Ellis

BY ANDREW MOODY

It’s interesting to note (given the type of man and artist he became) that Bret Easton Ellis, raised in Beverly Hills and internationally famous from the age of 20, has never had a job. He’s made millions from his writing of course, and when I queued up to meet him in London in July 2010 at a book signing the queue stretched around the corner. For some reason I was reminded of the epigraph of his most ambitious (if morally suspect) 90’s celebrity satire Glamorama: 

“There was no time when you nor I these Kings didn’t exist” KRISHNA

“You make a mistake if you see what we do as merely political” HITLER

Ellis’ allegedly abusive father made a fortune off Real Estate and Bret inherited this money when his father died shortly after the publication of the Satanic serial killer manifesto American Psycho. For a long time Ellis claimed he based Patrick Bateman on his father, before admitting years later it was about his own rage and frustrations. He once compared the act of writing to masturbation. He has been the subject of an investigation by the FBI.

Because of Ellis’s difficulty with story structure and character development (he is an aesthete and obsessive stylist when composing his sexually explicit, ultra violent novels) Mary Harron’s 2000 adaptation of American Psycho is the only commercial cinematic success he’s had, primarily down to Christian Bale’s committed performance and stunning physique. It’s telling that despite nearly every character in Ellis’s literary and film work having model good looks, he is an awkward, overweight, gangly, ugly man.

Famous in the 80’s and 90’s for his social life, he is close friends or associate of most major stars in Hollywood, including Weinstein’s favourite son Quentin Tarantino. Ellis remains a powerful and influential man in Los Angeles, with regular invitations to major annual parties and events including the Academy Awards. He is a former acolyte of the vampiric Andy Warhol.

Taxi Driver screenwriter Paul Schrader, who directed Ellis’s unpleasant, inept script for their cheap box office flop The Canyons, had similar emotional problems to Ellis as a youth (daddy issues, drugs, violent anger) and it’s ironic they both have reputations as quality film critics when they have failed so consistently at film-making. The Canyons is a great excuse for a gay man (Ellis) to film the well-endowed porn star (James Deen) and a lecherous old man (Schrader) to film a beautiful former child star (Lindsay Logan) naked and simulating group sex.

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Ellis has been quoted that what he aims for in each of his books is an impending sense of “dread”. Which makes the relentless torture in Glamorama by its Fashion Model Terrorists and endless Nazi references much more suspect. Ellis has always seen himself as a king of the celebrity world.

From chapter one “Reality is an illusion, baby,” JD says soothingly. “Reality is an illusion. JD nudges me and points up. I notice the massive red swastika painted onto the domed ceiling above us.”

That reality was an illusion – that was the key belief of Nazism. The book chillingly implies that Hollywood is a successful Nazi state and gleefully revels in the fact nothing can be done to stop it.

Recently, since Trump’s election, Ellis denied he had ever been a “moralist” as was widely believed since the 80’s.

When JD Salinger died, Ellis tweeted:

“Thank God he’s finally dead! I’ve been waiting for this day for fucking ever! Party tonight!”

For a man as cruel, arrogant, and of such average intelligence and talent but with such power, I’m sure when Ellis finally dies, many of his psychic victims will feel like partying too.

When I met him he was creepy, lecherous and a bit dim, as if he found other people curious and difficult to understand, and I didn’t really like him. I vividly remember a photo of him without his sunglasses on, taken by a female journalist. His eyes looked like he wanted to murder the world.

Follow Andrew Moody on Twitter @VoguishFiction

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