Book Supplement

Deconstruc-tion for the Masses

We Are Hungering for Something Else

Celebrity Is Never an Art

The Anatomy of Difficulty

Reviewers Who Love Too Much

New Pornographers' Manifesto

Record Label Turns to publishing

What Poetry is For


Charles Mudede on His Sister-In-Law


A Moment in the Park with Galaxy Craze

Poetry That Pushes


The World From Inside a Tiny Writing Group

Sex: Fiction's Hamburger Helper

Fame! I'm Going to live Forever!

What You Might at First Hate


Gary Lutz, Anaesthete

To Get Famous, Punch Somebody

Rifficult Deading


J'Accuse!: An Argument About the Value of Conflict of Interest in Books Criticism

Scandinavian Sex

Bret Easton Ellis

The Year of Reading about Proust



The Ether Sex

BRUCE BENDERSON IS THE ULTIMATE subject matter for the ultimate conflict of interest. And who really knows him better than I?

If you're expecting me to talk about those two or three slender literary works he managed to punch out over a ridiculous number of years, interrupted by countless self-fondlings, food binges, or sex orgies, then get real, please? Excuse me, but TV was invented 50 years ago as an alternative to the fossilized, linear nit-pickings of every single novelist of the last three generations, all of whom are trapped in bourgeois concerns that belie embarrassing labels like "transgressive," and who haven't really captured the attention of a single truly alive reader since Howdy Doody hit the tube in 1947. Get it right, would you?

In this postmodern era Benderson's amazing value to society rests solely in his skills as an adjunct to the celebrity circuit. Yes, this is the so-called literary supplement of The Stranger, but would you get over it? Maybe you should take your anemic faces out of that book--undoubtedly number three hundred thousand and something in's sales ranking--and realize that more worthwhile time might be spent on the extraordinary potential of Bruce Benderson as entertainer. And just maybe you should try to lure him to your dinner table. And while you're at it, try using all of your expensively acquired articulateness for something useful, like writing letters to your local TV station suggesting that replacing Married with Children reruns with the Bruce Benderson Show (prospectus available from might significantly boost ratings.

Of course, those armchair voyeurs who have only read Bruce Benderson's books, User, Toward the New Degeneracy, and Pretending to Say No (which are, by the way, currently available from don't really know the flights of hilarious, verbose narcissism of which he is capable. And since Benderson is listed in the New York telephone book, anyone willing to pick up the phone can, for a small long-distance fee, be given the gift of his endless rants about progress in abdominal control through the Pilate method or how he prevented last night's Times Square hustler from leaving the premises with his bottle of Issey Miyake. Certainly such anecdotes afford a more sweeping narrative line than the plodding paint-by-number accounts of deadened alienists currently pumped into the market by our literary brat pack.

Yet, to be perfectly honest, the enormous social currency of Benderson has less to do with his prodigious talents as a raconteur. It is, in fact, something utterly apart from his verbal talent. It has more to do with another Benderson asset, which happens to be his rather substantial penis. In the course of 28 years he has honed and perfected its skills on more than 4,000 distinct sexual partners. That is more of a head count (if you'll excuse the term) than the lifetime readership of some of today's most touted cult writers.

But did you also know that Bruce Benderson is an incredibly skilled female and male impersonator (performances available to anyone through web cam)? His interpretations range from Barry White singing selections from The Icon Is Love, to Susan Hayward in the last reel of I Want to Live, to Divine in Desperate Living, to Marky Mark Wahlberg (whose voice sounds suspiciously like Divine's) in (obviously) the last scene of Boogie Nights.

Then there is the fact that Bruce Benderson knows, knew, or has slept with practically every writer or performer worth knowing. He has wept for, fucked, gossiped to, insulted, or at least shook the hand of Bruce LaBruce, Manuel Puig, Jayne Mansfield, Katherine Dunn, Dodie Bellamy, Terminator, Samuel Delany, Vaginal Davis, Helmet Berger, Glennda Orgasm, Glenda Jackson, Joey Heatherton, Hubert Selby, Jr., Robert Craft, Camille Paglia, Matthew Stadler, Dennis Cooper, Ursule Molinaro, Catherine Texier, Marie-France Pisier, Billy Idol, and Jon-Benet Ramsey. As a matter of fact, few are aware that Bruce Benderson is in possession of a personal letter from Joan Crawford, thanking him for the three birds of paradise he delivered to her doorman on her last birthday in 1977. He even read at a Barnes & Noble just an hour before Bret Easton Ellis arrived, and attracted a large audience. But perhaps most interesting of all is the fact that Bruce Benderson has no interest in meeting Courtney Love, Sandra Bernhard, or Brad Pitt (the Jon-Benet Ramsey look-a-like), since none of the three would know what to do (or, in the case of Courtney, would have enough sophistication to deal) with the physical endowment described in paragraph five, sentence three of this essay.

And last but not least, Bruce Benderson is accessible. Hello? Could you put down your Finnegan's Wake for a minute and pay attention to this last paragraph? Bruce Benderson is flamboyant, get it? And flamboyant doesn't ask you to leave the toilet, where you probably do a lot of your reading, to run and look up something in the dictionary every two minutes. Oh, and Bruce Benderson is also a purist who takes every idea to its logical absurdity. So if you didn't like the subject of this article, don't read a "conflict of interest" piece next time, okay, all right? Give me a break.