In the early nineties I discovered a book that changed my life and it wasn’t Little Women. There was nothing demure, ladylike or well-behaved about The Dice Man and that is exactly why I loved it. It was anarchy and it was chaos. It was life on the edge. I read it the same way that I devoured pizza at 3am with a head full of vodka: quickly and with considerable mess. When I finished it I vowed to one day meet the author and buy him a beverage* of his choosing, and, through a series of odd little circumstances, here we are today.

Please enjoy, without further ado, a conversation with George and Zoë.

*No beverages were harmed in the making of this interview.

 

ZB: I’m not really sure what to call you. George. Luke. Dice Man? George seems the correct approach. Mr Cockcroft does not seem the right one. Although as an Australian with a bawdy sense of humor the name ‘Cockcroft’ does rrroll off the tongue with a certain lascivious panache. ‘Tis a name to be proud of, indeed. I hope you wear it with a flourish.

GC: Yes, the name “Cockcroft” has been a burden and a delight. When one of my nephews married a lovely Chinese woman and changed his last name to “Lyncroft”, I chastised him for cutting off his cock. And that’s not the worst of the puns over the years. Needless to say I have kept my cock except when I abandon it for Rhinehart, but no one ever accused Luke of not having a cock. How the hell did I get into that!?

 

ZB: I tricked you. I’m good like that. You write under a pseudonym.  Are you ever tempted to use the name Luke Rhinehart to get into restaurants?

GC: Luke Rhinehart may be well-known in some places but not in any restaurants I frequent. Interestingly enough, the owner of a couple of the poshest restaurants  in London  tells  people that he got  into  the  restaurant business by  a casting of a die. But he still made me pay my bill.

 

ZB: After my experiences with being a Dice person I feel a fondness and respect for dice. In an odd way I almost feel like the dice reciprocate. As a Backgammon player I find that I’m often very lucky with my rolling. Do you play? If so…. do you ever come to San Francisco?

GC: Yes, one does tend to get fond of one’s dice–until they fuck up. However, I never feel they reward me with good rolls for being their disciple. Remember we never know what is good luck and what bad. You win at Backgammon and perhaps that turns out to lead to your doing something that leads to  your breaking your leg in a fall. But is that bad luck? In the hospital you meet this doctor . . . .

 

 

ZB: Have you ever wondered what it would be like if we lived in a world where elections were won based on dice determined voting? What sort of Utopia or Hell would this be in your estimation?

GC: If officials of governments were determined by letting chance choose the winner from the candidates that would be a tremendous improvement over our present “democratic” system. It would eliminate the frightening power of money and corporations over who wins elections.

However, to really be effective, the system would have to be changed so that anyone who wants to should be able to put him or her self on the list of candidates for any office, and then chance would choose the winner from among the dozens or hundreds or thousands of candidates for each position. Only in this way would we at last eliminate a government mostly of, by, and for rich old white guys. By letting any citizen be a candidate we could at last have a somewhat multi-class government rather than one dominated by the rich and educated. Blue collar workers, everyday guys, would not have to be represented, they would now hold thousands of offices, depending on the fickleness of Chance. In fact we might actually have representative government: since there are millions more blue collar and lower middle class people in even developed nations, and relatively few multi-millionaires, we would have a government representative of the people rather than a government of millionaires.

And this idea is not as silly as “rational” people think it is. The Greeks, creators of the first democracy, thought it was a swell idea and chose many of their leaders by lot.

But  those in power know that letting chance work in the choosing of office holders means the end of their power. No way it will ever happen.

 

ZB: The DiceMan changed my life. Or enhanced it. I can’t quite figure out which. I was already VERY liberated as an 18 year old in Sydney, but it certainly added to the mayhem. Drugs, booze, dice, pandemonium. You’re certainly a hero of mine and my cohorts, but not of one particular friend (A.M) who happened to be the victim of some pretty cheeky dice-related shenanigans at 3am one morning. I believe she is owed an apology and, frankly, I refuse to do it as I think you and the dice are completely responsible… what do you have to say to her? And please don’t mention how short she is.

GC: I feel no responsibility for anyone’s dicing except my own, and then only if the dice tell me to. Your tall, lovely friend may be owed an apology but not by me. And not by you. Perhaps Tiger Woods will apologize to her.

 

ZB: I’ve had to moon The Hells Angels in Kings Cross and bite a bartender on the behind because of some rolls of the die, what is the funniest or most memorably weird thing the dice ever made you do?

GC: Read THE DICE MAN.

 

ZB: Right. Well, in that case, I hope “Arlene” is getting residuals!

GC: Touché!

