In the late 1990s, my book Rediscovering Rachel (1996) was on display in the windows of bookstores across the country. You couldn’t seem to get away from it. It was even on Oprah’s book club. Anyone in the literary world or the United States, I know its funny to use those words in sequence, had read or knew someone who had read my book. For the more pedestrian reader, it was a heart-rending story. For the astute, it was a metaphorical journey of the soul into the depths of hell. For me, it was a bit more personal. In the most important sense it was my life, an open wound festering for the world to see. They didn’t understand and who could blame them, it was purposefully obscured to protect the innocent and sinners alike, living and dead. If I were honest with myself, which I seldom am, it was mostly protecting me from myself.
People say my life got out of control just before my divorce in 2009. Those people didn’t know me, no one really did. Few people got close enough to see the duck tape holding me together ever since the events that inspired my first book. After the release of my first novel, I was spent mentally and emotionally. This was around the time I went to NYU. I was hiding behind a mask of bravado and a life of partying (in the extreme). My next novels, Still Life: Violin and Fish and The Visiting Hours, were flops. I was under tremendous pressure to write and publish but I had no inspiration. I am amazed that through one of the worst periods of my life two amazing things happened. I found the love of my life, Mary-Beth Fraser (married Nov 12th 1999) and I had a son Kyle (born March 22nd 2001).
The story behind the title of my fictionalized “autobiography” Literary Genius: Suck my Penis, is really the story of how I met my wife. As was usual in those days, I spent the nights partying. So it was unsurprising that at 9pm on a Saturday night I was hammered out of my mind. I was in first year university and saw a beautiful girl as she stepped out of the library with an armful of books. I walked up to her, dropped my pants and said, “I’m a Literary Genius. Suck my penis!” She slapped my face so hard, I tripped over the pants that were down around my knees.
Shortly before my life really went down the toilet, I was inspired not nearly to the degree I had been in my youth when I had put my soul on the page. Nonetheless, I started writing Literary Genius and my editor went wild with excitement. The book came together quickly. One moment I was walking in the clouds like an angel then the book was done and I entered another period of depression. I started up the partying again but this time it was sexual adventures that really took their toll. The “rumors” of extramarital affairs culminated with my divorce (June 2009). As if that wasn’t bad enough, my life had really hit rock bottom when I woke up next to my wife’s divorce lawyer, no offense to Mrs Van Clemens, Esq. and her sexual capabilities. The drinking, drugs and wild sex, eventually led to my termination as Professor at USC (September 2012). I still remember my hearing with the head of the English department. I was so stoned I could barely walk, I stumbled to my seat and said, “In my defense, I had no idea there was a policy in place against sleeping with students.”
My life in the adult film industry was for the most part overblown. I was in a bad place. Alcohol and drugs were a haven. My agent set up a meeting with some producers. I was so depressed that I got hammered for the meeting. I started ranting and raving about J.K. Rowling and her success with Harry Potter. I think I said something like, “Harry Potter, that stupid pecker, 7 books later and he still hasn’t gotten laid. Harry Pecker. Hermione, wouldn’t mind ‘her-on-my-knee’. She could be my prisoner of ass cabin any day of the week and Ron, he’s all about the ass. In McGonagall’s class, Hermione turns her small breasts into the perfect rack, Ron shrivels his penis and Harry’s pecker grows out to 12”. Snape’s the professor of the dark arts (once you go black there’s no going back) and Harry’s playing with some Yiddish girl waiting to catch the golden snatch." Meanwhile, one of the producers’ assistants is trying to take down my whole drunken tirade and the producers’ are adding comments and throwing around ideas. My agent escorted me out smiling and later that sent me a 6 film contract to sign.
The films did well, the producers raved about my brilliance, but I felt like I was pounding my head against a brick wall. It was on the set of Sex Machina (2015), the last film of my contract that I had my final public breakdown. I was drunk, feeling low, bitter and I walked out onto one of the sets, I saw an attractive blond who reminded me of my ex-wife, I stumbled, held myself up on the arm of a couch and said “Literary Genius, suck my penis” then I fell over the arm of the couch hitting my head on a coffee table. When I came to there were bright lights in my eyes, my pants were around my ankles and this blonde was going down on me. I tried to push her off, to stand up only to fall right back down and started screaming expletives. Later that week, the video had gone viral on social media, was shown with strategic pixelation on the national news and I received the last of many “You complete assh*le” texts from my ex-wife.