AUTHOR Q&A with A**holeology's Chris Illuminati
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AUTHOR Q&A with A**holeology's Chris Illuminati
For what was once a crude art form has now gained the status of a science by way of Illuminati's two-part series, A**holeology and most recently, A**holeology The Cheat Sheet" because who wants to read the full text book, anyways. A contributor to Ask Men, Penthouse and Maxim (to name a few), Illuminati has sought to rework the negative connotations surrounding this term. When correctly applied, assholeology is a nuanced stratagem for getting what you want and not taking no for an answer that's one of the Illuminati's "demandments." The Cheat Sheet puts such principles into practice, be it ditching those dead-weight relationships or hard-to-get-out-of chores. Although the heavily asterisked titled can be found in the humor section, the book might as easily be considered self help reading.
In preparation for his signing at the UPenn Bookstore on Fri., March 3, Illuminati took some time to chat with us. So this morning, with my emotional armor ready for a battery of asshole abuse what else would you expect? I called up the man, only to find that, like many scientific principles, assholeology only holds true under certain conditions. As it turns out, Illumanti is a pretty nice guy.
CIty Paper: Why'd you write a second book about a**holeology?
Chris Illuminati: In the first book, we said it was the science behind getting your way and getting away with it.' But the one thing people kept coming back to me with, as far as comments, was, okay we get why a person would want to be an asshole but you didn't give enough specifics the when and how.' So the second time around, I decided to make it very specific and break down how to be an asshole in certain situations. The first book is the why, and the second book is the how.
CP: You call it a cheat sheet
CI: Yeah, well not many of us did well in science, so here's a cheat sheet to work with; for example, you say, I have a bad situation at work, and you go to the cheat sheet to figure it out.'
CP: So is the premise that it's good to be an asshole?
CI: In certain situations, you just have to take that asshole approach. And I think everybody can use it; it's not necessarily saying you should be an asshole in every situation you encounter. But there can be tough spots in life, and you don't know how to handle them. At those times, you just gotta' pull up your boot straps and take charge, whether it's in relationships, at work, or with family. One of the first scenarios is how to cut off a friend you know that person who has been in your life for 20 years. You're friends, but you're not really sure why anymore. It will give you the asshole approach to getting rid of that person.
CP: Would you say that **holeology is a way of life more than just a state of mind?
CI: It can be both. Some people approach any situation as an asshole, while other people can compartmentalize it you can still be a nice guy or a nice girl and do asshole things. It's just a way of looking out for yourself.
CP: Are all the scenarios in the book self-tested?
CI: Some are self-tested, and some are tested by other people. When I wrote this book, I was in a different state of mind: I had just had a baby, so I was dealing with a two-month old; I was working a full time job, plus writing jobs on the side, and I would write all hours of the night. Sometimes, certain things came out that I would have never considered. I would pretty much just sit down at my desk and say, okay, what's the most asshole scenario I can think of right now.' And for that reason, in the front of the book, there's a note from the publisher that says, you should not try some of these thing.'
CP: Was the disclaimer put there at your request?
CI: No, that was the publisher, after they received my final manuscript. They were trying to cover themselves. The first time around, I did get a lot of feedback from people because the book is found in the humor section, but people would tell me that they could really see it in the self help section as well. So I think the publisher thought they should probably make it clear that you shouldn't take everything literally.
CP: When your friends or family read this book, did they say this really sounds like Chris? Or did you have to learn to be an asshole?
CI: I really did have to learn. And I think the reason that I was so good at it was because I've come across so many assholes in my life. A lot of times people will say you don't seem like the kind of person that would do this.' But like I said, you don't have to practice **holeology in every situation. At times, I would go with, maybe, a nicer approach. For example, at a recent book signing, an older coupler probably in their 70s saw the title of the book, the poster and me standing there. And before the signing, they told me that if you took a lineup of five guys and asked which one of these guys wrote the book, they'd probably pick me last, because I don't really look that way which is actually a good thing: you don't want to come off looking too much like an asshole, or, in fact, you'd probably look like a douchebag
CP: What's the difference between the asshole and the douche?
CI: Basically, if you don't know the difference between the two, the good rule of thumb is to think about the person. If you can't think of two or three redeeming qualities, then he's probably a douchebag.
CP: You write for a lot of men's magazines. Is this book primarily for men?
CI: It is hard to write for women when you're a guy. I'm sure it's the same for women writers. But I do believe that women can use this book to their advantage; a woman can learn from this and be considered an asshole. There are plenty asshole women who men are attracted to. It's just that you call them a different name. Asshole is pretty gendered.
CP: Who are some iconic assholes?
CI: If we're going to go way back in history, one example we used in the first book was the Pharaohs in Ancient Egypt, because they got the entire civilization to build monuments in their likeness. Also, you had General Patton, who was a classic asshole. As for current examples, in the sports world, there's Bill Belichick. In entertainment, Donald Trump used to be a good example, but he's kind of chartering douchebag territory. Dennis Leary is also a good example of a classic asshole with his comedy, but then he also does a lot of things for charity.
CP: How would you respond to the person who says you're encouraging our society to be rude?
CI: I would say that I'm not really encouraging people to be rude. I'm encouraging them to take control of the things they don't like. If it's a situation when a person has to be rude, then so be it. But if I told someone to start being nice tomorrow, it's not going to change very many things. But, if I told someone to be an asshole, they'd probably see some result. The person who says that I'm being rude' probably has some things in their life they wish they could change. I'm really saying be more aggressive, not rude.
CP: How do you go about being an asshole at home with your family?
CI: Well, you're friends with people because of certain situations. Your family is your family, and you can't choose that. There may be some people in your family you would never have any association otherwise. You have to remember that. There are some people who are going to drag you down, even in your own family. So if you can take the emotional part out of it, and just realize, okay, this person is no good to me everybody has that douche cousin.
CP: What do you think about Philly's rep as an asshole city?
CI: I'm a New York sports fan just to put that out on the table. But I do like the Philadelphia approach to sports this is our team, good or bad, and if you don't like it fuck off. Even if their team isn't good, Philly fans will find a way to one up you. I like that the whole city is passionate in that way: they take hold of something, and I gotta' admire them for that Another thing I like about Philly is that Philly has bought the most books for the last three or four months.
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