Jack Boulware

       I’m secluded in my San Francisco apartment, working on deadline to finish a book. It started out as a topic vast in fun potential, the Golden Age of the American Heterosexual, but the thrills and chills have long since departed from the project, and now it’s down to myself and the art designer–hunched over computers, scratching on pieces of paper with red-ink pens–hoping to meet a Friday ship date this week before our eyes fall out of their sockets. Just two more guys without girlfriends, surrounded by stacks and stacks of cheesy ‘70s porn mags and moldy erotica books. Could be Anywhere, U.S.A., when you think about it. I try not to.
       The chapter on products is looking pretty good, however. Lots of Guccione-style mink penis pendants, LED wrist watches with dirty sayings, lollipops and bongs shaped like human genitalia. It’s a fun era to revisit, but I wouldn’t want to live there. Well, I guess I did, but I was too busy worrying about acne and saving up the pennies for the next Kiss album to comprehend the potent aphrodisiac combination of edible underpants and Boz Scaggs’ “Lowdown.”
       But amidst all this reverie, freelance articles must be carefully crafted and sent out on deadline to editors. It’s 2 a.m. and I’ve just finished perhaps the most abysmal piece of crap I’ve ever typed, a stirring piece of journalism destined for an unnamed magazine devoted to men who lift weights and share concerns about their washboard stomachs.
       Why did I say yes? Because I was flattered to be asked to contribute? No, it was the money. People have some sort of glamorous image of writers as either intellectual aesthetes or swashbuckling gunslingers, carefully crafting each word as if it were destined for the Library of Congress, when the reality of it is that if you’re lucky, your precious insights will be glanced at by some steroid monkey-boy on a Stairmaster, his protein-powder sweat dripping onto your words, before he turns to look back at the mirror.
       Nobody is ever impressed by journalism–except other journalists. Whenever people ask what I do, and I mumble that I’m a writer (which sounds pretentious enough as it is), or that I’m working on a book (which sounds even more pretentious), their eyes invariably light up, and they exclaim, “Fiction? Is it a novel?” Yes, it is. It’s a novel about the inventor of mink penis jewelry, a poor immigrant who busted his ass and worked his way all the way up the ladder to rub elbows with Park Avenue high society. Only the finest parties and discos were allowed to flash his creations. He was the toast of Manhattan, Mr. Mink Penis. But he got too full of himself. Tried to write a novel. Reviews were not good, it tanked in the bookstores and he lost everything. Died in a gutter in Baltimore. Barry Sonnenfeld is looking at a treatment right now. …