Interview with Bret Easton Ellis - PART 1
Thursday August 19, 2010·
Bret Easton Ellis is taller than I'd imagined and less humble than I'd hoped. I guess I had it coming - never having finished any of his books and substituting lack of research by watching American Psycho for the first time after nine beers only the night before. The surprising outcome was, as he put it, “an undiluted Bret Easton Ellis experience.”
Disclaimer: The below contains facts never before heard in interviews with Bret Easton Ellis. It does not, however, provide much insight into his works, and to be honest, I think he wanted it that way. Read on and save the negativity - I've eaten my humble pie. Kindly, Robert F.
Bret Easton Ellis - My misogyny has gotten worse. I did this other interview and found out this guy wrote the headline: “Tomorrow, explosive new interview with Bret Easton Ellis: 'The Hurt Locker wouldn't have won six Oscars if it had been directed by a man'.”… you know what, I do believe that … but I don't remember if I said that. By the way this is all on the record. I don't do anything off the record. But it's odd, the more I talk about misogyny, the more female fans I get.
Robert Coleman - More blowjobs?
B - More offers for blowjobs.
R - What's your blowjob situation at the moment?
B - I'm in a relationship, so I don't take them. I'm not touring as a single man.
R - Fuck, so this has all been one big tease?
B - Well, look, I get numbers whenever I'm doing a signing. Men, women, whoever. Because of my indeterminate sexuality…
R - You like the ambiguity, don't you?
B - Yeh, I do like the ambiguity. I think it just works more. And it's played out well for 25 years. I mean if I talked about ‘well my partner died…' I mean, Mike (Michael…) and I were really just best friends. We might have fooled around a couple of times, but if he was around now and heard the word ‘lover' used in reference to our relationship, I'm fairly sure he'd die again. But, yes, I've played around both sides of the fence … any other interviewer out there will get a different answer and it just depends on the mood I am in.
R - So your sexuality is dictated by mood?
B - Yeh. I'm not feeling a certain way about any of those things.
R - You're not asexual?
B - I'm definitely not asexual, but I have no affiliation with any of them.
R - Right … you weren't born with a penis and vagina?
B - No I wasn't.
R - I'm not going to ask to look.
B - Jesus, I've never answered that … “Just a penis”. Just a penis, I don't think I've ever even said that before, just a penis.
Robert Coleman - I love Alanis Morisette.
Bret Easton Ellis - Jagged Little Pill is nearly a perfect record … there's not a weak song on that album.
R - OK Computer by Radiohead?
B - OK Computer should be considered the most overrated record of the ‘90s and it will be looked back on as something to be poked fun at.
R - Right. Why are you so into music?
B - Because I was a musician. I started piano when I was five, my parents forced me to at gunpoint. It was hell. I quit the moment I got my driver's license. Then I played guitar, bass, drums and I wrote songs, I wrote 100 songs. And then I wrote books on the side. I did both. I was a creative kid, whatever. I always thought the bands would make it some how, and I'd write the novels on the side. Sort of like Nick Cave or something. Then Less Than Zero was published…
R - It seems like a lot of your writing references, or is heavily influenced by, music?
B - Okay, you asked the question, didn't you? Do we move the conversation into the questions you've got now?
R - No! That was seamless!
B - I'm giving you an undiluted Bret Easton Ellis experience that I haven't given anyone else and you want to move into the questions!?
R - Okay, the question was on there.
B - Okay, so I caught you on that question. I mean, can I even answer that?
R - No, you can't.
B - Do I want to? Would you want to?
R - Probably not.
B - You also don't have to be clever with me.
R - I'm not trying to be.
B - Be yourself, be your unclever self. Why can't you just let go of the irony!? Let go of the “I'm with Bret Easton Ellis” kind of vibe?
R - Okay, here we go … I'm going to put something out there.
B - Put it out there…
R - I haven't read too much of your stuff.
B - GOOD! Finally! Finally, a journalist tells me this! Do you know how much more relaxed that makes me? Good!
R - Okay so I've read about three-quarters of Less Than Zero and I've watched American Psycho…
B - That's your preparation?
