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An Interview with Marty Beckerman

     After waiting by my mailbox for 7 days straight, I finally got the book in the mail, and inside the cover was an autograph from the author himself. "Dear McClain, I hope you enjoy this wretched excuse for a book."

Death To All Cheerleaders

     The book was Death to All Cheerleaders: One Adolescent Journalist's Cheerful Diatribe against Teenage Plasticity. And it's the brainchild of Marty Beckerman, the 18-year-old humor columnist from Alaska who was booted from the Anchorage Daily News for his less-than sensitive capers.

     From the frozen tundra of land that time forgot came Marty, a beacon of light to those who are lost in a sea of hackneyed wit and political correctness. Marty is a different breed of journalist. He combines sharp humor with cynicism in a way that most "shock" journalists only dream and possesses a certain technique of deviating from typical comedy writing that makes him great.

     Beckerman, having been featured in such outlets as Penthouse, The New York Press and The Long Beach Union, agreed to do an interview for I-Mockery dot com, which will soon become his most prized interview to date...

In a disparaging article written by Russell Moore in the Perfect World section of The Anchorage Daily News, he said that your writing reveals a mean streak that you can neither explain nor justify. What the fuck is he talking about?

Well, Russell apparently doesn't have much of a taste for my brand of humor. I'm vodka and he prefers girlie drinks. Fair enough.

He's the Cosmo of the critiquing world, so to speak. If you were a shot, what would you be? Kamikaze? Hairy Nipple? Flaming Homosexual Orgasm on the Beach?

Hairy nipple for sure. Those things are friggin' delicious and I have two of them.

Some people find it hard to believe that a person at the mere age of 18 can have the experience necessary to cede such a vivacious and cynical outlook on life.

Jesus, there's a whole slew of things to be cynical about as a teenager. Just go to any high school in America and open your eyes. As a teenager, your level of social acceptance is directly proportional to the degree of your conformity. Goddamn, I've ranted on this topic too much, but putting up with other peoples' idiocy for four years will just set your heart ablaze with spite and cynicism. High school is a place for dreams to be massacred. Don't forget that, kids.

So you're one of the dorks who got taunted on a daily basis?

Maybe a long time ago. I have a lot of friends these days, but I guess it didn't always used to be that way.

Where do you attribute most of your success? Where are the roots?

Success? I'm not successful yet. I'm still building the roots, you know? I learned how to write and deal with the editor at the Daily News, but it makes me shudder to think of that evil place as my roots. Jesus, that would be like building your house on a graveyard or something.

I'm sure a lot of people consider you a success. Being featured in numerous major-media outlets, especially PENTHOUSE is no small feat. What's it going to take for you to feel like you've "succeeded" at this game? Global recognition, monetary compensation, stinky panties in the mail - things of the sort?

Well, I've done things most teen writers never will, so I'm successful in that I've gotten my writing out there at such a young age. But in terms of financial success, I'm still begging my parents to pay for gas so I can drive my fuckin' minivan around town, you know? I'll be a real success as a writer if I can ever actually support myself off my writing.

Your mother is a psychologist. How often does she analyze your skewed psyche?

She's actually a child psychologist, so she has to deal with fucked-up kids all day long and then comes home to deal with her very own. I actually feel kind of sad for her sometimes ... I show her my columns and she doesn't laugh at all, just winces and asks why I have to use "that kind of language." I honestly think she cries at night because I'm such a disgrace.

I get a similar response from my mother about your antics. So what, your dad was the back-patter?

Not all the time, but he has a pretty sick sense of humor too.

You did an interview with Henry Rollins a while back (Feb. 1999), and it's obvious that it didn't quite turn out how you expected. [Rollins wound up threatening to do very inappropriate things to Marty's mother.] Would you make any changes if you could?

Well, I didn't really know anything about Rollins when I interviewed him. All I knew was that he fronted Black Flag during the '80s. Since the interview, I've read some of his writing, listened to some of his music, and I actually like a lot of it. So if I could interview him again, I'd probably ask more questions about his creative output and less questions about his nude scenes in feature films.

Do you think he even remembers you?

I certainly hope not.

The style of writing used in Death to All Cheerleaders didn't just appear out of thin air. Who has inspired your writing the most? And so help me God if you say Dave Barry...

I'd say the humor in Death to All Cheerleaders is most influenced by Woody Allen's Without Feathers and P.J. O'Rourke's Holidays in Hell. Hemingway and Orwell were big influences too, but more in terms of style and message than humor.

And you know, if I were to rewrite Cheerleaders today it would probably be very different stylistically. I wrote most of the columns in there when I was just 16; now I'm two years older and have a lot more perspective into how people operate. Still, the book makes a lot of good points, so I have no regrets about anything in there. Except maybe the column "Food Poisoning: The Fun Alternative to Not Vomiting". Jesus, that's an artistic low.

But alas, we're young. There's so much more time left for more works of literary garbage. I presume you get the occasional hate mail from overly sensitive members of the public. Are there some that are more memorable than others?

Well, sure. For example, a couple months ago I got a message from a girl named Samantha, who claimed to be an aspiring cheerleader. She said I was a "jerk" and that I shouldn't judge other people like that. So, of course, I wrote back and alerted her to the fact she had full permission to blow me like a hurricane. It didn't take long to get another message from the same address that said, and I quote, "If you ever tell my six-year-old daughter to 'suck your dick' again, I'll have no other choice but to alert the authorities. I'll say it again: Stay away from my daughter."

And this is how you build a fan-base. You have been known to say some sick [read: funny] things. You've also said that you want to open up the underground ambiance of shock-humor by somehow making it more mainstream. Some people might call you a sell-out or something.

Huh ... I say some pretty stupid shit sometimes, don't I?

See, the thing is that shock humor is completely mainstream. You can go to the movie theater and see 15 terrible "films" aimed at teenagers that do nothing but shock. But it's all lowest common denominator shock humor, not highbrow in any way. The only way shock humor works is when it's done with intelligence, so I'm really trying to raise the bar a notch or two. I'd only be a sellout if I ever lowered myself to the current sophistication level of most popular shock humor.

Somewhere between being a typical kid with a typical outlook on life and a somber psychological mishap, your life has taken a different turn from even the most normal authors. What the hell happened to you?

Yeah, I think I have the gift of relating to everyday squares and depraved perverts alike. You're right, I'm a typical teenage male in a lot of ways: I want to get laid, I listen to loud music, I try to get laid, I put too many chemicals in my body, I can't ever get laid. On the other hand, yeah, there's probably some very unhealthy things going on in my head. So it's like, I can take my warped outlook and put it in a form that normal people can appreciate.

But how did I actually get like this? Jesus, I have no fucking clue. I used to be such a cute little kid too. No wonder Mommy cries herself to sleep every night.

Learn more about Marty at deathtoallcheerleaders.com
Interview conducted by McClain

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