 

ZB: If The Dice Man is “semi-autobiographical” then I’d love some advice from you for myself and other aspiring writers of autobiographical material. I’ve been toying with my own memoir for quite some time but I keep getting caught up in a panic regarding the rather off-color and illicit events that transpired in my teenage years and twenties. Visions of my children reading about mommy taking drugs, or my mother-in-law reading about my sexual exploits certainly put a damper on the joy of the process. I want to be real and true and honest. I want to be brave. People have suggested I write the book in the third person but it doesn’t feel right. Could you expound a little on this sort of problem and then give me a giant kick in the ass? Thank you in advance. And ouch.

GC: I’m surprised, Zoe, that you have any problem with your autobiography. I was lucky enough to write my Ph.D.  dissertation on the obscene American novelist Henry Miller, whose novel THE TROPIC OF CANCER was still not legally published back in the early sixties when I wrote the dissertation. Miller wrote with great exuberance about all aspects of his life, especially the sexual, and never hesitated to reveal the worst things about himself. Had I not had to immerse myself in Miller I would never have had the nerve to write THE DICE MAN.

You have shown  you are free to write about yourself with delightful openness to me and Simon and the readers of the Nervous Breakdown, so why don’t you simply write the book for us. Then if a million people end up reading it, including your children and mother-in-law, you can blame us but laugh all the way to the bank.

I often wondered what my puritan mother would have said if she read THE DICE MAN, but Chance intervened and she died two months after I finished the novel and before it was published. My favorite Aunt read it, however, and then told people she had thrown it in the trash. She still kept me in her will, though.

And your children won’t read your book until they are in their teens at which time having a parent who actually enjoyed and enjoys life they will find very cool indeed. And your mother-in-law will probably take you aside after publication and whisper to you, “Your stories about your wild sex life remind me about when I was seventeen and . . . ”

You know full well that we should never sculpt our actions to please others, because we rarely know what will actually and truly please anyone.

 

ZB: Thank you. I needed that. Have your own children grown up with a fondness for dice? And did they ever try to use the Dice as an excuse for errant behavior? I tried but it didn’t work for me…

GC: A prophet is always without honor in his own family. My children have rarely diced. However, they have been remarkably free without the dice.

I never try to use the dice as an excuse for errant behavior because I guess I don’t recognize “errant” behavior as something that exists. I do many things that I vaguely wish had turned out differently, but I never regret the “decisions” (dice or otherwise) that led to the imperfect results. When I do something that looks like it’s a disaster I can’t help thinking that maybe something good will come out of this. And when things seem to be going swimmingly I wonder what disaster all this good luck is going to lead to.

We never know. Therefore, no regrets, no excuses, no apologies. Roll on. Or Role on.

ZB: I know you get sick of this one, but it’s infuriated me for bloody years. Why has there never been an amazing smash-hit blockbuster movie of The DiceMan, starring a huge star like Brad Pitt or Ed Norton, and directed by an incredible and edgy director?

GC: Chance works in mysterious ways, damn it. But the simple answer is, Can you imagine a Paramount executive making a decision by casting dice? When Paramount hired me in 1986 to write a screenplay of my book, they threw out the script I had already written, one that stayed close to the book, and made me change the story and the characters so that Luke wouldn’t “hurt” his wife and children. They thought an audience wouldn’t sympathize with Luke if he hurt his wife and endangered his kids. They never considered that humans inevitably hurt other humans, even those they love, with dice or without.  So they insisted that the Luke of their film could not be married and couldn’t kill any one or couldn’t “rape” a woman who obviously had the hots for him, and at the end of the film Luke had to see that the dice were evil and repent.

Right. Just the sort of film fans of the book would love to see.

The last screenplay Paramount commissioned (four or five years ago) had NOT A SINGLE CHARACTER OR SCENE FROM THE NOVEL. Hundreds of actors, directors and producers want to make the film but the stodgy studio bureaucracy stands firm.

Alas.

 

ZB: I lived in Hollywood for many years and also tried my hand at writing and making a film. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that you don’t have to be involved with major studios to get screwed over in that town. Even small Indie crews will bend you over. And they won’t give you a reach-around either.

I digress.

I have a friend who is unable to commit to any decisions until the last minute. This personality trait appears from the outside to throw his life into complete chaos and causes major annoyance to his friends and colleagues. I’ve recommended the dice to him on several occasions but he is seemingly terrified to pick them up. Can you give me a convincing argument to feed him that might help him relax into the experience?

GC: Try bribery.

If  you can’t convince him, Zoe, then no one can. There are thousands of people who read the book or hear about the idea of making decisions by casting a die who can’t let chance make a single decision for them. They may have “moral objections” to giving up their “free will,” or the idea seems too silly and beneath their dignity, or they find a hundred other rationalizations that humans dream up to justify any belief or attitude they have, whether rationalizations rejecting dicing, or rationalizations about what a natural or intelligent thing dicing is to do.

