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The Dangerous Business of Celebrity Memoir Writing

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I became famous for doing crazy stunts, and nearly killed myself with booze and drugs, but there have been few things that scared me more than writing my memoir, Professional Idiot. I was born with an unhealthy need for everyone in the world to be looking at me, so it would seem on the surface that writing a book about myself would be right up my alley. But these days I'm trying very hard not to be the arrogant, self-centered jerk-off who is the main character in my memoir, so recounting my worst behavior with brutal honesty presented some problems.

First off, I've often found that there is no greater trigger to make me feel like getting loaded again than telling stories about getting loaded. I couldn't be more grateful about the fact that I haven't had a drink or touched a drug stronger than Advil in more than three years, but let's face it -- up until drugs and alcohol start ruining your life, they can be a lot of fun. As I recalled the sort of amazing, ridiculous, reckless, insane shit I got up to while I was wasted, I couldn't help but get nostalgic for those bad old days. Strangely, even retelling stories of me at my lowest made me yearn for exactly the things that put me there in the first place. I guess that's why I'm an addict.

There was another part of writing about my worst behavior that was even harder to deal with and had very little to do with the urge to get loaded. I mean, I can't blame drugs and alcohol entirely for turning me into the kind of name-dropping douche bag that would leap at each opportunity to publicly share every compromising detail I knew about people who were more famous than me. The bottom line is my addiction to fame was at least as bad as my addiction to booze and drugs, and for years, I constantly sought out opportunities to blab about the private lives of my celebrity friends to talk show hosts, tabloid magazine editors, paparazzi or, really, any asshole with a recording device. I knew that if I went on Howard Stern and talked about doing drugs with Lindsay Lohan, not only would Howard and everyone in his studio love it, but that little soundbite would become a story in newspaper gossip columns, tabloid magazines and on hundreds of websites. So I did that kind of shit all the time.

Once I got sober, I was embarrassed and ashamed for having acted like such a desperate fame whore. All I wanted to do was apologize and never think about it again, but how could I really tell my story in all its ugliness without telling some of the ugliest parts of it? On the other hand, if I used my book to retell the story of how I boasted to Stern about doing drugs with Lindsay, am I not just doing the same shitty thing all over again? Does the opportunity to call myself out for being such a dick justify throwing her name out there again? Does publicly fretting about the whole dilemma here make it okay to essentially be doing it once more? Ugh.

I lost a great deal of sleep and peace of mind while working on this book trying to answer these kinds of questions and to figure out where to draw the line when it came to sharing the details of my worst behavior as it related to other people. I'd love to say that I'm really confident I made all the right decisions and that I have a perfectly clean conscience for doing so, but I can't. What I can say is that I made it clear that I feel horrible about a lot of stuff that I did. No one comes off looking worse in my book than me -- it's not even close. So I guess I can take heart in that.