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Evil Abe was the nickname I gave to the man on the screen who squeezed the cherry-red tip of his black beard until it sharpened into a downward point. In his stovetop hat and long black jacket, he looked like a cross between Satan and Lincoln. The other three contestants clenched their inked-up biceps and stared into the camera. Only one of them would win the $10,000 prize for cutting the face of a dead baby into a stranger’s skin. The theme of today’s show was “in memoriam,” and the challenge was to ink portraits of lost loved ones. Babies as floating heads or sleeping dolls with eyes closed and flowered headbands. This is reality TV in America. This is reality. This is TV. This is America.

This didn’t use to be me.

Please explain what just happened.

I’ve been trying to figure that one out myself for years…

What is your earliest memory?

Running back from a creek with tadpoles in my hands and getting yelled at. Slapped, too!

If you weren’t an adventure filmmaker/musician, what other profession would you choose?

I would pursue whatever profession would allow me to wander around aimlessly.

 

Please explain what just happened.

I dunno.  It happened so fast.

 

What is your earliest memory?

Ennui.

 

If you weren’t a former drag queen turned ad executive turned goat farmer turned reality TV star, what other profession would you choose?

I’m not sure there are any left.

Your new novel, Deus Ex Machina, is set behind the scenes of a reality television show. Are you a reality-tv addict?

No. Reality TV completely and irrationally terrifies me.

 

Irrationally?

Okay, it’s totally rational. Have you watched any of these shows? These are not human people.

Please explain what just happened.

I have no idea either!  I have spent my entire life feeling like I missed the first day of school. I’m always wondering what I have missed.

 

What is your earliest memory?

Crying while boarding the school bus on my first day of school. I was wearing a double knit polyester leisure shoot. Hence the tears.

 

If you weren’t an actor what other profession would you choose?

Exotic dancer. People buy you drinks and stuff money down your g-string all night.

Yes, OK. I admit it. I, in my foolhardy youth, was in the cast of the Australian production of Playing It Straight. If you’re unfamiliar with the show, well, first of all, you can be justly proud of your life choices. Second, for the purposes of this piece you need to know that Playing It Straight, originally developed and screened in the US, was, for all intents, exactly the same as The Bachelorette, with the added twist that six of the twelve men present as potential partners for the Bachelorette equivalent were gay, and six were straight.