"If James Frey is still smarting from his public flogging at the hands of Oprah Winfrey perhaps he will feel some comfort this month when checks for more than $4.3 million show up in his mailbox."—New York Times, 3/12/2006
"Fish have feelings, too, according to the folks at PETA, who are taking aim at writer Josh Kilmer-Purcell. The author, whose bestselling memoir, I Am Not Myself These Days, chronicles his double life as an ad exec—cum—drag performer, was put on notice last week by the animal-rights group's "Fish Empathy Project" for alleged cruelty to goldfish. As his whip-cracking alter-ego, Aquadisiac, Kilmer-Purcell donned a pair of clear plastic breasts filled with live goldfish."—Page Six, 3/12/2006
It hasn't been an easy two weeks around my house.
My partner, "B." (who refuses to be identified in fear of having blood thrown on his new Burberry suit—bought on my advance), keeps checking our bank balance online, berating me that it hasn't moved a nudge in a northward direction."James made, like, four gazillion dollars out of his flogging," B. says, "I don't think you're pissing off enough people."
He's exaggerating. He doesn't want to have to return the suit. When he's like this, it's impossible to argue that James didn't make anywhere near a gazillion, and probably not even the $4.3 million splayed across the charts and sidebars of the Sunday Times. But still, it's the principle. Or the capital. Or something else I'm definitely lacking.
I eye my cat warily and silently wish she had a tumor menacing somewhere deep inside her. That treacly dead dog book has been #1 for weeks. I debuted at #29, and slipped immediately to #33. I figure my memoir has sold 19 copies. Maybe 20. I'll get paid $18.93 after my agent takes her cut.
What if my cat had a tumor and I stuffed her in my fake breasts? Would that be enough? Would that make Oprah flog me? I'd settle for Montel Williams at this point. I've always kind of liked bald men.
I check my Amazon sales ranking again. Still dropping. I'm getting desperate.
Maybe PETA can get Pamela Anderson to hate me too. Or even more enticing—flog me. I mean, I'm gay and all, but I bet a Pam Anderson Flog-a-Thon would make great pay-per-view for a certain large segment of consumers. Though maybe not the most avid book readers.
Someone has to hate me more. And harder.
I consider sending comp copies of my book, which details my first year in New York spent in love with a crack-addicted male escort, to some prominent Christian ministers. I'm pretty sure they'd hate me. And they're big into floggings. Historically, at least. Or is that stonings? Need to clear that up first.
Think. Think. Think.
Fatwas have always meant big business for authors. And I was a cartoonist for my college newspaper. I whip up a few caricatures of Mohammed officiating over B.'s and my gay marriage. B. takes one look and shakes his head dismissively.
"It looks more like Antonin Scalia than Mohammed," he sighs.
"Could work either way," I ponder.
"Don't quit your day job."
"You mean the one that doesn't pay?"
I realize I only have one option left. The nuclear option. In order to be hated with the light of a million suns, I'm going to have to go to the source.
I dial the phone. We've been friends for years, through thick and thin. Through baptisms, Thanksgivings, Oscar parties and Larry King. Through good Oprah and schoolmarm Oprah. He owes me. And it's time to pay up.
"James! Hey, look, bud. I'm a little short on cash this month... and, um, I really need you to hate me. I mean really flog me. It might not hurt if you could get your wife and baby to hate me too."
"Nah, man," James says. "I'm past all that. Let the haters hate."
Please. Someone. Hate me. I need some dental work done.