why couldn’t it have been Fred????

  • Scott Kenan

    @Charles Merrill: A brief glimpse at your website shows artsitic (I like this typo) talent, however that does not extend to the bad Photoshop of the pic of you with Obama. Your true nature is revealed.

    In the six months I spent working at Tennessee Williams’ side, he often thrilled at his mail from black fans, whom he claimed nearly always assumed he was black. This was to him the highest honor. He never once mentioned his Pulitzers.

    This is in my book and is an important reason why people of your ilk sought to repress its publication. Too bad y’all failed. Scott

  • Scott Kenan

    @Charles Merrill: I forgot to answer: No, I’d left TW’s employ about 10 months before his death. And he did not die of choking. The reason the coronor lied at the time of death and how he quietly corrected the legal recond 6 months later is in my book (with documentation). The person who was with him then, has been so severely harassed by Michael Remer’s poeple, he won’t speak today. He has suffered far worse than I ever did.

  • Kelly

    As Mike’s oldest and best friend, I find it shocking that anyone would post a self-described rumor about his passing. Common decency, class and some respect for the dead and his family and friends should be at the forefront. Shame on anyone who would use this format to malign anyone deceased, much less someone as generous and loving as our dear friend Mike.

  • Charlie C

    Regarding the cruel rumours about Michael’s life and death, I would like to state four facts:

    He was a funny, wonderful person;
    He achieved great success in his profession through hard work and commitment;
    He made a positive contribution to the world;
    He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

    All of us can only hope that when our time finally comes these four facts accurately describe our own lives.

    Miss you already Gator!

  • Joni

    @Charlie C:
    Thank you Charlie for leaving such positive feedback about Michael. I am a friend who has grown up with Michael since toddlers. It is sad that a select few have taken upon themselves to be self-proclaimed morticians. Michael’s cause of death is nobody’s business but his family’s. Please have some respect for us, the family and friends of Michael.

  • Scott Kenan

    My controversial memoir of the half year I worked for Tennessee Williams has the power to explode the Republican Party. I am releasing it today as a gift in exchange for a donation to help with my humanitarian work with the Aztec people of Puerto Vallarta and Mismaloya, Mexico. You can obtain a copy of the book by googling “Walking on Glass” or by going to .

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