 

ZB: What is the current view from your window? Feel free to embellish the truth or completely falsify your answer.

GC: I am answering your questions on my laptop computer while here in Vancouver for the Olympic Games. I’m presently sitting on top of the ski jump. When I finish the  interview I plan to cast the dice to see whether it’s me or the laptop that goes flying down the jump, or whether I simply go back to the hotel.

ZB: Fair enough, but if you roll a four you have to come to San Francisco and get drunk with me.
Okay?

GC: I’d rather give the odds five out of six: if it rolls a four I won’t come to San Francisco and get drunk with you. Okay?

 

ZB: Touché.

 

This interview took place over a series of very pleasant and entertaining email exchanges that caused much smiling and ended far too soon. The interviewer would like to express her gratitude to the interviewee, and to Simon Smithson for introducing the relevant parties. The interviewer would also like to thank Chance, for if she’d rolled a three the whole thing would never have happened.

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ZOE BROCK was born in New Zealand and raised in Australia. She has lived in more cities and on more continents than she can count (truly, she's a model and can't count) and is currently residing in the deep fog of San Francisco. Her true home lies on the dusty plains of Burning Man where she feels safe and challenged and truly alive. Zoë once had a very popular blog on MySpace and writes everything from awful poetry to truly delicious dark satire, and all sorts of sexy things in between. She has appeared on the cover of Elle magazine, inside the pages of Vogue, Cosmo and Marie Claire, to name a few, and is working on her memoir, an expose of 'growing up model'. Zoë is also a certified yoga teacher. Yes, that means she's bendy.

53 responses to “Getting Drunk With The Diceman: The George Cockcroft Interview Part 2”

  1. Simon Smithson says:

    Heh.

    Let me know when the two of you rendezvous in San Francisco. I’ll see what I can do to make it there for that drink.

    • Zoe Brock says:

      I agree. And I do very much hope that it eventuates.

      I am sad I can’t man the boards today properly, but the many and varied vagina’s at my prenatal yoga teacher training are calling me.

      well… not LITERALLY, of course, that would be very strange.

  2. GC: “My favorite Aunt read it, however, and then told people she had thrown it in the trash. She still kept me in her will, though.”

    Hilarious.

  3. Ron Kurti says:

    I vote for Dice Politics!

  4. Glen Handy says:

    It’s always such a refreshing breeze when something from Zoe’s fertile mind wafts through my email… thanks so much and interesting conversation per usual par excellence.

    I seem to recall a certain SciFi novel that was based on a situation where elections were based on a lottery of some sorts… but I digress…

    or is it, butt, I come back to the conversation at hand?

    Well done, Zoe, well done.

    • Zoe Brock says:

      You’ll have to forgive my morning haze…. I have a bit of a cold and text-book busy brains… which novel?

      Thank you for reading and liking!!!! have a spectacular day my friend.

      • Glenn Handy says:

        I don’t remember either, but this might be a sign that I need to go thru my boxed up SciFi collecton and re-turn a page or two… I’ll let you know.

        (it seems I can’t spell my own name, let alone read much lately, I should work on that)

        Who knows, maybe I could even force myself to write something again too…

        (I have been writing enery management techno stuff at work full time though)

        : )

  5. LOL Myke says:

    “Perhaps Tiger Woods will apologize to her.” Freaking LOL.

    I have not read this book, but I think I will read this book now. I could use a bit of chance in my life methinks. This interview was awesome, and between it and (i would assume) the earlier writing from you about writing it because you rolled a 4, sounds like its right up my alley.

    Good read hon.

    • Zoe Brock says:

      uh oh. You and dice…? Sounds like a recipe for some extremely perverse fun.

      I recommend highly. There is epiphany and catharsis in ultimate freedom… the freedom from choice.

  6. Wonderful read, Zoe. So great that you got turned on to the Dice Man instead of Little Women. You’re a better woman for the experience. Fo’ sho’, fo’ sho’.

    • zoebee says:

      I di have a brief crush on Laura Ingals in LHOTP. I wanted buck teeth just like hers and used to walk around pretending I had them.

      Christ.

      Going to be in LA all week. Drinks?

  7. Jeremy says:

    Awesome interview! I can tell just from this that I need to pick up that book.

    • zoebee says:

      yes you do. as does everyone. the world needs an influx of freakish free-wheeling chance takers again. it’s high time. long overdue. I think Barack needs a set of dice himself.

