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in Filmmaking
on May 3, 2006

I hate to do this because I quite like Craig Ferguson’s The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. The guy’s very intimate with the camera, generally charms the guests, and, instead of a monologue, spins out every night a piece of performance storytelling that is far cleverer and more multi-layered than anything the competing late night hosts come up with.

That said, Karen Finley, Dennis Cooper and Susie Bright are cultural icons who have paid their dues. So then, I’m linking here to Bright’s open letter to Ferguson following what was apparently his condescending and clueless appearance at the LAT Book Fair (see my link to Anne Thompson’s blog, below).

This weekend, you spoke in Los Angeles to a packed house on the subject, “Writers Pushing the Envelope.” It was a book festival panel— you shared the stage with me, Karen Finley, and Dennis Cooper.


Over the course of an hour in a dismal UCLA lecture hall, we lost power and were plunged into darkness three times. In another surreal moment, a black phone on the wall rang repeatedly, like a rejected lover.

I’m sure if you’d picked up the receiver, you would have screamed, “Who the fuck put me here with these cunts?”

We were wondering the same thing about you.

You are a Scottish immigrant who’s had a magnificent run in Hollywood— as a comic, a a sitcom actor in a hit show, and now the affable host of The Late Late Show. Half the crowd were your adoring fans, women who shiver at your good looks, and men who’d love to browbeat someone with just your style. Plus you have a new book and your Godlike publicist has made it very clear that you are in command of the English language.

We three knew who you were, but I don’t think you got the memo on us….

You’ve just written a debut novel, and you shouted you are “too rich” to care what anyone thinks of it.

That was the most interesting and sickening thing you said all night. It hit me that there is also such a thing as being too poor to give a shit, as well. It’s only those in the middle who strive and strive. Which end do you think is going to enter the kingdom of legend?

I imagine you do care about something, that you privately care if people find your work memorable, and lasting. It would be meaningful to have a legacy. Your book certainly has more intelligence than the scriptwriting on late, late, night TV. I bet it meant a lot to you to show people that you are not an airhead.

But so far, your book has not changed the world, and you haven’t heard from readers yet who’ve thanked you for saving their lives, or inspiring them to fight another day— or just plain ole’ blowing their minds. But that shit doesn’t happen overnight; I say, keep at it! Just keep that chatter about your entitlement to yourself, it never seems to work out.

Next time, don’t spit at us that you are having more sex than anyone, thank you very much, or that your commercial success has insulated you from tiresome political concerns.

Belligerence is never becoming, and it ages you even quicker.

You mugged and mocked us while we were speaking, and when that got tired, you showed us the kind of sacrifice you’d made for your art: You let it be known that you “wrote your book on spec.”

Wow. I’m getting goose bumps, Craig. Call the Nobel committee, call Amnesty International. This man has been through THE MILL.

If only you could have spit Lenny Bruce in the eye, or told Salman Rushdie he’s a fucking pussy!

Look, I get it… you know nothing about radical sexual politics or why it’s been the lightning rod of American art for the last 50 years. You weren’t here for women’s liberation or queer revolt. You think girls with something incisive to say are real dick-wilters. And fags? It’s hard to comprehend.. you did say that sex boils down to “one man and one woman.” The bookfest audience cracked up at that one….

That murderous farewell you gave me at the end made my heart sink like a stone. It was right up there with the Michigan judge who told me, pre-sentencing, I was going to pay for being a menace to society. Maybe he watches your show and laughs, too.

Why did you hate me so much if you “don’t care”— if you’re so rich and well-laid and impenetrable? Your fans stretched across the lawn, but you took the time to kill me with a look….

Call me when the tide turns, old man, and I’ll show you the other cheek. When you get fugly, canceled, and deported under some Homeland Security mix-up, I’m sure we can figure out something “on spec” that will save the day!

Won’t we have fun remembering the days when you were arrogant, and the rich and artless didn’t have to care one little motherfucking bit about anything?

I’m off to march with some other whores and immigrants now. They’re hoping to inherit the earth.

The Ghost of Vixens Past,


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