First aired on Q (03/15/11)
Award-winning journalist and author Neil Strauss has done a lot of things many people would probably envy. He's had a beer with Bruce Springsteen, tucked Christina Aguilera into bed and gone diaper shopping with Snoop Dogg. And he's been paid for all of it.
He's also ghost-written several acclaimed celebrity memoirs including the infamous Mötley Crüe biography, The Dirt and penned a few hits on his own, including the New York Times bestseller The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists, all while writing arts features for publications like the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Spin and Esquire.
In his latest book, Everyone Loves You When You're Dead: Journeys into Fame and Madness, Strauss revisits some of his most notable celebrity encounters and demonstrates an uncommon skill in getting celebrities to let their guard down.
But this isn't your basic "greatest hits" compilation. Rather than republish the full interviews, Strauss gets right down to what he considers to be the best parts. The results are surprising, revealing and occasionally sad and disturbing.
"You start to see that these people who you see as legends, whether it's Eric Clapton or Chuck Berry [...], who've changed the face of music and culture, are just so unhappy," Strauss said in a recent interview with Jian Ghomeshi. "They're haunted by a bad review they just got, by a scandal that happened decades earlier, and the rest of the world, not only do they not care but those scandals just make them more interesting. And you realize that they're haunted by all the things that don't matter."
His ability to get celebrities to talk so candidly is probably due to the kind of questions he tends to ask. Strauss admitted that, when given the type of access to stars most of their fans can only dream about, he asks questions driven by what he himself wants to learn about life and not so much what his readers want to know.
As a result, Everyone Loves You When You're Dead shows us a lot of his personal growth as well — from being made fun of by Led Zeppelin for being so young and green, to probing the nature of relationships as a mature adult with Lady Gaga.
Over the years, he's learned a lot about celebrities. Unfortunately, not all of it has been pleasant.
"I've noticed a pattern in stars that start acting out in public," Strauss said. "Every one of them felt like they grew up without love."