  8. Zara Potts says:

    Great questions, ZB! Great interview – interesting, funny and though provoking.
    Write the memoir! I’ll buy and l know I will love every single word you write.
    x

  9. Spencer says:

    Well, now I finally know the origins of your dice game. Maybe I’ll pick up the book and teach my fellow uni students the fun of living your life a little bit reckless (but not in a violent way, we already had riot police last weekend).

    I just hope I don’t have to bite a bartender’s ass, that doesn’t sound very entertaining to me.

    • zoebee says:

      It was less entertaining for him, trust me. I have pointy teeth and I used them.

      You and dice and college? AWESOME.

      (hides under bed)

  10. Judy Prince says:

    You and George are an excellent, smooth, jokey duo, Zoe. I learned a lot from both of you. Though I feel strongly that you’d write a smashing autobiography, you don’t HAVE TO write it; you’d be an excellent writer in any of the genres. The fun’s in trying them out and getting feedback…..maybe right here at TNB.

    • zoebee says:

      Oh I do have to write it…. just really slowly and with a lot of personal anguish, apparently! but thank you, you are a wise and generous spirit and I am grateful.

      more fun, less thinking. promise.

  11. _kit says:

    Pizza and vodka sound disgusting, although if I roll anything between 1-6 I’ll try it.

    x

    • zoebee says:

      what fears would you embrace with dice, I wonder? I feel compelled to add things to lists that terrify me. If I roll a 4 I have to touch a spider…. that sort of thing. Oh god. not spiders…

      • _kit says:

        Hmmm, I don’t think that embracing the Apocalypse could be something that the dice would cover. I think my roll list would be more of the overtly insane, i.e picking a fight with an MMA type.

        Note: When the inevitable spider touch happens, don’t pet it’s fangs.

  12. Peter Glass says:

    I wonder if I can get Kay to go along with the same dice rolling odds for our next holiday. Im very happy to go with 5 from 6 that I come to SF to get drunk with you.
    xxx

  13. randyo says:

    I quit a thirtyyear smoking habit after reading “The Diceman”… It’s a very compelling read…. Thanks for the interview Dr. Cockcroft is one of my heroes… (-;

  14. Richard Cox says:

    I’m as surprised as Mr. Cockcroft that you would be hesitant to share your life with the world. And I don’t remember if you ever told me about your fondness for dice?

    Can’t wait to read this book.

    • zoebee says:

      ah. It’s not “the World” that I’m worried about!

      it’s the near and dear folk.

      Read the book, then roll the dice and see where they take you. Tis a liberating adventure that awaits you, my dear friend.

  15. Lizette Sloop says:

    Never knew you were a dice freak Zoe,,,,,, no wonder we bonded.
    I have always LOVED that book, thanks for a good laugh.

    • Zoe Brock says:

      like minded soul sisters….

      dice this week? if you roll an even number your entire brood has to come live in MDR with me for three days! Oh god, the pandemonium…..

  16. Joe Daly says:

    I love his simple observation that the dice aren’t loyal to him, no matter how fiercely he places himself at their whimsy. I will be picking up a copy of The Dice Man pronto. Thanks for the fun interview!

    • Zoe Brock says:

      Isn’t it peculiar how humans anthropomorphize EVERYTHING? I am so guilty of it.

      However, I do think the dice are somewhat loyal to me, but perhaps that’s because I didn’t write a book about them. They are very private creatures you know.

  17. Touché, Zoe. The balance between deference and irreverence in your questions elicited the kind of engrossing responses from GC that made me reach into the depths of my library for a long overdue re-read of The Dice Man.

  18. katie says:

    As always, witty, hilarious and wonderfully honest. Thank you for a fun and distracting read.

  19. patti says:

    although i have no idea who THIS dice man is (i was thinking more along the lines of the has-been comic that was in the movie bomb “Ford Fairlaine”), i still giggled at the banter between the two of you. i love when you write. i just do. xo

    • Simon Smithson says:

      (Andrew Dice Clay was inspired to adopt his middle moniker as a result of reading the book).

      His foul-mouthedness, however, was his own invention, I believe.

      • Zoe Brock says:

        Yeah I quite liked his Ford Fairlane movie…. but I’m kind of a misogynistic prick myself at times.

      • Slade Ham says:

        It’s upsetting that what seems to be such a great book was responsible for Dice Clay’s name. Ugh. I loved him back in the day, but… just ugh.

        I clearly have to read this book though. I really enjoyed the back and forth, Zoe.

  20. Josty says:

    What’s the deal with all those bloody lightsabers?!?!

  21. nicola majocchi says:

    WELL DONE ZOE, YOU ROCK BUT WE KNEW THAT!!!
    PS. NICE HEAD SHOT BTW… XOX

  22. […] Or that she prepared for it by hiking in neon crotchless fishnet bodystockings. Or that she digs the Diceman. Or that she writes dirty […]

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