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."
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
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
Hairy nipple for sure. Those things are friggin' delicious and I have two
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
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
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
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
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
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
Learn more about Marty at deathtoallcheerleaders.com
Interview conducted by McClain
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