I didn’t get laid on this tour. The thing about fame is interesting, although I would have liked to get laid on the tour and I did not.
Rock stars, sports stars do; I don’t think Updike, Roth, or Barth do.
Only in Rolling Stone would I not worry about this. Just because I know that, the whole thing’s going to be jaunty. But um, there’s gotta be some—because it’s clear that, like, people come up, they kinda slither up during readings or whatever. But it seems like, what I want is not to have to take any action. I don’t want to have to say, “Would you like to come back to the hotel?” I want them to say, “I am coming back to the hotel. Where is your hotel?” None of ’em do that.
Happens to Aerosmith. But maybe not to Abba Eban.
Shyness and arrogance often go hand in hand, I think. It’s more just, I can’t stand to look like I’m actively trading on this sexually. Even though of course that’s—I would be happy to do that.
Betrayal of your work self to do that?
Uhhhh, Let’s see …
Did you think this would happen?
No, but I had this fantasy. I had all these fantasies about … It’s so weird, ’cause most of the fame stuff dudn’t matter to me. But I really did think, “Maybe I could get laid on this tour.” Um, yeah. It would be a betrayal of the work self and you’re right. In retrospect, it was lucky that I didn’t. Basically, it just would have made me be lonely. Because it wouldn’t have had anything to do with me, it would have just been … [That word, “lonely,” which he’ll use a lot]
Except if they’re responding to your work, and the work is so personal, a kind of refined you, then trading on it is actually simply another way of meeting you …
Well, I agree with that too. I think this piece will be really good if it’s mostly you. You talk all you want, man. You can’t get me in trouble.
I think I’m the worst interviewer of all time. How do you learn to do this stuff? Because even I, I can clearly see there are certain strategies.
Not really. My strategy here is getting facts about you. Your tour: two weeks? Three weeks?
The funny thing is, of course, I saw on the schedule, “You will have this escort. Who will pick you up.” And of course, when I hear escort, I think, I imagine like a geisha. Who will take you to the interview, then walk on your back and fuck your eyeballs out. And of course these escorts turn out to be burly Irishmen. You know, in their forties. Who like basically tell you the whole life story of the interviewer before you go there. So the whole thing is a little amusing.
I had two, both of them over fifty. There’s a lady in Boston who I sort of wanted to adopt me. Very cool. Boston born and bred. You have to click that little thing up. [I’m having a rough time with the lighter.] Nice to meet someone else who has trouble with those.
So what’s the piece about? You keep saying, “This isn’t what the piece is about.” What is the piece about? What does Jann want?
[Very aware of this, of trying to understand and shift how I will approach him. Like his feints about tour sex above; like the chess, seeing how I respond, move by move.]
What’s it like to suddenly—you remember that Childe Harold line from Byron? “Woke up to find myself famous”?
Is that true? Yeah. Except the pub date was two and a half weeks ago. The book takes at least two months to read well. So therefore, whatever famousness is about, the hype is famous. You’re not here because of me, you’re here because of all this buzz about the book. I mean, you as an emissary of Rolling Stone. So I think I would be very naïve to feel any kind of Byron-like gratification—if two years from now, I’ve got people who like have read the thing three times, who come up and say, “This thing’s really fucking good,” then I’ll swell up. I would like to get laid offa this. The shallow stuff. I would like to get laid off it. It doesn’t (“dudn’t”) seem to be happening. Which just indicates to me that, you know, it’s not really all that real.
David Lipsky, Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace, 2010.