LAist Interview: Jonathan Evison, author of All About Lulu
Former Angeleno Jonathan Evison is in town this week to read from and sign his debut novel, All About Lulu. It is a that novel examines the quirky world of Venice beach bodybuilding, the life of a talented DJ, the mess families can make without even trying, a love found and then lost, and so much more. There are moments of great tenderness, of gaping sadness, and then, out of nowhere, moments of such recklessness and silliness you'll laugh out loud. Evison will be at Skylight Books tomorrow night at 7:30pm. There will be beer, there will be jello shots, there will be a hot dog cake. How can you resist?
It is clear from your book that you possess more knowledge about the Venice bodybuilding scene than most people – although you are not a body-builder yourself. What real-life experiences gave you such insight and have your views on it changed since you wrote the book? I grew up around gyms. My old man was a competitive bodybuilder, and one of my brothers also competed, and is still a gym rat. I’ve always thought bodybuilding was a very apt vehicle to explore the idea of self-improvement. If my views have changed recently with regard to the possibilities of bodybuilding, it is only in relation to the alarming rate of growth my man-boobs have undergone the last couple of years. I’ve started doing flies and push-ups to firm them up, so I don’t look like a lactating gorilla.
Will, your protagonist, is a radio DJ. You have been a radio DJ. Will spends a lot of time listening to radio voices and how they sway their audience, or soothe them, or fire them up. What are the best and worst parts of the gig and how closely does the character DJ resemble you as a DJ? Any DJs you currently admire for their wooing skills? The worst part of talk radio for me, was the insistence of management to try an mold me into a demographically apropos commodity, rather than allowing me to play to my own strengths. I was doing “hot talk” and “radio for guys,” and my producers were always trying to get me to call female callers “chicks” and ask them if they were hot, and do all kinds of stupid shit with strippers and the like. In short, they wanted me to be obvious. I’ve no interest in that kind of thing. And so I fought them hard.
I’d ask guy callers if they were hot. Instead of strippers, I’d have truck drivers in the studio engaging in such erotica as banana swallowing contests. It drove management bonkers. The more they tried to reign me in, the more I pushed back. When they boxed me in to the point where I was uncomfortable, I simply walked away. I wanted to write books, anyway. Probably the biggest similarity between Will and I, is that our radio careers fell into our laps. I ended up in radio because the tape deck in my car was busted. A sports station in Seattle was having a contest to win a show. I thought, shit, I can do that. So, I sent in a tape, won the contest, and the next thing I knew I was doing weekends in a major market.