R - Yep. So I'm not even close to the gushing (though I kind of was).
Robert Coleman - Did you ever consider another Elvis Costello title for Imperial Bedrooms?
Bret Easton Ellis - That's a good question. There are a lot of other Elvis Costello song titles that could have been used. There could have been 'All This Useless Beauty'?
R - Brutal Youth?
B - Brutal Youth is too hyperbole. I dunno, once I realised what the book was about, the title was a no brainer.
Bret Easton Ellis - Where did you get your hat?
Robert Coleman - Argh, a girl bought this for me in Paris.
B - I love that sentence… “A girl bought this for me in Paris”… just in that sentence half of your life is suddenly explained to me.
R - What half of my life has been explained?
B - I'm not going to tell you … (laughing). There's a list of associations now.
R - Right, so you're starting to profile me?
B - It's not bad, believe me. If I didn't like you, your ass would have been out of here like 30 minutes ago.
R - Right, but I'm still sweating.
B - Okay, this going to be an important moment for you. You're going to understand something after you do this. Read me the next sentence.
R - Where do you, Bret Easton Ellis…
B - ‘Bret Easton Ellis' … you really wrote that down in the question?
R - Let me finish - you're making this very difficult … Where do you, Bret Easton Ellis, stand on Phil Collins after Bateman was so into him?
(Just now I realise his publicist is at the door and has been listening for several minutes, and I am red-faced and have completely lost momentum.)
B - We're fine, thanks (laughing hysterically).
R - Jesus, she must think I am the single worst interviewer in the world.
B - Okay … that question. I want you to cross that out.
R - No, I'm not letting you cross that one out.
B - Okay … He's talented. You don't get to where he is if you're totally shit. There's something about his shittiness that people like.
B - With a straight face. Ask me the next question.
R - You're going to piss your pants. Here goes: ‘re-reading recently…'
B - Haha, fuck!
R - Okay, going to cross that one out.
B - How do you feel about yourself now?
R - I'm sweating profusely. I'm slightly embarrassed. You have a piece of paper that I'd sincerely like to take back. I haven't read your books … Also, I kind of think we're better in conversation than with these questions.
B - I think we are.
R - Best interviews are not from a piece of paper, right?
B - Ohhhh, very good. Oh my, you have a lot of gall, don't you? A lot of gall! Continue.
R - Was it difficult re-hashing and progressing the characters from Less Than Zero?
B - (laughing) … As if you give a shit!
R - Well hang on, I do give a shit … you wrote Less Than Zero 23 or so years ago, why did you decide to write a sequel now? Why after all this time?
B - Cross that one out too.
R - Fuck. My editor is going to kill me.
B - No, no, your editor is going to be happy.
R - Do you feel like a different author since you wrote LTZ?
B - (laughing) Please tell me at what time of night you composed these?
R - I told you, 2:30 last night.
B - Why were you up so late?
R - Couldn't sleep.
B - You drink gin and you write at night … and … do you smoke cigarettes?
R - Sure, Marlboro golds…
B - That's what I smoke.
R - Can we have a cigarette after this then?
B - No… okay, we might be able to.
R - I'm not a fan boy.
B - I know, clearly, I know.
R - You've re-visited Clay and others …
B - (uncontrollable laughter)
R - Hang on a second… (I pick up a phone call from my housemate, Sam, basically because Bret won't stop laughing). Hear this, Sam, this is Bret Easton Ellis laughing because I've haven't read any of his novels…
B - (uncontrollable laughter again) The jig is so up! These questions, they are not him! They are not him at all.
Sam - I am really sorry, Bret, I told him he should tell you…
B - He tried to perfect the pose but I broke him down.
R - Not in a sexual way.
B - You wish! We've been talking for almost an hour now… and I'm teaching him a lesson.
R - And he's being obnoxious.
B - I'm just teaching him a lesson in being an interviewer.
R - Listen, Sam, I have to go. Say goodbye.
B - Bye, Sam.
Robert Coleman - Okay, so are you going to be re-introducing any characters in future works?
Bret Easton Ellis - No. Because I don't think there'll be any future works.