Modern Humorist - Who Let The Dog Out?
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National Magazine Award-winning Writer Tom Junod recently made headlines by fictionalizing half of an Esquire profile of Michael Stipe. But Stipe is not the first celebrity Junod has “creatively” profiled. Below is his initial, failed attempt to revolutionize celebrity journalism with a largely fabricated interview with diminutive rap star Lil’ Bow Wow.

Lil’ Bow Wow Has Some Funky-Ass Cornrows
By Tom Junod
Based On A True Story

E’S A FOURTEEN-YEAR-OLD pop star with the world at his feet. He’s also quite possibly the dullest person I’ve ever met. Seriously, I’ve had more rewarding exchanges with vending machines. It’s almost as if, to write a readable story about him, you’d need to make up half of it. But only half. Or maybe two thirds. Or all of it. So, here goes.

Lil’ Bow Wow licks my forehead as a greeting. It is, I would learn later, a habit left over from his days living among the wolves. It was obvious during our time together that he is working to shed some of his other lupine traits such as indiscriminate biting (he attacks me only twice) and marking his territory (he urinates on only five fans). Upon his return to civilization, the rabid wolf-child caught the attention of rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg, who dubbed the creature Lil’ Bow Wow. As Snoop would later admit, the name belied the child’s sizable bite.

But that all seems very far away as I sit quietly with Mr. Wow in a hip vegan restaurant in Atlanta. The weight of the world sits heavily upon his slight frame, as he fiddles with his silverware and intently avoids making eye contact with me. Earlier, he had confided in me his longstanding admiration for my work, explaining that he had asked for just three things for his last birthday: a skateboard, a Nintendo 64 and a subscription to Esquire so he could read my celebrity profiles.

“You’re my inspiration, Tom,” he said meekly, “I mean, you’re the reason I became interested in the written word. You, Snoop Dogg and Thomas Pynchon. When you went trout fishing with Marilyn Manson, I felt like I was there. And when Charlize Theron and you nearly started dry humping on the set of ‘Mighty Joe Young’? It sent chills down my spine. And that Kevin Spacey piece! Holy smokes! I never thought of him as gay before, but after I read that, me and my friends started using him as a euphemism for homosexuality, as in, ‘Whoa, check out the Kevin Spacey over there in the biker shorts, feather boa and body paint!’”

My face turning bright red, I begged him to stop, explaining that this piece was all about him and the ineffability of stardom, not about me, but he continued unabated. “Tom, I love your celebrity profiles, but I have no idea why you waste your time talking to stupid celebrities for some dopey men’s rag. Seriously, if your agent hasn’t already snagged you a six-figure book contract or a development deal at a mini-major, then he or she has been seriously slacking and should be taking their job a lot more seriously.”

Eerily, it would be the last thing he would say for over an hour and a half until he began prodding me to write a novel. Then he switched topics abruptly. “When I was a child, a boy, really, of nine or ten, some of the neighborhood children, jealous of my charisma and nascent fame, nailed me to a makeshift cross and hauled me deep into the forest for a mock-crucifixion. Ever since, I’ve had this strange craving for tapioca pudding.” Mr. Wow then calls our waiter over, a strapping, middle-aged Cuban man with a comical mustache. The waiter assures him that he has no pudding, and Lil’ Bow Wow turns sullen. It is then that he decides that we must travel to the Alamo to find “Doc McGillicuddy’s Tapioca Parlor” an establishment that serves only tapioca pudding and is run by an eight-foot-tall albino with flipper-like hands. Yes, I just typed that.

With a few hastily barked orders to his phalanx of assistants, we’re shuttled into separate candy-colored hearses—Bow Wow is obsessed with death, but also likes bright colors—and we’re headed to the Alamo. Bow Wow’s assistant, Shelby, has attempted to prepare me for his myriad eccentricities, warning me early on that Mr. Wow wanted our time together to be “less an interview than a mind-fuck of the highest order.”

For much of the ride, Lil’ Bow Wow has his head out the window. Suddenly, somewhere south of Birmingham, Bow Wow crashes back into his seat and says, “My next album is going to be a concept album about glam-rock, the drag elements of modern-day capitalism, androgyny and death. Either that, or it’ll be about basketball and girls.”

Just as we hit Metairie, Louisiana, Lil’ Bow Wow orders the hearses to stop at a roadside pet cemetery. Mr. Wow gets out of his hearse and beckons to me with an outstretched hand. Sadness dances across his face as he gazes at row after row of crudely constructed tombstones.

“I believe my mother is buried here,” he says gravely, his big brown eyes surveying the tombstones for information. “My real mother, my wolf mother. She was put down by ranchers. That incident fuels the anger in my recent hit, ‘Puppy Love.’”

Tears well up in his eyes, and he runs deliriously into the animal graveyard, lost in a treasured but elusive past as well as the misconception that there are wolves and ranchers in Louisiana.

I never saw Mr. Wow again. For all I know, he’s still running wild in that cemetery, his innocent face drenched in tears, cornrows flapping in the breeze. But I’ll never forget something he said to me, his young, innocent face beaming with awe and admiration as he clumsily tried to convey the depth of his feelings towards me. “You’re a great, great man, Tom Junod, and from what I’ve heard, also a well-endowed and considerate lover. It would truly be a tragedy worse than the Titanic and the Hindenburg combined if you were reduced to performing some cheap literary stunt in an attempt to bring attention to your mind-boggling, soul-shattering body of work.”

More by Nathan Rabin:
Ain’t Nothin’ but a Gangsta Termination
of Limited-Term Employment

More magazine-related humor:
Beckett’s Lucky

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