Bret Easton Ellis: Unanswered Prayers
By Dale Peck
Really, I have no idea.
The first time I met Bret Easton Ellis was at a party hosted by Matthew Marks, the art dealer, and Jack Bankowsky, the publisher of ArtForum and BookForum, to which I am an occasional contributor. Actually, I didn't run into Ellis at the party as much as outside it. This was 1996 or '97, and Matthew and Jack had already been together for, like, most of the AIDS crisis, and a mutual 'friend,' if you know what I mean, told me the only way they had sex anymore was with, how did he put it, 'a little help.' They're both bottoms, or so my 'friend' told me, but Matthew likes eighteen- or nineteen-year-old Puerto Rican/Dominican types -- which, don't get me wrong, is totally legal in New York, but still, you know, kind of skeevy, although in a hot kind of way -- whereas Jack goes for D.L. or, better yet, genuinely straight black bodybuilders who are willing to slip it to rich gay guys in order to get the money they need to pay for their steroids. And so anyway, it was pretty obvious one of the latter was on the door that night, because he seemed to think my name needed to be on 'da list,' as he so charmingly put it, and didn't care that, in addition to being a contributor to both ArtForum and BookForum, I also had several 'friends' in common with the party's hosts -- I'm sure you know what I mean, but the doorman, God bless his handsome if somewhat 'roid-bloated face, didn't.
Now, I know I'm not exactly famous for the generosity of my judgments, but I'm much freer with the Benjamins, and, as one of the most ballyhooed critics of my generation, I command more for one of my concise, pithy reviews than most novelists get for the books I trash. What I mean is, I was just about to pull out my wallet when a tall, trim, dark-haired man in a Zegna suit edged past me, albeit it in a totally cool, I-don't-know-who-you-are-which-is-why-we-both-know-I'm-more-important-than-you kind of way.
'Hey, 'Dre,' he said (you could actually hear the apostrophe in his voice: now that's class). He flashed some kind of complicated gang sign/voguing maneuver at the doorman.
'Yo, Mr. Easton Ellis! What up, my man?'
'Just making the rounds. Thought I'd do a little fishing in a couple-a small ponds, you know, before heading down to the Viper or the Chateau.'
'Word,' 'Dre said, stepping aside, but keeping one of his massively muscled arms in front of me. Our mutual 'friend' had told me Jack was into punch fisting, and, though I tried to imagine how anyone besides Goatse could take that anabolically enhanced bioweapon up his asshole, I couldn't.
'Mr. Easton Ellis? It's me, Dale Peck.' I attempted to follow him up the stairs but 'Dre barred my way with his seventeen-inch-forearm.
Ellis turned toward me. 'Oh, uh, yeah. Hey, Dale Peck.' He was standing a step above me, and plus he's already a couple or four inches taller than me, so when he smiled down at me I was able to see straight up both his nose and his dimples, which were even deeper than his nostrils -- and Bret Easton Ellis has really deep nostrils, if you know what I mean. 'I, uh, really loved Martin and John.'
'Oh, um, thanks.' Totally wasn't expecting that. 'Yeah, I, um, I don't know why I can't read your books.'
Another pause, while Ellis continued to smile stiffly down at me and I continued to stare up his dimples, which were so deep they actually seemed to connect with his
nostrils somewhere back in sinusland. I was so mortified by what I'd just said that I wished I could crawl into that cavern and lick up whatever residue of coke might be clinging to the inflamed tissues therein.
'Yeah, I, uh, see a 'friend,' if you know what I mean,' he said finally, and disappeared into the party.
'Dude,' 'Dre said when Ellis was gone. 'Totally tacky, man.' His huge arm swept me back and he refastened the velvet rope. He dealt with another guest ('Oh, James Wood. There you are.') and seemed surprised to find me still there when he finished.