Authors: Matthew Rettenmund
Tags: #General Fiction
Published by Lethe Press
118 Heritage Ave, Maple Shade, NJ 08052
Copyright © 2015
No part of this work may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any
means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, microfilm, and
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
: a meme-oir / Matthew Rettenmund.
(pbk. : alk. paper)
1. Rettenmund, Matthew. 2. Novelists, American--20th
century--Biography. 3. Fame. I. Title. II. Title: Starfucker.
Ever since writing his first fan letter to Jaclyn Smith, arguably “Charlie’s” classiest Angel in the mid-1970s, Matthew Rettenmund has had a compulsive connection to fame. Mind you, it has not always been a two-way connection—Jaclyn, probably busy managing the crazy of her ex-beefcake model husband Dennis Cole, never replied, which helped him remain stoic when her character “Kelly Garrett” was later shot in the head by a confused child on the show.
His relationship with fame—Merriam-Webster defines fame as both public estimation and popular acclaim--has been the most remarkably consistent of Matthew’s life, edging out his eighteen years with a man who spent a lot of his time managing Matthew’s crazy. Matthew’s interest with fame has most often been like the relationship between peeping Tom and naked lady…if the lady left the shades up on purpose.
Starf*cker is the story of that relationship.
Matthew’s youth was drenched in celebrity worship, starting with wallpapering the back of his closet with pinups torn from Rona Barrett’s Hollywood. During the long hours he was busy arranging the 8”x10” glossy pages and taping them up in a careful mosaic, he was literally in the closet, a rather appropriate place for any boy to be while secretly pretending he had Farrah Fawcett’s hot-rollered hair and double order of nipples.
When all those mysteriously omnipotent Nielsen families had deemed the Angels and their camel toes passé, Matthew’s defense mechanism to Charlie’s Angels being cancelled was to decide he had outgrown the ladies anyway. He tore the pinups off the wall, including Farrah’s famous swimsuit shot, and unsentimentally crumpled them into balls as big as “Maude Findlay’s, tossing them in the garbage.
The budding hoarder would never throw anything else away, except toilet paper and money.
A pop-culture fanatic all through high school, Matthew was well-known (synonym: infamous) in his town for his wall-to-wall-to-ceiling décor, for his obsessive accumulating of entertainment magazines, and, later, for his spot-on, lip-synched performance of “Touch Me (I Want Your Body)” in drag as Samantha Fox, the latter delivered in his high school’s auditorium on a makeshift bed he’d erected on stage. Who knew opaque pantyhose and fake boobs made from wadded up gym socks and baby-bottle nipples would pass muster at his conservative school? He came in second to a suspiciously deeply tanned white girl doing Janet Jackson.
By the time he was off to college at the staid University of Chicago, where they invented the A-bomb but still hadn’t discovered intercourse, his interests had evolved to include the irresistibly generic California daredevils who were having gay sex on camera just as AIDS was scaring everyone else away from having gay sex at all. Reading a stomach-turning interview with Blonds Do It Best pornstar Lance, in which he said he wasn’t worried about AIDS because he was too young to get it, didn’t stop Matthew from masturbating over Lance’s pictures, though it did make the orgasm unusual nuanced.
Throughout his years in (porn and teen, mutually exclusively) magazine publishing, Matthew spent more time with celebrities than he did with his partner.
Starf*cker is the story of Matthew and his bestest friend “celebrity,” but it’s also an exploration of American culture’s deranged predilection for all things famous.
What is a starfucker?
Realizing that most books that start with explanations of their own titles fall into the category of either pop psychology or fad diets, and yet that we probably do need help understanding the concept of our erogenous zones and why eating nothing but kale and green tea for a month might not kill us, a brief pathology is in order. After all, starfucking has things in common with pop psychology and fad dieting, since fandom is an as yet unrecognized mental disorder that apparently causes you to gain weight—unless you’re getting sex on the regular, you can only see so many vintage photos of a shirtless Jon-Erik Hexum before you begin stuffing your face with Three Musketeers bars,
First, though, let’s agree on what a starfucker is not. We are not talking about groupies who literally go out and bang the famous, like Karrine Steffans, Pamela Des Barres, or John Mayer. It’s not literal; even if Matthew would happily sign that confidentiality agreement in order to be able to say he’d slept with you, Scott Wolf.
A starfucker is most easily defined from symptoms. Diagnosis by example.
You may be a starfucker if you know Angie Dickinson’s address by heart; remind others at every given opportunity that you have been to dinner with the woman who played “Big Rosie Greenbaum” on Laverne & Shirley; have ever implored a friend to enter a nursing home under false pretenses in order to get an in-person autograph from a one hundred-year-old silent movie actress; and/or if you instinctively knew, the first time you ever sent a fan letter, to enclose an SASE and were born knowing what “SASE” stood for. If you’ve ever asked Tommy Kirk whether any producers tried to molest him back in the day (and then projected empathy instead of betraying your gossip-mongering satisfaction when he said, “No…only directors.”)…you’re most likely a starfucker.
But the easiest way to tell if you’re a starfucker is if you answer yes to either of these two questions:
(1) Did you care about Jessica Walter before she did Arrested Development?
(2) Would you consider crashing Mamie Van Doren’s eventual funeral if you knew you’d never be caught?
The way starfucking has presented itself in Matthew’s life has been (a dirty phrase, “has-been”…the has-beens are often a starfucker’s favorites) in a desire to (1) see famous people, (2) meet famous people, and (3) appear in photos with famous people. And weirdly, it’s not something he’s grown out of so much as grown into.
This makes sense, because as you read this book, I believe you will see how starfuckery is rooted in an appreciation of nostalgia, which along with wisdom, gray pubic hair and a lack of respect for boundaries is something that comes with age. And a memoir is the perfect form in which to explore it. And lucky for you, unless the victim is just crazy, starfucking is an affliction best indulged and documented with self-aware humor, so you’re bound to laugh. This isn’t one of those memoirs about someone’s tragic childhood. Unless, of course, it totally is and he just doesn’t realize it.
MATTHEW RETTENMUND, SPRING 2015