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News

The LAist Interview: Mark Lisanti, The Defamer

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During the months since Defamer launched in May last year, the Hollywood outpost of the Gawker blog dominion got under the collective skin of Hollywood faster than the hands of an agent under a willing starlet's skirt. This formerly anonymous, always smooth operator has proven that equal opportunity offending makes openly credited blogging a safe enterprise.

While the media spinners of the world try to protect us, the delicate and impressionable public, from the indignities of a certain Industry in this town, Defamer lifts the veil with tales that might just inspire the first known revolution of agents' assistants. There's also the beautifully democratic aspect of it all, with legions of loyal Defamer readers contributing stories and blurry phone cam pics of, what else? Famous people doing stuff.

And thank God there's finally a default go-to destination for celebrity sightings; some of our friends and family members were beginning to tire of those regular emails sharing the news. (We now instead send 'em to tips@defamer.com and revel in the self-satisfied glory of performing a civic duty.)

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So, dear readers, please accept our Valentine's Day gift to you: the Laist Interview featuring a local blogger folk hero, the dude who allows us lowlifes without paid Variety logins to follow the new deals, the man whose content we'd mainline if it were medically possible, every publicist's nightmare -- Mr. Mark Lisanti, more affectionately known as The Defamer.

1. Age and Occupation:

30, writer, editor of Defamer.com

2. Have things drastically changed since your cover of anonymity was blown a few months back? Was it more fun during the days before the veil was lifted or is there no difference?

Nothing's really changed. I still don't get invited anywhere, and plenty of people continue to think that Defamer is written by a dozen, anonymous people.

3. Is the semi-participatory nature of Defamer a liability -- both literally and figuratively?

I think the participation of my readership is a huge strength of the site. Their involvement isn't a liability in any sense of the word. There are only so many ways I can put my thumb in Les Moonves' eye (theoretically, anyway).

4. Do you think people legitimately fear what the Defamer might say about them?

I imagine that some people aren't thrilled about some of the things that I write about them. But then they go back to beating their assistants and burning all of their hundred dollar bills that seem too wrinkly, and that cheers them up again.

5. How long have you lived in Los Angeles, and which neighborhood do you live in?

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I've been in LA for about 4 ½ years, and I just moved to Los Feliz from Silver Lake. The culture shock I've experienced is staggering.

6. Where are you from?

Yonkers, NY. And yes, I've heard of the movie version of Lost in Yonkers.

7. What specific types of young impressionable people make the best interns?

For Defamer or in Hollywood? In Hollywood, the best interns are the ones that are so determined to succeed that they're willing to put up with anything. For Defamer, the best interns are the ones that have absolutely no desire to succeed, and are willing to put up with anything because they're too tired to chew through their ropes and escape.

8. Los Angeles is often considered to be a city without cohesive civil culture or ethos. So, do you think Angelenos care more about the Brad and Jennifer split than who the mayor is?

I'm still trying to figure out why Mayor Schwarzenegger spends so much time in Sacramento. And I think that it's obvious that America as a whole cares a lot more about Brad and Jen's break-up than who's president. They had way more magazine covers devoted to them.

9. Does Gawker treat Defamer like a poor stepchild, or does it get its due respect from the folks at Gawker Media?

I still can't get my boss (the evil blog magnate Nick Denton) or the Gawker editors to return my e-mails, but one time they mistakenly cc'd me on a memo. I felt quite loved that day.

10. What do you have to say to folks who criticize "Privacy Watch" and other often unflattering celebrity features as unfair and mean-spirited?

I say go read US Weekly. "Unfair and mean-spirited" is what we do-- though I prefer to think of it as "delightfully free of publicist-vetted blowjobs."

11. In your humble opinion, what place epitomizes the worst self-parodying of LA stereotypes, and what place reflects the best of LA? (Unless you think these are one and the same.)

The VIP area at any club or premiere party reaches a level of self-parody that almost touches the sublime. The best of LA is the moment right before you have to kick your friends out of your house at 5 a.m. on a Saturday night.

12. What's your preferred mode of transportation?

The 10-year-old Honda Civic.

13. How often do you ride public transportation?

I've never been on the bus or the subway here. I wouldn't even know how to.

14. What's your favorite movie(s) or TV show(s) that are based in LA?

The Big Lebowski for movies, and "Joey" for TV. Sometimes I think the Joey writers are following me around and taking painstaking notes on my life. I'm really getting sick of my genius nephew and my pushy sister with the fake breasts.

15. Best LA-themed book(s)?

It's a total cliché to say so, but I always liked The Day of the Locust.

16. Please share your Top 5 best celebrity sighting experiences. (Andy Dick must not be counted among them.)

A friend took me to a party for Andy Dick's (too bad, I'm going with an Andy Dick anecdote) last MTV show, and I saw Kato Kaelin, the guy who owns Girls Gone Wild, and Trishelle from the Real World there. I'm not usually surrounded by such a rarefied crowd, but for one, shining night, I'd felt like I'd finally made it in this town.

17. What's the best place to walk in LA?
I like the strip of sidewalk on Sunset between Amoeba and the ArcLight.

18. It's 9:30 pm on Thursday. Where are you coming from and where are you going?

I'm planted on the couch, vaguely depressed by the idea that "The OC" isn't nearly as good this season.

19. If you could live in LA during any era, when would it be?

I'm not big on nostalgia, so I'll choose ten years from now, once the Hollywood and Highland area is finally turned into an exact replica of Times Square.

20. What is the "center" of LA to you?

Sadly, it's a five foot radius around my computer, where I spend a pathetically disproportionate amount of my time. When I get really crazy, I take the laptop and sit in the living room.

21. If you were forced to live in a neighboring county, which would you choose? Ventura County is a wussy answer.

Is Beverly Hills its own county?

22. If you could live in any neighborhood or specific house in LA, which would you it be?

David Geffen's poolhouse, but only if he didn't make me perform any pool maintenance.

23. What is the city's greatest secret?

The cheeseburgers at Ye Rustic Inn (east side) and Father's Office (west side). You'll forget In N Out exists.

24. Drinking, driving. They mix poorly, and yet they're inexorably linked. How do you handle this conflict?

By taking out the beverage holders in my car, thus reducing the temptation of storing open beer cans in them.

25. Describe your best LA dining experience.

A take-out bag full of greasy, overly-garlic-sauced chicken shawerma sandwiches from Zankou Chicken, or the brunch at Doughboy's on Third Street.

26. What do you have to say to East Coast supremacists?

They're too busy running this town to take my calls.

27. Do you find the threat of earthquakes preferable to the threat of hurricanes and long winters?

Yes. For some reason, I'm a lot less afraid of being suddenly buried in rubble than having to dig my car out of a snow drift.

28. Where do you want to be when the Big One hits?

At the Vanity Fair Oscar party, filling my pockets with shrimp.