Spin Doctor

9.1.2009

By Gregory Miller

Robert Rave's new novel, Spin, is a glimpse into the racy, sexually charged, dog-eat-dog world of public relations. The storyline -- inspired by Rave's real-life former job working for the notorious PR queen Lizzie Grubman -- may sound reminiscent of The Devil Wears Prada, but Rave promises the book offers its own, one-of-a-kind wild ride. Out recently caught up with Rave to chat about creating a straight protagonist, embarrassing PR faux pas, and what his famous former boss thinks about his Spin.

Out: How similar is your main character Taylor's story to your own?
It's close in the sense that we're both from the Midwest and we both worked in PR, but that's kind of where the similarities end. Taylor is straight and Taylor comes from a single mother household. I'm openly and proudly gay, and I come from a two-parent household. So those are some big differences. A lot of the people he works with are not like the people I worked with, so that's where it ends.

As a gay author, why did you decide to make your protagonist straight?
I wanted to kind of play with the roles, simply because having worked in publicity and having met so many other gay publicists, I thought having Taylor be gay was such an obvious choice. I wanted to try something different and see how the dynamic between Jennie [Taylor's boss] and Taylor would work if he were straight. Because she completely emasculates him in so many ways and in so many areas, and he continues to come back and take it, and is not willing to say 'screw you, I'm out of here.' I wanted to play with that and really take it to something new, maybe to something the readers haven't seen before.

Taylor seems to take a lot of slack for being straight in the PR world. Is that based in reality?
Well, in entertainment PR there's a huge gay population of publicists. I'm not sure about corporate PR because I can only speak from the places that I worked at. I met more gay male publicists than I met straight male publicists.

How did you come up with the concept of this straight publicist finding his way in this gay world?
There were a couple of straight publicists I knew that would get a lot of ribbing. [They'd] get a lot of friends saying things like, 'Oh come on, what straight guys know about what Jessica Simpson was doing last week? Or her hair salon?' I mean, what straight guy knows that? So there was a lot of teasing and ribbing in that sense. But then I was like, why does someone that's interested in the entertainment industry have to be gay? I kind of liked playing with that dynamic of gay people liking to tease straight people for the same things we often get teased about.

Why did you decide to write a novel instead of a tell-all memoir?
Because my life is so not that interesting. [Laughs] And actually, I wrote a memoir about two years with my mom called Conversations and Cosmopolitans. That was really much more personal and had to deal with my coming out and bringing my mom kind of into the gay world. I feel like I did a memoir, and again, I feel like my life is so much more boring in comparison to Taylor's.

Gawker called your book The Devil Reps Prada. Do the comparisons bother you?
I definitely see where they came up with that -- it's kind of a boss from hell story. But what bothers me is that they just assumed that I took a formula that was The Devil Wears Prada and made it PR. I enjoyed The Devil Wears Prada very much, and I would love to have that success that it did. But it's a very different story, and The Devil Wears Prada has this neat and tidy happy ending, whereas I've said in the past, with this character it's not so much that way. It's kind of his descent into the dark side, so to speak. You know, he doesn't come out unscathed, and he kind of turns into his worst nightmare -- which is Jennie. So that bothered me. I can't really control what Gawker writes, and I know it's a fun New York website, so I just had to shrug it off, and say it is what it is.

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