"I have a monumental ego, but I know they will never give the Nobel to a black novel writer," says the author of 'Panic' / "Hollywood is still like Sodom and Gomorrah together, a center of perversion, sex and drugs"
Hello! Here's the crazy fucking dog! Jovial, cheeky and splashing a Spanish stuffed with tacos, James Ellroy (Los Angeles, 73 years old) introduces himself. The king of the American black novel publishes 'Panic' (Random House Literature). It is a diabolical satire about a despicable and despicable character, Freddy Otash, ex-Marine, ex-police officer, detective and professional extortionist. "A hyena that had the golden Hollywood and the politicians of the time grabbed by the balls," Ellroy places the reader.
A trafficker of secrets and miseries in the factory of dreams since the 1950s, Otash gives rise to a wild novel in the purest Ellroy style, with that "amphetamine prose" that, according to the writer, "is the result of much reflection." Ellroy confesses that his "monumental ego" has allowed him to succeed in fiction and film. But he doesn't give a shit about the films of his novels and he knows "that neither I nor any black novel writer will ever receive the Nobel."
Freddy Otash, alias 'El Frenético' or 'El Frescales', was "a forerunner of the most scandalous gossip." He practiced it in 'Confidential' and other magazines, "gutting out movie stars' sex lives for money." “He obtained information with disgusting methods. He was despicable. Drunk, brawler, pimp, corrupt, addicted to dexedrine and 'Old Crow' whisky, he was stumbling around." His endless list of victims includes Ava Gardner, Liz Taylor, Rock Hudson, Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, James Dean, Alfred Hichtcock and the Kennedy clan.
Ellroy met Otash in 1989 and treated him until his death in 1992. “He was a fucking dick. We laughed at the old days and I proposed to make him the lead in my novel 'American Tabloid', but he asked me for a dough. Then he died and I could have done it for free," says Ellroy with a wry smile. He recreates a Hollywood "that was and is like Sodom and Gomorrah put together: a center of crime, perversion, sex and drugs."
He laughs at "hateful" figures like the actor James Dean or the director of 'Rebel Without a Cause', Nicholas Ray, "some weird perverted guys", and "other fucking communists". "Ray was cultured and sensitive, but he was full of shit. He sexually harassed Natalie Wood when she was a child and did the same to Sal Mineo, another underage actor."
It also debunks myths, such as the conspiracy theory about the death of Marilyn Monroe. "Otash fantasized about the conspiracy and the Kennedys, but she was a drunk, a drug addict who, according to Otash, gave fellatio in exchange for barbiturates. She died of an overdose », settles the issue.
neither amoral nor immoral
The "wild dog" of 'noir' does not believe that to reign in the genre "you have to be amoral or immoral". «I judge. I am neither of those things », he warns. He does not feel well treated by the cinema, which thanks to his corrosive and very black novels has billed jewels such as 'LA Confidencial' or 'La dahlia negra'. «All movies of my novels are rubbish. They gave me dough, and that's fucking great. But I never participated in the scripts and I will not. They pay me well, very well. I take the check and everyone is happy », he says. "If there is pasta, there will be a 'Panic' movie," he concedes. They cannot harm or do anything to the book. We all have a price, and I have it for the cinema, but not for my books », he defends himself.
Ellroy acknowledges having "a monumental ego" and decisive for his success as a writer. “I am a bully and an intimidator. A big, ugly, bad fucking dog. But I have learned to behave. I'm not barking all day and I'm afraid I'm domesticated », he says jokingly.
He explains that he lives "in another time: that of my novels" and that it comforts him. "I never use computers. I have never used the internet. I do not have a cell phone. I have a regular phone and still use a fax machine. I don't watch the news or read newspapers. I don't know what society is like today and I don't want to write about it. Everyone does it and I peel it. I like the corruption of the past, the old cars, the feminine clothes of the 40s and 50s. The Second World War. The nuclear fungus. Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon... », she brags. But the Ukrainian flag badge she wears on her lapel belies her.
“I know that there is a war and I want the Ukrainians to win, that they will win. I would like Biden to be a stronger leader, but he is very old, perhaps senile. And I don't know if he's stupid », he charges against the president of the United States. The Russian Vladimir Putin also seems to him “a character from the 50s”. «He is another psychopath of the many that exist. Bad bad bad. He is a policeman, a spy educated to kill and does what he knows how. But I don't think there will be a Third World War », he concludes.
Ellroy's past is more than turbulent. His mother was murdered when he was ten years old. He lived on the streets, stole, robbed, robbed houses, drank and took drugs. He knows that without that past he would not be who he is, and he accepts it. “I do not repent or regret anything, but before God I have confessed my sins. As hard as my life has been, I haven't been that bad either. I was a stupid, careless and reckless boy. I thank God for having given me the gift of writing », he admits.
"I like weapons. I have an automatic and a .45 Magnum revolver. But I only shoot at the sky. I ask nothing of life. I have everything I want”, says this “diabolical dog” who, deep down, smiles more than barks.