When my first essay collection came out (that's it over there on the left), almost nobody knew who I was. I'd been writing a syndicated monthly humor column for a year or so and it was popular in gay papers, but that accounted for maybe 5 readers. So I was surprised when Alec Baldwin Doesn't Love Me shot to the top of the gay bestseller lists. I was even more surprised when it stayed there. And stayed there. And stayed there. All in all, it was one of the 10 bestselling gay books for more than two years.
Now, I'd like to say that the book's instant popularity was because people found my writing so refreshing. I learned very quickly though that it had more to do with the picture on the cover. At one of the first book signings following the release of the collection--at the annual Book Expo America or Book America Expo or American Book Expo or whatever they were calling it that day--I sat at a table while people came by and looked at the books. Over and over again, I watched as a man stared at the cover of my book, picked it up, and said, "Is that the author?"
You may not believe me when I tell you that this was not as ego-boosting to me as you might imagine, but it's true. Nor was it a happy experience when, upon finding out that I was not the fellow in the photo, the man holding the book inevitably said, "Oh." That's it. Oh. I know what "Oh" means. It means "I was really hoping you looked like this guy, but you don't. At all. Which sucks for both of us." But they (usually) bought the book anyway, so I got over it pretty quickly.
A lot of people also thought that the picture really was of Alec Baldwin, which it isn't. It's Tom Katt. For those of you who don't know, Tom Katt was a popular gay porn star, famous for his hairy chest in a time when most every guy in porn looked like a 12-year-old girl. That's him on the right.
He doesn't look anything like Alec Baldwin, but hairy is hairy and the picture was free, so there you go. I'm not complaining.
I hadn't thought about Mr. Katt in a long time, until earlier this week a friend asked me who the guy on the cover of the book was. Gay porn stars have a shelf life of about six seconds, and Tom hasn't made a movie in years, and this friend had never heard of Tom Katt. Coincidentally, we were also talking about how it can be a big shock to see recent pictures of people you haven't seen in a while. I thought it would be interesting to see whatever became of my cover man.
Well, this is what happened to him.
It seems that Tom, in True Hollywood Story fashion, got a little bit too much into the boozcahol and nose candy. Also, apparently, the Ho-Hos. Not that I'm judging. I've gotten a little porky myself since the book came out.
Tom made another big change--he found Jesus and turned straight. I don't know that he was ever gay gay, if you know what I mean, and he did do some bisexual porn, but still this is news. Unlike some other porn stars who turn their backs on the people who made them stars, however, Tom continues to be a vocal supporter of the gay community.
Now to relieve your feeings of dismay over Tom's change in physique, let me explain that the picture to the left is a "before" picture taken for one of those body transformation contests sponsored by a sports supplement company. Because Tom Katt was actually David Papaleo, a competitive bodybuilder. And along with becoming friends with Jesus, David decided to get back in the game.
This is what he looked like by the end of the contest.
Admittedly this is not a look I personally like. It's a little too insect exoskeleton for me, what with all the bumpy things and severe angles. I'd prefer it if he were somewhere in between before and after. But good for him! He looks great. This is the guy who helped me sell piles of books.
From everything I've heard about him, Tom/David seems like a really nice guy. People I know who have worked with him have had nothing but great things to say. And despite the Jesus thing (which always freaks me out) he seems to have avoided the whole ex-gay bullshit. So congrats, David. I'm glad you're happy with your life.
Now before I go, I want to mention one other tiny little matter regarding Alec Baldwin Doesn't Love Me. Not too long ago, Alec did a short Q&A with Advocate magazine in which he was asked if he'd ever read my book. He said that no, he had not.
Well all I have to say to that is: "Liar! Liar! Pants on fire!"
As evidence I submit a letter received from Mr. Baldwin in April of 1998. You can click on the image to see it at actual size.
Okay, no, he doesn't actually say he read the book. But he does say that "My dresser, Robert Guy, carried a copy of your book around with him to alternately kiss and slap me with at will." Which, now that I think of it, sounds like a good plot for a Tom Katt movie.
He also says, at the end, that "Your book is very funny and thank you for thinking of me." He could have added "while you touch yourself" to the end of that sentence, but I suppose he was trying to be professional.
Anyway, my point is that Alec lied either to myself or to the good people at Advocate. Alec, you should be ashamed. You've been a very bad boy. Very bad. In fact, I think you might need to be spanked.
I'll be right over.