“Can I tell you a story? It’s about Lebanon, and Arab hookers…. Actually, I’m not going to tell it.”
This is how Marty Beckerman, the controversial 23-year-old author from Anchorage, Alaska, starts conversations with reporters. With nary a hello, either.
He rose to notoriety at age 17 when he self-published a collection of essays entitled Death to all Cheerleaders: One Adolescent Journalist’s Cheerful Diatribe against Teenage Plasticity, and then trotted off to American University in Washington D.C., known as one of the most expensive private universities in the U.S., to study journalism.
During Marty’s second year of college he unleashed his second book, Generation SLUT: A Brutal Feel-Up Session with Today’s Sex-Crazed Populace, a half-journalistic view of Generation Y’s new promiscuity, and a meta-narrative about four fictional adolescents engaging in leather, whips and a Crisco fetish a little too early in life. The book was a success-but then came the backlash.
Generation SLUT received vicious hate mail from both the left and right sides of the political spectrum. A New York Times interview even accused Marty of writing what was in essence “a plea to return to chastity.”
Beckerman received so much mail from youngsters who were literally burning his book because of the extreme sexual content and obscene language, that the young Jewish author was shaken to his ideological core.
“Somehow, if you criticize 11-year-olds fucking each other, you’re part of the religious right. With these tyrant leftist professors and the reaction from liberals, I became really right-wing to the point where (even though in my heart of hearts I knew it was wrong), I was attending Republican Conventions and voting for Bush. Extremes bounce off each other, and if people on one side come after me I’ll run to the other side.”
But living in GOP-controlled Washington also rubbed Beckerman the wrong way.
“The weirdest thing I noticed about Washington is how many people there just love the government. I know so many people who just fucking loved the idea of it. They dreamed about walking through bureaus and departments, worrying about trivial shit. Crusading in the war against fast foods, how big your showerhead should be to conserve water. This got them off.”
Beckerman’s latest book is titled Retard Nation: America’s Sexxxiest Young Journalist Exposes the Bastardly Forces Keeping You Stupid. Indebted to gonzo-journalist godfather Hunter S. Thompson, Beckerman rants about the PC qualities of American culture after spending a year exploring two groups he brands “stupid hippies and Jesus freaks.”
“In America there’s the War On Drugs, the new war on alcohol with this new neo-prohibitionism, the new war against fast food where they are basically trying to protect people from themselves-I want to jab a knife into Morgan Spurlock’s throat, like, ‘Super-size this, motherfucker!’-the war on cigarettes, and a final chapter where I go to Israel. I think it’s some of the best writing I’ve ever done. There’s an outrage on every page of Retard Nation. I mean, people are taking overweight kids and giving them to foster homes, there’s a national sales tax on fast food. You can’t have fun anymore.”
Beckerman talks a good game, but underneath it all, there’s a burning, obsessive desire to convert his minor celebrity into big-time greatness. On the phone, he oscillates between trying to viscerally offend me as much as possible (for example, he claims that we can solve the hunger crisis by feasting on the flesh of aborted children), but at the same time, he tries desperately to convince me that he is the greatest writer of our generation.
“Every generation gets a few cultural touchstones, and I’ve never made it a secret that I want to be one of them. I’ve never doubted that I’m the greatest writer of my generation. The problem is, how do I get recognized for that? My first goal is to be famous. But what is fame? Fame is Paris Hilton. To be loved, that’s what Hunter Thompson had. You can be famous, but it’s not the same thing.”
In February 2003, Beckerman actually had the opportunity to interview Hunter S. Thompson during the older writer’s final book tour before he shot himself in the head two years later.
“I called up to Hunter’s hotel room at like 10, 11 o’clock at night and I reached his assistant. Hunter’s assistant tells me that Hunter’s had a long day and that I can absolutely not interview him. But then I hear this long pause on the line and in this strained gravelly voice I hear can Hunter asking, “Does the boy have drugs?” So the deal was that if I got there in 30 minutes with pot, I could interview Hunter. I immediately start scrambling. I go out looking for people in New York to buy pot from. I paid five times more than I usually would have for some pot off the street and got an hour to interview Hunter. It was the coolest night of my fucking life.”
“Hunter was snorting coke at the table, he was smoking hash and pot at the same time and drinking. I had to try and keep up with him and interview him at the same time, which was really difficult. He could hardly stand up, his assistant had to help him sit down at the table. I guess he had just put his body through so much shit that it couldn’t take it anymore.”
Upon reading Generation SLUT, Thompson remarked, “Good work, you morbid little bastard.”
However, the biggest rock in Beckerman’s life appears to be his girlfriend, who he mentions constantly in the press, on his personal website and on all his marketing material. The couple met at American University, and for Marty it seems like she’s one of the things that makes him complete, even though he regales me with stories of all the hot women he’s turned down because of being in “a fucking long-term relationship.”
“I think the unfortunate thing about Retard Nation is that I can’t write any blow job scenes. That’s too bad because I fucking love writing sex scenes. Some of the scenes in Generation SLUT are so fucking hot. I think I’m the first author to masturbate to my own sex scenes. I literally read my own sex scenes while I masturbate.”
On July 31, Retard Nation was dropped from the Beckerman’s publishing house after being pushed back several times for a release. Marty tells me it’s the biggest disappointment he’s had in eight years of writing. He is currently courting other companies with a reworked Retard Nation, now with the working title A Confederacy of Douches. Beckerman states on his blog, titled “Lair of Sodomy,” that 2006 was so depressing-one book cancelled, six magazine articles rejected, a movie option from HBO dropped-that he’s “looking at grad schools.”
U of T, you have been warned.